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

Drawing On the Wisdom of Past Pioneers

Today is the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and in rememberance of those pioneers in my family who have passed on from this world to the next, I am “putting up”  produce for my family’s later use… using the old fashioned art-form of canning and preserving.

As I write this, I am in the process of canning the 2nd of 2 batches of apricot jam (15 1/2 pint (1 cup) jars total). A 3rd wil be made (sort of), but I ran short of apricots and lemon juice for it, so I am making that batch into Apricot-Carrot Marmalade substituting shredded carrots for the missing apricots and orange juice concentrate for the lemon juice (approx. yield 8- 1/2 pints of marmalade.)  The remainder of  can of frozen O.J. concentrate will probably get made into a sweet pepper relish made with a mixture of red, orange and yellow sweet peppers.  I wish I could say that I had grown all of the apricots, carrots and peppers in our family garden and orchard, but this time I can’t.  Our carrot crop was just planted 2 weeks ago, our pepper transplants aren’t in the ground yet and we don’t have any apricot trees that are bearing…yet.

If you’ve never tried canning your own fruits and veggies before. I highly recommend starting your canning adventures with jams and/or jellies.  Jams and Jellies, along with salsa are among the easiest canning recipes to start with.  A search at your local book store or an online book-seller like Barnes & Noble or Amazon will yield a number of useful books on canning in small batches to get you started.

As a young girl, I grew up in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley, with it’s many orchards, nut groves, berry and vegetable farms.  I remember many summers spent at the sides of my mother, grandmothers and aunts, as my cousins and I helped with the taskes of preparing fruits and vegetables for canning, freezing or drying.  At 4 or 5 years old, we were able to shuck corn, snap beans and stem the apples and cherries.  As we got older, we were able peel and chop some of the fruits or vegetables and later to help with the canning itself.

Appropriately for today’s post, the very first recipe I remember actually helping with the canning… learning to wash and boil the jars, mixing the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and pectin, then using the funnel to help fill the jars etc… was Apricot Jam.  I was about 9 years old and my mother had gotten a huge box of apricots from a local orchard… we had decided to make lots of apricot jam with it because it was my step-dad’s favorite jam!  Even after that huge batch of jam, we still had some apricots left and my mother pureed them and spread the puree on plastic wrap lined trays she placed in the food dehydrator to make healthier fruit leather than the high fructose corn-syrup laden kind ou buy in the store… as snacks for us kids.  I believe she also had a large box of plums at the same time and those were also turned into fruit leather and prunes.

Anyway, because my step-dad loves apricot jam so much, he’ll be recieving a portion of today’s yield for Father’s Day in a couple weeks once the jam has set.

Canning and preserving the harvest (whether you grew that produce yourself, bought it at a local orchard/farmer’s market or even purchased produce on sale in the grocerey store during “the season” for that particular kind of produce) is an art and a science handed down in time… generation to generation.  Mother to daughter to granddaughter… grandparent to grandchild… elderly neighbor to new homemaker.  If you’ve not learned this artform from one of your elders, take the time to try it this year and pass your new found knowledge down to your loved ones.  It is well worth the effort to acquire this knowledge and rest easy knowing you can provide your family with high quality, tasty and unique food creations to carry you through the winter months and through the years to come.

Interview: Data Collection With Jenni White of Oklahoma R.O.P.E.

Please watch this video. If you don’t know about President Obama’s Common Core Initiative yet, this will take the blinders off your eyes and open your mind. Parents and grandparents, do whatever you can to protect your kids and grandkids.

COMMON CORE

There may be someone in America who has studied the education data collection scheme more than Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education. But I haven’t found that person. Here’s a video interview that Alisa, Renee and I filmed with Jenni this week.

Highlights:

What is the State Longitudinal Database System?
Why does every state track every citizen with the SLDS?
What is the P20 system?
Why did the federal government pay every state many millions to build the system?
Why did they require states to build interoperable systems if they were not to share data outside the state?
How do schools, prisons, hospitals and military agencies now share data?
Is this really just career path assistance or is it citizen surveillance?

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We Are So Excited! Part 1

My middle and youngest brothers

My middle and youngest brothers

There are so many things for our family to be excited about this spring and summer, that it is hard to keep them in order and write about them all.

I guess one of the most exciting events will be  this coming summer. My younger brother, Eric, is getting married to the sweetest gal I’ve ever met, his fiancee, Rachel. (Eric is picture on the right wearing the glasses and standing next to my baby brother, Roy.)  As if a wedding and the resulting family reunion that creates wasn’t exciting enough,  Eric and Rachel will tie the knot on Pioneer Pa and I’s  11th Wedding Anniversary.  It is sure to be a great time for all, including our kids, who will be getting to see their cousins for the first time in 7 years and getting to see their great-grandmothers, whom the older two barely remember and the youngest has never met.

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma... I learned from the best!

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma… I learned from the best!

Traveling to Missouri this summer for Eric and Rachel’s wedding will be our family vacation this year.  It will also be our 1st major homeschooling field trip.  We plan to visit, Independence Square & Courthouse (the gateway of the Oregon, Santa Fe and Mormon Trails), visit the Harry S. Truman Home, Library, the soda fountain where Harry Truman had his 1st job, Bess Truman’s Tea Room, Ft. Osage and the Lexington Civil War Battlefield.  If there is time, we might visit Jamesport, MO (home of the outlaw, Jesse James), a Natural History/Science Museum or a Zoo.

In other news, I’m so pleased and relieved to once again have my income taxes filed for another year.  If you’ve never had to file your farming income along with the regular income taxes for a job in town, this is quite the chores and every year I am thrilled and excited once it is crossed off my to-do list.

Other things I’m happy to have crossed off the to-do list this week: Finding Eggplant purple dress shirts for both Farmer Boys to wear at their uncle’s wedding and finding the perfect yellow & white Easter dress/dress for uncle’s wedding for our Littlest Pioneer Girl (oh and finding a matching pair of  dress shoes to go with it for $1 at the thrift store! Cha-ching!)

Other things of course have been added to the to-do list since though.  My mom and I were assigned to plan the rehearsal dinner/BBQ.  And I was specifically assigned the task of designing, baking and decorating the grooms cake because I am apparently the family guru of special foods needs AND the best cake decorator in the family.

Journey Into History with The Modern Pioneer Family

Sometime in April or May (date is still T.B.D.) our family will be traveling to my hometown in Missouri to attend my younger brother’s wedding.

Why you say is this of significance to this blog (I mean other than it is the wedding of a family member and thus an important family even to welcome a new sister-by-marriage and a new auntie to our family)?  Well, let us consider then that my “hometown” in my youth was Independence, Missouri and that I was born in Oregon City, Oregon.

Independence, Missouri holds an important place in the history of the United States of America.  It was the hometown of our President, Harry S. Truman and it is also the city from which most of our Nation’s expansion toward the Pacific Coast began.  Independence, Missouri is starting place of the 4 major traveling routes into the West:  The Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail (not listed in historical order on purpose.)

We have noticed some huge holes in our children’s study of American History at their local school.  Thus my husband and I have decided to put together for a history lesson project a unit study of  The Oregon Trail  for our family, in order to turn what would ordinarily be a mini-vacation to just attend a family event into an educational field trip for the children.  This is part of our efforts to “after-school” the children to augment what is turning out to be a lack-luster public school education.  To this end I visited out local lending library and checked out some books on this topic and am now working on preparing a lesson plan to outline our study of this subject.

 

Here is a list of just some of the resources we’ve found relating directly to the Oregon Trail and to the Pioneer Period of U.S. History in general:

1. Pathways of America ” The Oregon Trail” by Lynda Hatch

2. How I Survived the Oregon Trail (The Journal of Jesse Adams) by Laura Wilson

3. The Oregon Trail- Let Freedom Ring

4. If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie by Anne Kamma

5.  The American Frontier by Melanine Ann Apel

6. Black Frontiers (A History of African American Heroes In the Old West) by Lillian Schlissel

7. Cornerstones of Freedom “The Oregon Trail” by R. Conrad Stein

8. Homesteading on the Plains (Daily Life in the Land of Laura Ingalls Wilder)

9. Pioneering Women of the Wild West by Jeff Savage

10. Discovering Geography of North America with Books Kids Love by Carol J. Fuhler

11.  Pioneers (An Activity Book) by John Artman

12. Cowboys (An Activity Book) by John Artman

13. Indians (An Activity Book) by John Artman

While studying the history topic of the Oregon Trail; we will also involve Reading & Literature, Spelling, Arithmetic, Geography, Science and Music and then conclude our unit with a memorable field trip to historical sites in Independence, MO and nearby towns for some hands-on-learning.

National Cub-Scouting Week

Today marks the end of National Cub-Scouting Week, so I thought I would dedicate my post today to our 2 young Cub-scouts and their accomplishments.homeimprovement 031

Unfortunately, it’s been a couple months since they have attended meetings, between weather issues, meetings that were canceled by their den leaders for various reasons and somebody at home being sick with some sort of illness almost constantly since before Christmas.

But, back in November at our Pack Meeting, Charles participated in the Flag Ceremony and did a very good job of it.  At this meeting, both Charles and Henry also earned their Bobcat Badges… the first of many to come.homeimprovement 036

homeimprovement 039

Henry’s Tiger Den made their $200/scout quota for selling popcorn.  Charles’ Bear Den exceeded the $200/scout quota and averaged about $350/scout.  Charles was a great little salesman and earned $358 in popcorn sales for the Pack.  Both of them did AWESOME!

Both Henry and Charles have been working hard on their bowling skills with their Grandpa Bill in order to earn their belt loop awards for the sport of bowling.

It’s Been a Long Time (Since Last Year’s Garden)

Wow, it has been far too long since I’ve made a new posting.  All of the computers in the house were broken for several months and our library (20 miles away) has a 30 minutes time limit per patron/per visit for internet usage. Unfortunately our twice a month trip to the library was barely enough computer-time to delete all the junk email from my inbox.

So, I deeply apologize for being completely out of touch for approx. 2 months or so there.

We’ve had a rather mild winter here in South Dakota once again. And I am wondering if we will have another drought summer with lots of grass- hoppers as we did last summer.  (However, our tomatoes and peppers really seemed to enjoy the hot summer weather last year.)  I say lots of grasshoppers, but of course it was NOTHING like the nearly Biblical Plague of Grasshoppers that Laura Ingalls Wilder describes in her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek… I can certainly be thankful for that.

We’ve started a few vegetable plants indoors already in our windowsills. Lettuce, Herbs and a few cherry-type tomatoes, all of which make good container garden plants. Toward the end of this month we will be getting the indoor mini greenhouse out of storage and setting up our grow lights and really getting busy starting our heirloom vegetable and flower transplants so they will be ready to set out in the garden this spring.

Varieties We plan to Grow in 2013: (Not a complete list, but a nice start of one.)

Beans: Gold Marie Vining (wax type pole bean), Royal Purple Pole, and Chinese Long Bean

Broccoli: Purple Sprouting and Romanesco

Carrots: Amarillo (yellow), Atomic Red (red), Cosmic Purple (purple), Snow White (white), plus an heirloom orange carrot

Cabbage: Red Express

Cauliflower: Cheddar, and both a green and a purple variety.

Celery: Red Re-Selection

Cucumbers: Dragon’s Egg, Boston Pickling, Uzebeski

Eggplant: Ping tung (very sweet elongated variety)

Popcorn: (the only corn we will grow this year) Dakota Black

Peppers: Lipstick, Chocolate Bell, Orange Bell, Yellow Bell, Red Bell, Green Bell, Mini Bell, Anaheim, Santa Fe, and Sweet Banana.

Pumpkins: Red Warty Thing, Cinderella, the pumpkin that looks like it’s covered in peanuts and a blue pie pumpkin that my grandmother always grew in Oregon.

Tomatoes: Black Prince (which we loved last year),  Black Icicle, Orange Icicle, Green Zebra, Chocolate Cherry, Yellow Pear (which come up wild here every summer), Pink Caspian and Nature’s Riddle to name a few.

*Traditional garden center hybrids like Better Boy and Early Girl have never really done well for us here on this farm, but many of the heirlooms we’ve tried have done very nicely on our farm here.  One notable exception to that was the “Mr. Stripey” plant I bought last year at the local big box store… it was the weirdest tomato plant I have every grown… huge plant with weird fuzzy leaves, lots of blossoms… but it never produced a single tomato fruit  despite plenty of bees and other pollinators(I am sure that other people do fabulously with this variety… it just never did anything for us, making me wonder if it’s not adapted to the Southern US or something?)

We’ll probably grown a dozen or two others, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head.

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