The Post Where Middlest Begins to Read!

I’m starting this post with a disclaimer that, technically, Middlest did some reading last year. But it was strained; it was a struggle. Last year, reading was a cross between guessing and memorizing—with lots of tears in between.

This year, she’s reading—and still all smiles! She’s reading words that she sees during the day on packaging and store signs, not just during school with a required reader.

I know a year makes a lot of difference in development and maturity, so some of our success could be due to that. But a huge part of the success is the Foundations curriculum that we are using. The steps to reading are very incremental, taking nothing for granted. And the games make reading irresistible.

She earns blocks to build a tower by reading words.

Learning to Read

She moves her game piece down her colored board by reading blends and words.

Learning to Read

She races across the room and up the stairs in a reading relay.

Learning to Read

And she makes her own books, cutting and pasting the right picture into the book after reading the page.

Learning to Read

She’s just finished the first level of this program (Foundations A), and we are both ecstatic at the results: not just that she is reading, but that she is smiling, too.

Learning to Read

A Foundation for Fun: a Logic of English review

This review is purely out of love (I love this program!) All the materials in this review were purchased, and I received no compensation for my opinions.

Logic of English Foundations review Logic of English Foundations Phonics

This year, I made a very scary decision. I changed our phonics program to something new. I can’t tell you how many times I re-evaluated that decision and wondered if I were making the right own. We’re only a few weeks in to our new year, but I’d have to say—all my fears have been relieved!

Not only am I impressed with what Middlest is learning and the things I’m discovering about her in the process, but I am thoroughly convinced that the program must have been written with her in mind!

Logic of English Foundations teaches solid phonics and eliminates nearly all the exceptions and sight words. It teaches detailed awareness of sounds and how to make them. It teaches phonemic awareness and how to blend sounds. It teaches consonant blends and reading in a very logical, simple progression. But best of all, it does all of this in a way the child would never suspect because we’re having so much fun.

We explore sounds; we play guessing games (she “guesses” the word I’m sounding out to her, or I “guess” the word she’s sounding out to me) and scavenger hunt (she hunts for the word I’ve sounded out); we play phonogram hopscotch; we march, twirl, dance, shout, jump, and run.

Logic of English Foundations

And in the process, I’m uncovering problem areas before they become problems. For instance, in one lesson (the work page pictured above), Middlest was to stamp the picture that had the initial sound I said. When I said “ch,” she kept thinking the answer was the tree because she says “chree” instead of “tree.” And I’d never noticed before. We were able to correct the sound before it caused her trouble in her reading.

Last year, consonant blends were nearly our undoing, but this year she is learning to blend orally before she ever sees it on paper. It’s a brilliant strategy that keeps learning to read a lot of fun rather than intimidating. Last year, she dreaded phonics time and pouted nearly everyday; this year she asks to do it first. Best of all, she’s sounding out and reading simple words all on her own throughout the day, before we’ve even introduced a single reading book. I’m ecstatic about the difference!

Logic of English Foundations Cursive

Although Logic of English Foundations gives you the option for cursive or manuscript instruction, cursive is recommended; and I must say, this is another aspect of the program that I have been most impressed with.

Just the like the phonics, the writing instruction is simple, methodical, and logical. It engages both fine and gross motor skills, and it’s creative. This is Middlest’s favorite part. Games are a big part of this instruction as well, games that get my child out of her chair and moving. For my little wiggle-worm, this is ideal. We write in the air with our noses, elbows, feet, and fingers. She writes on my glass door and on my whiteboard. She writes on the line size that she is most comfortable with, and then we each draw funny faces over our favorite letter she’s written.

Logic of English

And honestly, there are days when I wouldn’t be able to tell her letters apart from mine; she’s learning it so well! As a matter of fact, I’ve retaught Oldest a few of the letters using the LOE program because he’s had so much trouble writing the letters with our original program. The LOE cursive makes so much sense and actually helps the children to be less confused about letter-formation. It’s a-mazing!

Logic of English Foundations comes in 6 different levels (A-F) with about 40 lessons each, equivalent of K4-2nd grade. These levels can be used one or more a year, depending on the level and maturity of the child. We opted for two levels this year. Though I probably could have jumped to Level B (a kindergarten equivalent), I really felt that Middlest would benefit from a quick review with the Logic of English approach. We are whizzing through Level A at about a lesson a day, and the lessons are taking roughly 20-30 minutes for both phonics and cursive instruction. We’ll slow down when we get to Level B and take a couple of days per lesson.

I couldn’t be more pleased with Foundations, and highly recommend it over any phonics program I’ve seen or used.

I received the Basic Phonograms cards as a part of an earlier review of the Essentials program. Otherwise, the only other materials I’ve purchased for Middlest are the teacher and student copies of Levels A and B and the Doodling Dragons app on iTunes for $4.99. Teacher copies are $38 each, and student workbooks are $18.

If you are looking for thorough phonics instruction that will totally engage your child, Logic of English Foundations is all that and more.

Our Curriculum 2013-2014

 

I’ve been busy, busy, busy planning all of our fun for the next year, trying to arrange our schedule and decide how and when to fit it all in. Of course, I’ll probably make lots of changes as the year begins, but for now, I’m so excited about what’s in store!

Want to take a peak?

Tot School

Flowering Baby

Music Together

Misc. activities

A little structure, a lot of play, and hopefully some well-timed naps are in store for Littlest next year. Oh, and potty-training—yea, me.

Kindergarten

Homeschool Curriculum 2013-2014

A Beka Numbers K5

Logic of English Foundations A and B

I am absolutely giddy about Middlest’s phonics program this year. This curriculum is new on the market and mind-blowingly awesome—solid phonics, step-by-step logical instruction, and VERY kid-friendly. It addresses all of the little problems that you meet along the way, helping children form the sounds and tell the difference between sounds, allowing children to experience reading through all of the learning styles, clear explanations for teaching the blending of sounds, and eliminating nearly all of the sight words. It is colorful, engaging, and extremely interactive.

Middlest could probably have started with just the Foundations B, but I thought she could really benefit from a brief review and solid instruction in the basics as Foundations presents it. So she’ll be doing a very fast spin through A before spending the bulk of the year in the level B.

2nd Grade

A Beka Arithmetic 2 and Reflex Math

Logic of English Essentials (phonics, spelling, and grammar—all in one) Read my review.

Leagues and Legends story and workbook (geography terms and concepts)

Shared Subjects and Activities

History Tapestry of Grace Year 2  (studying the Fall of Rome to the War for Independence); Story of the World 2 & 3 audiobooks and activities (my spine resource for Tapestry)

Science Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space

Latin Song School Latin 1

Art Artistic Pursuits K-3 book 2

Bible Teach Them the Faith catechism songs and AWANA memory work

I love being able to share several subjects together, providing age appropriate activities for each child while studying the same material. I’m using some Story of the World resources to ease my load, having audios rather than needing me to do all of the reading and adding coordinating coloring pages and simple activity ideas.

I have been on the search for science materials for awhile. We’ve enjoyed the nature studies and relaxed lapbook studies, but as Oldest gets older I really want him to have the experiments and depth of a real science program. My obstacle was finding one appropriate for smaller kids while maintaining the same depth and quality of instruction. I totally found both in Christian Kids Explore series, and Oldest has been begging me all summer about getting started.

Latin is a very light introduction—fun DVDs, catchy songs, and coloring pages that teach the vocab.

And art combines our history with some hands-on art appreciation from the time period we are studying. Science, Latin, and art will all be spread out through the week on different days; Latin on a couple of days, art on another day, science on the other days.

I can’t tell you how super excited we all are about this next year. It hasn’t been easy making the decisions and searching for the best deals, but by God’s grace I think we have the perfect combination of challenge and fun.

Kindergarten Agenda Page (for girls)

When I began working on a student planner for my Oldest, Middlest immediately started asking for one of her own. Of course, I’d love to begin teaching her independence and keeping up with her own work, but she’s a pre-reader/pre-writer so practically I was stumped as to how that was even possible.

It took me awhile to think through how to do it, and then another while to get motivated to find the graphics after I had the idea. But thanks to mycutegraphics.com, I think I nailed it. Sorry if you have a boy. Maybe when Littlest gets bigger I’ll get around to making a blue one. But for now, Middlest can’t wait to track her assignments.

free printable kindergarten

I’m going to let her put stickers on the pictures when she’s done. You could also have your child circle, box, or cross out the pictures. The one picture represents her time with me; the second picture represents the work page for that subject. At the bottom, I have pictures that represent our different shared activities (history, science, and art). Whichever activity we do on that day, she can mark or sticker it to show what we did. Then, she gets to color the happy face if she had a good attitude on that day.

It’s a simple activity in helping her understand what comes next in her day, and hopefully will save me from some of the “what’s next, Mommy?”

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Feel free to download this planner page to use with your child (click on the image to access the pdf), or take my idea and run with it.  Mycutegraphics.com has lots of cute free graphics to help you with your project.

Kindergarten Graduation, Homeschool Style

 

homeschool kindergarten graduation

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility. While everyone else is getting back to school, we just recently celebrated my son’s last page of kindergarten with a graduation party.

Oldest finished kindergarten phonics way back in February, but we’d had a rough time with math. We could have pushed hard to finish the book “on time,” but I instead chose to do whatever it took to make sure he really understood the math before we moved onto more difficult concepts. I supplemented with other programs, took breaks to review and drill material, added some living math lessons where appropriate, and—with as much variety as I could manage—drilled and drilled until he finally mastered the information. It took awhile, a lot longer than a normal school year. But I’m confident that he’s ready to tackle first grade material.

Kindergarten Graduation, homeschool style
Last page of kindergarten math

So after all the hard work, a party was definitely in order. I picked up cupcakes and a small balloon, blew up left-over birthday balloons, printed a certificate, and made a graduation cap.

As I folded and hot-glued the construction paper cap, my son asked if I was going to add “the strings that hang on the side.” I complied with a yarn tassle. He loved it and wore it around the house with such pride. To complete the effect, he asked if he could change into black clothes. And even Middlest joined the celebration by asking to change into a dress.

homeschool kindergarten graduation

 

I made homemade pizza and then the party got started. It was a superbly memorable yet simple celebration. And as a graduation present, Daddy announced that we would purchase my son’s beloved Reflex Math subscription. You should have seen the smile!

homeschool graduation party

 

homeschool kindergarten graduation party

Believe it or not, he asked to start first grade the very next day. I declined. I need a break to regroup before the next year begins, even if it is only a 2 week break.

kindergarten graduation, homeschool style

 

Congratulations, big guy! So proud of you for all your hard work and great attitude.

Super Duper Following Directions Review

Following Directions

It was really awesome to get this review because, honestly, this is not a product I would typically buy for the kids. And they’ve had so much fun with it!

Following Directions game Hear Builders Following Directions is produced by Super Duper Publications, which specializes in making products for kids with special needs. However, the products work well for any learner. This particular computer game is aimed at improving a young child’s skills at following directions. What child doesn’t need that, right?

Children are challenged in a total of 40 different concepts in 5 areas: basic directions, sequential directions, quantitative and spatial directions, temporal directions, and conditional directions. Which means this is a product your child can grow into. I was really impressed with what my kids were asked to do and how well they responded to the challenges.

Hear Builder directions

The skills are presented in the context of training the child to be a master toymaker and eventually build their own toy-making factory. My kids have a ways to go before they get their own factory, but they love the game and so do I.

Hear Builder toyfactory

 

Super Duper Hear Builder

I was able to set up an account for each child, and the game automatically remembered where each of the kids left off. Each session they were able to log in and build on the skills they had already mastered. Though I had originally thought that Oldest would benefit most from this game, I’ve really liked using it with Middlest. For one, she’s my child that likes to do things her own way; following directions cramps her style. Too, it keeps her occupied and gives me a chance to work with Oldest.

The product is intended for children PreK through 3rd grade and meets several state standards. (There is a link on the product page where you can check the standards for your state.) The home edition is available on CD-rom for $69.95. But you can save 30% by using the code BLGFD30 at check-out before August 31, 2012.

Visit the site to play the demo with your child, or check out reviews of other great Super Duper products at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Photobucket

 

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.