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Category: Books

My goal this summer was to have Satori reading chapter books. We took a pretty long spring break, and still have about a month of our reading program to go. Even taking two weeks off, we should be finishing Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading around mid-August. After that, we’ll be reading for fun, improving fluency and vocabulary.

I took this photo a few weeks ago, but thought I better post it now before it becomes seriously outdated. But here’s her lesson from a few weeks ago and an example of what she can read. She’s now into 3-syllable words and learning new word endings.

Just out of curiosity, I did place an easy chapter book in front of her and she read the first chapter no problem. Most of you will probably be familiar with The Magic Tree House series. I took a video of her reading, I’ll try to post that soon.

I am so tempted to get their 28-book Boxed Set, they come with a timeline and world map, but I’m just not sure as anything could happen. She might not get into these books, could find them boring, she might move past them quicker than anticipated… Some people consider them twaddle, but they all have some kind of useful lesson in them.

We’ve also started our Nora Gaydos readers again, we’re on Level 4 (the last level before the Independent topic books). I have the Science book lined up next, it looks pretty neat. These books come in a set of 10 books in a magnetic binder and have stickers in the front, 4 for each story. They’re cute and colorful and make Satori laugh, so I’m glad we have them.

I really want Satori to love reading as much as I do, but she doesn’t pick up books to read as often as she sits down to write a story. I do not push her to read on her own, and we’ve never really focused on early readers, as I want her to read books that are more exciting. This fall, after we finish OPG, we will start practicing our reading until she’s fast and fluent. Here’s my methods:

  1. Mom continues to read-aloud good literature.
  2. Satori works on Explode the Code workbooks as long as she wants for phonics practice.
  3. To take the place of our 20 minute OPG reading lessons, she will read 10 minutes of reading that I’ll select to be a bit of a challenge.
  4. At night she will read material that is easy for her, to build confidence and speed.

Just ordered this book on Kindle and will be reading it on the iPad tonight… I am really looking forward to it! It’s getting glowing reviews from my favorite homeschooling forum on WTM, they’re finding it very inspirational.

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins

For those of you who might be interested in this book, I posted my review of this book on my new blog. I just started this blog last week to document my very own classical education journey. 🙂  Head on over and check out my new reading blog – A Well-Read Mind.

The past week I’ve been simultaneously reading The Well Educated Mind and How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Both are on my Kindle, but I think these also deserve to take a place as a physical copy (real book) in my household.

The Well Educated Mind is from the same woman who has made the most influence on our homeschooling style. Needless to say, after reading this book, I now want to give myself this type of education! More on this later.

The above book, well, I don’t think I’ll ever quite read the same again! More on this as well once I’m finished.

I may be starting a new blog just for myself, on my experiences reading the Great Books, classical literature, learning Latin, increasing my vocabulary… Yes, I am inspired.

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!


Sep 16

The next few weeks are busy ones for us. We have a guest at our house for a few days, and then we’re heading to Breckenridge over the weekend for my birthday. Next weekend we’re heading to Wisconsin to see my parents, that could be 7-10 days or so…

But a quick update on how homeschooling is going! We are now starting our third week in kindergarten with a slightly increased number of lessons/time, but it is going great! Satori’s handwriting, reading, and spelling improve drastically it seems everyday. She can read and spell words at a mid-1st grade/2nd grade level. We’ve finished learning ALL lower-case letters. She got the 1-10 numbers down pat on the AL Abacus, tally sticks and fingers for RightStart Math, we’re ready to see where it takes us next. We are finally finishing up  our prehistory studies, and the next stuff  we cover will be actual human history. In fact, we’ve hit a few important milestones and will be spending a month or two reviewing/practicing everything before moving on in some subjects! This post is about our new subject we’ve started – Science.

Science is Satori’s current favorite subject. I’m pretty psyched about it too, and have dedicated a space in our house for a science corner, I’m dubbing it the “Science Station”. I just added a very inexpensive desk and bookshelf to the space. Here’s a peek at the preliminary area:


I got some black posterboard, border and letters and put a “Science Station” poster above her desk. I still have to put up the cork/white board up on the wall. Finally, I might want to paint it to give it some color. What would go good with black floor? The other end of this room is our fitness gym, so it should be a lively color.


Later today we’ll be doing a BFSU science lesson on Air. We’ll learn that it does indeed take up space and weighs something (see above book – AIR is heavier than nothing”), by doing a few experiments and then reading a few go-along books. You can see above I have our play sink all setup for some of the experiments.

Here’s our go-along books for Air:


The I Face the Wind book by Vicki Cobb is great, very colorful and presents the concepts very nicely for a 4-5 year old. I just see it won an award – the Sibert Honor for the Most Distinguished Informational book in 2004! Also for science, there’s all the Let’s Read and Find Out series, this one we already had at home, but first time reading it – Air Is All Around You.

To be honest, I think with these two books, we covered Air pretty nicely, I am not all the other books I got from the library are necessary, we’ll see how it goes…

Since we are doing so much now, we are going to row a FIAR book only every 2-3 weeks, and instead of rowing the book five times in a row, we’ll do it probably just 3-4 times a row. (I guess this is what we’ve been doing all along.) To make things easier, we’re going to do them in order, starting with Volume 1. We may do Owl Moon this fall yet, that sounds like a good one.

This week we’ve started Who Owns the Sun? by Stacy Chbosky. I pointed out that this book was written and illustrated by a young girl, 14 years old.


I was a bit apprehensive covering the topic of slavery with my four year old, especially because she is so innocent about the world, not knowing anything about prejudice, segregation or slavery, but in the end, I am glad we gently introduced these topics this year.

At the end of the book, Satori murmured “That’s so sad.” But it does have a positive afterword, which lifted our spirits.


On Wednesday we picked all these books up at local libraries, it took 2 different libraries to get the books I wanted. We’ve already read 5 of them.  All the books have authors or illustrators who have won awards for their children’s books.

Who Owns the Sun? Go-along Books

  • Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine – True story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom! (Caldecott Honor)
  • Almost to Freedom by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson – I knew Satori would love this book, it’s told from the perspective of a rag doll, owned by a little girl running for her life on the Underground Railroad (Coretat Scott King Illustrator Honor)
  • Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. MicKissack – A young girl in segregated Nashville in the 1950’s experiences segregation but is boosted up by friends on her journey to “someplace special”.
  • Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson – Young slave girl leads her family to freedom. We noticed the rich dark purple colors of the night, that lighten as they progress to freedom, until they emerge in a brilliant orange and yellow. We also read Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (by same author) back when we rowed The Rag Coat.
  • Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams – A day in the life of a family of migrant cotton pickers (Caldecott Honor Book)