The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Bonnie Terry Reference Pack Review by Kathy Gelzer

Bonnie Terry
Bonnie Terry Learning
238 Poet Smith Dr.
Auburn, CA 95603

The Bonnie Terry Reference Pack is a set of two pamphlets: Writer’s Easy Reference Guideand BT Easy Math Reference Guide. Both guides are three-hole-punched card-stock weight and are 8½ x 11-inch to fit easily into a standard school notebook. The author is a Board Certified Education Therapist. She’s been a special education teacher since 1973. 
The Writer’s Easy Reference Guide has 12 pages of various writing tips. The first page shows a basic diagram of a paragraph and an essay as well as descriptions and examples of simple, compound, complex, and combination sentences. 
Inside, there is a double-page spread of “Words to Make Your Writing More Interesting” and a sidebar on steps in the writing process, which includes picking a topic, writing a rough draft, and polishing. Flip the page and you’ll find capitalization and punctuation rules. 
The next set of pages contains literary terms and their definitions (e.g., allusion, contrast, protagonist), usage definitions (direct object, personal pronoun, predicate nominative), and parts of speech definitions. The last three pages show two business letter formats, guidelines for a bibliography, the four basic essay types, and “More Advanced Writing Tips,” such as repeating key words and varying sentence length. 
On the cover of the 16-page BT Easy Math Reference Guide, there is a table of contents. I wonder if students would find an alphabetical content listing a quicker way to find the information they need. 
Inside, there is a wealth of information--from the four basic operations to fractions, decimals, and percents. Graphing, measurements, geometric shapes, time and money, rounding and estimating, place value, averages and medians, and order of operations are also covered. Three pages are devoted to word problem strategies, and the last page of the pamphlet is math vocabulary. 
I also received two pages, printed front and back, on how to use the Bonnie Terry Reference Pack. The quality of the copy was not the best. It looks as if these sheets have been copied many times, and some of the letters and words aren’t reproduced fully, making it a little difficult to read in places. 
It is strongly recommended that one read these instructions before using the guides. The author writes, “Believe it or not, I have found that no matter what kind of problem a student has, using the materials in the following order produces the quickest and best results.” 
The first step for both guides is to look over the pamphlets to become familiar with the contents. For writing, students should start by reviewing the Steps in the Writing Process on the second page. “Just reading over those steps will improve their writing tremendously.” I agree! The five steps here help students break down the big job of paper writing into manageable tasks to alleviate anxiety and present a plan of attack so you know what to do next. The author says teachers will need to help younger students with this, but by fifth grade they should be able to do these steps independently. 
The second step is to use the Words to Make Your Writing More Interesting section to do just that to your rough draft. Next, students should check their capitalization and punctuation with the appropriate pages in the guide. The instructions then say to use pages four and five “for vocabulary and spelling help with prefixes, suffixes, and root words.” I see these pages being more helpful for reading comprehension than for spelling. 
One comment I have on the writing guide is that the page numbers are miniscule. Perhaps this is a non-issue since there is no table of contents or index. 
The BT Easy Math Reference Guide is organized in the order in which students usually learn math concepts, beginning with the four operations and progressing to decimals, percents, etc. The author says to correlate your use of the guide with what the student is learning in school. 
The gold in this guide is found in the three pages devoted to word problems. Many children seem to get hung up on word problems. If your child has trouble in this area, I think the ideas here would be a big help. Strategies include looking for clue words, drawing a diagram, and working backwards. Lots of examples of various types of word problems are illustrated step-by-step. 
The layout and graphics in this math guide are excellent. The digits are big and easy to see, and the two-tone print aids in clarity and in the delineation of procedures. 

Although The Bonnie Terry Reference Pack is primarily written for students who have slipped through the cracks of the school system and are missing some writing and math skills, I think many children could benefit from these guides. It may not even be a bad idea to send these along with your kids when they leave for college. It is nice to have this kind of information right at your fingertips, and teaching parents may well want to refer to them.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008