Early Learning, Elementary(K-6), Special Needs

Letter Tiles as Manipulatives

Next time you are at a yard or jumble sale, don’t walk past that ragged Scrabble game box.  The game board may not be of interest to you, but the letter tiles are homeschool gold.    They are sturdy, portable and great manipulatives for working on letter sounds, word families and spelling/word study activities.  A visual learner’s delight!

Early Learning, Elementary(K-6), Parenting

Wait for It, Wait for It….

So your three year old is telling you about the new swing at the park.  The story is taking forever and a day.   You are so tempted to finish his sentences for him!    Here are a few reasons to ‘wait for it’ and let your child get that story out on his or her own.



Your child is developing his oral narrative skills.     Your child is learning how to put sentences together that focus on a central thought or theme.  She increasing her descriptive vocabulary by repeating words and phrases that she has heard you use to tell her story.  He is practicing sequencing skills in relating what happened first, then next and finally.  She is beginning to clue in on the idea of cause-and-effect.    Those skills are a vital part of speech & language development; foundational skills for learning to read and write.

Take a deep breath.  Listen and be encouraging as the story progresses.  Remind yourself that this is homeschooling at its most organic.  No lesson plans needed.

Ripley, Kate.  Developing Narrative Skills.  March 2012. Rosebowl, Southampton.
Early Learning, Elementary(K-6), High School(9-12), Home Life, Jr. High(7-8), Reading, Special Needs

Reading Aloud is for All Ages!

Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott and Wilkinson, 1985) presented among its findings that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” This landmark  Commission on Reading report also indicated reading aloud in the home is an essential contributor to reading success, and that reading aloud… is “a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

What powerful motivation to include reading aloud as part of a homeschooling schedule!  Most families however, see read-aloud time asMother_reading_to_child_1850 an activity for younger children only.  But as the report states, the practice should continue because the benefits of reading aloud don’t diminish as children grow older.


For the very young child, being read aloud to sends a multitude of important messages. The time spent with the reading parent is a vitally important bonding time. The young child gets the message that the act of reading is important, fun and desirable. Even though the child may not begin to read himself for several years, the underlying knowledge needed for reading success is being developed.


Emerging/Growing Readers

As a child enters his emerging reader years, the act of being read to still maintains a place of importance. Motivation becomes key factor in reading success, and being read aloud to keeps that motivation alive. It shows that reading is important and is a skill valued by the family. While the emerging reader listens, he takes note of the sounds of words, how punctuation is used, and begins to develop a personal vocabulary. As the books read aloud become longer, and the words become more difficult, a growing reader is able to gain access to new material with support.

Older Readers

One might think that reading to an older child is not a valuable exercise, but that is far from the truth.  It is one of the best ways to promote independent reading in older readers.  Because most children listen at a higher level than they read, reading aloud is an opportunity to present material they may have difficulty accessing on their own.   Reading aloud may motivate a reluctant reader to try material previously thought too difficult. Reading aloud to older readers also stimulates fluency and vocabulary growth. In addition, taking the time to discuss the reading material is excellent preparation for higher level critical thinking and writing.


Early Learning, Grades K-12, Just For Fun, Math

Using Literature to Support Mathematical Learning

Children think about and understand math concepts in a variety of ways.  Many children can process abstract mathematical ideas in their heads easily, while others need a different type of support.   For example, kinesthetic children benefit from the hands-on use of math manipulatives.   Visual learners often appreciate seeing a problem being worked out step-by-step on a whiteboard or computer screen.   What about that linguistic (language-strong) student who may be a bit mathphobic?  Or perhaps you have special needs student who needs exposure to math in a new way.

math symbols

Have you ever considered using literature to help your student comprehend math concepts?  Math-themed picture books can be useful tools for introducing a math concept or reinforcing a math skill.   Most of the books are easy to find in your local library, or even as read-aloud videos online.

If you have never thought of combining math and literature , Scholastic teacher blogger Alycia Zimmerman has written two extremely helpful articles on using picture books to teach math skills.   Her first article describes the three tiers of math picture books  as well as provides helpful ways to use picture books to teach math.  Her second article expands on the idea into biographies and independent reading books that math-minded children would enjoy.   Click over  on the links below to get an idea of how to use literature with math.  She has shares quite a few book suggestions as well.  Well worth the time to bookmark and read later.

Teaching Math With Picture Books – Part 1 

Teaching Math With Picture Books – Part 2

Math in Literature resources on our Facebook page this week – book lists, activity ideas and more.  Scroll down to the bottom of this blog page to find the link to the AHE FB page.


Early Learning, Elementary(K-6), Science, Unit Studies

I Am Fearfully & Wonderfully Made ~ A Free Unit Study

Here’s a free unit study for lower elementary students focusing on developing awareness of the heart, stomach, brain and intestines.  The 29 page downloadable unit study features activity and coloring sheets as well as comprehension checks.

fearfully made unit study

Click HERE to go directly to the download link.  It’s on the right sidebar.    This unit study is courtesy of the Atlantic Union Conference Teacher Bulletin.

Early Learning, Parenting, Principles of True Education

Motivation Monday

Infant Grasping Mother's Finger

“Too much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. The lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of the character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of after years.”

The Ministry of Healing, 380