Learning Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

Learning Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

Disclosure: I received this product for free in order to do the review. I was compensated for my time in creating the review. All of the opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

We’ve been using Rosetta Stone for our language learning for many years. Our high school senior studied French when he was in late elementary when Rosetta Stone was still available through our public library. Almost two years ago, I purchased Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish for the whole family. Ethan has taken Arabic in the past and was excited to revisit it and complete a whole credit for high school foreign language. Rosetta Stone rounds out his experience very well so, let me explain more about Learning Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone.

Homeschool Lessons with Rosetta Stone Arabic

Learn Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

With all the languages available to study through Rosetta Stone, why did we choose Arabic? We chose it because Ethan, our senior, has taken Arabic in the past and he wanted to add to his credit count in this language. His first experience was a co-op class and he also took Arabic from a native speaker in Egypt. The key to learning with Rosetta Stone is the immersion in the language.

  • Language Immersion– If you talk to anyone who has visited a foreign country and lived there for any length of time, they often come home speaking somewhat fluently. Why is it that students who study a foreign language for years in a classroom may never speak that language fluently? Immersion. When you are forced to use only the new language, you get good at it quickly! Rosetta Stone uses the way baby’s learn their first language to teach a new one and that is a form of immersion. From the comfort of your own home.
  • Self-Paced & Self-Guided Lessons– Once you sit down to begin a lesson, you’ll hear the narrator say words and you must match them to the pictures based on the cues. Your student’s job is to repeat words for pronunciation and identify others with the pictures they go with.
  • Hear Arabic Words & See Them Written– in the Arabic alphabet. Arabic is a fun language to pursue because the alphabet is completely new.
  • Homeschool Resource CD– which comes with the homeschool edition has a written transcript for everything spoken in each level.

Benefits of Learning Arabic with Rosetta Stone Homeschool

Learn Arabic at Home with Rosetta Stone

We chose Rosetta Stone over other language experience years ago for specific reasons, so my benefit list is long.

  • Use with Multiple Students– You can have up to five profiles on one homeschool version set. Right now I have one student studying Arabic and Spanish and another working through Spanish.
  • Easy to Install– It only takes a few minutes on the computer or you can purchase a web based version so you can learn languages on the go!
  • Comes with its Own Headset– This may seem trivial, but I have to tell you this is one nice headset! I use it for all my online recordings as well like G+ Hangouts and webinars.
  • Pay a One Time Fee– Rather than paying for classes and paying for each child, you can purchase more than one level at a time and it can be used for your whole family for the duration of their language studies. We chose a language all of our kids could learn for this reason. The bonus is being able to choose others if we’d like.
  • Self-Paced Lessons for All– Each student can reach milestones during each level at their own pace.
  • Access Multiple Languages from One Program if You Own More than One– We have both Arabic and Spanish on our computer and when you open Rosetta Stone students can choose their language and level. Once a profile is made for them, they can access any of the languages you’ve purchased.
  • Use Parent Administrative Tools – to track student progress and make tweaks in lesson plans. This is a nice perk if you have more than one student using the same language at a time. It helps you to know how they are doing and what they need to work on. Often I am around while they are doing a lesson, so I can hear how things are going.
  • Speak the Language Consistently during Every Lesson– The core of the lesson is speaking and listening so you will have repeated practice at pronunciation and fluency. Many times in traditional language teaching programs students engage in little speaking during class time or, in my experience teachers always call on the students they love to hear! Your student is prompted to speak and has to do it well for the voice recognition. That’s a win!
  • Hear the Language Spoken as You Learn– Helps to avoid pronunciation blunders as you learn. You’ll hear whole sentences in addition to words regularly.
  • Engage in Conversation– Lessons provide a repeating segment and a conversation segment giving you the chance to practice speaking conversationally. If more than one student is taking the lessons, they can talk to each other and this is a great way for me to see they are learning. In addition, the homeschool edition comes with an audio practice CD so you can practice even more!

In my great search for the foreign language credit for high schoolers and reconciling that with the requirements of colleges and universities, I’ve found Rosetta Stone to be a good fit.

Connect with Rosetta Stone and Try a Free Demo

If you’d like to see more about Rosetta Stone for yourself, I encourage you to do so. Rosetta Stone has met a language learning need for our homeschool family.

Try out the Free Demo– which gives you a chance to see the program in action.

Follow Rosetta Stone on Facebook– There are frequent special offers from Rosetta Stone.

Sign up for the Homeschool Newsletter– I have enjoyed an even contributed to the Rosetta Stone newsletter. Sign up at the bottom of this page  and receive homeschool education news.


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Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

We are a big LEGO® Mindstorms family and I often get questions about how we teach our kids using the Mindstorms. They are a significant investment for homeschoolers and it’s important to know what’s available to help you along. Questions like:

  • Do you use curriculum?
  • How do you manage what your kids are learning?
  • What resources are out there to help?
  • Do I have to invest in LEGO Mindstorms curriculum?
  • Which kit do I buy- the home kit or the education kit?

To answer these questions, I’m going to do a series of posts on how we use LEGO Mindstorms. I’ll be sharing Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms, which to buy- the home kit or the education kit, activities to do with the kits, and some general strategies for building and using the robots.

Book Resources for LEGO Mindstorms

There are a lot of books available in bookstores and on Amazon which focus on the robot kits. The first thing to distinguish is whether you have an NXT model or the newer EV3. I’m going to list a few ideas for the EV3 because that is the current model and it’s what’s supported by LEGO. If you have an NXT, most of these authors have a book very similar for that software and they are still available at Amazon. I’ve listed one below.

LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Discovery Book– This is a great book for beginners to get to know the EV3.

Exploring LEGO Mindstorms EV3– Some ideas and tools for building and programming EV3 robots for beginner through advanced users.

Maximum LEGO EV3 (Building Robots with Java Brains)– A book for users who want to go beyond the basics of programming using the LEGO software. Our 5th grader has been using this book to use a different firmware along with leJOS to “hack” the Linux OS on the EV3. Our engineer needs a challenge and I thought this book would do the trick. It has!

MAKE: Lego & Arduino Projects– This book is all about extending the Mindstorms NXT with open source electronics. Joshua has a “shield” for his NXT brick which allows him to program the brick using the Arduino.

There are books of all kinds for Mindstorms. They are written by talented people who want to share projects with kids. Some books have specific robots to build and others teach basic strategies with some robot directions mixed in. Choose your child’s skill level and work from there.


Resources for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms


Websites for Teaching with LEGO® Mindstorms

We’ve found and used a number of websites over the years. LEGO.com has a lot of content on their site to go with the Home Kit. There are others as well. If you have a kit and you are looking for more help, check these out.

Build a Robot– a section of the LEGO website which has about 17 or so robot building directions.

Community Build Challenges– Offered by LEGO, these are challenges to build a robot which can do something specific. This link also has previous challenges which can provide ideas for your robotics engineer.

Learn to Program– This is a set of tutorials from lego.com which helps students to get the basics down.

Dr. Graeme– A website devoted to EV3 and NXT tutorials. You can also find challenges here which are a great tool for getting to know the kit.

Tutorials for EV3– from Dr. Graeme, a list of tutorials with choices for whether or not you have the home vs the education kit. You can learn about how to use sensors and how to build specific robots with challenges included. This site also gives tips on how to best use the information he provides.

NXT Programs– This is a great site full of robots to build using the NXT kits along with the programs to go with them.

LEGO Education Community– A place to find lessons and ideas for using Mindstorms and other LEGO education products. The challenges are valuable for use with your students.

FIRST– For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Get to know the organization behind FIRST LEGO League and the robotics competitions it supports.

Other Mindstorms Posts on Blog, She Wrote

Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool– This is an overview of what your students gain if you use the robot kits.

FIRST LEGO League: Science, Technology, & Teamwork– Our family has been deeply involved with Junior FLL and FLL for 8 years. Learn more about what FLL is and what it means to be on a team. Below is a video from that post where Ethan (then 15) shows off the team robot and the missions they’ve programmed.


5 Pieces of Technology Our Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without– This list includes the LEGO® Mindstorms among other things you might find an interest in.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to engaging with the Mindstorms kits. You don’t need a formal curriculum to get a lot out of your investment. In my next post in the series, I’m going to address the question of which kit is best- the home kit or the education kit.


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How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

During the last couple of months, Rebecca (our 9th grader) has been working on a project with another homeschooler. Specifically, she was given the job of illustrating a book written by a homeschooled author from another state. Today is all about How to Collaborate As an Illustrator and I hope you’ll gain some insight on how to start a project like this with your students.

Being Invited into the Illustrating Process

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

Illustrators are usually matched with authors by a publishing company. Sometimes, an author will choose an illustrator to work with, especially if they’ve worked the person before, but whether the author has published once or many times, it is usually the publisher who will pick an illustrator for a book.

We had a wonderful opportunity to meet with Anne Mazer, the author of, The Salamander Room and many other books including, Spilling Ink (a book she co-authored) which is book written for young writers. She came to our home to talk to our Writer’s Workshop group and shared with us how the publishing process works. Ms. Mazer told us how authors work with illustrators and showed us her galley copy of The Salamander Room. Galley proofs are unbound copies of a book given to authors, illustrators, editors, etc for proofreading purposes.

The kids in attendance were mesmerized by the stories of how her books came to be.

How to Collaborate as an Illustrator

In this case, Rebecca was chosen to be the illustrator after the author had been seeking an illustrator for a year. The author’s mom is Jamie from The Unlikely Homeschool and she asked for an illustrator young enough to work with her daughter and I knew Rebecca would adore the process of illustrating a book.

They’ve been working together for a few months on this project. I know there will be a post from the author’s perspective on the publishing process, so stay tuned for that. Today, I will outline how this process looks from the illustrator’s point of view.

Opportunities to Collaborate with an Author

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

When the girls first connected, as moms we took the time to introduce them to one another before they got down to the business of book illustrations. From there, it went like this:

  • The author shared with Rebecca her vision for the style of illustration she was looking for.
  • A copy of the book’s manuscript was sent to Rebecca.
  • Rebecca read through the manuscript and took notice of the book’s characters and the plot.
  • She began to think through what scenes would make good illustrations.
  • Weekly meetings were established so that they would work through the book together.
  • The author shared with Rebecca who the characters were and what she thought of how they appeared and who they were- this was a cool session watching as a mom. It was neat to see how the author envisioned her characters and how she wanted them portrayed in illustrations.
  • Rebecca worked up initial sketches of each of the characters to share with the author.
  • Since those first sketches, they’ve met just about every week to go over Rebecca’s work.
  • Rebecca makes a sketch which she draws in ink for the final illustration.

If you like to see authentic projects for your students to work on, this is a perfect project. The author has entered into the process of seeing her words come to life in a fully published book. Rebecca is getting the chance to collaborate with an author and share her drawings as part of the book publishing.

Whether you have writers or artists in your home, encourage your kids to publish!

Using Technology for Collaboration

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

Every week the girls meet to discuss Rebecca’s sketches and drawings along with the book’s next chapter and the new assignment. Since the girls live half a country apart, technology is an important piece of the puzzle.

  • Email was used to share the manuscript with Rebecca- She was able to read the book before getting started on the sketches.
  • Skype– This is how their weekly meetings are held. Skype is easy to use and allows them to talk real time with one another. Rebecca can hold her drawings to the camera for the author to see. Other choices might be Facetime (for the Apple users of the world) and Google Plus hangouts. The nice thing about a G+ Hangout is you can have multiple people on video with no problem. I think it’s nicer if you have more than two people meeting.
  • Scanner– This is how we will put Rebecca’s drawings into digital form before sending the final copies to the author.
  • Color Technology– Rather than Rebecca coloring her own illustrations, they’ll be using digital color set by the art director who will layout the book when the illustrations are complete. The author’s dad is an art director and has the expertise to do they layout for the book. We are looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Using these simple pieces of technology has opened up a world of learning which would have been difficult before. Not only can the girls collaborate, but the ability to self-publish has never been easier and it brings an authenticity to the project which can’t be beat.

Lessons for the Illustrator

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

This has been a great learning process for Rebecca. I asked her what has been valuable to her:

  • Listening to the author talk about her characters helped her to draw the characters with detail that depicts who they are and gives them distinction throughout the book.
  • She learned to draw in the style the author wanted by picking up a Henry and Mudge book and drawing Henry.
  • Rebecca had not really drawn people much before, so this has been an opportunity to practice and learn more about drawing people.
  • Choosing what will make a good illustration within a section of the text is a fun challenge for an illustrator and honing in on the items from a scene which might be important makes a great subject for her drawings.
  • Meeting weekly and having deadlines has been a great lesson in being ready!
  • Having regular deadlines means drawing often which is good for getting better.
  • Keeping a schedule and arranging on her own and keeping the appointments is a great skill and it’s been going well for them both from my perspective!

It is important to note that this is a unique experience for an illustrator. Most times, the author won’t even see the illustrations until the galley copy is sent. It’s quite unusual for an author to contribute to illustrations along the way.

If you ‘d like to learn more about the process, just read on how books come together and about the lives of illustrators. I love to see how much the illustrator familiarizes himself with the subjects in a book before illustrating or while he’s working the job. Garth Williams visited the Little House locations while he illustrated for the series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Robert McCloskey hosted ducks in his bath tub while drawing Make Way for Ducklings.

Resources for Studying Illustration and Illustrators


Artist of the Month Garth Williams– A study of this prolific illustrator and how he worked with the books and his drawings. Many childhood favorites are remembered through his depictions.

Five in a Row– Studying illustrators and their style of illustration is just one of the many aspects of art which are found in Five in a Row.

Eric Carle Art Lessons– My blogging pal at Harrington Harmonies has a great series on the art of Eric Carle. This is an excellent opportunity to work on the life of the illustrator along with his art.

Dr. Seuss Acrylic Art– by Tricia at Hodgepodge is a nice project with The Cat in the Hat.

Storybook Art– A fabulous book on the art of children’s illustrators. Not only are there biographies, but you’ll learn about the style of the illustrator and there are projects to try.

Illustration 101: Dovetailing Art and Words in Illustrating for Books– This is an overview of the illustrating process written by and illustrator for Craftsy. Rebecca’s been following the illustration posts there for over a year.

Hospitality and the Holy Imagination– This is a great post from illustrator Zach Franzen on how to honor others with your art. This one speaks to young illustrators and all of us alike in what it means to create art which points to Truth.

How Illustrations Nourish the Imagination– This is a free podcast from The Read Aloud Revival which features Zach Franzen, the illustrator of, The Green Ember.

This has been so much fun that Rebecca is seeking to collaborate with her brother, Ethan who is a writer. He is working on a new novel at the moment, but I’m trying to convince him to write a short story on time travel and Rebecca is eager to illustrate his prose. We’ll see where this project takes them.

Pouring into kids’ passions includes allowing time for exploring projects and authentic experiences. When they happen in your homeschool, make the time and enjoy the process!

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