Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaching Reading to Our Third: Part 2

I worked out ahead and made simple plans to help Phoebe word-build as we finish up the school year. I chose two vowels (using only their short sound), five consonants and one blend: a i n p t m s sp.

We go over these sounds at the beginning of every lesson. She says the sound or gives a word that starts with the sound.

For variety we alternate using our wooden alphabet letters and the ones provided in Delightful Reading. I keep them in their own little bag so I don't have to search for them every time we sit down for a lesson.

We take these 7 letters and put them together to make words ~ as many combinations as we can make. Phoebe needs lots of help with this part so far. It's helpful if she blends an ending first (like -at) and then adds a letter to the beginning ( s -at). Combinations include:

(it sit spit pit in sin tin pin spin Tim is tip sip sap map nap tap an man pan span tan am Sam Pam spam at pat sat mat spat ant apt imp)

Phoebe is able to to handle making 2-4 words a lesson. We work on the same words several lessons in a row until they are very familiar to her.

The next post will continue sharing word-building plans.

See Part 1Part 3,  Part 4, and Conclusion

Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaching Reading to Our Third: Part 1

Phoebe is in the pre-reading stage of learning to read right now. (Simply Charlotte Mason has excellent articles on the different stages of reading that you can find here.) I've been using some ideas from Ruth Beechick's "A Home Start in Reading" along with CM suggestions from Delightful Reading to add activities as we learn sounds and word build. She just turned 6 and we consider this school year to be preschool. She's not overly interested in a lot of seat work (read "She will hardly sit still!"), so we keep lessons short.

We've spent this school year learning letter sounds with books and songs and wooden alphabet letters, puzzles, large wall cards...... anything I could find in our home that has the alphabet. She was very interested in her name and learned those 5 letters easily. We also drew the letters in the air and in a pan of sand (grits for us, actually) ala CM.

We then moved on to concentrating on a few consonants and vowels. Our list is a little longer than it should have been: M, P, Z, A, B, S, K, D L, I, J, N, T. ~Phoebe named things that began with the letter. ~I would point to 3 or 4 sounds and have her repeat them after me. ~Sometimes I would make a mistake on purpose to see she'd catch me. ~We used a children's dictionary for some sounds. She would look all through the pictures and say the words out loud. ~There are a few more ideas also in "Home Start in Reading". We didn't do more than one sound at a time.

It makes sense that you don't need to learn all the sounds or letter names at the beginning of this reading journey. You can teach a few and let your child begin to blend words, so she can feel the excitement of reading words on her own effort. Next time I'll share what we're working on for word-building during our last 12 weeks of school.

See Part 2,  Part 3,  Part 4, and Conclusion

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spanish and Latin Resources

The ideal way of learning a foreign language would be to have a native speaker live with us (or maybe just come to our home several hours a week) or to live in the culture of the language we are learning. After all, our kids seem to be learning English pretty well living in America.
But I haven't found those two ideals working out so far. What we have tried follows:

Usborne First 100 Words in Spanish (click title for Amazon)~ This book was given to us. I don't know if I would have bought it on my own, but it has been nice for the younger kids. They like to look at the pictures, and they hear what some common Spanish words sound like (helpful pronunciation guide in the back).

Play and Learn Spanish ~ another ideal here would be for mom to learn the conversations & songs and apply them to every day life. That just never materialized. So the 1st-4th grade kids listen to one section once a week. I read the English part first. Then any readers in the group read the Spanish part while listening to the CD. They listen through the section twice. The songs are fun and catchy ~ "Sol Solecito" is a favorite. The kids go through this book several years in a row. (click book cover for Amazon)

Pimsleur Spanish was not a hit with the one child who has used it. One of her biggest hangups was the overuse of the word 'beer' (I wasn't as familiar with this edition as I should have been!). It was expensive for how much Elizabeth loathed it. I might try it again when she's older. (click image for Amazon)

A local co-op Spanish class thankfully brought Elizabeth back around to enjoying Spanish (God knows what we need and provides!). I will hopefully be able to utilize classes periodically.

Salsa was a recent discovery that all the kids enjoy (preschooler, 1st and 4th graders). They are Muppet-like shows that are entirely in Spanish. I read the English synopsis first, and then they just watch an episode once a week. ~ http://www.gpb.org/salsa/term/episode

The 4th grader and I are also reading short children's books in Spanish and figuring out translation as we go. I'd love to figure out a way for the kids to use what they are learning. That may be a change we figure out for next year.

And this was a year of starting Latin. For ease of use and accessibility, quick feedback from the instructor and web management, enjoyment, and actual learning, (price isn't bad either), I highly recommend Visual Latin. We are going through it pretty slowly, but Elizabeth likes to randomly translate words into Latin so I know it's working and she's enjoying it. She's also reading a Latin children's book and just received a Latin New Testament. Even though she doesn't understand everything she's reading, the VL instructor (Dwane!) recommended this approach. And I just realized he posted my question and his answer on his blog! How cool is that: Visual Latin.

* As an affiliate of Visual Latin, I receive a percentage of all sales made via click-through links provided on this website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm excited to begin this new blog to share Charlotte Mason with you by way of our family's educational experiences and resources.

The CM road for homeschooling continually inspires me to keep teaching. I look forward to the next year, the new books we will read. I look behind with satisfaction at the depth of accomplishment (while still learning how to change and do better! We make several kinds of changes every year ~ poor oldest child really bears the brunt of forging our school path). I watch my children at present, still learning the habit of sweet, even temper (as opposed to complaining ~ they are normal children after all) and, sometimes despite themselves, connecting with books and artists and the physical world ~ connecting with their Creator.

I feel a kinship with Miss Mason and those who use her methods. It's a great journey to be on.
Charlotte Mason voices ideas that are applicable even beyond homeschooling, and I'm glad to share part of the journey with you.

If you're fuzzy on the details of who Charlotte Mason is, these links give helpful synopses: