Monday, March 24, 2014

All About Canada

Alll_Things_Canada_Coil_Bound_1_VerticalAll About Canada
From Excellent Resources – the Canadian distributor of IEW

About the product

Suitable for Grades 2-4, All Things Canada will teach progressively through all nine units of the Blended Structure and Style (Excellence in Writing) program using fun facts and quirks about Canada.    The lessons are done via online videos which guide your child for each lessons.   This product will begin with the key-word outlining and writing from notes and slowly incorporate other notions from the program as the child progress with the lessons. The product contains 21 lessons with video chapter teaching done online. 

Our Thoughts

My second son, Dominic, was seeing his oldest brother using the Excellence in Writing product in his homeschool and asked me if he could do it as well.   Knowing that he was working on his spelling and not wanting to overwhelm it with the IEW curriculum, I decided to approach Excellent Resources to see if we could review a product more at his level.  They graciously offered the product All About Canada for us to use and review as part of our homeschool.

Keep in mind that I was already familiar with the IEW writing curriculum when Dominic started using the All Things Canada.   So far, he has worked on six of the lessons and he perseveres in writing.    As we advanced in the lessons, I had taken notes on the pros and cons I could see;


  • This Vid-E product allows the younger kids to be expose to the IEW structure and way of doing things which will give them advantages when they arrive at the time to use the main product of IEW.
  • The kids will learn interesting facts about our country, Canada, while using this product.
  • Each video lessons have a fun video to watch before hand on the subject covered in the lesson.
  • The lessons are shorts and flexible.   For example: we usually split the lesson and the writing portion on two separate days.
  • The program is easy to use and depending of the age of your child, he/she could easily watch the lesson without your help and follow the guidelines of the online teacher.
  • The end of the book is introducing the research reports and creative writing which will come in handy in upper levels.


  • Contrary to what the title is assuming, not all the texts on which the kids will work on are about Canada.   One text guide the child through the Golden Goose story and a few are based on Winnie the Pooh stories.   However, though the story of Winnie the Pooh has Canadian origins, none of the exercises included in this book mention it.
  • Sometimes during the video portion of the lesson, the teacher is hiding part of the presentation behind. 
  • All the lessons are made on PowerPoint with the teacher speaking.
  • The videos are a bit pixelated when we watch them on our big screen television (which is hooked on a computer and has internet access).
  • One specific extra video from Heritage Canada was having issues.  More specifically the video and the speech were out of sync.
  • One specific lesson had echo in it and the video skipped at the 2nd point in the Key-Word Outline.   As well, elsewhere in the video, the teacher missing covering an aspect of the fifth KWO.

This curriculum is a good introduction to the IEW program if you want to see what it will teach as a general idea without spending a fortune right away.   I am very pleased with the efforts of my son while working on his assignments with All Things Canada and I know that he will only continue to ameliorate his writing techniques as we complete the lessons.  I particularly love the flexibility in taking the lessons.  I usually do at least one lesson per week and some weeks I was able to put it aside because of our busy schedule.    When at first, the thought of writing would discourage my son, he is not complaining anymore and even asks me if he could do an extra lesson during a specific week sometimes.   The video quality could be better but in the end, I realize that my son is also learning through it. 

We also have a white board in our dining room and when comes the time to write his sentences, I offered him to write them on the board so he can have the proper spelling for his words.   Knowing that he is advancing in his spelling curriculum but he is not quite ready to be independent, he agreed and I dutifully write his own sentences while he recompose the writing assignment.   We also have tools to help him embellish the text by using –ly adverbs and strong verbs.   He is slowly learning to use the tools we have while doing his writing assignment.   Seeing that he is only at the 6th lesson and that I see how well he is improving in his writing skills, I know that this product would help many homeschoolers in incorporating more writing in their lessons.    I have realized through the years that my 2nd born is not learning the same way as his older brother.  As a matter of fact, each of my kids are learning differently.  My learning to read was a struggle for him and I realized that he had issues with his spelling – which is why we are working diligently on it.   Consequently, writing was not a subject that he liked very much when we started grade 4 back in the Fall.   But since we got the All Things Canada (which I received in the late Fall 2013), he is more interested and even used what he learned during his writing lessons when he converse with people.    Finally, I appreciate that this product is using the same Blended Structure and Style program from IEW as it give a springboard for my kids when they will be in age of using the IEW products.

The price of this product is much more reasonable than the IEW’s one and will give you a better idea of what you can expect in the IEW program.   The coil-bound book is priced at 69.95$ while the downloadable version is available for 49.95$.  Both versions are available directly from the Excellent Resources website.  

Excellent Resources also have two other products with online lessons.   History of Canada is suitable for grades 4-6 and the student will write based on texts with Canadian Historical content.  Canada; Neighbours with a Difference is geared for students in grades 5-8 (and higher) and will provide writing lessons more Canadian content exercises.  I have not used these two products yet but would love to explore History of Canada in the future.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Excellent Resources for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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