Since Sophie was just starting out,
we have repeated the first four lessons
over and over. She knows her letters but
was having trouble understanding why
the letters on the keyboard aren’t in the
same order as in the alphabet! We’ve
had some good discussions about this.
Her hands are a bit small to fit on
every key across the keyboard, but
she is managing quite well! She enjoys
watching the letters appear on the Word
document and has even more fun erasing them to start over! It’s been fun
to watch her learn a skill that I need to
work on myself.
The last few lessons (which we haven’t
done yet but I’ve read through) have Bible verses associated with them, which
I think is an awesome idea. Instead of
typing random words/sentences, she’ll
be typing God’s Word—perfect!
You can purchase a PDF download of Keyboarding for the Christian
School for $12.95. If you would like
a full-color, hard-copy edition, the
price is $45, which includes shipping.
To read what other Crew members
thought, click here.
—Product review by Aurie Good,
Schoolhouse Review Crew blogging at
Our Good Life
Zane Education’s Premium Gold
Many years ago, in a land far, far away
. . . okay, maybe not so many years ago
(about ten) and maybe the land was
not so far away (Iowa), but it was someplace away from home about a decade
ago, when Tex was just in the process of
learning to read. In any case, I remember visiting older relatives who had
trouble hearing, so they always turned
on the subtitles (closed captioning) when
watching television: sports, news, shows.
There’s nothing monumental about that.
Lots of folks use that feature on their television sets. The monumental thing that
occurred was that following that trip,
I noticed that Tex’s reading skills had
improved faster than what I would normally have expected, given the amount of
time we were away and the fact that we
did not regularly read while on our trip.
It took me a while, but finally, when
he asked where the “cool words on the
screen” had gone (after we got home), I
realized what had made the difference
in his reading: the closed captioning.
While I thought he was just sitting there
being quiet and polite while the grown-ups had been talking, he’d actually been
practicing reading by listening to the
baseball game announcers and reading
their words on the screen!
Unfortunately, our television did
not have CC capability, so our oppor-
tunity to use reading tied to audio/vi-
sual reinforcement went away, but I’ve
always remembered that event, and it
has made me wish many a time that
words were automatically included at
the bottom of the screen for any video
we watched. We do currently have a
television (which we use in a limited
capacity, mostly for educational reasons
and family movie nights) that does sub-
titles/CC, and our younger kids always
like it when we remember to “turn on
Well, Zane Education has been think-
ing the same thing I thought back then.
If you go check out this article about
“The Missing Piece,” you will read that
using subtitles in conjunction with vid-
eo learning can dramatically increase
reading skills by as much as a one-year
gain in ability!
This improvement benefits not only
the average student but also students
with special needs, ESL learners, and
students with a diverse array of learning
styles. We recently were able to review
Zane Education’s extensive collection of
online educational videos.
We were given a Gold (full) Membership, which includes access to more
than 1,500 videos, lesson plans, quizzes, online tools (such as a dictionary
and thesaurus), and learning guides.
I have to say that while it is apparent
that the development of the site is still
in progress (there are small things I will
mention later that could use tweaking,
but they did not alter our enjoyment
and appreciation of the service), it is
Once you log onto your Zane account, you will see a screen listing the
available topics. You can narrow your
search by topic (such as art) or level
(such as Elementary), and then those
topics are displayed for you to see.
You then choose the topic you wish
to cover that day and watch the video.
You can choose to simply discuss it,
have your child narrate back about
what he watched, or have the child take
an online quiz, once he has watched all
of the videos under a particular topic
heading. As you watch a video, there is
a star that lights up next to that choice
(on a different screen than the one
pictured above) to show you that you
completed the lesson. That helps you
keep track of your viewing.
There are even handy lesson plan
guides that you can print up and use
to help you formulate a lesson around
that video or topic. Pretty nice,
huh? (. . .)
My final concern is that while there
is a Christian Educators Guide available for free, which helps you choose
which videos will best suit your program, the Gold (full) membership includes videos that I would not want my
children to watch. There are a few that
cover sex education topics, and some
of the science videos have an evolutionary bent. We just filtered these out,
but it did require my involvement.
Overall, our family liked this
product. The kids especially loved
the music and art videos. There is a
huge selection of history videos available, and while we did not have time
to watch them all, I am very excited
about using them to introduce topics
of study this year as we work through
our U.S. History curriculum. I liked
that the videos were nostalgic. I will
warn you—they are not the audiovisual high-tech stuff some of your kids
may be used to. They remind me of
videos we saw in school when I was
a kid—sort of like the Bob Jones science collection we have. Occasionally, the images they used to supplement the content did not make 100%
sense to me, but overall, we did all
like them. And the little ones really
liked being able to read the words
on the screen as the information
Read the rest of this thorough review
Read what the rest of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say here.
—Product review by Heather Drinkwater,
Schoolhouse Review Crew blogging at