Phonemic Awareness for Pre Reading

reading strategiesLearning to read is by far one of the greatest accomplishments of a person’s life. Yet, so often we tend to take this amazing feat for granted. As a homeschool mother, with each of my children I seemingly sweat bullets every time it came to teach them how to read. I guess I realized all too well how vital this ability was to their future success in school. Consequently, on the flip side of that…. is the realization that when taught phonemic awareness on a regular basis the child will eventually read when they are ready. It took me just six kids to realize that one!

When I begin to teach a little one how to read I always start with the basics. Here is a simple timeline of my process for providing them with pre-reading skills.

1) Start with basic letter recognition

2) Build to letter sound recognition

3) Teach consonant and vowels

4) Build to consonant and vowel blends

5) Teach children how to make ABC order

6) Build to consonant blends

7) Teach children how to decode words ( short sound, long sound, special sounds)

8) Introduce short words

9) Build on that!

Teaching Kindergarten Science

States of MatterFor most children, kindergarten is the introduction to school. It’s their first experience with what is expected and how they are required to function for most of the their school experience. It’s kindergarten that teaches the fundamentals… and that’s no different when it comes to learning about science at this fantastic age.

Before you jump in to learning and experiencing science, there is one huge thing that you must remember. The kindergartener learns by play! You can’t expect them to just sit there and read a book and learn everything they need to know. A kindergartener learns through experience via playing. So, as we teach this amazing child science we must remember this first and foremost. Science can be HUGELY fun, if they are allowed to experience the excitement of discovery first hand.

1) Make science fun, and to do this you need a good backbone. What in the world? Sure,  I am talking about your science backbone… your textbook. A really great text/or foundational science program can make a huge difference! We love using Apologia Science, and have recently started using the new Science4Us online program. Both offer very unique kindergarten homeschool science perspectives geared toward getting the young child very interested in science.

2) Use exciting ways to teach the facts. Don’t just assign your kiddos a page to read. Oh, I know not every homeschool parent is a science lover… but we’ve got to at least find a way to get across the facts in an exciting manner. If you have no clue how to teach a particular topic – relinquish it to the experts. You can show a science video for class one day – or watch a cool you tube science how-to, or even watch it yourself and then find a fun way to teach it to your kids.

3) Take that extra time to get prepared. I know… that takes some determination and planning but it will be well worth it in the end. Whenever I have taken the time to teach my kids science in an extraordinary way – they usually remember everything!!! I also love to use interesting and colorful printables for recording the science that we learn. Here’s a free science printable about the scientific method. You can use it to fill out inquiry about particular science projects/experiments that you are working on. Make your science experiments fun and amazing and you’ll have your kids begging for science every day!

Our 10 Best Homeschool Posts of 2013

It is so hard to believe that it is already the middle of January! Time really flies! To summarize our year of homeschooling in 2013, I thought I would share our best posts! We’ve posted on everything from a weather lesson to High School homeschooling and everything in between! Since, it’s easy to move on and forget exactly what we covered over time I thought it would be nice to have a little reminder! If you have an all time favorite post – I would love for you to vote for it in the comments below!

1) Pain Free Math for Homeschool Highschoolers

2) Homeschooling the Big Family – Just a Few Tips

3) Getting Your Students Writing

4) Using Games to Motivate

5) Top 6 Ways to Organize Your Homeschool

6) Learning History with Summer Exploration

7) Express Yourself

8) Writing for Early Learners

9) Making Independent Learners

10) Homeschool Sports and Special Needs

Christmas Break Activities

Well, all the Christmas gifts have been made, bought, and wrapped. Most of the Christmas parties are now over… so we’ve been on break for a while now… are your kids complaining about being bored? Mine are already claiming their fame and are actually ready to do some fun activities. A great way to fight boredom is to find some fun and exciting games or printables.

My kids love Christmas crosswords or even word search puzzles. Here are a few of our favorite Christmas ideas…

1)Christmas symbols word search

2)The Twelve Days of Christmas word search

3) Christmas coloring book

4) Christmas word play games

5) If you can’t find one that you love – make your own with this word search maker

6) Make your own Christmas cards

7) Make your own Christmas ornaments

8) Listen to holiday audio books and old time radio stories – many homeschoolers love The Cinnamon Bear epidsodes…

9) Make placemats and napkin rings for your Christmas dinner!

10 ) Listen to the Christmas story together.

Homeschool Resource List… my online favorites!

homeschool resourceHi guys… Just thought that I’d take a minute to share some of my favorite online resources. Most of these are free or fellow bloggers that share what they are doing in their homeschool. I’ve used alot of these to supplement what I do in my homeschool…

Awesome Fellow Homeschool Bloggers

In Training For Him

MomSCHOOL

Dee-Lightful Moments in Life

Homeschool Curriculum

Who’s Learning? Who’s Teaching?

You.Me.Us.

PreSchoolers Day by Day

Adventures of  a Homeschool Mom

Web Home School

Panda Honeybee’s Homeschooling Adventure

Homeschooling My Three Sons

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Handmade Homeschool

The Army Chap’s Wife

Layered Soul

The DaisyHead

HodgePodge

Faith and a Full House

FREE website resources

Let’s Homeschool High School

Learning Games for Kids

Vocabulary Games

Homeschool College USA

Homeschool Legal Defense – great site for learning about state laws

Sheppard Software – great for geography learning

Spelling City

Online Courses for High Schoolers

Paid Homeschooling Websites that are great curriculum or supplements

Time4Learning

Time4Writing

ABEKA Academy

Make your 2013 Summer Bucket List

Homeschoolers know how to do it! You know what I mean, learn while having a great time. That’s why I love the idea of the Bucket List so MUCH! At our house, the summer time seems to just slip away before we know it. The past few months I’ve been so busy being a SAT writing tutor and summer curriculum helper that I haven’t been able to plan hardly anything fun. This is why I’m sold on the whole idea of making a bucket list for your summer fun activities. It’s a great way to map out all the great things that you and your family really want to do with your summer… and a great way to keep track of what you’ve done and what else you still need to do. Some of the ideas that I’ve seen and used for inspiration on our own bucket list have been awesome! These are great ways to have fun, learn, and make memories. You can’t ask for a better summer than that!

Just in case you’re wondering, a bucket list is simply a list of things that you really want to do in a specified amount of time. Some people have broad goals for their bucket lists – which tend to be things that they want to do before they die. Well, to shorten the life span of our list… we’ll just make it for this summer!

I love how these bloggers get so creative with their bucket lists. This printable bucket list from the Pinning Mama is adorable and would look fantastic on a fridge. This bucket list from Creative Family Fun is neat with cut out lines so that you can place your “tasks” in a jar and pull one out when needed.

bucket list

If that isn’t enough to get you inspired here is a post with 200 creative bucket list ideas. Bucket lists come in all shapes and sizes and I especially like this one because it is realistic. This blog mama uses a real bucket for her summer bucket list with cut out squares of paper. Too cute!

summer bucket list 2013

This is also a great summer bucket idea using clothespins! Print your ideas on the clothespins do the acti

vity and then throw the clothespin in the bucket to remember later!

summer fun

So, what do you think? Have I passed on the inspiration to get making your own 2013 summer bucket list? I hope so…

Preschool Homeschool Fun!

preschool homeschoolingHaving a preschooler is always excitement. I know there are days when it doesn’t seem like so much fun, but even then there is always excitement. The preschooler is full of energy, giggles, and silliness; and they love it when other people join them. For this reason, I try to make my lesson plans for my youngest exciting and full of fun. Of course, since this is summer… things are definitely even more fun.

During the school term I usually schedule a few of my favorite tried and true curriculum work books for us to use, but then supplement with other great curriculum resources on my ipad and on the internet. This year we used Singapore math books for my youngest and a variety of other fun puzzle based books for language arts. We love to do jigsaw puzzles and play games as well! My youngest daughter seemed to really respond well to the animal games and other kindergarten science curriculum programs. Yet, during the summer… we typically just do the apps or computer programs, read together, and then spend lots of time having fun outside. A few of our favorite apps are cupcake math, short vowels, long vowels, meteor math, bob books, and seasons.

What do you do to make learning loads of fun for your preschooler? Comment and share below!

Revolutionizing Spelling Curriculum

spelling curriculumWhen I first started homeschooling, I thought my kids had to conform to my previous classroom standards. I made myself and them miserable those first few years. In fact, I thought I had to teach each of our individual grades and their homeschool curricula in their entirety. I have six children, so that really began to make me crazy. My life began to change when I noticed how other homeschooling families used one curriculum to reach many different grade levels. This really made sense to me, and I could see how it would liberate my life!

One of my first moves in this direction was to begin using Spelling City. This online spelling program allowed me to quit teaching 5 different spelling levels. I simply had to enter in my lists into the program and assign them to my children.  The rest was up to them. They would learn the words, complete drill and practice exercises that I chose for them, and then take a spelling and or vocabulary test on the words. Spelling City also made my life easier by keeping track of their progress, and storing all of their grades! They also have printables that can make homeschooling a little richer including spelling flashcards! I immediately fell in love, and have been with Vocabulary and Spelling City for 5 years now. The games are interesting, the options are nearly endless, and the record keeping is taken care of… what more could I ask for?

My review can also be found at The Happy Housewife

Making the Most out of Contests!

I know, Christmas isn’t even really over yet and I am already thinking of ways that I can get my kids re-engaged in learning. The holidays always take a big toll on education at our house. We get off track, and we have a hard time getting back on. So, I need some pretty magical stuff to get my six kids back to actually WANT to learn again.  When January rolls around each year, they are always reticent to study vocabulary or learn multiplication tables. This past week I had a little light bulb moment and realized that using contests to help motivate my kids to get interested in writing or reading would be an awesome motivational tool! Easy, fun, simple… follow the rules… and bam! You just might win a prize for doing something you’d ‘HAVE’ to do anyway. This just might be exactly what the doctor ordered for the first week of January…

I posted about this over at The Time for Learning Community blog and gave a great list of contests. This post and other great posts like it are there to help you as a homeschool parent make the most out of your time!

1) Nasa’s REEL science communication contest
2) Viral Video Scholarship Contest
3) Geek Girls… STEM Mentorship Program
4) National Geographic Student Photo Contest
5) John’s Hopkins Center for Talented Youth – Talent Search Contest
6)Being an American Essay Contest
7) Christopher Columbus Awards
8) Before You Graduate Competition
9) CANE writing contest (New England)
10) Family and Consumer Sciences Bowl
11) Amazing Kids Contest
11) Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Writing Contest
12) American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Award
13) American Foreign Service Association Essay Contest
14) American Regions Mathematics League – Math Contest
15) Banking on Youth Competition

A Quick Way to Make Your Homeschool Day Run Smoothly

I don’t know about you, but my children tend to get distracted easily. We will be trying to understand parts of speech or put words in ABC order and each little noise or action will cause them to stop and have to comment.  This can be so very frustrating. I started trying to think of ways to keep them on task at the beginning of the year, and the only method that really seemed to work was to have a checklist for each child with the homeschool classes listed that they needed to complete each day. This worked to some extent, but it still didn’t keep them very focused.

At the beginning of November I came across a few timers that I thought that I would try out for myself. Once I began using them, I realized what a great benefit they would have for my children! My favorite timer app “30/30” is awesome for the kids. I can input their various classes set the timer for how long I want them to spend on each class and off they go. The first few days was amazing! They were so “on task” it was unbelievable. Though the newness has worn off some, it is still pretty awesome. When that timer is running they are usually right on, and school gets done more quickly and efficiently.

Since, most of us use a PC for homeschooling I thought that I would go ahead and include some similar PC based apps. These don’t allow the name of the class to be entered. They do however, offer some pretty great graphics that might keep kids coming back.

The first is this great Balloon Timer...

homeschool class timer

The other is this really great – embed-able timer. You can put this into your website and have it at your fingertips.

Count Down Timer

classtools