IEW Resource Set Review

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Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has wonderful resources for use in your home or private school. We received a set that includes: Timeline of ClassicsTeaching with Games Set, and A Word Write Now. I'll share a little about each one, how we used them in our homeschool, and what I thought of them.

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Timeline of Classics: Historical Context for the Good and Great Books is a simple historical and chronological spreadsheet of select books, writings, plays, biographies, films, and recordings. It consists of a table of four columns that include a description or time period, title of the resource, author, and age/ability level (Elementary, Middle School, or High School).

The timeline follows the classical divisions of world history: Ancients, The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and the Modern World.

Simply put, the Timeline of Classics is a tool to organize your history and literature studies by time period. Since we are in the Renaissance and Reformation period of American history, I quickly scanned the Ancients and the Middle Ages noting many books that have been a part of our studies, and spent the majority of my time in the book on The New World time period (1607 -1860s). It was super helpful that the contents are listed by time period. For example, in the time period of the Renaissance and Reformation (1450-1850), there are 7 time periods: European Exploration and Colonization, Protestant Reformation, Elizabethan Period, The New World, Age of Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and Westward Expansion.

I am not a history buff at all. I am becoming one, but when we started homeschooling I remember asking my husband “what happened when?” I was pretty clueless and pretty thankful for a curriculum full of many wonderful books (many that made the cut in the timeline), but I needed this timeline back then! Not only is the timeline full of classic, living, and real books, but the timeline gives a rundown of “what happened when” and also lists when classic books were published.

Though it has many treasures, Timeline of Classics is not the end-all list of resources. Even so, I can’t imagine trying to fit in all the books for American history - I would have to spend years on just this time period. Then I read “The Story Behind Timeline of Classics” in the appendix and was relieved to read this: “Although I desire for my children to be lifelong learners, there is no way to experience everything on this list in a lifetime.” I was honestly relieved to read this. I love that if one resource is not a good fit there are plenty more to choose from. I highly recommend this resource for homeschool families.

This resource book is printed on high quality non-glossy paper with a sturdy, high-gloss card-stock cover with a spiral binding.

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A Word Write Now : A Thematic Thesaurus for Stylized Writing is a super kid friendly thesaurus aimed at writers of any age.

It consists of four sections:
  • A: Character Traits (the importance of characters in a story and both positive/neutral and negative/neutral character traits)
  • B: Descriptive Words (for appearance, color, size, time, temperature, texture, shape)
  • C: Words for Movements and the Senses (actions of feet, hands, hearing, seeing, smelling, speaking, thinking)
  • D: Appendix (transitions, prepositions, literary genres, and literary devices)

I took one look at Section A and I knew Malachi would love this. He loves to write stories and is always asking for advice on how to develop his character and plot. I showed him the "Introduction to Character Traits" - specifically the section on "Creating Your Own Characters for a Story" and he begged me to give him the book - on vacation! A few minutes later, he asked for a pencil and paper and started a new story. He used words from the "Determining Character Roles" list for his primary, opposing, and supporting characters. He then gave his characters traits and that’s when he asked for advice on the plot.

This resource is awesome! It is designed to be used independently and easily so. Each word has a definition, a thought or quote on the word, an excerpt from classical literature using the word, and then a list of synonyms categorized by nouns, noun characters - characters that typically display this trait (love this!), adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and even a lined blank list for additional words the student can add themselves. There is even a blank form to think of your own topic and related word lists. (This form may be reproduced for home use within your immediate family.)

Eliana (3rd grade) used the page titled "Words to Describe Appearance" to help with her English.

In the first picture, she is writing colorful words that tell about a kitten. 

In the second picture, she used colorful words to describe a kite and then wrote a shape poem about a kite.

It was nice to be able to grab A Word Write Now right when we needed it. While using it, I did find that I wished it had other topics as well. Several times I pulled it out to use and didn't find what I was looking for but found it very useful when I did.

This resource book is printed on high quality durable glossy paper with a sturdy high gloss card-stock cover with a spiral binding. It is designed for regular use by a student. The layout is appealing and the text easy to read.

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Teaching with Games Set is a book and DVD/CD-Rom set of games designed to be used as a valuable tool in the classroom. The games can be used as an effective way to teach and review concepts in any subject area. It begins with a brief introduction on the value of games and an overview of the book.

The games are divided into five groups:
  1. “No-Prep” Games 
  2. Matching Card Games 
  3. Question Games 
  4. Math Facts Games 
  5. “Make As You Teach” Games
You are welcome to copy pages for use in your family so that the book can be used over and over. If you are teaching a small group or co-op class, you can copy the content for use in your own class, but each teacher has to purchase his or her own book. We are a part of a small, local co-op, and I thought how fun it would be to teach a class using the games in this book. Since our co-op is for electives only, I thought these games would be fun to prepare students for a Bible bee. I found several games that could easily be used for Bible trivia, but my husband has his eye on Jeopardy. Jeopardy is one of the “Question” games, so I think it would be perfect.

The book basically teaches you how to make your own games using your own content, but the set-up and rules are included for you to make this process so much easier. Furthermore, each game includes a sample game. Since we are in the throes of the Revolutionary War, I was excited to see Revolutionary War Jeopardy as the sample game for Jeopardy. It was super easy to copy the People, Places, and Events cards onto card stock and cut out to use for a round of Jeopardy, though I could have easily printed them onto cardstock from the DVD/CD that came with the book. Each set of cards has an easy, medium, and hard category. The game also includes category labels. I stacked each set of cards under each category label and we were ready to play.

To play, Malachi (5th) and Eliana (3rd) took turns choosing a category and level of difficulty and rolling the die or dice on their turn to determine the number of points for each question - one die for the easy level, two dice for the medium level, and three dice for the hard level. It was fun to play, but we had some tears over the difficulty, so we decided to save the easy questions for Eliana, and have Malachi chose from the medium and hard levels. We also gave Eliana one hint if she needed it, but then gave her half the points if she got the answer. Following the rules, if you oust the other player by answering their question after the time limit (we hummed the Jeopardy theme song after giving them ample time to answer), then you earn double points. The game also includes a double point question and a lose a turn card. I ended up skipping some question cards on material we have not yet covered, but I look forward to playing again after we finish covering the Revolutionary War. Note: If you are playing with one child, the tip is to have your student play to try to reach a certain number of points.

Malachi and I also played several rounds of No-Noose Hangman - the first “No-Prep” game in the book. We played just for fun using phrases about himself, but it is very easy to tailor this game to any subject. We used the version for a single homeschooled student, and we took turns thinking of puzzles for each other. Instead of who guessed first, the winner is whoever solves the puzzle with the fewest wrong letter guesses.

Each game has a short description, supplies needed, how to play, how to win, sample phrases or questions, and/or notes on variations or tips on playing for home use. 

The Matching Card Games section has reproducible cards for game ideas and the book has reproducibles throughout depending on the game.

For IEW users, the book also includes creative ways to use IEW curricula.

This resource book is printed on high quality non-glossy paper with a sturdy, high-gloss card-stock cover with a spiral binding.

The book also comes with three discs - two DVDs and one CD-Rom. The two DVDs contain a video of each game. I really appreciated seeing the games in action! If you are a visual person, you will appreciate the videos. I found it helpful, but the videos can get long and the instructions are well written and easy to understand without them. I found myself fast forwarding through them to get the main idea. The CD-Rom contains the book in PDF format. I like having the book in hand, but I also like knowing that if I need to print instructions or printables from the book that I can easily do that from the CD.

I think Teaching with Games will be a valuable tool to use in our homeschool and I’m excited to have this book, as well as the whole resource set as a resource in our homeschool library. I found all three products to be well done and worth the investment to have on hand.

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