Embracing a Healthy Family

Indianapolis Zoo is THE Very Best in the Nation

I've lived in many states across the country to include Hawaii and one thing I do know is the Indianapolis Zoo is the best zoo I've visited.  The zoo is clean, full of animal exhibits and have great things for kids to see.  We've been frequenting this zoo for at least 25 years and it's never let me down.

Here some of my favorite photo memories from the trip we just took:

Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 by Easy Grammar Systems Review

Grammar is fundamental to every facet of life which is why I was eager to review Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 with the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 Test Booklet by Easy Grammar Systems. Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 provides 180 daily lessons in only 10 minutes of time each day. It utilizes the concept of continued learning through daily application building on the previous day(s). Another bonus with this curriculum is the ability to reproduce (with limitations) the student pages from the teacher's text. If one does not want to copy the pages for subsequent students, they can purchase the student workbook. The answers are provided in the back making it a very easy open and go curriculum. There is a separate test book with the answers in the back of the book and an option to purchase a downloadable version. The covers of both books are made of a nice reinforced material that does not tear or crinkle easily.

How it Works

A lesson a day in approximately 10 minutes is the expectation for this curriculum. For this review, we utilized it four days a week over a six week review period. 

Each concept is first introduced, expanded, and reviewed in the text. The Scope & Sequence provides rules and which lesson it can be found. Each lesson is set up in a repeating format that will allow them to complete each lesson with ease while focusing on what they are learning.

Every lessons consists of five sections for every lesson:

  • The first section consists of capitalization errors that the student is required to identify and correct. 
  • Section 2 requires the student(s) to correct the punctuation by rewriting the sentence or they can utilize the sentence to provide the correction. I preferred to have mine rewrite the sentences.
  • Section 3 and 4 are the teaching, reviewing and the application of the grammar rules and concepts. It starts out teaching concepts and then subsequent lessons build on it such as incomplete sentences, fragments, and run-on sentences.
  • Section 5 is combining sentences which gave my daughter the hardest time. With my help, we were able to work through them with greater ease as we continued through each day. The knowledge learned in the prior sections and previous lessons help the student gain the knowledge and concept to work through these without as much trouble when they first begin the curriculum.

From my experiences with the curriculum, the level of teacher involvement is dependent on the child's skill level. However, in the Suggestions and Other Information of the Teacher Edition, it does have guidance on how to teach the lessons. I definitely utilized the helpful tips and found it was the key to working with my student.

Getting Started

After I read the answer key for each day, we proceeded with starting Day 1. The suggestion is to have the student provide their insight and discuss answers. A thing to note with the sentence combining exercise is that it does provide information about geography, history, cultures and more so it's a great opportunity to take that knowledge and expand to make the curriculum go outside the grammar scope.

Here are some example pages from different days:

As the lessons proceed, they become a little harder and more intense but again, they do build on the previous lessons. Here is a look ahead at Day 155:

This is an example of the answers so the student can self-check or the lessons can be checked together:

The assessments are found in the Grade 9 Test book. The 18 assessments are given at practical intervals ensuring the student has retained and understood what they were taught. After Day 40, she had her 4th assessment:

Overall, I like the concept of a teaching textbook and the short concise lessons each day. It provides just enough to teach the concepts and to provide practice over the next lessons. I think my student would have benefited from the earlier grade levels and built up to this one as she might be a little behind due to her listening and learning disabilities from having epilepsy. I plan to utilize the grammar curriculum with my 12 year old as she's advanced enough to be able to grasp the learning material while breezing through the daily lessons. This is a gem for the child who prefers short and concise lessons. It provides the knowledge needed for test taking skills and the ability to speak and write properly.

More About Easy Grammar Systems

  • They have received the Parent and Teacher Choice Award from HowToLearn.
  • There are placement tests available at their website.
  • Videos are also available to learn more about Easy Grammar and the author, Dr. Wanda Phillips.

Social Media

Check out Easy Grammar Systems on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

More Reviews

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}

Our Review of Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten by Reading Eggs


Sometimes a little one, especially in kindergarten, can be a little reluctant to learn. They are full of energy and curiosity but if they aren't ready to learn, it can be a challenge. This was the case with my grandchild who is almost five years old. That was, up until we had the opportunity to receive and review 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten by Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs offers many reading skills and math skills workbooks across various grades. The 250-page plus certificates workbook is compiled in a manner that allows for great ease of use by having a content page at the front which provides each lesson and the corresponding page number as well as an explanation on how to use the workbook. For our review, since it's self-paced, we used the workbook four times a week and at least a page a day.

Background on the 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten Workbook:

  • It is built on the five pillars of reading success: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
  • The 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten workbook covers the first 60 lessons of the Reading Eggs program for Kindergarten.
  • Each lesson provides four pages that reinforce learning. This was a key feature that really helped him to retain what he learned. At the end of the majority of each lesson is a lesson check that ensured he was learning and retaining everything. 
  • There is also the online program that can be used along side the workbook to really reinforce the learning activities. 
  • There is a year planner that provides the entire book in sections called Maps. Each of the six maps are indexed by lesson, lesson focus, pages and more to help guide teaching the curriculum.

Interesting Fact:

"Reading Eggs is a multi-award winning #1 learn-to-read site trusted by 12,000 schools, and 10 million children!"

The lessons were short enough at approximately 15 minutes a day so he stayed interested with 1-2 pages completed a day yet enough for him to retain the information. He was very eager to do his school work and felt just like his big sister and his aunts who are also homeschooled. It's logical as it set him up to learn sight words such as in lesson 3, the sight word "am" was used and he was able to remember it. It really helped him with his fine motor skills by working on his handwriting and coloring skills. He loved the pictures and graphics and thought many were "cute!"  In the short amount of time we reviewed the workbook, the sound and identification of letters really clicked with him. His writing has even improved. Another feature that was nice was the open and go concept as there was nothing else needed to teach.

An example from Lesson 1 compared to the short time to Lesson 4 and the letters are better such as "M."

Looking ahead, the lessons become robust such as reading and word families and fun activities like hidden pictures and connect the dots.

One of the later quizzes.

Completion certificate.

This pretty much sums up our review of Reading Eggs' 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten. It was a hit, he loved completing the assignments and is learning so much!


Special Offer

Reading Eggs has a wonderful online program too. We didn't utilize it for this review but have in the past for our other children. It's a program designed by experts that provide self-paced and one-on-one lessons that are geared towards each child. From my memory, it has adorable graphics, fun songs and engaging activities to keep them busy that they don't realize they are learning. There are other levels from Reading Eggs Junior (ages 2-4), to Reading Eggs (ages 3-7), Reading Eggpress (ages 7-13), and Math Seeds (ages 3-9). Reading Eggs is providing 4 FREE weeks of Reading Eggs by clicking this Reading Eggs 4 FREE weeks link.


Social Media

Check out Reading Eggs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

240 Essential Reading Skills & 200 Essential Math Skills  {Reading Eggs Reviews}

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades by Zeezok Publishing Review

Some of the classes I took relative to the arts and humanities as a child were the ones that seemed to be the most fun. Although when the book work instruction was discussed, it wasn't always as fun as the hands on activity. When given the opportunity to dive in to music appreciation in a different manner, I couldn't wait to try it out with my homeschool. Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades by Zeezok Publishing grabbed my interest because it was not just a book with words. It's a user-friendly, multi-grade curriculum that consists of nine biographies of seven composers and a student book. The curriculum, although the main subject is music, covers grammar, history, character trait studies and much more turning it into an excellent resource for introducing music while re-emphasizing other subjects.

The Curriculum Details

The one year curriculum utilizes the nine biographies, the Student Activity Book and the optional use of a lapbook (sold separately) or notebook and QR codes. There are two sets of books to utilize across different grades. Book 1 is intended for K-6 and Book 2, what is being utilized for this review, is for grades 5-8. The curriculum's expectations are that each composer will require approximately four weeks which special notation that it is allowable to adapt to your child's abilities and schedule as needed.

The Student Activity Book provides lessons that were written for a variety of learners. As a supplement to the reading books, it provides activities that include geography lessons, history lessons, and much more.

The Student Activity Book provides an additional option of having the student(s) create a journaling notebook which are contained within each week's lesson. The optional lapbook provides further activities by having the student create a lapbook for all the composers with pre-printed pages that can be purchased separately. 

These are the books and eBooks for the nine composers:

  • Frederick Chopin: The Early Years
  • Frederick Chopin: The Later Years
  • Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
  • Adventures of Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
  • The Young Brahms
  • The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

Each book is complete with interesting facts and information about the composers. The drawings are black and white. Each book had an old school feel which I liked and challenged my student. I was disappointed that I couldn't get her as thrilled about the curriculum as I was at first but as we kept moving forward, she find herself liking it more and more. I really enjoyed the first two books on Chopin and learned a lot. As she completed each lesson, she didn't resist me as much and would tell me little facts she had learned.


Another cool feature that is also new is the Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App. The app allows the user to click on the link to play the composition linked to that particular lesson as shown above. There is also a QR code feature that can be utilized that I will discuss further in the review. The app contains many cool features and activities that coincide with each lesson. For example, this video about Chopin:

I have to admit that I was pretty amused over the QR codes and having the ability to hear the specific songs from each composer with the use of my phone. The technology of today is something to marvel at especially from an educational level. While studying our first composer, Chopin, it was nice to be able to play the songs as we learned more about him. The App also provides the links. Here is a quick sample of using the QR code to hear one of Chopin's compositions and then Schumann. I don't have my phone and QR code app set up to optimally use the program but it will provide a quick example:


Our Review

Our seven week review period allowed us to complete our lessons for Chopin and start on Schumann. In future assignments, we will complete Wagner, Foster, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and McDowell. As we started with Chopin, it included a book for his earlier years and a book for his later years.

The Student Activity Book provides a Scope and Sequence that allows the teacher/parent a chance to see how each composer matches up to Music Appreciation Standards:

The Student Activity Book provides a weekly outline for each composer with all the assignments for each four weeks:

As she progressed through the weeks, she found that reading the chapter assignments and working close with the Student Activity Book helped her to be able to complete the Comprehension Questions. The answers are contained in the book.

The entire course is set up so nice to maximize the educational opportunities from the vocabulary words to even sections like Tidbits of Interest that provided fun facts such as:

"Frederic's (Chopin) thinness and weakness seems to be something he struggled with his entire life. He weighed less than a hundred pounds even as an adult."

Once we reached Schumann, she had experienced a great volume of information and enjoyed the musical notes, key signatures, music symbols and vocabulary, and the grand staff. The pages of the Student Activity Book have tab like sections to easily find each composer. Looking ahead, I reviewed each of the composers and loved the layout, the information presented and how the music lessons continued to build on the previous knowledge learned. I really look forward to my student having a chance to learn about each composer, the time period, significant world events, and much more! The bonus recipes throughout each composer's biography was a hit with my student as well and we look forward to using them during our home economics time. My plan is to have her help cook some of the recipes and provide a note-card detailing the significance of the composer at hand relative to each recipes.

Overall, I think it's an innovative, fun, creative and highly educational curriculum. We both loved the special features of the apps to hear the music or watch a video and much more. It's the right mixture of reading and activities that make up one of the most robust music curriculum I have seen.  We recommend Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades by Zeezok Publishing. I plan on purchasing another Study Activity Book for my other daughter as well as my granddaughter.

Social Media

Follow Zeezok Publishing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}

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