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Fireworks and Children, Mind Joggers, Simple Reading Books

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 07, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 54 July 7, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Notes from Heather
-- Fireworks and Children
Helpful Tip
-- Pest-filled Website
Resource Review
-- Mind Joggers
Reader Question
-- Simple Reading Books
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Ahh, Fireworks. And Children.


Friday night we all went to see the fireworks display in our
home town. Every year it is a bigger and bigger deal -- and
this year was especially spectacular. The weather was lovely
and we had great seats. My oldest son, Ben, was off hanging
out with friends in another part of the park, but the rest of
the boys and my husband and I were nestled into fold-out
chairs and visiting with good friends. As the temperature
dropped with the falling sun, I realized I had forgotten a
jacket. My husband had only a t-shirt on, but he claimed he
wasn't cold.

As the display began we held hands and enjoyed the lights.
About halfway through I started thinking about Ben's graduation
and how grown-up he is. He is turning 18 in just a few days!
Waaaah! The tears began. I've been pretty emotional these
past few months, so it is pretty normal for me to cry easily.
But all I could think about was how FAST children grow up.
I realized I just wasn't ready to let Ben go! It wasn't that
he was really *going* anywhere immediately -- but I couldn't
believe he wasn't my little boy anymore. Where does the time

Just then -- in the middle of that thought -- Ben came over
to be with our family for a few minutes. He said he had
thought of me being cold and he proceeded to take off his
hoodie and cover me with it like a blanket, even tucking the
sleeves around my arms. Then he gave me a hug.

I told him I had JUST been thinking about him and how fast
he was becoming a man. I told him that was a very loving
thing -- to think of his mom and to share his hoodie -- sure
made me feel loved!! And I told him "I love you."

Right at that very moment a huge open heart burst bright red
in the sky. He wondered at the coincidence of it, but he
knew it was special.

I don't think I will ever forget it.

"Did you will that to happen?" he asked.

"Well, I would have -- if I were that creative!" I said.

Ahh, fireworks... and children... they don't last long.


All the best,
-- Heather


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

"I found an interesting site about pests - bugs, rodents etc.
There are lesson plans if you want to use them, coloring pages
and activities as well as links." -- HomeschoolingBOYS.com member



Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

"Mind Joggers! 5 to 15 Minute Activities that Make Kids Think"
by Susan Petreshene

(Reviewed by Karen Lange)


I happened across this book at the library one day, and liked it
so much I bought my own copy! It was a great treasure, fun and
useful while homeschooling my three kids, and something that
complemented our co-ops with other homeschool families. Despite
the fact that this book is meant for grades K-6, I was able to
adapt several activities into games and writing exercises for our
junior and senior high co-ops, too.

This book was written to address small time gaps in the classroom
with short thought provoking activities for students in grades K-6.
I am pleased to report that it is quite user-friendly for the home-
school family as well. Included in the book are 153 brief activities
in four major subject and skill areas: Thinking and Reasoning, Math,
Language and Writing, and Listening and Remembering. The activities
are meant to encourage creative thinking, introduce topics, review
skills, and stretch thinking and reasoning skills.

The beginning segment of the book lists each of the activities by
title, subject/skill targeted, grade level, and so on, so that you
can see at a glance what is appropriate for your needs. It also
includes a section with suggestions for easy and effective use.
Included on the activity pages are directions, materials needed,
type of activity (group, individual, or partner), variations, and
other pertinent tips for use.

One activity in the K-3 Thinking and Reasoning section addresses
the seasons. It encourages a quick review of each season, and then
has a list of questions where the students must decide what season
is the appropriate answer to the question. One Math section activity
for 4-6th graders provides quick practice in dividing by 6 and 8.
"Verb Pairs", in the Language and Writing section, gives 3-5th
graders practice with parts of speech.

These activities helped generate many discussions between my kids
and I. We even used them occasionally while waiting for appoint-
ments, or on a day where not much structured schoolwork was likely
to get done. One of my favorite ways to use the book was with our
small writing co-ops. The activities made all the kids think a
little faster on their feet with some low key, healthy, tests of
and review of skills. Whatever the use, it was nice to have ready-
made activities that would address areas I knew they'd benefit
from practice in.

Mind Joggers delivers on its claim to make kids think. It is a
wealth of quick and fun ideas to get the brain in gear and moving
in the right direction.


Karen Lange homeschooled her three children K-12. She is a free-
lance writer, homeschool consultant, and creator of the Homeschool
Online Creative Writing Co-op for teens. Visit her website at:


Editor's note: I see Amazon.com has quite a few used copies of
"Mind Joggers" for under $4 each! Here is a link:


Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 4 year old daughter who is starting to read, but I am
having a difficult time finding the very basic/simple, one-
sentence-per-page books that she likes to read. Even our local
library is very limited with these types of books. Does anyone
have any suggestions or tips as to where I can find some simple
reading books for her? Thanks for your help." -- Jaynee

Our Readers' Responses

"Make some for her! Use pictures you've taken yourself, especially
of her doing certain things, and write a sentence for that picture.
Use magazine pictures, if large enough, and write a sentence
explaining what is happening. If you aren't a creative writer,
this really doesn't take much thought. A picture of your daughter
picking a flower in the yard, and a simple sentence like '*child's
name* loves to pick flowers' or '* * loves to smell flowers' or
'this flower is white' -- anything like this. It will thrill her
to see herself on each page, see her name on each page if you do
that, and help her learn to read and understand the words. Have
fun with this!" -- Jan in MO


"I think BOB Books are good for very young readers. From their

'Bob Books was developed as a step-by-step, book-by-book program
to guide your child gently through the early stages of reading.
Each level addresses a stage in a child's reading development.

This carefully crafted, simple, and progressive approach to learn-
ing assures children success and confidence from their very
earliest reading experience.'

The website is: http://www.bobbooks.com/bobbooksboxed.html "

-- DC in AL


"Jaynee, you might check out 'A Child's History Collection Told in
One-Syllable Words'. Mantle Ministries - www.mantleministries.com -
has three of them; you might find others through a used book resource,
or through your library; at one time there were several in the series,
but they seem to be out of print. Words of more than one syllable
are hyphenated so that they appear as one word. There are more than
one sentence per page, but the nice thing about them is that you can
study History while doing your reading." -- Mary Beth


"Bob books are great! Sometimes you can even find them at the public
library, too." -- Erica in PA


"I began with the 'Bob' books by Bobby Lynn Maslen. Available at
Amazon.com... or look around the internet for the best price. These
are fun, entertaining, and very simple to read." -- Kathy in CA


"Check out the site Reading A-Z - www.readinga-z.com. It has leveled
books from the simplest beginning reading up to approximately grade
5. There are also phonics, fluency, vocabulary books, etc. Each
leveled book also has a lesson and worksheets to go with it. It is
a subscription site where you download and print off the books and
accompanying materials. I found it to be very useful for reading
and language arts activities generally." -- Dawn in BC


"Try looking at www.starfall.com. It is a free learn-to-read, ready
to read, and beyond, website that offers short one sentence books you
can read interactively online, or print out. It also has free to print
worksheets to go with each book. The last of my kids learned to read
on her own here!

The website is very engaging and will sound out words the kids can't
read yet, not just read the words, but actually sound them out with
visual emphasis on the letters as they are sounded out, written on
primary-lined paper on the screen, like they might write in early

Also, Google 'children's books online', or 'Rosetta children's books
online', and you will find old, beautifully illustrated (online)
library books for free. You can literally flip through the books on
the screen, reading early readers and beyond. When we run out of
books on hand, we go there to find something interesting." -- Anne


"There is a wonderful website that I have used called Reading A-Z.
It is a complete reading program with leveled books for beginning
to more advanced readers complete with the books (that you print out),
lesson plans, worksheets and many other resources. It uses a method
called guided reading which works extremely well. I was a reading
teacher for 4 years and used this method with tremendous success as
well as using it with my own two daughters at home. There is a
subscription fee of $80 per year to use the site, but it is well
worth it. Check it out!" -- Karen B.


Editor's note: As I was preparing to send the newsletter, 4 more
readers wrote in to recommend the "Bob" books! :-)

Answer our NEW Question

"We have a soon to be 13 year old son, and he is struggling with
'when he grows up'. Many people -- church family, immediate family,
friends, etc. are constantly bombarding him/us about his future
plans. Most are saying things like, 'when he goes to college', or
'he'll need this to get into college'. They are saying, 'he needs
to be prepared for college', but what about real life? I feel like
life skills are, in a way, more important. My son isn't sure that
college is what God has planned for him. He has even asked us
about the military. My husband did not attend college, and I only
attended for one year. We are not in a position to insist that he
must attend college. My husband never really had a desire, and
ended up as a career employee with the United States Postal Service
at age 23. Most young people today can't say that they will retire
from the job they got at age 23! I initially wanted to work for a
year before attending college, but was pretty much forced to go. I
didn't want to be there, and got into some bad situations including
academic probation. We just keep reassuring our son that if God's
purpose for him is to attend college, go into the military, or start
in the workforce, He will make it clear. Does anyone else share
these feelings, or has anyone experienced the same thing? How have
you answered the questions people have? Any 'wise counsel' would
be appreciated!" -- Kellie in NY


Do you have wisdom, practical advice or experience to share?

Please send your email for Kellie to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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[Note: This ministry is especially for Christian parents, but
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have any technical difficulties.]

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