Did you get your FREE gift cards this week?

Homeschooling, Specials, Writing No Comments

popconrDid you get my recent post about FREE gift cards?  If not, take a look at our National Popcorn Popping Sale & how you can get a FREE gift card.

October is National Popcorn Popping Month so we are giving a FREE package of popcorn with every order we receive through October 31.  In addition to the free popcorn, you can receive a gift card on IEW orders.  Here’s how it works:

Buy over $75 of IEW product and receive a $10 gift card on your next purchase.

Buy over $150 of IEW product and receive a $20 gift card on your next purchase.

Here’s a list of IEW products (writing, spelling, reading, worldview)

(applies to in-stock items only, does not apply to backorders)

AS ALWAYS, you get FREE SHIPPING on all Excellence in Writing orders.

This is the perfect time to grab some items for the rest of this year, especially since you can use your gift card on any items we sell on our site.

So, let me recap:

Every order gets:
1.  Package of Popcorn
2.  A Father’s Stew, Biblical Integration of Family, Work, Ministry, by Stephen Beck
3.  IEW orders receive gift cards

Kerry Beck

ps.  Remember IEW products include a wide variety of writing helps, including
-Student Writing Video courses
-Theme Based Writing Lessons-Ancient History, US History, Life Science, Bible, Economics, Fairy Tales
-Spelling on CD
-Teaching the Classics
-Elegant Essay
-How to Write a Story
-Excellence in American Literature
-Excellence in British Literature
-Poetry Memorization
-Teaching Writing

Scratch & Dent Sale

Specials, Writing No Comments

We are cleaning our shelves and found several items that are new, but a bit scuffed up.  So, it’s “your gain.”

You can get these items at our Scratch & Dent Price – 30% off retail

What’s a Scratch & Dent item?

These items may have the following:
- scuff marks on the plastic cover
- bent corners
- scratched cover
- slight tear on corner

They are all NEW but have been in our warehouse all summer and experience some moving from shelf to shelf.

AND…any IEW orders get the FREE SHIPPING and qualify for $10 or $20 gift cards!

If you place these items in your shopping cart, we’ve already marked down the price to 30% off retail.  If

you’d rather get the NEW Condition item, please put that in the Comments box and we will call to verify.

So, what can you get at 30% discount?
(click on each item to read more about it)

High School Essay Intensive

Student Writing Continuation Course A

Student Writing Continuation Course C

Phonetic Zoo A (Spelling)

Phonetic Zoo B (Spelling)

Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons

U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons  STUDENT (Vol. 2)

Teaching With Games

Bible Based Writing Lessons

How To Write A Story

Classical Rhetoric through Structure & Style

Economics Based Writing Lesson

Fix-It Grammar Lessons!

LIMITED QUANTITIES – Some titles have only 1, others have several.
If we run out of the scratch & dent items, we will notify you.

Your Freebies for National Popcorn Popping Month

Math, Specials, Writing 1 Comment


It’s National Popcorn Popping Month and we are celebrating this coming week.  Not only can you have fun with popcorn this week, you can take advantage of our Popcorn Sale this week.  Look what you get.

All orders placed by the end of October will receive the following for FREE!
1.  Popcorn
2.  A Father’s Stew: Biblical Integration of Family, Work & Ministry, by Stephen Beck

More Goodies for you…

Buy over $75 of IEW product and receive a $10 gift card on your next purchase.
Buy over $150 of IEW product and receive a $20 gift card on your next purchase.
(applies to in-stock items only, does not apply to backorders)

AS ALWAYS, you get FREE SHIPPING on all Excellence in Writing orders.

Choose from any of these products
(applies to in-stock items only, does not apply to backorders)

IEW products can be found by clicking here.

Math Books can be found by clicking here.

Thomas Jefferson Education can be found by clicking here.

popcornIf you want some ideas to celebrate this week…

- Make a popcorn picture
- Watch a family movie and eat popcorn
- Close your eyes and describe the texture of popcorn before it is popped and after it is popped
- Describe the taste of popcorn and whether you like it with butter, salt or another topping
- Research the history of popcorn
- Pop corn over a fire :-)

Five Fun Popcorn Recipes:

Please share this with your friends on facebook, twitter, linked in or your blog.  Appreciate it!!!

Tuesday Tips: Take Time to Write EVERYTHING Down!

Home organization, Writing No Comments

Today I have guest author, Cindy Rushton, sharing ideas on planning and productivity.

by Cindy Rushton

What do you want for this year? Think for a moment with me… Next year, this time, what do you want to see different in your life? What would you like to see finished? What would you like to see accomplished this year?

Dear friend, this year is the year of fullness. I have committed to make this year a year of commitment, accomplishment, and productivity. Want to make this year the very best ever too? Let’s find some keys to productivity. Let’s dig in and get moving strong. Ready? Well, today let’s look at one of my biggest keys to productivity…

pen and paper

Take time to write EVERYTHING down!

Talk about a key to productivity! If there were one thing that I really believe makes the difference in my own productivity, it is this one discipline. I know, I know what you may be thinking…

“But, Cindy, I write things down and that is as far as they go.”


“I write things down, but then I can’t find it again.”


“I get too overwhelmed when I see ALL that needs to be done.”

Oh! You are going to love this, beloved! Let me take you by the hand and show you how to make this work for you. It is soooo important. You see there are some secrets that productive people have. Want a few?

1. They have ONE PLACE to write things down. Now, this does not mean that it you will have only one place forever and ever. Let me give you an example from how this looks for me. I always have my “Little Black Book” in my purse. No, not for phone numbers of old beaus–I am married to the ULTIMATE beau! :) Rather, I invest in one small notebook that is small enough to carry everywhere I go, yet big enough to hold my goals, lists of steps to reach those goals, brainstorms, etc. This is SO IMPORTANT! Invest in ONE notebook as YOUR “brain” for this year.

2. They take time to pull aside and “brain-dump.” Yes, you read correctly. Want a secret to productivity? This one will make sense as you pull it all together. Yes, dump your brain regularly. Actually, take some time to dump out everything in your brain now–all of those things that need to be done, all of those things you wish for, all of those things that you want to do, but cannot find time to do. Dump it all into your “little black book.” As little things come across your mind, dump them. That will be your “place” for every idea, hope, dream, goal, to-do, and wish to all be dumped off of your brain and “kept” for you. Wondering why this is a secret to productivity? Glad you asked! The leading hindrance for most people is the stress of having to remember or not forget details. This distracts. This takes the focus from what you need to be doing. Actually, this contributes to forgetting what needs to be done in the task you are doing at the moment, causing things to take longer than they should. Not to mention, we are much, much less likely to ever do things that float in our head as well-wishes. Instead, dump it all in a safe place–your very own “Little Black Book.”


3. They plan. They plan yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily. You probably know this. However, do you know how to make it work? This is an essential!  Here is how I do it.

Every year, I plan a nice Mommy Getaway to really evaluate and plan out the next year. I cannot express how much of a difference this makes for me. I am not talking about putting every day on the calendar. I am talking about sketching out the events of the year and planning my projects for my home, business, family, and myself. I PENCIL in my yearly plans. I also spend time brain-dumping anything that may be floating in my brain. I love this time. It helps to give me a grasp on my year and get in gear.

Of course, this is not enough. Each month, I pull back for an afternoon or weekend to plan out my month. I go back to my yearly plan and pray over what REALLY needs to be on my calendar. Once the final projects and events are chosen, I brainstorm all that needs to be done (all of the things to do) for that project to be completed. Now, do note that because I have “my place” for brainstorming, my little black book, I can brainstorm as things come to mind all along the way. This makes that monthly planning very easy.

Another thing that helps me along the way are my checklists for common projects–like all of the things to do to finish a book or an audio set or prepare a seminar. I have done those things so many times that I have developed checklists so I remember each step that needs to be done to get everything ready. Same thing for my holiday meals or other home projects. Talk about a time saver. Well, wondering what you do with those? I take those and put them on my monthly calendar at a good pace to get things done incrementally.

Each week I make sure that everything is done for the week before and take a good look at what will be done the following week. If I need any supplies, I pick them up over the weekend so I am ready to go each day-nothing can mess up your schedule like missing what you really need to get things done.

Finally, every day, I plan the night before. I end each day going over my daily list of things to do. Any of the the tasks that did not get done for the day are moved to the following day’s list. I also plan in the next steps and make sure that everything is ready to go when I wake up. I get SO much more done when I have a clear picture of all that needs to be done before the day begins. Want a key to productivity? PLAN!

4. Work your plan! Finally, want to know the difference between writing things down, having the perfect plans, and getting things done? This is it! Productive people work their plans! This means that we don’t just write things down. But, we also have a plan for working the plan. This is the bottom line that determines whether we are productive or not. So, how on earth do you do this one? A few quick tips:

–>  Keep your planner WITH YOU! Keep it out and keep it with you. I have a small daytimer that I can carry with me all of the time. All of my important information is WITH ME all the time.

–>  Set up your planner to work with YOUR LIFE. My daily things to do probably look very, very different from yours. What I need in my binder is different today than last year. One key that really made a big difference for me was when I finally set up my binder with forms that *I* needed. In fact, that is the story behind our Make Your Own Brain-in-a-Binder that I developed for my own planner. I always buy a nice binder and throw out anything that does not work with my life. Then, I print out pages that help me to put all of the things I need in one place. I use my planner all day long every single day. It goes everywhere with me. The key was in setting up my planner to work with MY life and all of the things that I do each and every day.

–>  USE IT! Nothing helps me more than having my binder out first thing in the morning over my Quiet Time (to pray over my day)…sitting out in the family room all day…going back over all of the things to do all throughout the day (after each task)…going back over my day as I wrap up the evening…AND most of all, planning the next day right before I go to bed so everything is ready to get going the next day. USE that planner. Watch to see the difference!

Yes! Write things down. Make that time. It will make a HUGE difference in your productivity. It will help you to get a plan for reaching for those dreams.

So, what do you think?

Ready to make this year the very best ever? Want to make this year the most productive year ever? Why not take time today to write everything down? Why not begin today to put those dreams on your to-do list, bit-by-bit, day-by-day?

Need more help? Check out Cindy’s resources for teaching the Charlotte Mason Approach. They are the best!  Get Cindy’s Organized Mom Super Set to help your family get organized in your homeschool efforts today!

Famous Football Players

History, Homeschooling, Sports, Writing No Comments

My son does not like history as most of you know. But he LOVES sports! Do you have a child like this?

This week you can tie in sports with studies. What subjects can you do?

– History
– Writing
– Research

Choose a famous football player from a past Super Bowl. Write a report about his life and achievements.

If you are unsure how to help your child write a short 1, 3 or 5 paragraph paper, use Teaching Writing: Structure & Style. It’ is absolutely the BEST writing program to tie in writing with ANY subject area, even football.

*** For younger children who aren’t writing papers, let them alphabetize all NFL teams by city and mascot.

How To Teach Writing…from the Writing Experts!

Live Workshops, Writing No Comments

I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce upcoming writing workshops.  My good friends, Andrew Pudewa (IEW) and Andrew Kern (Circe Institute) will be in Texas for 4 days in October.  They will be hosting workshops in 4 Texas cities and I suggest you find one to attend.  It will be well worth your time!  

Andrew & Andrew are some of my favorite people in the homeschool/education arena.  They are also some of the smartest people I know when it comes to teaching moms & teachers how to improve their students writing.  Don’t miss this!

BTW…when you register, please tell them that Kerry Beck told you about it.  I don’t make any money from this workshop, but it would be great to let them know where you found out about “The Two Andrews”


The Two Andrews: On Writing and Teaching Writing


A Special One-day Event with Andrew Kern and Andrew Pudewa—together in four cities!

For Teachers, Teaching Parents, College & High School Students

8:30am – 3:30pm

Wednesday, Oct. 14:            San Antonio, TX               FEAST Homeschool Building

Thursday, Oct. 15:               Bryan, TX                          Brazos Christian School

Friday, Oct. 16:                    Houston, TX                      Covenant Academy  (Cypress, TX)

Saturday, Oct. 17:                Dallas, TX                          Highlands Academy (Irving, TX)


$59.00/person, second family member ½ price!

Registration fee includes a coupon for 20% off on any IEW or CiRCE purchase!

 To Register:   www.excellenceinwriting.com/events  (or call 800-856-5815).

 —-Please send this message to interested friends and colleagues!—

 Andrew Kern is the president of the Circe Institute, a leading provider of inspiration, information, and insight to classical educators throughout the world.  He is creator of the Tools of Writing™ Workshops and materials, and consults on board development, school leadership, and establishing classical schools.  Circe’s annual conference is the premier event  (http://www.circeinstitute.org) for educators seeking to use classical education to nurture wisdom and virtue.


Andrew Pudewa is the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a homeschooling father of seven.  Presenting throughout North America, he addresses issues relating to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity and insight, practical experience and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve communication skills.

 Sessions Include:

The four language arts: listening, reading, speaking, and writing – Pudewa

Nurture excellent communication skills even more effectively by understanding the relationships among these four critical skills.

The distinctives of classical rhetoric – Kern

The three canons as solutions to the three problems; the place of rhetoric as the “deep logic” of the entire curriculum and therefore as the natural ordering principle of the student’s studies. Indeed, what was classical rhetoric and what happened to it?

The five methods everybody must practice to become a great writer – Kern

Theoretical: understanding the science of writing;

Literary: studying the great masterpieces of literature as models;

Critical: learning the details of good usage;

Practical: practicing the art of writing;

Linguistic: translating great works of literature into and out of English.

Developing the essayist: a natural approach – Pudewa

How can a student move from simply reporting facts to the more sophisticated skill of using facts to support an opinion? Learn several different essay models, and discover a gradual method of building the analytical writer, starting even at the elementary level!

 Assessment – Pudewa/Kern

Marking and grading; objectivity, motivation, and sanity.  How to keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and planting seeds of doubt.

 Panel: Common problems in teaching writingPudewa/Kern

Looking ahead: where do you go from here?Pudewa/Kern

How does Structure & Style relate to The Lost Tools of WritingTM, what are the progymnasmata, and what’s next for you?


Encourage Writing using Reading Journals

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Writing No Comments

This summer I’ve been posting reviews of our writing products as well as some articles about writing. This is an article that I wrote last summer that I thought you might find helpful.

If you’re looking for powerful tools to help your child learn more, and retain more, look no further than a reading journal.

Pesonally, I believe reading journals are an excellent way to have your students interact with their readings and improve their writing skills at the same time. Whether your kids are six or sixteen they can write about what they read and begin their journal writing programs.

My teenagers kept a reading journal this past year. It specifically dealt with their literature reading assignment. At the beginning of the year, they wrote about the events that occurred in the story. As the year passed, they began writing more about the characters or the lessons they were learning from the story. By the end of the year this was an informal essay, going beyond simply recapping what they read.

My son is twelve and I plan to start the year with a journal entry at the end of each day. This will tell me what he “really learned” that day. He has made journal entries for specific readings, similar to narrations. We have used journals especially with his Bible readings. He writes a paragraph about what he read in his morning devotions and I believe this helps reinforce what he reads.

Here’s a video review of a couple of our writing products,
“Excellence In Literature: British and American.”

Younger children can narrate their entry aloud as you write it for them. On the following day, have the child re-write their narrative, using their best handwriting or printing. Offer journal writing instruction to younger children by having them copy work into their journals.

I don’t think that these journals are teaching tools themselves, but they have helped my children write better. It does, however, help them to retain what they have learned while looking for ways to incorporate those lessons into daily life. I use Teaching Writing: Structure & Style.

Copyright Kerry Beck, 2009
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.

Kerry Beck helps homeschool moms and classroom teachers with writing narrative. Sign up for Kerry’s free mini-course on Teaching Writing Easily at http://www.howtoteachwriting.com/ right now.

Using Great Topics to Teach Writing

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Writing No Comments

This summer I’ve been posting reviews of our writing products as well as some articles about writing. This is an article that I wrote last summer that I thought you might find helpful.

A few months ago I shared a writing tip you could use in your classroom or homeschool. Since that time I was once again reminded how important it is to let our children have some ownership over their writing activities. Let me share my story….

Last week, my son was listening to his IEW Student Writing DVD. His lesson was on writing a biographical sketch, outlining someone’s life in five short paragraphs. Well, I already knew the perfect subjects – perhaps writing on an early father of the church would help his recent lessons on Roman civilization to sink in more deeply. As an added bonus, he could delve more deeply into some of the books which we had not time to read in history.

I thought it was a perfect topic – he was not convinced. I could tell his disinterest as we talked about his topic. So, we started talking baseball. He had just finished reading a biography of Derek Jeter, so I suggested doing his paper on Jeter. He did not complain and even told me of two other sources he could use. He had to use a minimum of 3 sources and only one could be internet. We decided that he would write about Derek Jeter, rather than church fathers.

Here is a review of one of our products, “Student Writing Intensive”.

Over the past week, he has studiously collected information on Derek Jeter for his paper. Today, we narrowed his topics down to only three, keeping him from being overwhelmed.Over the next week, he will create an outline and begin writing.

Believe me, I have a much happier son because he is writing about someone he likes, not someone Mom told him to research. I know his paper will be much better, just because he has an interest in his topic.

By letting your kids choose their own topics, they take ownership of their project. Give it a try – it makes a huge difference! Your children will learn more and be happier about it; you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Copyright Kerry Beck, 2009
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.
Kerry Beck enjoys encouraging homeschool moms and classroom teachers with writing strategies. Grab Kerry’s free mini-course on Teaching Writing Easily at http://www.howtoteachwriting.com/ today.

How to Encourage Kids to Love Writing

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Reading, Writing No Comments

This summer I’ve been posting reviews of our writing products as well as some articles about writing. This is an article that I wrote last summer that I thought you might find helpful.

Do you have children that complain about writing lessons? Last summer, I discovered (again) that giving my children a purpose for writing increases their motivation and willingness to fulfill their assignments. It is also a fantastic way to teach the process of writing format through publishing.

A few years ago, all three of my children wrote books which are now available for purchase. My son worked for an entire year studying about the jungle and choosing just the right animal or plant to include in his ABC Jungle Book. After making these choices, he wrote a paragraph about each one, using a writing stylistic checklist.

Of course, he didn’t work on his book for eight hours a day, every day for a year. After all, he’s just a kid! The amazing thing is that he remained motivated all year long. Because of his efforts, he was able to complete his book at the beginning of June.

Here’s how we kept our son motivated, saving us from nagging and arguing. First, we assigned him a writing topic that was interesting to him. He’s been fascinated by jungle plants and animals for years, and was happy to keep reading and learning more. Second, he was excited at the thought of writing his own book, one that he could sell to earn money for his efforts. Because he had a reason for writing, he remained motivated to complete the project.

Here is a review of one of our products, “Medieval History Based Writing”.

Other purposes for writing assignments may include sending a letter to a friend or relative, entering a writing contest, writing a letter to the newspaper editor, writing a summary of your science fair project, sharing a story about an event in your life, writing a ministry letter, or a myriad of other purposes. Do your children have a purpose for their writing?

Once you have given your child a purposeful writing assignment, help them to first put their ideas onto paper, and arrange those ideas in a cohesive, logical order. There’s a program on the market which, in my opinion (as a mother and former teacher) is the best. Check out Teaching Writing: Structure & Style, which excels in teaching your children how to write effectively for a range of reasons – letters, essays, stories, and more.

Use the process of writing format through publishing to add purpose to your child’s writing assignments. Remember, writing assignments don’t have to be about writing – they can, and should, be about a range of topics, preferably based on topics which you and your child are studying at the time. Writing is a skill, one that can be applied to any number of topics. Help your child to write with purpose by asking them to write on many topics, from dragons to trigonometry, summer vacations to science fairs. It makes all the difference in the world!

Copyright Kerry Beck, 2009
You have permission to reprint this article, as long as you don’t make any changes and include the bio below.

Kerry Beck specializes in helping homeschool moms and classroom teachers with elementary writing. Get her free mini-course on Teaching Writing Easily at http://www.howtoteachwriting.com/ right now.

Classical Rhetoric

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Living Books & Classics, Writing No Comments

Has Writing become that dreaded subject no one wants to tread on? Most students dislike grammar because it has no relevance. How BORING is that?

Why not use classics that are interesting & have endured over time. Classical Rhetoric through Structure & Style uses an old-style method called Progymnastmata. Don’t worry about that unknown name. Just know it really works to teach your children how to write and keep their interest.

In the process of teaching writing, your students will also discover how to form a good argument. You know your children are ready for this manual when they start arguing with me. Why not use their desire to argue to teach them how to make a good argument?

The source texts presented in Classical Rhetoric are designed to acquaint the students with the great works of the classical tradition in the hope that it will foster in them a love of learning. A sampling of texts used in this program are:

  • Chanticleer & the Fox
  • King Solomon on Wisdom
  • Gettysburg Address
  • Hannibal’s Monologue
  • Beowulf
  • Shield of Achilles
  • Odysseus
  • Hamlet
  • St Crispin’s Day Speech
  • Mars Hill Appeal
  • Canterbury Tales

You are welcome to use your own source text to tie in learning rhetoric with what you are already reading in history or literature.

Click here to learn more about Classical Rhetoric
Get your copy today!

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