Alpha Phonics Indepth

This is a sponsored post (I received materials for free in exchange for my review). I have talked about some of this companies materials already. This post is from the company. I thought that would better serve you to understand what it’s about because I don’t have a little one that needs to learn to read. There is a link towards the bottom to see what other parents, that have used the program, think of it. 

 

Alpha-Phonics

 

To those interested in teaching someone to read, a familiarity with phonics is essential. Although there was some debate regarding the superiority of phonics, especially in the last half of the 20th century, it is now clear the preponderance of convincing evidence has landed squarely in its favor. Those who have used phonics to teach reading have known this all along and have wondered what the big deal was – phonics works and works well!

 

Phonics vs What?

 

As always, there will be attempts at finding a new and better way to do something. In teaching to read English, the strongest contestants to replace phonics have been the “look-say” and “whole language” methods.

 

There is no doubt that the so-called “look-say” method, so popular in the early 1950’s, did indeed work for many (I’m proof of that) but it suffered from the lack of a method to “decode” words, or break them down into their basic parts to discover their meanings and learn how to pronounce them. Up to a point a child could indeed learn and memorize many words from sight but there are just too many words in the language for this method not to have a severe, inherent limitation.

 

In the 1980’s the “whole language” theory of teaching reading reached some prominence, taking a completely opposite direction than phonics. It’s premise was more complex and complicated than what I would even care to attempt to explain here. Its approach was ‘holistic” and its adherents believed the best method to teach reading was to begin by recognizing words as whole pieces of language that must be interpreted according to their relationship with other words, and certainly not by breaking them down into letters and groups of letters as is taught in phonics.

 

Like many other attempted reforms of American education, it tragically resulted in lost time and needless experimentation on children, many of whose lives were irrevocably handicapped as a result. What’s more, kids with dyslexia and other language disorders experienced their problem becoming even more acute as a result of being taught to read by the whole language approach.

 

Eventually it became obvious (again) that phonics students could learn to read with much more speed, ease, and success than with any other method. If you are interested in a non-proven, convoluted, and potentially harmful method, look into “whole language” by all means. By the time you think you understand it, you could have taught your kids to read with Alpha-Phonics, and they would be well on their way to the joys and rewards of functional literacy.

 

Why Alpha-Phonics?

 

The number of children who have learned to read with Alpha-Phonics is so vast that it is probably useless to even guess at it. Developed by Samuel Blumenfeld about 30 years ago, it has not changed since its first edition. If you came across a used copy of one of the first editions, the only major difference you would see would be in its condition. It worked so well from the very beginning that it just hasn’t required updating or changing. Oh yes, there was one functional improvement that was made: the addition of a spiral binding that allows the book to lie flat on a surface.

 

Alpha-Phonics reduces the phonics approach into a number of easily digestible lessons in such a logical way that the student will be able to read simple sentences after as little as three lessons (possibly the first day!). The student just needs to learn the 44 basic sounds of English as communicated by the various groups of letters. One they are learned, he will then be able to “decode” any new words he comes across. As we know, English is such a dynamic language that this valuable ability to decode words will come into play on an almost daily basis. The simplicity of Alpha-Phonics also results in an ease of presentation for the tutor as well. Anyone can successfully use Alpha-Phonics to teach reading, which makes it a basic and valuable tool for the homeschooler as well as the parent that wants to give their child a head start.

 

To see what many parents have said about Alpha-Phonics, please visit us HERE. [Insert URL: http://www.alphaphonics.com/reviews.htm ]

 

 

There are only 44 basic sounds that a child has to learn.

 

Reading is really simply learning to sound out words, using the 44 basic sounds.

Vidalia Chop Wizard – Review and Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through a link I may receive a small commission. This won’t cost you anything, but it will help support this site. Please see my Disclosure Policy for full details.

 

I had to buy one of these because the one I have is from Princess House. I wanted to get one for my Mom anyway and I wanted to make sure that this was a great product like mine! I use mine multiple times a week. It’s seriously huge time saver and, as homeschool Moms, we need all of the time savers we can get! :D


Doesn’t look like it would be a huge addition to the kitchen, does it? To be honest, I ended up with one because I went to a Princess House party at a friend’s and I needed something to order that wasn’t $100! This was on sale for half price if you bought something at regular price. So, I bought a container of their Daily Stainless Steel Cleaner. (It’s awesome!) My Vidalia Chop Wizard was still almost $40! The only difference that I could see was the color of the lid and the Princess House one was a bit bigger. That’s the only real difference I can see.

The Vidalia Chop Wizard comes with two plates: a chopping plate that has 1/2″ squares and a dicing plate that has 1/4″ squares. You also get a little cleaning tool. The cleaning tool is for the tiny squares on the lid that push the food through the openings. It is actually very handy! Even though the Chop Wizard is dishwasher safe, I don’t want any little chunks that may get caught to clog up my dishwasher. I don’t have to use the little tool often, but I’m glad it’s there for what I do. Those spaces between the squares are tiny! 

The 1/2″ openings on the chopping plates are PERFECT for potatoes and carrots. The length of the slices depends on how big the chunks are that you put in there. So, if you want squares of chopped potatoes for a stew, cut your potato into 1/2″ or so slices. You can put a stack of them on there to cut at once or you can do each slice individually. (When you’re cutting something pretty hard like potatoes and carrots, put the heel of your hand on the pivot point of the lid while you push down with the other hand. This takes any stress of the lid. I can see that part maybe breaking after a few years of use. Push down on it a bit with your other hand will remove the stress from that joint.) If you want to make french fries, simply put a thicker chunk of potato in there! You will get a longer cut of potato that will still be 1/2″ thick, allowing for even cooking. I use my Chop Wizard to prepare veggies just about every time I cook. I use the chopping plate the most when I’m making a stew or soup. I know all of the potatoes are going to soften up nice and evenly because they’re all the same size! Same with carrots.

I use the dicing plate for things like onions and garlic. I don’t like huge chunks of onion unless it’s a stew or soup that’s going to cook for a long time. One tiny bit of crunch from an onion and I’m done. We’re talking gag-worthy. Nasty. Garlic is my favorite thing to use the dicing plate on. There’s no waste whatsoever and it’s in these beautiful, tiny little bits. Perfect!

I made this recipe for Moroccan Stew last week. I used the Chop Wizard for all of the veggie prep except for the carrots. For those, I wanted rounds for a bit of visual texture. Like 90% of the stew was square and I wanted to have a little something different. So I used my handy dandy mandolin slicer for those. (That’s another awesome kitchen gadget!) I did make some substitutions on the veg. I didn’t have any sweet potatoes, so I added more potatoes and some broccoli. I also didn’t add the honey or apricot. I’m sure the apricot would have been nice, but I was after some heat! I did do chunks of onion because it was going to cook for awhile and I wasn’t serving it until the next day. Plenty of soften time!

You’re going to love this stew. Up the cumin, turmeric, curry and pepper a bit. Fantastic flavor! Serve this stew with some toasted basil butter bread and a dollop of vegan sour cream on top. Definitely a winter worthy meal!

I’m going to list out the ingredients here for you, but you’ll need to follow the link for the instructions since it’s not my recipe. :)

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cups finely shredded kale
4 (14 ounce) cans organic vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes,
undrained
1 tablespoon honey
4 large carrots, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans,
drained
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
1 tablespoon water (optional)

Vordak the Incomprehensible – Book Review

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Today’s review is about one of our boys’ favorite books for Daddy to read to them. Now, our boys are 12 and 9 years old. They love Star Wars, Minecraft and Mark Twain. Our whole family loves just about anything geeky. :D For SWL‘s 12th birthday he had a HUGE group of friends over for a “Guy Night”. Some of them spent the night and a few went with us on a surprise outing. We took them to a small Comicon near us! It was awesome!! While we were walking around the booths, we came across Vordak. In comic convention style, he was in complete costume and character. LL got a kick out if it! We bought the book he had at the booth and Vordak signed it for him. That’s where their love affair with Vordak began. 

Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World

 

If you’ve never heard of Vordak, take a minute to check out the site. You will quickly see that it is ALL BOY. And ALL HILARIOUS! Vordak is going to teach the kids how to grow up and rule the world in this book. He teaches them their evil laugh, how to choose their costume, picking out their evil name, how to raise money for their evil empire, etc. What every good little villian set on taking over the world needs to know! It’s like the supremely funny evil villain textbook. You can see Vordak’s bio down below.

 

Vordak bio

See the full bio page http://www.vordak.com/bios.html

 

When Daddy reads any Vordak book to the boys, it is done in his “Vordak voice”. That’s a must. I can hear the boys laughing all the way downstairs! With their bedroom door shut!! They beg him to read it to them constantly. It is by far the best book we’ve bought for Daddy to read to them. I can’t recommend them enough. Honestly, they enjoy the time reading with J that much. 

I think that books for Dad to read to the boys should be silly guy stuff. Comics and Vordak and crazy boy books. Dad is the super funny one in our house. I’m not saying that he doesn’t discipline or isn’t serious, but you can always count on Dad for a laugh. Or a good light saber battle. He’s always up for a light saber battle. ;)

Now, if you don’t like books that poke fun at bad guys by being the silly bad guy, this is not for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that! He calls people sissies and jerks, but our boys know that we don’t do that. They know that it’s just being silly and that it’s not ok to do in real life. This has never been an issue for our kids, so these books are nothing more than awesome fun. If you’ve had problems with your kid calling people names or bullying in other ways, you may want to skip it for awhile. 

LL will tell you that his favorite book is The Prince and the Pauper, which it is. But he will tell you that ANY Vordak book is a close second! LOL! As soon as Dad finished reading Vordak the Incomprehensible, LL was ready to go to the library to find more Vordak books. Literally as soon as it ended. There are three Vordak books that we know. They boys have read, and been read, two of them:

 

Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow up and Rule the World                              Vordak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School

There are two other books, Vordak the Incomprehensible: Double Trouble and Time Travel Trouble, that may or may not make their way under our tree for Christmas. ;) They weren’t at the library, but as many times as they’ve read the other two, I have no problem buying them!

 

 

Vordak the Incomprehensible: Time Travel Trouble

Vordak the Incomprehensible: Double Trouble

 

These books are great ones to get a boy back into reading. Like how Harry Potter got millions of kids to love reading! These are sure to jumpstart your reluctant reader. Our boys have one classic novel and one “for fun” book at all times. There are other things they need to read for school, like a book on the Inca when we studied them, in addition to the other two. The classics are read during their reading time during the day and the fun books are read whenever they want and at bedtime. They can read their classics whenever, too, but they are assigned one hour of classics each day. 

So, Vordak. Our entire family HIGHLY recommends these books.

Have your kids read any of the Vordak books? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them! Let people know what you loved, or didn’t love, about them! :)

 

NEA Trojan Horse in American Education – Review & Giveaway!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through a link I may receive a small commission. This won’t cost you anything, but it will help support this site. Please see my Disclosure Policy for full details.

I was sent a copy of NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education in exchange for a review. No promise was made for a positive review, and there was no expectation of one. Like I’ve said before, I’m not going to insult you by lying and I’m not going to ruin your trust by doing so either. 
NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education

Today’s review may be a little controversial. Well, the subject is controversial for sure. ;) I’m not one to shy away from controversy, so let’s get to the nitty-gritty!

NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education is written by Sam Blumenfeld. He originally published it in 1984, once he found someone that would actually publish it! The publishing houses, even then, were all too afraid of the NEA (National Education Association) to put their name on the book. That should give you a little insight into the power of this group. I guess this is as good a time as any to let you know that I have zero respect for this group. It stems from way before I ever read this book. That’s why I was more than a little excited to read it! I promise to not let this review turn into a rant on my part. ;)

This updated version of NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education comes to you either on disk  ($17.95), as a pdf download ($12.95) or in a Kindle version ($9.99). Mine was on disk. I have to admit, I really like the delivery method! Yes, I like to snuggle up with a book in bed, but having it electronically is just so much easier to multitask. I saved the book as a pdf from the disk and uploaded it to our home server. Then I could open  this on my laptop or whatever computer I near and was able to read while working with the boys or working on my sites. When there were bits that I wanted to remember: highlight, “take a photo” and paste into an Open Office Writer document! I definitely do no mind that it is not a physical book. If you really need that hardcopy, you could print it out. Just use that toner saver mode!

Here is Sam Blumenfeld’s description of the book. It’s a quick little video.:


I knew we would homeschool our kids before they were born. My husband needed just a little convincing. ;) I know how the public school system let me down. I was an advanced student, bored out of my mind in public school. But, putting everyone on an equal footing is what the public system is all about! They were trying to “dumb me down”. I didn’t want that for our babies. I wanted them to be able to flourish! To love learning. Mr. Blumenfeld is a huge homeschool advocate. I actually have some of his books that I will be reviewing. Anyway! Back to NEA.

NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education gave me the history behind the research I had already done on my own into the teacher’s unions and why America’s public education system was so broken. Let me warn you that this is not a quick read. You are going to need to take your time with this book! There is a LOT of information to digest. You can’t just breeze through it. I encourage you to take breaks while reading to research the information you were given. You will quickly see that Mr. Blumenfeld is right on the money! You’re also going to find out that it’s only going to get worse.

I want to share a few quotes with you.

 “[Why is the NEA effective?] It is not because of creative ideas, it is not because of the merit of our position, it is not because we care about children, it is not because we have a vision of great public schools for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power and we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people [members] who are willing to pay us millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe we are the union that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.”

- daytonos.com May 11, 2011

 

I’m a teacher and I read this book years ago, shortly after it first came out. At that time I was working in a school system that required either joining the NEA or paying almost the exact same amount of money to it and not having a say in it. For two years, I mindlessly paid my dues and was a member. Then, I decided to read the material I had been given by the NEA. It was a 75-page, very fine print 8 1/2 x 11″ book(let). I read every word of it and was amazed at some of the thing the NEA was supporting. Then I heard about this book on a radio program and when I read it, I saw that this man was pointing out the very things I had already seen.

The NEA is not a harmless group that merely wants the best for the education of our children. The changes that are happening in education are part of an overall agenda and that agenda is NOT to produce the most intelligent and well-educated children we can.

If you are an educator today, please read this book! Don’t give your money mindlessly to this organization. You expect your students to research their facts and you need to do the same yourself. You owe it to yourself and the children you teach. Joining the NEA is NOT the best way to educate our youth!

This author has excellent documentation for what he says. It is well worth your time to read. Even though it was originally published in the 80’s, the NEA has only gotten worse. (Did you know the NEA was sued a couple of years ago for misappropriation of funds?)

Once you read this, you’ll wonder how intelligent people like teachers have been duped into thinking this is only a pro-education group. (Did you know teachers are now referred to as “agents of change”? After reading this book, you’ll know why.)

- review on Amazon by Chalkbrd

If you are not infuriated by the first quote, maybe you didn’t understand it. It’s saying that they are all about the power they have! The power to achieve whatever they deem to be in their best interest. Not the best interest of the kids, their best interest. That is NOT what our country needs from its teachers. That’s not what the kids in public school need. There’s a documentary you may find interesting called The Cartel. It’s a “watch it now” on Netflix. It’s about the NJ teacher’s union. It’s extremely eye-opening. I think Mr. Blumenfeld would approve.

When reading this book, you are going to come across a lot of talk of socialism and the leftist agenda. Don’t blow it off. I have really done a 180 when it comes to socialism. It sounds so nice as a teenager! I can only thank God that I grew up and realized what it really was. Mr. Blumenfeld is passionate about his beliefs, and it’s evident in this book. Don’t be offended by it, just read it with an open mind. Do your own research! Educate yourself and learn how to better educate your children. I think that’s what he’s really after here.

I already knew the public school system was broken, but this book really told me why. I already knew that phonics was the absolute best way to teach kids to read and that dyslexia numbers were huge in the US but, once again, this book told me why. As homeschoolers, we know that we are on the front lines of the battle for a good education for our kids. We have to fight the State. We have to fight the Federal government. We have to fight the local school board. Well, I now know where the real power is. And I thank Sam Blumenfeld from the bottom of my heart for the countless YEARS of research he did to bring me these answers.

And now, the giveaway!!!                              (The winner of the giveaway was Entry #5 April W.!!!!)

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