SpellingCity Changed Our Homeschool Day


Let me start out by saying that I haven’t received anything for writing this post (although, if you’re out there, powers-that-be-at-SpellingCity, I’m totally okay if you hook me up with a subscription to the paid portion of the site!)  I’m just sharing this with you because, WOW, what a difference finding this site has made.

So BigG did a Kindergarten/First Grade combo last year.  It was a hodge-podge of curricula and resources.  I have a feeling every homeschool mom has been there at least once.  You just mash stuff together to get you through the year.

If you haven’t been there then you either haven’t been homeschooling long or you’re lying. 🙂  For us, our hodge-podge year was also our first one.  It was a great year and we had fun with the material and we made it through.  But I’m thankful this year for Sonlight where so much is combined and already laid out for us.

But back to my point.  I bought a book called Spelling Connections for spelling.  It started with writing the alphabet (which we skipped because Bug had been doing that for years).  I have no idea if the book was K or 1st.  It didn’t say.  Starting with the alphabet led me to believe it’s K.  But by the end of the book he had spelling words like doing, saying and being.  Are words really that advanced by the end of K?  He did great with it.  So this year with Sonlight’s 2nd grade Language Arts I decided to just jump right in with their spelling words.  I had considered All About Spelling but I didn’t want to spend money on another program and have another set of books.  So I decided to just give it a try and see where it took us.

Spelling wasn’t BigG’s favorite thing last year.  But the simple sheets each day practicing the spelling words were bearable.  We got through it.  He never missed more than one on his 8 word tests and his final grade was a 96.

Well, while I like Sonlight’s spelling words and method of teaching spelling rules, the day-to-day activities with the words were lacking.  I tried to pick up the slack with other activities but that wasn’t working.  And just making him write his words every day?  Ummm…no.  And test days were awful because he knows the words, he just doesn’t know that he knows the words.  And taking a test was like pulling teeth.

That’s when I turned to Spelling City!  I plug our spelling words in each week and he spends 15-20 minutes a day playing games with the spelling words.  He enjoys the games and he gets a sense of pride and accomplishment when he gets them right.  Test day rolls around and I start calling out words and he’s EXCITED because he knows that word!  (Seriously, I can say, “teacher” and he says, “YES!  I know that word!  I can spell that word!”)  And he’s making connections with other words with how they are spelled by thinking of one of his spelling words first.

And you know what else I like about it?  It’s 20 minutes of my day that I don’t have to be right beside him.  I can go start lunch, or sort a load of laundry or something for 20 minutes while he works on his spelling words.  That’s so great for this age when you’re already having to be so hands on with everything else to catch a small break!

Check out SpellingCity!  I’d love to hear what you think about it!

Do you have any other spelling ideas?



Should You Teach Cursive Handwriting to Your Kids

Should you teach your child cursive

Should you teach cursive handwriting to your kids?

I could just say YES and be done with this entire post.  But I guess I’ll elaborate.

So what are the reasons for teaching your children cursive?


  • Historical Documents are all written in cursive.
    Do we want a generation of people who are unable to read original historical documents?
  • Important family documents may also be written in cursive.
    Notes in the family bible, letters great-grandpa wrote home during the war, your great-aunt’s famous cornbread recipe – probably all written in cursive.  What good is it passing these mementos down to our children if they can’t read them?
  • Taking notes is quicker in cursive.
    I take notes every Sunday during church.  They’re all in cursive and pretty much everything else I write is print.
  • Research shows that writing in cursive uses a part of our brain we don’t normally use.
    And I’m a firm believer that if you don’t use something you’ll lose it.  So I’m all for exercising as many parts of our brain as possible!
  • You have to know cursive to have a signature.
    Signatures are as unique as you are.  Without cursive, you’ll never have a signature.  And there are some pretty important things that require a signature – driver’s license, marriage certificate, legal papers, financial papers, etc.
  • It’s a fine motor skill.
    Meaning, the sooner your child starts practicing it the sooner his fine motor skills will be honed.
  • And probably a lot of other reasons….

Ready to start teaching cursive?

Download FREE cursive handwriting worksheets on Educents!

So, WHEN should start teaching cursive?

Well, I say it’s never to late to start!  I went to private school and I started learning in 1st grade.  I think that’s a good age to start.  I know some people teach their children cursive before they teach them print!  That’s okay too!

BigG is in 2nd grade right now and we started cursive on his first day of 2nd grade.  Full disclosure though, he’s 1st grade age – he skipped Kindergarten last year – so he’s the same age I was when I learned.  That’s one of the reasons I held off last year when we started 1st grade.  I wanted his maturity level a little higher before we started – getting him to write anything last year was a hair-pulling ordeal   Shortly before we finished our year last year, he saw a cursive book and said, “When are we going to start doing that?”  And I said 2nd grade.  And he said, “Oh, but I want to do it NOW!”  He was really excited about it.  I had to fend him off the last couple weeks of school because he realllllly wanted to start Cursive.  On our last day of 1st grade I showed him his name.  He practiced it all.summer.long.  And talked all summer about how he was going to learn cursive in 2nd grade!

So go figure, I guess I could’ve started last year!

So I guess the moral of the story is to start teaching them when you feel like they are ready.  If it’s not working, shelve it for 3-6 months and try again!

Handwriting Resources for Kids

Are you an educator or parent who wants to spend time teaching your kids how to write in cursive? If so, these resources from Educents will make it a lot easier and FUN to learn cursive. Super Cursive Freebie - Educents Blog

Web Learning Resources for Kids

Online learning is becoming even more important for the next generations. Educents also has affordable resources that helps children develop their typing and coding skills.
Writing Programs - Educents Blog

  • Learn to Mod with Minecraft – Did you know kids can learn how
    to code by modifying (or “modding”) Minecraft®? Kids learn how to code in Java® and apply it to Minecraft® themed problems!
  • The WriteWell App– A simple and intuitive web-based tool that makes writing fun and effective. With its unique visual and tactile interface and library of interactive essay templates, WriteWell is a convenient tool for teachers and students at home or in the classroom.
  • Handwriting Worksheet Wizard – StartWrite helps teachers, homeschoolers, and parents create handwriting lessons quickly and easily. This program saves hours in lesson preparation time, yet allows you to easily create fun, meaningful worksheet to teach handwriting.

What do you think?

Will you, are you or did you teach your children cursive?


FREE Ancient Egypt Mini-Unit Lessons to Download (thru 8/19)

Did you see where they think they’ve discovered a hidden entrance to Queen Nerfertiti’s Tomb in a wall in King Tut’s tomb?  (Tut was supposedly the son of Nerfertiti.)  They think the tomb was built for her but the entrance to her burial chamber was bricked up and Tut was buried in her antechamber.

Yes, I know, I’m geeking out about it too.  BigG likes Ancient Egyptian stuff too and these FREE worksheets are going to keep him busy!

Download a FREE lesson for kids about Ancient Egypt and jump into King Tut’s history! The freebie has several activities included in this pack, including reading comprehension, math review, map skills, and timeline practice, so there are a multiple ways to use them.

Hieroglyphics Math

Use these fun pages to practice place value and/or addition and subtraction skills! Page 12 of the King Tut Mini-Unit Freebie asks students use the symbols to determine the number. The following page goes a step further and asks students add or subtract numbers.

Fun facts about Ancient Egypt:

  • The Egyptian alphabet contained more than 700 hieroglyphs!
  • Egyptians believed cats were a sacred animal and having a pet cat would bring a household good luck.
  • Ancient Egyptians invented pens, toothpaste, and a game very similar to bowling.

More Ancient Egypt resources:

Mini Bio: King Tut – Here’s a mini bio about King Tut to go with your mini unit!

Ancient Egypt Lapbook – Study interesting facts about the discovery of hieroglyphic writing, the Rosetta Stone, the great King Tutankhamun, the lovely Cleopatra and more.
Recipes From Egypt
– Delight your little cooks with two authentic and easy-to-make recipes from Egypt: Tameya (the original veggie burger), and Basboosa (Semolina cake with honey and lemon).
My Book About Egypt – My Book About Egypt takes elementary students to the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta, and Giza.

Want free lessons for kids about Ancient Egypt? Download the King Tut Mini-Unit Freebie on Educents!  Only FREE until 8/19/15!


FREE Minecraft-Themed Math Worksheets your Kids will LOVE

Do your Minecraft kids need some encouragement to practice math? How about a quick addition refresher before going back to school?


Download Multi Taskin’ Mom’s FREE Minecraft Themed Addition Worksheets. These fun math worksheets include single digit to double digit addition, making this freebie useful for Minecraft kids ages 5 to 12.

Here’s more ways to use your child’s interest in Minecraft for learning:

Looking for more ways to turn gaming time into learning time? Check out all the Minecraft-themed educational products offered on Educents at a discount.


Attention all teachers and fellow homeschooling families!    New users can head over to Educents.com, a daily deal site featuring educational material, and sign up to receive a FREE $10 gift card to spend on their site – exclusively for Saving Toward A Better Life readers!   The $10 gift card will be sent to you by email and you will have 6 months to spend it!

You can use your $10 gift card on anything at Educents!  You can find deeply discounted resources and lots of great printable packs sometimes for $5 or less (making them FREE after your credit!).  Plus, you can almost always find a freebie on Educents too!

Educents is a flash deal site for discounted educational products!  If you are an educator or homeschooling family, check them out today!

// ]]>