Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spelling Games

Spelling doesn't have to be a chore.  I don't even focus on it with my Lambies unless they don't develop good spelling naturally by fourth grade or so.  I have seen Charlotte Mason's Dictation method of spelling work well with some of my children.  With others, it didn't.  I have the first Spelling Wisdom book and have used it for spelling and copy work.  I do like it, but it didn't really work for all of my learners as a spelling tool.   

Sequential Spelling was highly recommended and we tried it....really, we did!  It took quite a while to get through a written test every day.  Too much time for me.  Also, my worst speller wasn't improving, despite the repetition of patterns.  I am totally willing to use it again, but it wasn't right for the learning style of the children currently working on spelling.

Currently, for my learners that need basic spelling work, I use Fry Words.  I made a Weekly To-Do List to keep them on track and give them the new word list on Mondays.  I look over their spelling work on Friday and give them a test. Here are their weekly tasks: Monday: write each word 10 times. Tuesday: Use each word in a sentence. Wednesday: Build each word using letter tiles. Thursday: Complete a (mother prepared) puzzle. Friday: show all work to Mom and take the oral spelling test.  Any words that are missed on Friday are rewritten 10 times and retested.

I've seen my struggling speller begin to improve in daily writing.  I love progress!
I make a lot of puzzles for my Lambies.  It's an easy way to make learning fun.  Some of my favorite puzzles can be custom made at Discovery Puzzlemaker.  I recently found a word search generator that I like even better.  I've been making a word search of the week's spelling words using it. I also use these generators for occasional science and history work.

Boggle, Boggle Jr. for Littles, Scrabble and Word Bingo are fun games for spelling.  You won't be able to use a word list, of course, but it develops different skills than looking for known words. 

How do you work spelling into your day? Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Train Mini-Unit

My son Troubles, requested that we learn about trains, so I made up a little unit for him!

We browsed over Eyewitness Trains and Usbourne Trains.  There are lots of great tidbits of information and pictures to enjoy.  We don't read everything in this type of book...that would be TOO much!

We enjoyed Mailing May and used her story for a little map work.  We specifically learned about trestles here.  Model railroads can be a great way for kids to learn about real ones!  This is an amazing video of a German model railway.  It's massive!

Other books we read:
The Little Train by Lois Lenski
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
The Little Train by Graham Greene
Casey Jones by Carol Beach York
Black and White by David Macaulay

I asked my Facebook friends for book suggestions and they recommended:
Tootles by Gertrude Crampton
Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand
The Freight Train by Donald Crews
Coolies by Yin
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

We listened to Johnny Cash sing about Casey Jones here and watched the Disney cartoon, too.

They built and played with our Fisher Price Flip Track Mountain.  It's been a while since I brought this tub out, so it really held their attention.

I made a word search with train words using Discovery Puzzlemaker. We printed off some coloring pages.

We're not all that far from the California State Railroad Museum.  Who knows, maybe we'll take a trip there this year!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Books

The hearts and candies are everywhere in the stores, but at the Crew's home, we're all about the history.  I want my children to know the real reason that we remember Valetine's Day.  It's not for the chocolate (but who am I to say "no" to a little nibblet of sweetened cocoa?)!

We will be reading a few good books to help us remember the legendary-but-maybe-true-ish meaning of Valentine's Day.

The Story of Valentine by Wilma Pitchford Hays, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard is my favorite.  It's just the right length to be easily read over a week and is engaging to kids of all ages.

Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda is another good biography.  I love the ancient mosaic style of the illustrations.

Though not specifically for Valentine's Day, I like to read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein this time of year.  I usually get a little scratchy-voiced and teary eyed at the end.

That's all folks.  Valentine's Day is fun, but not a real focus for study around here.

ETA: How could I forget Cranberry Valentine?  Thanks to VBMKL for reminding me!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hooray for Thrift Stores!

My dear husband took me thrift store shopping today and I found quite a few wonderful books.  I was especially happy to find a copy of "Anno's Counting Book", Michael Hague's "Favorite Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales", "The Columbus Story" by Alice Dalgliesh and "The Mexican Story" by May McNeer and Lynd Ward.  I found a number of other books, as well.

After we returned home, I began sorting the books.  I make two piles: one to pass along and one to keep.  I have to admit the Keep Pile was higher than the Pass along pile, as is usually usual.  I also make a third pile: Books To Check.  I have ...several... bookshelves and it can be hard to remember if I have a certain book or not. I also compare books to swap out for better copies if I can.

 In my Keep Pile was a copy of Old Befana by Tomie de Paola.  I like Tomie.  I have quite a few of his books.  Seventy-five to be exact.  Yeah.  I'm a fan. So, picture it...I am going through my Tomie shelf to see if I have a copy of this one, because I didn't think I did...and I was right.  So I sat there on the floor in my library and started to read my new Tomie book.  I opened it up and found this:

Hooray!  It's the first inscribed Tomie I have ever found!  Good find, indeed!