Homeschool Product Reviews

My kids and I recently discovered “Whistlefritz.” I am in LOVE with this product! As a former elementary school teacher, this is one of the most all-inclusive and user-friendly language curriculums I have ever come across. It is engaging and fun and easy to use, even if you are not a native speaker.

My children immediately fell in love with Fritzi and were very excited to watch him go on all his adventures. As someone who was not familiar with an “immersion program,” I was amazed at how quickly my kids started picking up words and calling them out, even though there was no English translation.

The curriculum that came with the DVDs was very easy to follow and even had cross-curricular elements to it. The games, printables, flashcards and worksheets were all included in the curriculum with very clear instructions that could be adapted for classroom or home use; making it very easy to prepare each lesson. I was so impressed with this product and will definitely be recommending it to all of my family and friends. What a wonderful find!

Meghan Stalford, Home Education Magazine

 

You may remember not too long ago we had the chance to review the French Learning Songs CD from Whistlefritz. We have been loving it and added it into our regular homeschool curriculum! We were really excited to find a French Educational Resource that is perfect for our kids’ age ranges (they are 3, 5, and 7)! When we learned that they had also released a French DVD we jumped at the opportunity to check it out!

“Dedans et Dehors” (Inside and Out) is an adorable DVD that brings some of the songs we have already been singing to life! The kids were SO excited to actually visualize the songs we have been singing, and all three of them were up dancing and singing along every time one of the songs from the CD came on! Of course, the DVD is much more than just the songs from the CD. It’s all about Fritzi! Ou est Fritzi? (Where is Fritzi?) It’s a fun adventure trying to find Fritzi!

While looking for Fritzi we are taken all over the house, and because Whistlefritz uses “immersion” everything was in French – including subtitles. Although I mentioned it in my previous review, I think it’s such an important point, I want to stress it again: Whistlefritz uses the latest research on teaching children languages. They have won various awards. Their methods are effective and fun! They share tips for ensuring second language learning success for kids. It was definitely interesting to see this in the DVD!

“Dedans et Dehors” kept all three of our children so engaged during the entire DVD which is approximately 35 minutes. I was surprised they were already repeating some of the words within the first few minutes! I definitely saw the importance of the repetition! “Dedans et Dehors” encourages them to repeat the words and answer questions with simple answers like oui or non (yes or no), so it really gets them involved and not just watching it passively like a movie. Plus, of course, the songs got them up and moving and singing along, which definitely got them involved, too!

What I love most about “Dedans et Dehors” is that it has made a great addition to our homeschool curriculum. It is educational, but at the same time the kids are laughing and having a good time together, so it’s so nice knowing they are learning and having fun at the same time!

“Dedans et Dehors” has an easy-to-use translation guide available if you aren’t familiar with French, so it’s great for parents (or teachers) that don’t know French themselves as well! It is recommended for ages 2-7. Although we are a homeschooling family, I feel “Dedans et Dehors” could be used by any family that would like their children to learn French!

Read more at http://peaofsweetness.com/dedans-dehors-whistlefritz-french-dvd-review/#QXoO1joq6OJhExuH.99

Emilee at Pea of Sweetness

As someone who studied many years of French, I am excited to be teaching our kids French as well. Unfortunately, though, it’s not that easy to find many French educational resources for young children. When I saw Cha, Cha, Cha – French Learning Songs from Whistlefritz I knew it would be a great addition to our curriculum!

Whistlefritz believes exposing children to a second language while they are young ensures learning success. This is definitely something I have been reaching for as well as I have been reading some stories in French from the time our oldest was just a toddler. Whistlefritz, though, included some information about ensuring second language learning success for kids that I found really fascinating! In addition to exposing children to a second language early on, they made some interesting points about not being tempted to translate and teaching a second language using immersion. I knew this was more than “just” a CD with songs!

I also found it interesting that Whistlefritz uses the latest research on teaching children languages. They use techniques that are proven – and FUN! They have some impressive awards as well: Winner of a National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) GOLD Award. Winner of a Mom’s Choice GOLD Award. Named one of the Best 10 Audio-Visual programs of 2012 by Dr. Toy. Winner of The National Parenting Center’s 2012 Seal of Approval. Recommended by the Parents’ Choice Foundation.

When we received the Cha, Cha, Cha – French Learning Songs CD we started using it right away! We actually use it as part of circle time in our homeschool day. It comes with a translation guide in the front of the DVD as well as the lyrics in French, so I could sing along as well! We have had SO much fun! This is our time to dance and enjoy. I have been tempted to have a formal lesson to immediately translate every song, but I’ve resisted the temptation unless they ask. I do give a general introduction in English what the song it about and say the word in English sometimes after it is sung in a casual way. Mostly, though, I act out songs that have words or phrases that can be understood by pointing or actions. (Ex. Pointing to a head or knee or acting out walking.) They have quickly caught on to many the words that way!

One thing I noticed about Cha, Cha, Cha – French Learning Songs CD is that the songs are repetitious. I know this is very important when young children are learning new things. Many times by the end of the song, our older two children (ages 5 and 7) could sing along some of the repeating phrases or words! Plus, when we go over songs we’ve already played before they can start to sing along!

We are really enjoying our Cha, Cha, Cha – French Learning Songs CD, and I was excited to see they offer a French DVD as well! They do also offer numerous resources for Spanish education including Spanish education resources for homeschoolers.

Emilee at Pea of Sweetness.com

This school year, we decided to do something new, and signed the kids up for “specials” at the local public school. We are very lucky to have been able to put the boys in a Spanish class that meets twice a week. I really want to be able to work with the kids on their Spanish skills at home so their language skills stay sharp, but with my limited Spanish speaking experience made it difficult for me to find the right product to use. Lucky for me, I found Whistlefritz, an award winning company that produces DVDs, CDs and Lesson Plans for Spanish and French.

Whistlefritz sent me a copy of The Complete Collection: Spanish for Kids, a 5 DVD and 2 Audio CD set to use with the kids. I was impressed with this company the moment I popped the DVD in the player.

The Complete Collection: Spanish for Kids includes:

  • Adentro y Afluera DVD (Inside and Out)
  • Los Animales DVD (Animals)
  • Vamos a Jugar DVD (Let’s Play)
  • Las Estanciones DVD (The Seasons)
  • La Fiesta de Fritzi DVD (Fritzi’s Party)
  • Cha, Cha, Cha CD
  • A Bailar! CD (Let’s Dance!)
  • Translation Guide for all DVD’s and CD’s

The videos teach by immersion, which means there is no English in the video. The main character is “Fritzi” a cute little mouse, who doesn’t talk, but stars in the videos. Much of the language instruction comes from Maria, a woman the kids took to immediately. She’s pleasant and smiling, and speaks directly to the children through the video. There are also many children in the video, and Jorge, who sings fun songs. The kids get up on their feet to dance along with the songs, and both my youngest and oldest children are enamored by these videos

These videos don’t just show still images and words. Whistlefritz uses a combination of creative story lines, well done animation, native speakers and catchy music to teach in a natural way. We brought the CD’s in the car so we could keep practicing the vocabulary on the go. All the music is beautifully done, with singers with clear, strong voices. The music is catchy and fun and the kids loved singing along. I loved that the songs were not “kid music” in the sense that they had off key children (or worse, parents) singing the music- it was all professional quality and wonderful.

When a new word is introduced, it’s shown in Spanish on the screen. The kids caught on quickly to the story line and what was being taught, even though they are far from speaking Spanish fluently. While the videos have no English, they did come with a translation guide which helped me reenforce the concepts that were being taught. For example, on the “Inside and Out” DVD, the children are taught the names of fruit in Spanish. I was able to use the guide to learn how to ask the kids if they were hungry in Spanish, so we could practice that vocabulary outside of watching the DVD.

Whistlefritz also has a Spanish Lesson Plans which coordinate with and complements the DVD. We used the free lesson plans to reenforce the videos, and I was so pleased with how well done they are. I have not seen the complete Spanish Lesson Plans book, but from my experience with the DVDs, CDs, and free lessons, I am confident that they too are probably a fabulous product. The printable flash cards we used with the kids to reenforce the food lesson is part of the free lesson plans you can sign up for from Whistlefritz, and they will give you a good idea of the quality and thoughtful effort put into this program. If you are looking for a complete Spanish program, the Educators Spanish Collection, which includes the complete collection of DVDs and CDs shown here, as well as the Spanish Lesson Plans and Matching Cards, would be a wonderful choice for early elementary student’s first introduction to Spanish.

Whistlefritz also included a copy of Cha, Cha, Cha, their French CD in my package. This CD is every bit as well done as the Spanish Complete Collection. A native speaker sings in french to upbeat songs. I was amazed at how fast the kids picked these songs up as well, even though we focused a lot on learning Spanish in the same time period. I think this really goes to show how well a catchy tune can teach a child! Whistlefritz just released their first French DVD, so if you’re looking to teach the kids French, this is a company to watch!

In a Nutshell

Whistlefritz is a company that makes teaching foreign language to children easy using the immersion method. All lessons are taught by native speakers, using attractive animation, fun music, and a thoughtful progression of skills. The CD’s and DVD’s can be used independently of each other, or combined with the Lesson Plan book for a complete curriculum for children in Pre-K though Early Elementary school. The key to teaching a foreign language is repetition, and these DVDs are so well done that it’s easy to put them on repeat and watch them again and again. The kids have yet to tire of them, and we all learn something new every time I turn them on. These are all high quality materials that I would recommend to any of my friends hoping to teach their children to speak a foreign language. The Complete Collection retails for $97.45.

Reviews

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Heather at Only Passionate Curiosity, www.onlypassionatecuriosity.com, October 27, 2013

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might know that I homeschool my children. What you may not know is that they are half Mexican-American. My husband, their father, speaks fluent Spanish, as does his entire family. I do not, and neither do my children. We have been looking for a way to change that, and as a result, we have tried a few different curriculum’s. To date, nothing has felt quite right for our family.

Recently, however, I was offered the chance to review ‘Whistlefritz Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids.’ (I received the series to facilitate this review). The collection consists of a book containing 40 lessons, Spanish Matching Cards, five DVD’s (The Seasons, Animals, Learning Songs, Inside and Out, and Let’s Play) and two CD’s (Fritz’s Party and Cha Cha Cha).

The first thing my husband did was to put in a DVD for the children. It was ‘The Seasons‘ or ‘Las Estaciones.’ Because these DVD’s teach by immersion, you will not hear English translations. Instead, language learning is done through demonstrations, songs, and both cartoons and live-speakers. Children are encouraged to repeat certain phrases, and if they are like my children, they will try to sing along, even if they don’t quite know the words yet!

One thing that I noticed and really liked about the DVD’s is that a real person speaks the words and phrases. Maria, the speaker, speaks slightly slower than a normal speaking speed, making it easier to follow along. She also enunciates enough to make it easier to hear correctly. Other DVD’s that we have used have been way too fast, or they don’t enunciate, which gets the kids (and me!) confused about whether ‘Verde‘ is said with a ‘v’ or a ‘b’, etc.

If you are worried about the movies not having any English, don’t! Included with the DVD’s is a short translation guide that covers all the words and phrases specific to each DVD and CD. The CD’s and DVD’s can be used by themselves, or they can be used in some of the lessons from the Lesson Plan book. For instance, lessons 16, 17 and 18 deal with learning about the seasons and also includes watching the DVD as an extension activity.

My favorite part of this curriculum is the ‘Spanish Lesson Plans for Kids‘ book.Each lesson is well thought out and includes an activity for the children to do. Activities vary from coloring, to working with flashcards, to graphing, and much more. Because this series is targeted to children from ages 1-7 (though my 8 year old still happily participated – and learned a lot!), these activities make the learning fun, and it keeps them interested.

Because there are 40 lessons, this curriculum would be perfect to do for a school year, with one lesson each week. The flashcards that are part of some lessons, combined with the Spanish Matching Cards, make a great refresher and practice throughout the week. The great thing about this collection is that each product can be used to enhance the others, or they can be used alone.

The Whistlefritz Spanish Curriculum is a wonderful way to get kids started on the pathway to learning Spanish. As with anything worth doing, it does still take work. Parents need to participate with their children, facilitate the lessons, and ensure that their children are grasping the language. For their part, my children did enjoy the lessons, in particular the activities and Fritz the mouse. As a parent, I loved that this curriculum is reusable. I can use it now with my older two, and again later when my 9 month old is ready to learn. This will take kids who have never uttered a word of Spanish and turn them into kids who can use basic Spanish to communicate.

Even if your family is nothing like mine, and you don’t have any native Spanish speakers, I think we can all agree that learning another language is very important. Some version of Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries and there are over 37.6 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. alone. That number grows every year, and more and more jobs are requesting Spanish speakers. Learning to speak Spanish at a young age is great preparation for life!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Renae at More Than Mommy, www.mtmommy.com, October 13, 2013

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