Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Phonics Song

The chart alone is worth the price of the book!

Reading Skills Competency Tests (Second Level) by Walter B. Barbe, Ph.D. and others.

Learning phonics rules is important, but you need to remember that only 80% of our vocabulary words can be decoded using phonics rules. This resource covers all areas of reading skills, including phonics.

Using the tests, chart, and recordkeeping form included in this book, you can access your child’s reading readiness and actual reading skills, as well as keep track of his or her progress. The chart is a chart showing all the different skills students should master. It is made of heavy-stock paper and pulls out of the book for easy reference.

The skills covered include (not a complete list):

Vocabulary Skills:
  • Reading readiness
  • Sight words (includes Dolch list of 220 Basic Sight Words)
  • Word meaning from context
  • Synonyms, Antonyms, Homophones, Homographs
  • Figurative and colorful expressions
  • Multiple meanings of words
  • Hyphenation
  • Similes and metaphors
  • Compound words
  • Root words
  • Prefixes, suffixes
  • Vocabulary terms
Perceptual Skills, Word Analysis and Word Attack Skills:
  • Auditory skills – how to pronounce words using phonics rules (letter sounds, consonants, blends, vowels, silent letters, etc)
  • Visual Skills – likeness and differences, word boundaries, left-to-right eye movement
  • Forming plurals
  • Roman numerals
  • Word endings
  • Compound words
  • Diacritical markings
  • Alphabetize
  • Syllabication rules
Comprehension Skills:
  • Interest and Ability Skills – interest in and enjoyment of reading, attention spans, following oral directions, text progression
  • Drawing conclusions and predicting outcomes
  • Locating information (table of contents, page number, specific information)
  • Classifying items, techniques of skimming, using maps and charts,
  • Note taking, outlining, reference materials, interpreting graphs and charts
  • Read proof marks
  • Structure of story: Main idea, topic sentence, sequence of ideas
  • Oral reading, silent reading
  • Interpretation and application, analysis, synthesis, critical evaluation (value system of characters, author’s background, point of view, etc.)
  • Figurative language, dialect, colloquial speech
  • Understands literary forms
Included in the book are tests for each skill to evaluate your student’s progress. The tests are simple to use and answers are provided. Once you have given a test, you can track the results on the recordkeeping sheet. Using the results, you can then find resources to help you correct any deficiencies.

I wish I had had this book when my children were learning to read. By knowing exactly what my child knows and doesn’t, I could have saved a lot of money on language arts curriculum. Although this book was created for schoolteachers, I highly recommend it for homeschooling parents. There are several levels of this resource, but for homeschooling parents, I think the Second Level will take care of most everything you need.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creation Lessons

This is a review of the book, Creation: Thirteen 6-in1 Comprehensive Curriculum Lessons by David and Helen Haidle.
Creation contains 13 lessons that integrate math, English, science, art, spelling and physical activities to teach your children about God’s creation. Although it has been created for grades 1-4, it can be used as enrichment for older children.Lessons include:
  • God Creates Light
  • God Creates Sky
  • God Creates Water
  • God Creates Land
  • God Creates Plants
  • God Creates Sun, Moon, Stars & Planets
  • God Creates Sea Creatures
  • God Creates Birds
  • God Creates Animals
  • God Creates People
  • God Creates a Day of Rest
  • Creation Celebration
  • God’s Great Plan for You

The book includes a plan for teaching the book in four weeks, six weeks, thirteen weeks, or twelve weeks. However, using The Checklist and this book, you could use it as appropriate whenever you teach a particular topic, such as Astronomy, Botany, Geology, Animals, Human Anatomy, etc.

Each lesson includes a list of materials needed. I didn’t see anything unusual on the list, however, you will need to take some time to collect it before each lesson (or you could do it in the summer and package it for use later in the year). For example, in the Light unit, you’ll need a sheet of green construction paper, different kinds of seeds, an egg carton, some plants or various pictures of plants, some leaves, paper and pencil, wheat and flour (optional), peanut butter and peanuts, jelly, jam, fruit, trees or tree bark, flowers, newspaper, and cardboard.

Components of each lesson include:
An introduction which explains the lesson and what your child will learn
An object lesson (in the plant unit this is making a tree out of the newspaper)
A Bible lesson with a visual (Plant Unit includes a lesson on Isaiah 55:12 and Eccl. 2:5. Using the egg carton, seeds and some plants, the child identifies various seeds that grow into plants. Then they list all the different kinds of plants they can think of.)
Web links to additional resources. Some of lessons include links that contain advanced concepts, which can help make this curriculum multi-grade level. The plant unit link includes a pdf document with instructions, worksheet, and mini booklet on growing beans.
NOTE: I had trouble finding the link to the additional resources because the publisher left off the “/curriculum” at the end of the link. I did manage to find it and I’m posting it here. You might want to bookmark this link for later when you actually have the book:
Next is a Math Connection. Sometimes these are a little contrived as often happens in unit studies. In the plant lesson, you use leaves as “money” to practice counting. Personally, I’d rather use real money. Another activity is counting the points on leaves.
Next is English Word Work. In this section, you work on parts of grammar and writing. Activities include such things as locating specific parts of speech in sentences, identifying root words or synonyms, creating a journal or newspaper, writing a list and more.
The Science Scene is the biggest section. This is what I love about the curriculum. Many moms I know are not big fans of science and curriculums tend to make it a bit complicated. These are simple experiments with simple instructions that make learning science fun. In the plant unit, you identify the parts of plants using real plants, you use object lessons to show from what plants we get our food, and you go grocery shopping to look for plant parts. Internet activities are included via the Web link. In the plant unit, these activities include spouting seeds, watching roots grow, learning about plant parts and photosynthesis, and planning a garden.
Finally, there is an Art Activity (this unit includes tree and leaf rubbings), an Extra Activity (pressing flowers), and Conclusion (includes a book suggestion: The Creation Story for Children; questions to answer, Scripture verses to read, and prayer)
Creation is a wonderful stand-alone curriculum for those who want to do unit studies, but not create their own. Or you can use it as a resource for ideas of enrichment activities to do with traditional textbooks and other curriculums.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review of The Archaeology Book

Master Books has done it again! I always enjoy reviewing their books as they make teaching and learning fun. The Archaeology Book by David Down is no exception.

The book is written for multi-age levels for family or independent reading. Each page is color-coded for independent reading: Yellow or Level One for 5th-6th grade; Blue or Level Two for 7th & 8th grades; and White or Level Three for 9th-11th grades. You can assign your children to read independently or read it together as part of family reading time.

The subject matter covers what archaeology is about as well as specific historical and cultural information related to the excavation of Egypt, the Hittites, Ur of the Chaldees, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Petra, the Phoenicians, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Israel.

Beautifully illustrated with photos, diagrams and maps, this book is one you will want to keep on your shelves.

I liked this book so much, I incorporated into my unit study: Archaeology and the Bible. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ten Fun Ways to Study World War I

My new article, Ten Fun Ways to Study World War I, is in the Spring 2010 issue Old Schoolhouse magazine. You can find this magazine at area bookstores or subscribe on the Old Schoolhouse Website.



Some kids love worksheets; others don't! If your child doesn't like them, use hands-on learning such as those found at Recipes for Learning or Unit Study Project Ideas instead.

If your child is a fan of worksheets, here's a list of worksheets available on the Internet. The last time I looked, these were all free.

If you know of anymore, please comment  below and add a link to the site. Thanks!

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Reading Problems? Here's a solution

    When looking for homeschool resources, don’t overlook resources used by professional educators. Here are two resources created for schoolteachers that can be extremely helpful to homeschooling parents with struggling readers.
    Informal Tests for Diagnosing Specific Reading Problems by Stephen A. Pavlak, Ph.D. This book provides more than 70 ready-to-use diagnostic tests that identify a child’s individual reading problems. The tests are informal and written without specialized educational terminology, which makes them easily adaptable for homeschool use. The tests will help you identify specific reading problems your child may have including: letter discrimination, letter reversals and inversions, letter sound, consonant and vowel recognition, vocabulary and reading comprehension, oral reading, and survival reading skills (interpreting information and using references). All the directions you need are provided as well as recordkeeping forms to help you analyze the results.
    Classroom Activities for Correcting Specific Reading Problems by Stephen A. Pavlak, Ph.D. Used along with Informal Tests for Diagnosing Specific Reading Problems by the same author, this resource will help correct the problems identified with the tests. The book includes 234 activities that can be easily adapted to a homeschool setting including: letter, letter and sound, vocabulary, comprehension, interpretation, critical reading, oral reading, and survival reading. The directions are simple to understand and follow. Everything you need is in the book including a reproducible checklist of reading skills to keep track of what your child knows and needs to learn.
    More reading resources on my Website.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    I just reviewed a super great app for educators, parents and students. It's called MyNature Animal Tracks and it's available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

    It includes instructions on how to identify tracks as well as photos, maps, and sound files of animals. Read my complete review and view a YouTube video about this app on my iPhone Life Blog.