Phonics Fun

alphabats

Dragon-tamer caught the reading bug early. After learning the alphabet with a little help from the Alphabats books, all I had to do really was read a lot to him, help him learn a few sight words with Ladybird Key Words, and by book 4a he was off into the brave new world of easy-readers.

Pony-rider, on the other hand, has been a little bit more complicated to teach. In addition to trying the Ladybird Key Words reading scheme, we’ve used Alphabats, Letterland, Jolly Phonics (lots of Jolly Phonics, in fact: Board books, to introduce the letter sounds, the Phonics Handbook, and the Jolly Phonics ‘Read and See’ series – two packs of books with 12 titles in each: quite cute, but not enough to tempt her…). We tried Sonlight’s “I Can Read It” (what was I thinking of? Thorough, certainly, but nowhere near high-interest enough, at least as far as illustrations are concerned!). I even looked into Ruth Miskin books and Debbie Hepplethwaite’s “Synthetic Phonics” (current favourite of the UK National Curriculum people) but it didn’t seem to offer anything new. Finally, and reluctantly, after many recommendations, I thought I would try “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.

Not only does this US scheme use small print in so many colours it makes me feel dizzy, it infuriatingly tells me exactly what I must say to the child. I can’t stand it! Neither can Pony-rider, although Motor-biker who is almost 2 years behind her absolutely loves it! The ‘say-it-fast’ concept really appeals to him, and he has no trouble now with the idea of blending letters together into a word.

Hmm. Now we have a problem: Pony-rider’s self-esteem has taken a blow, and although I have always tried to avoid making learning to read a big issue, the fact that Motor-biker is fast over-taking her is not popular! So I’ve been on the lookout again for something new. What I’ve found is My World’s “Now I’m Reading” by Nora Gaydos and illustrated by BB Sams. (Another US programme, so watch out for different spellings, not to mention alternative words: ‘Rooster’ for ‘Cockerel’, and ‘fox kit’ instead of ‘fox cub’.) We have the ‘pre-reader’ set, aimed at ages 3-6, which comes in a cute case with 10 books and a set of 40 stickers.

Presumably, this ‘pre-reader’ set is designed for the parent to read to the child rather than for the child to read, but Pony-rider is absolutely smitten! She read right through the whole set the first day I showed it to her, totally without my prompting! The other sets are as follows: level 1: short-vowel sounds, basic consonant sounds; level 2: long vowel sounds, reinforcement of set 1; level 3: consonant blends, double consonants; level 4: multi-syllable words & compound words and finally, Independent: high interest topics, using previous skills. The blurb on the back says: “the greatest success comes from a balance of phonics and literature-based reading: Now I’m Reading! ™ successfully combines both to build confident, independent readers”. Well, I’m amazed, but I have to concur! I’m not sure that we’ll bother with the other sets though…

 

This post was originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog, and while this is a good few years old and we encountered more hurdles and pitfalls on the road to reading, this is a good reminder that each child is different, and home education affords the possibility of tailoring your approach and resources to their individual needs and styles of learning.

Advertisements

Meanwhile…

We have sick little people this morning (and I feel as though I might be going down with it too!), so any routine I might have managed usually has gone out of the window. We’ve moved downstairs after stripping the beds and cleaning up, but nobody has much energy for ‘lessons’ or any of the activities we normally do. So we’ve watched some TV (with less educational value than I would normally aim for) and now we’re just going to settle down with some library books that we took out last week.

I have been trying all morning to load the Goodreads website (and playing about with my blog format with a view to loading my books into a wordpress app directly into the blog) without success. I’m not sure if it’s down or whether it just doesn’t like me (I do often seem to have that effect on gadgets and technology). So if that won’t work I’ll need to find an alternative way to list or display our #300PB books. There are no obvious wordpress apps for Shelfari or Library Thing, but maybe somebody knows a way round that?

Image

We’ve read a few already: Small by Jessica Meserve, Rough by Jane Hissey (part of the Old Bear and Friends series), and a few others before we started the challenge (shall I list them?) The children themselves are absolutely loving an interactive adventure comic book called ‘Meanwhile‘ by Jason Shiga, subtitled ‘Pick any path, 3,856 story possibilities’. This is an old favourite that we have had out from the library a few times, and I think I will end up having to buy our own copy as it is so beloved!

We would normally go to the library on a Monday (or try the mobile library that comes fortnightly) but high temperatures will keep us at home today.

What do you do when you have ‘sick’ homeschool days?

Picture Book Reading Challenge

I’ve just heard about this lovely challenge: to read 300 picture books to your children, in a year.

Since we are starting in February, our allocation is reduced to 275.

It’s only ’11 books per fortnight’, so that seems fairly manageable.

http://childledchaos.me.uk/2013/12/31/picture-book-reading-challenge-2014/

I used to have pages on Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing (back when we had internet 3 years ago!) So I will check them out again when I have a chance.

Of course, since my children are older, I may have to include books other than picture books. I have been aiming for one book weekly, but life has just been whizzing by too fast to actually manage to fit that much reading in.

We keep trying though! (We’re currently still reading “The Avion My Uncle Flew”)

I think perhaps a trip to the library is in order! 🙂

January Nature Notes

One of my favourite resources is a very old cloth-bound book, “Enid Blighton’s Book of the Year“. My revised edition is dated 1950 and is a classic that really ought to be reprinted. Enid Blighton fell out of favour, of course, and many of her stories would be considered inappropriate nowadays; but she was very knowledgeable and her writings on nature are very Charlotte-Mason-esque, so I’m rather fond of her, on balance.

enid-blytons-book-of-the-year-1Each month has its own chapter, which includes a motto for the month, stories, puzzles, plays and songs and – the reason I love it so – nature notes on weather, birds, trees, flowers, animals and insects.

We started our week by filling out our RSPB Big Garden Survey form (which we’ll post rather than register online, as we’re old-fashioned like that).

And I thought I would share with you today’s poem, from Enid Blighton’s book:

“The Blackbird is Singing”

Here’s the new year – now what will it bring?
Apples in Autumn, bluebells in spring,
Pussy-palm soft as a grey kitten’s fur,
Poppies-a-dancing when summer winds stir,
Yellow-clad fields where the butter-cups gleam,
New little ducks on the chattering stream,
Eggs in the hedgerows, lambs skipping by,
Woods full of primroses, little and shy.
Yellow bees droning in summery heat,
Early nuts ripening, blackberries sweet;
All these and more the New Year is bringing –
Really, no wonder the blackbird is singing!

We are invited to write out the poem and then underline the first letter of each line: “Read them downwards, and you will find there is a message for you from the blackbird.” 🙂

Ancient Greeks Project

Take a look at this lovely Ancient Greeks project by Helen – brings back memories of doing arty-crafty history projects with my older two, and wondering if the younger two would enjoy it again.

http://www.helenforhisglory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/ancient-greeks-project.html?m=1

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I just wanted to give you a snapshot of a perfect Sunday morning: DS#1, “Dragon-Tamer” is researching a maths problem on the internet beside me, DD, “Pony-rider” is sitting on my knee on the sofa, looking through books. DS#2 “Motor-biker” and DS#3 “Baba Zonee” are playing a pretend game on the floor with their wooden castle. We are listening to a CD compilation of mellow folk, jazz, reggae and more from Israel. The back door is open to the early summer and we can hear birds singing. It’s unadulterated loveliness! Daddy just came in and the two little boys have rushed to him to explain their game. This is as much a part of our home education as Monday through Friday. 🙂