Saturday, October 24, 2015

Crew Review: Three Great Resources from Institute for Excellence in Writing

IEW Phonetic Zoo

It's been several years since our family reviewed anything from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Although a large number of Crew members were going to be reviewing Phonetic Zoo, we were able to review a selection of IEW Resources instead. Our resource pack included their Timeline of Classics, A Word Write Now, and the Teaching with Games set. Each of these resources meets a specific need in the life of homeschool teachers!

Timeline of Classics

 IEW Phonetic Zoo
Timeline of Classics is exactly the resource I've wished I had several different times. This spiral bound book by Gail Ledbetter contains a list of classic books that fit into different historical time periods.

Each page states a timeline date on the top right side. The chart on the page then lists a description of the book topic, the book title, the author, and the grade level the book is best suited for. Perfect for finding a book to accompany whatever history curriculum you're using, or design your own unit study.

A feature I wasn't expecting from the self-explanatory title is that each page also contains a quote from one of the books on that page, or a person that was significant to that time in history. These quotes can be used for copywork or memorization, or even a discussion starter.

We have a history curriculum, but I tend to wing it for literature in the elementary grades. Using the Timeline of Classics, I can pick classic literature to correspond with our history curriculum. I am sure I'll still be browsing the library catalog for some modern options, but the Timeline of Classics will be a go-to reference that I will use for years to come! Probably for my remaining 15 years of homeschooling!

The Timeline of Classics is available for $29.00 in physical spiral-bound form, or $19.00 as a digital download from IEW.

A Word Write Now

 IEW Phonetic Zoo A Word Write Now is so much more than just a thesaurus. Loranna Schwacofer has compiled a topical thesaurus that is helpful for writers of all ages. The word lists are categorized into 3 categories: character traits, words to describe, and words for movement and the senses. There is also an appendix that lists literary devices, transition words, and literary genres.

I like that A Word Write Now groups words into categories. It is simpler than tracking through a thesaurus from word to word until I found the one I want to use. Instead, I can look up the character trait or movement I want to describe and find a list of adjectives, adverbs, and verbs that fit that character trait. Older students can be taught to use the book independently as they write, while younger students can be helped to use it in editing a work-in-progress.

The "words to describe..." section is a little different. You can look up words to describe weather, or time, or colors. You can also look up words for speaking, so you don't just keep saying, "He said, she said."

Students who love English and reading will probably find themselves just reading through the lists, absorbing the variety of words. I know I have. It starts out by looking up a word type, and next thing you know ... you're just reading through the lists and enjoying the richness of the language. As they discover other words, they can add them to the "additional words" section of each list.

One little feature that seems to be there for the pure enjoyment of the written word is quotes and literary excerpts to accompany each list of words. These quotes are just fun to read, but they also make great material for copywork, if you use that Charlotte Mason method for developing handwriting, spelling and grammar.

I know we will use A Word Write Now for years in our junior and senior high writing lessons, as well as for my own personal writing. It is available from IEW in a spiral-bound cardstock book, for $35.00.

Teaching With Games Set

 IEW Phonetic Zoo For years I have read that games are one of the best ways to teach young children, especially the distractible, energetic, hands-on kids. I know it's true, but my brain just screams "Uncle" whenever I think of using more games. I'm not as creative as I should be, or maybe I'm just too tired.

Teaching with Games is a workshop and book written by Lori Verstegen. You can purchase the workshop on DVD with the book as an e-book on cd-rom for $29.00, or you can purchase the  spiral-bound book without the workshop videos for $19.00.

First, if you puchase the DVD/CD-Rom set, I highly recommend that you PRINT the e-book. The workshop video follows along with the e-book. Having it in front of me allowed me to read along and take notes. The 12 (or so) women that Lori is teaching in the workshop are also following along with a notebook and taking notes.

Lori doesn't just explain how to use games in a general sense, she demonstrates multiple games in the 130 minute workshop, as well as telling you how to use those ideas as jump-off points for creating your own games. The book itself is helpful, but seeing the game demonstrated is easier to understand than just reading it, even though it contains samples of the different games. (Speaking of which, the ability to print off the game samples from the cd-rom is a time-saver for actually starting to use the games.) Another reason to buy the DVD/CD-Rom set is that there is a pdf of bonus materials that doesn't come in the book itself. This includes more pre-made games for learning about alliteration, similes and metaphors.

The Teaching with Games set would be beneficial for homeschool parents, co-op teachers, Sunday School or Children's Church teachers, and school teachers. Anyone who is working with students and looking for ideas to encorporate games into their teaching. The No-Prep games are great time-fillers for fun, quick reviews. The other games require preparation, but once they're made, they can be used over and over again. Once the techniques are learned, the game variations can be used to cover a plethora of subjects.

IEW Resources

I have to confess that I only associated Institute for Excellence in Writing with their writing curriculum. I hadn't looked at their other resources, so I was pleasantly surprised by the resources we received. We were impressed by all the materials and I will be using them for years to come!

You can follow IEW online (and be better informed than I was about their new products) through social media:

April E.

IEW Review

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