Posts Tagged ‘reading’

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.

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

The Adaptable Pumpkin Pie

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

   The daily management of meals is complicated for families with multiple food allergens.  When the holidays arrive, the stresses of meal management multiply to seemingly a thousand-fold.  This year our holiday meal issues will include managing for the following foods issues: 2 people who are allergic to milk and bananas, 1 person who can’t eat foods with gluten, 1 person who’s allergic to soybeans and avocados, 1 person allergic to strawberries and 1 person who’s diabetic.  This traditional pair of Thanksgiving recipes is written toward persons with these food allergens and with substitution suggestions for the diabetic too.

A Little Schoolhouse On the Prairie Moment (aka An After-schooling Lesson):  Allow your children to help you with your holiday baking.  The youngest toddlers will have fun with a bowl and wooden spoon, older toddlers and preschoolers can help w/ cookie cutter decorations and stirring.  Older kids get an arithmetic lesson in measurements and fractions when they help measure and stir the ingredients together and can practice understanding temperature by setting the oven to preheat at the correct temperature.  Ask your teenagers/preteens to convert temps F to C and measurements to metric system for fun or research for the family the origins of various holiday foods to share this information with the family during the meal.

Traditional Pastry Crust

(A Gluten-Free/Soy-Free/Dairy-Free

adaptation of my grandmother’s pastry crust)

*This recipe makes a 2 crust pie or 2 one crust pie plus extra to be used for decoration

1 cup Spectrum Palm Shortening (or lard… grandma always used Crisco, plain or butter-flavored)

     *if using lard, chill it in the freezer for an hour or two prior to use.

 3 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour blend w/ xanthan gum already in it (I like Jules Gluten-Free Flour or Namaste Perfect Blend flour) or more as needed

    *amount of flour needed will vary due to natural moisture in the flour blend and the type of “shortening” used, lard is softer and will need more flour to make a good crust, however, it’ll also make a little bit larger batch.

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cider or rice wine vinegar

Ice water

   Place  flour, salt and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Cut the flour mixture into the shortening with a fork or pastry blender if doing it by hand.  I prefer a more mechanical method for the sake of speed.  I place these ingredients in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and cut the shortening into the flour using the whisk attachment.

Add the vinegar and mix well (many of the gluten-free recipes I have come across in the last 2 years for baking have contained a small amount of vinegar with the explanation that it helped somehow activate the xanthan gum that is used as a binder to replace gluten???  Not sure if that’s right or not, as what I know about xanthan gum is that it activates in most liquids, but I liked that the tiny amount of vinegar gave the crust some pleasing  flavor, as it was otherwise a little blah to me after using butter flavored Crisco for many years.)  Add the ice water very slowly by the teaspoonful, mixing well between additions.  You will find this recipe needs less liquid than your typical wheat-flour based pie crust, especially if you use lard in place of shortening.

Once mixed, divide dough into 2 portions.  Form into 2 discs and wrap in parchment or wax paper and chill dough for several hours in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge.  Line the surface on which you are rolling out your dough with parchment or waxed paper.  Sprinkle the paper with tapioca flour or cornstarch.  Place your disc of dough in the center of the paper and sprinkle this with tapioca or cornstarch too.  Place another piece of parchment or waxed paper on top.  Using your rolling pin, roll out dough into a thin sheet.  Remove the top layer of paper and gently lay your pie plate on top of the dough upside-down.  Carefully and gently flip the plate and dough over together.  Press the dough down into the pie plate gently then cut away excess dough with a knife.  Crimp or flute the edge of the pie using your favorite method.  Shapes may be cut out of excess dough using cookie cutters to place on the pie after it is filled with it’s filling.  Try leaves, pumpkins, acorns etc for Thanksgiving or stars, mittens, trees, reindeer etc. for Christmas.

*For a 2 crust pie, repeat the dough rolling instructions for the 2nd crust after filling the pie with it’s filling, then crimp or flute and decorate.

** For a pie shell that is to be filled with a chilled filling, place the  crust in the pie plate, prick crust w/fork to prevent air bubbles, then cover with foil and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake at 350 F for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven).  Cool and fill with chilled filling or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free/Soy-Free

with low-sugar suggestions

Pie Filling:

1 (15 oz) can solid pack/pure pumpkin puree (or if you prefer, roast a pie or heirloom pumpkin in your oven, scoop out flesh and use this in place of canned pumpkin– directions to follow at the end of the post.)

1 cup sugar (or 1 cup Splenda/Sugar blend or 1 cup Stevia in the Raw, if using sugar substitutes, plan to keep this pie chilled in the fridge to prevent it from molding if making it ahead or if you have leftovers)

1 can (15 oz) coconut milk (unsweetened)

3 eggs

2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (to taste)

1 tsp.ground  allspice

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg or mace

In a large mixing bowl, mix sugar (or substitute) and eggs with a whisk until well blended.  Add pumpkin puree and whisk until well blended. Pour in coconut milk and once again mix in very well with a whisk.  Stir in spices until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into your prepared pie crust.  Decorate top of your pie as desired, sprinkling top of decorative crust pieces with a little granulated sugar or colored sugar sprinkles for sparkle.  Bake at 350 F for approx. one hour (or maybe a little longer… you want to bake until the filling appears to have set up since this is a “custard” type pie) depending on your oven.  This crust does not brown quite as much as a wheat flour based crust, so personally, I’ve been able to skip the step of covering the edge of my crust with foil and baking at 2 different temperatures.

To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:

    Choose pie pumpkins or small to medium sized heirloom pumpkins (the green Jaradale and the light orange and dark red-orange “Cinderella” pumpkins are among my favorites for this).  Depending on your timing, you can cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a baking pan with a little water in it and bake for 30-60 minutes (depends on size of pumpkins) or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

OR

knock the stem off your pumpkin(s), wrap the whole pumpkin(s) fully in foil and heat your oven to 200 F, place wrapped pumpkin(s) on a cookie sheet(s) and place in the oven before going to bed, allow pumpkin(s) to slowly roast ovennight. Check to see they are tender first thing in the morning and remove from the oven to cool.  When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the seeds.

For both continue as follows…

Scoop out flesh with a large metal spoon and place into a large bowl or the bowl of your food processor (this may need to be done in several batches).  Mash puree by hand with a fork or potato masher or puree in a food processor.  Set aside the amount needed for your pie or other recipe.  Portion the rest out into 1 qt. freezer bags and freeze for later use.

This roasting, mashing and freezing process also works with other types of winter squash and is an excellent way to preserve the squash crop from your garden.  (Summer squashes can be grated raw and frozen for later use as well.)

A Lifelong Study of Citizenship

The Modern Pioneer Farmer Boys are embarking on a new and exciting adventure into learning about Citizenship, Friendship, Leadership and Growing from Boyhood into Manhood.   Along the way they will learn many skills that are just plain fun… like camping, hiking, fishing and how to whittle (eventually).  Of course I am talking about Cub Scouts and later on, as they get older, Boy Scouts.

The Farmer Boys’ Cub Scout uniforms arrived this afternoon via the UPS’ brown delivery truck, about an hour before the younger one arrived home from school.  Henry couldn’t wait to try it on!  About an hour later, his big brother arrived home and was so excitedly jumping around I thought the family pictures were going to bounce right off the baker’s rack in the dining room.  We finally slowed him down enough to try his on as well.  (FYI… these Cub Scout shirts run a little small and are about 60 or 65% cotton, so if in doubt, order the next size up, they’ll eventually grow into it.  The come with the embroidered Boy Scouts logo and a patch of the US Flag (or I assume a Canadian or other flag for scouts outside the US.)

Henry went to his first Tiger Den meeting 2 weeks ago tomorrow.  Both boys attended the local Cub Scout Pack Meeting on Monday night and found out all about the Boy Scouts’ Popcorn Fundraiser, Grandpa attend with us, since Pa had to work very late and we have to Cub Scouts to keep an eye on.  Charles’ Bear’s Den meeting that was to be held this evening was rescheduled for next Thursday, due to several of the other boys being ill or having other activities (he was slightly disappointed, but agreed we probably should wait, so as not to trade germs as little boys usually do.)  The Popcorn Fundraiser began tonight and grandma drove us to town to pick up their popcorn starter packs. (My “modern covered wagon”  aka my little green Kia Sportage is at the mechanic for a tune-up, since Pa has been having to put in so many hours at his town job, training new employees who work the late night shift.)  Each boy needs to sell at least $300 worth of popcorn (with strong encouragement to set even higher goals).  Our Bear’s Den has 6 boys in it (group goal of $1800) and our Tiger’s Den is twice that size with 12 boys in it (goal of $3000… WOW!)

On a somewhat oddly-related note:

I was reading an article today regarding the decline in reading skills and literacy among males in the United States.  The statistics quoted in the article showed a steady, but alarming decline in both the interest and ability to read among American Boys as compared to their female classmates and sisters.  Our country has been in the cultural pattern of infantiling it’s young males for almost as long as I’ve been alive and developed an educational system that very strongly favors girls… sad, but true.  It got me thinking and wondering just how closely this educational decline in boys, overlaps not only with the advent and rise in popularity of video gaming, computer gaming, cell phones and other electronic gadgets and the “sports groupie parents'” quest to produce the next Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth… but also in the declining numbers of young boys joining in Boy Scout’s activities, 4-H and other activity groups that teach kids wisdom, resourcefulness, honor, obedience, effort, diligence and responsibility like Awanas, Girl Scouts, Campfire Kids etc… I am wondering if those declining scouts statistics would very closely match this  educational decline in our boys???

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