Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Great Free CM Resource

It's been one of those crazy days today where I want to pull my hair out. But I found something today that I thought you would enjoy, so I'm stopping my hair pulling momentarily to let you know about a great free resource.
In my Internet bouncing today (I don't surf I bounce), I found a special freebie.
If you stop by Write From History and sign up for their newsletter, you can receive a free e-book download titled A Charlotte Mason Writing Plan. This forty page e-book covers dictation, copy work and a lot more. Sign up and get it for free today.

Hope your day is great and free of hair pulling stress. :)

Happy Learning!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Literature-Based Curriculum Options

Photobucket"The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived." - Howard Pyle

There are many options when it comes to Literature-based homeschooling. I thought I'd share a bit about these options with all of you.

Five in a Row was my very first adventure in learning with a literature-based approach. In studying with Five In A Row you are expected to read the same book over and over for a week, gleaning new insight each day. Sometimes the tasks suggested were challenging and other times I felt like there wasn't enough to do. I began to use the books as springboards for other ideas and we extended many topics that way. My only real complaint with Five In A Row is the difficulty in finding many of the books on the reading list. When we did The Carrot Seed unit I was ready to pull my hair out. We went to several local libraries and a few book stores and no one had it! If you live in a small town like I do it can become very difficult to hunt down each book. If you have a good local library you should do fine. It's a very good curriculum for homeschoolers who are just starting out. The best part about FIAR is tat it's a homeschool family who created and run the business. They've shared what worked for them and many families have benefited from their effort. Check out Five In a Row here. To see books on their reading list look here.

Ambelside is what I am currently using. They are a free Charlotte Mason/ living books curriculum advice website that has been a blessing to any families by making homeschooling very affordable. If you are a single parent or in a financial bind, Ambelside really helps to make it possible to continue in your vision to homeschool despite what the bank account reads. They provide a book list and a schedule, but being Charlotte Mason, they are very flexible and easy to adapt to any schedule. The key is short lessons and lots of great reading. I am really enjoying the older living books that have found a place on the Ambelside list. Heidi and Robinhood are pretty well known books for childhood reading, but we have also enjoyed jems like Understood Betsy which I probably never would have found on my own. Click here to visit Ambelside. Look here to see the Ambelside reading list.

Another popular Literature- Based Curriculum is Sonlight. I subscribe to their e-mail newsletter, but I have not used their curriculum. I think their reading lists are great, but their package cost is a bit high for my budget (example: a full year's Kindergarten curriculum will cost you $777.56). Sonlight is a homeschool supplier and books can be ordered separately as well. I usually keep a current catalogue on hand because teir prices for individual books are sometimes better than other places. As someone who doesn't use Sonlight, one of the things that is most intrieging to me about this curriculum is the amount of support that Sonlight users can get. If you chose to use Sonlight you won't be alone. If you get stuck they have support boards available and I've heard wonderful things about their customer service from Sonlight users I know. I've found them to be very friendly vendors at homeschool conventions as well. You can learn more about Sonlight here.

Itty-Bitty Bookworm is a curriculum I just became aware of recently. My blogging friend , Carisa is reviewing them over at 1+1+1=1. This curriculum is built for Preschoolers and Toddlers. Baily's Curriculum covers ages 18-36 months and Bo's Curriculum covers ages 3-5. Itty-Bitty Bookworm costs $25/ unit or month for their CD or $20 for download. That's about $300 for a full 12 months (plus the actual cost of the books). Not too bad. This is something I'm really praying about purchasing for my little ones. If you have little ones like I do, it's worth it to visit their website whether you order their products or not. They have wonderful downloads available for free. Check out Itty-Bitty Bookworm here. See their book list here.

The Noah Plan is a biblical approach that uses literature in it's study. They call themselves a literature-based curriculum, but from what I saw of their site is looks more bible-based. However, they do use wonderful literature selections like Snowflake Bently and Little House on the Prairie. Subjects other than literature look a bit classical and possible challenging to some. You can see their catalogue here.

Heart of Dakota is a wonderful homeschool resource and supplier. They are also bible based stories. Teacher guides are all under $50. Pretty good price. Go here to learn more about Heart of Dakota.

Veritas Press Classical Home School Curriculum is another catalogue that I like to have on hand. They are a classical approach, but many of their literature selections can be found on other lists. Go here to request a catalogue. Tapestry of Grace is also a popular classical choice. I've tried this for a review and quickly learned that I am not a classical style homeschooler. If you are you might want to check them out here.

There are many other options that, honestly, I know very little about. I'll list them anyway and you can visit sites and form your own opinions.

Popular Lit-based curr. I know little about:

My Father's World
Winter Promise- has anyone used this? I'm really interested in this one.
Beautiful Feet
Epi Kardia

Others I found:

Footprints on our Land and Love 2 Learn are two South African based curriculum choices that I found.
Robinson Curriculum looks morality heavy.
Student of the Word is Bible- centered.
Living Lessons has a Classical approach.

The biggest challenge in having so many choices is that you have to choose what fits your family (and your budget) best.

Please let me know if you've tried something I haven't, or if you know of something great that isn't on my list. Comments are always welcome. What have you tried and loved? Please feel free to share .

Carnival Time


The current Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival started July 21st over at Hearts and Trees. I'm very excited to be a part of this edition with my post on Frog and Toad.

Click on the button in this post (my sidebar button won't connect you) and head over and check out the wonderful contributers.

I really like the artwork that the host posted as well. One thing that I thought would be of special interest to us is Kris's post on resources for finding affordable deals on Charlotte Mason style books. Be sure to check it out. Anything that can save us money in this crazy economy is a huge blessing! Have fun at the carnival and don't forget to submit your own posts so we can learn from each other.

Happy Learning!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Photobucket"Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality" -Beatrix Potter

I began homeschooling my daughter Chloe very early. Honestly, a little too early. I had no clue what homeschooling really looked like, but I didn't wait for directions. I dove right in. Believe it or not, I began with Squirrel Nutkin. We read the book over and over again for an entire month. Each day I focused on one page of the book or some small detail of it. I wish I could remember and share all of the crazy inspiration I got from that tiny little book. We worked our way through all of the Beatrix Potter books that year,--though Chloe barely remembers the lessons --I told you I started too soon. That's why I was so excited when I found Peter Rabbit on the FIAR reading list. By that time she was the right age and I was eager to revisit our old friend, Peter.

Here are some of the ways that we enjoyed The Tale of Peter Rabbit --along with some new goodies I've picked up since then:

Extend through Reading and Writing:

1. Read The Tale of Peter Rabbit and whatever Beatrix Potter books yu can get your hands on. Note the size of the books. She loved that they were tiny enough to fit in a little child's hands.

2. The Virtual Vine has great suggestions for creating a Peter Rabbit word wall. You'll find lots of other great ideas there too.

3. This is a recent find, and boy do I wish I had found it sooner! Homeschool Share has free, downloadable copywork pages by Dori Oakes. Copywork pages include Benjamin Bunny, Floppsy, Peter, and Timmy Tiptoes.

4. While reading this book I created a tot tool for my younger daughter who was just learning her alphabet. I made 26 rabbits with capital letters writen on them and 26 carrots with lower case letters written on them. Her task was to math them.


5. As part of the FIAR lesson plan, I had my kids write letters to Peter. They turned out really sweet.


Extend through Math:

1. I created a seed counting mat by sticking stick back black felt onto a sheet of construction paper. Her task was to use the seeds I gave her to create a math problem for whatever sum I gave. We still use this today with bigger numbers.

2. Homeschool Share has added another amazing Petter Rabbit resource for multiplication. Find cards for multiplying by ones, twos, threes, and fours.

Extend through Science:

1. Many of the books by Burgess are living books that include Peter Rabbit. We are currently reading The Burgess Bird Book For Children to study birds. Peter Rabbit is the interviewing tool to teach us facts about birds through this wonderful science-packed living book.

2. Learn about the different types of rabbits.

3. Nature journaling, nature walks . . .get outside!

Extend through Art:

1. find games and coloring pages at The World of Peter Rabbit site.

2. Admire a variety of watercolor paintings by Beatrix Potter here.

3. We cut a sponge in a triangle and sponge painted carrots.


4. We created a super cute picture of Peter in a watering can. I cut a watering can shape out of foil and the kids glued a peter rabbit into the can. Then they made water drops dripping out the spout with teir fingerprints in blue paint. I can't get a good photo of it due to the reflection of the foil, but It's adorable in person.

Extend through History/Geography

1. At this site you can check out photos of Beatrix Potter's Farm and the garden that inspired Beatix Potter's artwork. Get a glimpse into her world.

2. Study England's Lake District

3. If you are making a timeline, here are some wonderful pictures of Beatrix as a child. Remember to note that her childhood very much influenced her view of the world. Her observations in childhood about nature set her on a path of naturalism that defined her as an artist.

Have Fun!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Little House On The Prairie

Photobucket "Home is the nicest word there is." -Laura

There are a ton of free activities online for studying Little House On The Prairie. Here I've compiled my favorites along with some pictures of our completed activities so that you can see some of these great ideas in action.

Reading and Language Art-

Ask your child to highlight any unfamiliar words or phrases and create a word wall with words and definitions. A list of some possible words for a word wall can be found here and here.

I found this awesome pdf. file of discussion questions. These aren't baby questions. Their ability to answer these questions will be a good guide for ensuring the child is listening during the read aloud time.

Writing Activities-

Lapbooks are a great way to get your child writing and reflecting creatively on the story. This is a free Lapbook that has tons of mini book activities to go with it.

In general, I'm not crazy about webquests because they seem to be so heavy on computer learning, but I like this one. It requires the child to keep a journal and provides writing activities that are really educational.

Write a question to Laura here. Questions will be answered by the Hoover Historic Society on her behalf.

Consider having your child write a letter to Laura as if he/she was a cousin (or other relative) who stayed back home. Or write about how hard it would be to miss your family and not know if they survived and were safe in the new frontier.

I'm not a huge fan of word searches for school time. They kind of seem like busy work to me, but if you need a reward activity for hard work done that day, you might consider this word search. If you use Sue Patrick's Workbox System, this might be a good reward box.

If you do copywork here is a cute notebook page with covered wagons as a border.

Math Activities-

If you like to include math through tangible play you might like this activity. It reads very formal so you'll want to think about how you can spruce it up in life.

For younger children, preschool-1st grade, I hope you enjoy the Math pdf. file I created using pioneer images for couting,addition and subtraction. I hope it shows up. Scribd has been giving me a little trouble lately. If you can't access it here just E-mail me and I can send it to you. :

Prairie Math Worksheets

History Activities-

Create a timeline or add to an existing timeline using the information here.

Visit the historic sites from Laura Ingalls Wilder's life. This slide show is really cool.

Talk about how different life would be if you lived in the cabin.

Life Skills-

Make butter by placing heavy whipping cream into a baby food jar. Tighten lid and have children shake the jar until it becomes butter. Serve the butter as a snack on fresh homemade bread or crackers. This would be a wonderful activity for antsy children to do while listening to the story being read aloud.

Make hand-dipped candles. Place old crayons an wax in a tin coffee cup and heat. Have children dip their wick into the wax until a candle is formed. Older children can roll out the candle on newsprint to help it shape better. Be careful it will be hot.

Check out Chloe and Caibry's candles:


Like to cook? This is a yummy sounding recipe for Gingerbread from Laura's cookbook. More pioneer recipes can be found here and boy do they sound yummy!

Free Clipart Picture of a Piece of Cake on a Plate. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com

(image above from http://www.clipartguide.com)


Make an Apple Doll or a Covered Wagon. These are both really cute crafts.

Science Activities-

This is a science experiment on sap.

* Note, If you decide to do the web quest I would count that as science activity too as they will be learning about and studying animals on the prairie.


This Map of Laura's Travels is very neat. Print it out and have children color it along her route as you read.

We have a family friend named Mr. R who is 98 years old. Just for fun Chloe tried on an authentic prairie hat worn by his family while traveling to Oklahoma in a covered wagon.


I hope that you found this information helpful.

Happy Learning!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Frog and Toad are Friends

Photobucket "Frog drank the tea, and then he said, "Tell me a story while I am resting." - The Story Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad are Friends was the first full book that my oldest child ever read aloud to me. I have such wonderful memories and pride when I think about our time spent with this book.

There are tons of ways to extend this book. I'm sure I'm only scratching the surface a little when I mention some of the activities we enjoyed.
Extend with Math:

Have your child jump like a frog and measure the distance of their jump. Older children can calculate the difference of each jump to find an average distance.

We have an algabraic funtastic frogs workbook and frog manipulative's. You can find them here. I picked these up from Mardel's and have enjoyed the many ways to use them. You can sort frogs by colors, string in patterns, categorize by size or use in conjunction with the workbook. They are loads of fun and keep little ones busy while harder work can begin with the older children.

I found a really cute Kindergarten math activity here that your child might enjoy.

I'll be mentioning some cooking activities later in the post too that I believe are great ways of making math "living". Simply discuss measurements while cooking and help them apply it to the item being made.

Extend with Science:

Sparklebox has great Tadpole/ Frog Growth Posters that are available for free download. These would be wonderful to place on your walls where you study.

Here is where I admit my silliness. We began reading Frog and Toad just after moving from Michigan suburbs to Oklahoma. I wasn't yet familiar with the enormous accessibility of frogs in my new state. I purchased a Grow a Frog Kit and had it delivered by U.P.S. The pole little tadpole must have thought I was nuts sending it across the country when all I had to do was open my back door after sunset. That being said, we loved our little frog and quickly ordered a second one to be it's companion. Grow a Frog is a very easy to maintain pet. The kit includes food, aquarium and a pet handbook. The aquarium doesn't last long as the frog grows quickly, but the second size up cost about $30 and holds two mature frogs quite comfortably. We ordered a second set of food too and haven't had to replace it in over a year. They are aquatic frogs and so the most expensive detail of their care is probably the spring water to fill their tank. Still not bad for a pet. They are supposed to be "see-thru". I might call them translucent. It's not drastic though so don't expect too much on that level.

One of their first assignments after "Skipper" and "Hoppy" arrived was to observe and sketch frog feet. I got some wonderful sketches from this that really impressed me.

Grow a frogs are pretty tiny, but the Goliath frog is not. Check out the World's largest frog here. I was amazed!

Frogland is a great site with loads of information on frogs and toads. You can learn a lot there.Study frog habit here with their great information.

Extend with Language Art:

Totally Tots did a unit study on Ponds that might be useful for little children.

I created a word wall with words from the book that my daughter stumbled over in her reading time. I wrote them out on frog shaped die cuts and taped them to their learning wall. We reviewed them for a few minutes every day until it was clear that she had mastered the word.

In the book there are stories that involve buttons, cookies, and letters. I used all of these to extend our learning.

We made cookies for our neighbors and our pastors. I thought about giving a cookie recipe, but I'll skip it and say Mr. Fields is the best. I always cool cookies on newspaper - just because it's what my Grandma does.

We created a button box that we used for counting and sorting.

We wrote letters to family back in Michigan and discussed the different parts of a letter and how to address the envelope.

I also had my daughter copy write lists that I gave her to practice her writing and to tie into The List.
Extend though Art:
You're gonna think these frog masks are adorable. Simply print and decorate.

There are tons of crafts to do involving frogs but my favorite was Kissy frogs. To create kissy frogs paint your child's lips green with non toxic finger paint and have them kiss a sheet of construction paper. The kiss is the frog's body. Now let them draw on legs with markers(at the corners of the mouth) and eyes ( on each side of the top lip's v). We even got some tiny google eyes and glued them on. This is an adorable craft. I'd post a picture, but I can't find that artwork in my stash.

We found a simple cross stitch kit of a frog at Hobby Lobby for under $5. Chloe really enjoyed her sewing project.

Extend through Life Skills:

Frog bread was a great treat! We created a loaf of bread shaped like a frog and the kids had a wonderful time making and eating it.


This next activity was suggested by my son's OT. He has S.P.D and needs to drink shakes some times to help regulate him. This healthy version is just gross sounding enough to excite young children. Simply create frog tongues (curly straws) and bug gut shakes (applesauce and fruit). Yummy.

Another yummy snack is frogs on a log. Cover pretzel sticks in pb and place green m&ms on the "log".

Extend through entertainment:We watched and enjoyed You tube: A Swim and discussed claymation. Then the kids each sculpted a frog and toad out of clay.

Still need more?Check out these great sites for more learning.




Have fun bringing this great book to life!

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Photobucket"It was an afternoon late in September. In the pleasant city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work." - Mr. Popper's Peguins


Mr. Popper's Penguins was a very fun read aloud. I think it was my favorite read so far this year. There are a couple of fun and free directions that you can go in to extend this book.

1) Extend through art:

A free penguin lapbook can be found at Lapbook Lessons.

Here you can find a craft/math activity for making a glyph. It's really a site worth checking out.

Here is a picture of our Art Wall of penguin art projects.

art wall 2

2) Extend through Science or Geography:

My favorite Website I found for Mr. Popper's Penguins is the Webquest I found here. They link to an awesome virtual tour of Antarctica. My kids loved this site!

Another idea is to study famous explorers (especially the ones the penguins were named after).

Your child could read an article with you from National Geographic or make a collage out of interesting pictures found in the magazine.

Visit the zoo. Penguins are so fun to watch. Here are some picture of the penguins at the Tulsa Zoo. They aren't the type in the story, but I thought I'd share anyway.

more penguins penguin swim

penguins penguins out of water

3) Extend through emotion and literary comprehension:

Ask your child to write about or discuss the changes in Mr. Popper after he receives Captain Cook. How does feeling close to one's dreams change their behavior and the way they treat themselves and others?

Don't forget a fun snack too. Make a penguin body out of Oreos®. Add a dab of frosting to attach candy corn for a beak and mini M&M's® for eyes.

If you're too tired to put the energy into a snack, just pick up some Goldfish crackers and voila . . .penguin food.

I hope these links, pictures, and ideas prove helpful to you.

Happy Learning!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Welcome to Well Read

Photobucket"Childhood is a promise never kept" Ken Hill

Childhood is an adventure and I believe it's enhanced and inspired by great books. Welcome to Well Read. This is a brand new blog featuring ways to enrich your read-aloud times. I'll be giving great ideas and links for extending and enjoying classic literature and living books. If you're a Charlotte Mason homeschooler please stop back by August 1st when the fun is kicked of with great posts on books your kids will love! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

About Me

I am the Mommy to four great kids, three girls and a boy. This is my fourth year homeschooling. I enjoy it so much and count it a privilege to have this special learning time shared with my children. I'm an eclectic homeschooler with influences from FIAR and Charlotte Mason. Beyond God and family, my two great passions are reading and writing.
I hope that Well Read will be a great learning tool and resource for readers. Thanks for stopping by and getting to know me.

Contact Me

Thanks for stopping by Well Read. As you can see, I am passionate about books. I love to read and enjoy imparting that love on my children.
If you have a question or a homeschool product you would like reviewed please feel free to contact me.

You can visit this post to see my credentials as a product reviewer.

Feel free to stop by my other blogs:

Our Curriculum

Our homeschool curriculum and philosophy revolve around an eclectic mix of amazing literature and free or low cost items I can scrounge up.
I began our homeschooling adventure using Five in a Row. A lot of my approach was formed through using FIAR. I enjoy extending great literature through a CM unit study approach and I share a lot of my links and finds so you can save some time.
I am also highly influenced by Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy. We enjoy short lessons, great books as well as art and music study. I use a mixture of resources from Ambleside Online.
I am a homeschool forager and enjoy hunting up freebies and low cost resources of value. I'm picky though. I only grab what is beautiful and educationally rich, not just any freebie. Some of my favorite resources are The Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project, Homeschool Freebie of the Day, Currclick (very selective on freebies), and LibriVox (when I don't feel like reading aloud).
The links below will take you to resources I have used for specific terms this year. This year I am teaching Kindergarten, 2ND Grade, and keeping an eye on two little ones.
Here's what we're doing:
Term 1
Term 2
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