Originally Sent: 7/17/2014

HSLDA's Toddlers to Tweens Newsletter

July 17, 2014


Jay Wile’s New Elementary Science SeriesJay Wile’s New Elementary Science Series

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


Need advice on teaching your children from preschool to eighth grade? Visit HSLDA’s Toddlers to Tweens webpages or contact Vicki Bentley.

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Cool Stuff I Found at Homeschool Conventions (Part 2)

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Vicki Bentley helps HSLDA members homeschool children in preschool through 8th grade. She and her husband homeschooled 17 children and led a support group of over 250 families. Read more >>

Dear Friend,

Earlier this spring, I shared with you some of the interesting books, games, and other resources I’ve found in the exhibit halls I’ve had the privilege to visit this year. As I finish up most of my convention visits for this season, here are some more nifty products and companies you might want to check out:


The Scripture Sleuth mystery series by Mat Halverson presents 8-to-12-year-olds with a new case in each book’s 12 chapters.

My Sermon Notes journal from Miller Pads and Paper is a spiral-bound half-size journal for sermon note-taking, including space for key verses and life application thoughts. (50 sheets)

Foreign Language

Mango Languages is an interactive, web-based language program targeting ages 10 and up, with four years of instruction in more than 60 languages. Subscribe by the month or by the year (a parent can participate free with child’s subscription; multiple subscriber discount available); options for desktop use or mobile app (i-device, Android, Kindle, etc.).

Excelerate Spanish was written by a homeschool mom, incorporating brain research for a program that is not straight immersion, but is content-rich for a conversational foundation. DVD program with books (students should be able to read).

Fun & Games for Families

Discovery Toys has some nifty educational toys and games (translation: Christmas gifts for grandkids …) such as How the Weather Works, Simple Machines, Ten on the Spot, Mental Blox, Name That Country (maybe I should get this one for ME), RhymeOut, plus a sturdy View Scope. And they’ve brought back two of my family favorites, the Number Scrambler and the Letter Scrambler—which we love not only for the educational value, but because there are no pieces to lose! Many of their products also have useful applications for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Ages infant through adult.

SET—Rapid-fire game of visual perception. No reading skills needed, so even preschoolers can play—players identify patterns. For one or more players, ages 6 to adult (but observant preschoolers have been known to compete handily with adults in our house).


Nature’s Workshop Plus has all the wacky science gizmos that my husband loves to play with! Fun science for kids of all ages. Their Thinking Putty (great for tactile learners and wiggly kiddos) and Speed Stacks game are on my wish list. They also offer lab kits for full science programs (including Apologia science).

New from Dr. Jay Wile: A hands-on, multi-level (K-6th) elementary science series that introduces scientific concepts using history as its guide. Science in the Beginning is based on the six days of creation, with a hands-on component in each of the 90 lessons. The second book in the series is now available as well—Science in the Ancient World.

Language Arts

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind—Jessie Wise (mother of Susan Wise Bauer and co-author of The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and The Well-Trained Mind) presents a simple, one-year grammar program for 1st graders. One hundred lessons incorporate copywork, narration, picture study, and other classic techniques to teach the basics to your primary student.

• Many families are already familiar with the Orton-Gillingham language approach for children and adults with dyslexia and other learning challenges—did you know you can get The Gillingham Manual (Eighth Edition) from Educators Publishing Service?

Games for Reading: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Read (Peggy Kaye)—70 games for home and on the road, to encourage your child’s reading skills. Includes bingo games, rhyming activities, mazes, puzzles, and suggested reading lists.

The Institute for Excellence in Writing has added several new programs to its offerings—a few that caught my eye are Speech Boot Camp (intro to public speaking, with DVDs); their new Fix-It! grammar series; and a primary arts of language (PAL) program, featuring both reading and writing components for primary students.

Social Studies

Notgrass Company’s history books read more like fascinating storybooks and include primary document sources. I like that the entire plan is built into the book and includes read-alouds, family activities, timeline, creative writing prompts, and more. Uncle Sam and You is a civics course for grade 5 to 8. Their unit studies include Celebrate Thanksgiving, Celebrate the Savior, and The Olympics. Their Draw to Learn series is for all ages.

Honour of Kings offers homeschool curriculum and family-oriented products, including ancient and American history resources that can be used as textbooks or as the framework for unit studies for all grade levels.

Through All Ages sells historical posters and postcards and has amazing books of paper soldiers to cut out and dress in uniform.

• New from Bright Ideas Press: The Mystery of History cookbook, and North Star Geography a junior/senior high full-year geography course. (Check out the North Star page for details about the course and to sign up for Tyler Hogan's weekly geo tip! Also check out his mom’s classic, Hands-On Geography.)

The Land of Fair Play (Christian Liberty Press) is now in its third edition. This updated introduction to civics presents middle schoolers with an overview of Christian duties of citizenship, the relationship between local, state, and national government, and much more. (I was fascinated that the original was written long enough ago to refer to The Great War as opposed to World War I!) Includes end-of-chapter questions and suggestions for further study. Test packet is available.

Other subjects

A+ Interactive Math provides online tutoring or full math instruction books, CDs, web-based help, and more.

Classical Academic Press presents classical subjects taught creatively. The books and DVDs include games, puzzles, online games, flash cards, and more for subjects such as Latin, logic, Greek, literature, and poetry.

Christian Light offers hands-on skills subjects such as small engine repair, horticulture, home economics, and agri-science for junior high and high school.

HomeSchoolWorks offers tutoring, training, and testing for homeschoolers. Two programs that caught my attention are Webworks, online classes with academic classes (and special tutoring for learning disabled students), and Collegework, an online program that prepares students for computer-based exams for college credit.

• With LessonTrek, in just a few minutes you can set up your school year and subjects, create lessons and assignments, record grades, and more. Try them free for 14 days, or take advantage of the options of monthly or annual subscriptions. Their web-based program seems to be pretty intuitive and is basically drag-and-drop.

• In her new book, Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Mom (Apologia Press), Mary Jo Tate addresses the very concerns, comments, and fears that I hear over and over again from moms across the country. This book is really 16 in one, covering every topic from using time wisely (including setting goals and handling interruptions), to training children in responsibility and service, to homemaking and home business. She transparently shares her unique challenges as a single parent; not only does she encourage other solo parents, she equips married friends with practical tips to help the single-parent family.

But Wait—There’s More!

Be sure to visit our earlier newsletter for more gotta-check-’em-out links for Bible and devotions, character, preschool, social studies, language arts, math, science, foreign language, various teaching approaches, fun and games, and other goodies.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

What were some of your favorite finds this year? I'd love to hear what you liked and why!

Wishing you vision and inspiration as you plan for the upcoming year,

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant

• • •

Note: Of course, this is just a teensy smattering of the wonderful resources available to parents. Just because I am fascinated by something, doesn’t mean that you’ll love it for your family’s needs. This month’s resources list is not exhaustive by any means, and inclusion or omission of an item should not necessarily be construed to be an HSLDA endorsement or censorship of any resource. Some materials may not be written from your family’s worldview or may include resource suggestions inconsistent with your worldview so, as always, parents are encouraged to use discernment in selecting materials appropriate for your family’s needs.

Did you know that HSLDA members can follow up reading this newsletter by calling or emailing one of our education consultants for personal recommendations and encouragement? If you are not a member, please consider joining!

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