Wednesday

B-I-N-G-O

As I mentioned before we use a lot of bingo games around here to help with learning some facts. My boys are always up for a game. It probably helps that the winner gets a prize from our prize box. The box consists of little things- erasers, lollipops, coins and any confiscated toys that they need to win back. It helps with them learning good sportsmanship, since those who don't win get a little upset. But I thought I would share our phonics/reading boards. I made all of them in MS Word.


The first is basic CVC words. My 4 year old is using this one now. The words are in families and color colded for easy locating. The main thing is that the kid whose level we are playing is the caller. So he has to read the words.


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Next I have a instant word version, still color coded. We haven't used it in awhile my oldest knows these and my 4 year old isn't quite there.


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And then once we got into bigger words and the different phonograms I made a blank board. They are laminated so I write the words on the board with a wet erase marker and write the call words as well. The good thing about this is that I can use it for 2 levels. The current words written are from awhile ago, my 6 year old used the words and my 4 year old used numbers and letters. The call tiles were written on both sides. My oldest would read his then pass it to his brother for him to read. It worked nicely.


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I need to fill them in with their current level words. It's been awhile since we've played this version but they often ask.

Tuesday

Review of Sing, Spell, Read and Write

Background: My oldest son, who is 6 1/2, is a reluctant reader. In the past year and a half we went through a couple different programs. I looked at Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but I didn't care for it. I liked Phonics Pathways and we did use it for a little while, but he didn't care for it. We also used a free curriculum called Really Reading, which wasn't bad either. Looking back, he was fully capable of reading but didn't have the interest and maybe I should have just let it be for a bit. But his lack of interest paired with my lack of confidence in being able to teach him the necessary skills led us to continue this search for the magic reading program. I bought second hand for $1 an old version of The Writing Road to Reading after reading about phonogram instruction here. I like this and we did go through the phonograms for awhile, but he got a little bit put off when we got to some of the ones that are a little more confusing such as OUGH and it's many sounds. He was fighting instruction and a friend of mine was raving about SSR&W and her young daughter. I looked through her big box and it had a lot in it. Lots of books, games, songs, workbooks...I thought on it for awhile since the price tag is a little steep. But in the end I reasoned....with 4 boys I would eventually get my money's worth so I bit the bullet and bought the Level 1/K Combo Kit. This was back in September and we have been using it since then.


What you get:


Sing, Spell, Read & Write, Level 1 (Edition 2)


Plus 2 work books and 6 more little story books for the Level K. So it is a lot of stuff. It is very colorful. Nicely put together. The steps are sequential. The instructor's manual tells you what to do and gives you an idea of how long to spend on each step.


Here are my thoughts:


The songs: A little corny in some places. I did like the ABC sounds, short vowels and long vowels. My kids didn't really like The Ferris Wheel Song which is supposed to aid in learning to blend short vowel words....it goes around and around....ba, be, bi, bo, bu, bo, bi, be, ba.....round and round through the whole alphabet and some beginning blends too. The 2 vowels song did help my son read through the list of words. And I haven't listened to it yet, but we are currently up to the 'silent gh' song. I won't listen to it because the silent gh part annoys me. Based on the phonograms....igh = long i, eight = long a, etc....plus then it just doesn't work out with the ough either....so here we are again. The main thing about the songs- which I knew when I bought, and is specific to my boys- they don't sing. But they listened and we played the CD while doing the lesson.


The Games: The curriculum comes with 3 bingo games and 2 go fish like games. My boys all really liked them. We love bingo around here and I use it a lot anyway for word practice. There is a sight words, ABC sounds, and letter cluster (phonograms) BINGO and ABC sounds and letter cluster go fish. We used them a lot at first (when the baby napped more). I plan on using them again...my homemade bingo uses words only and I like having the boards with the isolated sounds on them.


The Workbooks: We got 4 books total between K and level 1. 2 per year. My 4 year old LOVED his first K book. It was review for him on the letter sounds. But it was VERY hands on...cutting, gluing and coloring. To tell the truth you can find very similar pages for free online....but they were colorful and all in one place which was nice. So each letter had a page to color with an appropriate picture, a writing/tracing page. A cut and paste beginning sounds page and a find and glue (from a magazine) page. The second book took you into reading. Blending the letters with the short vowels. It had a lot of color and read books and some word slides. My son wasn't as thrilled when he got to the ferris wheel and we are spending time elsewhere when his mood suits him to help him with sounding out words.


Now the first Level 1 book....I am assuming it was meant for public school. It went back to square one and letter sounds. So it hasn't been used at all. The second book is where the 36 steps to reading really starts. You are supposed to do a song and game each day, plus the pages in the book. Working up to spelling 10 words per day from the current word list. Each list is for one particular sound....short a, oy, ai, etc....My problem was that some of the lists got way too long....30+ words. And My son can write just fine and it was too monotonous for him. There is a place on the bottom to initial when you the student can read, spell and write each word on the page. The readers that come with the kit go along with each word list. So the vocab is constant for more practice. There is also some matching, fill in the blank, missing letter pages as well.


So I am not using this system as it is scripted. Sometimes we skip the readers....and he chooses a real book instead. Sometimes we just can't stand to hear the words pal and glad instead of friend and happy. But overall the readers did help with his confidence in reading longer passages within books. We also don't write all the words. He reads them all and he writes for 5 minutes. We also don't spell. He can spell short vowel words no problem now, but at his age I was more wanting to focus his willing attention on the reading and if there was enough willingness left we would do spelling. The books also discuss some grammar...punctuation, capitalization, subjects, nouns and verbs. We do that sometimes but it is much more casual than the copy sentences from the board like the books states.


So the verdict??? I am not that impressed. YES he has greatly improved in his skills, but I think that would have happened with any program by this age. He just wasn't really ready before. And YES I think it would probably be a great public/private school curriculum. But not quite as taylored for homeschoolers who don't do school-at-home. I don't have the want to make my child sit at a desk and do workbook pages and spelling tests (written) and copy sentences and then read and sing and a game. That would take HOURS and is too much for a 6 yr old. The readers are nice to have and I will use them again, same with the songs. But I think I could provide a few links, watch Between the Lions for some songs and play around on www.starfall.com and you would have basically the same thing and you'd only be out printing costs.


My plan? We are planning on finishing the book in which he is currently working. And when I feel the need to use the other books I have I will. I most likely will not buy other texts for the other children. I think I will just go and buy Phonics Pathways....which was my favorite...instead of keeping it from the library for months at a time. I am also in the planning for a phonogram Lapbook for them all to use as a tool and to help solidify some of these phonograms for my oldest as he helps make it. I plan on disecting his workbook and using the very nice word lists in the lapbook.


So there is my opinion on the subject for whatever it is worth....hopefully my thoughts aren't too all over the place since I didn't write this in one sitting today.

Friday

Eggs and Spring

Today I hosted our annual MOMS Club Easter Egg hunt. I have hosted every year for the past 4. My kids look foward to it all year. They like the comfort of their own home and not having to rush around with a zillion other kids like they would if we went to a public event. This may be the end though....I have been a part of the local MOMS Club chapter for 4 years....since my second born was only 10 months old. I have served as Vice President for 3 of those years, and for the next 3 months I am interim President, since our current Pres has decided to resign and go back to work. As much as this group has helped me in the past few years...being a young parent, it is hard to find support as a Stay at Home Mom....and the solitude that sometimes comes with it. But now as my role has changed, and I have added the homeschool mom tag, it is about time to move on from this group. My older boys' friends haved moved on to school and have 'no time'....school all day, homework and just being tired. But today was a great day....lots of eggs, too much candy and adult conversation for me!


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We spent most of the day outside. I love the Spring. I love the flowers. I love the tiny pea plants poking through the ground in my garden and as much as my husband dislikes them....I love dandelions. There was a time years and years ago when I wanted my wedding flowers to be dandelions and those little wild violets. So today we spent outside. I planted broccoli, and the kids played. They picked dandelions to feed the chickens and dug for worms for the same reason.


 


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Tuesday

Short I Lapbook

So here is my 4.5 yr old's finished short I book....




And here's a couple of the links to where I got the printables....the word wheel, the "words to write". matching word families ice cream cones, the easy reader/cut and paste, matching, the i words in the pocket and the pirate coin game(scroll down to the bottom and download).

Monday

Weather Lapbook

We started our weather unit this past week....most of it was based upon the requirements for the Cub Scouts Weather belt loop and pin. My 6 yr old worked on this lapbook to pull all his stuff together in one place:



The first side flap has a circle folded into fourths with his picture of the water cycle. Also it has our vocab words- I cut out cloud shapes and he glued them on craft sticks and I wrote the words, he looked them up in the glossary or dictionary and read the definition (dictated for me to write)


The middle is covered by his cloud page. Nothing beats cotton to make clouds! We made 6 different flaps, he wrote the name and created the cloud and then we read about what types of weather are associated with each to write on the inside. Under the clouds: There is a cloud shaped book about lightning and what causes it, a 'ways we use water 'mini book, a cloud shaped, pop-up rainbow he drew and how they are made. And a how accurate are forecasters minibook.


The other side flap has a copywork page- I wrote out some weather saying and he copied them below. And our weather journal for a 6 day period. We recorded rain, temp and wind.


The back consists of the Billy, Maria and the Thunderstorm coloring book. They have a few different titles on various weather situation- you can find them here. The extreme weather book was a cut-and-paste from the Owlie Skywarn's Weather Book. and a venn diagram comparing tornadoes to hurricanes.


A lot of the full paage sized documents I scaled down in the printer options to print 2-4 pages/sheet instead of 1 page/sheet so they would fit better in our book. I have another to share....my 4yr old requested another "reading lapbook" as he put it.....so we did one today on the short I sound. He didn't finish one part- the writing word cards and didn't want me to take pictures of it until he did that. So maybe I will share that one tomorrow.



Wednesday

Today's History Lesson

Today was a beautiful day in East TN...70 deg temps, sunny skies....so we took a field trip this afternoon to Fort Loudon. It's only about a 15 min drive from our house, and the last time we went it was mid July in the 100 deg heat...so much more enjoyable this time. So here is a tour of the fort....but first a little background....


Fort Loudoun was constructed in 1756 during the Seven Year's War (aka The French and Indian War) to help secure the Mississippi Valley region from the French. It was the first fort constructed in the "Overhill" country and helped ally the Cherokee Nation to the British cause and block further penetration by the French forces.


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Here's the Tellico Blockhouse from across the water. It was a US Army fort in the Cherokee Nation from 1794-1807


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The view of the lake and fort from the top entrance.


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Here are the barracks....double bunks line the walls, fireplace and tables.


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Then there is the ever popular bastion, what boy doesn't like cannons??


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Here is another view of the Fort, you can see the storehouse on the right side, to the left of the tents is the blacksmith and the hospital. Then the oven in the corner.


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Here is the bake oven.....


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Then they climbed and ran down the hill on the outside wall of the fort, you can see the palisade well in this shot.


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Just outside the lower gate (The Tuskegee Gate) the fort is surrounded by a 'dry moat' which includes on the outer edge rows of Honey Locust Trees. These young trees have 4 in spines all over which were used to impede an Indian attack.


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Then we decided to stop by the Tellico Blockhouse on the way home. It is in ruins so not too fancy, but rock walls and an open area are fun for any growing boy....


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So now you know all you need to know about Fort Loudoun. And in case anyone was wondering about the vistor in many of the pictures....we have Flat Buzz the astronaut visiting us from IL...he's learning all about TN so he can tell his family back home....


Friday

-AT Word Family Lapbook

I was feeling like I haven't been working with my 4 yr old enough. He is on the brink of learning how to read. He can sound out words pretty well. And loves to "read" to himself. He has a ton of books memorized and I think he will be they type of kid who wants to read real books. He can read a couple of the easy readers (ie. BOB books and the ones that came with his SSR&W) but it goes like this..."Mat sat ." but he reads: "Mat sat on a blanket at the beach." He will read the words if I slow him down, but he doesn't care much for the simplified text. So last night I threw this lapbook together, and I while my oldest played the ABSeas fishing game with the 2 yr old. We sat down and worked on it. Didn't take very long, he already could do most of this...but I was suprised how well he sounded out the harder words like acrobat.


I got the materials for it from: Hubbard's Cupboard, Carl's Corner and here are the word family ice cream cones which he really liked. A few things were from my personal collection or I made them myself.