Teaching Sight Words to Reluctant Readers Part 1

Nothing has caused greater frustration in our homeschooling than teaching Zack how to read and spell. I have had to dig deep into my teaching repertoire to come up with activities and strategies that will work for him. Traditional ways of memorizing sight words have not been successful for us. And although it can be frustrating,  it is situations like these that make me thankful that we do homeschool, I know that there is no other teacher that would be able to dedicate the time to him that he needs to acquire these skills.

Despite what my wayward son would believe, sight words are relevant. Once he is able to read all of the words on the Dolch sight word list, he will be able to read up to 75% of the words printed in children’s literature. Therefore, being less frustrated and more successful with all of our school work.

There are several effective strategies for teaching sight words but the one that I have found to be the most effective for us, is teaching them in context.  When children see words used in natural ways rather than in isolation they are more likely to remember them because they develop an understanding of the word’s significance and meaning.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to find a leveled reader or a children’s book that is familiar to your child and write 5 to 7 sight words from the book on to flashcards. Review those words before reading the story and then as you come upon the word point out the matching flashcard. You can also have your child point to the flashcard as you say the word. If you are reading the story together your child will likely be more focused on the words and have an easier time reading those words in context in future readings.

I picked a book that Zack was very familiar with to explain this lesson. You can see that he has most of the book memorized. Although this was an easy activity for him and he knew most of the words. One of his spelling words this week was “some” when I asked him to read it to me he pronounced it “summy” It just goes to show the importance of me teaching him sight words in context.

If you make it to the end of the video, you will see him “spazzing” at the end and me getting his ummmm…attention Winking smile 

Another way I work on teaching sight words in context is to take the same book or leveled reader and type out the story. Take those same flashcards and as your student reads the story they can use the flash cards to mark the words in the story with a bingo marker or a highlighter. You could also read aloud the story in the book and your child could follow along on the paper. When he comes to a sight word he marks it.This activity obviously works best with shorter stories or abbreviated ones.

sight word matching (2)

Here is a list of a few popular emergent reader books

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? My First Reader Bill Martin (150 sight words)

Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books) by Dr. Seuss (700 sight words)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (60 sight words)

Olivia by Ian Falconer (235 sight words)

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers


Pinterest Love

pinterest picture2


Sadly I haven’t had much time to devote to my “Pinterest obsession” this past week, so I pulled from a few things that I have done in the recent past that haven’t made it to this page yet.

Amazing Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Amazing Chicken Parm Meatballs - Click for Recipe

Well, I can’t say they were amazing, but we did enjoy them. If I find another great sale on ground chicken then we will probably make these again.

Saltine Toffee

Saltine Toffee: I have to make this

Admittedly, the first time I made these- I bombed them. I only had club crackers- and they really do need saltine crackers. I have had them twice since then and they are really good. And with only 4 ingredients- they come together super quick. They would be really great if you need a last minute dessert.

Mason jar cupcakes


This was a cute little project that we did for Zoe’s birthday. It was a little messy but turned out cute. That frosting on top…it’s caulking! This site has lot’s a cute little fun crafts using mason jars.

Here is the cupcake craft in action.

cupcake craft

cupcake jar

Have you tried anything great off of Pinterest this week?

Bottoms Up. A Great Tasting Smoothie Recipe is Only a Button Away!

If you have spent any time around us at all lately you know that we have begun a love affair with smoothies. It started several months ago when we lost interest in cooking and nothing ever sounded good to either of us. Our go-to meal became Quesadillas and Smoothies. {Quesadillas} because we felt like we had to feed the kiddos something. Our friends were threatening to call CPS.

{oh, you know who you are} Winking smile 

So we have been experimenting and slowly adding new ingredients and taking out others. 


My newest creation includes: yogurt, spinach, berries, chia seed, almonds, orange juice, half an avocado, and half a banana. Now, before you turn  your nose up at the spinach and avocado I assure you- you CAN NOT taste the spinach or avocado. Pinky swear promise. I recently added the avocado for the extra fat. (not that I need any extra fat) LOL, but when I’m having the smoothie as a meal I want something that is going to help keep me full longer. I will share in a future post why we have included these particular foods as part of our smoothie.

Here are a few other foods we have used to make smoothies

Any frozen fruit

Almond milk


Cottage Cheese

Peanut butter

Protein Powder

Flax Seed/ Flax seed oil

Fish Oil (Yuck, I don’t recommend) No amount of sweetness can cover it up in my opinion.


I am working up to blending less fruit and having more vegetable base smoothies. 

I found a few smoothie recipes on Pinterest (of course) that I’m going to be trying this week. Stay tuned for the results. Or try them yourself and tell me what you think.

Basic Green Smoothie Recipe

Tropical Chia Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

For more Smoothie inspirations you can follow my Pinterest Board

How to Teach Geography and Map Skills

This is the first year we have put any real emphasis on geography in our schooling. I was challenged and motivated by Leigh Bortins book The Core to up the ante with our children- and they have surprised me with how well they are doing and catching on. I have adapted her schedule to fit our needs as well as to fit more effortlessly into our curriculum. But if your interested in the whole schedule on teaching geography the classical way, you should check out her book. We are currently finishing up lesson two.

Here’s a peak into how it’s going.

Lesson 1: (This lesson is repeated until students can do this without looking at an atlas)

Using an atlas, ruler and unlined paper,  line up your paper on the atlas to make the marks where the Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle, and Arctic Circle should be.  Label those lines appropriately.

I expect my third grader to be able to write the words out correctly, but I allow my first grader to abbreviate. Even Olivia can do this!


Lesson 2: Add the Prime Meridian to your students paper along with lesson one information. Here is where you discuss lines of latitude and longitude.

I drew a ladder on the board as a visual reminder that Latidude and Ladder sound similar as well as point out the rings on the ladder going lateral.  I then drew a spider sitting on the top of the ladder with Long legs- representing longitude.

We also discussed how the equator and the prime meridian were both 0 degrees on the map.

Along with our geography we are also working on map skills, I believe they go hand in hand. Our curriculum uses the book Maps and Globes by Harriett Barton which is excellent for explaining all things to do with maps in a kid friendly way, so we have used this book extensively.

We started with the compass rose, I read the section on the compass from the book, and then drew a large compass on our driveway to play a direction game where we took turns calling out North, East, South and West. They had to walk in whatever direction was called. (They still ask to play this game)

Next we moved on to using a Map Key. I like to add as many real world experiences as possible to our schooling, So when we took a trip to the Zoo we used the opportunity to practice using a map with the one provided. At home we practiced with other real maps from Six Flags, our downtown area, and our state.



Once we had looked over various maps and understood what a map key was used for, we drew a map of our school room and made a map key to go with it.


Next in our lessons is plotting out where each continent is in relation to the tropics and the circles. Sola Gratia Mom has a great post showing where we are headed with this.

Stay tuned for updates on how we are fairing!

I’m always needed great geography ideas- there are many to be found at All Things Beautiful.

Homeschool Mother’s Journal

homeschool Mothers Journal

In my life this week…

I have been busy with distractions. I feel like I am dreamily moving from one thing to another without actually accomplishing much. I have been overwhelmed with small tasks that just can’t ever seem to get done. We finally got Christmas put away but I have yet to fill all those spots that the Christmas decorations had taken up. Actually as a matter a fact those spots have now been taken up by toys. {sigh} Toys. Toys. Everywhere. Oh, and junk. You know the kind that sneaks in behind your back and slowly takes up residence, and before you know it you actually forget that it doesn’t belong there.



I know. I should be embarrassed. But this is the real me. The me that you get if you just show up at my door un-announced.

I also started a new part-time job that I just knew I would love and I’m sure I will, but it turns out it’s work. Who would have thought? Winking smile I came home one night feeling like I ran a marathon!


In our homeschool this week…

I have been so discouraged. You know the crawl up in your favorite chair and want to cry kind of discouraged. It has been a battle the whole week with all of our school work. I really began to doubt our decision to homeschool. I did manage to pull it together by today and realize that I just need to take a fresh look at what we are doing and what’s not working. I’m going to spend some time on that this weekend. Today we spent part of our school time doing fun file folder games. I really just needed to end the week on a good note.



Helpful homeschooling tips to share…

Being prideful isn’t helpful. Sometimes the problem is not always my children. Sometimes it’s me. They are often true reflections of me and my heart. {scary}


My favorite thing this week…

We took our oldest to the Titanic exhibit at our Science Museum. She has recently been fascinated by the story. We had a great time getting to look at all the artifacts. I’m thankful we live in an area that has so many of these great opportunities.




Things I’m working on…

Lesson Planning and preparation. I want to be more prepared for my children with their schooling. Some days we just wing it and do too much workbook stuff. It’s part of the reason why we have had some rough days. They love the days when we have games and projects to work on. It really isn’t too hard to make games out things we are studying.

I’m also doing some freezer cooking planning. It’s been a while and I miss have a stockpile of things to choose from on those nights when life gets too busy for me to cook.


Places we’re going and people we are seeing

Sadly, today we are attending the funeral of the mother of a sweet friend of ours. Our hearts are broken for their family and we are praying God’s peace and comfort for them all.


I’m grateful for…

My husband. I don’t know what I would do without him. He is so helpful and is so wonderful at giving me a “break” in the evenings when I need it. (I have needed it a lot this week)

The many, many people who have blessed our lives this past year in so many ways. I was just thinking about this yesterday. I’m thankful that God uses them to bless us.


Something Funny…


Pinterest Love

Pinterest picture1

The holidays definitely kept me busy on Pinterest. I wasted tons a little bit of time sifting through great recipes and cute little craft projects. I even managed to do more than just “pin” a few of those recipes and crafts. Here are some of my favorites.

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

People, This is AhhhhhMaaaZing. I absolutely love this breakfast dish. I don’t even like oatmeal normally, but this is just so good. I buy the bag of  frozen berries with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and  I also use whatever nuts I have on hand. I make this at least once a week!

Southwestern Egg Rolls


I have never had Chili’s Southwestern Egg rolls, but a few of my gal pals swear these are just as tasty if not more so. I did change it up just a bit, because it’s a forgiving recipe. I  added fresh cilantro, and because my guy doesn’t believe anything is a meal unless there is meat- I also added chicken. Oh, and because I’m occasionally lazy I mashed up an avocado and some ranch  dressing for the dip. It’s a meal that comes together rather quickly. I especially love that there is no need to fry the egg rolls.

Christmas Crack

We have officially sworn off all junk food in our house {at least that’s what we tell ourselves.} But I did make this right before Christmas for our children’s Awana’s leaders. And I might have made a bit too much, and I might have eaten most of the extra all by myself. I see why it’s referred to as “crack” it’s seriously addictive. But with 3 sticks of butter…how can you go wrong?

Picture Frame


I saw this picture frame on my Sister In Law’s board.  It looked easy enough to put together, And because {ahem, she is such a hard person to buy for} Sorry Dena. I thought “Why not?” so off to Hobby Lobby I went to gather my materials. There was no website that I could find for directions so I pretty much just Forest Gumped my way through it. How hard could it be right? Actually it wasn’t hard I just wish I could have been warned about how long it would take to wrap that yarn around the frame. Let’s just say I watched a movie or two. Here is how mine turned out.

yarn initial



***As always, the pictures are not mine. I have hijacked them from their respective sites. Go check them out!

A renewed focus

woman on computer

A few times every year I go MIA on this blog. It’s not always intentional, I usually just end up too busy to post or completely unmotivated with nothing interesting or helpful to share. Sorry, I guess I’m noncommittal. 😉 Although I wasn’t counting on taking this long of a break, I did stop posting with a little bit of intentionality. I realized that I was spending too much time online. My family was starting to notice and comment. It’s just so easy to jump on the computer for a quick minute and realize an hour later that I’m still on it and dinner is yet to be started.  I also realized that while I was on the computer I was allowing our children to watch more t.v., play more video games, and do things that I wouldn’t normally allow them to do otherwise- all for the sake of some "alone time." I don’t want to be that mom. I don’t want my children’s memories of me to always include a computer or some other electronic device. It was time for a break. I enjoyed a renewed focus and the holidays were a great time to step back.

But I have missed my blog. It’s a little piece of my life, an extension of me, a hobby, my creative outlet. I hope to return to it a few times each week. I want to catch back up with a few of you that I have missed, and share all the great recipes we have tried, and the craft projects that have kept me busy as well as give you a peak into our schooling.

I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring with this blog and in “real life”