Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Homeschooling Conference

Pioneer Pa and I had the pleasurable opportunity, this past weekend, to attend a homeschooling conference in Sioux Falls, SD.  Amid the fabulous speakers and workshops, the fellowship and curriculum vendors, I believe we have finally stumbled across THE SOLUTION to helping our struggling readers (Charles and Grandpa), as well as something that will help our other children take off in this area.

During the SECHE Conference, I attended three out of the four workshops taught by Denise Eide, the founder of Logic of English.  Learning that the spelling rules, phonetics and word roots used in the English language make sense was tremendously helpful too me.  You see, I don’t actually remember how I learned to read… I just did.  I was reading by early kindergarten and by the end of second grade, I had read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s entire Little House series independently.  On the other hand, I am a mother of sons, both who have experienced varying levels of difficulty in learning to read. Charles in particular, deeply struggles in this area of learning.  Not knowing why your child is having such trouble in such a fundamental subject is extremely stressful for parents… not knowing how to help, leaves you feeling helpless to fix the problem.  I was so impressed by the Logic of English in the first session, that I decided to attend Mrs. Eddie’s classes on Soaring, Not Struggling and the Importance of Handwriting.

In a nutshell, the most important things I learned were: English makes sense and teach your kids WHY, intensive systematic phonics, spelling rules and understanding word roots will rescue your struggling readers, and teach cursive handwriting first (if your child already learned manuscript printing, do cursive intensively and make the switch…require cursive on all their work.)  I’m thankful for what I have learned this year at our homeschool conference, and most especially for Denise’s hard work in creating the Logic of English.  I don’t often order curriculum that I’ve never used before at these events, but this program is a complete language arts curriculum for rescuing an older student or adult who is a struggling reader, as well as starting beginning readers off on the right foot. We ordered the Essentials reading program and can’t wait for it to arrive, to begin rescuing Charles’ reading.

Meanwhile with some new tips on teaching penmanship skills, we will run through teaching cursive writing again, beginning with the lower case letters.  After we run through both upper and lower case alphabet letters and the few connector strokes to form words,  we will completely switch to cursive writing in June.

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Keeping Home Education Organized: Part 1

Howdy to all of you!  For a while there I thought it was almost spring… until I heard the weather report on the radio while driving the kids to the 4-H building to pick up their fruit orders from the fundraiser.  As fundraisers go, it’s one of the better ones we’ve had to do over the years. At least it’s useful and I can definitely come up with something to do with a box of cooking/baking apples (apple pie comes to mind) or 6 whole pineapples (like freezing them for smoothies or other later use.)

With temps. being below normal all winter (except for a freakishly nice streak last week), it’s too early yet for the many gardening tasks ahead, a so far only a few precious tomato seedlings just beginning to sprout this week, I’ve been turning my attention to other tasks… teaching the kids to cook, trying to keep school lessons graded on-time and recorded in the grade book, looking over the lessons for the rest of the spring term and doing lesson planning, making lists of curriculum subjects we need more of before the rest (so I don’t have to pay over-night or 2-day shipping fees, or else lose a week or two waiting on books) and planning for our trip to the nearest home-school convention in May.

A lot of these tasks are paperwork organizational ones.  I don’t claim to a paper organizing guru… especially in some areas… like the incoming mail from my (snail) mailbox.  On the grade-book, lesson planning and student planner front I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in the last year.  Through trial and error, we’ve learned more about ourselves and what works (and more importantly what doesn’t) for our family.  I’ve tried a lot of planners and planning pages that are out there in the marketplace (mainly 2 types… those available in the stores and those that are available online that you can print out and use), but they always seem to end up requiring a goodly amount of “tweaking” in order for them to work for my family and I always end up with this random mix of pages I printed out that really don’t look like they belong together.  From an artistic point of view, I find the lack of cohesion annoying at best.  My main complaints of store-bought student planners are number one that they are almost always dated and lack flexibility and two that they are typically designed for high school students.  Research has shown though that these organizational skills are best formed in 2nd/3rd graders, not jr. high and high school.

The best store-bought planners I’ve found for Elementary students are little spiral-bound assignment notebooks made by Mead (yes the people that make notebooks and Trapper Keepers that you remember from your school days.)  These are inexpensive (usually $3 or so) and I can find them at a couple my local (non-chain) grocery stores.  Each page has sections for 3 days and (Subject, Assignment, Date) at the top of each section.  You can use it one of two ways: 1 section per subject and all the assignments for that subject for a week (probably how the manufacturer intended it) or you could use it like we do.  I simply list all of the subjects/assignments for one day in a section and where it says Date:  I write the day of the week.  Then I just cross the completed assignment with a highlighter.  It’s simple and it works… for assignments… but it lacks planning pages for activities, home- school co-op, sports/clubs, church and for longer-term school and club projects… you would have to get another different planner for that sort of thing.   My kids’ complaint with these little planners…” THEY ARE SO BORING-LOOKING MOMMMMMM! ” I ask you… just how many planners should a 2nd to 5th/6th grader really be asked to maintain (even with a great deal of adult help)?  The answer to this question should never be more than ONE!  These are kids who have trouble keeping track of their shoes, toys, mittens and just about everything else that comes in pairs or more… so a pair of planners (one school-work and one social life) is just too much!

Having your student’s “paperwork organizational brain” all in one book makes their life and yours a great deal easier.  I had some specific requirements I struggled to find elsewhere (or if I did find it the format was super boring or not quite what I needed in some aspect or other.)

My Requirements:

* We school 6 days a week,  so we need either a 3-day per page or 6-day per page

* Longer-term Project planner pages for research papers (which we will be starting in the Fall), literature log/book report to ensure independent reading, and projects/goals for 4-H etc.

*Social organization pages.

*Month at a glance calendars to accompany the 5 weeks of assignment pages every month.

*Cohesive artistic design.

 

To this end result I used the Printmaster Platinum 6 program on my computer to design something that would work for my kids,  a planner that met our needs and wouldn’t bore the children to tears.  I may eventually design another version or two… or three…. as we all know that all children are very different.  For now the boys and decide we all like the “chalkboard” look… so we went a little old-school for our first home-school student planner.  I am going to try to add this on here as a downloadable file (you all let me know if it didn’t work.)  I will add pictures of the completed project after I try my link myself from our other computer which is the one that works with our printer.  It is meant to be copied with additional copies of the assignments, social and project pages for each month.

Daily Assignments

(Please Note: You are welcome to download and print it for personal use only, but please be respectful and don’t copy for commercial use.)

Guest Post: Writing Your Own Spelling Curriculum

A very good friend of mine, Aimee, a fellow homeschooling mom just posted this on her blog, Scribing Life.  In her post I am  the “first homeschooling mom” friend she talks about who gave her some ideas to getstarted with spelling.  I am re-posting Aimee’s article with her permission.  (*After Aimee helped me get started with www.spellingcity.com I started writing my own spelling lists into this antique/modern fusion format and after a short 4 hours work I had the words from the 1st 14 lessons in the McGuffey’s Spelling Book  divided into ( lists I felt were from grade K to 3… 79 of them)  grade appropriate spelling lists by phonetic spelling rules.)  We began our spelling this week with our 1st lesson in this method which is probably a late 1st/early 2nd grade list.  My older children are a little beyond the: cat, hat, sat- type spelling words now, but I made the lists anyway… so they will be ready to go whenever baby sister is ready for those basics in a couple years (or can I hope earlier that that?)

Spelling

  • SpellingI have been toying with starting spelling as a separate subject for a while.  I like our phonics for decoding, but I feel encoding needs to be taught also; or at the very least practiced.  I really haven’t found a program I like.  I want/ed to teach spelling by spelling rule / phonics rule.  Some programs I have seen group words ‘by other criteria’ such as vocabulary from a story or all words that end in “th”.  That might be better, I don’t actually know, I am not setting out to make any professional recommendations or comment on the different ways to teach spelling.  Actually, I like the look of Sequential Spelling and reserve the right to switch to that.  Nevertheless I wanted to start with spelling by spelling rule / phonics rule.  I was not happy with what I had found and had pretty much decided to make my own lists (10 to 12 words a week) and I was going to pull word lists from the Explore The Code books that we have finished (book 1 to 3.5).  The books work though the phonics rules one at a time, focusing on one per lesson, I thought I could pull words out for our spelling list that ETC had used (for example a list of words where “oa” makes the long o sound).  Then, ah then, I realized that since we are living in temporary housing (and have moved so many times since Oct of 2012) I have packed up to store all our competed books and do not have access to them, to use them for this great idea.I was talking to a fellow home school mom one night and she suggested I look at the McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book.First publish in 1836.  I discovered that it was available for free on my Kindel Fire so I “bought it”.  “This 1879 revised edition conforms to Webster’s International Dictionary, and associates each lesson with some principle of sound, meaning, or accent”.  Have a bit of history with your spelling, there lad?Another home school mom – you have to love the home school community; many hands make light work and there is never any reason to recreate the wheel – had, in the past, turned me on to spellingcity.com where you can create worksheets and activities based on your own spelling lists.  (There is a free version, and a pay version, but the free version allow you to do some stuff).  I had never used it, since we had never done formal spelling, but here, here was an opportunity.  Now I had spelling lists, and a way to create worksheets and activities.I took the two ideas – one the start of public education in America, and one from the “modern technology age” and crafted us a spelling curriculum.  I created spelling lists for us; following roughly the order of the McGruffy Speller, and using most (though not all) of the words in the Speller’s lists.  I also found http://www.k12reader.com/first-grade-spelling-words/ where you can download graded levels spelling lists; again I cherry picked the lists, or part of lists that met our needs.

    I happily stole the first home schools mom’s idea and did the first spelling list on “math” words (see below) because these words are practical and functional.  I know, that cries out against my “not wanting to group words by subject rather than spelling rule” logic.  However I felt that ‘math words’ were necessary for word problems and so on as we move forward with math, so I made an exception.  I made five lists of math related words that I felt Big Brother should be exposed to assist in him more independently doing his math work.  However, I did not do them one a week for five weeks; I felt that was a bit much, so I mixed them in with the other “more traditional spelling rules” lists.  I plan to make more “exception lists” as we go on and they become an obvious need.  As he learns to read better, I want to be sure Big Brother has the tools he needs to be able to work more and more independently.

    After creating the math related lists, I started over at short vowels sounds and went, week by week, vowel by vowel; after that a couple of weeks of “mixed” lists where all the vowels were still short, but all five main vowels were represented on the list together.  Then we moved on to “silent e” words and did a few weeks on that concept.  After that, lists based off different spelling rules (such as ‘oa’ = long o like in boat).  By the end of the first night, sitting with my McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book and brainstorming “math related words” with my fellow home schooling mom, I had 21 lists; not all of them had 10 words yet, but I had a plan; and over 5 months of spelling lists.  I love a good plan.

    In case you are interested here are the spelling lists I have so far, note that do not all have ten words yet, I will be filling them in before I use them.  Next week will be week three for us, and we will be doing short U; week four we will do another ‘math list’.

    OneTwoThreeFour

    Five

    Six

    seven

    Eight

    Nine

    Ten

    SumAddTakeAway

    Plus

    Minus

    Total

    Equal

    Less

    More

    TwentyThirtyFortyFifty

    Sixty

    Seventy

    Eighty

    Ninety

    Hundred

    Number

    TimeDayHourSecond

    Year

    Month

    Penny

    Dime

    Nickel

    Dollar

    HalfThirdQuarterFoot

    Cup

    Pint

    Mile

    Yard

    Inch

    Week

    GapMadLagJam

    Bag

    Talk

    Lark

    Dark

    BedDenTentLed

    Men

    Beg

    Bell

    Hen

    Met

    Jest

    RibSinLidRig

    Fix

    Hip

    Pig

    Fib

    Did

    Lick

    CobBoxJobJot

    Rod

    Pot

    God

    Top

    Not

    Jot

    RutDustCubMust

    Rub

    Tub

    Tug

    Sun

    Slub

    Cut

    DateSameCageLate

    Lace

    Bane

    Dame

    Page

    Mate

    Wake

    CrabPenFitHot

    Hum

    Brag

    Wet

    Mix

    Rot

    Hut

    ChipGrabBlotSpot

    Bent

    Bulk

    Frog

    Gift

    West

    Hush

    FireLikeHideWife

    Code

    Bane

    Hope

    Vote

    Cube

    Duke

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