Thursday, February 24, 2011

History is the Core

History is very important and including the Bible, it is the core of our homeschool.  We use Susan Wise Bauer's "Story of the World" as our history spine and then we also read books on the time periods we are studying in history in reading.  Then with Bible - hello, the OT is history! ;-)  History is so vital and so important and it has always been my favorite subject.

It has given Katie an understanding of how our world started, how cultures have progressed and even explained how we got our writing and other ideas, such as the calendar, etc.  I'm so glad that we started history from the beginning following the chronological format instead of having her learn bits and pieces of different time periods of history and having a jumbled mess in her brain!

I came across a wonderful article by Susan Wise Bauer and here is a quote:

In The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, we recommend making history the backbone of classical studies. The study of history occupies the center of the curriculum. Reading assignments, writing, research, and even history are organized around the time period under study in history.

Read the rest here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading Review

This is my personal review for "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading" by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington.  We started this phonics reading curriculum in October 2009 and finished it in early February 2011.  When we started it, my daughter didn't know how to read and was 6 years old.  We made sure we mastered each lesson before going on to the next and reviewed previous lessons occasionally.  We didn't use the tiles, just the book.  We normally spent 30-40 minutes a day.  The book has 231 total lessons.

You can view a sample lesson in this video

I had my daughter read all of Modern Curriculum Press' 120 phonics readers (although we did omit one that was about magic or something like that), Bob books and Abeka readers in the evenings once she was able to.  I have a PDF list of when the child will be ready to read a certain reader alongside the OPGTR.  I took that list and put sticky notes throughout the OPGTR so I would know when Katie was ready to read what.  I also have a PDF list that tells you when to incorporate penmanship/writing, grammar and spelling at what lesson in OPGTR.  You can email me for either PDF or both.

What I loved most about OPGTR, is that it had no pictures and my daughter concentrated more on the words and read faster in this book than the readers that had pictures.  You will find when its just text, that the child will read quicker because they aren't distracted.  Every phonics curriculum SHOULD leave the pictures out so the child can concentrate on the text.  You can let them read pictures/text in their evening reading but phonics instruction is all about instruction not comprehension of a story.

I was completely amazed that in just 1 year and 3 months, my daughter went from not reading at all to a 4th grade reading level!  This is without sight words lists too!  This is pure phonics instruction, with only the occasional sight word such as the, have, etc.  I've found and read research that most public schools today have the children memorize these big lists of sight words each week, so they can "look" like they are teaching so great.  What happens is, come along a few years later, they have what is called the "4th grade slump" because these kids didn't really learn pure phonics, they just got good at memorizing.  So when they encounter a lot of new words on a 4th grade level such as supplementary, they can't read it because they don't know how to decipher new words because they didn't have the proper phonics instruction.  For example, in my daughter's 4th grade level book she read this past week, "Pegasus", she encountered words such as Bellerophon and she was able to decipher it with her phonics abilities.  What would a child who learned to read from memorizing sight words do when they come to this word?  Thus, the 4th grade slump in reading - it will cause them to lose interest in reading, fall behind and the public school system wonders WHY kids today can't read.  It isn't more money the schools need - its more competence!

My daughter seemed "behind" in the beginning from her peers that use public education as they could read books with words they memorized.  However, now my daughter is reading at a 4th grade level and advancing while they are still back there at a 2nd grade level.  Do you see what I'm trying to say here?  You are teaching your child to read - sound out words, learn phonics instruction - not memorize.  And really, those 100 sight word lists that teachers make the 1st graders learn - are merely for looks, because we know that the average public-schooler today can't read in high school!

I HIGHLY recommend "The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading" if you want your child to be a great reader and not have issues with reading later on.  It may seem silly to start at the beginning but let me tell you, you will be glad you did to ensure your child doesn't miss anything!  In the back of the OPGTR, you will find an article on remedial reading for older children and how they can use the OPGTR and become great readers.  There is no shame in a 9-year old doing this curriculum because they are proficient readers today because of it.

Have I convinced you yet that this is THE BEST, and easiest for parents to teach their children how to read?  If you teach them how to read properly, you will have given them one of the greatest tools for their learning and that is something that you can bask in the success of.

1st Grade "Fun" Book List

I've been using a few sources to determine what to choose for Katie's "fun" book list, which is her 30-60 minute evening reading time.  Lately, she has been wanting to finish the whole book in one sitting, so she reads 40 minutes each evening.  These books are far below her reading level and are very easy for her - this creates a LOVE for reading for children!  If all they read is hard books, well no wonder they would hate reading!  Wouldn't you if all you read was Plato or some of the other challenging classics?  Exactly.

She reads at her level, which is currently 4th grade reading level, in the mornings for 30 minutes and you can see that list of books here.  She read more before these, things like readers, Bob books, etc.  Below are her below-reading-level books.  These are 1st-3rd grade level books.

Here are the books she read in the evenings from the end of Feb. until the end of August 2011.
  1. Little Bear's Visit
  2. Little Bear's Friend
  3. A Kiss for Little Bear
  4. Father Bear Comes Home
  5. Little Bear
  6. Little Bear and the Marco Polo
  7. Frog and Toad Together
  8. Frog and Toad Are Friends
  9. Frog and Toad All Year
  10. Days with Frog and Toad
  11. Amelia Bedelia
  12. Thank you, Amelia Bedelia
  13. Teach us, Amelia Bedalia
  14. Owl at Home
  15. Amelia Bedelia Helps Out
  16. Mouse Tales
  17. Merry Christmas Amelia Bedelia
  18. Come Back Amelia Bedelia
  19. Amelia Bedelia's Family Album
  20. Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower
  21. Amelia Bedelia and the Baby
  22. Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping
  23. Good Work Amelia Bedelia
  24. Play Ball Amelia Bedelia
  25. Mouse Soup
  26. Grasshopper on the Road
  27. Olivia Plants a Garden
  28. George the Drummer Boy
  29. George and Martha
  30. The Long Way to a New Land
  31. The Horse in Harry's Room
  32. Daniel's Duck
  33. A Bargain for Frances
  34. Best Friends for Frances
  35. Bread and Jam for Frances
  36. A Baby Sister for Frances
  37. The Carrot Seed
  38. Balto
  39. Bedtime for Frances
  40. A Birthday for Frances
  41. Sammy the Seal
  42. The Pig War
  43. Chester
  44. The Littlest Leaguer
  45. Sam the Minuteman
  46. The Josefina Story Quilt
  47. Julius
  48. Mrs. Brice's Mice
  49. A New Coat for Anna
  50. Nate the Great
  51. Nate the Great Goes Undercover
  52. Nate the Great and the Phony Clue
  53. Nate the Great and the Missing Key
  54. Nate the Great and the Sticky Case
  55. Keep the Lights Burning Abbie 
  56. Nate the Great Saves the King of Sweden
  57. Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise
  58. Nate the Great Stalks Stupidweed
  59. Nate the Great and the Musical Note
  60. Nate the Great and Hungry Book Club
  61. Nate the Great and the Monster Mess
  62. Nate the Great and the Stolen Base
  63. Nate the Great and the Pillowcase
  64. Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine
  65. Nate the Great and the Fishy Prize
  66. Nate the Great Goes Down in the Dumps
  67. Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas
  68. Nate the Great and the Big Sniff
  69. Nate the Great San Francisco Detective
  70. Nate the Great Talks Turkey
  71. Nate the Great on the Owl Express
  72. Nate the Great and Me
This concludes Katie's fun book list for 1st grade.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    All About Spelling Level 2

    We absolutely LOVE All About Spelling!  Katie loves using the magnetic board and I love that she is getting very thorough in her spelling and not going too fast.  We finished Level 1 and are now moving onto Level 2, which looks fun.  There is a "jail" for rule-breakers, along with the word cards, key cards, etc.


    If you purchase All About Spelling, please go through my links as I will be compensated for referring you!  You can see what the magnetic tiles look like and find out more detail about how All About Spelling works in my post on Level 1 here: http://www.cambridgeshireacademy.com/2010/02/arrival-of-all-about-spelling.html

    Mid-1st Grade New Curriculum

    We just had an awesome week off of school and the week before that, we finished the following curriculums:
    1. Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading
    2. First Language Lessons 1
    3. Saxon Math 1
    4. Spelling Workout A
    5. All About Spelling Level 1
    Now we are beginning some new curriculum:
    1. Rod and Staff English 2
    2. Saxon Math 2
    3. Spelling Workout B
    4. All About Spelling Level 2

    Katie is so excited to start, she couldn't wait till tomorow and is already working in her Spelling Workout book.  I'm excited just because I love the new and fresh feeling when you start something brand new!  We may skip a lot of lessons in Saxon Math 2, simply because the first part of the book is review of Math 1 - they expect you are starting it after having 3 months of summer off.  So I will need to go through it this week and see where we will start.  There is a new meeting book as well but it begins with August, so we will have to work around that as well.

    Homeschoolopoly Game Night

    We played Homeschoolopoly for 2 hours tonight and it was a blast!  Our daughter is just a 1st grader and can play this, and it helps her learn math and counting money.  Instead of buying houses and hotels, you buy books and keys to knowledge.  Instead of buying properties, you buy curriculum.  Free parking is Field Trip and instead of going to jail, you go to court escorted by the truant officer lol!  Then instead of chance and community chest it is grace and mercy with fun homeschool things to read on each card.  You also don't buy railroads, you buy vehicles - hubby loves the "cool as can be suv" most of all. ;-)