Category Archives for Review

The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury Book Review

The secret ingredient to creating great writers … {Review}

Grammar … punctuation … spelling … organization … structure …

All of these are so important when it comes to helping my kids communicate effectively with their writing.

They have to be able to put their ideas down on paper in a way that makes sense.

But there’s something else … and it can be a little elusive at times.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a sneaky, secret way to helping my kids become great writers that takes almost NO time out of our homeschool day.

CLICK HERE to check it out for your homeschool:

My favorite math game that makes learning division much easier

My favorite game to make learning division soooo much easier {Review}

I’ll admit it … I’ve never been a fan of long division.

And except for my one “mathy” kid, none of my kids have been either.

It’s hard. It makes your brain work. And it has soooooo many steps!

Fortunately, you can make division a little bit easier for your kids (and yourself) by playing games that introduce division skills BEFORE you get to long division.

And today I want to share one of my FAVORITE pre-division games with you!

CLICK HERE to check out Prime Climb for your homeschool!

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Hey guys, it's ToriAnn Perkey here. From my homeschool to your homeschool, is long division or division in general something that your kids love or something that your kids not so love so much? Yeah, in my home, division is just one of those things that is not a beloved topic, and I get it.

One of my memories from elementary school is doing long division and just dreading it because it is hard. It makes the brain work. It's like [makes sound] so many steps, so many places to make mistakes.

Division is tricky, but today I want to share a resource with you that can make it just a little bit easier. Division, fractions, primes, factors -- all of that is going to be easier with this game that I want to share with you today.

It is called Prime Climb, and I love this game. I have loved this game since it showed up as a Kickstarter campaign in my newsfeed. It was about 3 or 4 years -- no, maybe -- yeah, 3 or 4 years ago. We grabbed this game. I have never regretted it.

This is one of my absolute favorite math games that we play in our house, and let me tell you all the reasons why I love this game. First of all, it's completely visual, and I was looking for visual games because I wanted games that my kids could play regardless of whether they were reading well or not -- because some of my kids have some of those struggles. And so they were old enough to be starting to learn more difficult math concepts but they couldn't read yet. So, I love the fact this math is completely visual.

Second, I love the fact that it's so visual that it works for visual learners as well as more right brain thinkers as well as the left brain thinkers -- and I have both. 

So, let me just give you an idea here. This is the game board, and let's make sure you guys can see it and this -- it's beautiful. It's absolutely beautiful. And it was put together by a couple of genuine mathematicians -- really strong ones.

And what's really, really -- oh my gosh, this is so cool -- is you'll notice down here the #2 is all gold, right? The #3 is all blue. Well, when you get to 4, you'll notice it's gold … and let me show you -- let me see if I can do this. It's got a divider in between that.

So, what you see is they've taken 2, and they've shown how by division it makes 4. If we come up to 6 -- ah, this game board. If we come up to 6, what you can see here -- maybe I can do this. Aha. If we come up to 6, it is the blue -- I can't do my colors. It's the green and the yellow combined. Did you see that? So, it's like yellow and green combined which is the 2 x 3. And then we get to 5 which is another prime, right? So, there's no -- it's just a solid prime, and then 7's a prime.

But if we come over here to say this red one, red's a 37 -- these are the prime factors. So, they don't get to be red. But once we get here ... once you get into the higher numbers ... any number that's completely prime is red, but any number that's created by other numbers is a division and a colorful combination mathematically -- visually with those.  So, 36 is a 3, a 3, and a 2, and a 2, and you'll notice that's factor trees.

Factor trees visually represented with colors.  Thirty five is your blue 5 and your purple 7. Okay, when I realized what they had one with every number up to 101, I really, really just sort of wigged out.  I was like [crazy happy sound 🙂].

So, what you do as you play this game is your goal is to move your piece all the way from the start to the center. And there's cards that give you different instructions about how fast you can move. There's dice that you roll. There's going backwards. There's going forwards. And there's the additional added step that you have to do factoring math to move forward or to move back. And depending on how complicated you make it determines how much math your kids need to know to be able to do this game. 

So, you're able to do at different levels. My 6 year old was able to figure it out, but my 10 year old and my 12 year old still enjoy playing. And as an adult and as teenagers, we still enjoy playing because it's one of those games that grows with you. It stretches your brain. It gets you thinking, so all the family can play.

So, Prime Climb is one of those games that is so packed with math at the same time it's fun, it's visual, it's going to keep you moving forward. And it's by people who understood that if they could take a math concept that was a little hard to understand and primes, factors -- all those things that go into division, into fractions -- and they could make it simpler, it was going to make everything after primes and factoring so much easier.

And this is one of those games that when my kids then get to division, get to those higher level things, they already understand what's going on. When they look at fractions, and they're trying to figure out how to come up with multiples, how to come up with all those things, these concepts that we've learned in Prime Climb and in other games like this are now embedded in their brain and moving them forward faster because they can see the concepts.

I love it, love it, love it.  So, if this is something you're interested in, fortunately you don't have to wait for another Kickstarter campaign. You can pick it up on Amazon. Just check up the link up above or down below -- wherever it is based on where you're watching this video. It's definitely going to be worth your time to check this out.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I bring you these videos every week so that you can be a super successful and confident homeschool mom.

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My favorite math game that makes learning division much easier
My favorite math game that makes learning division much easier
My favorite math game that makes learning division much easier
Homeschool math game Prime Climb review
Homeschool science curriculum elementary magic school bus

My no-fail science plan when I’m too tired to do science … {Magic School Bus Videos Review}

For six and half years, I never got a full night’s sleep.

My oldest had sleep issues and would wake up … every … single … night.

I was soooooo tired.

Homeschool science curriculum elementary magic school bus


But we were still homeschooling. And even AFTER she slept through the night, the other three children took their turns waking me up.

Aching legs … bad dreams … croupy coughs.

It seemed I went FOREVER without sleeping.

And we still homeschooled.

But there were times when I was soooo tired, that the thought of doing ANYTHING extra was more than I could handle.

Enter today’s science resource! (duh duh duh!!!!)

I’ve used this awesome series over the years to feel like we were “doing” science when I just couldn’t muster the effort to “do” science.

And even if you’re sleeping blissfully through the night, these are amazing for those days when kids are sick or you just need a little extra time to do something … anything!

Seriously … who doesn’t need that?!?

CLICK HERE to check it out for your homeschool.

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hey guys! It's ToriAnn Perkey here. From my homeschool to your homeschool, I get it! Sometimes you are tired. I know because sometimes I am tired. As a homeschool mom, we are doing so many things, and sometimes, well, the days don't go as planned.

The baby doesn't sleep through the night. We don't sleep through the night. The teenagers are coming home late. Whatever it is, and we are exhausted.  We've had kids yelling or running, or it's just not been a good day, and we realize we've got to do some science.

Whether you're trying to hit all of those earmarks every week for your curriculum or your report that you need to do, or you just realize that you'd like to shake it up a little bit and you've got to fit some science in. But you are too tired to get out all of the equipment and doing a science experiment, and like …. okay ... just the thought of it when I'm tired is way, way too much for me.

Which is why I'm going to show you a resource that I use on the days when I'm so tired that science is not an option.  It is called Magic School Bus. Oh yes.

So, these were books. They were turned into movies, and they are on DVD, and you can buy the complete set. You guys ... this is a lot of science! Now, for some of us, we grew up with Magic School Bus, right? And we know all about this. But for those of you who didn't, let me tell you a little bit about what makes Magic School Bus so amazing. 

So, the idea is that there's this crazy teacher called Ms. Frizzle, and the kids in the class -- whenever they have a science question or something that they're learning about -- rather than sit in class, she takes them. She puts them on the magic school bus, which can shrink or grow humongous or can sprout wings or can go in the ocean or can fly in outer space ... whatever ... and the bus takes these kids on adventures, so that they are embedded into whatever science topic it is that she wants them to learn about.

Oh, it's so much fun. Every episode ran on PBS, so it's like a 30 minute -- well, it's probably like a 25-minute episode. Perfect amount of time. I used these when I was too tired for science. I was also using them for a long time when we ate lunch. I would just put in the DVD. We'd watch it while we ate lunch.

It was an easy way to slide science into the day. They were learning so many things. And what I love about Magic School Bus is except for the solar system one, which was made before Pluto was declassified as a planet, every bit of the science is really strong science.

They're going to be talking about photosynthesis. They're going to be talking about molecules. They're going to be talking about the physics of simple machines. They're going to be talking about the geography of volcanoes and the different parts of the earth. It covers the gamut of elementary science and every disc -- so, if I open this up, you'll see that there are 1, 2, 3, 4 -- oh, there are numbers at the bottom. There are eight discs in the complete set. Eight discs and every disc has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 episodes. So, 8 x 7 is a lot of episodes, right? Fifty six. That's like an entire year of science plus some!

Aaaah, I love it!  But what we would do is when the kids were sick, or we were tired -- we would watch when we're tired. But if the kids were sick, sometimes they would watch several in a row because during the day I'd say, “Well, if you're sick. You need to watch something educational.” And so they would pull out Magic School Bus.

My teenagers still pull out Magic School Bus because it's that much fun. It's fun. It's engaging. They've got lots of characters. I love the fact that they can be watching something. They can be learning the science. And then we can follow up with that with more knowledge --  with maybe, if we want to do some kind of experiment later on. I'm not saying you have to, but if you wanted to.

There are lots of extensions to this series because it was so popular, but you don't have to get any of the extensions. But I highly recommend that you check out the DVDs because they are really, really helpful for being, honestly, a successful homeschool mom, because there are times when this is all you can do. When all you can do is open up the DVD player, put the DVDs in, and close it. And Magic School Bus is one of the things that's really tricky to find online. Believe me ... if I could find it on YouTube, I probably would just watch it on YouTube, but you can't. They religiously, religiously make sure that this content is copyrighted and protected. So, if you really want to have access to it, you got to buy the DVDs. Totally worth it.

Ahhh, okay, I love it. So, if you're interested, make sure you check out the link up above or down below or wherever it is based on where you're watching this video.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey and from my homeschool to your homeschool, I bring you these videos every single week so that you can be a super successful and confident homeschool mom.

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Homeschool science curriculum elementary magic school bus
Homeschool science curriculum elementary magic school bus
Homeschool science curriculum elementary magic school bus
magic school bus review science curriculum

Are your kids tired of boring writing assignments? This holds the answer! {Review}

I LOVE storytelling and creative writing toys and games.

And today … I’m going to share one of my FAVORITES!

I love this game because it’s open-ended … and I think of all the resources I love, it does the best at helping with writing prompting that create a vast ocean of ideas no matter what age you are.



It’s the first resource I pull out when I teach teenagers creative writing, and we still pull it out at home when we need creative juices to flow.

But it also works so well for kindergarten and preschool ages - although you'll have to modify how you play with the cards if your child can't read yet.

CLICK HERE to check out Storymatic for your homeschool.

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hey guys! ToriAnn Perkey here. From my homeschool to your homeschool, are the writing assignments in your home getting a little boring? Or do your kids feel just a little confined because they feel like the writing assignments they have to do are coming out of a book that maybe they're not super interested in? Or maybe you're not using a curriculum at all, but you know that you want your kids to be creative doing creative writing, and you're not quite sure how to get them started?

Well, today I've got something that's going to knock your socks off that I love to help kids get the creative juices flowing. It is called “Storymatic,” and it is a fabulous, fabulous resource for generating creative stories. In fact, they say “6 gazillion stories in one little box,” and I'm not kidding you, it's totally true.

So, let me tell you all about this amazing resource for your homeschool family. When you open it up, it has two kinds of cards -- the yellow cards and the blue cards -- and they do different things. The blue cards are characters or -- yeah, so, “family members are robots” or “flying blanket.”  So, it's a character or it's a situation. “Homesick.” Here's another one, “mysterious stranger comes to town.” So, the cards -- nice quality cards ... I love the fact that they're not flimsy at all ... all have -- the blue cards have that kind of thing written on it.

Now, on this side, we get things like “someone with a secret,” “fortuneteller,” “thumb sucker.” So, what happens is in the most basic way of using these cards -- you get a blue card and you get a yellow card, and you put them together, and you start to generate a story.  In this case, we would have a fortuneteller and a flying blanket. Suddenly, my brain starts to think how could I create a story about a flying blanket and a fortuneteller, and I can promise, you and your kids will start to have lots and lots of fun.

You can make it more interesting if you want to add extra card. So, you could have a “fortuneteller,” a “thumb sucker” (two characters), and a “flying blanket.”  And these are character cards that are super fun. So, you can actually take two character cards, add a situation and create that. So, here we have a gentle giant. So, now new story -- what if you had a thumb sucker, a gentle giant, and family members that are robots? Totally different story.

Now, if you're looking for more than one way to use these cards -- and there's a gazillion ways to use the cards just like there's a gazillion stories -- it comes with this really amazing little booklet full of ideas on how to use the cards. And that's what I really, really like about it, is they understand that you may want to use the cards in different ways, and you may need a little bit of a starter help to figure out different ways to use the cards. And this is full of ideas just over and over and over again from “flash” to “double time” to “write it,” “draw it,” which is where you get to draw and write word by word -- where you do tandem telling, and one person starts the story and then says one word and then the next word goes to the next person, the next person. Things like that. Group games, individual games -- so many ways to use these cards. 

Now, these cards are a little pricier than some of the other storytelling resources that I've recommended before. And I hesitated ... I waited a while to buy these. I was a little worried because I thought “I don't know. I don't know.” But I'm here to tell you, I have never ever ever regretted purchasing Storymatic. Of all my storytelling resources, this one's one of my favorites.

Okay. The other thing I want to tell you is there's a kid's version and an adult version. I only own the kid version, because I was a little nervous about what might be in the adult version because it's definitely designed for adults. But I was also worried that it would be really too kiddish to use with my teenagers. Not at all. I feel like adults can get -- and teenagers -- can get just as much out of the kid version of the game as anybody. And, in fact, I think as an adult you could totally get Storymatic and have a blast. So, I've never bothered with the adult version because well, I really don't think I need it.

So, there you go.  If you are looking for a brand new way to just radically up-level your writing assignments or your storytelling or any of that creative, fun playing that's going on in your house, this is definitely a resource you want to look at. And you can check it out at the link up above or down below or wherever it shows up wherever you're watching this video.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I'm here every week making these videos for you so that you can be a successful, confident homeschool mom.

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Creative writing curriculum alternative storymatic game review

How to ensure your kids will succeed at higher level math {Greg Tang Review}

Algebra … Trigonometry … Calculus …

How do you feel about teaching these subjects?

I did okay in math in high school -- but I wasn’t a whiz. So I know that I’m not the best resource when it comes time for my kids to learn their higher level math.



But that’s okay! Because my job is to facilitate a great education … not be the teacher for every subject.

As my kids get into the higher-level math, I find other AMAZING mentors and teachers to help teach them.

But before my kids get there, I make sure we set a good foundation. That means focusing on thinking skills that help prepare them to do higher level math.

And today, I want to share a  math resource that we have used for years in my homeschool to build those skills.

These books teach a foundational skill for higher-level math AND they are super fun to sit on the couch and read!

CLICK HERE to check it Greg Tang's books for your homeschool.

Rather keep reading than watch? Scroll to read a transcript of the video.

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hi everybody! It's ToriAnn Perkey here. From my homeschool to your homeschool, do you want your kids to do well at the higher level math? I'm talking past the addition, the subtraction, the multiplication, and the division. I'm talking about algebra. I'm talking about trigonometry. I'm talking about those really high level concepts that make them do well on the test that get them into college ... that help them do well in college. Do you want your kids to do well in higher level math?

And whether your kids are going to college or not, this is an interesting question to ask because higher level math is all about learning how to think. And if you know how to think, you're going to do better at whatever you decide to do, right? So, you want your kids to do better. How do you get them there? How do you ensure that they're going to do well at higher level math?

Well, I am here to tell you it is not just learning how your multiplication tables work -- like not learning how to memorize -- and it's not just knowing how to plug numbers into equations and chug out the answer on the other side. No, it's problem solving.

Problem solving is how you ensure that your kids can go from this level of math all the way up here to this level math. 

And today I want to show you a resource that we've used in my home that I love because it just gets the problem-solving brain working like crazy. It is the book series by Greg Tang, and all the books have different titles. This particular one is called "Math Potatoes." His very first book the one that made him an international bestseller is called "The Grapes of Math," and yes, he does have fabulously funny puns with every single book.

Now, these books are really, really cool. They work for all ages. There are some that are definitely geared towards the younger kids, and there are some that are a little more geared towards the older kids, but my kids across the board have enjoyed them all.

Let me show you how this one works then we'll talk a little bit about the distinctions in the other ones. So, every page is a spread like this. Do you see that? There's a poem on this side, and then some kind of picture pattern on this side. Remember, this is all about problem solving -- specifically visual problem solving -- which makes it great for your visual learners who maybe have a little bit more trouble with math.

So, the poem if you read it, it always rhymes, but it's going to ask them to do some kind of mathematical problem solving without counting or without doing it the normal obvious way. So, for example -- and I won't read the whole poem but basically what they're supposed to do is figure out how many shells -- this one's called Shell Shock -- how many shells are over here. And the hint that's given in the poem is to look for patterns in squares.

So, you'll notice that over here the patterns are such that the kid could count every single one. But if they notice that there are patterns of nine in the squares and over and over again they can actually count up the nine squares. And he mentions in here “Be careful not to double count,” right? Because you don't want to double count this square right here and they're learning -- and then they can find the answer of how many shells there are.

So, they're learning how to think differently. How to look for patterns in their math. And problem solving and pattern finding is key to be successful at higher level math.  So, every single page in this series -- here's one about stars, and it has a different kind of pattern and problem to find. Here's one with peanuts. So, every problem in this book, every two-page spread, has a different kind of problem solving and a different kind of critical thinking, a different kind of pattern finding and pattern finding. Oh, so key! So, I have a couple of other books.

Now, he has -- I didn't bring them all.  He has some that are to help with multiplication, some that help with addition and subtraction.  Let's see … and then a couple -- another one that I really like is one that he calls "Math-terpieces" and what's really fun about this is that he actually patterns his entire poem over a masterpiece work of art.  So you get to talk a little bit about Van Gogh's Starry Night. You can go bunny trail that. Here's your poem, and this one you're supposed to find patterns. Four different ways to make seven. You'll notice three stars or four stars. Counting is important. One star, two star, three and two, and so looking for different ways to group these up to make seven.

Again, patterns, critical thinking, problem solving with a really fun picture book that's full of artwork. Okay, I get super excited. Let's see this one is "Math Appeal," another book that he has, and I love this one again just because it has -- every single one of them is different. So, you're looking for different patterns. Here the kids are looking for focusing on 15s as they count all the geese in the sky. So, how can they find 15s in this picture? How can they find 15s and then group them in different ways?

This series of books, whether you get one or you get all, is definitely going to help your kids have that pattern finding, problem-solving brain that they need to do higher level math well and to feel confident doing it. So, if it's something you think would work for your homeschool, you can look up above or down below. I'm going to have a link somewhere that will help you get to it.

From my homeschool to your homeschool, I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I bring you these videos every week so that you can be a successful, confident homeschool mom.

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Bananagrams game review to teach spelling

Toss the dreaded spelling list and play this game instead! {Bananagrams Review}

Spelling … how’s it going in your homeschool?

I look at spelling a lot like learning basic math facts. Absolutely important as a building block to higher level schooling -- but not always as exciting to learn.

Bananagrams game review to teach spelling


Over the years, I’ve tried so many different approaches -- memorizing basic lists, using copywork, playing tons of games -- and each has pros and cons.

What I’ve found is that the type of learner that I have really determines what kind of approach works best.

My wholistic thinkers do really well with games and spell check and copywork. Each time they see a word misspelled, it gets filed away … and over time their spelling continues to improve.

I’m always amazed because these wholistic-thinking kids are also the ones who seem to be allergic to lists and memorizing anything … it’s almost as if they need to just absorb the spelling through everyday exposure.

On the other side are my linear thinkers. They LOVE lists … and really need them to do well.

My dyslexic linear thinker must methodically and logically taught spelling -- helping her see the patterns and the connections. Her spelling is slowly improving through consistent focus.

My other non-dyslexic linear thinker uses the lists and immediately sees the connections on his own. He LOVES words. He also LOVES word games because spelling comes so naturally to him.

So with this mix of kids, I’ve found that a mixed approach to spelling has been effective. Some get lists, some get copywork.

But games are one way that we all can come together -- adjusting to accommodate the different skill levels.

I want to share with you one of my favorite word games that we’ve been able to adapt in several ways into our homeschool.

Play it straight -- or modify it to teach and review specific words. So much fun no matter how you to do it!

CLICK HERE to check Bananagrams out for your homeschool.

Ready to feel Confident and Successful as you homeschool?

Register below to watch my FREE CLASS

Confident Homeschool Secrets

7 Ways to Create a Homeschool That Works (and you LOVE!)


Hey everybody, it's ToriAnn Perkey. From my homeschool to your homeschool, do you have dreaded spelling lists? 

Do you pull out the spelling list and your kids go, "Oh Mom, not another spelling list!" 

Spelling is one of those things that we know our kids need to do when we're homeschooling.  Is there a way to do it that's more fun, more engaging, more exciting? Because I'm going to tell you that anything that is more fun, more engaging and more exciting is going to work so much better in your homeschool.  And throughout all the different homeschooling things that we did, I was always looking for ways to make the boring, the mundane, the write-it-down-5-times type of spelling list thing ... is there a way to make it more fun?  There almost always is. Which is why today I want to tell you about a really cool game that we used in our home instead of dreaded spelling list. And it's so multipurpose that we used it far beyond and continue to use it far beyond the ways that it's designed. And it is ... Bananagrams.  Yay!

Okay.  So, have you ever seen Bananagrams?  This is the cutest little package. It's a banana, right?  And when you open it up inside are these letter tiles. I'm just going to pull out a few.  And here we have like an F, and a V, and an I, and in a lot of ways at this point it seems a lot like Scrabble, but this game does not play like Scrabble.

First of all, these tiles are made out of plastic.  You probably can hear that, and they're smooth. I love the tactile feel of these tiles. And they're a little bit smaller than Scrabble tiles.  The second thing that I like about them -- or I like about this game -- is that when you're just playing the straight rules, it is so much faster than Scrabble.

I don't know if you ever get bored playing Scrabble.  I know there's lots of people who don't, but I do because I have to wait for everyone else to take their turn. And if you're playing with younger kids, and they're waiting, it's not going to work.

So, what's cool about Bananagrams is the gameplay. Everyone's playing at the same time.  They're building their own, individual Scrabble boards with the same cross patterns and things like that, but you are building them all at the same time. So everybody gets to play. And you can modify the rules for the younger kids versus the older kids so that everybody has an equal chance depending on where they are.

Now, when I first saw Bananagrams, I was really excited for my kids who knew how to spell because I knew we were going to have fun playing it and practicing spelling words. Practicing how to spell any word while you're playing a game is way more fun than learning a spelling list.

But how do you use a game like this ... a bunch of random letter tiles ... how do you do that if your kids can't spell?  Well, the letter tiles themselves become these fabulous, fabulous kinesthetic tools to help kids spell. So, you can be laying out the tiles, you could have the spelling list, and you could say, "Okay, take the list and create me a grid like a Scrabble grid or a Bananagram grid using these words.  Can you do it?" Or you could take the tiles and you could lay them all out and you say, "Can you just find all the letters that go to your words?” Or what else could you do? Anything where the kids have to look at the word and spell it but they're doing it with tiles instead of with their hand writing on a piece of paper.

And I found that for my kinesthetic kids, those kinds of games were so, so, so much more effective.  We would even play games where the tiles are spread out across the floor and you have to run and get the tile, so there's that high movement.  So much better, so much more fun. And then you still have the game that you can play as they get to be better spellers, so it's multipurpose. You don't just have a manipulative sitting on your shelf waiting to be used for this one part of your curriculum or your one part of school, and then when it's done, you're done.  I like multipurpose. Way more effective. Yes!

So, if you are looking for a way to get rid of the boring way to do spelling and liven it up a little bit, then this little game right here is one that I would highly, highly recommend. And you can check it out on Amazon.  I'll put a link up above, down below, or wherever it is wherever you're watching this.

From my homeschool to your homeschool, I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I'm here to help you be a successful and confident homeschool mom.

Save for later by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board!

Bananagrams game review to teach spelling
Bananagrams game review to teach spelling
Bananagrams game review to teach spelling
A Sentence a Day Book Review - Sticky Grammar without the Fuss

Sticky Grammar without the Fuss {Review}

Some parts of learning are intrinsically fun — science experiments, family board games, cool fieldtrips.

And some parts … well maybe not so much. I’m not sure ANYONE loves to do long division.

Grammar tends to fall into that camp for a lot of kids.

Absolutely necessary to write well and communicate effectively. But something you choke down — like badly cooked brussel sprouts — because you know it’s good for you.

Except it doesn’t HAVE to be that way!

Your kids learn to talk by being immersed in language … trying things out, and learning what works and what doesn’t. Their speaking grammar improves organically.

Their writing grammar can be learned the same way. Piece by piece in an immersive way. Fixing mistakes along the way. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

That’s why I love A Sentence a Day by Samantha Prust. It’s immersive grammar that sticks — while making you and your kids smile.

In this week’s video, I also talk about the science of learning … and why this type of grammar is particularly effective in helping your kids retain what they are working on.

Click HERE to check it out for your homeschool.

Make Math Come Alive with Life of Fred {Review}

Do you ever feel like it’s easy to get kids to love reading?

But it’s like pulling teeth to get your kids to do math?

I hear you!

Life of Fred Book Review - Make Math Come Alive!


Of my four kids, one came out of the womb loving math. I swear he could count before he could speak.

But the other three … well … it’s been a journey.

Along the way, I decided that I wanted my kids to love math. Because math is beautiful.

I didn’t want them to think math was just numbers on a white piece of paper that they plugged and chugged.

I wanted them to see that math was EVERYWHERE -- in the way flowers bloomed, in the way that water boiled, in the way the ball rolled down the hill.

It is patterns and shapes -- a living, breathing way to explain the world.

So we spent lots of time looking at the beauty of math.

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But I also knew that they needed to enjoy computation -- so with my oldest I started using books that made computation fun and engaging.

No blank white pages for us -- I wanted stories and giggles and laughter.

One of my favorite resources that I found to help us do that was Life of Fred, a curriculum that incorporates heavy-duty math into a silly, engaging story that all my kids have loved.

They read it for fun. Seriously.

So if you’re looking to make a math a little more alive, CLICK HERE to check Life of Fred out for your homeschool.


Hey guys! ToriAnn Perkey here! From my homeschool to your homeschool. Today, I wanna talk about living math and how you can incorporate it into your homeschool. And then I have a really cool resource that we've used in my home, one of our living math resources.

So what is living math? Well, living math is the idea that math is more than just plugging numbers into equations. It's more than just counting, telling time, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Math is alive. It's all around us and it explains the world. It explains why things work and it's beautiful. Math is beautiful. And in order for your kids to love math, they are going to fall in love with the idea that math is a wonderful, beautiful thing aside from computation.

So how do you do that? How do you take a subject that, for most of us in school, was pretty dry and boring unless we loved it inherently? And how do we turn it into something alive? Well, it comes from seeing how math fits into the bigger world. Seeing how math gets used everyday. And it comes from seeing that math can make us giggle and laugh and be in wonder and awe.

And there are many many resources out there to help you do this. And most of those resources are kind of a pick and choose. It can be a book that you read or a game that you play and I've talked about a lot of those as I've made these videos and these reviews and I'll talk about a lot more. Because this was an area where I felt really really strongly that I wanted my kids to fall in love.

But I do believe there is one curriculum in the math homeschool world that is particularly suited for anyone who wants to have more living math in their home. And it's more suited for kids who are interested in math from a language arts point of view. So these are gonna be kids who don't just wanna sit down and do a workbook but they want it to be incorporated into a story.

The reason I found these books is because my oldest was like that. She loved, loved, loved stories. But she didn't love sitting down and doing a workbook. And so that's when I went and found Life of Fred. Seriously, a math curriculum called Life of Fred. What? I know, sounds super silly. And if you've heard about this, you know it's amazing. If you haven't let me introduce you to Fred.

I'm gonna show you his picture. This was one of our first introductions to this book. This is Fred. He's a simple line drawing because the guy who wrote this curriculum, brilliant mathematician named, wanna make sure I say his name right, Stanley Schmidt was doing all the drawings himself. The illustrations are pretty crazy. They're all either hand-drawn silly like barely, barely illustrations. Or they're clip-art pulled off of the internet, it's just part of the style.

But let me tell you what I love about Life of Fred. It's all about a five year old kid who is a brilliant mathematician who works as a professor in an imaginary university called Kitten's University in Kansas. And the reason he is there teaching is because he was left there by his parents and you don't even hear that story until way into the calculus book. But he was left there by his parents and he makes a living teaching math. He's brilliant at math, but he's not so smart at, like the wisdom of living in the world. So he has to learn how to navigate the world while solving math.

And it's all sorts of situations and problems that he has to deal with. He has a doll that is his best friend that lives with him. And this doll is so funny. He's an amazing artist. So there's an entire book, one of the books is all about how this doll is making money selling his famous artwork and then how Fred feels about that and how they're having to deal with the supply and the demand. And then there's another one where the doll's really scared because Fred brings home a tiger as his pet. Then the tiger is attacking the doll, so the doll is scared.

So it's a book that appeals to boys, it's a book that appeals to girls and the storylines are written in such a way that they're hitting the kinds of things that you would want your kids to learn about in the real world. About asking good questions before you buy some and not being taken advantage of. About making good choices with your time. About being honest. These are the things that also show up in the book. It's a very character-driven book without being religious. There's no specific religion at all mentioned in the book but it is character-based and character-driven.

There's an entire elementary series and I brought a couple of those books here. It starts with apples and each one covers just a few subjects that you would hit in elementary. And then it goes apples, butterflies, cats, dogs. I think E is elephant and you're seeing the pattern here. It's A, B, C, D, E. Those go all the way up to J and then by the time you get to upper elementary then there's a fractions book, there's a decimals and percents book.

Then you migrate your way into pre-algebra and you go all the way up. These books go all the way to calculus. And I like 'em because there's a story and the math is integrated into the story.

So you're reading a chapter, you have some math to practice at the end. How did we use this? We didn't even use it really as a "curriculum", we would sit down and read it. We would read it as part of our morning routine. We would read a math book together and my kids loved it so much they'd actually pull it off the shelf and read it on their own. Because they wanted to know what happened to Fred.

And while they're reading all about Fred, they're also reading about math. Reading about math. It's almost like this antithetical phrase and yet I love it because my kids are soaking up and absorbing mathematical concepts without the extra effort that goes into saying, "You have to sit down and do this."

We did actually work the problems together and then later on they've been re-introduced to those concepts in other ways. But I loved introducing math in this way. And the best place to actually acquire this curriculum and you can see samples and you can check it out and look at all the different options, is a place called Z Twist Books. It's the cheapest place I've ever found it and I will leave a link either up above or down below. You can check it out, see if it's the kind of thing that would be really great to have on your shelf.

I love it. I believe living math is the only way to genuinely motivate and inspire kids to fall in love with the concept of math. It works even for my kids who don't love to "do math." They still love the concept of math. And in the end, that's one of the most important things for me when it comes to our education.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I make these videos every week so that you can have a super successful and confident homeschool.

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Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Make homeschool math fun Life of Fred Curriculum Review
The Elements Book Review - Make the Periodic Table Come Alive

Make the Periodic Table Come Alive {Review}

Do you remember memorizing the periodic table in high school?

I do.

What I can’t remember is WHY I had to memorize it. What was the point? Why was it beneficial?

I’m not a big fan of memorizing just for the sake of memorizing. But sometimes we fall into that trap when we start putting our school plans together. And we don’t step back and ask WHY memorizing is important.

As with every part of your homeschool, always take the time to analyze why you’re asking your kids to do something.

Is it because you had to do it, and it just “seems” like something that should be part of school?

Or does it serve a higher purpose?

Since I couldn’t come up with a fabulous reason to memorize the periodic table, I wanted to explore it in a different way with my kids.

That’s why The Elements by Theodore Gray was such a wonderful addition to our homeschool.

Stunning pictures. Engaging stories. Interesting, rabbit-hole-inducing, tidbits of information.

Definitely a book a highly recommend for your homeschool science shelf!

(And don’t forget to check out the cards that go with the book. I’m so glad that we have both because they are complimentary and my kids use them both.)

CLICK HERE to check it out for your homeschool:



Build A-MAZE-ing Problem Solving Skills with Perplexus - Review

Build A-MAZE-ing Problem Solving Skills with Perplexus {Review}

No … not the gritty cleaner left in the sink after you scrub it.

I’m talking about GRIT … the ability to keep going when things get tough and see a goal all the way to the end?

It’s an absolutely essential skill to have as a successful adult.

And it’s also one that we talk about a lot in the homeschool community — although we like to say things like “getting my kids to finish” and “staying focused.”

Being able to stay with a task when it gets hard is something I’m working really hard to help my kids learn. I want them to know that failure only happens if they give up and that true success is measured by effort not by results.

How am I trying to do it?

1. I’m modeling the behavior myself (as much as I can).

2. When an assignment gets tough, they can take a break. But I expect them to come back and work through to the end.

3. I find “tough” physical work for them to do (moving rocks!) that pushes the muscles as well as the brain.

4. I look for fun ways to stretch their grittiness.

That last one is definitely where this week’s review fits in. The Perplexus toy is NOT easy. It takes patience and tenacity — two essential ingredients for grit.

And my kids play with them over and over. Which means they are building their grit muscles every time (even when they think they are just having fun).

They loved them so much, they collected them all. But these are two of their favorites:


Love how sometimes the lessons can sneak in when they are least expecting them!