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Monday, August 30, 2010

Product Review: Peterson Directed Handwriting

In this review I will be discussing Peterson's Directed Handwriting. I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of their cursive program to try out with the boys. I received the program free of charge for my honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Isaac has been begging for a year to do cursive, but his print is so horrid that I wouldn't let him try it. But after taking an on-line teacher support class from Peterson Directed Handwriting, I decided that we would just jump into the program and see how it went. I even brought Henry along for the journey and he has been writing for only a few months.

Talk about an great company! The customer support system is truly amazing. Apprehensive about starting a handwriting program? Just not sure if this is the program for you? The folks over at Peterson Directed Handwriting are ready to address all you concerns and questions. They even offer on-line teacher support training starting at only $35.00. For more information on their on-line teaching training courses, CLICK HERE.

Peterson Directed Handwriting has a full array of programs featuring both print and cursive. They allow you to purchase just a single book, or an entire program. Prices are very resonable and range from around $15.00 up to about $40.00 per item. They offer E-Workbooks which allow you to print practice pages using Acrobat Reader. Another advantage is that their software package is compatible with a pen tablet on your PC. To check out their website for all their wonderful products, CLICK HERE.

And for all you Latrobe friends reading the blog, Peterson's Directed Handwriting is based out of Greensburg, PA. What a great way to support a local business!


Peterson Directed Handwriting has been around for over 100 years. In that time they have developed a cursive writing program that naturally progresses through four basic movements to help students learn the cursive written language. They have paired these movements with other sensory activities to further help students master the writing process.

The program focuses on the importance of movement. Cursive writing is achieved by moving the pencil sideways. This is not done just with the hand, it also involves the wrist, arm and fingers. All must be in coordination to achieve the correct fluidity of movement. Feel confused and intiminated? Peterson easily walks you through the teaching process until you feel comfortable and confident.

The program follows a natural progression of skills. This means that the student works on a specific skill until it is completely mastered. The most basic skills are taught first, and each lesson builds in complexity. I found this approach extremely helpful in teaching children working at different levels. They moved at their own pace, and there was never pressure to move ahead before a skill was mastered.

Although there is no day-to-day lessson plans, the work texts clearly lay out the steps for the progression of skills. They also offer tips and recommendations if you find your student is simply "not getting it."


*The three boys (grades kindergarten to fourth) could all be doing the program at the same time and it didn't overwhelm me in the least. I would present the lesson, pass out the sheets, make sure each child was using proper positions, and VIOLA! The sheets would become completed among a soundtrack of little letter movements.

*The animated letter cards were fun and engaging.

*The movement and voice combination also offered an entertaining twist into handwriting time. We would mix it up by using silly voices, whisper voices, etc.

*The program had a natural progression which allowed my children to easily master skills necessary to more forward in the program. This also allowed the children to move at their own pace within the program, and didn't cause any added pressure on me as the instructor.

*It seems very hard to "fall behind" while using this program. Since my children worked at their own pace within the levels, it was never a problem that one child was still working on the first basic shape and another child had mastered all four. There was no resentment because the program does not have a competitive element. The natural progression lends itself to practice, not completion.


*Despite all the ways in which I tried to make the lessons fun, when it came down to it, the handwriting sheets were exactly that. Handwriting sheets. Repetitive and dry to my three boys. The kids didn't want to complete them. Even writing as many letters as they were old became too much after a few days.

* The program didn't have a day-by-day or step-by-step lesson plan. My success as a homeschooling mother relies heavily on knowing what I need to do and what the child needs to do for each day. I do not have the energy or motivation to create my own lesson plans for a curriculum. I prefer them already thought out, written down, and scripted if possible. I use that and make the necessary changes to fit our family. More often than not, when I have to create the daily plan, we stop the program within a few months because real life takes control of the homeschool day. I know that the essesence of this type of program would be lost with a day-by-day plan, I mean, how can you have a daily lesson when you are allowing a student to progress at their own pace? I am just stating that for my family, a program without a day-by-day plan generally does not work for us.

My final thoughts on the program:

This program would work best for a family who has a struggling writer and/or a family who wants/needs a systematic approach to handwriting skills. Although this program didn't work well for my family at this time, I wouldn't hesitate to mention it to any friends who may be in the market for a handwriting program.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Kids Make the Newspaper Again

This time it is the local Catholic newspaper for their participation in Vacation Bible School. It is amazing that out of hundreds of kids at four different churches, all three of my boys are pictured somewhere in the spread.
Isaac made the front page at the very bottom.

Here's James doing a project.

Oh my cute little Henry!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Need a laugh?

Check out this video for a few good laughs. But remember that this family has nothing on Mike and I rollin' in our Chrysler van. After all, it's what Jesus would drive.

Friday, August 20, 2010


LeapFrog Giveaway

Head over to Two of a kind, Working on a Full House for your chance to win a LeapFrog Cook & Play Potsy. For more details on this product, Click here to visit the LeapFrog website.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Drum Wacker

James is doing the Lego Simple Machines Pack for science this year and it has been so much fun so far! The first couple of weeks have been learning about force and levers and building things from directions. Here is James' first unique design, made entirely from his imagination. It is a drum stick that hits a drum when he pulls on the string. This program was worth every penny!

Minor League Baseball Game

Michael and Jeff took the older three kids (my boys and Jeff's girl) to a minor league baseball game. They had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TOS Homeschool Expo

It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes.
Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more! A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

If you cannot make the Live event, then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

You can visit either of these links to get more information:

As a member of the TOS homeschool crew, I received free Expo-To-Go Tickets in exchange for this blog post.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I get it now.

Margaret: "Ohhh! I want one of those bootie popsicles!"

Me: "A bootie popsicle?"

Margaret: "No, a bootie popsicle!"

Me: "Bootie?"

Margaret: "No! BOOTIE! Cheep-cheep bootie."

Ahhh. I get it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Such is life

My mother-in-law is visiting and she has spent two mornings cleaning my kitchen. She enjoys it because she says that cleaning is only rewarding when things are really dirty.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happenings at my house

Two nights ago we had Boy A on the toliet with a bad case of the runs at the EXACT same moment that Boy B decided to start vomitting from the top of the bunk bed all over himself, his bed, and the bed of Boy C (who was sleeping below). The next hour was spent cleaning and comforting miserable children. True to nature, the boys awoke the next morning requesting pancakes and bacon. Boy C's only notice of the previous night's event was the declaration that he had somehow lost his blankets during the night (They had been covered in vomit and were moved to the laundry room). Yesterday was so humid that it felt like you were underwater while you were outside. So of course the boys felt that it was the perfect day to get out all the dress-up clothes. After all, when it is 95 degrees outside, it's a pleasant 95 degrees inside our house as well.

Margaret was sweating so much that her hair stayed wet.

The outfits stayed on for school time.

Margaret does indeed have a bed, and we do often dress her. But here she has made a bed for herself and her baby on the floor, and she prefers to wear only a blue tutu.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2 Weeks Down, 34 More Weeks to Go

We have successfully completed our first two weeks of homeschooling. I started early this year because of our extensive travel schedule for the Fall, as well as the fact that we are expecting several overnight guests in this next couple months. I am hoping that by getting an early start, we will be able to comfortably take off time when we need to.

James is entering fourth grade this year. He has a full curriculum that includes:
*A Beka Mathematics
*Shurley English
*All About Spelling
*Writing with Ease
*Handwriting without Tears: Cursive
*Story of the World
*Lego Simple Machines Pack (Physics)

Isaac is my first grader this year. He'll be doing:
*A Beka mathematics
*McRuffy Phonics & Spelling
*First Language Lessons of the Well Trained Mind
*Handwriting without Tears: Print
*Writing With Ease
*Story of the World
*Lego Animal Habitats Pack
Henry will be starting some Kindergarten work this year:
*A Beka Mathematics
*McRuffy Phonics & Spelling
*Handwriting without Tears: Print

All the children will be making lapbooks as well as some extra odds and ends. I got these neat books called: Mind Benders. They are these logic puzzles the kids have to solve. I also picked up a hands-on geography program that I think we can manage. Three of the kids can easily participate, and we only have to complete a project about once a week.

We are also taking swimming lessons at the Ligonier YMCA. The class size is tiny and the kids are really doing well. The last couple summers we were lucky if the kids got into the pool. This year they are swimming with assistance, jumping off the side, and going under water. And the best part is that they LOVE it!