Category Archives: Early Learners
Last week we discussed some tips on how parents can teach their children to read. Today we are going to discuss some of the top phonics and reading programs for early learners.
I have used Hooked on Phonics to teach five children to read. I absolutely LOVE this program, and cannot say enough good things about it. Hooked on Phonics teaches children to read using the phonics program. Children start with short vowel words (-at, -an, -ap) and then move on to short i, short u, and then long vowel sounds. Every 3-4 lessons the child gets a review lesson where they also learn sight words like where, like, who, there, etc. At the end of this lesson they also get a REAL book to read. My kids were always so excited to get these books. They packed them around and read them to everyone that would listen. Hooked on Phonics is a fantastic program for teaching children to read!
This is another popular phonics based reading program. It is probably best used with a child who had not had any reading instruction due to the fact that it uses an unusual formation of letters to represent sounds. Teach Your Child uses 44 different letter formations to teach children how to read. Using the letter formations eliminates problems such as the different sounds of certain letters when used in conjunction with other letters (example tan and than).
We tried this program once, and it was not a good fit for us. However the product gets great reviews from those who have used it successfully and many say that it is easier to use than other reading programs.
All About Reading is an intense phonics program for children in preK through 4th grade. Using the Orton-Gillingam methodology, AAR boasts the ability to teach 97% of English words phonetically leaving only 3% to be learned as sight words.
AAR is an interactive multi sensory program that is mostly open and go. The lessons are scripted but can be adapted with hands on activities, a child’s favorite book, and adjusting the pace of the lessons. AAR receives great reviews and is one of Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top picks.
Teaching a child to read is one of the best parts of homeschooling. When the time comes for this child I encourage you to take a look at one of these three reading programs. Also, ask around and see what worked for others you know, ask to see the programs in person. With a little help you can find the perfect phonics and reading program for your new reader!
Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued, homeschooling and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.
Online learning is becoming more and more popular, and our children are growing up in a tech savvy world. Preschool is a great age to start allowing our children supervised learning online.
Here are some great learning sites for preschoolers:
ABC MOUSE– This learning website helps kids learn to read through phonics lessons. It also teaches young children lessons in math, music, art, social studies and much more! There is a subscription fee with this program.
NickJr.com– With characters including Bubble Guppies, Dora, the Wonder Pets and more, your preschoolers will LOVE this educational site. Activities include games, craft ideas, recipes how to videos and more! Best part? It’s FREE!
PBS KIDS– This site is a favorite in our home, and includes characters from all the popular PBS Kids TV sows. Activities include sing a long songs, games, videos, craft and game ideas, and much more! PBS Kids is also free!
Starfall-This fun educational site is great for children learning their ABC’s or who are new to reading. The activities are simple, and fun.
Funbrain Jr– This interactive site includes printables, games, stories and more. It is a great site for older preschoolers to enjoy learning, and playing.
Fisher Price-Known as a leader in children’s toys, Fisher Price also has an awesome website dedicated to providing educational games and activities for you and your preschooler to enjoy together. Activities include, alphabet coloring pages, learning animal noises, shapes, numbers, ABCs, and more.
Learning online can be a great tool for the preschool age, and a great way to introduce them to technology at an early age. These sites are not mean to be accessed without parental supervision, and are best utilized WITH a parent. Also, each family needs to make their own rules regarding appropriate sites, and technology usage.
Author Bio: Misty Bailey and her husband have been married for over a decade and have three beautiful children. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.
One of the first things a child learns in preschool is the alphabet. We have all sang the ABC’s with a young preschooler, and most of us have practiced letter sounds. Teaching the alphabet to our children can be a lot of fun, and it doesn’t require a curriculum!
I have found children learn best when they are active, and many children are hands on learners. Teaching the alphabet with worksheets may work for some, but it won’t work with everyone! And, it isn’t exactly the funnest way to learn, now is it?
Here are a few hands on activities I have found that tend to make learning the alphabet easy without a curriculum!
- Make a Rice Sensory Bin: Rice is a great sensory tool and other than needing swept up is not really messy. Find a plastic bin and fill it with rice. Get plastic spoons, funnels and cups and put them with the bin. Then get alphabet tiles or another form letters and bury them. See how many letters the child can find and identify. If they don’t identify it correctly, tell them the right answer and bury it again.
- Fun with Cotton Balls! Gather up some cotton balls, glue, a marker and a piece of construction paper. Write a capital and lowercase letter of your choice on the paper. Show the child how to make glue drops onto the letter. Then have them tear up the cotton balls and place them onto the glue drops.
- Play a game of I Spy! Get a pack of alphabet flash cards. Pick a letter, then “spy” something that starts with that letter. Then, have your child try to find what you are referring to. “I Spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter sound T-“ta, ta”. Have them try to guess, if they say something that doesn’t’ start with that sound correct them by saying something like “Hmm, no that starts with the letter B. B says ba, ba “ then refer them back to the proper sound. Take turns playing the game. This helps the child learn to recognize the sounds the letters make.
- Let them play in the Dirt! What child doesn’t love to play in the dirt? Grab a stick and go outside! Find a good flat area where the children can draw or write in the dirt. Make letters and ask the children which letters are in their name. Have them copy the letters. If you have room write out the alphabet in the dirt and sing it with the children.
Learning the alphabet is a huge part of a child’s life. It sets the foundation for reading, writing, and spelling. However, teaching the alphabet CAN be fun, and it doesn’t require a curriculum!
I try to have a sample reading list ahead of time for each child to ensure they pick out good, quality literature. Yes, I let them make their own selections, but I also recommend a few titles that I think they will like.
Through the years, we have read countless books. Many of these I believe would be great for most children. Here are a few of our favorites that you may consider putting on your summer reading list.
Babies and Toddlers
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle (there are a few in this series like Baby Bear, and Panda Bear that are also great!)
- Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
- Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram
- Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
- Babies (So Tall Board Book) by Gyo Fujikawa
- Peekaboo Books (babies LOVE these types of books)
- Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- If You give a Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond
- Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
- Edwina, the Dinosaur that didn’t know she was extinct by Mo Willems
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
- Corduroy by Don Freeman
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
- Seuss Books
- Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean
- Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Aweibel
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
- Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
- Splat the Cat by Rob Scotten.
- Amelia Bedeliabooks by Peggy Parrish
- Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
- Harry the Dirty Dogby Gene Zion
- Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne
- Historical American Girl Series (Authors Vary)
- Circle C Beginnings by Susan K. Marlow
- Bindi Wildlife Adventures by Bindi Irwin and Jess Black
- Magic School Bus series by Joanna Coleand Bruce Degen
- Sisters in Time (Authors Vary)
These books we have not read, but they have gotten rave reviews by other homeschool moms and are on my kids summer reading lists.
- Frindle by Andrew Clements
- Runaway Ralph . by Beverly Cleary
- Summer with Elisa by Johanna Hurwitz and Debbie Tilley
- The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
- By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
- Hol es by Louis Sachar (Newbery Medal winner, 1999)
- Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien and Zena Bernstein
- Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Fiderle
Have you ever heard the phrase “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents”? I whole-heartedly agree with that statement! Read alouds are a favorite in our home. We have read every book on this list, and my kids love to have that time together as a family. Our read aloud time is during lunch, but really, you can carve out time anywhere in your day to sit down and read a book as a family. Just find a time that works for you!
Read Alouds for the Whole Family
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh and Leonard Weisgard
- The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
- Charlotte’s Web by EB White
- Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- All of a Kind Family by Sidney Taylor
- Mr. Poppers Penguins by Richard Atwater
- Winnie the Pooh by A.A.Milne
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
- Animal Stories by Thornton Burgess
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- In Grandma’s Attic by Arlette Richardson
So, take this list, or make your own and go to the library! Summer reading programs can be found at your local library and most bookstores like Barnes and Noble.
It is summertime for most of us. The books are closed, and summer break is here! As homeschoolers, we have luxury of understanding that learning can happen anytime, even during the summer. But, what does summer learning look like? Whatever you want it too! There are many ways to let the learning continue throughout the summer.
Let your children explore your backyard, or park if you don’t have a back yard. Let them find things in nature, like twigs, rocks, bugs, flowers or whatever else they find that is interesting. They can gather their items in a bucket or jar and take them home. Let them identify what they found, study it, and let it go back into nature.
Stay up late one night and watch the stars. See if you can find the big dipper or another constellation. Talk about the stars and why you can see them some nights and not others.
There is a fantastic program I found recently called Easy Peasy Homeschool. It is a free comprehensive homeschool curriculum and it is all online. They offer a once a week art lesson that my kids have really enjoyed!
Another good art idea for summer is to have a smorgasbord day. Gather all the art materials you have in your home and let the kids have a free day! See what kind of amazing creations they make J
Take your kids for a walk and let them gather a large rock. Bring it home and paint it. They can make an animal, a person, or another item of their choosing. Just make sure they wash it first!
Summer reading programs are in full force. Check your local library to see what they offer. Bookstores like Barnes and Noble also tend to offer summer reading programs throughout the summer. If you’re looking for book recommendations check out my Pinterest board for some great books!
With 4th of July coming up it is a great time to learn about American History. Check out some books from the library about our founding fathers. Another great resource for American History is Liberty Kids. You can get the complete series for a reasonable price on Amazon.
Talk about your local state history, and visit an area near you that you have never been to before. There are probably untapped resources within an hour or two from your home.
There are many ways to keep learning happening throughout the summer. Learning does not have to happen just during the school year, or only with a textbook. Summer learning can happen any time you want! Just make sure the kiddos don’t realize they are learning while having fun :)
Author: Misty Bailey
Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.