Learning to Read: Rhyme, Memorization, & Phonics {and a llama llama review}

You probably know by now, our family loves to read! My youngest children begin their love of learning with poems and rhyming books from some of the greatest authors of children’s literature. I have videos of my oldest at 18 months old reading a Llama Llama book from memory; that book, as well as many other Llama Llama books have become favorites in our home. But my favorite part of this character series is the rhyming!
The latest book from Anna Dewdey, a teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children, is Llama Llama Loves to Read. Anna’s passion for children and building their love for reading is evident in all her books. This time our children shared Llama Llama’s love for learning to read in this beautifully illustrated (as always) 40 page picture book.
llama llama loves to read
Llama Llama learns at school.
Counting, writing, reading, rules.
Friends and school — there’s nothing better.
Llama learning all the letters!
All of my children have learned to read organically; simply by listening to others read to them. We know research tells us reading aloud to children increases their own love for learning, as well as relationships, and test scores (yes, especially test scores!). What many may not know, is that reading rhyming books, poems, and nursery rhymes to children increases their overall literacy!
Rhythm and rhyming increase listening and speaking skills, which are the very foundation of learning to read and write. A child will not learn to read as easily if they lack the skill of hearing rhyming patterns and sounds-which is done by being read to early in life. (This is also why educators take courses in all areas of development, including physical education, where we learn to combine rhythm, motion, and rhymes! Think of the hand clapping games from your childhood-they were important, whether you knew it or not!)
Rhyming books like Llama Llama Loves to Read not only help build a child’s confidence as they learn the rhyming words on the pages, these books increase their fluency and set the stage for future independent reading.

Learning to Read With Rhyme and Memory Work

As I type this, I am thinking of my 3.5 year old daughter (3rd born) that read cvc words to me last week. On her own. Without an ounce of formal instruction or prompting from me. I don’t say this to brag, or inflate my mom ego, I say this to you because it truly has to do with our family culture and environment combined with her eagerness to learn to read. She has told me for months she was going to read soon “like Mister!” (her older brother).  I told her she could learn as soon as she wanted and it wouldn’t be long; she’s been asking all of us to help her write her letters so she could tell us the sounds, and eagerly listens to any book we will read to her. One day last week she brought her little journal to me at the homeschool table and asked that I write words for her … I randomly wrote cat, asked her each letter sound and then she read the whole word. Just blended it. Boom! She continued on to do several more and I was able to record her on video.
So how do I use rhyming to encourage literacy? Simply, we read a book, and the next time (after all, there is always a next time!) I leave out one word of each line or page. For instance, I would read: Llama Llama learns at school. Counting, writing, reading, rules the first time.
But the next time we read it, I would leave out the word school, and maybe even rules, allowing my kids to fill it in for me as I read. This pulls them even more into the story and encourages not only their comprehension but also application of vocabulary, as well as “reading” along with me. So far of my 4 children, none of them have ever been disappointed with their chance to say the next word. Even my youngest, only a toddler, can fill in the simplest words in rhyming books (Llama Llama Time for Bed being one of them).
We also start learning poetry very young, simply because it is SO fun! My oldest memorized a few poems during each season starting at age 3. I am not sure how many poems my oldest three kids know now, but it is probably more than me (I can’t remember them all like they can without some prompting). That same 3 year old that is reading CVC words has spent this year memorizing more poetry than her 2 older siblings combined! Her absolute favorite is The Fairies by William Allingham, along with several others from A Child’s Book of Poems.

Learning Letter Sounds

Before I began reading lessons with any of my children, we sing a phonics song throughout our days. From the time they are about 18 months old (?) until … well, my oldest is 7.5 and we still sing it haha, we don’t say our ABCS.
We sing them along with their correlating sound; during our morning time we do the song with a little letter chart like this one: 
The song goes something like this:
A, /a/, apple
B, /buh/ball
C, /ck/, cat
D, /duh/ dog
… you get the picture. When we sing it while swinging on the swing, playing in the floor, or walking down the driveway, we learn to use other words that make those sounds; instead of E, eh, elephant I may say egg or elbow. It is always fun to hear what other words they can come up with (you will be surprised); sometimes we extend that and just start naming words that rhyme with a word, who knows where we may bunny trail to! But it is a fun and easy, loving, and memorable way to connect with and teach my children naturally, without any formal lessons.
This simple song, along with reading aloud to them, truly lays the foundation for learning to read later. Sometimes when I talk I will just say “t, /t/ train!” when we see a train. Obviously my 7 year old gets less out of this than my 3yo and toddler do, but so often we can forget those little ones are still soaking up everything around them, as Little Miss showed me just last week. Having a literature rich family culture helps support children in their love of learning which, when they are ready, will help them learn to read.

If you want to submerge your children in a literature rich environment, reading rhyming books, poetry, and teaching letter sounds through play are the best places to start!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Bird Watching {Nature Study for the New Year}

This winter (Mostly Jan-Feb) has been bitterly cold on the farm. Between the ice and wind, we have been inside with very little nature study in our school days. When My Dad sent the kids a see through, window mounted bird feeder as a little Valentine special, we were all so excited!

We spend our mornings at a big table my husband made, eating breakfast, reading Bible stories, reciting poems, listening to hymns, and singing little finger play songs (surprisingly my oldest 2 enjoy the songs and nursery rhymes along with their youngest sisters). Now, we get watch birds eat right at our big window!

This may be one of my favorite gifts we have ever received, and oooh how it enriches our homeschool days! It will be fun to add in bird watching with our nature studies, right from our breakfast table. We’ve already had a few different visitors perch and enjoy their seed. And the kids are loving the idea of comparing these birds to other ones in other regions. We’ve had a look at some of the more tropical birds like Toucans after deciding to check out Costa Rica Focus, and the burgeoning birdwatchers are keen to see them up close. Maybe one day!

Part of our nature study this spring will include some beautiful field guides I got the kids this fall-I chose guides from the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide series. I could sit and stare at the pictures in these guides all day long. My oldest pours over books like field guides, and her younger siblings are following suit. I plan to rearrange some nature and science books for spring in the coming weeks, so these are moving from our science book shelf, to the science basket near our bird watching window. 🙂

This week I am so thankful to be thawing out, and have birds to watch, I could care less about the formalities of nature study! Haha but, I am excited to get back into the routine of it.

(As a side note, the bird feeder is very well made, sturdy, and we have had No problems with it mounting to the window. Even in crazy high winds, the feeder stays put! I followed the directions that came in the box for cleaning the window, dampening suction cups, etc, before mounting.)

How does your family nature study? What will you be studying this spring?

DIY Fall Nature Banner Handicraft {nature craft}

This last week in one of our co-op classes we had SO much fun making a DIY fall nature banner. The timing was uncanny! A few weeks ago, we came across a PVC banner printing that we thought was just amazing. So when we found out that we were doing banners, I was extra excited! I wanted to share with you what we did, so you can do it at home as well!

This could be adapted for spring, Christmas, summer … any season or occasion really. I would say it is an appropriate activity for ages 2+; a 2-5 year old may need extra assistance with the mallet, obviously. My 5yo son was able to do most of the hammering himself, he did get tired once or twice, so I would hammer and give his arms a break.

diy fall nature banner handicraft #charlottemason #naturestudy #handicraft #homeschool

First you will need to gather supplies:

  • thin fabric such as a light, thin linen or muslin
  • leaves, buds, flowers, grasses from nature
  • rubber mallet or hammer
  • tarp or cardboard (for laying everything on before hammering)
  • 3 hole punch or knife (we use a 3 hole punch so the kids could do it, and the holes would be evenly spaced)
  • twine for stringing
  • small piece of clear tape (for taping the end of the twine so it doesn’t unravel)
  • decorative leaves/acorns/etc from craft store that you may want to add
  • hot glue gun

You can either punch your holes before or after hammering, that is up to you. We did it afterwards.

  1. gather leaves, flowers, buds, & grasses of all different colors-the brighter the better!
  2. cut fabric into neat triangles (print a triangle template the size you want). You can do this by hand if you’d like or if you’re planning to make quite a big garland, I’d recommend looking into the best fabric cutting machines for precise cuttings. It’ll be a lot quicker than cutting it free hand too.
  3. warm up your hot glue gun if adding decorations
  4. lay out your tarp or cardboard, the harder the surface the better the colors will come out of the leaves and flowers. So maybe on top of concrete or a garage floor would be good.
  5. place leaves and flowers *under* your fabric triangles
  6. use the mallet or hammer to bang away!
  7. leave the bits of leaves and petals on the fabric, once they dry they are easy to roll off
  8. using a 3 hole punch, place the triangle, top edge in, under 2 of the holes and punch on each triangle
  9. cut your twine. For 4 triangles, we cut twine 36″ long, you would need more if you do a longer banner.
  10. wrap scotch tape around one end of the twine, for weaving through the holes
  11. weave twine through the holes, then tie a knot on each end
  12. *IF* you want added decorations, hot glue them onto the banner now
  13. Hang and enjoy!

Some of the students really liked using a hammer better; it does give a lot of bang for your buck. The rubber mallet covers more area, so for smaller/younger students, the mallet made the job a bit easier/less tiring.

I want to give a shout out to our wonderful “Maker’s Space” class teacher. This is one of my favorite activities we have ever done in our homeschool! It was so enjoyable, and simple to do. I look forward to doing it at home with all my kids, another season.

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Enjoying {the gentleness of} a Charlotte Mason Education

I have been on a really big Charlotte Mason schooling kick lately.

enjoying the gentleness of charlotte mason education

I blame spring; it does this to me!  I My kids would rather be outside in nature, reading books and playing in the dirt than inside.  And who can blame them?!  This is what childhood is about, so here we are …

… all wrapped up in our Charlotte Mason education  *insert all the heart emoticons here*

But, because this is where our homeschool is headed for this season in life, I thought I’d better simplify things and organize my thoughts before I get overwhelmed and we end up doing none of it (or at the very least doing only some of it, and without any intention, or focus at all).

So, here is what we are doing for our Charlotte Mason Homeschool this spring and summer (we school year round):

  • History/Geography/Bible- continuing our beautiful Feet Early American History studies
  • Picture/Artist Study- Monet (who better to study about in spring and summer?!  We already have Linnea and her book from a spring basket gift 3 years ago)
  • Music Study- Scott Joplin He is from a part of history we will spend a bit of time on here soon, and his music?!  y’all- my feet won’t stop moving!
  • Hymn Study- this won’t be a specific hymn just yet, I don’t think.  We have 3-4 the kids are just learning all the words to via youtube tracks.  Because this is for everyone from 2 year old Ila to 6 year old Lexie, we are taking it slow and simple.  This is how we begin our days
  • Handicrafts and Art- we do so many as part of our family time anyway, but for spring and summer we will be focusing on: embroidery, gardening, whittling, setting the table correctly, clearing the table, and cooking (again, all things we already do but I will be more intentional about reading books and such about each)
  • Foreign Language- I think we may start playing with french and latin just for fun, through books.  Nothing formal
  • Nature Study- we do nature study all the time, but I can be pretty terrible about using our nature journals, so I hope to improve that!
  • Poetry-we will continue our poetry plans for the year.
  • Literature- we are reading rich literature in our history, as well as chosen read alouds, library books, and my 6.5 year old is reading the Narnia series … over, and over, and over to herself.
  • Personal Development/Habits- each of the kids have goals for development, school, and habits that I have written down in my planner for us to work on through the year. Some of these are the same as handi crafts.

What is best about studying these things is?

There are no “reports” or papers, no formal tests or pop quizzes.  We just read books, listen to music, learn poetry, look at art, and ENJOY the process.  We soak it up, remember it if it was memorable, and when we are ready, move on.

Most CM purist are probably cringing at my plans, and how I “plan” to implement them.  But I am okay with that.  It is why we homeschool- to do what works for us.

That is what learning to love learning looks like here.

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

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