5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

A while ago, I noticed the effort my second-grader once put into his reading curriculum faded. In fact, his spark for reading somehow disappeared altogether. While he’s had a love/hate relationship with reading this year, I can say for the most part that once my son started reading the required text, he’d actually end up enjoying it. But this outcome started becoming few and far between.

 

One day, instead of telling my son to rewrite his summaries, I simply read through some of the required literature for his curriculum. All I can say is, BORING! We had just read through a wonderful series by Thornton Burgess, which I mention below. Now, the curriculum was full of short stories about medieval history that my son struggled to connect with.

 

I finally asked, “Do you enjoy reading this?” To which my son replied with a defeated, “no.” It was then I decided to forgo the latter half of the reading curriculum and implement one of my own. Not because I believe everything my son learns should be “fun,” but because the curriculum no longer aligned with our vision for homeschool.

 

And what is our vision? Part of it is to foster a healthy relationship with learning that teaches and encourages our children to be lifestyle learners. In my opinion, there’s nothing healthy about forcing a child to read something they simply can’t connect with. Instead, I decided to find literature that would put that spark back into his eye.

 

Here are the ones that made the cut… and they all can be found at your local library!

 

5 Chapter Book Series My Son Loves

 

 1. Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants

This superhero series by Dav Pilkey includes 12 chapter books. Captain Underpants is the nice alter ego of a mean principle named Mr. Krupp. The superhero was accidentally created by two fourth graders, George and Harold, who somehow managed to hypnotize the mean principal and turn him into a superhero that mirrors that of their homemade comic books. At the sound of finger snapping, Mr. Krupp becomes the notorious Captain Underpants. He returns to an ill-tempered principle when soaked with water. The recommended reading age for this series is seven and up.

 

What does my son like about this book? If it’s not obvious yet, it’s names like “Captain Underpants,” “Turbo Toilet 2000,” “Doctor Diaper,” “Sir Stinks-A-Lot,” and the list goes on. The silly names and storylines are what make this series a winner for my second-grader. Not to mention, the comical blacklined illustrations that make the novels even more engaging.

 

2. Amelia Bedelia

Amelia Bedelia

This chapter book series by Peggy and Herman Parish chronicles the mishaps of a fun-loving maid named Amelia Bedelia. Employed by a wealthy couple called the Rogers, Amelia Bedelia never gets anything right due to her literal take on simple commands. For this protagonist, a request like “dust the furniture” may result in tons of dust being poured onto the Rogers’ expensive furniture. Since Amelia Bedelia never got the memo on figures of speech, asking her to “undust” the furniture would be better received.

 

What does my son like about this book? The comical effect of Amelia Bedelia’s incorrect actions. It’s just a fun way to explore figures of speech and to think of more precise ways to communicate with others. My son laughs out loud often while reading any book from this series. Again, this is another silly chapter book series perfect for ages seven and older.

 

3. The Cul-de-Sac Kids

 

Cul de Sac Kids Chapter Books

This fun series chronicles the shenanigans of neighborhood friends who call themselves The Cul-de-Sac-Kids. Each series shares a compelling narrative by introducing a new mystery for The Cul-de-Sac-Kids to solve. Written by Beverly Lewis, this chapter book series also incorporates invaluable life lessons like the importance of faith, friendship, and family.

 

What does my son like about this book? The presence of diverse characters, which is embarrassingly lacking in children’s literature these days. The diverse characters also mirror my son’s real-life friendships, making them super relatable. This chapter book series is marketed for ages seven and up.

 

4. The Stories Julian Tells

The Stories Julian Tells

This series is new to us, but I wanted to include it because it was one of the first books my son gravitated to when it came home from the library. The story is about a boy named Julian who uses his big imagination to tell amazing stories, causing some mischief along the way with his little brother, Huey. The book is written by Ann Cameron, who also wrote another series of books about Julian’s best friend, Gloria. If you’re looking for chapter books with black protagonists, check out these series!

 

What does my son like about this book? Right off the bat, my son likes that the male protagonist looks like him. I imagine it was one of the first books he gravitated to because of the colorful illustration of the smiling brown boy on the cover. There are also some great blacklined illustrations inside this book. We’re very interested in reading other books from the Julian series. The recommended reading level for this series is seven and up.

 

5. The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk

Adventures of Jimmy Skunk Chapter Books for Kids

I was not expecting my son to like these series of chapter books by Thornton Burgess. They are a bit old-fashioned, originally published in 1918 I believe. This chapter book series, along with Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, and Peter Rabbit, accompanied my son’s second-grade reading curriculum and he loved reading all of them. The stories take readers on an adventure of what life is like in the meadow for creatures likes toads, foxes, rabbits, skunks, possums, and so forth. The furry characters are funny, mischievous, and likable.

 

What does my son like about this book? My son really connected with the humor in this series as the characters were so set on pranking each other. He also learned about some of his favorite animals and what life is like in the meadow. I loved the awesome vocabulary used throughout this series. Very challenging, yet easy for children to use in everyday conversation. This series is suitable for ages seven and up.


 

That concludes our list of five fun chapter book series worth reading. Another great one is Chronicles of Narnia, but we’re using that for our read-aloud. I know. I know. It’s a shame we’re just now letting this series grace our learning experience. But my boys are mostly into comical books right now so that’s the genre we primarily read. They love to laugh, and I don’t blame them. Learning mixed with laughter is a great recipe for developing lifestyle learners.

 

Let us know your favorite chapter book series below!  

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

How to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader  | 15 Solutions

“My kid hates reading.” I hear that phrase all the time.

I have two readers. A four-year-old who’s emerging and a second-grader who reads fluently. Let me just say they’ve both had their reluctant moments. I won’t even begin to discuss the reluctant readers I encountered during my tutoring days. Trying to find a formula that works for reluctant readers can be frustrating, especially since every child is different. Here me out when I say it’s never the fault of the reluctant reader. It’s our job as their teacher to help them discover what method works best for them—help them soar! Below, are some of the strategies that helped me find a winning formula for each child. I hope you find these tips useful in helping to develop a winning formula for your reluctant reader.


 

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

1. Wait.

Before I discuss my next few points, I want to mention this: If you have a reluctant reader under the age of seven, try waiting. Children learn to read at their own pace. My oldest son didn’t start reading until age six. It took four months for him to read fluently. It was a quick process because he was ready. I did not push early learning, but I did encourage pre-reading skills. Nothing formal. My youngest son, who is four, started learning to read at age three because he wanted to. He was eager at first but later regressed for months. We paused our curriculum and waited until he was ready to continue. You can find several scholarly articles making a compelling case for waiting until age seven to begin formal reading lessons. I say, it depends on the child. When a child is ready, there’s no stopping them. When they aren’t ready, early reading can prove counterproductive.

 

2. Be realistic.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Setting Realistic Expectations WIll Help Reluctant Readers

Listen carefully: your child may not be a reader. I know It’s scary. The terror of realizing your child hates practicing such a vital skill. But guess what? It’s going to be alright. Trust me when I say you just haven’t found what motivates him yet. In the meantime, set realistic expectations. Your child may not pick up a book for leisure, but he will read when it serves his interest.  Which leads me to my next point…

 

3. Discover what excites them.

Those “boring” chapter books that accompany their reading curriculum may be a snooze. Why make your child read something boring? After all, you yourself typically enjoy reading what fascinates you. Discover what excites your little reader. For instance, my son loves informational texts. He’ll freely read up on anything from coding to architecture “how-to” books. Reading is reading.  Hey, even comic books count. If your child practices often, it shouldn’t matter what their text of choice is.

 

4. Make lessons short.

15 Ways to Encourage Reluctant Readers
Keep Lessons Short For Reluctant Readers

If reading is frustrating for your child, make the lessons super short. I’m talking 10 minutes or less. I made the mistake of pushing my oldest son to complete full lessons and boy was it frustrating for both of us. Thankfully, he enjoyed reading once he got the hang of it. After much research and prayer, I learned to take it easy with my second son. He is less reluctant because our reading lessons are so short. Even better? He’s improving with each lesson. Remember, quality over quantity is best. You can gently increase the lesson time as your child masters the material.

 

5. Be repetitive.

Don’t be afraid to let your child read the same book, chapter, or passage repeatedly. At three-years-old, my youngest son mastered reading a primer titled “Cat.” That’s all he wanted to practice reading for weeks. Similarly, my oldest son reread Frog and Toad books countless times when he was first introduced to chapter books. Instead of following the recommended reading for their curriculum, I let them read these books. It helped build their reading comprehension, fluency, and confidence.

 

6. Offer incentives.

Last year, my oldest son exchanged an hour of reading for an hour of video games. There was hardly a day that went by that he didn’t cash in on this offer. This year, since we no longer allow video games during the week, he reads an extra hour in exchange for a later bedtime. You’ll read more about extending bedtime in my tip about establishing a reading hour. For my four-year-old, stickers and snacks do the job. I purposely scheduled his snack time after reading lessons to give him something to look forward to.

 

7. Establish a reading hour.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Designated Reading Hours For The Family Can Encourage Reluctant Readers To Read More

Establish an hour every day when the house is quiet and everyone is expected to read. Guess what the best time to do this at my house is? If you said “bedtime” you’ve guessed correctly! My kids will do anything to stay up—that includes reading books. I give them permission stay up an extra hour if they read. It works! They sort of feel like they’re getting away with something.

 

8. Get competitive.

If your child is competitive in nature use it to their advantage by timing their reading speed. We like using an egg timer because the ticking sound encourages my son to focus. The goal is to see how much they’ve read in ten minutes, twenty minutes, or whatever time you’ve decided on. When the timer sounds, record the time and see if they can beat their own record the next time they read. A game I like to play with my youngest is sounding a loud noisemaker each time he reads a word correctly. My noisemaker of choice is a squeaker and, let me tell you, he thinks this game is absolutely hilarious. Admittedly, the squeaker is annoying, but it works and my four-year-old’s giggle is just adorable.

 

9. Visit the library or bookstore.

Sometimes being in an environment where other people are reading will offer encouragement to a reluctant reader. Not to mention the seemingly endless book selections available to suit their inquiring minds. When we take trips to the library, I let my kids pick out anything that interests them. I help them look up subjects, they take the books to the tables and read through them eagerly. No, they don’t read every single word. But listen, I’m just happy they’re excited about a book. We arrive home with 30-40 new books after each library visit, sometimes more! Which leads me to my next point.

 

10. Establish a diverse home library.

15 Ways To Encourage A Reluctant Reader
Diverse Book Selections Keep Reluctant Readers Interested

You don’t have to buy a bunch of books. I know I don’t. What I do is check out up to 50 books from the library every few weeks and keep our home library resources in rotation. This ensures there’s always something my kids will be interested in reading. We have award winning story books, books about computer programming, health, animals, black history, and more! These selections change every few weeks. And yes, my kids will actually read them—or at least look through them. If we really like a book, we consider purchasing it and making it part of our permanent library.

 

11. Get moving.

Sometimes it’s not the reading that kids dislike, but the sitting still part. If you’ve been trekking with me, you know my boys are kinesthetic learners. They love to move! Reading while pacing is a great antidote for little movers. It may drive you crazy to watch it, but trust that these movements are all a part of helping them concentrate and retain information as they read. If they don’t like pacing, try a stress reliever ball that they can squeeze when they feel the urge to move.

 

12. Let them listen to fluent readers.

Sometimes it may be that your reluctant reader hasn’t had enough examples of what fluent reading sounds like. Be sure to read aloud to them often so they can develop an ear for it. Let them follow along with you as you read so they can see how you pause after each comma, sentence, paragraph, etcetera. Audio-books are also great for this, but make sure it includes the physical copy of the book so that your child can follow along.

 

13. Be an example.

15 Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader
Being An Example Is A Great Way To Inspire Reluctant Readers

Does your child ever see you read for leisure? It’s no secret that children learn more from the things we do than the things we say. A great way to encourage a reluctant reader is to simply get lost in a book yourself. You’ll convey the message that reading is fun and interesting. I typically read in bed after the kids are asleep, so I have to make a conscious effort to let them see me read every now and then.

 

14. Join a reading club.

Most libraries and bookstores will offer seasonal reading camps to help encourage a love for reading and motivate children to read more books. We always take advantage of these camps. It’s a great way for reluctant readers to challenge themselves, meet new friends, and be publicly rewarded for their achievements. If you’re a homeschooler, consider reading clubs or classes at your local co-op or homeschool group. This year, my oldest son has been taking a reading class that focuses on group reading. He loves this class so much that he signed up for it again this semester. It’s been a fun way for him to practice reading among his peers.

 

15. Remind them that they’re not alone.

15 Ways to Inspire Reluctant Readers
Sometimes Knowing They’re Not Alone Is All The Encouragement Reluctant Readers Need

Learning to read the English language is challenging. There are so many rules and “exceptions to the rules” that can frustrate an emergent reader. I like to remind my boys they’re accomplishing something that’s challenging for many people, but with regular practice they will master the art of reading. When my oldest was an emergent reader, it was like the weight was taken off his shoulder when I gave him a list of people he admired that had trouble reading at first but have now mastered the skill. Similarly, my four-year-old has witnessed the reading journey of his older brother and looks to him for inspiration. Sometimes knowing they aren’t the only one is comforting and motivating.


Your Turn: I want to hear from you. What are some strategies you’ve used to help your reluctant reader? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained

5 Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained During Winter Break

Winter break is here and with it enters the dreadful question, “How on earth am I going to keep my children entertained?” Trust me, as a momma to two young boys, I know this dilemma all too well. But before you allow the television to takeover this winter break, I want to share some alternative ideas to help balance out the inevitable screen-time while helping to keep those little minds sharp.  These methods work so well for our household. Even better? They are realistic and require very little effort on your part. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

5 Realistic Ways My Kids Stay Entertained During Winter Break

 

  1. Read, Read, and Read Some More! For leisure, that is! We all know that reading is fundamental, but why? For starters, reading improves cognitive development in children—that is, your child’s ability to process and recall information, solve problems, and make decisions. It’s easy to see that reading is a great exercise for the brain, but did you also know reading can reduce your child’s stress levels and improve their vocabulary and concentration? More reasons to visit your local library this winter break and let ‘em loose! Books we love? Basically, anything Pete the Cat, Frog and Toad, and Mo Willems related. Don’t have readers or book lovers? Try audiobooks!

 

  1. Break Out the Paint Supplies. If you’ve never heard about the benefits of painting, allow me to inform you. Obviously, painting encompasses a multitude of creative benefits, but it can also provide therapeutic benefits for children and provide them a platform to better communicate their emotions. Even more? Painting helps children develop decision-making skills and it increases the mobility skills necessary for mental and physical development. My boys have been loving their paint therapy sessions! I can’t believe how long this activity actually keeps them quiet.

 

  1. Control Screen-Time. Let’s not act like screen-time isn’t going to happen for most of us. But you don’t have to feel entirely guilty about giving your child a tablet and sending them to their room. Instead of letting them spend hours watching YouTube videos of other kids playing with toys (Please tell me my kids aren’t the only weirdos that do this, haha), make your children a playlist of educational YouTube channels that are parent-approved. Here are some YouTube videos we love! Additionally, Schoolhouse Rock videos have become a favorite around here.

 

  1. Give Brainteasers a Try. Puzzles, mazes, and riddles are fun ways for children to challenge their cognitive thought processes. In short, these games can help reduce boredom and improve concentration, memory, and brain strength. Education.com is a great resource for all things games, mazes, and puzzles for all ages. I’ve talked about how helpful Education.com has been to our homeschool in the past (Read about it here), so it’s a pleasure to feature this resource in today’s post. Since my boys love brainteasers, we’re excited to download additional resources at Education.com to help combat winter break boredom. Check out their sample activity below and get in on the fun! Although this is a partnership, all opinions are my own. 

Education.com Maze
Splash around and help our little sea friends find their way home! Check out additional games and resources at Education.com! FREE Download! Get the answer key.

5. Learn a new skill. Whether it’s baking, origami, playing an instrument, or exploring a new sport, every child has an interest they don’t mind spending hours mastering. School breaks are the perfect time to challenge your child to learn something new. The key is to set realistic goals. A checklist of goodies to bake, perhaps, or learn how to play a song on the keyboard. My second-grader has taken it upon himself to learn about computer programing, so he checked out some books from the library and started taking virtual courses with Khan Academy to learn the basics. Whatever they choose, it should be totally up to them—and fun!


 

I hope everyone enjoys their winter break! I want to end by saying that learning should not only be fun but a way of life that inspires children beyond the classroom. At least that’s how we see it!  And now it’s your turn: What are your winter break tips? Let us know in the comments. And, P.S. it’s okay to say your winter break tip is to simply survive, haha. We get you!

Teach Your Child to Read

How I Taught My Child to Read for FREE!

Our budget was pretty much nonexistent during our first year as a homechool family. Not only did it take almost every penny we had saved to start our own business, but me and my husband decided whatever money we did have to dedicate to homeschool would go toward experience rather than a boxed curriculum. So we took fieldtrips, we traveled, we took classes, and we invested in martial arts training for our kids.

How on earth did we survive without a boxed curriculum? We’ve been asked this question before. My answer is this: We used any free resource we could get our hands on to teach our kids. This included books from the library. After a bit of research, I realized I had enough information to put together an emergent reader curriculum for my then kindergartner. Today, I want to share some of the steps I took with you! Now be forewarned that this is not a comprehensive curriculum, but a great guide in helping you create your own.

Keep reading if you’d like to know the eight steps I used to set the foundation for my emergent reader curriculum. I had to dig deep in the back of my closet and pull out my portfolios for this one, so I hope you like it!


How I Taught My Child to Read for FREE!

In 8 Simple Steps

1.    Where do I begin? Researching “Standards of Excellence.”

First, I accessed my state’s Department of Education website and researched their standards for kindergarten English and language arts. I did not follow this curriculum-outline verbatim. I simply highlighted the standards that aligned with our goals for emergent reading. Here are the following standards I adopted into our homeschool from the Georgia Standard of Excellence (GSE):

•    Knows and understands print concepts.

•    Demonstrates phonological awareness.

•    Demonstrates phonics and word recognition.

•    Recognizes high-frequency sight words.

•    Can read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

Adopting these standards simply meant that these five bullet points became the goals we expected to achieve by the end of our child’s kindergarten year.

2.    Getting Started | Is My Child Ready to Read?  

Before we jumped the gun in teaching our kindergartner to read, we looked for signs of reading readiness. According to GSE, reading readiness occurs when a child demonstrates an understanding of the organization and basic features of print.  Here are some indicators that your child is ready to read:

•    Can follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.

•    Can recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

•    Can understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

•    Can recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet (and their sounds). 

Additionally, other signs that demonstrated reading readiness in our home were that our son began pretending to read books, started inquiring what certain words said, and began asking how to spell certain words.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is highly recommended to teach your child letter sounds first, rather than letter names. Teaching letter sounds make learning how to read easier for the child. 

3.    Learning CVC Words.

Our first official lesson started with CVC words. CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant words. The words “bat” and “pot” are two examples of CVC words. I don’t think we spent any more than two weeks on these lessons, as my kindergartner mastered these words pretty quickly. In addition, most CVC words belong to word families, so I simply decided to move on to teaching word families. Here is a free CVC Word List. You can print this list and divide the words up according to how many you want to teach per week. Some of the free resources we used are no longer available, but here are other games and resources we found helpful:

•    The CVC Reading Machine

•    CVC Puzzles

•    Build a CVC Word

•    CVC Interactive Notebook

•    CVC Sensory Play

•   CVC Build and Jump Game 

4.    Introducing Word Families.

Word families are words that have the same combination of letters and a similar sound. The words “back” and “pack” are two examples of words that belong to the “ack” family. Learning word families was a great introduction to decoding words. We used the following Word Family List and learned four word families per week, leaving Fridays for review. Additionally, the following resources helped my son to practice and master these words:

•    Build a Word

•    Word Family Warm-ups

•    Cut and Paste Word Family

•    Word Family Match

•    Word Family Fun

5.    Mastering Sight Words.

Sight words are the most commonly used words in a given text. I taught sight words a little differently. Instead of simply memorizing the word (which is how they’re traditionally taught), I chose to show my son a few decoding techniques for better understanding. Here is a link to an awesome Sight Word List that helps ease your lesson planning by breaking down sight words by the month. This list only shares about 50 words. We, however, learned 100 sight words using flash cards (about 5 every week). Here are some great free resources for sight word practice:

•    Sight Word Teaching Strategies

•    Sight Word Reading Passages

•    Sight Word Comprehension and Fluency

•    LEGO Sight Word Practice

•    Sight Word Song

 6.    Embarking on Long Vowel Sounds.

My son started noticing that not all vowel sounds were created equal. After stumbling across a YouTube video on the wonders of Super E, he begged me to start teaching him about long vowel sounds. This was not a part of our lesson plan, so I had to adjust. I started with printing out this Long Vowel Rules List.  I studied all the rules of long vowel sounds and then broke them up into palatable lessons for my kindergartner. We did not get to cover all of the rules, but we did focus on words that end with “e”, as well as double “e” vowel words like “feet.” Some resources we used included:

•    Super e Worksheets

•    Super e Magic Song

•    Super e Magic Wand

•    Super e Rockets

•    Super e Planets

7.    Becoming a Fluent Reader.

By this time, my kindergartner was more than ready to begin reading. We started with short passages, taking advantage of the many freebies that Teachers pay Teachers (an online educational resource) had to offer. To this day, my son is still required to do reading comprehension practice every morning. Repetition is key to fluency. Here are some of the free resources we used for kindergarten.

•    Reading Comprehension Freebie

•    Reading Comprehension (Color it)

•    Reading Comprehension (Sight Words)

•    Reading Comprehension Sample Pack

•    Reading Comprehension Fluency Passages

Additionally, our favorite emergent reader books are from the I Can Read collection. My kindergartner’s favorite series from this collection included Charlie the Ranch Dog and Frog and Toad. You can find these books for free at your local library.

8.    Testing Knowledge.

Of course hearing my kindergartner read was proof enough that he had mastered the GSE standards we adopted. However, I did use the Sonlight Reading Assessment to gauge what level he was reading at. He tested for Grade 1 level at the end of his kindergarten year. Another method I used to evaluate my son’s reading progress was noting the levels on the types of books he was reading. For instance, for I Can Read books, he went from the emergent reader level to reading level 1 & 2 books confidently all by himself.  You can also use Book Wizard to find out what level your child is reading at.

And that’s it! Those are the eight steps I took to help my emergent reader! Here are some key points to take home:

•    We waited until our kindergartner was ready.

•    We focused on decoding words rather than memorization.

•    We used comprehensive word lists to help guide us along our curriculum.

•    We read a TON of books daily.

•    We practiced until mastery.

I would not advise a DIY curriculum if you are not up to the task. Please seek out a free virtual curriculum if you are on a tight budget but do not want to create your own reading curriculum. Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool is a great place to start. They offer a pretty decent emergent reader curriculum free of charge. Check out my Free Homeschool Curriculum Deals for more info on free homeschool curricula.


For more free resources, check out my online store Nike Anderson’s Classroom at Teachers pay Teachers!

 

Frugal Resources for Homeschool

12 Frugal Supplements I Used For Preschool & Kindergarten

During my homeschool research, I came across several blog posts recommending high-priced curricula and supplement materials. But for homeschool parents on a budget, like us, you don’t have to fork over your entire homeschool savings on curricula alone. Take the frugal road and save most of that money for enriching activities and experiences outside the classroom.

Most of you know that I created my own curriculum this year. Partly because I was on a budget and partly because I didn’t want to spend top dollar on something that may not work for us. I needed to spend time with my children to assess their learning style and abilities so that I could determine which curriculum fit best for our household. I’m glad I did this. Not only did I save money, but I’m now able to help other homeschool parents who are looking to save money, too.

Most of the worksheets and activities my boys did this year were created by me. However, there were some resources that helped me fill in those gaps. Not all of these resources were free, but they fit into my budget nicely. Here they are!


12 Great Resources That Helped Me Supplement My Homeschool Curriculum for Pre-K and Kindergarten. 

1Scholastic Early Learners workbook..    Scholastic Early Learners workbook.

This workbook was used more so toward the beginning of the year, although we still like to use it for handwriting practice. Among other things, this workbook covers practice in the alphabet and phonics, counting, shapes and 3-D shapes, sequencing, telling time, and standard kindergarten vocabulary practice.

Trend Enterprises Ready to Read workbook

2.    Trend Enterprises Ready to Read workbook.

This workbook covers beginning reading skills, upper and lowercase letters, letter and word puzzles, basic reading vocabulary, and reading and following directions. This is a wipe – off book used primarily by my 3-year-old, even though it’s designed for kindergarten. However, my kindergartner has gotten some great use out of it, too.

School Zone Big Workbook3.    School Zone Big Workbook.

I purchased this workbook at the First Grade level to challenge my kindergartner. We used this book very often, as it allowed for practice in many areas. The book covers critical thinking, phonics and spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension, basic math, and math word problems, among other things. We were able to cover a lot of ground with this workbook, so we found it super helpful.

4.    Learning Resources flashcards.

We used the United States flashcards as a part of our geography lesson. These flash cards also came with fun facts. My preschooler used the Alphabet and Numbers flash cards to practice phonics and fluency in counting up to 30. We also purchased “thumbs up” stickers from the Dollar Tree and placed a sticker on each flash card they mastered. This allowed us to practice more on the facts they hadn’t mastered yet. I know flash cards are frowned upon in the homeschool community, but my kids love flash cards!

5.    Trend Enterprises Sight Word flashcards.

Playing fun games with these flash cards really helped my kindergartner to master his sight words. These flashcards have all sorts of levels for sight word practice. Once again, we used the
sticker method to keep track of the words he needed more practice with. By the end of the year, my kindergartner’s fluency at recalling sight words greatly increased.

Teachers pay Teachers.

6.    Teachers pay Teachers.

This is where I downloaded and printed many of my worksheets. This resource carries everything from science activities to reading comprehension practice, and so much more! Some of the resources are free, others are fairly priced. The great thing about this resource was that I can print out exactly what I need, rather than flipping through a published workbook filled with fluff. I have a store listed on Teachers Pay Teachers where I offer free printables. Find it, here.

National Geographic Kids7.    National Geographic Kids.

National Geographic Kids is a fun resource for learning about plants, animals, and habitats all around the world. They also have a fun “How Things Are Made” series, where kids can learn how their favorite things are made from pizza to crayons, and even LEGOs! The National Geographic Kids website includes a wealth of resources from videos to books, and fun learning games and quizzes. Also, check out the Dollar Tree for National Geographic books to add to your science curriculum.

1464117973397-18.    YouTube.

There are so many YouTube learning channels for Kids. Videos are great for reinforcing facts, ideas, and concepts. National Geographic Kids has a great YouTube Channel. Other favorites are Animal Atlas and The Kids Picture Show, which covers advanced shapes, colors, and the solar system, among other things. I love these channels for those hectic mornings where I need my boys to stay in one place while I make breakfast or put in a load of laundry. These channels are also great compliments to curriculum lessons. My kids can learn all about the solar system and then watch a fun video about it.

61j76ft19zl-_sx258_bo1204203200_9.    The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book.

This book covers the human body, physics, biology, chemistry, and nature. We liked this book because most of the experiments called for everyday items you’d use in your home. We got more into science experiments towards the end of the year, and this book had tons of fun ones to do that were pre-k and kindergarten friendly. The book also provides key terms as well as gives explanations of what’s happening during the experiment, which is great for lesson planning.

146411915598611.    I Can Read books.

These books include a ton of series from Amelia Bedelia to Frog and Toad, which are my childhood favorites. The great thing about “I Can Read” books is that they have different levels from emerging readers to advanced readers. We started off at Level 1, but there’s a level before that called “Shared Reading.” Shared reading is great because it divides the books with sentences for parents to read and sentences for emerging readers. I don’t think kids should be pushed to read early, but my kindergartner showed all the signs of reading readiness. His favorite “I Can Read” series are from Charlie the Ranch Dog.

12.    The library.nola_brantley_memorial_library

I know I mention this resource all the time, but the library is certainly underrated. Not only do they hold classes and activities for homeschoolers, they also have a ton of resources, discount codes for education materials, and so much more. We checked out a ton of books every week for the entire school year. Books on astronomy, geography, the human body, and, of course, books to read just for fun. The library also has STEM activities for budding engineers and a great selection of audiobooks for kids. Be careful to look at the copyright date on the books to ensure the resource isn’t outdated.

the_macon_museum_of_arts__sciences_172177613.    The Museum.

Our local museum is completely free. Other museums like the Children’s or Science museums usually have free admission days. Take advantage of your local museum! They typically hold great classes for homeschool families. Our local museum holds regular STEM Classes. If you’re unfamiliar with STEM, it’s an acronym for all things Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—sometimes Art (STEAM). Museums are great for a learning day outside the home. Pack a lunch and have a fun picnic in the designated picnic areas!


I’m sure I forgot some amazing resources we used. If I did, you’ll surely hear about it in the future. These resources, however, are ones that we used often and made excellent supplements to my curriculum lesson plans. If you are on a tight budget this year, I urge you to try out some of these resources. For a list of free curricula, click here.

Lastly, I just want to say, don’t be afraid of not using the same pricey curriculum as everyone else. It’s not what you have, but how you use what you have. There are kids using those materials who are struggling, read the forums! And I want to note that even though we didn’t use a top-notch curriculum, my kindergartner still tested above grade-level for both reading and math. It’s not necessary to keep score in homeschool, but I needed to test him to prepare for next year’s curriculum.

Will you be creating your own curriculum next school year? Let us know down below!

Kinesthetic Learning Game

Teaching Boys to Read | Kinesthetic Learning Game

Kinesthetic learning is learning that takes place when a student carries out physical activities. This type of learning is a great fit for boys because their cerebral cortex is defined for spatial relationships, which means they learn best through movement and visual experience.

During my experience teaching boys, I’ve quickly realized that lecturing and writing sentences on the white board was not going to maximize their learning potential. They either zoned out or starting fidgeting and playing with the nearest object. So, in an effort to incorporate kinesthetic learning into our homeschool classroom, I’ve come up with a fun activity to help foster a love for reading. They loved it! I’m sure girls will love it, too!

The Alphabet Mat Word Family Game

Things you’ll need: 

1. Alphabet puzzle mat (you may need more than one puzzle if you plan to practice double vowel phonograms like “eed”).

2. 37 Index cards

3. Clear packaging tape/ Laminator

4. Elmer’s glue

5. Scissors

7. Students!

Let’s get started!
*Note: Your students may love to help with these steps!

Word Family Games

Step 1. Download and print this 37 common phonograms list.

Step 2. Using scissors, cut out all 37 phonograms.

Step 3. Count out 37 index cards and use Elmer’s glue to paste the phonograms on the middle of each card.

Step 4. “Laminate” the index cards the inexpensive way—using clear packaging tape (or a laminator if you have one!). (This step is optional. When index cards are laminated, the student can write on them with a dry-erase marker and wipe them off).


How to play the game

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1.    Have the student place the pieces of the alphabet mat into alphabetical order.

2.    Ask the student to pick out a phonogram index card from the pile.

3.    Ask the student to recite the phonogram.

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4.    Ask the student to spell out the phonogram using the alphabet mat
pieces.

5.    Ask the student what word they can make using that phonogram.

6.    Write the word on the whiteboard or index card for visual representation.

7.    Ask the student to spell out the word on the floor using the alphabet mat pieces.

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8.    Have the student spell the word aloud by jumping onto each letter. (Let them shout it out!)

9.    Repeat the fun and create other word families.

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BONUS!

•    Ask the student what types of silly sentences they can make up using those words.

•    Write the sentences on the whiteboard for visual representation.

•    If you have more than one student, a friendly competition is always fun. See who can spell their word the fastest!


Kinetic Sand Review

Kinetic Sand Toy Review

Kinetic sand is a toy that mimics real sand but has the molding capabilities of playdoh. It is widely used by children and adults not only for sensory play, but also for therapeutic purposes.  Kinetic sand comprises 98% sand and 2% of a silicone oil called polydimethylsiloxane. Not only is this amazing sand fun to play with, but it also helps children develop their fine motor skills, creativity, and is great for sensory processing.

My children received eleven pounds of kinetic sand for Christmas, which was purchased online for just under $40. I wanted to include the sand in our classroom experience for three reasons:

1. The product claimed it never dries out (a problem we’d had with playdoh).
2. The product claimed it was not messy, as the sand sticks only to itself.
3. An overwhelming number of reviews suggested the product was great for helping children to focus, and improve many other skills.

After playing with this product for one month, here is my review. This review is not sponsored. All items were purchased with my own money.


1. Does the product dry out?
No, it has not dried out. My children often forget to place the lids back onto the containers Sensory Playwhen they’re finished playing, leaving the sand to sit for hours exposed to the air. The sand never dried out or even showed any signs that it might dry out in the future.

2. Is the product messy?
Yes and no. Yes, because when my toddler plays with it, sometimes he may take the sand out of the container and get some on the floor. Also, if my toddler has sticky or wet hands, some sand will stick to his hands. However, my kindergartner can play with this sand for hours without making a single mess. Overall, I think that smaller kids will find a way to make this product messy! It is their job, after all.  My suggestion is to ensure children wash and dry their hands thoroughly before playing with the sand. The great thing about this product is it sticks to itself, so cleaning it up when it spills is a breeze.

3. Does the product improve focus? Yes. This sand is so mesmerizing that my children can play with it quietly for a long time. It is a great companion for the imagination. My suggestion is to use regular sand or Playdoh molds to maximize the playing potential of this product. We use sand molds by Melissa and Doug, which allows my children to make some cool-looking pretend treats. We’ve also used the sand to make shapes, spell words, and draw many things.

Overall, we’ve been enjoying this product.  My children ask to play with it often and, truthfully, I like to play it with often, too!


Other Ideas for Kinetic Sand!

Use a shallow storage container to house your sand. Decorate the top using fun stickers.

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Use the sand as a fun way to practice sight words and other common words.

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Use your sand as a fun way to practice shapes with your little one.

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Use a kitchen set to bring sand-play fun to the next level!

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