Phonics Friday Part 1 – Bedroom Phonics Chart

I am on a mission to teach my son to read. My older kids eventually learned to read but for my son who struggles with learning difficulties ranging from Dyslexia to auditory processing issues reading is hard! I thought I would share my experiences hopefully every Friday. I also hope to post a free copy of the resource I create for teaching phonics.

While I was casually talking to my wife about teaching our kids to read I asked my wife what she remembered from her school years when she learned to read. To my surprise, she responded with the fact that she didn’t remember and that she just learned. That was an ah-ha moment for me. My wife has always been able to read well. In fact from her description, it sounded like she just picked up a book and started reading.

I on the other hand had to learn to read. It wasn’t always easy. But I remember how I learned to read. I was taught using a structured phonics approach. I attended a grade school where they used A Beka. One of the vivid memories I have from learning to read I still remember it while I am reading to myself or sounding out words subconsciously. What I remember most from my school years learning to read were phonics drills. I don’t remember how often we would work on those drills but I can hear them in my mind. I looked up the charts and they are about the same. You can see a sample one here. I remember it was on a big flip chart at the front of the room. When I think back to learning to read I am convinced that drills helped me learn to read. I decided to go to that method to help reinforce phonics for my son.

So here is a picture from my son’s room of what I am doing.

Wall poster in my son’s bedroom for drilling vowel sounds.

I quickly made this phonics chart last night. I ended up using MS Word but you could do it on the iPad also. In fact, I probably would have used Keynote if I was doing it again. The picture of the Indian I got from a great site for free images here. I let my son pick out the picture so it was something that interested him. I chose vowels since my son keeps mixing up simple words with i and a as a short vowel sound. My goal is to work with him every night before bed. I make him say with me “a-a” in apple “i-i” in Indian. So far it works pretty well. The only change I think I will make to the poster is to put the letter first and then the picture. Also here is another great resource for free phonics charts.

What do you think of my phonics chart? What have you done to help your child learn to read with phonics? What do you remember from when you first started to learn to read? Was it easy for you or hard?

If you would like more information on teaching phonics and teaching boys to read I suggest you check out my post on free reading resources. Also here is a free copy of my phonics vowel poster. If you would like to see more of what I am doing to teach my son to read with phonics check out Part 2.

Reading Unlocked Reading Program review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My son is loving the online reading program Reading Unlocked.  The lessons are short and provide many different ways to practice reading.  The lessons are only 10 minutes a day and he has no complaints when we work on reading with Reading Unlocked.  Since I have lots of boys, I am always looking for good phonics-based reading programs.  I feel like my son is actually learning better with the Reading Unlocked program than other programs we have used.  I was especially excited Reading Unlocked works on an iPad. Keep reading to see how our review went.

What is Reading Unlocked

Reading Unlocked is an online subscription program for teaching reading. The Reading Unlocked program works on a computer or an iPad using an internet web browser.  Reading Unlocked only takes 10 minutes a day.  To get started you choose the reading level your child is ready for based on three different lines of text shown in the picture below.  The first level is for beginning readers.  The second level is for readers who know almost all the letter sounds and three-letter words along with some blends.  The last level is the highest level and introduces more complex blends and long vowel sounding words.

The Reading Unlocked program should only take about 10 minutes a day.  There are several different exercises you do with your child.  To start a new sound or blend is introduced.  There are status dots at the top to show you how much is left for the lesson.

Several words are introduced with the lesson sound or blend.  Each letter sound (or blend) is sounded out individually and then the sounds are sounded out together in the whole word.  This is especially helpful for my son who has auditory issues.

Many different exercises are used to practice the lesson sounds.  The picture below shows the exercise where the student changes the word by switching out one of the sounds.  For example below you are supposed to turn nest into chest by moving the ch blend over the n.

The picture below shows where the student chooses the picture that matches the word.

All the exercises were at the level that my son would not get discouraged.  The picture below shows another exercise with the words learned.  Each line as a few additional words plus the other words which reinforces what they just learned.

The last exercise has a poem to read and the student reads the highlighted words.  I initially didn’t really like this but my son really seemed to like it. After the lesson is complete you can see the words learned and the days you have completed a lesson.

How we used reading unlocked

Because Reading Unlocked works on the iPad, I found it easy to help my son who is learning to read before bed in his room.  With the iPad and Reading Unlocked you can work on learning to read anywhere.  The only issue with using it before bed is then its hard to write out some of the words he is learning as the program says.  I wish there was a worksheet or a list of words that I could download and help him practice writing the words he is learning.  You are supposed to write the words on a separate sheet of paper during the lesson, but if you don’t have writing materials handy you may not remember what words your child is supposed to practice writing.  I usually try and take a screenshot of the words he is supposed to write out, and then I make a worksheet for him to practice later.  

Since my son has been reading simple words for awhile I started him off on the second level.  My son did pretty fine until some of the lessons used blends like ch and sh which he hasn’t learned yet.  Even though he had not learned those blends he did ok after I explained how the blend sounded.  Later I realized that those blends were introduced in the last several lessons for the first level.  In the settings you can change what level and what lesson to work on.  I tried several lessons until I found the ones where the blends started.  I had him work on those earlier lessons so I could make sure he understood those blends.

I only used the program with one of my children.  While I did not see a way to add individual students, you can use it with multiple children by changing the level and the lesson in the settings.  It would be nice if you could add another child, but it’s not that big of an issue.  Once you start using the program you get a feel for where your child should be at. Overall the Reading Unlocked program is very effective for teaching reading.  When I asked my son what he liked about Reading Unlocked he said, “I am learning more.”  I was surprised he said that, but I really feel like he is learning more.  The program is just enough for him to learn without being overwhelmed.  

Is it right for your child?

If your child struggles with your current reading program or complains about learning to read then I would recommend you give Reading Unlocked a try.  Reading Unlocked is especially good for homeschool parents who have limited time to help their child learn to read. Reading Unlocked is especially good if your child struggles with reading.  As a homeschool dad with lots of boys I recommend Reading Unlocked to teach your child to read.  I especially love that Reading Unlocked works on the iPad so we can work on it anywhere in the house.

My son really thinks Reading Unlocked is helping him learn to read better. Other families used this product too so be sure to check out their reviews by clicking on the banner below.

Reading Unlocked {Reading Unlocked Reviews}

Math Galaxy app and ebook review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Math Galaxy provides math games and math worksheets such as the Whole Numbers Balloon Pop app and the Math Galaxy Time and Money Riddles eBook.

Apps:

I had the opportunity to review several apps.  Most of the apps I reviewed, 3rd Grade Math, 4th Grade Math, 6th Grade Mathwere similar but just for different grade levels.  The other app I reviewed was the Times Tables Balloon Pop app about multiplication.

The Times Tables Balloon Pop app starts out with you first select the Times table you would like to work on.  Then the app is a simple app that displays a multiplication fact with several balloons with numbers on it.  When you tap on the right answer the balloon pops and another multiplication question comes up.  This was a fun way for my children to practice multiplication facts.

The other Apps I reviewed were comprehensive math apps that were 3rd Grade Math, 4th Grade Math, 6th Grade Math.  The apps are pretty much the same except the concepts are more difficult for the higher grades. The 6th Grade Math app only has one game but that’s understandable since its for older kids.  I was pleasantly surprised by my son picking up the app and playing it on his own without my prompting.  Many times, I like to download an app and see how long it is before they start using it.

His favorite game to play was the Labyrinth game.  I suspect this is since he really likes mazes.  To play the game you must earn a robot by working on other math facts.

 

Even though my son hasn’t worked a lot on fractions, he really liked the game for fraction addition.

Along with interactive games, there are also videos

Lastly you can even save your progress.

ebooks:

We were also provided ebooks which provided riddles that you solve by answering all the math problems.  I received Whole Numbers, Fractions, Decimals, Proportions, Percents, and Algebra ebooks.

The ebooks provide plenty of fun practice for all the math problems.  The solutions are well worked out like the Fraction addition shown below.

Overall my son really enjoyed the apps and I found him numerous times playing them for fun.  The ebooks provide a great supplement for any math program you use for your homeschool.

Please click on the picture below to see other reviews form Homeschool Review Crew members.

3rd Grade -Algebra Fundametals Math Apps {Math Galaxy Reviews}

YWAM Heroes of History book review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

YWAM Publishing offered us several choices from their Heroes of History series of books and we chose to review the George Washington book. We chose to review the George Washington book since we are currently studying American history.  As a homeschool family for many years, we have always enjoyed the “Heroes of History” books from YWAM Publishing.  There are 26 titles offered in the Heroes of History book series to choose from.

My daughter likes the Heroes of History books because:

  • They are easy to read
  • They cover the whole  life of the hero
  • They provide good lessons from their lives

One of those lessons that hit me was the following quote from George Washington:

“The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.” – George Washington

In our current society we seem to have lost this.  It is amazing how important George Washington was in the founding of our country.  He was truly a great leader.

Study guide:

As part of the review I also received the study guide.  The Study guide is a PDF that I downloaded.

 

The study guide has two parts.  The first part has quotes, display corner ideas, questions for each chapter, Social Studies, Related themes to explore and Culminating Events.  The section on a display corner gives suggestions on how you can set up a display corner of objects related to the life and times of George Washington.  Part 2 of the study guide has a fact sheet and some maps.

I really liked reading the YWAM Publishing book on George Washington.  I am looking forward to sharing some of the interesting facts about George Washington and lessons that I learned reading the book.  I am looking forward to reading more books in the YWAM Publishing Heroes of History series.

We reviewed just one book from the Heroes of History series, but you can see reviews from other books reviewed by Homeschool Review Crew members by clicking the link below.

32 Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

Mega List of Free Resource to Teach Kids to Read

Reading is probably the most important homeschool activity, but it can also be one of the hardest. Thankfully teaching reading doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  Here is a list of free resources I have found helpful for teaching kids to read.

Note: Not all are iPad/tablet friendly.  (ie flash player for games and videos)

First: The best free comprehensive program:

Sound city reading is by far one of the best and most comprehensive phonics based reading program that is free! There are many pdf documents you can print off. I love the idea of a reading road with houses that contain all the different sounds.

Free eBooks or iBooks:

Don Potter education pages has many old spelling books to download. He also has some excellent Phonics reading resources. Don also has excellent information also on how Webster’s blue back speller was used to teach reading.

McGuffey reader – a classic of the one room schoolhouse.

New England primer – another good classic.

Dog on a log books has many printable phonics games.

Primary concepts ebook that uses letter tiles.

Free Online games or apps:

Blastoff to reading online games

Teach your monster to read

Free videos:

schoolhouse us free phonics lessons and videos(videos not for iPad but lots of good lessons that can be printed)

Ron Paul curriculum reading program – first 40 video lessons free with worksheets.

First step reading has free video lessons

Full Phonics Curriculum:
Old fashion education – simple

Sound city reading – the best free curriculum.

Reading Bear – some good interactive activities.

Progressive phonics books have you read the hard words, and your child reads the easy words.

The Easy Peasy full curriculum is more than just reading.

The Canadian site for the society for quality education has a free reading program with many resources.

Update:

Here is a good language arts program free for level 1.

Free worksheets:

Tinas Dynamic homeschool plus has many printables.

https://www.studenthandouts.com/handwriting-worksheets/handwriting-practice-dashed-lined-writing-paper.htm

Spelling worksheets and activities.

https://www.123homeschool4me.com/home-school-free-printables/

If you are adventurous you can make your own copywork and worksheets with special tracing fonts and MS word or Pages by following instructions on the link below:
https://www.reallifeathome.com/how-to-make-your-own-copywork-pages/

Free Blog/Podcasts:

IEW – many excellent resources especially on learning disabilities and the podcast is one of the best ones out there.

All About Learning Press has wonderful free resources and a great blog about reading and spelling.

This reading momma is a highly recommended blog.

The measured mom blog also has many free resources.

Other miscellaneous resources

Update 10/16/2020

I just came across these great free phonics charts.

You can search through goverment documents/papers on teaching at Education Resources Information Center

Eye can learn is not technically phonics but there are several resources for eye tracking if you child is having problems reading. (also apps for the iPad.)

Please leave a comment below if you have found some other free resource useful.

10 Tablet-Friendly Educational Resources for Homeschooling

Photo courtesy of Honza Soukup via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Honza Soukup via Flickr Creative Commons

 

With the proliferation of technology, the traditional learning landscapes have been transformed into virtual experiences. Today, we’re experiencing the rise of the educational applications, web 2.0 tools, and cloud-based eLearning platforms. Even in the K-12 scene, there are various private vendors that are now offering the lower level MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which used to be for higher education only. In fact, the total number of homeschooled students has reached over 1.5 million in 2013; thanks to the successful usage of iPad and other mobile devices.

Below, we’ll give you the 10 tablet-ready learning apps and educational online resources you can use while homeschooling your kids.

1. Conversation Builder Teen

Most homeschooled students have limited contact with their fellow students, as opposed to those who attends school regularly. With ConversatonBuilder. You can teach them how to engage and confidently converse with other people around. To make it more engaging, the app provides a virtual image and a speech balloon of the person whom they will practice speaking to. With its full audio and text support, tapping the speech balloon will let them hear the natural response to a situational conversation. Your kid can also participate in its preprogrammed, guided conversations that are designed to take place between two to three people. Discovery K-12 As mentioned above, there are private vendors that offer MOOC-type of classes to interested K-12 students; and one of which is Discovery K-12. It is an iPad platform that offers online curriculum in STEM for K-12. It contains over 16,000 lessons, classic literature eBooks, and a weekly spelling program. New assignments are sent daily for your kids to work on. Similar to the traditional school experience, they will be graded and evaluated for progress tracking.

3. Timeline

Featured as one of Verizon’s growing number of Thinkfinity resources, The Timeline App for Android and iOS helps you create a graphical representation of an event by displaying items (texts, images, and website links) sequentially along a line. Read Write Think said that the Timeline entries can be organized by date, time of the day, or an event. For story writing exercises, your kid can maximize the tool when creating plot sequences. It’s also very interactive. You can access it on other devices (using a common user account) to add text annotations when checking their work.

4. Theatre In The Homeschool

Who says that you can’t expose your kids to the performing arts? Theatre in the Homeschool is a web-based learning resource powered by Learnist. It is optimized to work for the mobile web and desktop browsers. Curated by Kimberly Charron of Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, its virtual books will help you mount a drama class in the comfort of your living room. One of its virtual curricula called “Bring Books To Life With Drama,” shows you how to teach them about improvising a role, basic playwriting, costuming and makeup, and puppetry. The instructions presented online require you to be a hands-on parent in this lesson.

5. Hands-On Equations 1 Lite

Elementary Algebra should also be a part of your home school tablet. Designed for kids aged 8 onwards, the application will help you mount a math class with lessons that are right for their age. Edudemic reiterated that it doesn’t even require the user to have a strong background in algebra to learn the concepts presented. Each lesson comes with an introductory three-to-four minute video followed by two examples, and ten exercises. The lite version only comes with three lessons. The succeeding modules are available through in-app purchases.

6. LanguageBuilder for iPad

Teaching your kids how to properly construct sentences is one of the major lessons that you should integrate into your homeschooling curriculum. LanguageBuilder for iPad is all about improving kids sentence ideation, improve their receptive and expressive language inputs, and improve their word formation. Each exercise is fill in the blanks, where they need to complete the thought of a sentence. It offers distinct images as hint. The app also allows students to record the sentences using their own vocals.

7. Free Geography Resources for Kids

This is another e-Learning resource powered by Learnist, which teaches your kids about basic World Geography. All its virtual textbooks are curated from websites such as National Geographic and Knowledge Quest Maps. In here they will learn about the different countries of the world, its inhabitants, ecology, and climate. It also comes with an impressive feature: a printable giant-sized blank map that you can use to administer tests and activities. You can ask them to color and highlight a particular spot on the map or identify geographical borders of a continent.

8. DK The Human Body App

Recommended by Apps For Homeschooling, the DK The Human Body App is an intuitive scientific tool that will enable you to teach your kids about the basics of anatomy. The digital render of the human body is presented in a child-friendly manner and with excellent 3D animations and vector graphics. All the facets of the Scientific Branch are covered by the app: muscular, skeletal, integrated body, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. All of them have separate chapters that contain detailed stories and close examinations of certain functions and structures.

9. The Common Core Standards App

This is a useful resource that collates all the teaching standards approved by the Department of Education. Most teachers in K-12 institutions are designing their lesson plans based on the Common Core Standards. We browsed the “Number and Operations-Fractions” standard for Grade 3. It states that each student at this level should only be limited to fractions with denominators 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. So, if your child belongs to the said grade levels, you can you use this as a guide. This allows the parent to see how your kid’s lessons are aligned to what is prescribed by the Department of Education.

 

10. This Day in History for iPad

We recommend the This Day in History, with its a rich and interactive multimedia calendar that displays significant historical event/s for a given date. The data presented on its calendar interface are a combination of illustrations, photos, and audio speeches. All of its data are synced over the internet. Another interesting feature of the app is the ability to learn other nation’s National Anthem. But, to access them, you need to search for the day they became a nation and manually scroll through the app.

 

These are just some of the curated educational iPad learning resources that you can use when homeschooling your child. For more suggestions, subscribe to our blog.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Birch is proud to be of help with the homeschooling of her niece. She believes that today’s technology makes homeschooling a more viable option for learning, especially with devices’ abilities to pick up information and files. For more insights, message her on Google +.