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Grow a Reader this Summer!

20 Apr

Have you already started mapping out your summer plans?  If you have kids who haven’t learned to read yet, consider using this summer to teach them!  All you need is a few minutes every day and this fabulous book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. In approximately the duration of your child’s summer vacation, you can teach them one of life’s most valuable – and fun – skills!

When my son (now 6 ½) was 3 ½, I wanted to start teaching him how to read.  He knew most of his letter sounds, and he would sit still for any length of story I would read him.  It seemed like the right time to get going.

But where to start?  I didn’t know the first thing about how to approach it.

At the recommendation of some moms I know, I bought the book mentioned above.  It’s a very specific method of teaching reading to children.  (The book states that it’s designed for 4- or 5-year-olds, but can also be taught to bright 3 ½-year-olds.)  Its huge size seems a bit daunting at first, but the layout is very easy to follow.

Just do one lesson a day (or every other day, whatever your child can handle and your schedule allows).  Each lesson is presented with exact instructions, down to a teaching script so you know what to say with each task.

Every lesson includes writing practice, and the whole thing only takes about 10-20 minutes to complete.  By the time you reach lesson 50, your child will be reading an entire paragraph!  This amazing book completely takes the guesswork out of this process.

One thing you MUST do before you start teaching your child with this book: read the parent instructions.  It is imperative that you have an understanding of how the lessons work before you begin teaching, or you will stumble around and lose your child’s interest – which we all know is the kiss of death!

An added way to make the lessons fun (and to incorporate a bit of math, too) is to make a chart of squares numbered 1-100.  Each time your child finishes a lesson, they can put a sticker or a stamp in the square for the lesson they completed.  Once they’re done with all 100, they earn a prize.  Or you can give them a prize after every row of 10 – whatever works for you!

My son reads extremely well now.  He’s become a real lover of books, and can read anything we throw at him.  Knowing how to read has given him  independence and confidence to start him on a path to success in school, which is something that will serve him well for the rest of his life!

That's my boy!

I’m now using my well-worn copy of the book, with its many wrinkled pages and a taped-up cover, to instruct my 4 ½-year-old daughter.  She’s coming along great!

If you’ve never taught someone the skill of reading, you’re in for quite an experience.  It’s tedious, frustrating, and sometimes seems impossible, but the end result is an accomplishment that both you and your little one will cherish.  Summer vacation is a perfect time to do it!

Websites for Homeschoolers…or for Anyone!

12 Apr

I’m not sure if I’ve ever technically been considered a homeschooler, but I do know that even before my kids were born, I never intended for them to wait until they got to school to start learning.

Their entire short lives (they’re 4 and 6), I’ve stocked up on educational supplies, created lesson plans, and scoured the internet for craft ideas.  We’ve made countless trips to museums and zoos, attended story time, and sought out just about every educational opportunity at our disposal.  Long ago, I also turned our office into a “classroom”—so maybe I am a homeschooler at heart!

Part of our "classroom" at home

Now that my son is in kindergarten full-time, and my daughter is in preschool part-time, I don’t need to put so much thought into planning out educational activities for them.  But I don’t think I’m capable of leaving everything in the hands of their teachers – it’s just in my nature!  I like to be involved as much as possible, which also includes volunteering at their schools whenever I can.

So from time to time, I still hit my favorite homeschooling-type websites for ideas on lessons, activities, crafts, and other ideas for fun things to do with my kids.

Check these out – I guarantee you’ll be inspired! – craft ideas, book suggestions, and songs from a homeschooling mom – activities and downloads from a homeschooling mom – lesson plans from a homeschooling mom – art activities for kids of all ages – art activities for kids of all ages – activities and printouts for preschool kids – crafts, activities, and recipes from Disney’s Family Fun magazine – crafts and activities from a homeschooling mom – educational supplies – lesson plans and worksheets for various ages – free printable worksheets for preschool and Kindergarten children

I like to have as much of a role in my kids’ education as I can.  Much of the time, education comes in the simple form of fun.  My kids won’t be little forever, and I want to fill up our time with as many enriching activities as possible to create a lifetime love of learning!

Home School Book Fair at Arlington Convention Center

6 May

Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7, the Arlington Convention Center hosts a Home School Book Fair.  You can shop for books, sit in on one of the many featured speakers, or just chat with other homeschoolers for encouragement and inspiration.


8:00 am – Registration opens

8:30 am – Exhibit Hall opens

9:30 am – 11:45 am – Morning Workshops

11:45 am – 1:15 pm – Lunch Break

1:15 pm – 4:45 pm – Afternoon Workshops

5:30 pm – Exhibit Hall closes

Registration at the door is $20.  For more information, visit

Lakeshore Learning – FREE Kids’ Crafts

8 Feb

Lakeshore Learning is a brilliant educational store. I have spent countless dollars on really cool office/ homeschool supplies here. They have an amazing catalog I enjoy perusing from time to time, day dreaming about what I’d like to have if only…

I have never been to the store, but I’ve heard it’s amazing. To date, I have only purchased items online in the comfort of home in my pjs!  But now they’re doing their best to get people like me into the store – every Saturday, Lakeshore Learning offers FREE crafts for kids from 11 am to 3 pm.

This weekend, Saturday February 12th, you can bring your kids in for free Valentine’s crafts and cards!

Lakeshore Learning is located at 13846 North Dallas Parkway in North Dallas.

Click here for an online coupon to save $5, $10, or $15 while you’re in the store this weekend!

FREE Funnix Reading Program

24 Jan

At the end of my daughter’s third year, I taught her how to read.  A friend of mine suggested the book How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann.  At the time, I was homeschooling, she was ready to read, and so I decided I had nothing to lose!  I was a little nervous about the whole process, because at the time, learning to read seemed like such a big deal!  I was worried I would screw it up somehow.

One of the great things about this book is that it teaches you how to teach your child, from the very beginning.  They are extremely specific about how to go about correcting your child.  I followed the book precisely, and within a few lessons, my daughter was reading!  Some days were more difficult than others, because some days her attention wandered.  Some days she just wanted to stand on her chair and stare out the window.  If I could tell she was bored or was not “into” it, we put it away until the following day.  I also gave her a “prize” upon completion to help motivate her along the way.  She is in kindergarten now and reads at a second grade level.

For the remainder of January, the same people who brought us How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons are providing a FREE download of their Funnix reading program.  If you homeschool, or even if you don’t, but you like to teach from home, or just want to keep your kids busy learning over the summer, this is a must have!  I downloaded it myself.  It took me about two nights, because I use my computer during the day; so I had to download it incrementally.

You can get the free download through the end of January here:  It’s a $240.00 value!

There are two different parts.  The first is another teach your child to read segment, which include lessons 1-122.  Then, there is a second segment, which the website says goes to a second grade level.

I tried the first segment and it’s a great starting point for my 3 year old.  It was not advanced enough for my five year old.  I started the second segment with her, and she was at the perfect point for that.  I have not tried as many of the beginning lessons as I have the more advanced.  My five year old completed the first lesson of the second segment and loved it.  There were times when the computer teacher would say something like, “Moose, an animal that looks something like a deer,” and my daughter would respond, “I already know this.”

The download comes with a workbook and teachers manual as well.  The workbook focuses a lot more on comprehension, which is just what my daughter needs going into first grade.

Once I tried it, and knew it was as great as the How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, I knew I needed to pass along the information!  I would recommend this program for ages 3-2nd grade reading level.  Download and enjoy!

Library Open House for Homeschooling Parents

1 Dec

The Central Library in Arlington, located at 101 East Abram Street, is hosting an open house for homeschooling parents on Tuesday December 7th, from 1-3 pm in the community room.

The open house will showcase resources, collections, services, and programs available for homeschooling children and their parents.  There will be activities for the children and refreshments served.

For more information, click here.

Sally Ride Science Festival

14 Oct

The following is taken from a press release from Sally Ride Science.

SAN DIEGO – On October 30, 2010, Dallas and Fort Worth area girls will be inspired to explore the exciting world of science at the Sally Ride Science Festival at The University of Texas at Arlington.  The Festival, presented by ExxonMobil and Sally Ride Science, will bring together hundreds of upper elementary and middle school girls, parents and teachers for a day of science and socializing.  It is open to the public and runs from 11:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

  • The festival features discovery workshops for students given by local scientists and engineers, as well as workshops for parents and teachers on ways to support students’ interests in science and math.
  • A highlight of the festival will be an inspiring talk by astronaut Barbara Morgan, an American teacher that participated in the Teacher in Space program and flew as a Mission Specialist aboard STS-118 in 2007.
  • The festival also includes lunch and a street fair with hands-on activities, booths, and music.

A $20 advanced registration fee includes the featured talk, workshops, lunch and the street fair.  Advance registration is required. Additional sponsorship generously provided by Time Warner Cable and Texas Instruments.

For more information visit or call 1-800-561-5161.

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