Friday, September 26, 2014



It has been a long time coming to the point where Alli is right now in her math knowledge.  For the longest time math was a HUGE struggle.  It started in 1st grade when she had 7 and 8 confused and just couldn't straighten it out in her head.  Lots of issues were resolved once her VISION was fixed....see this blog (VISION THERAPY) but there were still LOTS of residual issues.

Memorizing her math facts was just not an academic strength for her.  We played math games, but anything written down was just light years harder for her.  BUT.....this is the year!!!!  She is taking off in her math knowledge and is actually enjoying her daily math drill and kill worksheets that I have created (or from the curriculum we are using...Singapore Math).

As a former math teacher, I feel very strongly that the basics are so important that it is pointless in moving on if the basic facts are still challenging for a child (the joy of homeschooling, right?)  So here we are with Alli in 4th grade and she is FINALLY getting her math facts memorized.  Better late than never, and who cares really!!  She is ready and it is so fun to see her taking off in her knowledge.

There are a few things she does every single day to practice her math skills.

FIRST:  Make 10 Pyramid Game - See this past post.....MAKE 10

However, she is adding to 11 currently and then after another week or so I will move her up to adding to 12, is a quick way to practice a certain sum over and over and she enjoys is, so we just keep doing it every day (after 3 years that is pretty awesome that she still loves this game!)

SECOND: Addition and Subtraction Fact Family

We started this a month ago and I gave her two dice that were numbered 1 - 12.  She would do 3 different rolls each day.  She was so excited about how well she was doing that she started timing herself!!  This paper is just something I hand wrote and make a new copy every two weeks (two sided).  Here is what the entire sheet looks like:

THIRD:  Place Value Addition and Subtraction

She is doing so awesome with this!!  Every day does 2 problems.  She rolls these 4 dice:  two are numbered 0 - 5, and two are numbered 4 - 9.  She writes the 4 numbers down on the left and then creates 2 different numbers from them, adds and then subtracts.  These 2 problems daily have increased her skill in this TREMENDOUSLY!!  Here is the document for this.....ADD and SUBTRACT


She is just starting this one.  We are working on memorizing her facts for the 2, 5 and 10 tables so I have a die labeled 2, 5, 10, 2, 5, 10 and then another 1 - 12 die.  She rolls them both, writes the 2 numbers in the boxes, and then figures out the 3rd number to complete the family.  Then, completes the 4 math sentences.    She is really getting this quick.  I think teaching the division at the same time will save a lot of grief later.  Here is my document for this MULTIPLY AND DIVIDE FAMILIES.

Once again I see evidence that when children are actually READY to learn something it comes much quicker and easier.  It has been a slow road to the place we are at right now, but she is going freight train speed now!!!  We have nearly finished an entire year of the math curriculum in 2 months!!

Math Game for Sums up to 8

Today Jill told me she was "boring" of her math game and she wanted to learn something new!!  That is a GREAT sign that she is ready to move on to more sums.  I made some new dice - this time numbered as followed:

Die #1:  1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3
Die #2: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4

Then I made a game board labeled with the EXACT probability of each sum coming up.  (This is the crazy mathematician in me coming out!!) So with these dice, there are only TWO ways to roll an 8 (with the 4's) so there are only two 8's on the board.  You can make the board however you want, but I think it makes a lot of sense to have it as close to probable as possible.  I just used markers, I dont even have a file to share, but it is really simple to make.  You will also need about 14 counters each (that are different from each other) and 5 "Prizes" we use the green glass stones.


Take turns rolling the dice and placing a marker on the space with the sum.  If all the spaces for your sum are covered, then you cannot go.

When you get 4 in a row, remove all 4 stones and grab a PRIZE.  The first one to gain 3 PRIZES is the winner.  Or, to play without competition, play until each player has 3 PRIZES.

4 in a row
Traded in the 4 for a PRIZE

You can also play with more than two people, just have a third color marker and you will need more PRIZES.

OK, I also changed up the Pyramid Game.....I really LOVE this game, even Alli plays it every day on her own (She is making sums of 11 right now, GREAT PRACTICE!!)

not accurate picture - now there are 4's in the mix.....
What Jill is doing now, is adding to make sums of 3, then 4, then 5, then 6 (I took out sums of 2) and added in sums of 7, then 8....

Please see this post for how to play.....GAMES FOR SUMS OF 6

The other change is in the cards used.  Now, there are 13 of each A, 2, 3 and 4.  We played today and Jill loved the change even though it isnt very different.  I still have not had her write down ANYTHING.  We never do worksheets with drill and is all just play right now and getting into her head.  After she gets the sums through 10 pretty solidly, I will start her working on subtraction and then introduce fact family practice.  Until then, games keep it fun!!


Friday, September 12, 2014

More Games for Adding to sums of 6

We are working on the sums up to 6 and I try to have 1 game to play each week and then change it up the next week.  Here are the games we have been playing.


The first is an adaptation of the Make 10 Pyramid Game (here is that link if you want it...MAKE 10)

There is a difference though, because when you add to make sums of 6 using only the numbers 1, 2 and 3, each number would have a different probability of coming up.  What I did was calculate a good estimate for each and created a deck that would would pretty good most of the time.  We always have lots of decks of cards around the house, but you could easily make your with index cards if you want.  What I really like about cards at this age, is that they can TOUCH the shapes to add if they still need that.  If you make your own cards, consider drawing a simple shape on each one for the number, or placing stickers on them.  Something for the child to be able to tangibly touch and count if necessary.

Note - I do not use the sum of 2 and 4 because I do not yet want to introduce the sum 3 + 4 and so I purposely leave that out.  When I add it in next week, The number of cards of each will change accordingly.  Stay tuned for that if you are interested.


20 - Ace or 1 cards
10 - 2 cards
10 - 3 cards.

Lay cards out in a pyramid shape, being careful to cover only the corners of the above cards and build to a base of 7 cards across.

I have been playing this will Jill so that she picks up cards to add to 2, then 3, then 4, then 5 and then back to 2.  So first, she would pick up to Aces from the bottom. Remember, you can only pick up a card that is completely exposed.  If a corner is covered, you cannot pick it up.

Next, she could pick up a 2 and an Ace, then she is at the sum 4 - she could pick up 2, A, A or a 3 and Ace.  Does this make sense??

Now, you have 12 cards in the leftover pile.  If you reach a point where nothing can be picked up, you can start to REBUILD the pyramid with the leftover pile.  Just place one card at a time until a sum can be made.

We keep track of how many cards are left at the end and she tries to beat that number each day.

GAME 2 -

This is an adaptation from a game I found on Confessions of a Homeschooler - She has an amazing blog,  Check it out if you get some time.

There are two ways we are playing this game.  One is called Race to the Top and the other is Clear the Board.  Both games use the same simple Game Board, you can download mine here....GAME BOARD (or just write it out on a blank piece of paper - kids really do not care!!)

Race to the Top

2 Dice - numbered 1 - 3 only (I use wooden blocks from Discount School - If you live in Chico I have a million, I can give you some!!)
Game Board (1 for each player) with numbers 2 - 6 along the bottom
Some sort of counter - we use glass, but you could use rocks, cheerios, unifix cubes

How to play:
Taking turns, each player rolls and places a counter on the correct space.  The first person to reach the top wins....everyone gets to eat their counters (if they are edible!!)

same Materials - different set up - read directions below:

How to play:
Each player places 10 counters on their board wherever they want.  Below is how two people could choose to place their counters.

Then, taking turns, roll the dice.  If you roll a 2 and 1, then you can remove a counter from the 3 column.  If not, you cant go.  Play continues until everyone clears their board.  Again, eat the edible counters!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Grade 2 Reading List

So, as I plan 4th and 2nd grade, I have been looking through my old files and came across this compilation I made for 2nd grade.  There is no reason to keep all this info to myself so I wanted to share it on here.  

Reading Books:

Lobel: Fables
A Donsy of Gnomes
Tales of Tiptoes Lightly
Festival of Stones
Faraway Tree Stories
Jungle Book
The Great Redwall Feast
A Little Princess
Many Moons
Wizard of Oz
The River Bank – wind in the willows
Pitter Paws the Fox
Winnie the Pooh
King Beetle Tamer
King of Irelands Son
Selkie Girl
The Light Princess
Gerald McDermott's – Old Peters Russian Tales
Book of Fairy Princes
Robin Hood
Clown of God
The Borrowers
Golden Stag

Astrid Lindgren, Elsa Beskow

Another set of Reading Books:
King Beetle Tamer – Wyatt Our library
Thornton burgess Baldwin project
King of Irelands son Baldwin project
The Selkie Girl Library
Wind in the willows Own
The light Princess – MacDonald Baldwin
Princess and the goblin – Mac Library
Princess and Curdie Library
Gerald McDermotts
Not sure what
Old Peter's Russian Tales baldwin
Winnie the pooh Library
Animal stories – streits Bob and nancy Didnt have this specific one
Book of fairy princes – wyatt

Robin Hood Library?
Jataka Tales Baldwin
Lion witch and wardrobe Library
Clown of god Library
The cats vacation Amazon
A donsy of gnomes Bob and nancy
The borrowers Library
The animal school
Havent found yet
Tales of tiptoes lightly Bob and nancy or amazon
Golden stag – wyatt Library

I compiled the list below from recommendations on Ancient Hearth comments, her blog is amazing so be sure to check it out.  Click on the link below.

From Ancient Hearth, actually...I found the original link so I am including that so you can check out her blog.  This is a compilation from her Friday Book Reviews, you simply MUST MUST on this link.  She is the reason I survived my first year of homeschooling.

Ancient Hearth Book Review

Then, as if that is not amazing enough....she has a link to all her reader that link below:

On MAIN LESSON for 2nd grade click this link:

Recommendations from my homeschooling friends that I compiled:

From Elizabeth:  Read alouds for a combo 1, 2 and 3 grade

September: Wind in the willows and house at pooh corner
October: Little Lame Prince and Heidi
January: The Secret Garden and the Five Little Peppers
March: Mr. Popper's Penguins and King of Ireland's Son


wind and the willows,old mother west wind,the giant at the ford, book of saints and friendly beasts. My friend bought me seven year old wonder book- which I love! My fathers dragon is a good one also.

From Nicole

Isabel Wyatt – The book of fairy princes, king beetle tamer
kipling – just so stories, jungle books
de la mare – animal stories
Jacob Streit – and there was light, journey to promised land
Childrens bible – golden edition
EB white books
James Herriot
Astrid Lindgren
MAry Poppins
Greenwood: Pioneer Sampler

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I have been having a difficult time including art in our homeschooling lately.  I take full blame for this.  The girls ask for art all the time.... One reason is that the weather has been so amazing that we like to spend a lot of time outside. Another reason is because I have been very focused on getting Alli caught up to where she should be.  Remember she was more than 2 years BEHIND in her reading level before Vision Therapy.

She is doing so incredible and is only 2 WEEKS behind if I base it on the Spelling Book we use.  That is as good as caught up for me, so now, I am putting the art back into our days.  Tuesday we watercolored, Wednesday we made a craft and today.....we finally got to knitting.

When Alli was in first grade I taught her how to knit and although she tried as hard as she could, it was just too frustrating for, knowing that there was no way she could have seen her stitches clearly, I am amazed she was so dedicated to it during that time.

Now, Alli's eyes are fixed, Jill is in 1st grade, and it is 40 degrees outside.  That is a perfect combination for cuddling together and learning to knit.  Alli was amazed at how much easier it was to see where to put the needle (Imagine what that must have looked like for her!!)

Sweet Jill is a natural knitter!!  She did amazing.  She got the hang of it right away and finished off  6 rows with near perfection.  She was so proud of herself.  What a blessing these children are to me.  I am grateful that I get to spend my days with them.

After we do handwork of any kind, I read a chapter or two from this book.  It is a really fun and sweet story.  
Perfect for Grades Kinder - 3rd.


Sunday, September 29, 2013


At the beginning of 2nd grade (3rd grade for Alli since we are catching her up to grade level), we review the basic vowel sounds as was done in this POST.  Then, after some introduction of other vowel sounds we play a timed game.  Below I list the vowels we used.
  • We use stories from ENKI.  The stories were built on the idea that "When 2 vowels go walking the first one does the talking." So - BOAT - O says its name and A is silent.
  • Some sounds I did not introduce until we played this game.  For example - ey I introduced after Alli learned the word THEY. And then after we talked about y sometimes being a vowel then EY sometimes say long e - like KEY.   So she had 2 sounds for - ey.
This isnt exactly a game, but maybe if  you are creative you can come up with a way.  This is how we "Played":
  • I would give her the maroon cards and start the timer.  She had to lay them out and say the vowel sound.  Then I gave her the purple cards.  She would place the card under the correct vowel sound heading, as in the picture below.  Each day she would try to get a faster time. 

    When these sounds are solid then I would add in the LEVEL 2 sounds - AW should not be new but thinking of it as a short o sound might be, then a saying /o/ as in father, EW as in FEW (long u sound), OW as in ROW (long o), and y (long e as in happy) might all be new.  Again, with a timer as the competition component, have child arrange all the cards in the correct column and beat previous times.
    After Alli was comfortable with all of these sounds, I think I felt confident enough that we could move on to the spelling game...the whole reason I created all of these little cards.  That post is still to come!!!  But I will put a picture of it and maybe you can create your own game....