• Please note that we no longer offer eBooks or 3-Ring Binder versions of these reviewed products. They are available in softcover.

  • Reviews by Homeschool Bloggers

Winner of "Favorite Language Arts Product" 2009-2010
(Write with the Best Vol. 1 & 2, Roots and Fruits
Awarded by bloggers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew

This page contains reviews from the Crewmembers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. We submitted four of our products for the second annual Voyage. Crewmembers reviewed WRITE WITH THE BEST - Vols. 1 and 2, Roots and Fruits, and The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.

The bloggers were not paid by us or by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for their reviews.

Reviews are grouped according to title.

Please note: some bloggers reviewed both volumes of our writing curricula together rather than as stand-alone reviews. In order to simplify matters, when this occurs we have noted that both volumes are reviewed.

Also please note: Some reviewers refer to their eBook experiences. For various reasons, we no longer offer our products in eBook format.

WRITE WITH THE BEST - Vol. 1 and 2
1. Meader - Famlily of Five
2. Jodi @ The Homeschool Desk
(Both volumes reviewed)

 3. Debbie's
Homeschool Corner
4. Lisa C. @ Wydlhouse Homestead

Recently added:

5. Becky Joie @ Leaders in Learning
(Both volumes reviewed)

6. Lori Lynn - Life on the Roller Coaster
7. Chris – Growing Together
(Both volumes reviewed)

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Roots and Fruits
1. Dawn @ Olive Plants
2. Lisa @ Wydlhouse Homestead

Recently added:

3. Becky Joie @ Leaders in Learning
4. Christa Fairfield Corner Academy
5. Chris – Growing Together

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The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers
1. One Blessed Mama
2 RegeniaS

Recently added:

3. Becky Joie @ Leaders in Learning
4. Lori Lynn - Life on the Roller Coaster

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WRITE WITH THE BEST - Vol. 1 and 2

1. Meader - Family of Five

J’s first sentence from a writing assignment:

We have a brown chicken coop.  When I climb into it, the dust makes my mouth dry up in the heat.

J’s sentence after learning about descriptive writing:

When I climbed into our chicken coop, its filthy dust made my mouth dry up in the sweltering heat.

The difference is subtle, but the result of the second sentence paints a more vivid picture.  What’s the difference between writing and excellent writing?  Write with the Best Vol. 1 (for Grades 3-12) from Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) addresses and teaches how to write descriptively and effectively.  We were given the opportunity to review Vol. 1, and as the title suggests, Write with the Best’s focus is to read, critique and emulate great literary works.  Excerpts from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens are a couple of examples of classic literature that are used as models to learn from.  Each unit focuses on one excerpt from classic literature, and daily objectives with assignments are given for students to complete that are related to the excerpt.  Each unit is designed to be completed in 10 days.

DH is the primary teacher in our homeschool, and here are his thoughts about this writing curriculum:

I have a notion that most people, and at least our boys, seem inclined to learn by example.  The master/apprentice relationship of past generations exploited this tendency to great advantage, as did the teacher/disciple model used throughout the world for a millennium.  Today, we have at our disposal a profusion of master works and in these works the better parts of the men and women who created them.   Whether working in the field of science, music, history, archeology, theology, statesmanship, or literature; these masters present their craft as well as themselves to us.   In our home school environment it has been my goal to capitalize on this wealth of expertise by placing these men and women before my children as often as possible.

I was excited by the concept of Write With the Best – using some of the best recognized works of literature as a model for learning descriptive writing.  The boys are responding well to the format.  Prior to using this curriculum we all had come to loathe writing assignments.  It seemed as though I was asking them to do something they were ill-equipped for, like they were being given a test on material they were never taught, or as though they should have just picked up the ability to write by rote.  We are now working through unit 3 and all of our attitudes have changed toward writing time.  It is no longer the part of the school day to be dreaded.  The boys appreciate that a large portion of our time is spent unraveling the literary example, understanding the structure and process of great writing, and experimenting with these concepts in small, controlled pieces.  This curriculum seems like a perfect fit for our boys.

The only disadvantage of the curriculum is not it’s content, but rather the ebook format we received to review.  Unfortunately in this age of copyright infringement and piracy, EDUDPS has chosen to wrap the e-version of their products in a secure format with File Secure Pro rather than the standard Adobe PDF.  The security measure only allowed us to print from the electronic copy twice, no matter how many pages each time.  Copy/paste functions are disabled, and you cannot print it as a PDF file.  When we encountered issues with our printer (running out of paper, paper jam, ink running dry), it was easy to use up the two allotted print allowances.  We had to ask the owner to reset the print permission, which he gladly did for us, and we were able to print again (still only twice).  Our recommendation is to purchase the hard copy since some exercises require actual marking or writing on the pages.

Write With the Best Vol. 1 is available for purchase from the EDUDPS website for $24.95.

To close, I’d like to show you J’s complete paragraph from his writing assignment.  I’m quite amazed at the progress he has made in a short amount of time:

When I climbed into our chicken coop, its filthy dust made my mouth dry up in the sweltering heat.  The sap oozed out of the unpainted pine siding.  Dust-covered supplies were piled up in the corner.  Straw covered the floor.  The empty, brittle, plastic bowl and the old baby tub used for water reminded me why I was there.  The fourteen chickens walked towards the bowl.  I fed them quickly and left the smothering shed.

Disclosure:  This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.  Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are our own.

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2. Jodi @ The Homeschool Desk
(Both volumes reviewed)

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services or EDUDPS offers an extensive line of books to use in your homeschool. I chose to receive Write with the Best Volumes 1 & 2 for my review for the TOS Crew. I received this in eBook format.

If you are looking for a simple, clear cut, no-frills, yet effective writing curriculum that is affordable, then Write with the Best Volumes 1 & 2 fits the bill.

Write with the Best Volume 1 is geared towards 3rd through 12th graders and effectively teaches descriptive writing to students through modeling techniques of great works of literature.

Nine different genres are covered:
* Describing an Object from Jules Verne - a Place from Charles Dickens - a Character from Daniel Defoe
* Dialogue from Kenneth Grahame
* The Short Story from O. Henry
* Fables from Aesop
* Friendly Letters from Robert Louis Stevenson
* Poetry - Rhyming Verse from William Wordsworth
* The Ballad or Narrative Poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Write with the Best Volume 2 is geared towards 6th through 12th graders and teaches expository writing and informative writing. Great authors of world literature are used as a model for students.

Eight distinct genres are covered:
* Poetry - Free Verse from Emily Dickinson
* Business Letters from Helen Keller
* Persuasive Essays from Thomas Paine
* Expository Essays from Francis Bacon
* Literary Critiques from Edgar Allan Poe (That's right! Poe was a superb literary critic at one point.)
* Newspaper Articles from Ernest Hemingway (Yes, indeed! In his early career, Hemingway was a newspaper article writer.)
* Speeches from Marcus Tullius Cicero
* Dramatic Monologues from William Shakespeare.

The program also teaches note-taking, writing outlines, and writing summaries.

I have enjoyed writing since early on in grade school, and I still enjoy it today. It's something that has always come naturally to me. On the other hand, teaching writing to my children has not come as easily. I found that Write with the Best Volumes 1 & 2 lay it out very nicely for me to teach my students how to write well.

These programs provide guidance for the learning disabled and non-interested writer. I have a student that falls into the latter category, and I feel that the simple, clear lessons helped my student to understand how to move into the right direction to use the writing skills taught in this curriculum. We have been taking it slowly, and the process of teaching writing is no longer stressful for either of us.

What I like about Write with the Best is that each lesson takes only 15-45 minutes, and can be used with all children in a family at the same time. I like to combine my children in as many subjects as possible when teaching to maximize my time, and this curriculum works very well with that concept. I also love how Write with the Best uses examples from great works of literature. I want my children to model their writing after the great authors that wrote these classics. I find this to be a more natural approach to writing, which I prefer to use in my homeschool. Each day progresses and teaches the students to add on to what they've learned previously. In a step-by-step process, students are led to create their own great works of writing too. Each day is lined out for me, so we know exactly what to do, and when it comes to teaching writing, this is a huge plus in my book! The only thing I need to add to this curriculum are a pencil, dictionary, and a thesaurus. Also, an English handbook or grammar curriculum to supplement is beneficial as well.

Grammar and parts of speech are also naturally included as students are asked to add in descriptive words to their writing, as well as other parts of speech. Students are asked to use a dictionary as well as a thesaurus, which I feel really helps to "spice up" my students' writing. Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with different words to use to improve their writing. Using a thesaurus, and following the author's challenges to substitute more interesting words for other words led my students naturally in the right direction to be more creative with their compositions.

I found the instructions for teaching writing to my children to be very clear and understandable. In my experience, writing can be a difficult subject to teach, because most of it has to come from within the student. Write with the Best makes it easy by taking me step by step with my students in a way that we all can understand. I found both of these programs to be age appropriate for the ages suggested.

I appreciate the value in this curriculum, as it is affordable to me. Write with the Best Volume 1 is available in softcover for $24.95

Write with the Best Volume 2 is also available in softcover for $29.95

A "How to Write Guide" is included as well, and this is an invaluable tool that provides a checklist for writing in different genres. As a homeschool parent, I appreciated this guide for myself as well as for my students. It provides a good outline of what good writing composition should include.

Here are some benefits of using this program:

1) Ease of Use - (Minimal teacher preparation and easy, step-by-step directions for the teacher and student.)

2) Activities that spark interest in reluctant and inexperienced writers.

3) Thoroughness in teaching how to write every genre and not just one such as only descriptive paragraphs or essays.

4) Specific grading criteria or checklists for grading each piece of writing.

5) Assignments that don't take hours each day or week to complete.

6) Testimonials from parents and students that the curriculum really does work.

7) Affordability

8) Use for all grade levels in a household.

If you'd like to try out Write with the Best Volumes 1 and 2 for yourself to see if it is a good fit for your family, please visit their website for a free download of the first 24 pages of Volume 1 and the first 19 pages of Volume 2.

I also want to add that the customer service with EDUDPS was very helpful with a problem that I had while downloading my eBooks. It was my mistake, however they were very helpful and quick about helping me fix it! I have also found that other Crew members also had a good experience with their customer service, and that's always a plus from a company!

I'm looking forward to continuing with Write with the Best Vol. 1 for now in our homeschool for my 4th grade student, as it is a good fit for him.

*The author’s review and opinion are entirely her own. These products were provided to the author for free as a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received.*

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3. Debbie's Homeschool Corner

Write with the Best, by Jill Dixon, is a writing curriculum published by Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services for grades 3-12. The focus of the course is to zero in on the skills that produce great writing and to practice using those skills. Students are taught to write descriptively by “emulating the great masters of writing.”

Volume One covers writing descriptive paragraphs, dialogues, short stories, fables, friendly letters and poetry. (Volume Two is for older students who have completed Volume One, or who are already competent writers. It covers business letters, essays, literary critiques, newspaper articles, speeches, and dramatic monologues.)

I have tried several different writing curriculums over the years, but haven’t found anything that I was thrilled with. Some were too tedious to use, some didn’t seem to have obvious carry-over into other writing and some provided writing assignments, but no real instruction. Honestly, my main approach with my three older kids was to just have them do a lot of reading and writing. They have all become fairly competent writers, but I’m not sure if I actually taught them much.

After completing Unit One, I am very pleased with the program. 10 days of activities are all based on one reading passage by Jules Verne, culminating in the student writing his or her own descriptive paragraph. The assignments included analyzing the example passage for specific qualities of good literature, locating all of the descriptive nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs and learning the components of a 5+ sentence paragraph. Before Emily wrote her own paragraph, she had to not only choose her topic and write the topic sentence, but make lists of descriptive words that could be used in her paragraph. This made the actual writing easier and we were both pleased with the results.

I liked that the program incorporated grammar review into the writing, making it relevant. This is a program that I intend to continue using through the year.

Write with the Best sells for $24.95 to $29.95 (Vol. 2).

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4. Lisa C. @ Wydlhouse Homestead

EDUDPS provides many homeschool helps to families. The products were designed by an educator (27 years) and homeschool mom of four (16 years). Our family received two products, Roots and Fruits, and Write With the Best Volume 1, Grades 3 - 12. We received the hard copy (softcover) books, but EDUDPS provides e-books as well.

Write With The Best: Modeling Great Writing After Great Works of World Literature Vol. 1 Grades 3 - 12

I can't say enough good things about this fantastic book. If you have multiple children in grades 3 - 12, you can use Write With the Best with all of them!

Write With the Best covers nine different writing genres. It uses the work of great authors to provide solid examples of good writing. Some of the authors featured in Vol. 1 include: Jules Verne, Dickens, Daniel Defoe, Longfellow, and O. Henry, to name a few.

Write With the Best cites great literary works in each of the genres covered. I like that because I don't have to go out and buy the books in order to use the curriculum, plus my children are exposed to "twaddle free" works of literature. 

I have noticed Sport gaining an interest in the "Great Works" since she started using this curriculum. You can find virtually any great works of literature at the Public Library, so that's a savings on expenses, as well. Sport has won first place in a couple of writing competitions, so I figured she would enjoy this curriculum. I thought she was a strong writer before, but after a few weeks of using this, her writing is even better.  

The 108 page book is a complete student and teacher's guide with answer key in one. The How To Write Guide checklist is a wonderful help for everyone in our family.

I'm working on creating literature unit studies for my children, and this book will make a good companion book for any of the studies I choose.

Write With the Best Vol. 1 is quality writing curriculum and a good value. It sells for $24.95.

EDUDPS has many more products than the ones I reviewed. They offer a career planning guide, diagnostic placement tests, help in identifying learning styles, and helps for students on many ranges of the learning spectrum, including attentional difficulties and learning disabilities. You can visit their website at: www.edudps.com.

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5. Becky Joie @ Leaders in Learning
(Both volumes reviewed)

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services, if you are reading this, I want you to know that your products are the best home schooling products I have ever seen!

Let me begin by telling you that the curricula I am about to review for you is by far the best I have ever used for children with emotional and/or special learning needs. Of course, there is a good reason why this material works so well. The author has spent many years teaching children and adults with learning, emotional, physical and mental difficulties. While this is true, don’t let that stop you from reading my review if you have mainstream or even advanced learners. There is something here for EVERYONE and NOT only for your children. I will be reviewing several fantastic products that work to prepare your child to succeed in college, career and communication in life itself.

Author Jill J. Dixon, who created this company, is a seasoned educator and homeschool mom with a B.S. degree in English Education and a Masters in Special Education. When you head to her website, you will see her other very impressive credentials. Her husband, Theodore Dixon is also involved in publishing the curriculum.

It is my privilege as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew to select four of their products for review. Being a free-lance writer, I want to teach creative writing to my children, but because of their educational backgrounds, they do not have a good foundation in grammar and writing. They also have some learning challenges that are resultant from a lack of nurture in their early years. Because of this, the courses offered by EDUDPS are perfect because of their skill building through step-by-step analysis, vocabulary lists and varied approaches for learning styles.

The first product, Write With The Best, Volume One, Grades 3-12, is one that I thoroughly enjoyed! The subtitle hints at what is in store: Modeling Writing After Great Works of World Literature.

Each unit breaks down into daily goals for learning objectives. First, students read and study a short selection of classic literature by a great fiction author. They put the principles to practical use as they write an assignment patterned after the sample. First, they describe an object, then a setting, followed by a character and last, they learn to write dialogue. In addition, they imitate short stories, fables, letters, poetry and even ballads!

My boys, at first, did not have the logic to decipher which parts of speech were being used for which types of writing, but after some trial and error, they began to finally grasp the concepts. This is amazing as I spent most of last year trying to teach them parts of speech so that they could learn to write! They just weren’t getting it prior to this. The methods used in this curriculum made it clearer to them than ever before.

Here is how writing and grammar are taught together. First, the story is read to them; then, over several days, they study the descriptive language used in the story and discover how writing incorporates these elements.

The course is not “dumbed down” at all but on the contrary it is intense and motivating. Nevertheless, it is also very teachable to children with ADHD or dyslexia. A few words were above comprehension level so I encouraged the boys to look them up in a dictionary and thesaurus. Then we would discuss them. They protested at first but then became very proud of themselves for the new words they learned. They began trying to use them in real life and were mostly successful. The dissection of literature continued in bite-sized chunks from day to day. Along with this were opportunities to find parts of speech in the written piece, by circling, underlining or highlighting words according to color codes. This made it easier for them to see the nouns and verbs next to their modifiers, while noting how they all work together in writing.

Literature works of high quality keep the course educational and challenging so that advanced students or adults even enjoy doing the work; however, the selections are small enough to not overwhelm a student who struggles with learning language skills.

NOTE: It is my opinion that the teaching principles of scaffolding and modeling are necessary to teach language courses to children with special learning needs. These methods are an integral part of this curriculum BUT the course can also be completed independently by an advanced student or an adult who already has good reading skills and desires to improve their overall writing ability.

Other superb features of this curriculum are the writing guides in the back of the book, proofreading checklists and suggestions for teaching to various learning styles. Since I have two students with different learning styles, I was able to incorporate both visual and hands-on teaching techniques as well as auditory aids.

I looked but found no negatives unless you compare classic literature with current writing trends. Fads in modern writing promote using fewer adjectives and adverbs and using instead stronger verbs. In the writing groups I attend, you are likely to be critiqued for using –ly words too frequently (oops, I used an –ly word, didn’t I?) or for using too much description. I found that old world writers flood the page with descriptive words.

The author of Write With the Best follows classic literature with her use of customized dialogue tags. I prefer this method as well but some modern writers leave off the tags altogether or at least use them in a minimal capacity. To some degree, one must determine whether he or she is writing for personal improvement or for publishing. This would require understanding the preferences of the publishing house to which a writer would submit his or her work (this is done by reading things they’ve published). Though there are popular trends, there is some flexibility in the actual writing market. It is a matter of opinion for each editor. I’ve seen published work with and without the tags as well as with frequent –ly adverbs. One must determine what is a trend and what is timeless writing. Overall, I agree with author Jill Dixon and renown authors of classic world literature.
Either way, you can’t lose by learning from what has already worked for centuries in writing. This course will sharpen your language, grammar and writing skills. 

Here’s a sneak peek at Volume Two:

Write With the Best, Volume Two, Grades 6-12 roots deeper into the bones of writing as it teaches students to study all sub-genres of non-fiction to improve their own writing ability. Included are: instruction in writing business letters, free verse poetry, persuasive and expository essays, articles, book reviews, speeches and even a literary critique.

Both of these courses will strengthen your sentence and paragraph structures, demonstrate how to create quality writing yourself, teach you about various genres and improve your ability to “write with the best”.

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6. Lori Lynn - Life on the Roller Coaster

When I was contacted by EduDPS (Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services) I had no idea what to expect.  I received four e-books to review:

  1. Roots and Fruits, an instructional book about Greek and Latin root words.
  2. Write with the Best Volume I, a writing program based on works of great authors.
  3. Write with the Best Volume II, the continuation of Volume I.
  4. The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.  (Called The Career Guide for the rest of this article.)

After getting the download completed properly, I printed copies of Write With the Best, Vol. 1 & 2 and put them in a binder.  I just love printing e-books.  I know that TOTALLY defeats the purpose of an e-book, but it gives me great endorphins to see my ebook in a big white binder.  These are not small books, 109 pages and 141 pages respectively.  The products from EduDPS are not fancy.  It is black type on white paper.  No graphics outside of the border on the cover page .  From a visual perspective, it is not appealing.  But I do love a big thick book, so that was appealing.

We began at the beginning of Write with the Best Volume I and my boys loved it from the very first lesson.  To say that they loved a writing curriculum is amazing because these are not boys that love to write.  Write with the Best uses works of great literature as examples.  Our boys have proved Charlotte Mason's theories about living books over and over again in the 6+ years we've been homeschooling.  They come alive and are extremely attentive with a living book.  Write with the Best uses excerpts from living books to show examples of good writing.  As I read the examples, the boys were riveted.  The other thing that really appealed to them was the short lessons.  In Write with the Best, each lesson takes only a few minutes a day to complete, usually not more than 15 minutes.  It was hard for me to stick to one lesson a day.  I wanted to move more quickly and pack multiple lessons in a day.  I mean, we were already started, why not turn a 10-day lesson into a 3-day?  But I resisted my temptation to get it finished and stuck to the plan, and the boys really enjoyed it.  At day 10 we had a great example of writing completed and placed in a new writing portfolio for each boy.  Although we have to take a break to review another writing curriculum, we will definitely return to Write with the Best and complete the lessons this year.   It's well laid-out, with great examples, brief lessons, and takes little to no preparation on my part.

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7. Chris – Growing Together
(Both volumes reviewed)

EDUDPS, Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services, sounds a little intimidating, right? No worries. Hiding behind that moniker are some wonderful homeschool programs. We were fortunate to be able to use and assess several of them as part of the TOS Crew.

  • And now, my favorites: Write with the Best, Volumes 1 and 2. Ack! I can’t tell you how many writing programs I have tried. I feel like I have tried them all, really. My son doesn’t enjoy writing (oh, the irony!) and sees it as needless torture that he must endure before getting to history, math and science. While he still has days of frustration with this, he is writing wonderfully descriptive paragraphs with minimal complaint – they are good, complete paragraphs with vivid imagery. I can’t tell you what a breakthrough this is. The formula for this program is deceptively simple. Each unit begins with a passage of great writing. (There are nine units per volume – ten days per unit.) Each ten-day unit is broken down into bite-sized objectives that lead students to thoroughly (and painlessly!) analyze a passage of classic literature and then use lessons learned from that analysis to create their own work. It is simple but remarkably effective for my son. There are suggestions for using the program with different learning styles, as well as “how to” references for many types of writing. Volume One (descriptive writing) is recommended for grades 3 – 12 and it could easily cover an entire year of language and composition. Volume Two (expository and informative writing) is for grades 6 – 12. For older students, each volume could cover a semester. The program seems to be widely adaptable for ages and strengths. It is dead-on perfect for my reluctant writer.

While I am so very pleased with my son’s progress with Write with the Best, I found the e-book delivery method was a challenge. As a homeschooler, I have downloaded many e-books and almost all have been in pdf format, often watermarked to deter copying/selling. Easy, peasy. EDUDPS uses pdfs that must be downloaded through a secure file viewer. Their customer service was wonderful, but I did find the download process difficult. Though we were emailed these products for review, if I had purchased them on my own, I definitely would have bought a printed copy and I would recommend that to others as well. WWTB, in particular, has been a tremendous asset in our homeschool, but the e-book restrictions almost kept me away. (And with the considerable length of WWTB, it is probably cheaper to buy the printed copy anyway.) YMMV.

Now, go write something wonderful.

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Roots and Fruits

1. Dawn @ Olive Plants

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) was a company with which I was unfamiliar before I received four of their products for review. I am glad we have been introduced. If you have not heard of them either, please, allow me to introduce you to them.

Roots and Fruits is a comprehensive vocabulary curriculum for grades K through 12. The author, Jill J. Dixon, holds a B.S. in English Education and a Master's degree in Special Education. In her eighteen years of teaching experience, in public, private, and home education settings, she noticed that the majority of students do not possess good vocabulary skills. Even among the home-educated, who tend to be avid readers, she found a notable weakness in their understanding of vocabulary.

She devised this program to help "increase the vocabulary, reading, and spelling skills of our students in just 15 minutes per day." (Roots and Fruits, p. 5) When I read this, I had my doubts… not about increasing my children's vocabulary skills. I questioned the 15 minute part. My children never want to do vocabulary exercises or write sentences, and it always takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to complete them.

The program teaches 673 Greek or Latin roots and 1716 vocabulary words (derivatives containing these roots). Each week the teacher may choose one or two roots to introduce. Each root is accompanied by a set of related vocabulary words to master. Ms. Dixon offers a five-day schedule for teaching each set which includes dictionary use, sentence writing, and a variety of games.

My boys loved it all! On Sunday nights, after the boys were in bed, I created a chart for two roots and their matching vocabulary words. I taped them to our supply cabinet in the classroom. Every Monday morning, they went directly to the classroom to see the new chart. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was like the Christmas morning dash to the tree.

We loved, loved, loved the games, too. Fourteen different game ideas are included, and we played 10 of them. They were simple to implement (not a lot of prep time needed), effective, and fun. Oh, and it really did take about 15 minutes per day to complete each assignment. The lessons are chunked into short tasks. A little each day is all it takes to accomplish a lot in the course of a week.

I give this curriculum two thumbs up and will continue to teach from it, probably for years to come.

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2. Lisa @ Wydlhouse Homestead

EDUDPS provides many homeschool helps to families. The products were designed by an educator (27 years) and homeschool mom of four (16 years). Our family received two products, Roots and Fruits, and Write With the Best Volume 1, Grades 3 - 12. We received the hard copy (softcover) books, but EDUDPS provides e-books as well.

Roots and Fruits - Rocker used this book to assist him in his vocabulary and root word studies. Roots and Fruits is a comprehensive, K - 12 vocabulary curriculum. It covers the most commonly tested words on the SAT and other standardized tests. I thought this would be great for Rocker to try since he is almost college ready.

Overall, I think the book is a great addition to my homeschool library. The instructions are self-explanatory, easy to follow, and there are lots of good suggestions for the teacher as far as activities and exercises go. Rocker has definitely improved and expanded his vocabulary. We plan to use this for the rest of the year. I think this will be a good book to use with Hummingbird as her reading skills improve. I plan to try it with her during the next school year.

Roots and Fruits sells for $24.95 (softcover). You can order this book by visiting the EDUDPS website at www.edudps.com.

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3. Becky Joie @ Leaders in Learning

Another excellent product on my favorites list is Roots and Fruits, A Comprehensive Vocabulary Curriculum covering Grades K through 12, using English forms of Greek and Latin Roots and Prefixes.

In fifteen minutes per day, your student can learn that words are not just floating on a page but that they actually have roots and meanings. Building on those meanings by adding suffixes and prefixes their definitions either change or enhance. Using an alphabetized list of ACT and SAT words, Roots and Fruits can increase your child’s ability to understand language and reading, improve decoding skills and comprehension in school subjects, thus raising test scores.

The book contains recommendations on how to implement the program into your homeschool curriculum plans. I did apply some of them but also adapted the course to fit our own schedule and learning needs.

Since my boys are junior and senior high school age, I divided the words into blocks or units, where they had 9 or more words per lesson. Every day, they write the words several times each and use them in sentences. We also look them up in a couple of dictionaries, write down the definitions in green colored pencil on file cards with the roots and words in red on the opposite, un-lined side. Sometimes I will write the definitions on a white board and have them copy them. I also write them on file cards and make an extra blank one so that we can later play Concentration with them. This involves playing a game to see who can find the most matches of words to definitions. By trial and error, they learn the definitions enough that I can verbally drill them on it. When I feel that they have had enough practice with writing, reading and matching up the words, I will give them an oral test first and then a written one, also using the vocabulary words as spelling lists. Every week, I include “bonus” words on their tests using words from previous weeks to help them retain the information they have learned so it is not just rote memory with no long-term retention.

My boys have really learned to understand language better through this course. Their reading comprehension skills are improving as well. Once in a while, I will hear them trying out the six million dollar words in normal speech. One time, they each used some very large words in a personal way to tell about some experiences in their lives prior to being adopted. The way that they used the words showed me that they really were learning and understanding Roots and Fruits, which honestly, I thought, would be too difficult for them. I am impressed! This curriculum writer really does know how to teach language skills to all types of learners. In fact, as a lover of words, I’m enjoying the refresher, too! (It sounds like a great course for my character, Dr. Wordwielder, to recommend to readers of my other blog, Rather Be Writing. In fact, he will be referring readers to this post, I think.)

As far as I’m concerned, this curriculum has many pros and few cons. The program is very good at instructing the teacher in how to implement it, giving multiple options for various learning styles. It is an effective tool for increasing vocabulary and comprehension. It doesn’t take hours away from other studies. We completed the daily work in 15-20 minutes per segment of words. The only improvement I would recommend is to include or offer written tests for the vocabulary lists. Of course, as someone creative in the writing department, I didn’t have a hard time making up such a thing but it did take a little extra time on my part. Of course, to me that is a big deal.

Please do not let these comments deter you from buying the curricula I reviewed! I loved these courses more than any I have ever seen or taught in Language Arts! Over the years of teaching special needs and mainstream children, I have tried many.

Go ahead on over to the EDUDPS website, but not yet! I still have one more awesome product to introduce to you. It is a must have for every junior and senior high school student and any adult who wants direction career-wise.

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4. Christa Fairfield Corner Academy

With Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services, we were able to pick a couple of things that we wanted to check out.  One of my choices was Roots and Fruits.  I was a little cautious about it at first, because I wasn't sure what exactly it was and I wasn't sure if it was something that my kiddos were ready for. 

Let me just say - they were ready for it!  We have LOVED using Roots and Fruits.  In fact, Roots and Fruits has become part of our daily school routine and I can see it being part of the school year for a while to come. 

When we first started, our first couple of days, the kiddos were like - what is this?  Now, they ask to do that FIRST! They love learning the new roots and they have a blast playing the games each day!  I have even noticed them 'making up new words' while playing.  They are being nothing but SILLY, but I can tell that they are loving this program!  I mean, do you think they would be making the stuffed animals take an 'octocycle' to work had we not started this program? 

Roots and Fruits is quite possibly our favorite of all the review products so far!  Even over silly ol Hank!

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5. Chris – Growing Together

Root and Fruits: This is a very comprehensive “stems” program that includes instructions for use with all ages. My daughter began learning Greek and Latin stems (or roots, as they were called when I was a kid) in sixth grade in public school. My son started in fourth grade, our first year of homeschooling. I truly believe that the introduction of Greek and Latin early and often is a key component of vocabulary building and I really think you can start at any age. Roots and Fruits includes games and activities for a variety of grade levels. The program also includes 205 of the most commonly tested words on the SAT and more than 1700 vocabulary words in all. I am convinced that learning stems is making my son a much better reader and a better thinker because he is able to discern so much more of what he reads. I think that is critical, especially for kids who do not have a natural tendency toward written language. ($24.95 - softcover)

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The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers

1. One Blessed Mama

I'm in love.


Head over heals in love with this company whose initials I always confuse (being dyslexic). If their initials confuse me, their books add a clarity to their respective subjects in a way no others do. EDUDPS is the abbreviated name for Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services. Those big words seem a little highfalutin' to simple old me, but don't let that stop you. I'm sure their name speaks to the diagnostic assessments they offer for learning styles, total language, and grade placement, just to name a few, but the four products they sent the TOS Crew to review have little to do with their diagnostic services (although if they are as great as the rest of their products, I'd check them out too) and more to do with the sheer genius of simplicity.
Because we received four products, and because I LOVE them all, I am going to briefly run through each one for you.

The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers (Includes Middle School through Adult). I was sold on this one from page 12 where the author includes a personal note. In it, she clearly states that she does NOT advocate the use of the information her guide presents to go AGAINST God's word in terms of the roles of men and women/husbands and wives/fathers and mothers. Her words are beautifully expressed, and if her guide offered nothing more, it would be worth it. But the guide offers SO much more. It truly is the most complete career guide I've ever seen. I wish I had had this when I was deciding "what I wanted to be when I grew up", especially since there is a whole section about jobs mothers can do to turn a profit from home. I always KNEW I wanted to be a mom, and there was nothing I could major in in college that would assist in that. Boy, do I wish someone, anyone would have given me the guidance this book provides. There are TONS of surveys/profile to take based on personality, learning style, work environment, and many others. And then there are lists of occupations to go with each of those results. Then there are lists of bazillions of potential occupations. Then there are lists of high school/college classes to take to learn the skills needed for each occupation, along with clubs/activities to join, and different specific occupations that use those skills so you can try to interview people in those fields to gain information. I know I've said it before, but this too is a MUST HAVE. The e-book is $34.95. Go HERE to view sample pages or to order your copy.
I know it's my usual "schtick" to list pros and cons, but did I mention I'm in LOVE? There just aren't any cons. I guess the thing that impresses me the most, being ridiculously frugal myself, is the affordability of each and every one of these books. All four of these are worth their weigh in gold, but are bargain bin priced. It's unheard of. Typically people who believe they have a quality product try to charge you a ridiculous amount of money for it because in our society we have bought into the thought that the best things in life are the most expensive. But here is proof that you don't always get what you pay for...sometimes you get WAY more. Please, please go check out these resources. Their homepage is HERE. You won't be sorry!

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2. RegeniaS

Guiding teens through their final years at home as they carefully begin to seriously lay plans for their adult life can often be a scary endeavor and definitely not for the faint of heart. So many choices, personally, professionally, socially, spiritually must be examined and made that often I feel as overwhelmed as the kids by the sheer immensity of it. The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers written by Jill J. Dixon, B.S. Ed., M.Ed. and published by Diagnostic Prescriptive Services is a tool parents will want to use as they guide their kids toward adulthood.

When I received the Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers in e-book format to review it couldn’t have been better timed. My number one son, Jonah, a high school sophomore was looking for a resource to help direct his thoughts regarding colleges, college majors and careers. His once confident response of “I want to be a lawyer” when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up was changing and he was in the process of refining his interests. The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers is designed to enlighten students and their parents to possibilities and perhaps confirm decisions already made.

A helpful “How to Use This Guide” page aided Jonah and me through the process of making the most of the book. Jonah began the process by taking four quick assessments created to determine his learning style strengths, work or service preferences (i.e., does he prefer to build, solve, create, help, lead or organize in his work), a personality profile, and his preference for work environments. Through these brief assessments it was determined that Jonah is a strong auditory learner who prefers leadership type jobs working with people in his work environment and is generally an outward, thoughtful, and structured type of personality.

Following discussion of the assessments, The Complete Career, College and High School Guide directed Jonah to use his assessment results to match with various careers. A “List of Occupations” and “Technical School/College Programs” list are included in the book making it easy to find quality matches. In addition, an extremely comprehensive list of careers and their accompanying college majors is provided just in case there is a career of interest that didn’t show up as a match on either list. We spent several hours reviewing the lists, narrowing choices and discussing options. Finally we summarized the study by filling out the text’s “Career Summation Form” which had him list occupations of interest, high school courses he could take to prepare for future study related to the selected careers, volunteer opportunities he could pursue related to his future career choice and an opportunity to summarize his plans for the next few months. Organizing all of this information on one handy sheet of paper brought an overwhelming task of career exploration into focus making it manageable and stress free.

“The book is a really good resource. It gave me some ideas for some careers I might consider. It helped me know as far as the college aspect what I should take that would equip me for a particular occupation. It kind of reinforced what I already thought, but I found that helpful.”--- Jonah, age 15

As a Mom of six, whenever I find a resource that can help me educate, guide and mentor my kids I am thrilled. The Complete Career, College and High School Guide is an excellent resource for starting or ending any conversation related to the next step after home education. The book also includes plans for middle school students to use for plotting out high school study making it an appropriate resource for middle school through adulthood. Customers can purchase The Complete Career, College and High School Guide at http://www.edudps.com/ in soft cover format sells for $39.95 plus shipping. Payments can be made on the website through PayPal.

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3. Becky Joie @ Leaders in Learning

The product to which I refer is called, The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers. I have to interject here that I wonder why the titles like these always limit themselves to say “Homeschoolers” on them. They are so much more applicable to wider range than to one group. People could benefit from this resource no matter what their educational background might be.

We had a wonderful experience using this book. I only used it with my high schooler and for myself, but I am certain that I will use it later with my soon-to-be eighteen-year-old son and my junior high level son as well.

Owning this book is like having your own personal career consultant. You know, like the image and career consultants to whom you pay hundreds of dollars to have their expert opinions on skill assessments and career direction.
This book sells for $39.95 soft cover.

Contained in this guide are:
· detailed lists of career paths
· learning and skill aptitude tests
· assessments for preferences and personalities

We learned a whole lot of information about our son that we did not know and confirmed some things that we had previously observed in him. This book is going to help us to steer and transition him through high school into adulthood, including courses of study and electives.

In the back of the book are references on creating high school transcripts for college bound and vocational training, as well as links to CLEP tests and colleges that accept them. There is also insight for success in taking ACT and SAT tests and obtaining college and/or AP credits while in high school. There are suggested subjects for each career path, course and career planning worksheets, sample transcripts and resumes. This is especially helpful to homeschoolers who are not under an umbrella school program and need to create transcripts and translate their learning into high school credits.

As well, there are suggestions for homemakers who want to re-enter or keep connected to the workforce. Many homeschoolers are one-income families and in this day of economic pressure, homemakers are looking for ways to supplement their family incomes as well. This book contains several ideas for how to do this.

I am amazed that the author could write so many excellent books and curricula on such a wide variety of subjects. I’ve only reviewed four of them but if you visit her website, you will see a whole lot more. I think I will be developing a relationship with this company as soon as my budget opens up to purchasing more products. I can see how these products would be good for my family as well as others in our homeschool community. I’m excited about what EDUDPS has to offer and very, very impressed with the quality!

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services, if you are reading this, I want you to know that your products are the best home schooling products I have ever seen!

Readers, if you want to take a peak at what they have to offer, go to the website below. They have some great deals at this time. Their products were already affordable but now they are being offered at a steal! You will find free downloads there at the website as well. Hurray. If you love learning but your children don’t, it’s not too late to scoop them up onto the “I love learning” wagon. These products will help you do that. To check them out visit here:

VENDOR: Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services
CONTACT: T.L. Dixon (Theodore)
EMAIL:contact@edudps.com PHONE: 912-228-5316
WEBSITE: http://edudps.com/

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4. Lori Lynn - Life on the Roller Coaster

This is a book that every homeschool parent planning to homeschool through high school graduation should own.  It is jam-packed with information.  In it you can find four assessments to help your child determine the future for which he is best suited.  These tell learning style, personality type, gifts, and many other things that will help you determine the best type of college-setting and career for the child.  There is a list of college majors and the middle school and high school subjects that should be covered in preparation for those majors.  This book contains a lot of information about high school transcripts and course selections.  As a matter of fact, I will not only use the forms contained in this book for our boys as they begin to progress into Junior High, but I will also use it for my husband and myself.  Even at our age, I think we can learn a lot from knowing our learning styles, and our ideal careers.  I really do think that every family should have a copy of The Complete Career College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.

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Write with the Best - Vol.1 / Write with the Best - Vol. 2

Roots and Fruits

Career Guide

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