I decided to start my son on a formal spelling program this year (his K4 year). Although Raisin is quite young, he is constantly asking me “how do I spell _____?” so he can write notes or type on the computer (I opened a private blog for him to post his pictures and thoughts). He loves the power of words, and since he’s reading at a third- or fourth- grade level now, he naturally wants to progress to writing his own thoughts down.
For his spelling “curriculum,” I decided to go for the multiple interactions that come from All About Spelling. This relies on learning the phonograms of English with physical magnetic tiles to manipulate and flash cards with which to practice. Because handwriting is so very difficult for him (he is deadly slow in writing his letters, but he forms them correctly), I decided to dispense with the handwriting component. So far, he’s progressing well, and we practice a few words a day, spelling with the tiles. He also sometimes spells things to me orally, or he takes a “quiz” on a spelling app I downloaded to my tablet. In general, it’s working very well for him.
All that said, the curriculum I spied that I really wanted for its prettiness factor was The Logic of English, a program that presents the main rules of spelling quickly and thereby arms people with the ability to spell just about anything. The curriculum is new and is currently geared for older kids who need a crash course in spelling (although levels for younger kids are coming in the future). I did not feel it would be a good fit for my son (and the price was not right) but I did manage to snag a copy of the book that started Ms Denise Eide’s homeschool curriculum: Uncovering the Logic of English.
Although Uncovering the Logic of English is a slim book, Ms Eide manages to convince me that I too can learn to spell. I don’t have many memories of spelling tests in school, but I have always felt like spelling is one of those annoyingly random things about English. Spelling is one of the reasons I always prefer typing something to hand writing it: where would I be without spell check?
In less than 200 pages, Ms Eide discusses the building blocks of words (consonants, vowels, and syllables) as well as the basic rules over each of those. The other rules (silent e, suffixes, plurals, etc.) all seem so easy and so practical. I’ve found myself noticing the words I type and read more carefully. (more…)
As a mother just beginning the journey of elementary level home education, I have been busy searching the web and my library for free resources to aid me as I teach my young son. When I saw Free Resources for Elementary Teachers by Colleen Kessler (2012, Prufrock Press) on the Library Thing Early Reviewer list, I thought I’d put my name down for it. I was delighted to receive it!
Ms Kessler’s book is an annotated list of websites that provide free lesson plans, worksheets, online games, posters or materials, and so forth for teachers of elementary-aged children. In a sense, it’s something any web-savvy educator would be able to compile. And yet, the bottom line is that now I do not need to! I have enjoyed browsing through the book, marking the sites I need to return to. There are lots of free resources on the web to explore!
A few gripes I have are probably ones to be expected because we all have different preferences. For example, a few sites Ms Kessler really enjoys are ones I’ve already found and not been impressed with. Some others require accounts in order to download the worksheets or lesson plans. Others provide subscription services for a fee, with only a small fraction of resources available for free. And then some of her links are insanely long gobbleygook: I’m not about to type in 100 characters to get to a website.
Further, I do think Free Resources could be a bit better formatted. Because it’s annotated paragraphs, it’s a lot of text on the page. I don’t want to have to read every paragraph when I’m looking for “what was that one site that did this or that?” But owning the book means I can make plenty of notes in the margins for my own reference.
These are somewhat minor complaints for me. I can’t expect one book to have everything that I love. In general, I think Free Resources will be a great help for me as I get started in my homeschooling journey.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
When I decided to start posting reviews of a few books at the same time, I still intended to write the reviews as I go as I did for my math and science reviews the other week. Although I wrote a separate review for the cookbook memoir I read by Emily Franklin, once I read the two books by Julia Child I realized I could not post my thoughts about Ms Franklin’s book in quite that way.
You see, I’ve been converted. There is, there has been, and there will have been, only one Julia Child in all of history. Her story (which I read in My Life in France) is fascinating and inspiring, her cooking style (which I experienced in part in Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom) is refreshingly simple, and together the two Julia Child books I read gave me hope for my own pathetic cooking abilities. It is, therefore, completely unfair to include Ms. Franklin’s book (and my criticisms of it) in the same post. Nevertheless, because I read Julia Child on the wake of Too Many Cooks, Ms. Franklin is a part of my experience in the past few weeks. (more…)
I needed to sharpen our kitchen knives, so I found a book to help me along, specifically, An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives by Chad Ward.
Overall, I liked the information I read. I got excited about my kitchen knives! But when I went to try and sharpen my own knives according to the instructions in the book, I was a bit lost. My husband, who has sharpened kitchen knives himself before, seems to think the problem was me, and not the book. Nonetheless, for a novice knife sharpener, I’d suggest that a book is probably not a great place to start your knife sharpening education. (more…)
In some respects, I miss the point of Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.
Alice Waters is the original proponent of seasonal, local, and organic foods. But because I grocery shop for a family on a budget, I can never justify going “organic.” I also live in Chicago suburbia, which means that there are about two feet of snow on the ground for four months of the year, so I can’t ever imagine relying wholly on seasonal and local foods either. I’m sure organic and local foods taste better; I just can’t justify the cost difference.
All that said, though, I love The Art of Simple Food. I find myself referring to her pointers and recipes often. The aspect I love is this: Food should taste like itself. Don’t complicate things!
I’m a person that thinks a few fresh strawberries make a perfect dessert, so I really like her emphasis on simplicity. Her recipes are very basic essentials, so experienced cooks may find them dull or “too simple.” But as a beginning cook who loves simple dishes (both for cooking and for eating), I find her recipes refreshing. (more…)