Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Logic of English - a preliminary review.

My 9 year old daughter has trouble spelling. I have heard from friends: "oh, that is normal." But you see, she reads a lot of books every month. Not just fluff stuff but Classics, scientific books, chapter books, biographies and more. You can check out our Learning Logs to see some of the books she reads. I have restrained her reading exploration some because of content. She is only 9!

Still she has trouble spelling.

It was hard for me to understand that because I find spelling easy. I speak 3 languages fluently and have a photographic memory. I was naive to think that my own children would have the same easiness with languages as I do.

Because of this struggle, I have been on a search for a spelling program to teach her how to spell. Now why is spelling so important to me? I feel her lack of spelling knowledge hinder her learning journey.

 My daughter walks in the room and tells me she wants to write a story. "Get some paper and write it down." I tell her. "I can't. I don't know how to spell!", she grumbles back. See what I mean?

When my daughter writes, she writes the words the way she hears them. Now because she has not learned the correct sound for each phonogram, she ends up with words in the paper that look more like codes instead of English words. She feels limited because of her inability to spell. I want her to write her heart out, not dread writing!

We tried AVKO Sequential Spelling last year and my daughter did really well. She was able to pick up on the patterns and sequence and spelled 99% of the words correctly. However, a couple of days later, or hours for that matter, if you asked her to write one or two words from her list, she would spell them wrong.

I learned that my daughter does not have the photographic memory that I have. Her memory and learning style is more of a logic one, so although she could pick up the patterns, she did know understand why the words were spelled the way they were so she did not retain the learning.

Denise Eide talks about two different readers/ spellers: one that learns to read intuitively and the other that is very logical. The intuitive one will use and learn the differences of phonetic sounds without being aware of them. The logical reader will "see" the difference in the sounds and not understand why they are not consistent with the limited rules they have been taught.

For example, did you know that the F in the word OF sounds like a V? I had never noticed it until I saw my daughter write OV instead of OF. Now if she wrote OV that meant I said OV even though I had no idea that I was sounding it like a V. I am an intuitive reader/ speller. She is a logical one.

So for my daughter, Sequential Spelling, made no sense, since there were no rules being taught.

I am a native of Brazil, my first language is Portuguese. When I was 12 years old, I learned to speak, write and read in English while I lived in California. I barely have an accent. When I was 27 years old, I learned Spanish. I can speak, write and read in Spanish too. I am definitely an intuitive learner. I can pick up a language quickly WITHOUT having to know all the whys and hows.

My son, who is almost 7 years old, will from time to time correct me when I say a word that has a TH phonogram in it with the wrong pronunciation. Words like Arthur and thought sometimes come out wrong  because Latin languages have no TH sound in it. He will instinctively correct me. Yes, he can spell. He can spell better than his sister who is 9. He has made some connections that his sister hasn't yet.

In my search for help, I found the Logic of English. On their website, I watched THIS video and it changed my life. The video described some of the things that was happening to my daughter. I knew she was not stupid and that she was able to learn anything. Something clicked and I knew that I had found the answer to help my daughter.

I then watched THIS VIDEO and I made my mind right then and there, that I needed this curriculum. I learned a lot of things just watching this 40 minute video. Light bulbs kept going off during the whole presentation. I knew that this would finally help my daughter make sense of spelling and boost her confidence in her capacity to learn.

I will be reviewing The Logic of English curriculum in the next few months. If you have children struggling with reading or spelling I would recommend you begin by watching the videos I linked here. Then go check out Denise Eide's book: Uncovering the Logic of English. You can read samples of her book on the link I provided. It's also on Kindle format.

It might help you too to read this article that Denise wrote where she explains how she discovered the Logic of English. As a homeschooling Mom, she talks about her struggles and how finding out her children's individual learning styles affected the way she taught them.

After receiving the Teacher's Manual, the Cursive Student Workbook as well as a  set of Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, I began immediately working with my daughter. Together we read the Phonemic Awareness in the Introduction part of the Teacher's Manual. As a kinesthetic learner it was so important for my daughter to see how the different sounds were made in her mouth. I learned a lot too and realized that I am definitely an intuitive learner. I had no idea that the A had 3 sounds, but I use them every time I speak!!!

If you would like to read more on my reviews as we go on this journey, feel free to follow me or subscribe via email. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear it in the comments section. Thank you.

Have a blessed summer!!


PS. I used Hooked on Phonics to teach my 2 oldest to read. They learned the sounds of the letters by playing and watching TV. Once they desire to learn to read, I work through Hooked on Phonics program (k-2nd grade) and within 3-6 months they are independent readers. This program does not teach the sound of phonograms with the use of flashcards or the rules of spelling.

* As a homeschooling Mom, I share my experiences and reviews to help other homeschooling parents. All curriculum mentioned in the post above was purchased by me, with the exception of the Logic of English Teacher's Manual, Cursive Student Workbook and Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, which I received free of charge in exchange of my review.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Monsters in my House

Before I share the monsters in my house, I want to share with all of you that I have some resources in my hands that I am currently reviewing. If you are a homeschooler and you are interested in finding out the newest great resources out there that could add to your life, then make sure to subscribe via email to receive my updates.

I will also be doing some giveaways of healthy products that I use that have contributed to our better health . More information coming soon!!

Now for the monsters...

Created by DD9 these were funky, colorful monsters that she drew and colored to give as a gift to a friend who had a birthday.

how confident 

Do your kids 
amaze you 
like mine amaze me??

I forgot to ask her,
I bet each one
has a name!

The monster with pink eyes has a ball. 
It was supposed to be his stomach, but it didn't look the way 
she wanted so she turned it into a ball!

Are you scared yet??


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back pain anyone???

Are you a blogger? Got a kid that spends too much time at the computer? Do you have funny pains around your body you don't know how you got them? or what caused them?

Take a look at this article and watch the video.

Happy blogging!!!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Garden Update I

See Garden Update II  here...

This year we have planted a garden. This is my first garden. My DH always helped his Grandpa with his gardening, so he is the one with the experience.

My DH built us three boxes of 8' x 4'. We are growing green beans, zucchini, crooked neck squashes, cucumbers, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, okra, green onions, jalapeno peppers and green peppers.

You can see the beginning HERE.

Besides the raised beds, I have a few pots with crooked neck squashes, my strawberry pot, and three tomato plants in pots. I also planted herbs in pots. We have basil, cilantro, parsley and romaine lettuce in pots. Mint is also recommended to plant in pots since it is a weed and it will take over your garden.

I have another raised bed that already existed that we planted collard greens and our sunflowers. I  have transplanted a couple of zucchini plants to it too.

Behind the house we got a luffa squash, zucchinis and cantaloupes planted.

To the left some of our harvest: cucumbers, green beans, zucchinis and crooked neck squashes.

These squashes are so tender and sweet that I just slice them like you would cucumber and make a raw salad out of them. So good. Add a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and chopped cilantro and you got yourself a refreshing Summer salad.

Our first Sunflower!!

We planted 8 but 2 died. We got six left that are growing every minute. These are mammoth ones!!!

Isn't it gorgeous??

For my breakfast of champions, I am alternating kale and collard greens. Next to the kale, we have mustard greens. These are wonderful sauteed with a bit of garlic and olive oil. I don't cook it to death like most Southerners, just enough to have it wilt and turn a dark green. Then I turn the heat off and serve it with brown rice and beans. Any kind of beans will do.

They are wonderful too the next day inside of quesadillas or grilled sandwiches.

These are my first eggplants. I shared on my Learning Log of May how we learned how to hand pollinate. My eggplants were producing purple flowers but they were wilting and falling off and no eggplant would develop.

So I went on line and found out that without pollination no eggplant would grow. We discovered the uniqueness of the eggplant flower and how to hand pollinate in order to get the fruit. You can find out more on hand pollination HERE.

Tonight I will be roasting these!!

Cherry Tomato in a pot, my herbs in the back and another crooked neck squash in a pot.

My sunflowers and collard greens. I have harvested the collard greens 4 times already and they just keep producing. They are due for another harvest.

As a first time gardener, I thought it would require so much work. Not so!! I like to check on it every day. It's calming and relaxing routine. I usually check on it at the end of the day.

I water every 2 or 3 days as it needs. I pray for rain (now I understand the fascination with the weather channel!!) and I check for pests. It's amazing how much you can get just for a couple of handfuls of seeds. it's been truly a wonderful learning season for all of us.

The children are enjoying planting, harvesting, cooking and eating the vegetables. We are spending less money at the grocery store for sure.

Oh, no ripe tomatoes yet!! We got big green ones so I think we should be seeing red one soon!! I will keep you updated!!

do you have a garden?? What is your favorite thing to grow? Have a question for me? Ask away.


Garden Update II Here...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Learning Log of May 2012

Oh, it has been a busy month. We haven't read as much as we have spent a lot of time cleaning and running around preparing for the Grandparents' visit. Below you will find a load of resources and fun links.

Items and links in BOLD BIG letters 
the ones that I highly recommend.

Books - Read Aloud to all

* Bible Every day.
* Seababy - a Little Otter Returns Home by Ellen Levine
* Face to Face with Caterpillars by Darlyne A. Murawski
* The Great Redwall Feast by Brian Jacques
* Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin
* Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow - Fun book with a CD. Mr Lithgow sings a waltz and we follow along on the book. The second track is your turn to sing to the tune. Highly recommend it!!
* Nature Close up - Tadpoles by Elaine Pascoe - Love these series. Really good research books.
* The Bones Book and 24 piece Skeleton by Stephen Cumbaa - I bought this on Ebay. DS6.5 has been asking about bones and muscles a lot since he began karate. I thought this book would be a great tool for him to observe and learn more about the movements of his kicks and punches. We put the skeleton together. It actually has joints and will move all members and parts. Realistic enough to use as a teaching tool; the book is filled with lots of information from the names of the bones, to their importance, muscle density and strength and more! I highly recommend!!
* The Other Dog by Madeleine L'Engle
* The Chronicles of the Southern Thirties - The Crawdad Hole book 5 by Betty Brooks Levie and Louise Brooks Nolen
* When Moose was Young by Jim Latimer
* Why should I Help? by Claire Llewellyn
* Finders Keepers by Will and Nicolas
* How do you hug a porcupine?? by Laurie Isop


* Flory - A Miraculous Story of Survival - Holocaust 1940-1945 by Flory A. Van Beek
Read by Kirsten Potter . Unabridged. We got this one from our local library.

DS6.5 independent reading list plus listening to above books:

* Pugs in a Bug by Carolyn Crimi
* The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort
* Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin

DD9 independent reading list plus the books above:

* Upchuck and the Rotten Willy by Bill Wallace
* I can Draw Wild Animals by Helene Leroux-Hugon\
* John Henry by Julius Lester
* Nature Watch - Butterflies by Sara Nelson
* The Adventures of Thor The Thunder God retold by Lise Lunge-Larsen
* Who hid Inside a Horse? Ancient Times - Ask me why book
* When did Kings live in Castles? Highlights in History - Ask me why book
* I wonder why Castles Had Moats by Philip Steele
* Face to Face Caterpillars by Darlyne A. Murawski 
* Autumn with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - This book is about a conservative Christian homeschooling family. The writer was in her teens when she begin writing this series of books.
* Dear America - A Journey to the New World - The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple - Mayflower, 1620 
* Dear America - All the Stars in the Sky - The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie Mack Ryder, 1848 by Megan MacDonald
* Creative Stitching on Paper by Joanne O'Sullivan
* You're the Detective! by Lawrence Treat
* CDB! by Williiam Steig 
* Judy Moody Girl Detective by Megan McDonald - DD9 kept reading this book and repeating passages from it. She got everyone interested in it and laughing so hard that DS6.5 decided to read the book too. DD4 went to bed with the book every night although she can't read yet!! The funniest line from the book that makes everyone crack up: "What's a flushie?"
* Judy Moddy Goes to College by Megan McDonald
* Stink and the Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown by Megan McDonald
* The Nature Company Guides Shark & Rays by Tricas, Deacon, Last and more
* Re-reading her Cul-de-Sac books. 

* Nature Close up Tadpoles - by Elaine Pascoe - DD9 caught some tadpoles with legs in the park. This was a fun way to give continuity to our frog investigation a while back. She used this book to  learn more about taking care of tadpoles. She brought them home and made a vivarium and took care of the tadpoles for a few days. She was able to observe the tadpoles begin to breathe air as they spend more and more time with their heads above water. One morning the "tadpoles" (now frogs) were gone.
* I know she read more I just didn't keep track of them.

Websites/ Cool Links we have discovered.

* Storybird - creating books. Artful website. So worth your time. :) DD9 and I began a book each. The site has beautiful illustrations, they will inspire you.

* Ancient Greece - We browsed this website for a few minutes, but it has potential to be used later.

* Math Live - Math website from Canada. I checked this site on my own. I haven't shared it with the children yet, but I see them watching it in the future. It covers a multitude of themes in Math. I think their animated approach is a good one.

* Heritage HistoryFree Ebooks compiled in one place. You can purchase the CDs and download the files to your computer, pad or kindle. Or you can peruse the FREE links and read the books online. If you have a weak internet connection the CDs are the way to go. You can also use the lists to find the books online for FREE on librivox or gutenberg.

* Logic of English - Start here with this link. Watch the videos and then purchase the book. I think I have found the way to teach my child to spell and write with confidence. I will keep you posted on how this goes.

* Cell Craft - an educational online game.  I highly recommend this game for the child that likes science. It teaches the parts of a cell and how it works as the game develops. DD9 was amazed that I didn't learn anything about cells until I was in High School. DD6.5 played one afternoon all by himself too.

* Math Playground -  I was looking to buy books from Critical Thinking website and decide to look for FREE websites that would offer Critical thinking games. And Math Playground it is!! There is a lot of stuff here: from teaching multiplication and addition with manipulatives to word problems and functions. This is a keeper!!

* Brain Pop website - Some of the videos the children watched this month were on allergies; West Nile Virus, Swine Flu, Avian flu, Sleep, twins, soccer, asthma, Dolly the sheep, fish, viruses, ants, birds, cells, dreams, arachnids, balance, boogers, broken bones, bruises, burns, gender determination, Lyme disease, spider, estimation, black holes, bees, Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, fire works, guns, cell phones, digital animation, traditional animation, film making, cameras, photography, cubism, impressionism, nutrition, metabolism, obesity, roman numerals, money, new year's, winter holidays, chicken pox, small pox, aids, blood types, blood, heat, blood pressure, slavery, underground railroad,vision problems, atom, lasers, blues, jazz, robots, Elvis Presley, dance, assembly line, Armed Forces, headaches,...

If you would like to try this website before subscribing  your can try their 5 day free trial. There are also many videos and extra information, worksheets on different subjects that are available for FREE. See them HERE.

They also feature a daily video that is FREE. So if you don't want to commit or like me, don't want your kids on the website all the time, use this feature until you are ready to subscribe.

* Answers in Genesis - FREE videos with a Creationist point of view. Below I have a link for the one we watched together. 

* Games on the Computer: Airport Mania, Book Worm Adventures, Rubble Trouble, Sushi Cat, Moshi Games

* Loreen Leedy's Website -  DD9 read The Furry News - How to Make a Newspaper by Loreen Leedy last month and was inspired to write her own newspaper. This month we realized that the author is the same one who wrote a bunch of new books on Math that we had recently read too. DD9 had an idea of writing the author to share about her newspaper so I went online to find where to write to and found her website. This is a great website for the writer wanna be because Leedy shares how she writes a book and her illustrations. Great tool!

* HSLDA Poetry Contest - DD9 entered 2 of her poems. We used this website to learn more about Elements of Poetry in order to fulfill the requirements for her category.

* Keys for KIDS - Daily Devotional for FREE on line. I began doing this with the kids last month and it really is working out for us. It takes about 5 minutes to listen to the story and the Scripture of the day. The fun thing is that we always have a little discussion afterwards. Nothing forced or coerced, the children voluntarily speak out their thoughts on what they heard. this is exactly what I was looking for!! Afterwards we pray together.

* Disney Family Fun - This is an interesting site. I found it through Ruffles and Stuff. She used some of the PDF FREE files to print out party invites. My kids are always playing library at home and I thought these would be a perfect addition to their play.

* Beethoven's Wig - I found this site last month and this month we are still using it. The children are having a blast trying to keep up with the really funky and fast lyrics written to classical pieces..

* Babbel - I decided to cancel our subscription. The kids were having a hard time and weren't motivated enough to continue. I think this website would be great to teaching adults but for children I don't think it's effective enough. There is a lot of typing and writing words down and for children who are still learning to write in their own native language it can be a challenge and a turn off.

* ClicknKids - the children still use this on and off, usually with my suggestion. You can read my review HERE.

Field Trips/ Co-ops/ Out of the home Activities  

* Going to the park. DD9 collected new tadpoles with legs. We made a temporary vivarium for them and observed as they grew into frogs and left the vivarium.

* Ballet recital. DD9 and DD4.5 had their first ballet recital. They did so well. They really enjoyed performing. Their only complaint was that the recital was way too short. They want to try tap next semester.

* Karate - DD9 and DS6.5 have passed the test and received their yellow belt after just 3 months of beginning karate.

* Learning to play tennis with Grandpa. Also improving on their chess game under Grandpa's tutoring.

* Dissection Lab - A co-op class . We did another dissection lab. This time we dissected a dogfish shark. I highly recommend (if you are not squirmish about dead animals) that you purchase a kit from Carolina's Lab Supply and do it yourself with your children. Most kits come with a dissection manual of where to cut and the labels for all the parts. For the shark, no instructions where given or manual, but I found a really good information on a dissection HERE. We also asked a Biology teacher to teach this class, so she brought her laptop with photos showing where to cut and the ins and outs of sharks. 

Did you know that sharks give birth to live young? Did you know that they can have up to 12 babies inside of them? There were about 6 sharks there and ONE was found to be pregnant with 4 babies. WE were all so excited to be able to see how they grow and what they look like. 

* We had a play date with another homeschooling family at the nearby Splash Pad. The kids also went to a Dodge Ball night promoted by their Karate teacher.

* Reading Hour at our Local Library - the theme was butterfly. DD9 got to share the Butterfly project we had just done last month.

Activities at Home

* GAMES: Chess, Simon Says, Wii,

* Free Play: building farms with plastic toys, building cities with wooden blocks, playing hairdresser, horse farm, creating their own fishing poles, hide and seek, playing with dolls, painting fingernails, playing shepherd and sheep.

 * Harvesting our first collards, mustard greens and kale. Fighting off the pests and putting up trellises for the gourds and cucumbers. Click HERE to see what it looked like in the beginning. 
Harvesting our first yellow squashes, little strawberries, green beans and herbs.

 * Riding our Go Cart.

* Cleaning and Preparing our House for Grandparents' visit: the children helped pressure wash the pool house; sort through stuff and get rid of things, clean their bedrooms, wipe down cabinets, clean bathrooms, dust cobwebs, vacuum, mop, organize toy boxes and more.

* DD9, DS6.5 and DD4.5 actively fixing breakfast: toasting waffles, making pancakes from scratch... Kids are doing their jobs (we don't call them chores at our house) purposefully.

* DD9 wants to cook on her own. She is helping me out more in the kitchen to proof that she can be trusted to do things on her own. She is also doing more chores around the house on her own initiative. She will constantly ask me if I need help. She baked an upside down pineapple cake for Grandma's birthday. She has been washing the greens from our garden and helping out with chopping vegetables for dinner.

* Lots of gardening: watering, harvesting, hand pollination, bug control, planting. We are truly enjoying our garden. We have cucumbers, zucchinis, squashes, strawberries, collard greens, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, herbs, eggplants growing, cantaloupes, green peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes of many kinds and more. The kids and I learned how to hand pollinate eggplants and squashes. We learned to differentiate the male and female flowers and their parts. oh, such exciting topic! You can see some of the videos we watched on my Gardening Playlist on my YouTube channel.

* DD9 is also reading to DD2. They are sooo cute!! The little one will call out to big sister and say "Read!" DD6.5 is also reading to DD2. So fun to have so many readers!!

* The pool season is now open. The children have been swimming almost daily.Working on their strokes and diving skills. :)

* Raising butterflies with Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden.  Our butterflies broke free from their cocoons and we released then 2 days later in the beginning of the month. We received 5 caterpillars and all 5 turned into butterflies. This was a really fun project to do together. We read books on butterflies and this was easily turned into an Unit Study.

* DD9 wrote a newspaper, swapped advertisements for products and discounts to purchase her sparring gear. She distributed it at church, at the co-op we go to, handed it out to friends, at her ballet class - over 40 issues in all. You can see her newspaper HERE. She will be publishing a second issue that I will post soon.

* We made FLUSH signs to put in our bathrooms to help us remember to flush the toilets. So far it has NOT worked!! hahahaha 

TV Shows/ Movies/ YouTube videos

*Adventures of Tin Tin - animated movies from Netflix
* the Treasure Seekers - movie from Netflix
* Toy Story 3
* Creatures that Defy Evolution I - documentary from Netflix.
* National Geographic - The Incredible Human Machine - film from Netflix. My DS6.5 has been asking questions about the body: how to the muscles work, the digestive system, skeleton, I have been actively looking for books, movies and websites on this. This film was great because it covered all that and more. It lasts about an hour and a half and is NOT for every kid. There is a lot of skin showing in the beginning of the movie, no private parts are shown, but lots of skin of a naked woman. She wakes up (she is naked) and then takes a shower. As we watch her do all that, the narrator talks about the skin and the senses. An hour into the movie, sexual reproduction is introduced by a couple dancing tango. Seduction and baby making are words that the narrator uses. Other than that nothing more explicit was said. I am careful with what my children watch but I think everything show was justified by the topics being covered. there are also open surgery scenes in the film, skeleton doing karate and a body made of muscle only running. Some scenes could be scary for some kids. There are a lot of computer animation in order to show cells, skin cells, muscles and more. I recommend previewing this film before showing it to children.
* Adventures in Odyssey -Race to Freedom - 30 min. animated episode from Netflix. This was actually funny. We listen to Adventures in Odyssey pretty often, so when the kids saw the movie they were disappointed at how things were portrayed very differently from their own imagination.
* Adventures in Odyssey - The Last Days of Eugene Meltsner
* KidsTV123 - lots of fun YouTube videos on phonics, numbers, days of the weeks, colors, making 3 letter words... mostly preschool, kinder stuff. We sit in front of the laptop and sing together with DD4.5
* Tanked
* How to Grow a Mango Tree! 
* All Creatures Great and Small - a Talk from Answers in Genesis. We have only heard the first part. We will be coming back to this website time and time again. There are so many good information here. 
* Barbie Movies - lots of them. Yuck!! :(
* My Little Pony animated series on Netflix.- Ponyville
* Martha Speaks, Wild Kratts and Curious George. PBS shows
* Kung Fu Panda episodes. 
* Dolphin's Tale - very cute movie, based on a real story. The best part is when one of the characters of the movies says: "I am homeschooled that's why I am such a chatter box!" Good movie to teach children that there is always hope. After the movie we checked out the website  where the children could see the dolphin on a live cam.

 Mom's Eclectic Reading List

Discover. Share. Inspire - The Dennings are answering questions on video. So many interesting topics and questions are being covered. This website will challenge your thinking.
* A Survivors Guide to Home Schooling by Luanne Shackelford and Susan White
* The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis 
* Managers of Their Chores - A Practical Guide to Children's Chores by Steven and Teri Maxwell 
* Gift of Life by Henri Landwirth - another account from a Holocaust survivor. I was fascinated by them this past month. Besides listening to the audio book I mentioned above, I read this book and watched a documentary called "Steal a pencil for me." The resilience of the human race is amazing!

On with Summer... to learn more new and exciting things!! What are you up to??

Have you gleaned any good information from my learning log? Will you leave a comment and let me know? :)