Why am I Writing this Blog?

I am very concerned about the growing level of illiteracy among our children. This blog is for parents who are homeschooling, parents whose children are falling behind at school and they don't know how to help them, teachers who would like to bounce ideas off an experienced teacher or get ideas to help student with problems. I will do everything in my power to help anyone in the areas of reading and writing.

In this blog I'll be using the original English spelling forms, so please make allowances if you're American or have been taught the American spelling form.

Please be understanding about the advertisements on the blog. It gives me the opportunity to earn a little to add to my pension.

Related links for teaching training, lesson plans and worksheets:

Fantastic Free Video series on how to teach handwriting:
by handwriting expert Nan Jay Barchowsky
by handwriting teacher Matt Nisjak

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: http://www.handwritingebooks.com/
101 sheets of lower case and 101 of upper case letters, plus a bonus book on numbers and another on words for $5.95 for the lot - A great bargain.

Information on Education and Homeschooling
EducationBug: Education Directory - articles, directory, newsletter and profiles on schools

Free Worksheets:
Eastside Literacy
First - Schools

Lined Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting For Kids

Making Handwriting Sheets:
Handwriting Worksheets
Ed Helper

Videos About Teaching Handwriting:
Teachers TV

Free Lessons and Ideas:
The Electric Company
First 55 Come Alive
Literacy, Families and Learning
ESL Partyland

Ed Helper - Spelling
Ed Helper - Reading Comprehension
Ed Helper - Vocabulary
First - School
Sites for Teachers
Sites for Parents
Clipart for Worksheets
The Teacher's Corner
Teaching Made Easier
School Express

Membership Sites:
Ed Helper
Reading A-Z
ELSIE: Reading 0-6

Inexpensive Handwriting Books
Staidens Homeschooling

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Christmas Child Box Time Again



Operation Christmas Child
Just a heads-up to those that usually make up Christmas Child Boxes at this time of year. It's Time!!!!
To those who haven't done so or haven't heard of it, a click on the link above will take you to their website which will tell you all about it.
If you haven't done this with your children, it's a wonderful way of teaching them to look outside themselves and a great lesson in generousity. I found when I first started it with my children, we'd go to the Mall to look for small gifts to put into the shoebox and it would be all about them.
You all know the "Can I haves.....", but gradually it moved to - and get this - "This would be great for our Christmas child and can I have one too?" Eventually they got the idea that this wasn't about them at all and only about children that have nothing at all and for whom this will probably be the only gift they every get in their lives.
This is such a hard concept for our children to grasp in our rich, material world, and let's face it - even those of us who are struggling greatly financially are better off than these children living in poverty in third world countries or even worse in war zones in those countries.
Just check the official website for what's allowed and what's not allowed in the boxes, grab yourself a shoebox of the right size and cover it with Christmas paper (or if you're as hopeless at covering shoe boxes as I am, you can probably get a Christmassy coloured box at one of the Bargain Stores nearby) and set out to look for small gifts that will fit in it. They don't need to be expensive, just sturdy. I usually look out for bargains through the year.
Have fun with this and teach your kids generousity early in life.

Read to Your Baby

This article is from Vanderhoof Omineca Express but I'm reprinting it here to emphasise what I've been saying about starting to read to your children early. It's called Learning to read by Elaine Storey.

It is never too early to start creating learning experiences for children:
Your role as parents, take in laying the building blocks that form your child’s language and literacy foundation. Your baby’s brain is equipped to absorb enormous amounts of information.

We know that the time before babies start talking – from birth to two is a crucial time for their future language development. Let’s look at different ways your baby will benefit from a daily read-aloud routine.

Read-Alouds promote listening skills:
Listening is a crucial skill in the formation of language. Your baby has been listening to your voice, since the last few months of pregnancy and by birth has a fairly well developed hearing ability. Newborns instantly recognize their parents’ voice. Repeated exposure to reading, gives children a head start once they go to school. This allows them to comprehend more complex stories, and ease into the reading and reading process.

Read-Alouds develop attention span and memory:
Babies are capable of an intense concentration; their brains are searching and scanning everything they come in contact with in order to get information and meaning. Reading aloud to your baby is the best way to help develop attention span and memory.

Read-Alouds promote bonding and calmness for both baby and parent:
Reading aloud is one of the easiest and least complicated of daily tasks you do with your baby. It helps you bond and attach to your child. It promotes family togetherness.

Read-Alouds instill the love of books and learning:
When you read to your baby, you are giving your child some of life’s greatest gifts: the cuddly, loving warmth of a close, one-to one, daily reading aloud time enriches vocabulary that forever expands the mind. So start reading to your baby today!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

16 Signs That You Are Having A Bad Day

Hi everyone! Here's another funny 'forward on' that's doing the rounds at the moment. I must say that there are some days that I identify with some of these. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

First you had trouble getting out of bed
You had a stiff neck
You washed your hair and then couldn't do a thing with it

You had a problem when you went to the toilet

Your new diet just doesn't seem to be working out
You pulled a muscle when you tried to exercise

Your new hat looked better on you at the store

You keep losing things

You feel like you're always in the wrong place at the wrong time

No one is laughing at your jokes

You got caught in the rain at lunch time

The lunch you had didn't seem to agree with you

You feel trapped

Uninvited guests turned up at dinner time

On top of that you think you're coming down with the flu
And finally, you're alone in the house at night and you think you hear a noise in the basement

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Diversion From Reading and Writing to Maths

I've just been answering a question on a blog by a mum, homeschooling her child using cuisenaire rods and it occurred to me that some of you out there, may be experiencing the same problem, so I've copied and pasted the answer to this post below:

My name is Wendy Anderson and I have a blog on Teaching Reading and Writing, but I'm actually a maths specialist teacher. Would you believe that I went through exactly the same thing as you did in school with my maths. I was taught how to add, subtract,etc and because I have a good memory I received very good marks up until I reached high school.

Then I became a dismal failure in maths and never recovered. The reason that this happened, I didn't discover until after I'd bailed out of school at 15, worked in an office for 7 years and then decided that I wanted to become a teacher and did my year 11 and 12 at night school after working all day. I received my graduation from high school (Aust) college in the US I think, by doing English, Modern and Ancient History, Economics and Geography. Not a hint of science or maths.

It was only when I was learning to teach maths in Uni that I realised what had happened. I spent the whole time saying "Oh is that how it works out" The problem in primary school was that I learned how to get the right answers by doing step 1, 2, 3, etc, but I never really understood why I was getting the right answer, and the sad thing was that I didn't even know I was supposed to understand.

When I reached high school and I was expected to work on an understanding of the maths I'd been doing in primary school, I was lost.

Cuisenaire Rods are really necessary for teaching an understanding of the Base 10 number system and you're right, this should be explained to parents. It's just a fancy name for the number system that we all use and that has been chosen to be used world wide, because it's the easiest one to work with. The reason that it's called Base 10 is because it's all based on the number 10. We count by tens easily - 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, etc. When we multiply a number by 10, we merely have to add a zero to the original number eg. 325 x 10 = 3250. Everything in the system is based on ten. Start counting by 10 from any number and you get a pattern eg. 39,49,59,69. That's really all there is to it. Well almost.

You see, some children see this pattern and sail ahead, but some like you and me, missed it and because of that flunked out in maths.

Base 10 blocks and Cuisenaire Rods are a way for children to see that system, in a way they can handle and visually work with. Because you've got Cuisenaire Rods, I'll concentrate on those.
You've actually started off right, by letting your son play with them. Now gradually begin to play with him and introduce the numbers that the rods represent.

This little white rod is called a one rod. Now let's figure out what the other coloured rods are called. Let's try this red one. I know that it's called a two rod, can you think why? If he can't just place a single white one rod on top of the two and say, "How many more can we fit? Well look how clever you are. The red rod must be called a two because two white rods fit on it. What number are the white rods. That's right they're one, so that means that means one and one make two, Now lets look at the light green. I wonder how many white ones fit along it?"

Just repeat this with each coloured rod until he knows the number that each rod represents. Keep repeating the fact that the white rod is a number one rod, just to keep the association between the colour and the number of the rod.

The next step is to take the orange 10 rod and put two other rods that equal it underneath, such as black and light green. Then point out that if the black and the light green are the same as an orange, then that might mean that 3 + 7 = 10. Will we find out? Go back to sitting the little white one rods on top so that he can see that this works out. By now he may or may not have twigged to the system. If he hasn't, then just keep playing with him as I've described. Sooner or later the penny will drop and this is a great way to teach the numbers that combine to make 10. This will be used later in teaching the more complicated addition and subtraction.

Once you've done this you can get back to me if you like and I'll give you any info you need.

myLot User Profile

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Run Your Car More Cheaply??

This is a really off the subject of teaching reading and writing and I'm the first to admit that I don't know anything about cars at all, but this seems to be creating quite a bit of excitement on the net at the moment, so I thought that I'd just let you evaluate it for yourself.

It's called water4gas . They tell you a lot about it on their site and they give seven free lessons. They have two books for sale that aren't very expensive, that take you through the conversion step by step, but they also say that if you have mechanical savvy, you can probably do the conversion without the books. It seems that it's only an addition to your original engine and entirely reversible. The parts needed will cost approximately $60.

Anyway, if you're interested just click on the link above and read all about it for yourself and make up your own mind. If it works as well as they say, it will cut down on the amount of fuel you use and clean up your car's emissions, as well as making it run better.

I know how many of you are struggling at the moment and I hope that this does work. I showed it to my mechanic and he says that it seems feasible, but I really want to stress that I know nothing about these sort of things and encourage you to make your own decision.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Handwriting Resource Links

These links come from a blog called Baraka Education (with permission) There may be some duplication of links that I have already entered on this blog, but many are new. I'm really indepted to Barakaedu. This must have taken days of research. She has only just begun her blog, but keep an eye on her. I'm sure there'll be more valuable information. By the way, she has a recipe section. There's only one there at the moment but I've tried it and it's delicious.

Prewriting Worksheets to help develop pencil control:

Donna Young Printing Readiness

Kidzone Pre-Printing Skills Practice

Preschool Learners Pre-Writing Worksheets

SEN Teacher Pre-writing Set 1 and Set 2

Free Handwriting Fonts.

If you're intending to send your child on to school, please find out which handwriting font that school uses and teach that one to your child. Otherwise there'll be a lot of confusion when school begins. If you're homeschooling, you can choose whichever appeals to you.


Learning Curve - cursive

National First

Primer Apples

Print Clearly

Trace Font

Zyia Learns Letters

Handwriting/Tracing Pre-made Worksheets

There are many thematic tracer (days of week or colours) or alphabet pages available.

Abcteach - tracing and letter practice worksheets in d’nealian and zaner bloser

Boggles World Alphabet Tracing Pages

First School Alphabet Handwriting Practice Sheets in Standard Block and D’Nealian, numbers, colours, days of the week, and months of the year with flowers

Handwriting for kids - also has a worksheet generator

Home Education Resources - reference sheets, print read colour, cursive. These are copywork rather than tracing.

Jan Brett Alphabet Tracers - traditional manuscript, cursive manuscript or modern manuscript all with beautiful illustrations

Learning Page has lots of worksheets - free to join and totally worth it!

Preschool Learners Handwriting Worksheets - helping your child to improve his handwriting, alphabet and rhyming words worksheets

Primary Games Activity pages - alphabet, numbers, colours and months of the year

PrintActivities.com - alphabet, numbers, shapes and names. They even have Aaliyah!

School Express Handwriting - alphabet and numbers in both modern and traditional

Sparklebox - lots of alphabet and number worksheets


These sites enable you to create worksheets using your own words.

Abcteach Handwriting Worksheet Maker

ESL Writing Wizard - search for other people’s pre-made worksheets also

Create tracing worksheets online

Handwriting for kids - also has pre-made worksheets

Online Fun

Handwriting animations of the alphabet

Writing the alphabet and numbers

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Handwriting Readiness Pt.4 - Eye-Hand/Foot Coordination

Eye hand or foot coordination is simply seeing something and moving your hand or foot to intercept what you see. When you catch a ball or hit it with a bat, when you reach up to take something from a shelf, when you catch something you've dropped before it hits the floor (very good), when you kick a ball, when you simply walk up or down steps, you're using eye hand or foot coordination.
Eye-hand coordination, although part of a child's conceptual development, is also a skill which can be improved with practice. You can't start too soon. Babies lying in their cots are building their hand to eye coordination as they watch a mobile move above them or reach out for toys you hold near them.
From the age of about four months, your baby will use his mouth to discover the world around him. Hence everything he can get his hands on, goes to the mouth. From about six months his hands join in and begin to examine the object they're holding. By this time hand-eye coordination is established and he will begin to improve his fine motor movements and skills.
Each child moves at his own pace with coordination between hands and between hand and eye, as he attempts more and more difficult tasks.So with hand-eye coordination the concept has developed early. From here on there is something you can do to help. It becomes a skill which improves with practice.
You can step in and help your child to improve in this area.Blocks or the large Duplo are great for developing hand-eye coordination. Building with these helps your child learn what items fit most easily on one another and how much pressure to put on a block as he positions it. If your student is having trouble figuring out what to do, resist the temptation to jump in and show him how it's done. Part of the fun with these toys is discovering how they fit together and work. Doing it himself, gives your child's brain and skill building a much better work out than if you show him how.
This isn't to say that you can't play with him. This is part of the bonding between you and your child and great fun for both of you.Following is a list of activities to advance your child's skill in eye-hand coordination:
1. Lace cards - this involves sewing on a card with a large needle and different coloured wools or cottons to make a design.

2. Make mosaics with anything really. Try dried beans or peas, nuts, pasta, tissue paper or even small scraps of coloured paper.

3. Make tissue paper flowers by taking a strip of paper and rolling or folding it. Crepe paper is good and cheap for this too. It's colour does tend to run if it gets wet, but it comes in the most incredible colours - even fluorescent ones. Cellophane paper does a good job as well. It tears more easily, so takes more skill and let's not forget the silver foil from the kitchen. It makes great flowers, stalks and leaves.

4. Here's a messy one. Make paper mache glue and use that and paper to build anything you want. Come on! There must be something inside you that wants to get messy and if there isn't, it's probably more important to do it to stretch your borders. Here's a link for the recipe for the mache glue and some more ideas. Click here!

5. Play a game where you have to get a small ball into a cup. You can actually buy a toy that has the cup on a stick and the ball attached with string, but you can make one just as easily.
6. Let's not forget all you mad golfers out there. Buy one of those cheap little plastic golf sets for your child and teach him how to putt.
7. Whoops!! I almost forgot the most common. Play ball. First rolling to a younger child and getting him to roll back. Then throwing or bouncing a short distance. Make it further and further away as skills improve. Anyone remember that song "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts. There they are a'hangin in a row" Well we don't have Coconut Shy Stalls anymore, but the idea is simply to aim the ball at any target - preferably not a brother or sister - and try to hit it, or knock it off something. Tin cans on a fence used to be a favourite one, but there'll always be something you can buy that will do the same thing, if you want to get fancy.

8. You can also get tough plastic adjustable basket ball equipment that will last your child for years, because you can adjust the height until they're seven or eight years old. Just make sure older brothers or sisters give your little one a go.