Homeschooling Update: All About Spelling is Amazing

all-about-spellingI wrote about how impressed I was with All About Spelling after completing Level 1 , but I never gave any other updates about it.

My son has now finished Level 2 and Level 3, and I still have nothing but positive things to say about it!

The spelling rules are all presented in such an easy-to-understand manner, and each lesson focuses on one rule. It makes it very easy for him to progress as it’s such a nicely incremental program. I continue to learn the reasons behind why certain words are spelled that way (I had zero phonics instruction in school, and the only reason I could ever spell at all was because of reading so much that I often could just “look” at a word and know if it looked ok or not).

Easy to Use

I’m a member of several homeschooling online groups, and one concern I hear regularly in regards to All About Spelling is that it takes too long, and is too involved. I absolutely do NOT find that to be the case at all. We usually spend 10 to 15 minutes a day on spelling, using nothing more than the book and a piece of paper. Most “steps” (think lesson levels) take 3 or 4 days to complete at that rate.

Yes, if you pull out the letter tiles to build every word it’ll take longer, but that hasn’t been necessary for us since Level 1. For Level 3 the only time he used the letter tiles was during the lesson on contractions. For that lesson it was helpful to use the tiles and show how the contraction was formed.

The majority of the time he spells the words and sentences out loud to me. I only have him write for the last part of the lesson, when he’s given a word and has to create a sentence for it.

Looking to Economize?

You could easily get by without purchasing the student packet, and simply use the teachers manual. While that means you won’t get the review cards, the program can be done without them, especially since the words on the cards are all listed in the manual. If you wanted review cards it’d be easy enough to make your own on index cards. I make do by noting in my planner when my son needs to review a word.

Doing without the student packet will also mean you won’t get the progress chart, or some other handouts. None of them are essential, but you could create your own (or download them from the All About Spelling website). All in all, the student packet makes things easier, but it can be done without it.

The manual is also completely reusable for younger children. All I’ll have to do is erase the penciled check marks I added to keep track of where he was, and it’s ready to use for his sisters. I’ll download and print a new progress chart for each of them, and get stickers for them to mark their progress (assuming they’re motivated by stickering progress charts; my son definitely is).

One of His Favorites

My son is not always a completely enthusiastic student (I hear rumors that those do exist in the homeschool world), but he is almost always enthusiastic about doing spelling. It’s such a quick lesson, and he likes making steady progress through the program. He’s already talking about when he finishes Level 4, and we only started it this week..

I can’t recommend this program enough. It’s an excellent method of teaching spelling, and the way the program is laid out it’s incredibly easy to teach. I love it.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, and I didn’t receive this program for free – I paid for it myself – I just LOVE this program. So much so that I am an affiliate for it, which means that if you buy the program using my link I may receive a percentage of the cost at no additional cost to you. And then I use any money I make to buy more books and homeschooling supplies which I talk about here. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Planning Ahead for Second Grade

Sonlight Core B Readers 2As of yesterday (!) we’ve finished Sonlight Core A (what I’d planned for G’s first grade year), so it’s time to look ahead at what the plans are for second grade. Which yes, technically begins in August, but acknowledging that these are the plans for that year helps me keep things organized, both around the blog and in my brain. ๐Ÿ™‚

Using Core A for first grade worked really well – it would not have been as successful for his Kindergarten year, so I’m glad we held off on it. The last 9 weeks of the core went very fast, so we’ll be getting an earlier start on Core A than I originally expected. The same thing happened last year – I think we both see the new material waiting for us and can’t wait to dive into it!

The plan (as it stands now) is to move right into Core B, then breaking for summer in mid-June. We’ll pick back up with school work in mid-August, when the local schools go back. I’ll just stop the Core wherever we are, and begin again when we restart. If we’re in the middle of a chapter book I’ll probably finish it though!

This fall will mark the first year school is officially required for my son, but because of the laws in Indiana that won’t make much difference to what we do. I’ve already been tracking his attendance and keeping records for myself – more than what the state requires.

Core B will cover history and Bible. It’s the first half of World History, and I am *so* excited to really start diving into history with him – so far we’ve mostly just touched lightly on historical topics and the history nerd in me is anxious to go a little deeper into the past.

Sticker Dressing Greek MythsWhile there are many possibilities for extra books that will touch on the topics covered in this Core, I have two already on the shelf that will add a hands-on element which is usually a struggle for me. Ancient Egypt Sticker Book, and Sticker Dressing Greek Myths look like they’ll be hugely popular with G. And Look Inside Mummies & Pyramids is a lift-the-flap book so not really hands-on, but still interactive.

What I’m still considering adding is The Story of the World (and it’s Activity Book), as well as History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations and Famous Figures of Ancient Times. It all depends on just how much I want to try and stretch the Core, and how far my budget will stretch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Language Arts

LA 2The main framework will once again be Sonlight, in this case LA 2, which will be really easy on the reading, but a better fit for everything else. G’s already finished all of the levels in All About Reading, so he doesn’t need any more reading instruction, just practice. Besides the readers from LA 2 I’ll add in extra books from the library and Usborne.

My First Story Writing BookLast year we did the Daily 6 Trait Writing I found thanks to Timberdoodle. He loved it, but it was so easy. I haven’t decided if I want to get it again. It’s very much written for a school setting, and I think it’s already covered through Sonlight’s LA so I’ll probably skip it. If he really misses it I can probably be persuaded to get it again though, but I may look at jumping him up a level. Or, what I’m *really* thinking about doing is using My First Story Writing Book, which we have and looks super fun.

Last year we also did Language Smarts B that was another discovery from Timberdoodle. I didn’t like the way it was organized (I’d have preferred it to spiral more, like Mathematical Reasoning books also published by the same company) but G loved it, and pleaded to get it again. So yeah, we’ll be doing Language Smarts C this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s mostly grammar, and it isn’t really necessary, but when he begs to do it, how can I resist?

I’m also adding in the Sonlight-recommended (and scheduled) resources Wordly Wise A and Explode the Code 4. Depending on how useful I think ETC 4 is, I may or may not add 5 & 6 which are also recommended and scheduled by Sonlight to go along with LA 2.

Not Your Everyday Illustrated ThesaurusAs a possible read-aloud or reference to go along with other LA materials, I’ve got Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus. It may not work as a read-aloud, but we’ll see. I like it a lot, but we’ll see what my son thinks of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

A final possibility is another readaloud: Word FunWord Fun by Michael Dahl and Nancy Loewen, illustrated by Sara Gray is a picture book about the eight parts of speech. It’s got fun illustrations and should be entertaining.

Handwriting continues with Getty-Dubay’s Italic Writing (he’ll be in book C) and copywork practice.

Spelling has also been going well, so it’ll just continue on – most of second grade will use All About Spelling, Level 3 (he’s currently on his final step in Level 2). Whenever he finishes that he’ll move on to Level 4.

Math

Homeschooling Math Early Second GradeI just posted a math update, so I’ll summarize that here. He’s currently in Math Mammoth (MM) 2B and Mathematical Reasoning C. I like how they complement each other well, but don’t know that I’ll continue using both after he finishes them. Probable plans are to go into MM 3A and then try out Beast Academy (BA) 3A once he finishes MM 2B. I am also considering having him finish MM 3A and 3B before starting BA 3A because it’s such a challenging program.

That’s a couple of months away though, so we’ll see what happens.

Times Tables Activity BookUntil then, because G loves activity books so much, I’m considering getting him Usborne’s Times Tables Activity Book. I think he’s already got their Lift-the-Flap Times Tables coming to him from Grandma, or else I’d probably be getting that as well.

I’m also just starting to look for an app or game for him to practice his multiplication facts. He will start learning that next month or so, and I want him to learn them really well, because I never did and know how helpful it would have been in later grades if I had.

Science

Science BWe’re about a month away from finishing up Sonlight’s Science A (we didn’t worry much about keeping it on the same schedule as the Core). Once that’s finished I’ll get their Science B, because I really liked their style of science for this level – it’s mostly good books. I also like how they’ve got videos for the experiments so even if I don’t get them done he can at least watch it.

I’m still considering finishing Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy, which we got halfway through during his Kindergarten year. I have the book, so it seems like of course we should, but I’m unmotivated to get back to it – I don’t love how it’s written or organized.

Other science-related readalouds we’ll get to this year will likely include the Wile E. Coyote Physical Science graphic novels, which were a Christmas gift for G this year. They remind me a lot of the Max Axiom graphic novels, which he loved.

100 Things to Know About ScienceLast year I ended up reading him the First Illustrated Science Dictionary, and it was a nice companion to the rest of Science A. This year I’ve already got 100 Things to Know About Science waiting – we’ll start it next week. I may not do well at getting experiments done, but I can read books to them!

Under consideration if I decide we need still more science: Science in the Beginning. Seems like it could be a fun one to go along with our history, but I’m not sure if I’ll like it more than the Apologia text; it’s still a textbook, even if I’m reading good things about it.

Extras

G is finishing up his 2nd year in AWANA’s Sparks program. We’re at a new location and overall I think it’s a better fit for us from a scheduling standpoint (Sunday night vs. Wednesday night). I do plan to have him continue with it next year. My big decision right now with it is whether or not to have H move into Sparks next year, or to hold her back for another year of Cubbies. She’s not ready for Sparks yet, but by August it may be obvious that she is. I’m reminding myself that in February of G’s final Cubbies year I was also doubting that he’d be ready for Sparks in the fall and he absolutely was.

G continues to advance in taekwondo. He’ll be testing for his blue belt tomorrow and H will be testing for her orange belt.

Step-by-Step DrawingWe’re very inconsistent about getting art or music appreciation done. I’m hoping to do better at that this year. My goal is to intentionally plan Fridays to be a light day, and then do some of that with the time. I still have Harmony Fine Arts to finish, and I also received a Step by Step Drawing book which looks like it will be really easy to add to our days.

Follow Along on Pinterest

I’ve set up a Pinterest board with all of these things, and am planning on adding the books I use to supplement. Sonlight does have a lot of books, but it’s still not enough for me. Especially since I want to stretch Core B!

I also set up a board with other ideas and possibilities. These are things I’m considering, and if I end up using them I’ll move them to the other board. Don’t worry that I’m going to overload my son by trying all of the things that may be on this board – these are my *possibilities* and I’m using the board as a way to remember those possibilities.


All About Spelling Level 1 Review

All About Spelling Level 1I promised this review ages ago, and kept letting it get pushed off in favor of other posts. So hopefully no one was waiting too anxiously for it!

We finished up All About Spelling (AAS) Level 1 just as we finished Core P 4/5. And despite being a couple of months into the next set of material we’re using for our framework, Core A, we still haven’t gotten back to spelling by continuing with Level 2. That is in no way a reflection of any dislike for the program! I wanted us to get into a good routine with Core A, and then my son was so focused on finishing Level 3 of the All About Reading (AAR) program, that I figured that was enough phonics work, and holding off on continuing spelling was ok.

Because we will be continuing with spelling using AAS – it’s fantastic!

If you’ve been using AAR, AAS seems less hands-on. It’s still got the letter tiles and word cards, but there aren’t all the activities like there are in AAR. That’s not a criticism, just a comment and comparison. I love the letter tiles, and my son does as well – he’s not fond of writing, and they keep him from being held back by his writing. Building words via tiles is much simpler, and lets him focus on the letters, not how they’re formed.

I love how the phonics rules are reinforced with AAS. Every one taught in Level 1 was one he knew already through AAR, but the change in focus from decoding to encoding helped him learn them in a different way. Spelling was always my worst subject in school, and my lack of phonics instruction really hampered me. I learned some things from Level 1 (the rules anyway, not so much the application at that level), and I’m kind of excited to see what else I’ll learn from the additional levels.

Each day’s lesson is quick – maybe 15 minutes tops – but that’s enough to make steady progress through the book. Everything is really easy for me to follow as well. It’s slightly scripted, and even with my non-phonics background it’s simple for me to use and teach.

Highly, highly recommended. I love this program. My son loves this program. It’s wonderful. It might seem a little bit pricey, but it’s completely reusable for my younger two. The only consumables in this program are the stickers – even the progress chart, phonogram chart, and certificate of completion can be downloaded for free from their website to use with additional students. Love that!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, and I didn’t receive this program for free – I paid for it myself – I just LOVE this program. So much so that I am an affiliate for it, which means that if you buy the program using my link I may receive a percentage of the cost at no additional cost to you. And then I use any money I make to buy more books and homeschooling supplies which I talk about here. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Back in the Groove. Maybe

Homeschooling October updateSince my last real update in August we’ve:

  • Started back at Awana (yay for that! Thank you all Awana volunteers, you are so appreciated.)
  • Made more “official” progress than I expected as far as our schedule goes, and that’s the whole reason I got an early start on it. We did school almost all summer long, so a mid-August to mid-September break is no big deal, and still keeps us on track to finish this year well before we need to.
  • Finished All About Reading Level 1, and are about a quarter of the way through Level 2.
  • Began All About Spelling (and so far, it’s a hit).
  • Started RightStart Math (the first edition, level B).
  • Passed the halfway point of our Sonlight core.
  • Had a baby, the reason for bullet point #2. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re now getting back into our school routine. We’re doing better when I just give G a handwriting page and tell him to work on that while I get ready for whatever we’re going to do next/finish cleaning up from breakfast/feed the baby/get H started with something/take care of some other need of the moment. He does it, and then we move on with the rest of the routine.

I’ve been trying something new as far as the rest of our routine goes – prompted in part by something I read on the Sonlight forums, which gave me an idea for how to modify it for us. I took five index cards and labeled them “reading,” “math,” “spelling,” “table work,” and “mama reads.” G gets to pick the order, and while we always do “mama reads,” the others may vary. He has to pick two cards for each day we do school (usually he picks three if not all four), and we do each one for at least 15 minutes. Some days it’s a lot longer than 15 minutes for each area, but that keeps him from getting aggravated/bored/what have you when all it has to be is 15 minutes.

(And he can’t continually pick the same two – whatever gets picked is “retired” until he goes through all four areas, then it’s up for grabs again.)

We’ve been trying out a new math program, so lately that’s been the first thing he wants to try, whenever it’s an option. Then it’s spelling or reading. Table work (which is the Developing the Early Learner workbooks and his geography workbook – things he does like once he gets started on it) is his last pick. The DEL books used to be his first choice, so it’s funny to me how things change.

Read alouds (a.k.a. “mama reads” happen on the couch, and the timing is almost entirely baby-dependent. It’s a lot easier to read while feeding/holding her, so when she’s napping is when we’re trying to do the other areas. I’m sure this is the sort of thing that will change as she gets older and becomes mobile.

We’ve done science projects once since having the baby, and that’s something I do hope to get back to semi-regularly soon. Right now the weather’s still been nice enough for the kids to play outside most afternoons with the neighbors, so I’m encouraging that. I can imagine some of that time will go to science and art projects once the weather keeps us inside later.

I got away from a true afternoon quiet time during the pregnancy, instead relying on the television to keep them occupied while I rested. I’ve got energy back now (usually) and am working to re-establish that habit. It’s going better than I expected! While I do have to police them a bit, generally they play quietly in a room for 45 minutes now. We started with 10 minutes, so stretching it to 45 has been good progress! I’m hoping to get it to 60, and have that really be 60 minutes of quiet time, not quiet time with lots of “is quiet time over yet?” questions plus interruptions where they fuss at each other in the doorways/stealth raids into the other’s room when they should be in their room etc. We’re getting there! And if I can someday get their quiet time to coordinate with the baby’s nap time, that would be glorious. She doesn’t have a good routine yet so I’m not even trying to match them up yet. I’ll just concentrate on getting the big kids to an hour of true quiet time first and then try and get it timed to M’s sleeping times!