Friday, February 27, 2009

Finding Ways to Use those TEXTBOOKS and Workbooks You No Longer Need..

Textbooks ~ there all over the place. I have tons of shelves with books upon books and program upon program that was either tried and ditched, started but did not work, ordered then when received set aside...what to do with all these Textbooks and Workbooks!

Here is an idea ~
Use them to teach! How you ask, when the program is not the one your working on , not following the correct sequence or remediation practices..... you still can.

When working on a subject like let's say Math. You have done your daily worksheet, activity etc.. but want to spice things up, get creative is an idea....we are working this week with fractions...
I decided we will do a lapbook on Fractions ~ I looked all over for a lapbook template - nothing I liked or could use so next best thing... make it myself.
I began looking for resources. I first started digging out my old textbooks, Horizons, Spectrum, Lifepacs, etc.. and looked for fraction concepts... I found a whole bunch...cut them out and stacked them and decided to use these as practice and make mini pockets and booklets/folds for fraction fun....
I then searched for more resources and found these: Fraction Resources to help me create a more individualized lapbook. ( note: 7/1/09, if link is broken please scroll down and find my profile link under Homeschool Launch this is where the resource page exits, HTH's)

I think it is a great way to "use" these textbooks and workbooks we no longer need.
This can be for any subject of any kind and is a great way to get your money's worth...if lapbooking is not your "cup of tea", try notebooking or journaling with them...posters, projects etc.. collages the possibilites are endless.

One other way to use these textbooks is to sell or donate these to your local homeschool groups. Either way they would be helping someone or yourself. :)

So before you decide to never open those textbooks you hated, think again, take a peek there might be some great creative fun in there! :)

Heres to more organized books shelves, saving money and creative teaching!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grammar Binders ~

I had mentioned about an idea I had for making grammar more fun and appealing to my boys and I decided to combine notebooking/lapbooking/scrapbooking while doing it.
Here are some of my ideas so far...

* We are going to be using white 11/2 inch or so binders that have a plastic cover around the binder to slip pictures or a scrapbook sheet into the pastic for a unique, individualized cover for each child. {for this the boys will find cut up pictures from teacher catalogues and google images and things like that to decorate }

* Before I thought of the binders, we have used composition books for all our Language Arts notes and things I plan to keep this inside the binder in the pocket part of the binder for them to continue to use to take notes and such.

* Using paper dividers I am going to divide the binder into a couple sections. PRACTICE (these could be for copies of work or papers that new concepts were introduced)
LESSONS (this would be for activities I have pulled off the internet for teaching and for making folds and interesting activities they can do that would combine Lapbooking, Scrapbooking and Notebooking methods.
GAMES/ACTIVITIES: this would be for games we found to play and we can 3 hole punch and add to the back of their binder for further practice and fun..other activities might be a ziplock bag of flash cards with the parts of speech on them - color coded to help provide a more multi-sensory approach.

Here are some examples of what I am thinking of: Practice: would be copies of the students appropriate reading leveled book copied to help practice with finding parts of speech.

Making a flip book and glueing to cardstock of the word VERB on the front and inside listing or cutting out pictures or both of examples of could do this for nouns, (this would probably be a tri-fold book (for person, place or thing). pronouns, adjectives.. - create and print your own flash cards, can use as flip folds for concepts. - connective tiles for practice lessons.

LESSONS:lessons can be on-line too, making things more interesting..and mixing things up a bit. - for an example if you chose wacky web tales you could fill in the blanks and print out your wacky tale make a colorful border and write the parts of speech for it as a lesson :) - something like this can be printed and activites can be done and cut and pasted scrapbooking style to your cardstock and placed in binder..

These are all just some things I am going to use to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
As I posted before, we purchased the Scholastic book of grammar games and activities and I plan to do ALOT in there too.Here are more games to add to the Games and Activites Section:

Hopefully this gives other an "idea" of what we are doing.

Happy Grammar !

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

History~ with "Time Warp Trio" ~

My sons both really love history, well actually all of my sons like history in one way or the other. They enjoy learning and exploring about the past and they like comparing things from then to can get really fun...we have these long discussions on how things might have worked way back in history and now how things can become so different or may intrepreted differently.

I have noticed lately that the boys have been watching a show that airs on Kids Discovery Channel called "Time Warp Trio". What a great show....

Bascially the show is history based for children. It offers excitement and adventure and humor all rolled into one., my boys really enjoy watching every morning before we begin doing our studies.

The show is filled with facts based upon history and is based from the childrens book series by Jon Scieszka.

The books are great! Both my boys enjoy them very much. They have really taken an even greater interest in history since starting this series.

There is a website for the show with a Teachers/Parents area to print out lesson plans and ideas for further activities to do. We really like it. - section for teachers and parents

there is also games on the site as well.

Happy History everyone!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Spelling Software - SpellQuizzer ~ *NEW*

I just recently heard about this product through Dan Hite, founder of Spell Quizzer. A spelling software program to help master spelling.

Here is Dan's site:

The Demonstrations that are available show how easy it is to use this program. I really liked it. It seems helpful for special needs children with the speech to text and also a combining visual and auditorial input within the program.

There is spelling lists you can download that are from first grade up to eigth grade. The words appeared consistently on target with the grade levels and I liked how there were not too many words on each list.

There is also a free trial period for 30 days to check it out and see if it works for your kind of learner.

I think when looking for something different to help with spelling this program might help make things more fun and interesting for the student.

Happy Spelling ~

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teaching with Newbury Books ~

We just finished this morning reading "Mr. Poppers Penguins" and now it is time to move forward to another book and I wanted to share a resource I found at our library called "Teaching with Favorite Newbury Books".

It is a great resource for teaching literature. Within each chapter it has a different Newbury book complete with a summary, chapter by chapter activity for making a little book, ideas for information or objectives that the student might gain knowledge of, vocabulary, a "through ideas" section to aide in better comprehension and understanding of the story line and activities included, along with "Beyond Ideas" a activity to further their understanding the author is trying to convey .

For each chapter there is also a reading response prompt that is helpful while reading the book.

For me, the hard part is trying to decide which book to read next !

Hope this is helpful in your literature studies...

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fun Activities for Young Writers ~ KIDS WRITE!

I just love this activity book that teaches writing through hands-on activities.

We have used this book before and my boys really enjoy all the activities that this book has to offer. Adventure, Mystery, Folktales & Legends, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing along with Fairy Tales - even Comics..!

I found this book at our local library and now I am forever borrowing it or so it seems, we may have to just add this to our home library. It really helped my boys get inspired to be creative and to write stories from their imagination.

This is a Williamson Kids Can Book by Ideals Publications. You can learn more about Williamson specific books at their website @ OR .

Happy Writing Home Learners!

Book Series ~ "Stink"

We are just starting a new book series this week called "Stink" The Incredible Shrinking Kid.(ages 5-8 years old, I would suggest it would be closer to 7-8 age level ) :)

I found some fun activities to go along with the book series so far, here they are:

Hope you enjoy them..

Happy Home Learning...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Game for Learning ~

Now that February is here and it brings all its doldrums – it got me thinking about more creative ways to teach and have the children remember information while still having fun.

As I stated before we began new spelling programs just this past week or so and things are going rather well I have to say, but there are phonic rules now we need to try to remember so I was trying to think of things we could do to make things more interesting.

We began with jingles for the rules and that is a lot of fun, we always end up giggling at how silly we sound but it is fun and it helps remembering. My son then explained to me about a phonics fish game they played at school so we ended up playing that and I realized how much he enjoyed playing games while still learning and practicing. This got me thinking…I started exploring learning games and how they could help us in our home school and found some great information.

I first explored practicing the phonograms sounds because this is what we were working on at this point. I found some great links: – this is a phonics game played similar to Go Fish. - this is a site for printable reading games, that will help with phonics practice.

As I looked around for more games I came across of a whole bunch of sites that could help not only with our phonogram practice but with vocabulary, spelling, multiplication tables and learning all kinds of things. Here are some sites to help: - pretty comprehensive list of board games to use and modify for use . - online games to help with math concepts to change things up a bit. ;) - this offers printable games for ESL users but our learners can benefit from these just the same. - this site is packed full of great printable board games and concepts..take your time looking through this I still have not even finished with this one. J - crosswords? Why not they offer a wonderful supplement for certain topics.. - these offer more interactive games - working with synonyms - another favorite of mine, if you can be creative you can print any boards you like and find ways to use these to your child’s advantage in their learning. Imagine, no more testing…play a game and see how much they know and not what they do not know! Imagine that! J

Here are some articles I found about using Games to teach:

By: Eleanor M. Savko

"It's been proven time and again that children retain more information when they're stimulated by and actively involved in the learning process. Interactive teaching has become increasingly popular and new tools and ideas for enhancing lesson plans are appearing every day. A great way to get your students interested in learning is to bring the fun back into it by using educational games." Taken from Computers in the Classroom, Volume 1, Number 4, Aug. 2000

Just today I was watching a science program and it was speaking about a video game called “Code Orange” whereby the doctors and nurses practice on a virtual video game and create a triage so that they can understand what actually needs to happen during mass casualties and time of disaster. I listened to the doctor explain her reason for using these programs in our teaching hospitals and she explained that when we read something we retain about 20% of what we actually read, when we hear something we tend to retain about 30% but when we actually experience it then we are able to retain 80% of the information we need to learn. - using games to teach science. - using games to teach reading and math.
One thing I have also realized about using games for teaching is it bring intensity toward the learning. This helps the student become motivated and will help a child who may not be fully engaged to possibly become more engaged while playing the game.

I have been slowly incorporating learning games into our weekly studies and have seen great improvement in my boys with their attitudes, their motivation, their memory and creativity.

I hope some of this information has inspired you to play games and be creative with your Learners at Home.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Consideration of Spelling Programs, adding it all up ~and what to do when it does'nt ~~

Having home schooled for two years now, I begin to get the sense that I am finally catching on to how my children need to learn. After hours of research and speaking to authors of programs and reading books and listening to videos, at some point you have to step back and look to see if what has been working and what has not worked. I think this could also be said for all subjects.
After having just finished watching a DVD on Spelling and the Brain ~ I believe I now know and can help my sons and others when it comes to spelling.
The first thing I have realized about spelling or any other program and subject is that it is entirely up to the learner. NOT the program, not the teacher, not the aides or manipulatives that are used. All of these things help and can truly make a clear difference but the true success to any program, workbook, teaching method is the student, the learner and their strengths.
I think this quote explains it best for me:
"Education can’t be fixed as long as we believe this basic myth. The myth is that it is possible for one human being to educate another. The fact is that the only person who can fix education is the student.
…Great teaching will solve our educational problems… Teachers teach and students educate… There are two types of great teachers which consistently motivate student-driven education: Mentors and Classics."
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, pages 12-13
Andrew explained something that really makes a lot of sense to me, “ insanity is when you continue to do what your doing but expect to have different results”. I remember when way back when I found out the boys were dyslexic and I researched and researched and found the “perfect” program for them. (the name is irrelevant, why because what did not work for my boys might surely work for someone else and research had proven that it had) I tried and tried with this particular reading program but each session ended with tears and my boys feeling worse about learning to read and spell than ever before. I knew at that point I was not seeing any progress so it was time to move on. (most doctors and authors of programs recommend a 6-8 week period to give things a good try, before ending the program with your child) – I could see by my 5th week I was not going to be continuing this style of remediation with my children.
Back to spelling, Andrew recommends in his workshop to” get off the paper and into the ear” philosophy – that we need to auditorally “hear” what we need to spell because so many times children are visually immature and when they see something it is not the same as when they “hear” the words, then in turn write them.
I could see how his mention of spelling variables – Frequency (repetition) Intensity ( stimulation of the words, ie., acting them out, humor with the words) and Duration – ( frequency that is over a certain time period) can really help in learning to spell. He mentioned how these variables can change with each individual student and why workbooks just do not work because of this.
I learned that if I want my sons to be really “good spellers” they have to learn like the children do who are so successful in the Spelling Bees. They learn the origin of the word/ syntax of the word (use it in a sentence) / definition of the word – all are ways the help spellers become proficient.
While learning to spell it is very helpful and important to introduce Greek/Latin roots this helps even the youngest children make connects to words and their meaning and as a result help children through these mental connections become better spellers.
While there are many spelling programs out there and each one can help a particular learner it is important to look to see what might be the best program for that particular kind of learner.
Currently, my 12 yo will be working with Phonetic Zoo ( a multi-sensory, heavily auditorial spelling program) – he is an average reader with a very high vocabulary but spelling has always been sort of a problem for him. He can spell the really hard words but actually misses most times on the smaller words like “beauty” or “dollar” etc.. it became quite frustrating until I watch a video on the IEW site that helped me understand that I might be able to find a spelling model that could help him become proficient in spelling. Here is the video:

After watching it I knew I had to find out more information about Phonetic Zoo. I did and am very pleased with what I have seen so far. ( Note* he will also be working Greek/Latin roots with a to continue with his vocabulary etc…)

My other son who is not yet able to begin Phonetic Zoo is much slower in all areas of reading and spelling. While I have seen great progress in reading his proficiency in spelling could be better – I have been working on activities
with him, having chosen words from our current reading program (AbeCeDarian) and am pleased but after much research have seen that there is a bit more I can do to help him become a better speller and also in turn a better reader.
I have looked extensively at AAS – All About Spelling and found it to be a good fit along with our Reading Program. For my son the multi sensory- OG based approach for his beginning skills to spelling will be adequate and helpful in learning spelling rules – not so much for rote practice in spelling but more for memory connections toward the spelling.

As you can see, both children have dyslexia and other learning difficulties/differences that are almost the same, yet I chose different programs for them both, as I will with other programs if a change is needed.

Anyone interested in purchasing the DVD Spelling on the Brain can look at the IEW website under spelling:

Happy Spelling!

~ Tracey

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