Phonics, Reading

Parker Phonics

Author and educator Stephen Parker has written three books on teaching your child to read using his “Synthetic Phonics” system, and has made all three freely available on his website in PDF ebook format. Here’s what he has to say about his background and the techniques he uses to teach children to read:

I’m a life-long teacher of mathematics, computer science, and reading. After teaching my own 3 children to read by their third birthdays, I became interested in reading instruction in general. What I discovered in many schools baffled me: a method called Whole Language (since discredited) and now, in its place, Balanced Literacy.

There is no “balance” in Balanced Literacy. Essentially, it’s Whole Language with some ineffective phonics added in after the child starts “reading” based on memorized sight words. Balanced Literacy will not alter the scandalous fact that 2 out of 3 of our children never become proficient readers. 

A word can become meaningless when people start using it to indicate anything they want. This has happened to the word “phonics” in some educational circles where one hears talk of “analytic” phonics, “analogy” phonics, “embedded” phonics, and “onset-and-rime” phonics. 

None of the above are methods for teaching reading. They all rely heavily upon memorization of sight words and on guessing strategies. Genuine phonics, that is to say, synthetic phonics, is the only type of phonics that functions as a stand-alone method for teaching both reading and spelling.

Synthetic phonics uses neither sight words nor guessing strategies. It is employed right at the start of reading instruction – and the child is not expected to memorize any whole words. Instead, the child is taught, explicitly, to correlate individual sounds with individual letters. 

As soon as 5 – 8 such letter/sound correspondences are mastered, the child can begin authentic reading, that is, taking an unknown word and blending the sounds of its individual letters into a recognizable pronunciation – a process called decoding. 

It’s the only way to teach reading in a manner that respects the reasoning ability of the child. Children, like adults, need to understand what they’re being asked to do, especially if the task requires significant effort over an extended period of time. 

CLICK HERE to go to the download page!

Arts & Crafts

Tracing Great Art

Here’s a simple, short lesson plan from the terrific Practical Pages website that is full of neat ideas to make great works of art come alive for your kids — by tracing them!

Why would you want to have your student trace some famous artwork? Nadene shares a few ideas:

 

  • Create a reference to a famous work and add it to written biographies and narrations.
  • Apply techniques famous artists use
  • Learn to mix colours, do colour washes and paint in layers with details last
  • Make the art work “your own”
  • Focus on the original for clues and details
  • Use the original for some more contemporary art techniques (like a collage/ a mural/ coasters/place mats/ quilt designs/ build a 3D landscape, etc.)
  • Although many adults consider this just “colouring in”,  I encourage them to give it a try!  It is MUCH more difficult than it seems!

This is a great idea… give it a try.  CLICK HERE to go to the website!

 

Math

Dad’s Worksheets

Over the past 13 years, Dad’s Worksheets.com has created over 9000 printable math worksheets, logic puzzles and math games for students at every level — and makes them available free for printing or downloading on their website. Just about any mathematics topic you can think of can be found here, including all the core math skills, number patterns, measurement & conversions, word problems, geometry, rounding numbers, factorization, and on and on. All worksheets can be printed or saved to PDF.

CLICK HERE to go to the site!

Audio, Holidays, Just for Fun

Christmas Every Day

Christmas Every Day by William Dean Howells (MP3 audio)

This is definitely one of the funniest, laugh out loud, classic short stories you’ll ever hear. We guarantee the kids will love it. While this story, which originally appeared in St. Nicholas Magazine in the 1890s, is about Christmas, it is not exactly a Christmas story… it is more about unintended consequences and what might happen if wishes really did come true, and how some things – like Christmas – can be a bit overdone (you think?). A sheer delight for the whole family – HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Length: 14 minutes, MP3 Audio

To download this MP3 audio, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” to your computer!

Homeschool Helps, Just for Fun

Wonderopolis

Wonderopolis continues to offers a series of delightful and intriguing  “Wonder of the Day” questions every day. They are great for homeschoolers. Each day, a new question is posed, then answered in a mini-lesson (often with a video, activity or experiment). They are great curiosity generators. Recent questions posed include “Are french fries really French?”, “Why are trampolines bouncy?” “Why do my feet stink?” and “Can an apple a day keep the doctor away?”

You can see the current “wonder”, then scroll back through past questions as well as subscribe to the site for daily updates. This is fascinating stuff, sure to spark the interest of young students.

Click here to go to the site!

Geography, History

Mapping History

This neat collection of interactive historical maps of American history, Latin American history, African history and European history was developed by the University of Oregon. As explained on the site, it is “…designed to provide interactive and animated representations of fundamental historical problems and/or illustrations of historical events, demonstrations, and dynamics.”

This is an excellent history and geography resources that helps your kids visualize the many historical changes in colonization, government and influence of countries throughout the history of these regions.

CLICK HERE to go to the site

Phonics, Reading

Reading Bear

Reading Bear is an easy-to-use, engaging site that uses simple (and entertaining) interactive lessons to teach beginning readers to read. They teach over 1,200 vocabulary items and offer 50 interactive presentations that cover all the main phonics rules. You can create an account and watch what sounds your child has mastered, or can use the site without creating an account. This well-designed site is a great resource for littles just starting out learning how to read.

Click here to go to the website!

Arts & Crafts, Just for Fun

10 Week LEGO Class

Mary (and her son) at HomeGrownLearners.com put together this fun 10 week class all about LEGOs! The full 10 session lesson plan is a PDF freebie on her site. Here’s what she says about it:

“This is for the oodles of moms out there dealing with LEGO crazed kids. I am one of those moms, and when my little boy asked me to teach a LEGO class at our homeschool co-op, how could I refuse? My son and I spent a lot of time brainstorming and planning this class TOGETHER, and I wanted to share my plans with you.”

This is a fun class any young LEGO fans would love to be a part of, whether with a group of fellow homeschoolers or just at home. (Tip: the download link to the PDF is near the bottom of the page.)

CLICK HERE to go to the download page

Arts & Crafts

Hand Made Books

MAKING BOOKS with your KIDS

Author and artist Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord has been a teacher of making books since the late 1980s. On her website, she has project instructions for creating eight different types of hand-made books, including an accordion book, an elastic book, a color poem book, a summer journal, a leaf book, and more fun projects, all presented with detailed, illustrated instructions. Loads of fun ideas here!

CLICK HERE to go to her site!