Friday, July 29, 2016

BookLook Blogger Review: I Believe in Jesus written by John MacArthur

BookLook Bloggers offered me the book I Believe in Jesus: Leading Your Child to Christ written by John MacArthur to review. The 32-page hardcover children's book was published by Tommy Nelson (A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers) and illustrated by Dominique Mertens.

About the Author
John F. MacArthur is the pastor and teacher of Sun Valley, California's Grace Community Church. He is also a featured teacher at Grace To You ministry. MacArthur is the author of several best-selling books such as Slave, The MacArthur Study Bible, and The Gospel According to Jesus.

My Review
The Gospel was presented in simple age-appropriate language easily understood by children. MacArthur tells the story of salvation in picture format in this beautifully illustrated book. The spiritual message is profound as it discusses the importance of Jesus, Our Savior, and how much he loves us. We are encouraged to trust His plan and remain faithful.  

We first read the book during our morning devotional time. It began with the Creation story. The beginning of the story discusses how God created the entire world. Then, the book further explores temptation, disobedience, and Adam and Eve's sin and their removal from The Garden of Eden. The story continues with the birth of Jesus in the Bethlehem stable and revealed his Godly character and perfect actions growing up. His death and resurrection was gently and appropriately discussed. 

The book offers occasional reflective questions for children to ponder such as "How can God forgive me like that? Will it take a long time for God to forgive me?" Each section of the story indicates referenced Bible verses. On several pages additional referenced verses are given to further explore the concept. The book ends with a prayer where the child proclaims their belief in Christ and receives Him. They apologize asking God for forgiveness and thank Him for all He has done. The book also inspires children to share this Gospel message with their friends and welcomes them into God's family. 

The author makes it clearly evident that we are ALL sinners and that sin is present today. He is also quick to point out that our God is loving and forgiving so we must ask for His forgiveness. The book explains God's love for us all and how he saved us when he died on the cross for our sins. 

The Scripture quotations were taken from the International Children's Bible. The Bible verses reinforce the message and are applicable to life. The referenced verses enable the child to dig deeper into the Bible to further study the Word at their leisure. It seamlessly incorporates and explains Biblical truths such as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

My Daughter's Review
"I think the illustrator did an outstanding job. I also love how at the end it encourages you to say a pray. The book talks about creation, Adam and Eve, sin, Jesus's birth, and His resurrection. I think that the author did an amazing job writing. It also encouraged me to look up verses in the Bible."
Fantastic Illustrations

Overall Thoughts
I Believe in Jesus is an exceptional book for children to read and learn about salvation. The topic is pertinent for children to hear. This well-written book is a great way to introduce children to Christ. It's easy-to-read and seems doctrinally sound. 

I am grateful we had the opportunity to review this book, because this resource is helping my daughter understand salvation and God's love better. Thankfully, she made the decision to believe in and receive Christ as Our Savior years ago. Her faith grows every single day and books like this support and reinforce what we believe. The powerful message will help guide her decisions in the future. I am impressed with this book.   

The book can be purchased for $14.99 at the Thomas Nelson store or through Amazon for $10.91.

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. 

I recommend this book to Christian families, churches, Sunday schools, private Christian schools, and non-believers seeking more information about Jesus. It would make a perfect Christmas or Easter gift. I would say that this book is suitable for children ages 3 and up. 

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers Review Program in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blogging for Books Review: The 4 x 4 Diet by Erin Oprea

The most recent fitness and nutrition book that I reviewed was titled, The 4x4 Diet: 4 Key Foods 4-Minute Workouts 4 Weeks to the Body You Want written by personal trainer and former marine, Erin Oprea

My interest was sparked when I saw the book listed on Blogging For Books so I took the leap and requested it. I was thrilled when the package arrived. I am a single work-at-home homeschool mom and finding time to workout is a chore. It usually gets set aside due to exhaustion or lack of energy. I believe this book will guide me in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle. I also know that it is time for me to take action. 

The 240-page hardcover book is a step-by-step program or guide offering suggestions and tips to help you lose weight, boost your energy level, and obtain a leaner physique. The author's motto is "Lean and Clean." In this recently released book, Erin inspires her readers to put everything they learn from the book into action. The 4-week program is thoroughly described at the beginning of the book. It is based around 4 simple yet effective principles, 4 key Tabata workouts, and 4 key foods to eliminate from your diet. 

The fantastic book is divided into four main sections. Notice all the 4's! 

What's Covered?
Part 1: The Clean and Lean Lifestyle (Chapters 1-3)
  • Road to Living Clean and Lean
  • What is Clean and Lean?
  • Overcoming Excuses
Part 2: Eating Clean (Chapters 4-8)
  • The 4 Clean Eating Habits 
  • All-Star Ingredients and Kitchen Tools
  • Prep Day
  • Recipes for Every Meal
  • Recipe Variations and Substitutions
Part 3: Getting Lean (Chapters 9-14)
  • The 4-Minute Workout
  • The Equipment You’ll Need
  • Before and After Every Workout
  • Mastering the Three Levels of Tabatas
  • Tabata Variations and Modifications
  • Exercises for Injuries and Ailments
Part 4: The 4x4 Diet (Chapter 15)
  • Beginner Tabatas + Cutting Out Starches at Night
  • Beginner/Intermediate Tabatas + Cutting Back on Sugar
  • Intermediate Tabatas + Cutting Back on Sodium
  • Intermediate/Advanced Tabatas + Cutting Back on Alcohol
The foreword was written by Carrie Underwood who was trained by Erin Oprea. The clean and lean lifestyle is based on the foundation that the more you move, the more you stay lean. The author believes that if you apply the four key habits to your life and utilize the four-minute workout called Tabata, then you can maintain a clean, lean lifestyle. She motivates you to stick with the program until the end for positive results to appear which include less bloating, less belly fat, improved cardio stamina and endurance, increased muscle definition, and the chance to break addictions. I skimmed the diet portion, because I was familiar with the nutritional content from previously read books. 

The author scattered tips and reminders throughout the book. For example, you should drink at least half your weight in water. She also addressed the common excuses people have for not eating right and excuses given for not working out. She encourages her readers to stay active and not play the blame game which ultimately keep you from meeting your goals. She also mentioned that it is okay to have a cheat day 1-2 times per week as long as you remember to moderate your eating habits. 

When discussing the four clean eating habits, Oprea stated which foods to avoid and when to avoid eating them. She listed the common foods or drinks high in starches, sugar, sodium, or alcohol. The author also offered healthier alternatives for daily meals to replace unhealthy choices. She explained the "why" behind not overindulging in these items and teaches others how to read labels properly.  

The author also included a short list of ten "All-Star Ingredients" and five of the author's "All Star Kitchen Tools" to have on hand. These lists are helpful to those wanting to get started quickly with the program. Each tool indicated the recipe from the book that requires the tool and other ways to utilize it. For example, the spiralizer is used when making Zucchini Noodles with Pesto and Tilapia. Other foods which use a spiralizer are cucumbers, carrots, squash, apples, and potatoes. This helps the reader better understand the usage of the tool so they don't feel like they have one use for it. The "All-Star Ingredients" section also consisted of bulleted recipes containing the ingredient and other ways to cook with that ingredient. I've had my eye on PB2 (a powered peanut butter substitute) for quite some time now for smoothies and yogurt parfaits. I recently purchased some in hopes to try a few of the book's recipes. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Brownies sound very appealing.   

Oprea’s book contains an assortment of delicious 4x4 recipes. My favorite recipe categories are the desserts, snacks, and breakfast selections. A few recipes included in the book that I can't wait to try are: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pecan Crunch, Stuffed Quinoa Peppers, Spicy Bahn Mi Wrap, Lemon Pancakes with Blueberry Compote, Rice Paper Wraps, Chicken Caprese, Lemon Pepper Cod, Oven-Roasted Spicy Almonds, and Cookie Dough Hummus. 

Familiar healthy grocery shopping tips are offered such as don't shop on an empty stomach and shop the perimeter of the store. These are two tips that I really need to start following soon. There were only a few ingredients that I don't purchase often such as kale, unsweetened almond milk, PB2, and Ezekiel bread. The book provides readers with ingredient variations and substitutes which makes it easier to try new recipes. For instance, a substitute for all-purpose flour is almond or coconut flour. Coconut or soy milk can replace unsweetened almond milk. Did you know that unsweetened applesauce is a substitute for butter? I will often substitute it for butter in my baked good recipes. Oprea reminds readers about this little factoid. You can try honey or stevia as a replacement and healthy alternative for sugar.

The recipes are arranged by meal categories. They include an ingredient list and basic instructions. Several cooking tips make the meal prep easy such as the use of shredded rotisserie chicken instead of having to grill boneless chicken breasts. 

Recipes Fall Under These Meal Categories
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Sides
  • Snacks
  • Desserts
  • Smoothies
My favorite part of the book were the Tabata workout exercises. What is a Tabata exercise? I have to admit the first time I heard about this type of exercise was after reading an article about Carrie Underwood, my favorite country singer. She was a fan of these workouts and I've been wondering what she does to keep her body in shape and to have such great legs. The Tabata exercises reminded me of the HIT (High Intensity Training) exercises I did many years ago. 

Tabata exercises are short interval circuit training or workout sessions which utilize a variety of movements while weaving in short rests. The book provided three different levels of Tabata workouts: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each level offers 10 different Tabata rounds. Each round is a different Tabata exercise. All Tabatas consist of 8 rounds. Your goal is to perform each of the rounds with 20 seconds of intense exercise alternated with a 10-second rest which is equivalent to a 4-minute workout. I love that she says, "You can do anything for twenty seconds." You have the option of changing the number of exercises completed during a workout session: You can do 1 exercise 8 times, 2 moves completed 4 times, or 4 exercises done twice. If you mix and match 4-6 of the 8-round Tabatas, then you'll have a complete daily workout lasting approximately 16-24 minutes. You choose whether you'll do those workouts in one sitting or spread out the 4-minute workouts throughout the day. Workout at least 3-4 times a week and you're on the road to success. It sounds a little confusing, but after reading the book it'll make sense. Her workouts are accompanied with step-by-step black and white photographs demonstrating each movement followed by thorough and detailed explanations. I do wish the pictures were larger and in full color, but that would make the cost of the book higher.

You'll want to choose exercises that workout different muscles each day. Oprea even included Cardio Tabatas in her book. Read the book for additional modifications. Mixing up a variety of exercises helps prevent boredom and keeps you interested in your workout. If I were to do the same workout every single day, then I would quickly become bored with it. This book eliminates that problem. Don't forget you should always stretch your muscles for 5-10 minutes before and after a workout. The author encourages you to also slowly add in 5,000-10,000 steps if not more as part of your daily cardio. All of this information is covered in this book. 

Gym Equipment Needed:
  • Yoga Mat 
  • Resistance Bands
  • Jump Rope
  • Dumbbell Weights
  • Foam Stretching Roller
  • Tabata Timer Phone or Device App (Optional)
  • Pedometer (Optional)
The book gradually introduces more difficult Tabata workouts. It eases into the incorporation of four helpful clean eating diet habits: Cut out starches, reduce amount of sugar intake, cut back on sodium, and limit amount of alcohol.

The weekly meal plans offer a clean eating objective, a list of grocery shopping items to add to your cart for each meal, foods to remove from your diet, recipes to try, and a lean workout objective. References and an index can be found at the back of the book. 

Overall Thoughts and Results
The 4x4 Diet book is an easy-to-read book organized into bite-sized chapters. It is a very helpful and motivational tool. It is a short, quick read. The workout and meal plans appear to be manageable yet include a great deal of flexibility. The book teaches you how to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet and introduces you to healthier alternatives. It also includes a wide variety of ready-to-use tasty recipes.

I am already laying out my plans to implement the principles into my daily nutritional plans and routine. I would say that I am definitely a sugar addict and reducing the amount I eat will be the toughest obstacle for me. Too often I experience the awful side effects of an unhealthy diet and sugar over consumption including but not limited to sluggishness, moodiness, bloating, and highs and lows. Another obstacle for me will be not eating starches after 4pm. 

I will begin with the Beginner Tabata workouts #1 or with the Cardio Tabatas. I will aim for 3-4 workouts per week. I will gradually increase the number of Tabata workouts and the difficulty level each week using the suggestions provided. I hope that this book will be the answer to my prayers. I'll wait for my body to adjust to the new workout routine before challenging myself too much. I will, however, change the exercises daily to provide variety in my scheduled workout.

The book was informative, concise, and encouraging. The author's writing style seems down-to-earth and straightforward. I believe her workout and diet plan is simple and will be effective in yielding positive weight loss results. 

The hardback book can be purchased at Amazon for $15.84 or at Barnes and Noble for $15.84. The retail price is $25.99. If you are interested in reading this book, then I would grab it while it's on sale.

Please Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

Do you have a strong desire to change your lifestyle for the better? Are you wanting to understand how to eat clean and stay fit? Are you looking for a structured yet simple program that will give you the body YOU want in just 4 weeks? I believe this is a great book to jumpstart your nutrition and fitness program towards a healthier lifestyle. Erin’s passion, extensive knowledge about the topic, and her nutritional approach will encourage and inspire you. 

I recommend the 4x4 Diet book written by Erin Oprea to individuals wanting to improve their overall health and wellbeing. This is an excellent book for busy moms wanting a quick yet intense workout to help maintain a healthy weight or to get back in shape. Your eating habits may improve if you take the advice given to heart and are willing to try the workouts. I was impressed with the coverage in this book. If you are familiar with nutritional terminology but haven't heard of Tabata workouts, then you'll want to read this book. This book may be more suitable for beginners, individuals new to fitness arena, unless you are in need of a refreshing motivational perspective or a way to break a workout plateau.  

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I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Virtual Refrigerator: Swan Love

My daughter is fascinated with the details of adult coloring book illustrations. She's been experimenting with gel pens and colored pens as she colors. She recently surprised with a special gift. She brought home a picture of a swan she colored for me. She said she colored the picture section by section over several days using an assortment of colored pencils. Do you see the hidden heart by the swan's neck?

I have so much love for my little girl! I appreciate every single one of her homemade gifts. Thank you Alyssa! I can see your hard work and attention to detail in this beautifully colored swan. Thank you for taking the time to color it especially for me. I hung it up on the refrigerator. Can't wait until you come home!  


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Independent Review: Spanish For You! Mi Vida Curriculum Package by Debbie Annett

I received the Spanish For You! Mi Vida Curriculum Package to review. Learning a second language is imperative in today's world especially in highly populated Spanish speaking areas. I want my daughter to appreciate and be aware of other cultures too. Learning Spanish will be an invaluable skill in her future and my hope is that she'll become bilingual. Thankfully, my daughter and I both have a strong desire to learn Spanish. 

Before I get started, I want to let you know that this review will contain many photos so give it plenty of time to load. You can also click on each picture to view a larger image. 

Product Description
Spanish For You! is a year-long complete Spanish curriculum suitable for children in 3rd through 8th grade. The unique curriculum was written by Debbie Annett who has more than 15 years teaching experience. The lessons are based on a theme or unit study approach which differs from the traditional textbook approach. Receptive language skills are taught such as listening and reading skills. Your child will also improve their expressive skills which includes both speaking and writing. 

The Mi Vida Curriculum Package is centered around the "My Life" theme. Children progress through the themed books which can be done in ANY order. 

The detailed step-by-step lessons are divided into 5 main topics: 
  1. Mi Casa (My House)
  2. Mi Cuarto (My Room)
  3. Mi Familia y Mis Amigos (My Family and Friends)
  4. Mis Actividades (My Activities)
  5. Mis Classes (My Classes)
Mi Vida covers the Spanish alphabet, colors, numbers, months of the year, days of the week, commands, and common words or phrases related to the theme. Basic grammar was addressed in addition to advanced concepts such as verbs, verb conjugations, indefinite articles, nouns, personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, irregular verbs, plural and singular forms, and adjectives. Each lesson focuses on new vocabulary and basic grammar skills.  

There are currently 5 themed curricula packages. They are Estaciones (Seasons), Mi Vida (My Life), Viajes (Travels), Fiestas (Celebrations), and Conversaciones (Conversations). I have also used Fiestas in the past with huge success.

What We Received
The Mi Vida Curriculum Package includes an abundant amount of resources to effectively teach Spanish. The digital downloads were immediately sent via e-mail, but you have 5 days to download and save them. Several PDF files will be in downloadable zip files. 
  • Differentiated Lesson Guides
  • Classroom Lesson Plans (for Teacher Use)
  • Softcover Textbook
  • Audio Files in MP3 Format
  • Printable Flashcards
  • Self-Checking Worksheets
  • Catchy Songs in MP3 Format with Printable Lyrics

Lesson Guides
I received three leveled lesson guides in PDF format which are organized by grade levels: 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. Depending on the grade level purchased you'll receive 24-30 weeks worth of lessons. The Mi Vida 3rd-4th grade lesson guide contains 30 weeks worth of structured lessons. The 5th-6th and 7th-8th grade level guides lasts 24 weeks. One curriculum level gives you material to teach for a whole year. Lessons within each book progress in difficulty. 

The PDF worksheet files are organized by lesson numbers and the grade level is indicated. The author used bold print for pertinent information. The content grades are based on how the lessons are taught. For example, higher grade levels are more writing intensive and require the student to independently think. 

This curriculum is intended to be used 4 times per week for 10-30 minutes each day. Lessons could easily be completed once a week in a co-op setting or twice a week if desired. The curriculum was flexible allowing me to decide on the number of days to work on lessons and which activities to complete. You can tailor the lessons to meet your child's needs. 
I believe Alyssa would be able to follow these lesson plans without my guidance, but I enjoy participating and teaching.

Mi Vida Textbook

You'll receive a 47-page softcover textbook via mail after completing your order. The content gradually builds on previous lessons (spirals) within each book providing a continuous review of material. The textbook begins with information about the Spanish alphabet. Pronunciation help is given in the basic pronunciation guide. There are several Spanish letter sounds that are pronounced like the English sound. Common Words and Phrases are addressed across a two-page spread. The Spanish word, pronunciation, and English meaning are noted. The Mandatos (Commands) is the next section. These phrases tell other people what to do. These are helpful when teaching students to follow directions. The text offers a variety of ways to make and use flashcards. 

The textbook also offers many fun and engaging game suggestions including but not limited to Listen and Draw, Hangman, Bingo, Frío y Caliente (Hot/Cold), Word Scrambles, Cuál Falta, and Memory. We could easily substitute a different game if we didn't have enough players for the planned game or if Alyssa was eager to play a different one. She definitely had a few favorite games. For instance, Alyssa really liked the ¿Cuál Falta game. I arranged 4-6 flashcards in a row. She studied the words and their meanings. She closed her eyes while I removed one card. Then, she needed to guess which card was missing. Once she figured out which card was missing, she told me the Spanish word and the English meaning to earn a point. One skittle was given as a treat for each correct answer. We took turns playing this game. My daughter LOVED trying to trick me!
¿Cuál Falta?
(What's Missing)
There are more than 200 self-checking worksheets included in this package. Answer keys are provided immediately after the worksheet to make grading a more simplified process. Children can check their own work. The worksheets are available in PDF format. You can print all in one sitting or print as you go. The worksheet exercises may include fill-in-the blank, circle the correct answer, matching, written translations, short answer responses to questions, and more. Alyssa completed 1-3 worksheets each week. 

Flashcard Pictures
You can print flashcard illustrations in PDF format on cardstock or copy paper of any color. Each lesson contains 2 pages of flashcards. Each lesson unit can be printed on different colored paper for organizational purposes. The pictures are organized by lesson number. The simple black and white illustrations are hand-drawn. This format helps keep the curriculum costs down. The same images are used in the textbook and other resources. You also have the option of having your child draw and color the pictures to match the words introduced. 

Audio Files
The audio files for the ENTIRE book are narrated by the author, Debbie Annett. You listen to the audios when indicated in the lesson plans. The audio can be fast at times so younger learners may get frustrated. The files are also available and recorded in a second file by a native Spanish speaker from Mexico which allows any student to hear a clear and correct pronunciation and a different dialect at a much faster pace. This pace was a little too fast for my daughter right now, but I still want to expose her to the differences. The files are compatible with and can be played on most computers, iPods, and MP3 devices. The audios arrive in zipped files. 
Repeating and Learning Verbs
Classroom Teacher Lesson Plans 
I also reviewed the classroom teacher lesson plans which are perfect for schools and co-op use. These lesson plans are designed to be used during a 1-hour weekly class session. Debbie Annett offers a bulleted list of suggested helpful materials to keep on hand at the beginning of the lesson plans. Most of these are items you will find in your home.

The grade level and lesson number are indicated at the top of the page. The lessons are organized in a chart or grid format with 3 columns labeled with the following titles: Activity, Instructions, and Materials. The lessons consist of 1-5 pages which includes the game and activity templates with instructions. The instructions for each activity are clearly given as a bulleted step-by-step list. Reminders about classroom materials such as game materials and flashcards are stated in the lesson plans. 

The session began with a warm-up including greetings and a name game called, ¿Como te illamas? Vocabulary words are gradually introduced. The set of words is broken up throughout the lesson. Children learn better when they are presented with only a few words at a time. The core lesson consists of games and activities to get your students interacting, speaking, and involved. Teaching vocabulary with gestures reinforces the word meaning. Vocabulary and game play are alternated. The lesson concludes with a goodbye after a game is played. Useful teacher tips and suggestions are occasionally provided at the top of the grid. 

Teachers utilize the weekly lesson plans and then assign the corresponding week of the lesson guide for homework.  For instance, you would teach week 2 from the weekly teacher lesson plans and assign week 2 of the lesson guide for homework. You MUST assign the lesson guide work between classes as homework otherwise the teacher lesson plans won't make any sense to the students. 

The author did an excellent job setting you up for classroom success if you follow the lesson plan guides with these teacher classroom lesson plans in order. I am thoroughly impressed with her dedication to helping others teach Spanish. You have the flexibility to decide what games and activities you want to do. You can add activities if you have time or eliminate one if too much is planned. All of the planning is done for you. The teacher must simply listen to the audio prior to class, especially if they are non-Spanish speaking individuals, and prepare classroom game and activity materials. The only problem I can see is that you may have too much to do in an hour, but that's why you have the power to adapt. The lessons can be modified with ease. Debbie lays out everything you need to complete lessons and what you must do. Print it out and you're ready to go. 
Grid Close-Up: Week 1
Classroom Teacher Lesson Plans: Week 2
Supplies To Have On Hand
  • Computer and Printer
  • Compatible MP3 File Program
  • Unzipping Software Such As WinZip or StuffIt
  • Cardstock and Copy Paper (White and Colored)
  • Adobe Reader for PDF files
  • Lined Paper
  • Pencils and Erasers
  • Markers, Crayons, Dry Erase Marker, or Colored Pencils
  • 3x5 Index Cards
  • Scissors
  • Bubbles (optional)
  • 1-2 Flyswatters (optional)
  • Bingo Game Markers (optional)
How We Used Spanish For You!
I used Spanish For You! with my 8-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who works at a 3rd-5th grade level. She has some experience and knowledge with the Spanish language. I decided to start with the 3rd-4th grade material which contains 30 weeks worth of lesson content.  

I printed six weeks out at a time to make it easier for us to get started immediately. The lessons were stored in a 3-pronged and pocketed folder. I plan on moving everything to a tabbed binder for easier access and to prevent worksheets from accidentally creasing. I highlighted each week once completed to help me track and monitor our progress. There is room to write dates you completed or will complete the lesson if desired.    

We used the curriculum 3-5 times per week for 20-30 minutes a day. Occasionally, we would double up one lesson and some days we would expand it out to five days to reinforce what was being taught using the games and activities. Lessons were completed IN ORDER, because the content was systematically taught. 

The curriculum downloads were downloaded on my MAC OS X 10.9.5 computer using Safari 9.1 as my preferred Internet browser. You'll also need to have an updated version of Adobe Reader to print all of the worksheets and PDF formatted files. A program that reads MP3 audio files must be installed on your computer. We used iTunes to listen to the MP3 audio files. I paused lessons when needed and repeated audio for extra practice. 

Beginning each new lesson unit, Alyssa cuts index cards in half. We copied the flashcard images on regular white or colored copy paper. She glued them to the index card. Next, she wrote the English word on one side and the Spanish translation on the other side. Making flashcards helped build her writing skills. We frequently used these flashcards during game time or interactive activities. She had the opportunity to color her flashcards, but she didn't have any interest in coloring. I love having access to these flashcard printables, because they saved us time. The flashcard illustrations connected meaning to the words being learned.  

Next, she listened to the audio while following along in her textbook pointing at each word. After the word was narrated, she repeated it correcting any pronunciation errors. She would often ask me to repeat the audio after completing a lesson for additional support. 

I didn't require Alyssa to master the verb conjugations. I wanted her to learn them at an age-appropriate pace. She did recognize and begin to memorize the verb patterns. All vocabulary, verb, and grammar lessons follow a learn, use, and interactive use sequence over the lesson unit. First, she was introduced to new vocabulary, verbs, or grammar concepts in the Learn section of the textbook with audio. This was followed by a flashcard activity of her choice from the Making Flashcards page. Then as part of the Use section, Alyssa would listen to another audio related to the textbook. This section may involve writing exercises on lined paper. Listening activities were incorporated into this section. She would first listen to the vocabulary words in Spanish. Next, she wrote them in Spanish and then checked her spelling. The Interactive Use section offered a wide selection of Games and Activities to complete. Practice and mastery was encouraged through worksheets and language usage.
Lesson Sequence: Learn, Use, Interactive Use
Lesson 1: Mi Casa (My House)
Listen and Write Activity
Then, she completed a worksheet if it was noted as an assignment for that particular daily lesson. After completing each worksheet, she checked her work with my supervision. I had her check her work using a pen (color of her choice) so I could identify which errors she made quickly. 

Games and activities were last on our agenda. I liked closing lessons with a fun and interactive review of what we learned. Modifications or substitutes will be needed for families homeschooling an only child. You'll need to choose a different game if more than two players are required and no one else is available to help.
¿Qué Tienes? (What Do You Have)
and Bingo
One of my favorite aspects is the Curriculum Activities For You! website which is password protected. Click on the link for a sneak peek, but curriculum users can access ALL of the resources with their password. A conglomeration of additional games and activities with printable instructions requiring minimal prep are provided. 

We enjoyed playing so many of the games and activities listed. Our next game to play is the Color Spoon Race Game to review Spanish color words. There are also dialog sheets which gives children the opportunity to have a conversation in Spanish with a partner. The Blast from the Past worksheets review previously learned concepts. They could also be utilized as a unit test. We will start using the verb conjugation help sheet in August. Check out the photos below for more games and activities. 
Matamoscas (Swat the Flies)
(Bubble Pop Verb Conjugation Game)
Conjugate a verb before all bubbles pop.
Envelope Game
The entire lesson unit concluded with a Let's Put It All Together activity. A 4x2 grid contained 8 boxes. Each box had an illustration with two sentences. Alyssa chose and wrote which sentence BEST described the picture. Answers can be checked using the audio. 

Another one of my favorite components from this curriculum are the valuable audio files which are included in the package. The audio files allow children to hear Spanish spoken clearly without error and also by a Native Spanish speaking individual which builds fluency. It is the perfect curriculum component and what seems to be missing from others currently on the market. You can repeat vocabulary words before and after the audio. I have Alyssa look and point at the vocabulary as she states them aloud.   

What I Liked
  • Fosters Independence
  • Individualized Pace
  • Repetition and Constant Language Usage
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Skills Addressed
  • Easy-to-Implement
  • Short Lessons
  • All Learning Styles Addressed
  • Adaptable and Flexible Lesson Plans
  • Complete and Comprehensive 
  • Saves Planning and Prep Time
  • No Background Knowledge or Experience Needed
  • Teaches Basic and Contextual Grammar
Personal Pronouns
Indefinite Article Memory/Concentration Game
Are you looking for a Spanish curriculum that requires no Spanish background? Spanish For You! is an affordable curriculum compared to those on the market. It's reasonably-priced and definitely worth its value. It is $64.95 for teaching children across all grade levels including 3rd-8th grade in one package or you can purchase individual specific grade levels as needed 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8. 

30-day money back guarantee is offered with your purchase. You can try one of the FREE Spanish worksheets or free mini-lessons to see if the curriculum will work for your family. The classroom/teacher lesson plans for those of you teaching a Spanish class or co-op class are available in the online store as part of co-op or teacher packages.

There is a limited time July special offered this month. Subscribe to their newsletter and you'll receive a code that will give you a FREE song with a $12.95 purchase, $5 off $39.95 purchase, or $10 off a $100 order.

I also noticed that there is Online Conversation Practice with Mariana available now if you want your child to practice speaking with a Native Spanish speaker familiar with the curriculum. Her 30-minute sessions are currently priced at $15.

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. 

If you are looking for a user-friendly Spanish curriculum, then I HIGHLY recommend Spanish for You! It is comprehensive and incorporates the use of a variety of teaching methods such as flashcards, interactive games, hands-on activities, audio, songs, worksheets, and more.

This product can be used with homeschool families who have no background knowledge of the language. You do NOT need to speak Spanish to use this curriculum. In fact, it can be used with children in 3rd-8th grade as a self-study or independent study with older grade levels. The audio files provide the parent and child with the correct pronunciation so they can work together. This curriculum can be implemented in private or public classrooms, in a tutoring setting, after school care, or co-op groups. Larger families teaching multiple ages or grade levels at one time will appreciate this curriculum. 

Home educators implementing an Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, Theme-Based, or Unit Study educational approach may find this curriculum appealing and useful. Short lessons centered around themed topics are features to be appreciated.

Overall Results and Experience
Overall, this well-written curriculum effectively teaches Spanish to multiple-aged groups of students working at different levels. The flexible lessons are presented in an easy to understand format. My daughter constantly sang the bonus Alphabet song. Her goal is to have it memorized soon. 

Alyssa was thoroughly engaged and enjoyed playing the games the most. We made up our own version of a game that is similar to Vocabulary Bingo, Three-in-a-Row, and Tic-Tac-Toe. We used the flashcards. I said a Spanish word aloud and Alyssa covered the English meaning with a centimeter block. If she got three-in-a-row or tic-tac-toe (across, down, or diagonal) then she yelled, "Bingo." We played this game several times. Winner gets a treat of their choice. The game in the textbook is different. First, you draw a tic-tac-toe board on paper and take turns drawing vocab flashcards. During your turn you must correctly state the Spanish word to mark an "x" or "o." The author challenges the student by encouraging them to write the Spanish word on the board too. 

Her knowledge of the Spanish language has increased and her vocabulary is expanding. The repetitive nature of the curriculum and its built-in review enabled Alyssa to retain the information better and over longer periods of time. She has more confidence when speaking Spanish in public settings and practices the language more often with friends. She is also becoming more aware of and recognizing the verb patterns as you can see in the array layout below. 

Possible Vendor Suggestions
  • PowerPoint Flashcards
  • Offer More Individual and Partner Games (Own Category Online)
  • Offer a Print All at Once Option for Worksheets 
  • More Cultural and Holiday Components
  • Book List Suggestions Supporting Theme or Concept
  • Add More Craft Projects and/or Recipes
  • Organize Lesson Audio & Worksheets by Page Number in Numerical Order for Easier Accessibility - I had a difficult time tracking down the worksheet because they were alphabetized by worksheet titles. This was the only issue I faced when using this curriculum.   

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I received a complimentary, free copy of this curriculum from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have  expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the FTC Regulations. 

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