Monday, June 25, 2012

On-Level Readers

Finding appropriate books at Tessa's reading level is a challenge. I am finally understanding the various early reader numbering systems, so I thought I would share. I may end up creating a separate page with an ongoing list. I don't really know what Tessa's current reading level would be classified as, but she has completed Hooked on Phonics: Kindergarten and Hooked on Phonics: First Grade, Level 1. She will start First Grade, Level 2 this week. I have provided the chart below for those not familiar with Hooked on Phonics. Helper Words are simply sight words. I teach Tessa Helper Words before they pop up in her lessons, so she has learned all Helper Words through First Grade, Level 2. All levels of Hooked on Phonics: Kindergarten and First Grade use short vowels only, although I have taught Tessa how to decode some long vowel words on my own.

Hooked on Phonics: Kindergarten

Level 1 - Word Families
-at, -an, -ap, -ad, -am, -ag, -ab, -ig, -id, -it, -ip, -im, -in, -ix, -ill, Add -s

Level 1 - Helper Words
he, a, the, no, and, has, is, on, she, what, this, they, go, have, do, look

Level 2 - Word Families
-ot, -op, -ox, -ob, -og, -ug, -un, -ut, -ub, -up, -ed, -en, -et, -eg, -ell, -ck, Compound Words

Level 2 - Helper Words
here, that, for, see, are, I, like, to, me, who, my, of, said, was, with, you, then, be

Hooked on Phonics: First Grade

Level 1 - Blends
ch-, sh-, th-, wh-, sl-, sn-, sm-, sp-, sc-, sk-, sw-, st-, fl-, gl-, cl-, bl-, pl-, gr-, fr-, br-, cr-, pr-, dr-, tr-, qu-, Two-Syllable Words

Level 1 - Helper Words
play, come, his, over, says, now, ride, blue, there, very, could, we, little, some, out, down, those, all

Level 2 - Digraphs
-ch, -tch, -sh, -th, -mp, -nd, -ng, -nt, -nk, -st, -sp, -sk, -ft, -lk, -lt, -ing, -er, -ly, -es, -ed, Two-Syllable Words

Level 2 - Helper Words
make, goes, want, first, begin, her, too, one, or, say, friend, know, were, so, would, saw, your, old


Step Into Reading: Step 1, Ready to Read

I really like this series. The numbering system seems appropriate, consistent and useful.

Step 1, Ready to Read (Preschool-Kindergarten): Big Type and Easy Words - Rhyme and Rhythm - Picture Clues - For children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading.

There are many, many more Step 1 books in the series, but these are some that Tessa can currently read with little help from me.

Big Egg Cat Traps 

Jack and Jill and Bill Dog Bill I Like Bugs

I Can Read!: My First Shared Reading & 1 Beginning Reading

I am sorely disappointed with this series. I cannot imagine any true beginning reader being able to read many of the My First Shared Reading or 1 Beginning Reading books. Some My First Shared Reading books border on being o...k...a...y, but just aren't as well thought out as the Step into Reading ones above. The 1 Beginning Reading books are way too long for new readers. A child would need to be reading fluently to make it through them in one sitting.

To give an idea, I flipped through I Can Read!: My First Shared Reading, Little Critter: Just Helping My Dad by Mercer Mayer. Some highly questionable words, in my opinion, include: home, today, things, work, sleepy, breakfast, myself, mower, sorry, something, nails, parking, and great.

My First Shared Reading: Basic language, word repetition, and whimsical illustrations, ideal for sharing with your emergent reader.

1 Beginning Reading: Short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts for children eager to read on their own.

I plan to try the following I Can Read! books soon with Tessa, but I know I will have to help her a good bit more than I did with the Step into Reading books above.

Go Away, Dog Mittens

Splish, Splash! Biscuit's Big Friend

Holiday House: I Like to Read

My husband discovered this new series at the library just this past weekend. I am so very excited about it. Finally, a company who understands the needs of emerging readers! Holiday House is recruiting quality author-illustrators to create some really cute picture books.

I Like to Read books are picture books designed for the newest readers, featuring short texts, familiar vocabulary, repetition to reinforce learning, and illustrations that are designed to be a part of the learning experience.

Run to your library now and look these up! Tessa read See Me Run by Paul Meisel today and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Download Holiday House I Like to Read full-color brochure and/or press kit.

I Will Try

Michael Garland

A Rookie Reader

This series has potential. The stories and illustrations are cute and the text length for the Level A and Level B readers are about right. Unfortunately, I don't think Tessa is quite ready for them. They will be better for her after she completes Hooked on Phonics: First Grade and gets into Hooked on Phonics: Second Grade. They look ideal for a reader who knows how to sound out more complex words but who isn't reading fluently yet.

Next to an Ant Cowboy Up!

Other Readers

This post feels as though it's getting a bit long, so I'm going to wrap it up for today. Other early readers to keep an eye out for are Scholastic Reader Pre-Level 1 books, the new Scholastic Reader Bob Books series and books by Mo Willems (An Elephant & Piggie Book, and Cat series).

Gus Makes a Friend Cupcake Surprise

We Are in a Book! Cat the Cat Who is That?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

What is a Star?

A nice thing about subscribing to Evan-Moor instead of buying individual books is that I can pull from various levels of the same curriculum series. While deciding between Everyday Literacy: Science, Grade K and Grade 1, I found that we had already covered most of the topics in Grade K with the science that we had previously used. Several topics were repeated in greater detail in Grade 1 as well. There were five topics from Grade K, though, that we hadn't really covered and I didn't want Tessa to miss them. I have been weaving those topics into the Grade 1 curriculum.

One such topic from Grade K was, "What is a Star?" I condensed the material to two days since the lessons were quite simple. The hands-on science activity is featured below. Tessa used seven silver stick-on stars, black construction paper and white chalk to recreate the Big Dipper constellation.

Guided by a photo on my Kindle Fire, Tessa recreated the Big Dipper constellation with silver stick-on stars and black construction paper.
Guided by a photo on my Kindle Fire, Tessa recreated the Big Dipper constellation with silver stick-on stars and black construction paper.

Tessa wrote "Big Dipper" and dotted in other stars with white chalk.
Tessa wrote "Big Dipper" and dotted in other stars with white chalk.

Tessa's Big Dipper!
Tessa's Big Dipper!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Reading Club!

A couple of weeks ago, we stumbled upon St. Louis County Library's summer reading club kick-off event at the Eureka branch. While I returned and picked out new books, Tessa enjoyed the balloon animals, face painting, crafts and snacks. I didn't know whether the program would excite Tessa at her age but figured why not. Well, it has! Tessa has been working hard reading extra books ever since. Today, she completed the first level of her passport by reading her eleventh and twelfth books. I was so proud of her, as she nearly read them fluently! (Not something that happens every day yet.) Hopefully, we'll be able to take her to collect her prize this weekend. She's super excited to see what it might be and has been making all sorts of guesses.

Tessa read "Jack and Jill and Big Dog Bill" and "Bob Books: As Big As" today to complete the first level of her summer reading passport.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Squinkies Make Fun Little Math Manipulatives!

One of our favorite math manipulatives are Squinkies! Among their many uses, they are perfect for making Singapore Math stories. If you have a child who loves these little plastic critters as much as Tessa, you know it doesn't take long to accumulate a couple hundred of them. While preparing lessons that require making math stories, I simple riffle through our Squinkies bin and match up a few handfuls that are easy to group into stories.

Tessa loves using Squinkies as math manipulatives!

Right now, Tessa's working on learning subtraction facts. The seven Squinkies above easily make several different subtraction stories.

There are seven animals. Four are dogs. Three are cats.  7 - 4 = 3
There are seven animals. Three are blue. Four are pink.  7 - 3 = 4
There are seven animals. One is a baby. Six are adults. 7 - 1 = 6
There are seven animals. Two are wearing hats. Five are not wearing hats.  7 - 2 = 5

Pretty fun, eh? Next time you dig one of these guys out of the couch and threaten to throw the whole lot in the trash, toss them into your math bin instead. We also use the over-sized balls that came as part of the Squinkies McDonald's Happy Meal toys as quick containers to hold the groups of regular-sized Squinkies that we use as math manipulatives.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Looking at Rocks

For this week's hands-on activity from Evan-Moor Everyday Literacy: Science, Tessa simulated the effects of weather on mock rocks. I formed the rocks from a mixture of coffee, coffee grounds, flour and salt ahead of time.

Mock Rocks
The coffee mixture made pretty convincing rocks. After a full day of basking in the sun, they dried nearly, well, as hard as rocks!

First, Tessa rubbed sandpaper over a rock to simulate wind blowing grains of sand against large rocks.

Tessa rubbed sandpaper on a mock rock.
Tessa rubbed sandpaper over a mock rock.

Next, she placed a rock in a jar of water and shook it to simulate waves crashing against a cliff.

After shaking a rock in a jar of water, Tessa checked for changes.
After shaking a rock in a jar of water, Tessa checked for changes.

Finally, Tessa dropped and hit rocks together to see what would happen.

Tessa hit rocks together.
Tessa learned that when large rocks collide, they break into smaller rocks. In time, those smaller rocks turn into sand or soil.

A close-up of one of Tessa's changed rocks.
A close-up of one of Tessa's changed rocks.

Tessa and I both greatly enjoyed this experiment. It well-suited her age and cemented in her mind the various ways rocks are changed by natural forces.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Parts of an Insect

We will be finishing up a little-known early elementary science program in the next month or so that I think is absolutely wonderful for the preschool/kindergarten set. This past fall, I had the worst time finding a meaty enough science curriculum for the kindergarten level, so I pieced together my own lessons. The process was extremely time-consuming. Our small local libraries have very limited resources, so I had to buy the majority of the books we used as well. At $5-6+ a picture book, one to two books per week, it added up fast. After purchasing a discounted yearlong subscription to Evan-Moor via Homeschool Buyers Co-op earlier this year, I stumbled upon Everyday Literacy: Science. We are using Grade 1, but there are three levels...Grade PreK, Grade K and Grade 1.

Everyday Literacy: Science, Grade 1 - We use a digital version.
Everyday Literacy: Science, Grade 1 - We use a digital version.

Tessa absolutely adores Everyday Literacy: Science. While there is a short lesson for each day of the week, I condense them to three days (first two pages the first day, second two pages the second day and the hands-on activity the third day). Tessa literally bums out when I tell her, "Sorry, no science today." It's her favorite subject!

Everyday Literacy: Science is about as open-and-go as you can get for science. The final lesson each week features a hands-on activity that reinforces the week's science concept. They do require a bit of prep work but use basic household supplies, or materials that can be printed from the internet. The activities are perfect for the age. Everyday Literacy: Science is worksheet-intensive but requires no additional texts to be purchased. All content is written into the lessons. Concepts are presented in interesting and memorable ways. Tessa's retention has been remarkable. The worksheets require little-to-no reading and writing. They utilize very basic coloring, circling, underlining, dot-making, tracing, filling-in-the-bubble and similar skills. Aside from the hands-on activities, lessons take only five to ten minutes to complete.

This past week, Tessa learned about the parts of an insect. Today's hands-on activity required her to create an insect of her own design. She remembered that all insects have three main body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), two antennas and six legs.

Tessa rolled dough for the three main body parts of an insect...head, thorax and abdomen.
Tessa rolled dough for the three main body parts of an insect...head, thorax and abdomen.

Tessa attached six legs (and later wings) to the thorax.
Tessa attached six legs (and later wings) to the thorax.

Tessa's completed insect of her own design.
Tessa's completed insect of her own design.

A close-up of Tessa's's a fancy grasshopper.
A close-up of Tessa's's a fancy grasshopper.

Lollipop Logic & Evan-Moor Beginning Geography

After finishing up our regular school year, we picked up a couple of fun electives for the summer.

The first couple of chapters of Lollipop Logic: Book 1 have been quite tame. I'm curious to see how Tessa will do with some of the more challenging material later on in the book.

I'm glad we were able to squeeze in Evan-Moor Beginning Geography this summer. Tessa has really impressed me with how well she has done with it so far. We will be using History Odyssey: Ancients, Level 1 by Pandia Press this fall. My hope is the skills she's learning now will greatly benefit her then. History Odyssey requires weekly map work.

Number Line for Singapore Math 1A 3.3.1 Lesson & Game

Here's a number line I created for the Singapore Math 1A 3.3.1 lesson and game. (3.3.1 = Unit 3, Chapter 3, Lesson 1, which is on page 30 of the Singapore Math Primary Mathematics 1A STD ED Home Instructor's Guide.)

For the number line game, I had Tessa choose a Squinkies figure the night before without telling her why. (I like to keep her in suspense. Makes school more fun that way.) I was thinking a critter would be good, but no, she chose Ariel in her wedding dress. I pretty much had to choose Eric for myself then. So much for the cute little green dog with spots I had my eye on. I covered a blank die with pieces of cut up file folder labels and wrote +1, +2 and +3 on them. Sticking them on a regular die would probably work just as well.

Number Line for Singapore Math 1A 3.3.1 Lesson & Game
Number Line for Singapore Math 1A 3.3.1 Lesson & Game

Download Number Line for Singapore Math 1A 3.3.1 Lesson & Game.

The game directions technically call for a 0-10 number line, but including the zero forced the number line to be too small for an 11" x 8.5" sheet of paper. It's easy enough to set the counters/game pieces before the one and play that way.

Ariel and Eric get ready to hop down the number line.
Ariel and Eric prepare to hop down the number line.