Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Beatrix Potter and Mr. Tod

This year we are probably spending too much time in the car.  It is a BRAND NEW car - with the ability to play an MP3 player (our old car was pre smart phones) - so we can listen to things more easily than ever before.  I feel SO blessed! (Except for when you hide the MP3 player from the 20 month old and can't remember where you hid it - AGGH)

We have been enjoying many librivox selections recently.  I know that they need to hear me read aloud and read to themselves - which does happen - but this mama needs community so that requires some driving!  I feel like I am redeeming the time.  It also helps that the 4 year old doesn't loudly protest the whole time we are listening - at home he often starts being disruptive after about 10 minutes.  (Yes, we are trying strategies like eating while listening, letting him do quiet activities, etc.).

We have been listening to Clara Dillingham Piersen's The Dooryard Stories.  My oldest now gets some of the little things she includes about people's behavior that is lost on younger ones.  I have enjoyed all of her stories.

With my second kiddo we are working through  English Lessons Through Literature, Level 1  again so we are reading through Beatrix Potter.  Of course, listening means you miss her illustrations but we have read many of them together and enjoyed the illustrations.  Yesterday, we listened to Mr. Tod (one of the longer ones) again.  It is "about two disagreeable people" which my oldest enjoys.  The quote I chose is a side note but so true. Flopsy's father in law, Old Mr. Bouncer, foolishly lost all the baby bunnies to Tommy Brock. She is beyond furious. This is her response:

Apparently angry cleaning is nothing new!  Angry cleaning is not my "go to" method (although I did it when I lost the MP3 player - it still hasn't shown up) but I grew up with some angry cleaners.  I questioned what would happen when they had attacked all the possessions and vanquished the dirt? Flopsy really did have a right to be mad - Old Mr. Bouncer got off easy!

I love how these older animal stories bring characters to life in unexpected ways and reflect the good, the bad and the ugly.  They provide great ways to discuss actions, reactions and relationships without naming names!  Hopefully you are enjoying your children's reading this semester.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Reading Program That Works - Teaching Reading With Bob Books

Teaching reading is a passion of mine (although my focus has shifted significantly).  I have researched it A LOT (I toted academic books on teaching reading home 8 months pregnant with my first child from my college library - yes 102 degree heat didn't deter me!).  I actually looked down on the series of Bob Books because they just seemed too simple.  I was wooed into the Spalding based Spell to Write and Read stuff.  However, I could never get a 5 yo to spend 45 minutes on reading and writing.  I am so glad I didn't force it TOO much with my oldest.  I learned a TON about phonics and reading through that program.  I also realized that its latest incarnation "The Logic of English" is spot on.  The way they teach reading is a logic skill and 5 yos aren't known for their great logical abilities. SO . . .

I recommend the adult reads some Spalding materials - Logic of English or otherwise - to understand the inner workings of English. Then use Bob Books and Teaching Reading With Bob Books as your daily curriculum with your beginning reader.

One pet peeve is people who discuss all the programs that "didn't work" basically because they tried to introduce reading to their 3 year old!  My current story is at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I realize that it is time for my second child to "get" reading, so any program would have started working.  However, we tried other things and he was getting it, but once I saw how accomplished he felt after reading one small BOB Book - I got the genius of it. Making progress through a gigantic reading book just doesn't have the same feeling as looking at all these little books and proclaiming "I read ALL of these!" DUH!!

I also appreciated Ruth Beechick's driving analogy in the The Three R's.  The new driver cares nothing about the scenery because they are rightly focused on the road. This is pretty much how new readers are - focused on decoding and wanting to be successful.  Bob Books aren't known for thrilling stories - but that isn't the point of them.  I have been SHOCKED at the number of "easy readers" that use words with complicated spelling structures and call themselves "easy".  Biscuit - although cute and cuddly - is not an easily decodable word.  It's not easy!  However, Bob Books truly are.

Two factors that forced my hand on this matter.  One, Artios Academies is using them so I guess I should submit on this point if we are going to partner with them.  However, I might still be resisting if I didn't have Brandy Vencel's Teaching Reading With Bob Books.  She marries phonics (the reason I love Spalding stuff) with Bob Books in sequence.  She is the bridge between these two programs. There are no 45 minute lessons here - just simple reading and review 10 to 15 minutes a day.  I CAN DO THIS!

Her system is SIMPLE (she calls it gimmick-free) but effective.  The best part is that you can see the WHOLE THING, FOR FREE online to see if it fits you and your child.  If you like what you see and don't want to hunt around for everything you can buy a bundle (a good deal) that matches each set of readers.  (Full disclosure- she sent me the first bundle and I bought the second because I liked it so much - we are still working towards the third).

She has taught her own 4 children to read and tutored many others. The core of her system is the reading binder you create.  Basically it tracks the sounds the student is learning and provides ample repetition until they master all of the phonics.  It helps you go at the child's pace - not the curricula's pace - which I love!

How is it different from Spalding based methods:

- It doesn't front load phonics learning like Spalding does - learning all 75 sounds in 12 weeks

- It doesn't teach "all of the sounds" of a letter at the same time for example: a - a, ay, ah or ow - ow, oh.  However, it also doesn't use "the second" sound without introducing it.  It is very methodical.
(Of course, if you prefer teaching all the sounds at once go for it - you will use the first sound most of the time.  Suffice it to say that Bob books and, as an extension, Vencel use a popular phonics method that starts with short vowel sounds and CVC words.  If I sound like I am speaking a foreign language - don't worry about it.)

- There is no writing attached to this reading.  If you have a deep desire I guess you could do copy work or write the new words from the book or write the phonograms that you are learning, etc.  I think my son likes it because he can just read and it isn't attached with all that other stuff.

(We do use a Spalding based "spelling" program - it is really a reading program but he feels so much more successful with Bob Books and Vencel's work that we use it for reading and just using Spalding methods for spelling. It is probably too much but oh well.)

Vencel's program essentially outlines the phonics "scope and sequence" of the Bob Books.  I like seeing the big picture and she provides it. She also offers clear daily instructions for teaching the material.  This is especially helpful if this is your first time.  She adds comments on frequent difficulties and how to overcome them. Her flashcard organization is brilliant and even I can keep up with it in my flighty ways.   She is writing to mom's, so this is not a classroom curricula that you have to adapt for your child at home. It is a reading tutoring program meant to help moms and kids feel and be successful at their own pace.

Honestly, my son was ready to take off reading and he knows most of his sounds so we haven't needed much of the repetition - YET.  I think he will soon.  With Bob Books he feels successful and with Vencel's materials I am confident I am offering him a full fledged phonics based reading program.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Twelfth Night

It has been too long.  I know, rule one in blogging!  The new school year did me in.  Did I mention how I have preps for 6 different classes and they are taught 3 days in a row.  What was I thinking??  It is fun though - I love each thing I am doing.  That is in addition to just our normal homeschool stuff - although I am trying to streamline.

Early September also means birthday week.  My two oldest are 3 year and 3 days apart.  Typically we have celebrated together at one big bash but this year it is morphed into a 3 week celebration.  So this weekend is the final bash.  Again - what was I thinking?  We are having fun though!

This year my oldest is in 4th grade and so, in good CM manner, we are diving into Shakespeare.  He has listened to the librivox recordings of the Lamb's interpretation (and maybe Nesbit's too) a few times.  He has the overview of the stories.  We also read Shakespeare's Storybook once upon a time.

I decided to start with Twelfth Night because my college roommate was in it in college and although I don't remember any of it - I figured it was a good comedy.  I have decided not to follow a schedule with this reading (obviously).

We were reading it scene by scene but today we read all of Act II.  He was laughing out loud. I love that he can follow it so well - thank you AO readings.  As usual the clown plays the fool and the wise one all at once.  This is my favorite quote so far - although I have recognized a few others as we have read.

I hope that you are enjoying some good reads for yourself and with your kids.  So fun when it is both at the same time. 

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.