WriteShop

5 Books I’m Enjoying :: What I’m Reading

This past weekend allowed me some GENEROUS time to read and relax. The last few weeks have been ever-so-hectic and it was honestly wonderful to be able to sit back in the quiet of my hotel room and not worry about a single thing. Add in two plane rides and time at the airport and there was a definite chunk of reading time available. 

We all desperately need a day like this once in awhile. 

Some reading was for fun and some was more ‘learning’ in a way – well, I suppose if you count things that will help me out in the stuff we do every day ‘learning.’ (grins) But truly, it was stuff I enjoyed reading and catching up on, so it’s all ok.

I thought you all might like a peek at what I’m reading at the moment too, so have a look below! And yes, I do read multiple books at the same time, because some books are designated bedtime reading…or whatever happens to be on my brain at the moment. 

31 Days to a Clutter Free Life

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]

Ruth Soukup is one whose blog I follow and read regularly. She always has some great month-long challenges, and 31 Days to a Clutter-free Life is another one that will be great to have on hand and flip through. It’s easy to get caught back up in the whirlwind of life and stuff – and forget to leave space, both literally and figuratively. 

The thing I love about this book is that it doesn’t focus just on physical clutter, but also time clutter and having systems in place that help the family function better overall. We have many of our own in place, but I’m always open to additional suggestions. If it helps things run more smoothly, I would love to try it! This is one I’ve skimmed through, but will be using on a day-to-day basis throughout the month.

A Refuge at Highland Hall

Refuge-at-Highland-Hall-250x381

You likely know I love period dramas and A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky is the final book in a series (and one of the few series that has made it my permanent shelf). Carrie Turansky was at the most recent Teach Them Diligently conference I attended in Atlanta with her husband Scott (another of my favorite authors who wrote Motivate Your Child and Good and Angry). 

I had a chance to stay and chat with her for a bit and catch even more enthusiasm for her book (I’m about 1/2 way through now). Much of the book is based off an actual diary from a plane pilot she found, and while it seems unrealistic at times, she said the events were all ones that actually took place! When real-life history intersects with fiction, it absolutely fascinates me, especially when I can learn more about a certain era of history at the same time! 

Simplifying Home

SimplifyingHome

Simplying our space has been one of my goals for the year – getting the clutter out of our and put away. That can be an overwhelming process, especially when there are multiple family members who all have their ‘stuff’ and ideas on what it should look like.

While I’m not a minimalist (although parts of it appeal to me), it’s more of a process of establishing better habits of what comes into our home and Simplifying Home by Trina Cress is a book that fits right in that pocket for me.  It also fits right in with the term ‘cozy minimalist’ for me. I don’t want our home to be empty and sterile, but cozy and lived-in – just not with all the clutter and stuff that can overwhelm easily! 

Good Enough For Company Meal Plans

AMonthOfCompanyMealPlans

Based on the cover alone, A Month of Good Enough for Company Meal Plans by Jessica Fisher is enough to get me motivated. It has an entires month’s worth of meals, recipes (all kid-tested and approved), shopping lists – from someone who speaks my language of having all the hard work, other than cooking, done for me. 

There are some yummy looking recipes I can’t wait to try: BBQ Bacon-Onion Cheeseburger, Ham and Cheese Foldovers, Guinness Beef Stew,  Jace’s Breakfast Burritos, and  Salted Caramel Mocha Icebox Cake. Really, ALL the recipes look good, but those are just a few that we don’t typically make and are going to try soon! 

Slow Cooker Freezer Meals (Vol. 1 & 2)

SlowCookerFreezerMealsVol1

Freezer cooking is my friend. The last two years planning ahead and freezing meals has helped out immensely with our schedules, so Slow Cooker Freezer Meals Vol. 1 & 2 by Tiffany King are going to be a great addition to my recipe file. I love that everything is already planned out for me.  These are both obviously fairly quick reads until you use them for the freezer cooking process. :) 

The ebooks are broken down into monthly meal ideas (typically seven per month) and include the recipes and menu plan, grocery lists, how to pull it all together, and some great recipes to boot. There are several I’ve earmarked: Smoky Chipotle Chicken Tacos, Maple Apple Chicken, Coconut No Bake Cookies, French Dip Sandwiches, and BBQ Peach Pulled Pork.

That’s what I’ve currently had my hands full with – what are you reading? 

Take a peek at the other books I’ve already read this year or have coming up – I’d love to hear what you are reading too right now! 


Teaching History Through Audio Drama

Our family loves audio books, but audio drama adds an extra element to a story that can’t be matched. Rather than a narrator reading a story with little added in, audio drama brings the story to life adding music, real-life sounds, and actors to portray different characters. These keep our kids on the edge of their seats (maybe the adults too) because they are filled with so much adventure and excitement. 

Our kids have grown up with Adventures of Odyssey and other amazing audio drama and over the last several years we have listened to all of the releases from Heirloom Audio. From car trips to time at home, the audio adventures remaining on our shelves are those that have the added element of audio drama, especially those from Heirloom Audio Productions. 

The Dragon and The Raven audio adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions

Last month we received The Dragon and The Raven, their newest adventure, and immediately had it playing in our van as we traveled. Based on the book The Dragon and The Raven by G.A. Henty, we followed the story of the Danes (Vikings) as they conquer kingdoms in England, and the Saxons try to hold them back. Set in medieval England, this is a story that reaches far beyond the battlegrounds, spilling over into family, royalty, defending your land, and men learning the importance of forgiveness. 

Hearing different battle formations explained and more deeply understanding the ongoing war between the Vikings and the Saxons, as well as ‘meeting’ King Alfred of Wessex. Over the course of two and a half hours our family was completely engaged in the entire story. The van was quiet and we all were learning as we listened. I LOVE that history comes to life through the ‘animated’ word and our family is learning while listening. What better way is there to remember great kings, battles, and the adventures of so long ago?  

Although we haven’t used it yet, there is also a go-along study guide to help children understand the storyline, vocabulary, and more about the author G.A. Henty and King Alfred the Great. We have used the companion study guide for Under Drake’s Flag and they are well-laid out and full of information for families! The inclusion of the study guides are a huge resource for families. 

Recommended: Ages 6 and up

Find Out More and Purchase for Your Family

Heirloom Audio dramas

If you are at ALL interested in these audio adventures, Heirloom Audio has a great special that includes their four audio dramas to date at huge savings. CLICK HERE to view the special and find out more (includes eight total audio books – 2 of each, one to keep and one to share, at $10 each CD set). 

Each CD set is normally $29.97, but different specials are available, including the special offer for my readers

Win a Copy 

Heirloom Audio would love to put a copy of The Dragon and The Raven audio adventure into the hands of one my readers! Would you love to start listening? Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below and enter! :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

We received this CD at no cost from Heirloom Audio to review. All opinions expressed in this review are our honest thoughts and feelings.

Small Progress Over Time…

progress in small way adds up to big improvement - HomeschoolCreations 

The past few years have bee exhausting at times. As much as I try to remind myself every child learns at his own pace, there is always a part of me that has felt like I’ve somehow missed the mark. Not done enough. Am failing as a mom and teacher. 

Mentally I set goals and even wrote a few general ones down at the beginning of the year for Kaleb’s reading, but day to day it was hard to see progress being made. And it was frustrating (for both myself and him) very often. 

“Daniel’s Duck” was one book on Kaleb’s list to read this year, and this past week he read a large chunk of the book with little pause. A page with this much text would have completely overwhelmed him only a few short months ago. He has taken huge leaps in the last bit and I am so thankful to be a daily part of it (even when there are days that have me wondering if I am failing my child).

Every day sees progress in some small way that over time adds up to improvement. It’s hard to see at times, especially when we are a part of the small steps leading up to those larger strides. Yes, it requires perserverance and sticking through those (maybe many) rough days, but progress is being made. 

Can I encourage you in this, if nothing else, today? Bit by bit, step by step. When it’s overwhelming, when you are tired, and when you are uncertain – the things you are pouring into your child’s life and heart are taking root and growing. Be faithful – and encouraged, parents. You ARE making a difference in your child’s life.

 

 

*If you’d like to see our reading list, feel free to have a peek here. We very highly recommend All About Reading as well.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Word Cards – FREE Printable

Very Hungry Caterpillar word cards from Homeschool Creations

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is such a classic children’s book, and with my nieces and nephew working on Carle’s books together with their mom, I put together these Very Hungry Caterpillar Word Cards for them to use in the upcoming weeks – and thought you all might enjoy them as well!

 vocabulary cards for The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

There are two different pages for the word cards – a total of 24 word cards in all for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Words include: apple, pear, plum, strawberry, orange, cake, cone, pickle, cheese, salami, lollipop, pie, sausage, cupcake, watermelon, leaf, cocoon, butterfly, caterpillar, and sun.

You will need TWO downloads (both free!!) to use the word cards – both the word cards and the Read! Build! Write! Mats.

All downloads are in the green columns on the Read! Build! Write! page

The Read! Build! Write! Vocabulary Mats

Not familiar with the Read! Build! Write! mats? Basically, they are a fun way to work with your child on word identification and spelling.

Read, Build, Write collage

Here’s how the mats are used:

Read: Place one of the vocabulary cards in the top box and read the word together.

Build: Use letter tiles or magnets to build the word in the second box.

Write: Finally, practice writing the word in the bottom box.

Print the mats onto cardstock and then laminate them so that you can use Vis-à-vis markers or dry erase markers on the mats.

Read, Build, Write collage 2

Check out the Read! Build! Write! page to find additional themed vocabulary cards to go along with all of the Early Learning Printable Packs that I’ve put together so far.

All downloads are in the green columns on the Read! Build! Write! page

 

Hope these help you all out! Feel free to ‘pin’ the printables and share them with others! If there are some other vocabulary cards that you would like to see me put together, leave a comment and let me know!

 

Hello, Read Aloud. It’s Been Too Long!

Lately it seems as all we do is go, go, go. Between carting the kids to swim practice and now adding in Scouts for Zachary, there is little time in the evening to sit, put our feet up, and read together. Winter especially seems like the perfect opportunity.

Somehow (in my head – where many misconceptions reside) evenings seem like the perfect time, even though there are twenty-four hours in a day and reading can happen at any point during that timeframe. (I tell ya – sometimes I just get a little stuck in my head).

We’ve had audiobooks galore accompanying us in the van, but the kids are just plain burned out and getting p.i.c.k.y. on what they like or how the book is read. Apparently they prefer the way I read (I suppose I shouldn’t complain, right?). Needless to say, we’re switching around our day a bit so we can enjoy read alouds together – the way we love to.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Tonight, with the weather cold, a pot of tea brewed, and a fire burning, we cracked open a NEW book and have been instantly taken back to 1899 and pulled into the world of Calpurnia Tate, an eleven-year-old girl living in Texas. We may be a bit into the book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (aff link), but the kids are engaged and enjoying the descriptive writing style and phrasing, laughing as we go.

Here’s a quick look at what the book is about:

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones. With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Age range: 9-12

Parent note: the book does talk about the theory of evolution. As a family, we learned about Charles Darwin and The Origin of the Species last year, so as we are reading through this story, we are talking and comparing our thoughts/beliefs to what is in the book. (Just wanted to let you all know.)

 

I’ll keep you posted on our thoughts as we continue reading together. What books are you currently reading as a family?

Our Third Grade Homeschool Reading List

3rd grade homeschool reading list from Homeschool Creations - book choices and read alouds for a reluctant reader

While I managed to put together a reading list for our 5th grader, 7th grader, and 9th grader, I somehow forgot to share our 3rd grade homeschool reading list! I’ll admit there is a part of me that has been hesitant because our 3rd grade boy is very much a hesitant and struggling reader. His older brother was very similar at this age – and truthfully it’s tough.

When you have other children that picked up on rules and fluency with little effort, it’s hard not to compare progress and wonder if you are doing something wrong. When other moms are sharing the amazing progress (and seemingly novel-sized book) their similarly aged or younger children are reading, it’s difficult not to worry that you are missing something.

I mentioned our oldest son (now 11) struggled as well, but last year something ‘clicked’ in his brain and he has been devouring books ever since. Part of it centered on finding books that he truly enjoyed, but once he started – well, now we have to beg him to turn the light off on many nights! Having that in the more recent future has definitely given me hope and a lot more patience in working with Kaleb as I try to remember each child is different and learns at his own pace.

(Can I get an amen?)

With that said, here are the key programs and books that we have been using this year. I’ve listed them out and tried to explain best how we are using them throughout the year, so feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

The ‘Core’ Homeschool Reading Program

3rd grade homeschool reading list choices from Homeschool Creations-2

Our kids love All About Reading and All About Spelling, and although it can be a little more intense for him some days, we are using the last 1/3 of All About Reading 2 as review for Kaleb. When he is ready, we will move into All About Reading Level 3.

The one thing that I love most (and our boys need) is the multisensory approach that All About Reading offers. You can read a bit more about why we love it so much here. We work through one lesson each week (usually Monday and Wednesday), as well as review word cards each day to work on fluency and recognition of phonograms we have learned in past lessons.

Each level includes two readers and about every other lesson has a short story to tie in with the lesson and fluency charts. Sticker dots have also helped our reading time tremendously!  Read more about that here.

Additional Readers

3rd grade homeschool reading list choices from Homeschool Creations-3

Before we started school I put together some various readers for Kaleb with the intention of building his confidence and reading speed, and in September we added the Life of Fred beginning readers set thanks to a great deal from Educents. The independent readers on our shelves are typically ones we use twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday) unless Kaleb really wants to read them another day as well. In that case, we READ!!

The Life of Fred readers have been AMAZING for Kaleb. While they don’t follow a phonics program, they have induced more giggles (and attention from the older kids as well) in the few months they have been in our house. Kaleb prefers to read these over and over again, building his reading fluency and speed as he goes through them – and I LOVE that. You can learn more here.

Other independent readers on our list:

Read Aloud Together

3rd grade homeschool reading list choices from Homeschool Creations-4

After going through Reading Roadmaps: a Literary Scope & Sequence for K-12, I picked out six books to read aloud with just Kaleb throughout the year. While the other books on our list focus on what he can read independently, these are books that we’re reading together.

When reading these books we are talking more about the plot/summary, story themes, different stylistic devices used in the stories (alliteration, rhyming, etc…) and getting a bigger picture of literature as a whole. I have found Reading Roadmaps to have some wonderful suggestions by grade level (you can get a peek inside here).

What’s in YOUR child’s reading pile this year?

 

Have You Tried Buddy Reading?

If you have a child that is a reluctant reader as well, one thing working well for us this year is something called buddy reading. When Kaleb is feeling overwhelmed or needs a little help, we take turns reading pages in the book – and then the next day switch to read alternate pages. Check out this post for more information on how it can help out (be sure to read through the comments as well – there are some additional great tips to try with your kids!).

Homeschool Reading Lists for our Other Children

Interested in seeing reading lists for our other kids as well? Check out our reading choices for this and past years by clicking on the links below.