Wednesday, April 28, 2010


When we purchased our Sonlight Reading program we went with the Readers 1 program, rather than the Kindergarten readers. I knew it was going to be a leap, but I didn't want Ian-6yo to be bored, and I wanted my money's worth, so I figured we could take it slow and stretch the lessons out over two years. So it's a bit understandable that the reading program has been a bit of a struggle, and at some point I realized I was going to have to do a bit more than just slow down. I needed to do something different. So I thought I'd share my solution.

When I began to rethink the way Ian was being taught reading, here's what it boiled down to... Every week or so, I would put rhyming words on index cards, so we had a flashcard system going on. I would introduce the words one day, then we would bring out the LeapFrog Word Whammer the next day and use the Word Whammer to build the words. (At the time, we were new to Handwriting Without Tears, which cautions against having children write words until they get better at forming letters.) Another day I would print a few of the words on the blackboard, nice and big and have Ian trace them with his finger or with a wet sponge (an extension of a Handwriting Without Tears exercise).

This worked okay for awhile, and it satisfied my need to feel like Ian was learning to read, but it frustrated me too. The process of going through the flashcards and keeping track of them felt cumbersome to me. So while thinking about last year's curriculum (My Father's World), and their use of a "blend ladder" to teach reading, I thought of a new idea that incorporates the blend ladder. I like it. Ian likes it, and it's just so much better on so many levels.

So this is what we do: I create a list on a single column table. I think we have 9 possible rows. Then I pick a rhyme family of 3 letter words, such as bat, cat, hat, etc, and type them into my little table. The font is quite large, so the words are about one inch high. Next, I type out the same words, just as big on a second page in a font called "Trace", which is basically a dashed line.

How I use them: After printing the pages out, I introduce the words on our word ladder. We read them together, (although lately, he reads them on his own), and we use the Word Whammer to build the words for fun. :) Then the next day, we go over the words again and Ian traces the words on the second page. He loves this and it's helping his handwriting as well as his reading. On subsequent days, we do a page in Kumon's Rhyming Words workbook, or supplement with worksheets copied from The Mailbox magazine.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Art experiments

Yay! Finally found the camera cables, so now I can get serious about posting pictures of some of our projects. :)

I just LOVE art! If there's one thing I wish we did more of around here, it would be art. Today we are all feeling less than 100% and I had a light school day planned anyway, so we focused most of the morning on an art project. I'm not sure that was what I was thinking it would be, but that's what it evolved into and I was thrilled. :)

My initial idea was simple. I brought out some old styrofoam egg cartons, and partially - cuz I'm not crazy! - filled them with water. Then I brought out the food coloring, which is always a big hit no matter what we do with it! The idea was that we would color the water with blue, red and yellow food coloring and then use eye droppers, medicine droppers, etc to move the colors to other parts of the carton and make new colors.

WELL! I should point out that Shane-3yo was pleased as punch just to move the clear water around from egg holder chamber to egg holder chamber. (You KNOW that there is surely a word for the little individual chambers that hold the eggs, don't you?!! I'm going to call it a cup, just to preserve my sanity.) Apparently little medicine droppers are a lot of fun all by themselves. So when I added some food coloring, he was over the moon! And he proceeded to make various shades of brown for the next hour or so! His big brother, was a lot more thoughtful in his designing of colors. We had a blast.

I brought out paintbrushes and gave the boys some white paper to experiment with, and that was such a hit, that I decided to try experimenting with dripping food color and water on coffee filters, and that was a lot of fun too! We got to watch how the colors spread out and changed, and decided that most of these food color drips ended up looking like a chinese dragon, if we would just leave it alone, which of course we couldn't. LOL... Next time, I am SO going to make my own art, so I can at least have my way with one project! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Aha moment of the week.

This week we started reading "The Dolphin Adventure" and it's been great so far. I've found over the last few months of trial and error that the boys do better (or so it seems) at listening to the read alouds if they are coloring or playing with play dough, rather than sitting next to me, looking at a book with few pictures. They are good listeners, but they can only sit for so long. So today yesterday I read to them at our dining room table while they played with play dough. I encouraged them to make dolphins and fish while I read and it worked beautifully. I just can't believe it's taken me this long to really make this a regular part of our school day! LOL....

Continuing with the theme, I've found a great little resource for printed pictures and cut outs, and I plan to make use of it this week and in the future! If there's anyone out there looking for great printables, check out They encourage you to register for free, but I found I didn't have to and could still get to the pages I wanted.

You've got to try this one!

Today the boys tried out a new website I recently read about. It's called Talk about a hit!! Ian-6yo enjoyed exploring the site once he realized there was no right or wrong thing to do. Shane-3yo enjoyed watching him so much that I set up the other laptop for him to give it a try too. And he had a blast! There's not many games or websites that can completely entertain all age groups, but I think that this fits the bill really nicely. What I really like is that the 3 year old can actually use the website on his own while I'm working with the older boy... at least that is the hope! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen

We did a craft yesterday where we took a half sphere of florist's foam, carved out a little tomb in the "rock", and put 3 crosses of craft sticks up on the hill.

We left the stone over the tomb last night and I wondered if one of the boys would want to roll the stone away this morning... I didn't say anything. Then this morning Ian says at breakfast, "Mom, can I roll away the stone?" :) It was so cool... and of course our tomb was empty.