Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Welcoming of Curly Bear

We are taking a hiatus from school blogging at the moment.

Our newest addition to our family was born on the 8/9/11.

She is beautiful and also has a few issues. We have spent the first six weeks of her life in hospitals. For more information please go to:

We will be back one day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Independent Work Habits

For me independent work is a skill within itself that we work on daily. At the moment our chore system has taken inspiration from THIS blog post. Each day after breakfast and again at about 4:30 my kids and I get six laminated cards with a job written and illustrated on each one. The kids and I work through the chores and I expect my children to work relatively independently as I move around helping each one. Even Tool Man knows how to do his chores (things like dust the bookshelves etc.) and because they have been taught explicitly the how's of doing them and they KNOW I will check up on them (one of my chores is to check everyone's work!) they usually get on with it. That is not to say we don't have to re-do. Princess Doc had to vacuum the dining area four times today before I was happy to let it go and I have had to have serious conversations with my sons about what IS and IS NOT appropriate to suck up with the vacuum cleaner (water out of the bathroom sink being NOT - betcha didn't know vacuum cleaners can shoot flame!). What has this got to do with doing math independently? Everything. If the only time they have to work independently is when they are doing academic work they will resist it with every fibre of their being - and kids can get very creative about resisting academic work that they don't want to do! If they have learned and daily practise the skill of working independently this will be reflected in the way they work. I teach independent working habits by being close and available without being involved. Sometimes this means I have to re-focus children multiple times which can be frustrating, but if I focus on teaching WORK HABITS before teaching content it works better in the long run.

Things that have helped me streamline our day, foster independent work and cut out busy work for me include:

Link group work to meals and non-negotiable daily events.
Our Bible work happens at the breakfast table and immediately before bed. We are working through Sword Fighting by Karyn Henley (brilliant by the way) in the mornings which gives us time to read from the Bible, discussion questions and scripture memorisation. Plus we sing 1 hymn - I choose a new hymn each week so the kids can learn it thoroughly. In the evenings we sing together as a family, have some discussion time with Daddy, pray and then when the kids are tucked into bed with the lights off I sit in the hall way and read aloud our Day-by-day Bible Story readings which is working us through the Bible chronologically. Our history and science reading happens over lunch. Our poetry reading happens over afternoon tea once a week. This really helps with the rhythm of our day.

I don't create paper clutter. If my kids can discuss the story with me, describe what they know, ask insightful questions etc. it is pointless to create a picture or work sheet just to show that they know something that they and I already know that they know! It wastes both our time. Children get bored with and resist busy work and frankly, I don't blame them. I have a couple of work books that my kids started but got ahead of. Rather than pushing through just to "finish the book" I added them to our colouring/activity book collection. They now pull them out to doodle in or the younger ones use them (sometimes surprising me with what they learn!). Paper work is there to serve our needs, not the other way around.

I have a daily meeting with each child. Each child gets my attention for 10-20 minutes a day. During this time I teach Tool Man his letters, sing songs, look at shapes etc. Farm Boy reads me his reader, we work on some memorisation and play a phonics/reading game. With Princess Doc we do some memorisation, work on her Latin or First Language Lessons book or work on her latest composition or go over what she is doing with math-u-see. I took inspiration for this from a portion of an e-book that I read

I don't require independent written work until the child is an independent reader. It just creates work for me and is of limited value. The more I read about the subject, and the more I observe my own children, the less inclined I am to believe that sitting a four year old down with a pencil and a work sheet they "must" finish is in any way educationally beneficial. They are doing pre-reading or early reading exercises with me during their daily meeting and when "reading" their chore cards, measurement and math when they help in the kitchen, listening in on all the read alouds - written work at this point is a waste of both our time. Princess Doc, a proficient reader, has a to-do list every day that she can work through and tick off.

Go deeper rather than wider. We are studying bones this "term". I could generate stacks of work sheets on this topic, but I am not. For our first composition of this term I asked Princess Doc the question "why do we have a rib cage?" I acted as scribe as she brain stormed. She found she wanted some information so got a book of the shelf to check it. When we had all the information I put it away until our next composition meeting. Then she re-read her information and dictated her first draft to me. We will edit at our next meeting and then she will type it up and publish it. Rather than labeling a rib cage on a work sheet, she has created a piece of writing (using many literacy skills) that discusses the function of a rib cage. She has researched the information herself. She put the words together herself. She will edit it with me and type it up and publish herself. It takes FAR longer than a work sheet, however it really only took us 15-20 minutes a week for four weeks and was a far richer learning experience and after our editing, the process will be entirely independent. Children will put far more effort into something they see will be valued and kept rather than "another work sheet".

Don't expect too much. The work turned in from independent work will rarely be as good as the work done with me hovering at the shoulder correcting and pushing and prodding kids along. However, will I be with them at university or at their apprenticeship pushing them along? The independent work is a truer indication of what they are honestly capable of.

I don't "prove" everything they know and don't over assess for an external assessor. If an assessor walked through the day and demanded to see proof that my children are memorising scripture and learning about the Bible I could not show him anything - EXCEPT, children who are able to speak the scriptures. If an assessor asked to see proof that Farm Boy can read I can't show him any phonics work sheets or work books, but I can sit him down with a child who will read him "Bug On A Rug" (Farm Boy is not registered yet, so I have no need to prove anything anyway!). Princess Doc's math-u-see work, copy work and dictation work is all put together in chronological order. Compositions are filed with brainstorms, rough draft and editing tucked in behind. Art journals and nature journals are also available and clearly filed in display folders. But this is for our OWN enjoyment as much as for display! The fact that it satisfies the needs of our assessors for registration is almost incidental. I don't have to decide which pieces of paper to keep because we don't generate heaps of it. Frankly, if it isn't worth keeping it probably wasn't worth doing in the first place. I do not write reports for my children. It would not add anything to our schooling so would be pointless for me to do so.

Allow time for kids to develop their own interests on their own. If I want my daughter to read independently, it makes more sense for me to allow her time to delve into her Enid Blyton collection than to assign her a reading list at this point. She is developing her reading entirely independently! Of course, I keep tabs on what she is reading and how often. I do this by hanging over the edge of her bunk at bed time and asking her interested questions or inviting her to join in "book talk" at the table. Usually she is more than happy to tell me what she's doing. She is a willing reader and if the only reading she had time to do was the reading I assigned to her, she would loose that willingness and joy. Their ability to work independently would wain significantly if they never had time to work independently on their own interests. It would be foolish of me to pull my boys in from riding bikes in the back yard to do "PE" at this age or to stop the children poking at the biscuit dough so that they can do their fine motor skill work with the play dough - but this is exactly the trap we can fall into as over eager homeschoolers of preschoolers out to "prove" we can do it.

Accept that some kids will have a harder time staying focused than others. Farm Boy will work for hours on something assigned to him, Princess Doc will drift off after about ten seconds if it doesn't interest her. This isn't because Farm Boy is a "better" or "smarter" child, it is simply because he has a work aptitude the same as Princess Doc has a reading aptitude. I have to work harder with Princess Doc on her work habits, I have to work harder with Farm Boy on his reading skills. It is just the way it is.

Don't expect everything and every day to be perfect. If it is all perfect because I made it that way, it doesn't teach my children anything. We can all learn from our mistakes. Being a control freak, it doesn't always come naturally to let my kids make mistakes and sometimes I have taken it as a personal failure when they stuff up. Allowing them to work independently and keeping my meddling hands out can be good character training for me! Of course, I do have standards and sub-standard work or sloppy attitude does warrant a do-over. But being a perfectionist will just kill any joy in the process and isn't worth it. Initially I try and make sure all the work is well within the capability of a child before requiring them to work independently. This way I can focus on work habits rather than getting hung up on content.

Monday, February 21, 2011

When you move to crazy town....

WHAT have we been up to?

This last few months the Bear family moved to crazy town. No packing of boxes, thank goodness, just a slight shift in our mental balance. It started with the weather forgetting that we live in a cool-temperate climate and doing an impression of a tropical summer. Complete with some local flooding.

The biggest lasting effect of all this rain has been our inability to get laundry dry! Yes, I know that isn't much compared to those who had their homes flooded, but I think any mother of many little ones knows that the laundry monster, once awakened, is very hard to put back to bed! We have a drier, but the humidity and the size of our house has meant that we have used it sparingly. So with toilet training, wet beds, camping trips and life in general we are drowning in an avalanche of washing!

Yes, that is enough to send a Mama Bear slightly potty.... but it doesn't stop there.

There was the completion of the boys room going from this

to this

which has meant the rearranging of almost every room in the house.

And there have been birthdays

And camping trips

and automotive projects in the driveway (just in case you're wondering, the thing in the blue tarp is the motor)

day trips to the mountains

And of course we have added a few regular commitments to our schedule that weren't there before because, you know, we have so much spare time on our hands. Plus a few of my own short term projects have all reached a deadline at once - funny how that happens! And our landscaping project in the front yard....let's just say I haven't been brave enough to photograph that one yet!

So the Bear Family, residing in crazy town at the moment.


Partially it has been out of our hands. We don't control the weather! Partially it has been completely our choice - if we don't make camping trips a priority they won't happen and we think they are important enough to put up with a little extra chaos. Also, it has been a choice to put up with short term chaos for long term gain. Having the children go from all sharing a room to having a girls room and a boys room has changed our lives for the better in SO many ways. Having that ute fixed and on the road will cut our fuel bills and be useful for Papa Bear to cart building materials, landscaping materials and lots of other materials.


Being that this is a homeschooling blog I am going to give a quick rundown on how I keep school ticking along during times of chaos.

1. I put my own oxygen mask on first. This is recommended to you every time you listen to the safety instructions before a plane takes off. Put your OWN oxygen mask on before helping anyone else, that way you won't be passed out on the floor with your child's oxygen mask only half on! Profound. Hard to apply at times. For me this looks like getting enough sleep, having an afternoon down time, eating well, drinking lots and taking my vitamins. If I do not do these things, I will be a burden to my family not a help during this time of chaos.

2. I plan by weeks rather than days. I have x amount that I expect we will get done in a week. We start on Sunday and work through until it is done or we hit Friday, which ever comes first! Usually, with no interruption, we are done except for a few cooking projects or read alouds by Wednesday and we get to focus on life learning for the rest of the week but if we have life stuff happen at the start of the week, we just shift our other work to the end of the week. At this point, we need the extra flexibility this allows and it works for me not to have to stress or re-plan if a day goes pear shaped.

3. I plan. Each week's work is planned with anything I need printed out and stuck in the appropriate manilla folder. The folders are numbered rather than dated so if it happens to take two weeks to get one week done, it is no biggie. But I never have to be sitting up scanning and printing the night before so Princess Doc has her school work in the morning. I wanted to have the whole year done, but I only have the first 12 weeks complete at this stage but I am just plodding along getting the rest done. So long as I stay a few weeks ahead of where we are I am happy. I got this idea from Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace and I have to say, I love the way it frees up my days.

4. I use some grab and go resources. I am in love with resources like Math-U-See, Song School Latin, Downunder Literature copywork, First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind and Simply Charlotte Mason's Spelling Wisdom. These are all resources that I do not have to fiddle with which makes planning SO much easier. For the most part, my independent worker can work independently with these too! Other than our ten to fifteen minutes of couch time I rarely give my undivided attention to Princess Doc's schooling. I may go over a concept with her as I peg out the washing or check some of her work while I feed Laughing Boy but it is rare for her to need me to stop what I am doing. I believe this is an important part of her being a self motivated learner and I also believe this is important with the current level of chaos in our home! It WORKS for us, and that is what I want in a curriculum. I do not want to work for a curriculum! Also, it means on her really motivated days, Princess Doc is finished all her book work before I am out of bed - she's our morning lark in a house of night owls.

5. I go with it. If it weren't for some major commitments toward the end of the year which will require some non-school weeks I would probably declare a fortnight's holidays and defeat that laundry monster and go crazy on the mess. But there are some inflexibilities in our life and we have to realise that. So each day I try and wash, dry and put away more washing than we make. Each day I try and make the house a little tidier than when I got up that morning. Each day I try and find time to laugh and love with my kids. Because I am the author of this crazy life and much of the crazy is of my own making. Plus, Crazy Town, it comes with benefits.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Out Live Your Life

Why did I choose to review this book?

I have enjoyed some of Max Lucado's books previously and wanted to see if this one matched up. The title intrigued me.

What did I like about this book?
Max's books often follow a formula. Each chapter starts with an inspiring or convicting story, then comes a bit of Bible work or a little bit of "How do we apply this to our life?" type talk and then a big finish with a quote or push on to the next chapter. This was no exception to this formula. BUT, he makes this formula work. It reads like a series of darn good sermons on the topic of social justice. Some of Lucado's previous titles were enjoyable to read but a bit "fluffy" for me. They dealt very much in the realm of the emotional, not my personal happy place. This book was nitty gritty. It had the courage to take on the tricky topic social justice and wrestle it. While not pretending to have all the answers, this book did have the courage to confront some of the harder aspects of living out the Biblical call for Christians to be champions of social justice. I found the ideas and concepts this book puts forward to be challenging and practical without being guilt inducing and hopeless. I appreciated the continual returning to the Bible for inspiration and the openness within the suggestions that left room for the season of life of the reader. Let's face it, at this stage of life much of my time and energy is already double booked and many books that deal with this particular topic are designed to guilt anyone who doesn't have a spare 4-8 hours a day/grand per week to put toward service outside the home. I always appreciate a book that is practical and open ended.

What don't I like about this book?

It was fairly hard to pick any holes in this one. I know of some people who felt overwhelmed by the suggestions within the book, but I did not. I think if I were a person who felt that I MUST implement every good thing that I read in order to be a "good Christian", I may well have felt overwhelmed. But I think if you take it in context and relate it to the season of your life, it is a good read that continually brings one back to THE Book, which is really what you want in a Christian work.

Overall, I would recommend this as an excellent read. Enjoyable, accessable, enough "meat" to it to satisfy me and enough inspiration to spur me on to bigger and better things in my own life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

8 Ways a Mama Bear Can Learn

If Mama ain't learning...ain't nobody learning.

What do I mean?

Sometime in the last four or five generations we have picked up the idea, as a society, that learning happens at schools and universities. It is something that is done to a student by a qualified individual - often against that student's will. One day the student will graduate and then they will get to stop learning, other than occasional professional development or perhaps further education - again done at a school like facility or university.

I am going to assume that if you are reading this blog you at least have a passing interest in home education. Therefore, it is fairly safe to assume that you already know that people can and do learn somewhere other than school. But do you know that YOU can learn still? Do your children know it? Do they SEE it?

Not long ago I mentioned to Princess Doc that I had learned something and she asked "How come you didn't know that already? You're a grown up!" I explained that I am still learning every day and I hope to still be learning every day when I am ninety or more. It was a light bulb moment for her. Suddenly learning wasn't a path to be followed to a destination but an amazing place to be explored every day forever!

Why should we keep learning?

* To set a good example. A child will emulate behavior modeled far more readily than they will follow good advice. If your children see you learning, making mistakes, trying again, researching a topic of interest and completing a project they will learn skills that directly apply to their own studies and their own lives through your example.

* To keep your brain healthy. Research suggests that a good diet, exercise and lifelong learning are our best defense against age related brain disorders and mental illness like Alzheimers, age related bipolar disorder and many other devastating illnesses. If you don't use it you may well loose it.

* To maintain healthy relationships. If you are a homeschooling mother odds are you are home with your children most of the time. It is VERY easy to make homeschooling, mothering and keeping house into an all consuming task. Ask yourself, if your ENTIRE identity is your home and children, what kind of relationship do you have with your husband? What kind of relationship will you have with your children when they leave home? I am by no means suggesting that we should shirk our responsibilities in this area in order to pursue hobbies and selfish interests but I am suggesting that a well rounded mind can help us to be better wives, mothers and home makers.

* To develop our talents. If you are not familiar with the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, I'll encourage you to go and read it.

How do we keep on learning?

OK about now there are women rolling their eyes at the monitor and saying "Great, ANOTHER thing to add to the to-do list!".

It's not about working harder, it's about working smarter! To learn, you don't need to enroll in a Masters program, you simply need to try something new, open a book, read something! Here are a few ideas of how to keep the learning going with a busy schedule.

1 Make yourself a book list. If you look at the top of this blog you will see a link labeled Mama Bear's Reading List. This is a list of books I want to read. I am trying to work through it at a slightly faster rate than I add to it! I read while I feed the littlest baby bear, I read while I wait for a doctor's appointment, I read for five or ten minutes after I get into bed (provided I get to bed before midnight), I read during nap times, I read whenever I get a spare moment and I'm not knitting...sometimes I multi-task and knit too. Compared to my ten book a week habit that I had pre-children it takes me a horribly long time to get through any book but the greatest thing about my learning right now is NO END OF SEMESTER EXAMS! If it takes me a year to get through a book, so what? As long as I am reading and enjoying and learning, what does it matter how long I take?

2 Practice a new skill or craft. I am a self confessed yarn addict. I love to knit and I am also learning to crochet. There is always something to learn with these crafts and I am constantly challenged, frustrated, ecstatic, devastated, intrigued and thrilled with my yarn adventures. Thankfully, this is a portable and easy craft to pursue. I knit in front of the TV, in the car, while I listen to children reading, while I wait for appointments, when I am camping, when I am visiting friends, when I take the kids to playgroup. Pretty much any time I sit down and I'm not reading, I have yarn. Sometimes, I do both. I realise that not all crafts are this easy to accommodate, but get creative. If it is cake decorating, scrap booking, quilting or dress making that boils your personal potato find a way or make a way to do just a little bit each week. You will be surprised how fast it clocks up.

3 Connect with fellow students and experts. When I joined ravelry, a yarn crafter's social networking site, I fell in love with knitting all over again. You can find all sorts of forums, blogs and websites all over the net. You may have a local group or a friend with a shared interest who you can connect with. You need to be aware of your time spent here and make sure that it is adding to your learning, not taking away from your living (as internet over-usage is apt to do!) but it can be worth doing. Barns and Noble run book clubs on their site which can be a great way to find people to discuss what you are reading with you.

4 Make use of podcasts, audio books and other techno aids. Downloading a few podcasts into your MP3 player to listen to as you do the dishes or go for a walk, or peg out washing can be a fabulous, time efficient way to add to your learning. Seriously folks, there is SO MUCH out there, your problem will be narrowing it down. Here is a list of 20 places to start just from my own bookmarks and poking around. Can you believe, I am still saving for my MP3 player?

free classic audiobooks
free christian audiobooks
homeschool radioshows

(just as a side note, if your kids have ipods to load up with lots and lots of educational goodies, you may be interested in this page telling you how to set a maximum volume to protect your precious offspring from industrial deafness:

5 Don't be afraid just to dabble. I love to write. My writing consists of sporadic blogging and the grand aim of writing just one sentence per night in my journal. My garden teaches me heaps, but probably only gets an hour or two a week out of me. I love to cook new things, but only try maybe one new recipe per week. If you set your self small, attainable steps toward learning or improving your skills you will be more likely to get it done. ACHIEVABLE is the key word here.

6 Keep a notebook. If there is a particular topic that interests you, start a notebook where you jot relevant facts, ideas, book titles that you want to track down, paste newspaper and magazine articles and make notes as you read books related to the subject. It could be dog breeding, meta-physical poetry, the role of women in the Bible, household management methods or healthy eating. Whatever it is, keeping your thoughts and research in a central place can help connect the dots. It doesn't need to be fancy, it won't be submitted for marking, it is for your eyes only.

7 Link it to the kids school work. You love scrapbooking? Have the kids help you make a scrapbook and call it arts and crafts - or better yet, teach them to create their own scrap book about subjects they are studying (check out these links for more ideas:,, or just google homeschooling scrapbooking). Do you love dressmaking? Have the kids help you make medieval costumes as part of their history and craft learning. I always wanted to learn Latin so guess what we are learning this year? That's right! I can justify teaching Latin lots of different ways but when it boils down to it I want to learn it and it won't hurt for them to learn it too. Kids can make great study buddies! And sometimes, the best way to learn something is to teach it.

8 Take a short course. You may not be able to commit to a Masters program, but perhaps you have time to take an Adult Ed course. Perhaps you can take a course online. I quickly scanned an interesting blog post the other day listing "12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free" and you can bet I have bookmarked that one for a better look. This is something I am more likely to pursue in a season of life when the bear cubs aren't quite so time-intensive, but it's nice to plan ahead sometimes. Perhaps you have a burning desire to learn how to Zumba, join your local gym. Perhaps you want to learn how to throw pots or draw, the local TAFE may well be running a short course. If you can work it in, it can be well worth doing.

So check it out, think about it and get creative with your time. I honestly believe, nobody is to busy to learn.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Much has changed since the original walk through our day so I think it is time for a rehash. We will start off this series with a nutshell look at our day as planned for this year.

This is how we are planning to do things:

7:30-9:30 - get up, dressed, bedroom chores, hang out washing and have breakfast

9:30-lunch time - 15 minute clean up time after breakfast, "table time" where we do our Bible study and any work we can do together like Latin, art activities etc. Then we have independent activities and chair time (this is where Erin does copywork, math-u-see etc. and I spend 10-15 minutes with each child snuggled on the couch reading stories, helping them memorise, working on phonics with my pre-reader and working through our language program. The kids also play in their rooms, outside or find some other way to express their individual creativity and learn independently i.e. make a complete mess. This time is usually peppered with cleaning up toilet training accidents, putting babies to bed or to the breast and general life stuff. By the end of the morning everyone is usually engaged in activities of their own choice. Like hovering over a sibling saying "Look, I'm not touching you!". We are so edjamacational in this house.

lunch time - after lunch is made we sing a hymn and have lunch and I read aloud whatever other reading we are working on (Monday - history (Story Of The World), Tuesday - science(first term this year books about space exploration and astronomy), Wednesday - poetry, Thursday - (first term this year astronomy), Friday - River Cottage Family Cookbook)

after lunch we have another 15 minute clean up, I read a chapter of our "for fun" read aloud and everyone goes down for a 30 minute rest (Erin usually works on a yarn craft like french knitting or long stitch or reads, the boys and Anna just read)

after rest time we MAY do a little more stuff depending on how I feel and what is in the planning file (plaster fresco, for example, may be best done while the little ones are still asleep!), but for the most part this is when we do a bit of cleaning up and housework, get tea under way and I deal with any other projects I want to get done like perhaps a bit of sewing while the kids get turfed outside or in the bath or watch terribly educational things on TV (YouTube is an excellent resource and so are pages like this: and lets be honest, Bob the Builder is brilliant and Vegetales rock.)

We usually eat somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 then everyone has their teeth brushed etc. and the boys get into bed while the rest of us sit on the floor and we have our family devotions. Then the girls shoot off to bed and there you have it, our day in a nutshell

Teaching Farm Boy to Read Part 2

Sorry about the cliffhanger there! I have been meaning to get back for weeks, but Christmas, renovations and life happened all at once.

So, how did we go from letters to words? Once Farm Boy was fairly confident with the names and basic sounds of all the letters I found my trusty index cards. Seriously folks, don't homeschool without them. On each card I wrote a single word. I made a card each for the words that he knew how to read in the reader and then I added some words that I knew he would like to read - like his name, his siblings names, the word "cow" seeing as he loves all things cow related etc. Then after we read his reader, we played the sentence game. I put out some words to make a sentence that he would be able to read (for example: The cat sat on the hat.). When he had read it, I praised him up and changed it putting in a few different words and removing others. It helps if the sentence is funny, something like "The cat sat on Farm Boy" or "Tool Man sat on the cat". Four year olds have a fabulous love of the ridiculous and I use this to keep Farm Boy interested.

As time goes on we added some other words and play the sentence game for a few minutes after we read. Some days we mix it up and I will write whole lot of "body part" cards and as Farm Boy reads them, he can stick them on himself or me (a game I got from a Peggy Kaye book called "Games for Reading") or we will walk around the house labeling things, people and pets. Farm boy gets to choose some cards to compose sentences for me to read too. It is invariably the case that a few of the sentences won't be grammatically correct and this is a great teaching point. First I will read the sentence exactly as it was composed "At the cat on sat" for example. Then I will screw up my face and exclaim "That doesn't make sense, that's SILLY!" After a giggle I encourage him to help me change it to something that DOES make sense.

Why do I think the sentence game is so important? Because it stops a child thinking they can read simply because they memorised a reader then getting frustrated when they find they can't read the books in their book shelf. Mixing it up, seeing the words in different contexts, experimenting with formulation of correct sentences and trying out the meanings of words really gives reading ability a good work out. Knowing that C-A-T spells cat in the reader AND on the card is a big step in learning how to read. I believe in making our resources for this game together because I can tailor make it to the child. Phonetically, cow is way beyond where Farm Boy is at but because I know he loves cows it makes sense to use it now. So I wrote it and explained that O and W fight and say 'OW!' and it is one word he can always read. Because it comes from what he loves. Princess Doc had body parts and medical terms and I suspect Tool Man will want cars and tools. A child will want to read about what they are passionate about and will put the work in to learn if they see it as worthwhile.

A Note on Writing:

I do not believe a child should be required to write until they have shown an interest in learning OR are a proficient reader. Writing requires the mental knowledge of letters, what they mean and how to put them together. It also requires fine and gross motor skills that many early readers simply do not possess. When Princess Doc wanted to learn to read I used a popular text to start her off and it required that she write a little each day. My training had taught me that you teach letter formation at the same time as you teach the letter. Away we went and I found I was killing her love of reading. She hated having to write the letters because she simply did not have the fine motor skills to do it "properly". And if you know Princess Doc at all, you know that "properly" is very important to her. So I let it go and we just read - and today I have and confident novel reading six year old who is just now perfecting her letter formation. Sadly, many children are prevented from surging on with their reading at school because they haven't learned to write well enough yet. I personally see this and a linked but separate skill which may form at a completely different rate.