Category Archives: 3rd grade

CursiveLogic ~ a Crew review

Crew review

Miss J has worked on her handwriting in various ways over the past couple of years and so when the CursiveLogic review became available, I thought it would be a good way to cement the cursive that just hasn’t really transformed her writing yet. It has been a very good experience for her using the CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack and The Art of Cursive.

CursiveLogic is a company that has developed a unique way of teaching cursive. It is a process that works well for young students just beginning but also works well for older students and adults. This cursive program is different than any other I have ever seen and I am so excited about the help it has given Miss J.

CursiveLogic workbook

The CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack includes one CursiveLogic workbook and access to a teaching webinar. If you have more than one student who will be working on CursiveLogic, you will need an additional workbook for each student. These workbooks can be purchased separately.

The workbook is thoughtfully created. Bound of the top of the page instead of at the side makes it easily used by either right or left handed writers. While both sides of the page are used, you progress through the workbook on the front side of the pages, turn the book over, and go back through the remainder of the lessons on the back sides of the pages. Miss J would tell you that the very best part of the workbook is that there are dry erase pages at the back to practice on. She would practice her letter string, erase, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until I told her to move on. She loves the dry erase pages.

dry erase pages

getting started with CursiveLogic

CursiveLogic gives us a wonderfully fresh approach that is multi-sensory. There is the physical, or kinesthetic, component of writing, both with the writing implement but also by finger tracing and big muscle movements to help ingrain the pattern. In addition to this physical aspect, there is a visual cue (color), a auditory cue (a statement for each letter string that reinforces the motor skills), and quick paced curriculum that moves the student very quickly to practical application, writing words by the end of the first week. This multi-sensory approach appeals to the student.

CursiveLogic has a shape-based approach that guides the student through letter connections from the very beginning. The letters are not learned in a vacuum but rather are learned in a connected string. There are four of these connected letter strings. You will notice on their website that there are basic shapes that letters share and these are grouped together to make the student’s grasp of the connection simpler. It is a logical program that students seem to really respond to, if Miss J is any indication.

practicing letter strings

Miss J has done very well with CursiveLogic. The combination of letter string, color cue, and catch phrase has been really helpful to her. I have seen great improvement in the few short weeks we have been using this program.

In addition to the workbook, the Quick-Start Pack gives access to a webinar on teaching cursive with the CursiveLogic program. I learned a lot listening to the webinar and seeing the program in action. The webinar will walk you through a lesson with the program and help you see how to guide the learner. Some tips I learned included how to phrase things in teaching to help reinforce the program and the purpose and order of the letter learning. This was a very informative video to watch and I found it useful to prepare myself to teach this program.

The Art of Cursive

If you are an adult who is wanting to refresh or tidy up your own cursive, The Art of Cursive might be for you. This is an adult-style coloring book, with intricate images and copywork. The images to color are actually made up of connected letters and the copywork quote. They are lovely! They provide some different ways to practice letter connection and to work on the uniformity of the letter formation, while providing the relaxation and fun of a coloring book. This also served as an incentive to Miss J to work hard on her cursive since I told her should could not use the book until she had completed all of the lower case letter strings. She was successful and got to use The Art of Cursive.

One note about The Art of Cursive: While it can easily provide a practice for a youngster, it is not intended to teach a child cursive. It is intended as a refresher for an adult or to help an adult learn through abbreviated lessons. There are reference pages in the front of the book that show letter formation and give practice, allowing an adult to learn cursive through the shortened lessons. This book is not intended to teach cursive to a child; the CursiveLogic workbook is where children need to begin.

I had never thought out the fact that a shape based approach to cursive might be a more logical and helpful way to teach writing but this type of approach has really made a difference with Miss J. Her writing still has a way to go but whose doesn’t at age 9? She has made significant progress in the past month using CursiveLogic and is able to write in cursive now. Her letters are more uniform in size and it is becoming a more automatic way of writing for her. Progress has definitely been made.

Before CursiveLogicafter using CursiveLogic

I definitely would suggest you check out CursiveLogic and their products: CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack and The Art of Cursive. During the month of March 2018, CursiveLogic is offering a 20% discount on the CursiveLogic Quick-Start Pack, which is the combo of the webinar and one workbook.  Use the code CREW2018 at checkout. Now is a great time to get this program.

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Other Homeschool Review Crew families used this program, as well, and you can see their results by checking out their reviews. Click on the banner below.

The Art of Cursive & Quick Start Cursive {Cursive Logic Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


Birds Unit Study


I know I have hinted and outright mentioned the birds study that Miss J was doing. She just finished it up. It came about because of her fascination with birds and wanting to learn more about different birds. She has been interested in birds since we did a birds book a few years ago. Since we read Look Up!, we have kept our binoculars on or near the kitchen table, which is where we can easily view the birds in the trees out back. We often grab them and study the birds that we can see and we really enjoy watching the cardinal family that comes back every year. This really factored into the decision to create a study, just for Miss J, the focused on birds. She has loved it.

birds unit study

My first resource is a bird study from Memoria Press titled “What’s That Bird?” When a local education store was cleaning out a couple years ago, I was able to get the old version of the teacher guide for this for a buck-fifty. I grabbed it. We used it to help us study the feathers, wings, migration, and more. It was a good overview of birds. We did not use the additional information in this study as it was geared quite a bit higher than 3rd grade.

We also watched Flight: The Genius of Birds, a video from Illustra Media. This video focuses on the dynamics of flight, what is required for birds to be able to fly, and how God’s design is perfect. The videography is just stunning in this video and we enjoy watching it. We learn quite a bit each time we rewatch.

We also checked out a bundle of bird books from the library and spent some time, early in the study, focused on nests, parts of the birds, feathers, and more. We used most of these books in conjunction with the pages from the Memoria Press guide we had.

The website All About Birds was a daily use. It has a good search engine on it so Miss J could easily search the type of bird she needed for that day. The information was thorough, yet accessible for one her age. It included identification, habitat, and food information, along with nest and egg details. There are bird calls to listen to and videos of the birds. This was a really good site for our study.

two page layout

I have a file from Homeschool Copywork that has coloring pages of birds. We printed these full-size and placed them in a three-prong folder. Each bird is identified. As she studied each bird, she colored it according to the images on the web site.

We also have a membership to This resource had a blank notebooking page for birds. I downloaded it and printed it out with four copies of it per page. Miss J would fill in one for each bird and then tape it to the back of the picture of the bird that she colored. There are several other page types on birds available in their science section. This resource is invaluable when creating your own unit studies.

The last thing I included in her study was copywork from John James Audobon. She studied a biography of him early on last fall and so including some of his most famous statements is a great way to keep him and his contributions in mind while benefitting her cursive work. These came from Homeschool Copywork.

bird quotes

This was a simple study that has given her lots of information. It has also been really easy to tie in with other work that we are doing, such as a study of the book “Bears on Hemlock Mountain.” It is not uncommon for us to be out and about somewhere and for her to state “I see a (whatever kind of bird).” We talk about it and she enjoys telling us how she knew what it was.

This is just one way in which we strive to encourage our girls’ in their learning and an example of what I wrote about for the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair week 3.

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Bird Books

bird books for unit study

We created a bird study for Miss J. I decided it would be good to share some of the book resources with you that we used. I will be linking to this in an upcoming post on the unit study itself so be watching for it.

bird books on Audubon

We specifically made it a point to talk about John James Audubon and the influence he had on nature studies, and bird studies in particular. These were two very interesting books about him and his work.

The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davies

Capturing Nature: The Writings and Art of John James Audubon edited by Peter and Connie Roop

bird books set 1

These are some of the reference books we picked up at the library.

Backyard Birds

Smithsonian Bird Watcher

Bird – a DK eyewitness book

If You Were a Bird by S. J. Calder

bird books set 2

These books were chosen because they hit on a specific theme or idea we were covering such as nests or the birds we were likely to see based on where we live.

Learn About Texas Birds

Backyard Birds Texas by Bill Fenimore

Birds Build Nests by Cathryn Sill

About Birds: A Guide For Children

bird books set 3

And these were directing some of the more detailed information and questions for the study.

Exploring Creations with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie Fulbright

Look Up: Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

What’s That Bird? Teacher Key from Memoria Press

These books, by themselves, make a pretty thorough bird study. But, if you want to go further with it, check out the upcoming post about the unit study that Miss J just finished.

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Interactive Grammar Notebook for Elementary Students

interactive grammar notebook

Miss J enjoys learning with hands-on activity. So, when we were talking about how to do some grammar work with her this year that would be fun, we hit upon doing a notebook using printables about grammar. I had no idea at the time that most people refer to these as interactive notebooks. But hey, even I learned something this way!

Before I began anything else, I made a list of all the things we wanted her to review and learn:

  • nouns, common nouns, proper nouns, etc.
  • verbs, linking verbs, etc.
  • pronouns
  • adjectives
  • adverbs
  • sentences, including types of sentences

Then, I did a bundle of searches to come up with freebie printables that fit what we were wanting her to learn. In the process, I found some other grammar concepts that were perfect to add to her notebook. I saved all of these files on my computer and then I spent some time printing them all. I used colored printer paper to keep it fun and alternated the pages so that she did a different color for each page. Some pages had two or more colors.

There were foldables, lists, matching, lift-the-flap, and more. I found a good variety and we were able to print off enough to do several a week for the entire fall semester. She used a composition notebook to put them in and now she has a complete grammar notebook that she can refer back to if she needs a refresher. I am keeping it handy for that but also so that if I find more, we can add to it as she gets older and works on different parts of grammar.

The areas that she ended up with in her interactive notebook include:

  • subject/predicate
  • nouns, including common nouns, singular nouns, possessive nouns
  • pronouns
  • verbs, including verb phrases, being verbs and action verbs
  • adjectives
  • adverbs
  • prefix and suffix
  • synonyms and antonyms
  • punctuation
  • types of sentences
  • cliche, idiom, hyperbole, personifiction, simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia
  • writing details
  • how-to practice
  • opinion writing
  • plot
  • important fact identification
  • reading responses

I often pulled out Grammar Rock from the Schoolhouse Rock series to go along with a new topic in her grammar notebook. After all, who doesn’t like a some to help you remember?

You can find some of what I saved in my Pinterest board but a lot of it that I used, I did have to give an email for. I didn’t mind and will be considering purchasing one or two options for additional activities for the more advanced concepts. Especially since I saw a couple on Pinterest that I didn’t print for her. Yay – more for her to do.

She was actually sitting here, helping me flip through her interactive notebook to make the above list and was asking to do more. She’ll be happy for me to print some more things for her to do.

What are your favorite grammar resources? I would love for you to share your favorites with me in the comments. It might give me something new to do with her and it might help someone else who is reading along here.

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Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew through their weekly linkup.

Viking Ship creation

Viking Ship activity

Today, we were talking about Norway in our Let’s Go Geography lesson. (Read our review of Let’s Go Geography.) We are still really liking these easy but informative geography/history lessons. The embedded links to interesting videos coupled with map work, some history, national anthems, and some animals keep Miss J interested. The map work is just enough to challenge and it includes enough review to help retain the information.

A large part of Norway’s background is Viking and they are pretty proud of it. The activity today was to create a Viking ship on the ocean. Miss J had lots of fun with it and it was simple to do. These types of conclusion activities are right up her alley and seem to tie it all together for her.

Let’s Go Geography is one we are definitely keeping in our rotation of lessons.

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Linked up with the Homeschool Review Crew and the Virtual Refrigerator.

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up


Snow experiments

That title is perhaps misleading. Because, well, you know – central Texas and snow just don’t often mix. Not even recently when the Texas coast got some nice snow. We got cold and wet but no snow. (insert sad face here – I love snow!)

Regardless of what is in the air or on the ground, this week’s lesson from Mystery Doug was on snow. It was a neat video talking about why snow appears white. Who knew? Well, I guess some people did but we didn’t until the video.

(Shall I tell you? Snow is white because of the piling up of it. The edges reflect light differently and when those thousands and thousands of little flakes pile up, the edges all pile up and reflect light in a way that it is no longer clear! Bad explanation maybe. I am always amazed at how well he explains complicated ideas!)

Anyhow, we made snowflakes illustrating that idea. Wax paper and glue. Easy-peasy.


Well, our snowflakes did not do as well as the ones on the videos but the idea was learned. And they did look neat as long as we didn’t pick them up.

Miss J really liked the wax paper after the snowflakes came off of it. The impressions left were very pretty, too.


Mystery Doug presented another really neat one.

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Making A Hand

moving hand

It was a strange little project but we were following her interests. That’s how it goes, right? Delight directed can lead to some interesting things and this led to making a hand.

We started with the Mystery Doug video for the week which is answering “Why do muscles bulge?” Miss J was enthralled with the information and watched the video twice. And then there was the extension project mentioned – building a paper finger.

“Get your supplies. They are listed right there.”
Off she runs.

Not much later, she is moving the finger around and comparing it to her own. Trying to make them both do the same things. And they pretty much can!

studying the hand

“I wonder if I could make a whole hand?”
“Well, look at the additional learning project – make a hand.”
“What do you need?” And off she goes to gather more of the same, plus a little more.

Not much later, she is trying it out, trying to see what she can make it do.

And asking for more videos on making fingers and hands that work. So we do some more videos.

An hour and a half later, her curiosity is satisfied and her projects are beginning to not be quite as interesting. So, on to the rest of the school day. But what a fun project and what fun learning! She will remember this one.

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