Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tis the Season

It is here ... the Christmas season is upon us. Last night I enjoyed a wonderful time with some of my good friends. I hosted a table at our church's women's Christmas Celebration program - the program was so good {though I know I say that every year}, the food was amazing, and it was so nice spending time with some of my dearest friends.
Today was the Lottie Moon Bake sale at church ... the girls made 48 cookies {2 dozen white chocolate peppermint cookies and 2 dozen six layer cookies}.

Lexi continues with her Cindy Lou practices {pictured below the two Cindy Lou's} ... this Saturday is the big performance. Ava Mae and Lexi are both so excited about "How the Grinch Found Christmas".

Yes, the Christmas season is upon us ... we are enjoying each exciting day - even if our calendar is completely full until Christmas. Tomorrow I will post about our new way of celebrating Advent this year.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

TOS Crew Review: The Reading Game

My children love games so when I can combine that with teaching phonics it is a huge plus!!
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We recently had the opportunity to review The Reading Game by the author of Wordly Wise. It is a fun and fast two player memory card game, for ages 4 and up, that teaches sight words. It was a great supplement to Ava Mae's phonics/reading program.

The game comes with 180 memory cards and six fun storybooks. Each storybook has 30 memory cards that go along with it. What I loved is that when Ava Mae had memorized the first 30 memory cards she was able to read the first storybook. I have found one of the biggest motivators when teaching reading is the ability for a child to be able to read a book by themselves. Ava Mae was so excited when she read her first book "Skunk". I found it really nice that the memory card game is played in six sets of five words. The smaller sets allow for your child to learn the words more quickly without being overwhelmed.
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From The Reading Game website:

Frequent exposure through play hard-wires these words into long-term memory. The card game requires two players, the student and a tutor. When used in classrooms and reading centers, parent volunteers or student “reading buddies” can easily be shown how to play the matching card game. By transforming rote learning into a fast paced game where there is a winner every few seconds, learning to read becomes fun.

After completing stage six of the first game, the student has a reading vocabulary of thirty words.

The first story is told using just those thirty words. It tells of a skunk without a stripe who is rejected for being different but finds acceptance among a group of cats and becomes their defender. Each subsequent game in the series adds a further thirty words for a reading vocabulary of 180 words by the time the complete series is finished. Of the twenty-five most commonly used English words, twenty-two are on that list; of the forty most commonly used English words –thirty. The multi-sensory teaching approach – through the card game play and the storybooks - works well for retention and student enjoyment.

My son and daughter both enjoyed playing the role of "reading buddy" for Ava Mae. It is a game easily paired with an older sibling - another plus in our homeschool. I think this game would make a great Christmas gift for a new reader and a wonderful addition to any reading/phonics curriculum. It can be purchased directly from The Reading Game for just $24.95.

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of The Reading Game
? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

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I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than a free copy of The Reading Game, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the curriculum.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Counting Our Blessings with a Thankful Chain

This year, instead of a thankful tree, we made a thankful chain. Each morning, at the school table, I had the kids get a slip of paper that I had hand-stamped, Counting my Blessings, and write something they were thankful for.
We loved watching our chain grow and grow! We have so much to be thankful for {God, a roof over our head, food on the table, nice clothes to wear, friends, each other, our pets, gifts and talents that God has given us}!!

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." Psalm 100:4

Happy Thanksgiving ... what are you thankful for this year?

Friday, November 18, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Read Naturally - One Minute Reader

Recently I had the opportunity to review a product called One Minute Reader from the company Read Naturally.

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Read Naturally a company founded by Special Education teacher Candyce Ihnot and her husband, Tom. Its programs are based on a unique strategy for helping struggling readers that Mrs. Ihnot developed while working on her Master’s Degree.

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I knew this program would be a great fit for my son. Though he reads constantly - reading aloud is not something we have practiced a lot. Many times he struggles with fluency when I ask him to read aloud from our history text or bible. I was not concerned with his comprehension at all as that has always been an area he excels in but, I knew he could increase the speed with which he reads.

So, after reviewing the DVD which comes with the program we began using One Minute Reader immediately after receiving it. Here is how the program works:

These are the principles that make One Minute Reader so effective. Students read each story several times, following a specific series of steps designed to make sure they learn to read correctly, read faster, and understand what they read.
Read Along

Students read the story aloud while listening to an audio CD of the story. This teaches them how to pronounce new words and reviews and reinforces words they already know.

Read Alone

After reading along, students read alone several times. By practicing the story, they master the story and many of the words in it.

Raise Your Score

Students time themselves before and after they read along and read alone. A graph of their growth motivates them to keep improving

We got the One Minute Reader Starter Kit Level 1 and the Level 3 Disasters Book and CD. We began with the Level 3 book because, of my son's reading level. Devin loved all of the stories in this book. We started each story by having him record his cold score after reading through the story once. He also underlined any words he did not know. Devin then practiced reading the story out loud with the CD, then by himself, and then with me. Each time he read the story by himself he would record the score. He loved seeing how quickly his speed went up with each run through the story.

There is a place to chart your scores in each book ... allowing the child to see progress. Also, each story has a Quick Quiz which the child can take to see their comprehension level.

My son can be a hard sell anytime I incorporate something new into our curriculum but, he took to this new addition and I found him reading the stories even when I did not ask.

I was really happy with my son's progress while using One Minute Reader. I plan on incorporating this program into my 1st grader's curriculum also.

Do you have a struggling reader or would you just like to increase your child's reading fluency or comprehension then give this program a try! A One Minute Reader starter kit retails for $24.95. It includes
a Book, Audio CD, Instructional DVD, 1 minute timer, and a red and blue pencil to chart progress scores. I would suggest going to their website and taking a look at the sample stories to get a good idea of where your child would fall - level wise. After purchasing a starter kit you can also purchase individual books with CD for just $12.95.

Would you like to read what my fellow crew mates thought of Read Naturally and the One Minute Reader program
? Then head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

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I am reviewing this product on behalf of the TOS Crew. I received no compensation, other than a free One Minute Reader program from Read Naturally, for the writing of this review. The contents of this review express my personal opinion of the curriculum.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Party and Operation Christmas Child

Each year our small homeschool group has a Thanksgiving Party. The main reason for the party is for the kids to come together and prepare their Operation Christmas Child boxes.

This year my friend, Jamie, hosted the party. The kids watched a video about Operation Christmas Child before they wrote out their "About Me" sheets to include inside their boxes.

After finishing up it was time for snacks and one of our groups favorite games ...

The Donut Game {which became a tradition several years ago as an alternative to bobbing for apples - which for us germ-a-phobe moms is a nightmare} We normally play the Donut Game at our Halloween Party but, we ran out of time this year so we moved this fun activity to the Thanksgiving Party.Yesterday we brought our packed boxes to church. My kids look forward to packing these boxes each year - we always pray for the child who will receive the box! It is great way to start the holiday season.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November Field Trip - "Holiday Etiquette Boot Camp"

Our November Field Trip was to attend a "Holiday Etiquette Boot Camp". It was a great class, led by a fellow homeschool mom who has an Etiquette business where she teaches manners classes to children.
The kids learned many tips for the holiday party season - including the proper way to conduct yourself at a buffet, proper etiquette for the dinner table, the importance of making eye contact with adults when speaking to them, where our napkin goes, how to properly ask to be excused from a dinner table - just to name a few. My daughter, Lexi, who has gone to Etiquette School prior to today, told me it was really great to get a refresher course on everything. My son, who had to be bribed to attend the field trip, told me the class was a lot of fun and nothing like he thought it would be {boring}. Ava Mae was just so excited to finally be able to take an etiquette class - she has been begging to do this since Lexi went to Etiquette School last fall. {Pictured below: Ava Mae shows off her new found table setting skills}

The class concluded with an actual party buffet. The kids all enjoyed picking appetizers and desserts and then practicing their new skills at the table.

Thank you Elizabeth for taking time out of your busy schedule to teach this wonderful "Holiday Etiquette Boot Camp" and if you live in the Atlanta area and are interested in having your children take a manners class from Elizabeth, just let me know and I will get you her contact info.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Peak Leaves

The kids and I love this poem "Autumn Fires" by Robert Louis Stevenson. And though, Mr. Stevenson, was speaking of actual fires the kids and I felt like all the trees around us now appear to be on fire with their bright orange, yellow, and red leaves. Fall ... my favorite time of year!!
"In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!"
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect ...

Lexi has been working hard these past few weeks ... she was cast as "Cindy Loo" for her ballet school's performance of "How the Grinch found Christmas".

{Below: Lexi rehearses with "The Grinch"}

It has meant lots of extra rehearsals on top of her normal 4 hours a week in the ballet studio. Lexi has loved every minute of it! This year, for the first time, there will be 2 performances of the ballet. The great thing about that is one of Lexi's best friends was cast as "Cindy Loo" for the other performance - this has meant having a friend to do your rehearsals with.

Looking forward to seeing this fun production in just a few short weeks ... until then, practice makes perfect!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday Ava Mae!

November - Ava's Birthday - Ava with <span class=

A big week for Ava Mae ... her baptism this past Sunday and today, she turned 7 years old! Again, I must look at one of my children and ask ... where has the time gone?
November - Ava's Birthday - Blowing Out Candles

We celebrated her birthday with a party at Chuck E Cheese, at 2pm right after classes were done at Timothy - so we had just homeschool friends in attendance. This really was a good thing as Ava Mae does not meet a stranger and her original guest list had over 30 names.

November - Ava's Birthday - Group Shot

Everyone had fun playing games, eating pizza, and dancing with Chuck E Cheese.

November - Ava's Birthday - Playing Games

November - Ava's Birthday - Dancing

Ava Mae even got into the ticket blaster ... though she needed some help from her brother.

November - Ava's Birthday - Ticket Blaster

Happy Birthday Ava Mae ... God blessed us with you seven years ago. May you always keep that bubbly - outgoing personality, adorable smile, and love for God! Just like your sister God has given you the beautiful gift of dance and a love for the stage and though there are days when I wish you would always stay our little baby I can't wait to see what God has in store for you in the coming years!! We love you so much ...