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Archive for December, 2009

For our reading program (OPG – Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading) Satori has been learning many different ways that long-vowel words are spelled. This time we actually did one of their games! (Usually we just learn the new rule, read the words and that’s pretty much it.) But once I realized that I could purchase and download a PDF file of their flashcards, I realized there is no excuse why we can’t do the games.


You don’t need to purchase anything, of course you can make your own flashcards. However, if you’re lazy you’ll never get to that! You could also order the flashcards for $5.95 and get them sent to you all printed out, you simply cut them up. Or, you can do what I did, order the PDF file of OPG Flashcards for immediate gratification for $4.75. Since I figured that was worth my time to print out 320 cards all nice and neat, I decided to do the splurge.


Satori had a great time in this game and eagerly read all the words correctly, and ran to tape them on any appropriate things! We now have flashcards taped to our wooden “rail” on the staircase, on the oven where we “bake”, the “place” where Satori sits for dinner…


But my favorite one was the word “great”. I found it taped on my back. 🙂

Kate Miller over at Charlie’s Playhouse knew that Satori learned about evolution when she was 4 years old, and thought it would be cute to have such a young kid in her video “Talking with kids about evolution!” This project celebrates the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species”.

Charlie’s Playhouse is a great shop and resource for teaching evolution to kids. They have some great toys that Satori loves. Their Giant Evolution Timeline is a huge walk-on play mat that shows how life has evolved from the very beginning. Check out our video and blog review on the Charlie Playhouse products we did last summer when I “tested” Satori after just one reading of the map!

Head there now to get their wonderful evolution toys on sale. Their sale lasts through Monday, December 21, so hurry!


Giant Evolution Timeline Play Mat 25% off

Giant Evolution Timeline Poster 25% off

Ancient Creature Cards 25% off

Evolution Flip Books 20% off

And now for the giveaway! This will be a small one, as finances are tight this year, but it should be fun anyway. 🙂 I am giving away 2 Evolution Flip Books. All you have to do is comment to this post between now and midnight December 21. Satori will pick the two winners randomly out of a hat.


This is the first in a series of 5 ancient creatures evolving. I just ordered them, so they will be on their way, ready to ship out as soon as we announce a winner on Tuesday, December 22, 2009!

This very Explode the Code workbook was one of the very first workbooks I purchased last spring once I decided to homeschool Satori. If you’re new to homeschooling, it won’t take you long before you hear about this program. Once we got it, Satori did a few pages out of it, but then I decided not to follow a “workbooky” style and set it away for months.

Then, a reader of my blog mentioned them and out they came again! This time I got the 3 pre-books, which Satori whizzed through quickly. Finally, we are on the book 1, which is still too simple for us, but I love the review. I love the handwriting practice too. Here’s a sample page she did today.


Satori just turned 5 last month and the past few months we hadn’t done much schooling at all, but I am proud that she is finally to the point where she automatically writes in lowercase for most words.

Speaking of handwriting, we use Handwriting Without Tears program and have finished their Kindergarten book. I am going to go through the rest of December reviewing some of her problem letters and doing simple copywork. She still sometimes writes “g” backwords, and does a few letters incorrectly, which will slow her down in the long run. Letters like “p” she doesn’t write below the line sometimes. “z” is sometimes written backward as well. The rest of her letters are acceptable, but we also need to learn to write on the correct lines. We need to practice on the HWT’s special paper that has only two lines. We’re going to address these inefficiencies this month, and then start with HWT’s Grade 1 book next semester, starting January 2010.

I totally wish I found this program a year ago! I may have mentioned this program a few times, but here it is more in-depth. Progressive Phonics is a free phonics reading program. You can download and print out the stories/lessons or read online. Satori cracks up over the stories. Since they just released a bunch of new Alphabetti books, we started reading the stories again. Here’s one we read a while back, but one of our favorites anyway – Who Hid Ham?


The Alphabetti books are great for beginning readers. They are too simple for Satori’s current level, but she loves them anyway. I can’t resist hearing her giggling and cracking up over the characters and then begging me to read again and again. I love how they have print for the parents to read, and larger red print for the child to read. Woe to anyone who accidentally read’s Satori’s words, or who makes her read the black text!


Everytime I check the site now, more books have been added, so we still have a few to catch up with.  The second set is about Sid the snake and his friends Sis, Dan, Ham and more. Alphabetti Parts 3-5 are not up yet and I imagine that to take quite a while. But after Alphabetti books, are the phonics books which actually teach more phonics and reading. I think we will skip the Beginning Phonics books (short vowels, they look boring anyway) and move on to the Intermediate Phonics. These will last us a long time yet. These will teach blends, long vowels, vowel digraphs… which is more of the phonics level we are at now. The books progress to more and more “red words” that Satori has to read herself.

UPDATE 2 HOURS LATER: Satori and I started the Beginner Phonics Books – Book 1 covering the short vowel “a”. She didn’t hesitate reading any of these words, she can read these simple words fluently. If you’ve read my blog, I admit that I do not force her to read simple books so we haven’t worked on fluency at all. So it was nice to read a book together with her and know that it will all come naturally! We read 10 stories which I discovered are all short but cute little poems.

Here’s a video of Satori and Daddy reading “Who Hid Ham?” together. I apologize that in the middle she shrieks to make sure I got the current page on video, lol! (David says “swandwich” on purpose, that’s how Satori used to say it last year, and we can’t resist saying it that way now.) I love how Satori reads with inflection. 🙂

Satori loves to write letters. With her beginner/intermediate knowledge of phonics, she can sound out complex words and sentences that we are able to decipher most of the time. Of course, when she writes us letters, they are full of “luv” and little hearts. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be able to spell “love” correctly, even though we haven’t covered that word yet in our reading or spelling. So I gave her the gift of Love.


I decorated it with glitter and heart-shaped gems… <3

I even gift-wrapped it so it was extra special!


Coincidentally, the same day I gave her this tiny gift, Daddy wrote on our whiteboard “Love you!” So the next time she started to write a letter, she actually ran to the whiteboard to learn how to write “love”. With both the love card and Daddy’s message, Satori has it totally memorized now on how to spell “love” correctly!

I made a few other cards to give to her on other weeks, these are all high-frequency-Satori-use words.


I got this idea from the book Games for Reading by Peggy Kaye. It was actually the first or second game in the book. We’ve also got her games for Writing and Math books. However, some homeschooling families will take offense in Peggy’s intro where she says that in general, she agrees that teaching should be left to teachers. I always catch those little snippets now. But her books still filled me up with great ideas, so I will let her comment slide, after all, she first wrote it 25 years ago.

Phonics will always have the  highest priority for us, but little games like this will help make reading fun. I imagine I’ll be sharing our final versions of some of her ideas in the 3 books, but if you wanted to check some of her games out, head to’s Game page!

This is a shameless post to try to sell some items I have in my Baby Sling Outlet store which should really be liquidated and closed by now. I sold my Attached to Baby business last fall and this is the last of my inventory. I’ll be working all week to get the rest of it up! Most items are new unless indicated that they are a customer return or used in a photo shoot. Up soon will be Signing Time products, more slings, diaper bags, and more. If you do not see this extra stuff by Tuesday noon, be sure to leave a comment to get me going on all this! 😉


SatoriSmiles readers can get an additional 10% off with this coupon:


Also, freshly listed my Nikon D300 camera and some lenses on my Amazon Marketplace! These photography items have rarely been used, as I have been sticking solely to my full-frame Nikon D700 camera and my prime lenses.

nikond300 18-200mm
50mm14 fisheye

Satori learned a lot about maps and geography this week, and I did have plans to draw a huge map on the floor, but that can wait. Instead I started putting up our history timeline, starting with Ancient History. Each laminated timeline is about 44 inches long, and we’ve got 4 to represent Ancient to Modern times. It will take up the narrow side of the wall perfectly. These will be our timelines that are all already filled out. We’ll also be using timelines that we fill in ourselves as we go, I’ll talk more about those soon.


If you click on the photo above, it will open up into a huge photo in which you can see the detail. The above timeline was purchased as a set of 4 of the Classical Education Laminated Timeline Set for $39.95 at the Learning Through History Shop. Later this week, once I get the rest of the timelines up, I’ll share a photo of them all lined up on the wall.

I got a little carried away at the Learning Through History shop earlier this year, so we have a few specialty laminated timelines to put up as well.