Early Reading Part 2

Reading Bob-1

This is a continuation of my Early Reading Basics entry. After working on phonemic awareness and letter learning, here’s a look at very beginning decoding (reading). WORDS Once your child knows their letters and sounds, then what?  Then we start figuring out words! I love a multi sensory approach, so here are some tools that get kids’ hands moving with their brains: TAPPING: one tool that is quite helpful for brand-new readers is “tapping”, where each finger gets a sound and is tapped on the thumb. Example: cat. Tap Index first /k/, then middle /a/, then ring finger /t/. Then tap all three and say the whole word/syllable “cat”. We tap one syllable at a time, so there are never more than 5 sounds, and even as they begin to decode longer words, we can still tap a syllable as needed. MAGNETS: Any set of letter magnets is helpful, but I do love Wilson’s color-coded Magnetic Journal LINK. All the vowels are orange, and the consonants are yellow. Also, they’re lowercase and square to make them easy to manipulate and keep straight. Memorize High Frequency words (as Sight Words): the, a, (remember to teach “the /thu/” and “a /u/” for fluency) and, to, was, is, on… Depending on the child, flash cards can work great for this. Make it a game! Some game ideas: Sometimes I’ll work the sight word cards as a drill and ask what each word is. If they get it right, they get to keep the card. …

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Creating the Climate

Red Leaf

I’m fascinated by the subtle art (or blatant responsibility!) of influencing my environment. The climate in my home is my responsibility. I may not want that responsibility at times, but it is true that my home is whatever I make it. The weather inside my home is dependent upon my moods. The pace flows from my commitments and my demands. Any stinkin’ thinkin’ in my head rains upon the people around me. Like I was realizing with my Project List, these choices are mine! Part of me shrinks from it. I naturally want to defer to another person, to blame someone else for the hard parts of my life. But another part of me is exhilerated at the prospect of the change I can bring! Not long ago, I was in a conversation that was rather infuriating. But I just sat there, wishing the whining would end, rather than proactively shifting the conversation with good questions and encouragement. Afterwards, I had a hard talk with myself: I have the power to change the course of a conversation. With my attitude, with my encouragement, with small acts of kindness, I can relax a worried brow, or offer hope to a hurting heart. I can share a smile or a hug any time, for free! I can infuse my home with peace and make it a haven. An oasis.  You can share a smile or a hug any time, for free! Or,  I can make excuses for why I withhold smiles and hugs and kindnesses. I can bury resentment about the things in …

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A Simple Ballet Birthday Party

Ballet tutu

  Fluttering pink tutus on giggly girls. Not actually my cup of tea, but when your daughter requests a ballet theme for her birthday, you make it happen! After tooling around Pinterest for a bit, I let the ideas swirl through my brain. What would be simple and worthwhile? What seemed overboard? We went with simple and elegant, and it turned out GREAT! Here’s where what we did: Decorations: Pink streamers and balloons in the dining room. Simple. Guests: Just three, plus the birthday girl and sister Activity 1: Make no-sew tutus Supplies: Elastic (I used 1/2” because that’s what I had) Tulle (we used rolls, about 25 yards per tutu) Directions: Cut tulle into about 1 yard lengths (Grandpa’s fast method: wrap it around and around a box and just cut once) Make an elastic waistband. We hand-stitched the ends overlapping to secure it, but a safety pin or knot would work. Tie tulle onto the elastic. Fold a length of tulle in half into the band, and then feed the “tails” through, so that the knot is flush against the front bottom of the elastic. Repeat until you’re satisfied. The girls needed a bit more help than I expected, but it wasn’t frustrating. They actually did pretty well and seemed to enjoy it. They were ready to be done working before the tutus were full, but partial tutus still worked great for dancing! Some moms filled them out during present opening. Activity 2: Dance in newly made tutus! Food: A white …

LauriA Simple Ballet Birthday Party

13 Simple Romantic Home Date Night Ideas (& Chocolate Fondue recipe)


  Staying on the same page as a couple is paramount for us. Before kids, we took dates whenever we wanted, but now it’s a bit trickier. We try to have date night twice a month, and then set apart the opposite weeks for “Home Date Nights” after the children are in bed. We don’t need to spend a bunch of money to get us face to face conversing and having fun. We just need to get a little creative and remember that fun and connection are the goal! Here are some favorite Home Date Night ideas, hoping to appeal to both people: Board games (preferably cooperative ones like Forbidden Island, but Carcassonne and Dominion are fun too) & ice cream 1000 piece puzzle (Springbok are our favorites, and I love this “Color of Money” one. Usually, we find that puzzles filled with paraphernalia are more fun than landscapes) & popcorn Crackers with cream cheese or goat cheese and jalapeño jelly or green olives Exchange massages (with or without massage oil, consider foot rubs if this is new to you) Cook a late dinner together Netflix movie & tea Warm brie cheese with crackers and jam, maybe a glass of wine YouTube dancing lesson (which could be instructional, or just turn out to be a hilarious time!) Play Wii / video games Eat Takeout & Read/discuss a New Yorker (or other thought-provoking) article Bake dessert together Hot tubbing (if you have one; we don’t so it’s on the inexpensive date night ideas list) Luscious Velvety Chocolate Fondue (recipe …

Lauri13 Simple Romantic Home Date Night Ideas (& Chocolate Fondue recipe)

How My 5yo Bought Her Own Violin


  Last spring, my oldest daughter realized that she wanted to play the violin. I’m not even sure what sparked it; perhaps that Violet of The Boxcar Children learned to play one in Surprise Island? She doesn’t even remember what made her first interested, but somehow the seed began to grow. We heartily encourage our children in musical pursuits, and soon will require each of them to learn several instruments as part of a well-rounded education: piano and one of their choice (read about our beginning piano lessons here and here). It’s wonderful for discipline as well as a creative outlet once you can really make music, not just plunk out notes. So we were delighted that she latched onto an instrument of interest, and we became increasingly amazed at her tenacity in pursuing it. Over the course of the summer, she began to work to earn money to buy her own violin. It’s an interesting thing as a parent to figure out when to provide something for a child, and when to encourage them in their pursuit of gaining it themselves. At first, we figured that we’d match what she earned in order to aid the process, but as time went on, we saw that she was motivated and might just be able to to it herself! She’s a little entrepreneur, and started a lemonade stand when she was four. Once she latched onto the goal of earning money for a violin, she got serious about the lemonade stand. …

LauriHow My 5yo Bought Her Own Violin