Friday, March 8, 2013

Revolutionary War Wrap-Up


We are finally finished with our study of the Revolutionary War.  We spent extra time on it because we did so much with it.  Honestly, it was too much!  Oh well.  We sure did learn a lot.  We read lots of books, printed and cut lots of lapbook pieces (many haven't made their way into the lapbook yet), started assembling a lapbook, wrote notebook summaries, made a fun timeline, watched some Liberty's Kids videos (and others), and made berry ink.  In addition, we had mild illnesses and dentist appointments that held us up a bit, and we had a snow day.  My head is spinning!

Making berry ink and using the quill pen was a challenging activity for both of the kids.  But, once they got the hang of it, we all enjoyed it!

The timeline turned out great, and we included some important Revolutionary figures along with it.  These free printables are found here.


Our plants are off to a good start.  I hope the growth continues.  I'm new to this light hut/greenhouse thing.  We've kept a plastic cover over the flat and don't know how long to keep it on.  I suppose that will require more web searching.  :)

In the process of finding great educational websites and free printables, I decided to create Pinterest boards to help me organize these sites by subject.  I just love seeing pictures and descriptions of these sites, along with my personal notes about them.  What a time saver!

I'm hoping this is our last snow of the season.  At least we built a nice snowman!  (Actually, I think she's a snowgirl!)


Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reading : Finding Books that Work

It's no secret that reading has always been a struggle in our house.  I personally love to read for pleasure.  I'm slow, but I enjoy it.  Hubby, not so much.  The kids, not so much!  I often wondered if we just hadn't found the right type of literature that suits each of the girls.  We tried a number of different types of books for our oldest, and nothing really stuck, except for the American Girl series, of which she still enjoys reading.

Learning to read has been a very slow process for our youngest.  I tried anything from the Scholastic Readers to Bob Books to Dick and Jane to the McGuffey Readers.  Of those, the Scholastic readers would be on the bottom of my list.  They just didn't do much to help with learning words and fluency.

Bob Books were great in the beginning.  They are simple, and are phonetically written, which helped Katie in the very beginning.  She read all the ones we were able to borrow from the library.

BOB Books Set #1: Beginning Readers

Dick and Jane was a flop.  Katie quickly got bored with those stories, as did I!

My sister in-law gifted Katie a book that turned out to be a favorite:  Biscuit.  She loved this book!  It was a hardback that had many stories compiled in one book.  It even came with a CD of the audio book, but Katie never used it.  She just loved to read about Biscuit.


Google Books has been a great resource for downloading old books for free.  There's a reader I found to be very effective called Work A Day Doings by Emma Serl.  Since Katie prefers to read an actual book, I printed each story and made short story books for her.  Sometimes, she dreads reading these stories, but she always enjoys them once she starts.  These short stories use animals as main characters - very cute!

This brings me to the McGuffey Readers.  Wonderful books!  We have the original McGuffey Readers, which differ from the revised version.  I've read that both are wonderful, but are quite different.  I do have the revised version in e-reader format (free from Google Books).

Anyway, these books are great for teaching new words, and have a word list with each story that could be used for spelling and/or vocabulary, or not used at all.  Since we have always used separate spelling books, we have always just used the word list to practice reading.  This may change after this year though.  I'm a believer in learning spelling through literature - reading and writing.  But, that's another post for another day.

As great as the McGuffey Readers are, the books that have enhanced Katie's reading the most are the Pathway Readers, which contain stories about family life on an Amish farm.

Interestingly, these stories also engaged Emily a couple years ago.  Reading short stores within one book was less intimidating to her than reading an entire novel.  These books are simply written with engaging stories.  In the lower level readers, repetitive words have really helped Katie to actually learn the words, and read with fluency.  She was so happy tonight when she completed a book.  She is ready to move on to the next book, and I think she may be developing a love for reading.  Oh, how I hope so!

There are workbooks that accompany Pathway Readers.  Sometimes, I use the workbooks for Katie, but I pick and choose which pages to complete.  There is nothing attractive about the workbooks.  But, this leaves more to the imagination and reduces distraction.

I pray for anyone who has struggling readers.  It's not easy to find quality books that contain decent stories.  Let's fact it.  Some books are just dumb!  So, when I find good ones, I want to share them with others.