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Curricula and Books Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

September Giveaway and More For October!

First of all, thanks to everyone who participated in our August giveaway by subscribing to Reading Coach Online! We’ve randomly chosen and notified our winner for the Abunga
gift card (Congratulations!), and we’re even doing another Gift Card Giveaway in September to give everyone else another chance to win.  Don’t worry, September’s giveaway is open to our current subscribers as well as new subscribers.  If you’ve already subscribed you are eligible, and if you haven’t subscribed yet, what are you waiting for?

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to browse through our Lesson Ideas and have found activities that are both fun and educational for your children.  We encourage you to not only try these ideas, but also leave comments and let us know how they’ve worked for your family (including any tweaks and variations you come up with).

We have a big contest planned for October, and all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on one of our Lesson Ideas or write a blog post linking to your favorite lesson idea. We’re lining up prizes right now, and we’ll release prize details as soon as they are finalized. I just wanted to give you all a heads up on the October contest so that you have time to try out some of the lesson ideas if you decide to join in on the fun. So stayed tuned for more details!

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Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Literacy Lowdown – 8/24

We’ve had a great week here at Reading Coach…we’ve nearly doubled our readers! We’re getting a lot of great emails and comments from you guys – sharing your stories and asking some really good questions (I’ll soon turn some of those into a post). People are passing us around and we’re getting in contact with some really cool families. So a big thanks to all of you out there that support us!

With that in mind…there’s still one more week left till we giveaway the gift card to Abunga.com. So feel free to share us with your friends who might want a chance to win too!

In other news…here are some great links for you to check out to see what others are doing this week. Happy reading!

Dr. Mommy shares her tips for motivating your teen to read. Very useful!

The Little Blue School is organizing an awesome literary event/contest for homeschoolers of varying ages. It sounds like something really cool to get into if your kids enjoy writing. Check out her post about their Book Arts Bash for more details! She also shares a pretty creative Unit Study on elections (called Vote For Me!) that’d be perfect to do this year.

This Homeschool Mom generously shares her novel guides with you so that you can have your kids do some creative things with the novels they read. Many of her activities help children deepen their comprehension of a book (and vocabulary words) in a fun way!

Catherine shares her experiences with teaching reading to her preschool daughter. It’s always nice to see when kids can have a hand in leading their own learning…even at a very young age!

Okay, so I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of kids watching tons of T.V. – but a show that’s created for the purpose of expanding children’s vocabularies gets a big thumbs up! Read more about this new show and how it can help your early reader at Fun With Vocabulary.

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Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Literacy Lowdown – 8/17

Check out this week’s reading roundup for some cool posts from other homeschoolers…happy reading!

Dawn at Day by Day Discoveries has discovered that reading is the key to her daughter’s success with math problems – and that they’re actually fun now!

Yielded Heart shares her tools for organizing her homeschool…she really likes making reading logs for her kids.

No Time For Flashcards shares a fun Summer Olympics activity for you to do with your child that includes a book that ties in with the activity. Check out her site for tons of ideas for other crafts that go along with books!

Topsy-Techie, who’s working on “raising homegrown geeks”, shares her reviews for online/computer programs geared towards helping kids who have learning disabilities with reading and other subjects. There are some really cool programs on there that can be used by anyone – but is especially helpful to those who need some help with special education for homeschoolers.

While on the topic of online games and such, Vocabulary Can Be Fun reminds their readers of the Fun With Vocabulary Games that they have on their site. They have some great resources on there to help your child build their vocabulary!

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Curricula and Books What Others Are Doing

The Latin Baby Book Club Is Here!

Thanks to The Hen over at Bilingual in the Boonies for the heads up on the launching of the new site Latin Baby Book Club.

I’m really excited about this new resource because it allows parents to find new books and music in Spanish for their kids. This site will serve as a great place to learn about latin children’s literature and culture for anyone interested in sharing a new language with their kids. As a bilingual homeschooling mom that’s trying to raise a bilingual family, I can’t begin tell you how helpful this will be! Okay, maybe I’ll try.

I’m always looking for new Spanish books and songs to read and sing with Chick Pea, but I’m so limited on local selection that I have to focus most of my efforts online. Then there’s the problem of time…I just don’t have enough of it to sift through countless sites to find quality bilingual literature and information to use at home. Enter The Latin Baby Book Club!

These wonderful ladies do all of the work for me! They feature great book reviews, author interviews, songs, tips for early readers, bilingual mom tales, and more. Be sure to check them out!

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Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Literacy Lowdown

In the spirit of keeping our great readers updated with the latest in homeschool reading and beyond, I’m launching our new recurring post named Literacy Lowdown. Visit the site each week (or better yet subscribe here to receive updates automatically!) to learn what is going on around the blogosphere as it relates to homeschool reading and more. There are so many great resources, stories, tips, and news out there that you can spend hours surfing for good information. Well, let me do some of the work for you by rounding up a variety of interesting posts from other homeschooling families! Feel free to email me or leave links in the comments that you think our readers would like.

Kicking off our first Literacy Lowdown is…

Carletta over at Successful Homeschooling, who shares her homeschooling reading success tips. They’re similar to Dr Mommy’s useful homeschool reading tips…the simplified version, of course. Check them both out for some great ideas!

Carrie Lauth shares her guide to recognizing your child’s learning style…this can help you figure out ways to make reading instruction fun and interesting.

Spunkyhomeschool enlightens one of her readers about “living books” and shares how awesome it is to use these to teach her children without having to rely strictly on textbooks.

Happy reading!

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Curricula and Books Must Reads My Humble Opinion What Others Are Doing

5 Questions To Ask Before Buying Homeschool Curriculum

A new school year means a new curriculum for many families. Whether you are just starting out or you’ve decided to try something new, there’s a ton of curricula to choose from. Although I have my favorites, I don’t like to recommend any particular curriculum to anyone because families and children are so different. What works great for one family (or child) might not for another, so it’s really important that you take your time choosing the one that’s best for you and your kids.

So how do you decide? You can start by asking yourself the following questions about the curriculum you are considering for reading instruction (although these could be used for any subject). I’ve put them in order of importance for me…which of course may be different for you!

  1. Does it fit my child’s learning style? As the learner, your child’s learning styles and preferences should play a major role in deciding what type of curriculum you should buy. Is she more hands on or does she enjoy listening to and discussing stories? Does she do well learning with technology or does she prefer more traditional approaches? Look for a curriculum that uses methods that work best for her.
  2. Does it fit my teaching style? Although your child’s learning style is a really important deciding factor, you are the teacher and therefore must be comfortable in how you teach the material! Do you like to have things laid out for you in a very structured way (day by day plans, lesson procedures, suggested/provided materials, etc.) or are you more interested in having freedom to choose the what, how, and when of it all? You might even fall somewhere in between – check out question # 5.
  3. Are the instructional methods solid? By this I mean…Is it a trusted curriculum that has shown good results for many kids? Is it based on reading research? Is it thorough or does it just skim the surface of what you want to teach? Try to do your own research by visiting curriculum fairs, talking to other parents, and reading reviews online (on sites other than the publishers’!).
  4. Is it fun and engaging? This is huge! This is where schools sometimes have an advantage…there are many fun things a teacher can do with a class of students that parents may not be able to do to at home to keep interest high. So it’s really important that you find something that is fun and keeps your child’s attention. Try to look for curriculum or methods that include things your child loves to learn about. It’s so important for kids to have fun reading!
  5. Does it allow for flexibility? If you home school, then you know this is a must! Flexibility allows you to change, add, or leave out certain things from your instruction. Some programs only work well if they are followed as is, so you may not see the best results if you decided to tweak it. Just make sure you chose something that lets you have some wiggle room if you need it.

Starting a new curriculum can be very exciting for parents and kids, so have fun with it! Check out what these homeschoolers have to say about it:

A to Z Home’s Cool has some great resources put together to help you avoid wasting money.

Home School Curriculum has descriptions of curricula along with comments and input from parents about each one.

PEAH shares great resources to help you save money and keep you updated on the happenings in the world of homeschool curriculum.

Have a great year!

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Categories
Curricula and Books Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Back To School, Or Homeschool, Giveaway

Summer is flying by, and people are no doubt getting geared up for back to school. Whether your kids go to public school, private school, or homeschool, we want to help you get this year started on the right foot by giving away a $20 Abunga.com Gift Card to one of our new subscribers this August. To be eligible, all you have to do is subscribe to our site through email (it’s free) using the form below. That’s it!

Enter your email address:

Seriously, that’s it! Only email subscribers are eligible, but if you’ve already subscribed in a feed reader you can always subscribe by email too. As long as you subscribe before midnight on August 31, you will be included in the random drawing.

If you don’t know about Abunga, it’s a family friendly, online discount bookstore that gives 5% of its revenues to non-profits.

Thanks, and good luck!

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Articles In The News What Others Are Doing

Literacy On the Web

One of the issues we’re already concerned about is setting a good reading example for our kids. We feel like it’s important to not only read to them, but for them to see us reading on our own as well. Ana is much more apt to read books than I am. I’ve always been a pretty voracious reader. I’m constantly reading, but 90% of my reading now occurs online. I feel like I need to make a conscious effort to read books when little ones are around because I’m afraid they’ll associate a computer as some type of toy and won’t understand that what I do with the computer is actually reading. But even if they realize that I’m reading, is that the kind of reading kids need?

Yesterday’s New York Times has an excellent article discussing the changing face of reading and how it affects literacy. Reading online is increasingly popular with young people, and the experience of reading online resembles more of a zig-zag-bob-and-weave than the linear beginning, middle, end type reading most of us grew up doing in books, magazines, and newspapers. When I was a kid, I was big fan of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books because they offered a little bit of control over the story, and the story could change. One of the reasons I love reading online is because the experience is similar, and it offers many more tangents. The difference is that those books I loved so much still had a beginning, middle, and end to their stories.

From my own experience, I think the big issue with reading online is that I don’t tend to get as much granularity as I would from a book. I use my online reading as more of a macro view of a subject. Although I can get many more vantage points on a subject, I tend to miss out on the details. I tend to use what I read online as a guide to what I want to read more about in a book; the overview that I get online helps me decide what I’d like to learn about in detail. But, just as the article suggests, I think the way my brain works has definitely been changed by the availability of information we now enjoy.

I think it’s interesting that for kids born in the last ten years or so, this way of getting information is perfectly normal, and for the generation before mine (at least a large number of them), they haven’t really transitioned to life online the way many in my generation have. It’s definitely a strange spot to be in, having experience “extreme reading” both before and after the presence of the web.

Still, I tend to agree with this statement from the article:

Even those who are most concerned about the preservation of books acknowledge that children need a range of reading experiences. “Some of it is the informal reading they get in e-mails or on Web sites,” said Gay Ivey, a professor at James Madison University who focuses on adolescent literacy. “I think they need it all.”

What do you guys think? Does reading online really count as reading?

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In The News My Humble Opinion What Others Are Doing

Reading Phailure?

USA Today has a pretty scathing criticism of Reading First in its editorial section. The crux of the argument is that the system has been duped by textbook publishers into wasting a lot of money on a program that has no value. But does that mean the research is wrong? Is the problem with the research or the implementation?

…the studies the panel reviewed show that intensive phonics has little to do with students’ ability to understand what they read. Distinguished literacy experts Frank Smith and Kenneth Goodman have provided compelling evidence that comprehension is the basis for learning to read: We learn to read by understanding what is on the page.

But what happens after we learned to read? How do we learn to stretch our skills? What about reading to learn? Shouldn’t our goal be to eventually learn to understand by being able to read what is on the page? Mr. Krashen’s solution to literacy ills is the mere presence of books.

Instead of wasting billions of dollars more on Reading First, let’s invest much more in libraries in low-income areas. Let’s make sure all children have access to books, and solve the real literacy crisis forever.

Great. Now what do we do about the kids who don’t live next door to the library?

Whether taught at school or at home, with books paid for by the parents or provided free for loan by libraries, using researched based techniques or trial and error, children are ultimately going to be affected more by their parents’ attitudes toward literacy and reading than anything else.

Categories
Articles Curricula and Books What Others Are Doing

Family Friendly Online Bookstore

The other day I happened to run into Gavin Baker of Abunga.com at an informal entrepreneur’s meetup. Abunga is a family friendly online media store that actually uses the input of its community to decide what they should sell. Abunga isn’t Amazon, and they aren’t trying to be either. They are built around the idea of not only providing family friendly products at great prices, but they also have a program that donates money back to worthy causes.

Gavin and I had a really good conversation about the directions they’d like to go with Abunga and new services they have in the works to enhance the experience of their user community. We talked part technology, part marketing, and part “you know what would be cool”. I don’t want to give away any of their plans for the future, but those guys are working feverishly to add more and more to Abunga.

Check them out if you have a chance. We’re constantly looking for cool things like this in the community (especially our local community) that are good resources for parents and kids!