Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reading and Spelling Q & A

Question 1:
I understand that the consonant needs to be doubled in little, giggle, etc to keep the first vowel short (lit-tle, gig-gle). But in the word “i-ci-cle”, what keeps the second i short? Same in au-di-ble. Or are these just one of those exceptions to the rule (i.e. Jail word?).

My Answer:
i can make the short i or schwa sound in unaccented open syllables - as in pre-si-dent, au-di-ble, in-ci-dent, multiply, editor, dignity, imitate, etc.

Question 2:
On words like flammable and terrible, why two m’s and r’s there?

My Answer:
There is an extension of the doubling rule - if the last syllable is accented and is a 1-1-1 syllable, the final consonant is doubled if the suffix begins with a vowel.

The final consonant is not double if:
- the final syllable is not accented
- the last syllable is accented, but it does not end in a consonant after a vowel
- the suffix begins with a consonant

admitting, forgotten, excelled

The accent is a bit tougher on the two particular words in question and they don't exactly fit the extension of the doubling rule like the other examples. . .

terr is a latin root - latin roots usually get the accent

flame is the root of the word flammable - thus that is the syllable that would have the accent and you would double the consonant before adding the suffix.

Have a question related to spelling and reading? Email me or post it as a comment and watch in the coming weeks for your answer!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Altogether Beautiful. . .

a day without seizures

giving the baby a bubble bath and watching him splash

tossing out the paper stacks that invaded my file cabinet

looking out the french doors at the woodlands behind us

watching the children run to meet dh when he arrives home from work

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun & Simple Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get together with family, enjoy a wonderful meal, and reflect on the things we are thankful for. Yet, as much we hate to admit it, sometimes the meal (both preparation and partaking of), can overshadow the sentiment of the day. So. . . to help keep the main thing the main thing this holiday here are a couple ideas for starting new traditions and celebrating!

Thanksgiving Tree
Items Needed: flower pot, tree branch, leaf templates printed on cardstock, yarn/string/paperclips (or some other means of hanging the leaves), pens, and markers.

Last year we did our first "Thanksgiving Tree"! We took a bare branch and placed it in a large flower pot of soil in the center of the room. Each person colored and/or decorated their own leaf (leaf template printed on white cardstock) then wrote down some things they were thankful for on the other side. Once everyone was done, we came together in the family room around the tree. Starting with the youngest, each person stood up by the tree, shared aloud what they were thankful for, and then placed their leaf on the tree. It was a really special time. (We used a large branch, pot and leaves, but you can use smaller items if you'd rather use it for a centerpiece on the table)

Lastly, as each person left to go home, they were asked to take a leaf (other than their own) home with them and use it as a reminder to pray for that particular person from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas.

This year, a friend (my hairstylist) came over to do some crafts with the children and introduced us to a new idea that we're going to keep for tradition and I'd like to share that with you as well!

Thanksgiving Table Cloth
Items Needed: white vinyl lace table cloth, black plastic tablecloth, permanent markers of assorted colors (we used Sharpies)

(table cloths came from the Dollar Store :)

We took a vinyl lace table cloth laid it over a cheap black plastic table cloth (to protect the table from the marker ink) and then we colored in parts of the lace pattern and wrote down things we were thankful for right on the cloth. Not only is it a unique, special creation, it's a great tablecloth for that Thanksgiving Dinner!

So there you have it - two great ways to have fun as a family while emphasizing the spirit of the holiday and the many things we all have to be thankful for!

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Review: REWARDS Intermediate

REWARDS Intermediate published by Sopris West
Reading Excellence: Word Attack Rate Development Strategies

This is not something you'll find on the tables at curriculum fairs, but if you have an upper elementary level student that is struggling with decoding and upper level reading skills - this is a great resource!

First, I appreciate that this program packs so much into only 25 lessons. The scope of the lessons is limited, but considering that the program is not a long term approach to remediation that's to be expected. Each lesson takes about an hour and is broken down into bite size components that keep it interesting and give it a nice pace from start to finish. With a strong emphasis on recognizing affixes for decoding, there is also minimal spelling and vocabulary instruction.

Rewards teaches the student how to decode multisyllabic words, first by walking them through the overt strategies (circle prefixes, circle suffixes, underline the vowels, say the parts, say the whole word, make it a real word). then by moving into a covert use of those strategies. There's also a spelling component that encourages students to successfully spell by recognizing word parts (syllables), but overall the spelling portion is too little and insufficient to support gains in this area.

As affixes are taught throughout, it's worth noting that it is built on the premise that 80% of multisyllabic words have one or more affixes. Also in each lesson, select vocabulary words are introduced with usage examples provided. The student is then given a prompt to use the word by sharing an experience related to the vocabulary word, i.e.: tell me something that is "repulsive" to you.

In the final 10 lessons, in addition to sentence and passage reading and comprehension exercises, there is a word family component, which strikes me similar to the method of Sequential Spelling. This exercise visually reinforces the morphographic nature of english language by building on the root of a word:

Pre-test and post-test allow you to measure progress in decoding and reading fluency. Recommend for students in grades 4-6, who have mastered the decoding of single syllable words and basic reading skills, though not reading fluently and accurately on grade level. Some of the text is worded toward a group setting, but it is easily adaptable and well suited to a one-on-one teaching situation.

The teacher's guide alone is a whopping $89, but add in the student book and for around $100 you'll have a very effective and efficient short-term remedial reading resource at your fingertips.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let's Talk Reading - Part 1

He can read, but. . .

I've heard this statement many times over the years, usually followed by a very telling list of seemingly insignificant issues that nag at the parent just enough to keep them concerned, yet uncertain as to whether or not their child may need intervention. These interactions keep me aware of the misconceptions and misinformation related to reading issues. Consequently, this week I will be focusing on the fundamentals of reading and attempting to sort through the basics that help lay the groundwork for future reading success. It is my hope that this series may help provide clarification and useful information to those whose inner voice still whispers with uncertainty "he can read, but. . ."

Reading is a foundational and necessary skill upon which all learning revolves. The early years (K-2) are when we focus on "learning to read", while the latter years (3 and up) rapidly change course, requiring that one "read to learn". For most children, this standard works and this shift in process causes no distraction. However, for others, it's a continuously rough road that leaves them somewhat perplexed, with potential injury to their confidence, questions about their intelligence, and/or a sense of failure. Children, including those who struggle, have a keen sense of observation and insight. They are well aware of when their peers are able to do things that they are not - and when they don't understand why, it becomes a source of anguish that they will try their best to conceal. Nobody, not even children, want their weaknesses out in the open for all to see.

When your child is struggling with learning to read, it's important that you take at look at the "foundational" skills he/she may need intervention or remediation. Attempting to "build" on top of an unstable "foundation" can lead to frustration for both the parent and child. Remember, nothing stable is built from the top down!

There are several building blocks necessary for one to become a skilled reader. Research has concluded that there are 5 main components or layers of learning which combine to help one master this vital skill.

1. Phonological Awareness - this is an "umbrella term" that includes phonemic awareness, work with rhymes, words, syllables, and onsets and rimes.

2. Phonics - this is the process of understanding the predictable relationship between sounds(phonemes) and letters(graphemes) - the letter "a" represents the sound /a/ as in apple - the letters "qu" represents the sound /qu/ as in quack)

3. Fluency - fluency is a term used to describe the ability to read accurately and quickly. Fluent readers read effortlessly and with expression. A fluent reader sounds natural, as if you they were speaking, and is free to concentrate their attention on what the text is trying to convey (comprehension).

4. Vocabulary - this refers to the words we must know to express and receive language in order to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking and listening, while reading vocabulary includes words which we recognize and use in print - both reading and writing.

5. Comprehension - comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. The previous four components or building blocks, ideally work together seamlessly to allow a student to make sense of what he is reading, remember what he is reading, and to being able to use that information as needed.

Over the next few days, I'll break down these five components, discuss the value of intervention and remediation, introduce you to the Orton-Gillingham method, and share tips and resources that will help you along the way.

In the meantime, here are two great resources for more information. (if you have a struggling reader beyond 3rd grade, you'll still find these useful and informative!)

Free Informational Booklets on Literacy:

Put Reading First (Kindergarten through Grade 3)
Download PDF at:

A Child Becomes a Reader (Kindergarten through Grade 3)
Download PDF at:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Altogether Beautiful. . .

a book so good you can't put it down

singing along to music as I drive

friends from my yahoo groups

my floral comforter and matching valances

the color green :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome to Seasons of Learning!

This is my second half-hearted attempt at blogging. I tried another host site, but was not finding it very friendly and I don't have a lot of time to spend on figuring it all out. So, anywho, a friend shared that blogspot was easier to use, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is my desire and hope that this blog with serve as a valuable resource to other families, particularly homeschooling families, through the sharing and information presented here.

I'll be gradually moving posts over from my other blog, so be sure to stop back by soon and review the archived and back-dated posts!

Your comments are welcomed and appreciated. It let's me know that something here is beneficial to you and encourages me in this endeavor :o)

¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´ -:¦:-Tina ~
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Review: All About Spelling ~

All About Spelling by Marie Rippel

Do you know the angst of spelling woes? Whether we like it or not, the inability to spell can lead to the mistaken assumption that intelligence is in some way lacking in a individual. Spelling is one of those difficult areas that some children just can't seem to grasp. They either get stuck in the phonetic stage or they grow tired of trying and begin to compensate for their weakness by using words way below their vocabulary level or avoiding spelling and writing altogether, again lending to the unfortunate misconception noted above.

All About Spelling is the solution to those woes!

Having a child with dyslexia and knowing the uphill battle reading and spelling was for my own dd, I was ecstatic to see All About Spelling hit the curriculum market. Most spelling programs operate with the same basic approach - word family lists and/or look-say-spell methods. The packaging may look different, but the content is the same. And while this path to spelling may work for some, there are just as many who are not able to succeed with this method.

All About Spelling is different. AAS is built on the tried and true Orton-Gillingham method - offering step-by-step, multisensory, interactive lessons that teach phonemic awareness, phonogram mastery, blending, segmenting, syllable types, syllable division, irregular "rule breaker" words, dictation, spelling rules, spelling generalizations, accent, and more.

The lessons are scripted with plently of tips and support for the teacher, while the pace is flexible and allows for the individuality of the student. It is a program that serves the needs of the user efficiently.

Best of all, there's no painstaking learning curve and there's no risk. If you are not satisfied with the program, AAS offers a one-year guarantee.

So. . .if you're ready to get started with a top-notch spelling program or if you have a child that struggles with spelling. . .All About Spelling is a solid, effective and fun curriculum that will work for you!

Learn more at

P.S. Don't forget the fabulous Phonogram CD-ROM! This is as great tool for ongoing review of the phonograms and a great resource for any teacher who may be unsure of the precise sounds for each phonogram.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Momma's Madness

I shared this on my groups quite a while back, but I think you'll find it timeless humor!

It was one of those long, long days - you know. . .the kind where you fantasize about being stranded on a deserted island with a good book. . .so please read on to share in my folly :o)

** (for full effect sing to the tune of Gilligan's Island :) **

Sit right back and I'll tell a tale,
The tale of a day gone wrong.
It started out with Mom's great plans,
But the kids won't go along.

We had our pencils and our books,
Pajama's all still on.
That's when the trouble started friends,
And soon my mind was gone, soon my mind was gone.

The children started whining loud,
My head began to throb.
If not for chocolate and a can of coke,
You would've heard me sob, you would've heard me sob.

My Yahoo groups were calling me,
I felt I must respond. . .
With lots of posts, and questions too,
A few good laughs, and some sighs,
Another coke, a nap at 3:00 - yes just for me.
Oh, ain't homeschooling fun!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Altogether Beautiful. . .

Inspired by a favorite quote and the noteworthy blessings and moments I encounter each day, these short recurring posts will communicate five simple things that I find "altogether beautiful" in the world around me-

"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Until Then. . .

Loss has a way of putting things back into proper perspective, doesn't it? This week was a whirlwind, a blur. The joyful anticipation of my first OB visit for blessing #5 quickly left us downhearted as we learned that all was not well with the pregnancy. The ultrasound measured the baby at 6.2 weeks, (should have been close to 9) and found no heartbeat. I was scheduled to go back next week to recheck for change in case "dates" were just off somehow, but I went on to miscarry. Thus, it is with grief and sadness that I share our loss.

It has been a long week, but we are doing okay. I've been encouraged and comforted by the sharing and prayers of others who have reached out to us during this time and in return I'd like to share a poem that I wrote today in memory of our little one gone home.

Until Then. . .

For a time much too fleeting
You grew in my heart
I never imagined
Your soul would soon part

In the blink of an eye
My plans were displaced
But I know God’s are greater
and I cling to His Grace

You weren’t meant for this earth,
You’re too precious for this
So I’ll see you in Heaven
And you’ll know Mommy’s kiss

With each breath, I release you
But I’ll hold you again
My beloved - this is not good-bye
It’s only, until then. . .

Sweetest Blessings,
¸.•´ .•´¨¨))
((¸¸.•´ .•´ -:¦:-Tina ~
-:¦:- ((¸¸.•´*
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