New! Brain Quest Write & Erase Sets Review/Giveaway

Wesley and I had the chance to review the new Brain Quest Write Erase Sets. I love that Brain Quest’s philosophy is “adding a big dose of fun into learning. I have noticed some of their other products and they look great, but I’m thrilled to see that they have created some products for younger children too.
I was thrilled to receive these books because my son has been working on his penmanship for a while now with his tutors, and me in the evenings. When I opened up the Alphabet cards I almost screamed. A few months ago I spent HOURS and LOADS of ink printing and macktacking alphabet cards for my son’s ABA therapy. And here they were in my hands available to purchase for a mere $9 on Amazon. I bet when I factor in ink, paper and macktack alone mine cost more to make. Not including the hours is spent making them. Good news was Wesley was board with my homemade cards and thrilled to get to try out these new ones. Plus, the Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: Shapes &Colors set was great for practicing his pre-drawing skills that his Occupational Therapist wanted him to work on.

Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: AlphabetBrain Quest Write & Erase Set: Alphabet:shows kids the right way to write their letters, both uppercase and lowercase, and also includes letter-identification and vocabulary-building quizzes on each page.
 Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: PhonicsBrain Quest Write & Erase Set: Phonics: teaches early reading with fill-ins for long and short vowels and basic consonant sounds, letter scrambles, complete-the-words, and more.
Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: NumbersBrain Quest Write & Erase Set: Numbers: helps kids write their 123’s and includes the basics of math-readiness
Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: Shapes & ColorsBrain Quest Write & Erase Set: Shapes & Colors: uses tracing exercises, connect-the-dots, name-the-colors, and other fun activities to teach essential pre-writing concepts.

What do we think?
Well we love these cards! They have become a regular part of Wesley’s day. His tutors use them with him too and love them. One of them was actually planning on buying them for her daughter. Had I found these earlier I could have save myself a LOT of time and had a much nicer product then my homemade dry erase cards.
Would you like to win a set of Brain Quest Write & Erase for your child?
Head over to Brain Quest and leave a comment which of the four packs would be most helpful for your child. Please leave your email in this comment, if I have no way to contact you a new winner will be drawn. Sadly this has been happening a lot lately and I want to make sure the real winner gets the prize. Even if you are using a blogger profile, make sure that I can email you or contact you via your blog.

Thank-you to Brain Quest and Workman Publishing Co. for teaming up with me for this review/giveaway. I was not paid by either company, nor was I required to write a positive review. This is the option of only myself.
Contest closes Nov 5th,2010 at 11:59. Open to the USA and Canada only.

Sharing some handwriting practice tips for 5 year olds that I was given.

So lately Wesley and I have cooled it on the writing practice. His occupational therapist said that is best to do small amounts of writing, otherwise they do the first few words or letters proper, the they start getting lazy. If they write too much when then are in lazy mode, then they are actually practicing how to print the letters wrong. Yikes! I never thought of it that way.
The frustrating thing is that he is able to do 2 pages a day of Explode the Code. I asked her what we should do because I don’t want his handwriting to slow down his reading progress. His OT said that a lot of children are more mentally ahead then their motor skill. She suggest having him write until I see his handwriting getting sloppy, then to take over and have his dictate to me. Or split up his worksheets. Do one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
Also if we are practicing handwriting, at this stage I should write the word, then he writes and then I take a turn and make him a fresh example to copy. Children tend to practice their printing wrong because they are copying their own example over and over again. If you provide them a fresh example each time they are more likely to print their letters correct.
Just thought I’d share these tips with you guys because I didn’t realize this. I thought if you want to get better at printing you just have to keep practicing. But really the children need small, short practice sessions.

Something I dropped the ball on, time to make up for it now…

One thing I really dropped the ball on when it comes to educating my son early at home was pencil work. He never cared for coloring or crayons, so I never offered it to him much. Then when we were working with his ABA staff we realized that his drawing/tracing/printing skills were lacking. SO this is one area we have been working very hard at, and things are getting better. His occupational therapist isn’t concern as long as we keep practicing everyday. She figures we will get the skills, and the reason he doesn’t have then yet is not because of motor skill problems, just because we never excerised this before.
So what do we do for practice?
I got a few of those cheap dollarstore workbooks, you know the ones I’m talking about. They coming with different characters to interest the child(Pooh, Bob the Builder,etc) I removed them from there binding and I give him a worksheet. Its less overwhelming and distracting for him then if I were to give him the whole book.
Hooked on Handwriting- Learn to PrintHooked on Handwriting- Learn to Print– Like I’ve mentioned in other entries we are just finishing up Hooked on Handwriting. He seems to be enjoying this one. We do a lesson or two a day depending on what he is up to

I bought this set of wooden stencils from a lady on Kijiji. We used them for the first time today. He seemed to really like them. I figure whatever can get him more interested in write/coloring.
What do you do with your children to work on this type of motor skill?


Our First Homeschool Convention

Every year our local Christian Homeschooling group, MACHS, host their annual homeschool conference. This was my very first year attending. As a new homeschooling mom I was so excited for this day to come. Originally I had only signed up to attend the Saturday, because I was suppose to work in the Operating Room all day Friday assisting with dental surgeries. However the other assistant asked to switch shifts with me, which freed up my Friday!

I woke up and got Mr. Wes ready and sent him off to daycare. He only has about a month left of daycare in his centre and we will be transitioning to me being at home full time at the end of April. For now though, I am very grateful there was somewheres for him to go while I attended.

When I arrived I found it very overwhelming at first. I was dumbfounded. The original plan was I would window shop Friday, and buy on Saturday. Well after witnessing the line up at the Math U See kiosk, and that the Primer pile was going down very quickly I panicked decided to buy. I stood in the long line and asked everyone a million questions about the program, some moms had used it from kindergarten to grade 12. Everyone said they wouldn’t go with anything else.

(Update 2017)However looking back I do not recommend parents jump to purchase a curriculum because they are selling out. Enquire if they offer free shipping of the items if they run out and you order before the end of the conference. If they do, this you should take the time you need to make sure this is the program you want and is best for your family. Looking back now this program was not a match for my oldest son. It involved many tears before we put it away.

Early on during the day on Friday,  I was taken under the wing of a seasoned homeschooler. She was a wealth of information. I found it comforting that her oldest was participating in the graduation ceremony the next day. It made me see that people were really pulling this off.  She showed me a few other programs, and offered some great advice. This made me feel so welcomed. While I did not come alone, the people I was with were also newbies to homeschooling. Can you say the blind leading the blind? You can tell that this conference is full of people with the hearts of teachers. Everyone was so kind and willing to help a new mom out.

Tip to experienced homeschoolers. If you see a new homeschool parent at a conference and they are open to it, take the time to share your experiences. Make them feel welcomed. You will be such a blessing to them.

Since I had spent a good chunk of Friday in the vendor area, Saturday I figured I better go to a few more lectures. The woman had talked the day before, Stacy McDonald, and really inspired me. Made me think long an hard about how I might be destroying my family slowly by nagging and nitpicking my hubby. Well the next day it was hard to listen to her  Mother/Daughter talk she was doing. She was encouraging parents not sending their daughters to post education outside the home. That once a daughter graduates from homeschool highschool she should basically stay at home till she gets married. If parents of girls what their daughters to be more educated they should encourage her to take it online. She also promoted girls not to work outside the home unless she’s doing missionary work.

I know everyone has a personal opinion about this, but I strongly believe that even if I woman wants to be a stay at home mom, she should have several skills in her back pocket. What if her husband gets sick and for a short or long period cannot work? What if her husband dies? What if her husband up and leaves her? I think that as parents we should be training our children, son or daughter, to be able to be both self sufficient as well as be able to live in a relationship with a spouse. Boys should be able to cook and clean. Girls should be able to work and change a tire. After listening to her Mother/Daughter talk, it was hard for me to take her lectures to heart knowing she has such a different point of view on raising children.

I landed up back in the vendor area again. I decided to pick up some basic Rod and Staff Homeschool Preschool Activity Workbooks- Set of 4 (for 3 & 4 Year Old Children). They were fairly cheap, and I think they will help get Wes use to doing workbook type lessons. Each book contains 32 pages of color by numbers, tracing and matching. They are advertised as being great for teaching numbers, shapes, colors, and more

Something I have found helpful is it to unbind all these books and put them into binders. This way when I want to do the lesson with Wes, I can take them out and put them in the page protector and he can do them dry erase. That way we can reuse them if we need to review and I will have them to use with future children as well as with my daycare kids.

All in all it was a great experience. I definitely plan on attending next year. I think I will make sure to really study the schedule ahead of time. This way I can plan which sessions are important to me, and which I think I will skip to spend time in the vendor hall.

I do wish there was a non religious or secular convention here too. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, I do. I know though there are secular material available for homeschoolings that might be an amazing addition to our homeschooling classroom. These types of programs are not typically offered at Christian conventions.

UPDATE: Check out the other homeschooling conferences I have attended since 2010.

MACHS Homeschool Conference 2011- Keynote Speaker Andrew Pudewa

MACHS 2017 Homeschool Conference in Winnipeg- Keynote Speaker Heidi St. John


5 Things I Wish I Had Done to Help my Preschoolers Penmanship & Mommy and Me Baking Time

Wesley and I spent the day at home together, while my hubby took the car to work. It is so nice to have a day off in the middle of the week and be able to spend one on one time with my son. What a perfect time to work on some preschoolers penmanship skills and place math while baking. Plus he likes to play hookie from daycare too.

First thing we got up and after breakfast we tried out the new wagon I got free on Kijiji. It worked great. We stopped at Giant Tiger to return some curtains. We landed up buying a DVD and cd about Kids safety, plus we got a free set of reusable sticker and cards about anatomy.
Then we walked to Superstore and got some basic groceries, and we walked home. When we got home I made Wes lunch and then we made some no bake cookies.

This is what we made 🙂 They taste better than they look, I promise. These no-bake cookies were childhood favourites of mine. So when I found out that you could purchase oats that were gluten free, I was so excited to make these for Wes. I clearly remember as a child my mom making these for me, and sneaking some while they dried on the wax paper.

Then we sat down and did some coloring. I’m really going to have to make this a regular thing as Wesley really struggles in this area. Really it is my fault, I never provided him enough coloring time. He just hated it before so it was hard. But he’s starting to enjoy it a bit more. His tutor had been working on teaching Wes how to write his letters, but the occupational therapist said we should work more on coloring and tracing letters for the time being. So we did some coloring together today 🙂

If I could have a do over when it comes to fine motor skills and penmanship I would have prioritized colouring time more.

5 Things I Wish I Had Done to Help my Preschoolers Penmanship

  1. I would have introduced colouring utensils(crayons, markers, pencils crayons, chalk, etc) at a much younger age.
  2. Purchased rolls of paper and done larger drawings with him to build up the muscles in his hands.
  3. Worked on hanging from a bar and eventually teaching him to brachiate on an overhead ladder. This would have helped build strength in his hands. Check out Glenn Doman’s book,Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby!: From Birth to Age Six
  4. Looked for one of those kiddie easels, and had him work with different mediums on an upright surface.
  5. Spent more time outside drawing on the ground with sidewalk chalk.

We are also starting a reading/spelling program. But we’ll do that after nap I’m pooped.


Tonight I’m cooking chili! Hubby’s not crazy about it, but there are leftover steak skewers from yesterday. I just need to make a big pot of something so we can have frozen lunches. I spent way too much on food yesterday for dinner. I told hubby we have to stop splurging like that. I really hope that once I’m a WAHM I can manage to feed us good meals for less money. At least this chili will get a good run for its money, and I’m going to make some freezer meatballs too.
Last night I called Calvert School and talked to a teacher there. They were so helpful. I decided to put Wes in the kindergarten program. I was looking at the wrong assessment before, he is so ready for kindergarten!! Yeah! I haven’t ordered it yet, because I want to wait till after the Homeschooling convention here in Winnipeg, just to make sure there isn’t something I like better.
I also started printing out some stuff for our Hungry Caterpillar theme. I have to laminate(or macktak)some stuff first, but it should be good. I’m hoping he enjoys it.