Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A glance at yesterday

Oh life has been busy. I haven't had time to breathe, let alone blog.

I apologize, I love to blog, but the last few weeks have been crazy busy & exhausting. At the end of the day all I want to do is cuddle in next to my honey & sleep. The other struggle is blogging off a phone doesn't work nearly as well as blogging with an actual computer. I have written a couple if posts only to have them not being able to upload. So this morning we are attempting again.

Here is a quick glance at our yesterday:

On the road again. We only have a few short days until take everything to summer range. So many things to do, we loaded up & headed back to the ranch.

After working part of the afternoon, it was time to take a break & cool off with a treat. Something about childhood & push-up seem to go together.

And since all we ever do is school & work according to my boys. We had a picnic in the park for FHE.

To which they played to their hearts content. For hours.

Even daddy & Conagher. It was a real deserved break.

Now on for the plan today where we will, you guessed it: work sheep.

They are such good little wranglers, I can't help but be proud.

So I better get moving. Have a fantastic Tuesday & hopefully we will talk soon!

- Tiffany

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Teaching Your Child To Read" Guest Post Series - Inger

I am so excited to have you back today, joining once again on our Teaching Your Child To Read Series. If you missed Lilac from last week you can check it out here.  
   Today's guest post comes from Inger.  After Inger had already agreed to doing this guest post,  I discovered that she lives about 2 hours away from where we once lived in Montana. Now for some of you that may seem far, far away, but out in Montana, that pretty much makes you neighbors! So fun, to find someone from there.  So I am so excited to see what she has to share with us today. So I will let Inger take it away:


The B Says Guh Like Apple By: Inger Koppenhaver

 Our first year of Kindergarten, seven years ago, was tough. To be honest, I struggled with helping to teach my twin five year old girls to read. We used the Leap Frog Learning videos about letter sounds and the books I have listed at the end. Each time I would quiz them on their letter names and sounds… they would ace the quiz! Then, I would try to have one of my girls sound out a simple word like: C A T out of her workbook. She could sound out each individual letter yet could not hear the sounds together. Her twin sister was able to pick up on it quickly and asked me why her sister could not see and hear what was so easy for her.

 It was a difficult year. I did a lot of research, went to an educational class and talked with reading specialists. After taking the dyslexia educational class, a light bulb went off for me. I spoke with the teacher afterwards and she offered up a few ideas with a website suggestion, as well.

 Her main idea was to go back a step in reading instruction. My daughter knew the letters, knew the sounds for the letters, but I needed to go through the room with her and have her hear the sounds in a concrete manner. T-t-t-table, s-s-s-sock, was the sounds you would have heard in my living room that next day. Then, I purchased some cards from the website she had given me (this was seven years ago and I am not sure the company is in business) and began to sound out words without them being able to see the picture in a flashcard type of manner.

 All of a sudden daughter #2 perked up! She “heard” the word just fine. In fact, as we went through the flashcards, she answered all but two of them before her sister did! Her sister, who was used to answering first, was dumbfounded. And, in the end, it was just patience and stick-to-it-iveness that helped her get over her learning bump.

 But, that was not the end of our reading struggles. Now, that my oldest two girls COULD read… how do you get them TO read? I know this next idea may sound like I went out and broke the bank to get my girls to enjoy reading but I will lay it down on the line for you. My one big trick up my sleeve was… BUY THEM BOOKS.

 Find something they love or desire to read and buy it for them. It doesn’t have to be expensive and you can find used books everywhere from garage sales to second hand stores. And yes, I used (and still use) books as a reward. As a reward on our smiley face incentive chart, they can receive a new book when they have reached the end of the chart. For them, it works. And I now have one almost 9 year old and two 12 year old children who really enjoy reading.

 Both my girls LOVE to read and it makes my heart swell knowing the struggles we went through the first couple of years with reading. My almost 9 year old boy enjoys reading too. He started to read at age 3! What a big difference his earlier years were in comparison to my girls! Now, my youngest is almost four and is just starting to be interested in learning his letter sounds. This was a recent comment he made to me, “the b says guh like apple.” We still have a lot of work to do…

 So, in retrospect, I was almost at the point of giving up or believing that I needed someone else to tutor or teach my children how to read. But, I found, with perseverance and a lot of research, I was able to conquer my daughter’s issue with her and in turn discovered that she was more of an auditory learner rather than a visual learner like daughter #1. This would be an important discovery as we headed into the next seven years of schooling

. Here are the books which worked for our kids:
-- 100 Lessons to Teach your Child to Read ~ Yes, there were tears with this one at first. But, the method is good. Just don’t take it all “soooo” seriously!

--  Hooked on Phonics ~ It really did “work for me”!! My three older children loved the boxed packs with the little books, workbook and CDrom for the first set. It was fun and I can’t wait to start it again with my three year old.

-- Buying them a Book of their Own ~ Here are some of our favorites:
 Early Readers: Usborne Beginners Level 1 and 2 Non-Fiction These are BEAUTIFUL books and full of great information. I ended up buying one at a time for each girl brand new and still have them in my library for the littlest one to grow into soon.

 Middle: My boy enjoys “How to” kinds of books now. He has a book from the library about how to make paper airplanes. He slept with it in his bed the first night he brought it home.

  Now: Chronicles of Narnia (BIG FAVORITE) Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

head shot

  Inger grew up in a city by the beach in California, but loves living in her small Norman Rockwell kind of town on the prairie in Montana. She is a published author, a homeschool mom of four adorable children who just happens to own a 50′s style cafĂ© with her mother-in-law. Inger currently writes Ditch the Desk, a hands-on monthly themed curriculum for K-5th grade, at http://schoolhouseteachers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/July-2012-Week-Two-Giant-Oceanscape.pdf. She also writes consistently for Molly Green Magazine which can be found at http://www.econobusters.com and on her personal blog at www.hidingthepeas.wordpress.com. You can find her cafe at http://www.facebook.com/badlandscafemt

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Friday Five: 5 Random Puctures

Friday Five (On Tuesday)

I had originally written this post last Friday, but some unknown reason I couldn't get it to upload. So instead you get it today!

I don't have much time this morning, so here are 5 random pictures from my phone.

1. Dad's Boots

My baby trying to wear his daddies boots. He loves them & anytime he sees them he does his best to put them on.

2. Riding to church.

My oldest wanted to ride his bike to scouts, which is about 3 miles away. Alone. We compromised & let him ride his bike as I followed directly behind in my car. He did it just over 20 minutes.

He was so proud & excited that he could ride his bike there instead of having to ride in the car.

3. The 3 Headed Monster

These boys are so dang cute! And get so excited when they get to be together. They spent this entire morning going around like this & calling themselves a 3 headed monster.

4. The train resturaunt.

We recently went on a trip to Oregon & stopped at the train restaurant to eat. I ate here when I was a little girl about the same age as my boys & wanted to pass this memory along.

1. A Walker

It official. Okay it's been official since the 2nd week in April. My baby is now a walker. And a climber. He can climb on a chair to kitchen table all without help.
So not only can he walk, but climb.
My baby isn't staying a baby long enough.

That about wraps it up. Now off to the barn to help finish up this mornings feeding. Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Teaching Your Child To Read" Guest Post Series - Lilac

     You remember my earlier post about teaching my boys to read? Well that got me thinking, what does everyone else do to create a reader. That thought inspired an idea & I am thrilled to announce that every Wednesday for the next few months we will have a guest blogger who will share their ideas of teaching your child to read. So without further ado . . . today guest is Lilac.

My name is Lilac and I blog about early learning activities over at Learners In Bloom. I'm excited to be participating in this guest blogging series on teaching your child to read because my 3.5 year old twins have recently started reading, and I would love to dispel the myth that preschoolers who can read must be prodigies (or have really pushy parents).  Here are the lessons I've learned from my experience teaching my kids to read..

Why Teach Your Preschooler to Read?

Reading is fun!  We live in a print-rich society and from an early age I always pointed out words to my kids. They couldn't wait to read for themselves and be let in on the secrets of the words that surround them.   You should see how excited my girls get when they read sale signs at the mall, menus at restaurants, grocery lists, and.. well.. pretty much everything!

Ever since they discovered that their peanut butter was named 'Jif' they have been constantly reading product labels.  The other day they decided that the name of the baby pictured on their yogurt smoothies was 'Organic' (they read it on the label).  I love seeing how much they enjoy using reading as a tool for deciphering their world.  Of course reading stories to their teddy bears and their baby brother is a favorite activity, as well.

When parents put too much pressure on their children to read, it takes the fun out of it.  Getting your kids excited about reading is probably the most important step to take in the whole process.  Spend quality time reading books aloud together, but also point out other ways reading is used every day. Reading is not just something you do in school - reading is a part of life! 

Steps to Teach Your Preschooler to Read

I started integrating early reading activities in our daily play when my kids were 18 months old.  It's not an overnight process, so be patient. It took another two years of reading games and activities before everything clicked together and they really got it.  Of course if you just wait until your child is 5 years old it will be a much faster journey to reading, but I think the entire process is enjoyable for both me and my kids and teaches so many other useful skills (like pattern recognition, listening skills, critical thinking, etc..).  Here are the steps I took with my little ones:

1. Phonological Awareness

Phonological Awareness covers a broad spectrum of skills associated with language including rhyming, counting syllables, and identifying starting and ending sounds in words.

You can use foam letters, letter blocks, letter magnets, or sandpaper letters in your play along with various little objects.    Alphabet boxes (pictured above) are a wonderful way of reinforcing beginning letter sounds.  In the photo below, my daughter is tapping the syllables for the words pictured on the cards.

2. Phonics

Letter sounds are critical for reading.  All three of my kids learned their letter sounds by watching LeapFrog's Letter Factory DVD.  Even my baby boy was saying all his letter sounds by 17 months  thanks to this video.


There are many games you can play to practice letter sounds, like the game in the picture above where the kids need to erase the letter associated with the sound that I make.

Once the letter sounds are mastered, invent lots of games that involve putting those letter sounds together to for CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. 

My kids enjoy physical games where they have to run (or ride their tricycles) to each word and then read it before they can pass.  They also enjoy forming words by jumping on the letters like in the game pictured below:

At first, I had to say the separate letter sounds and ask the girls to put them together, but soon the kids were able to read the individual letters and blend them together to form the words.

This is where you can be creative in the games and activities so the kids feel that they are playing, not just practicing their reading.

3. Word Families

Words that share endings (and rhyme) are in the same family.  This is a critical component of learning to read which I originally missed with my kids.  They had been reading CVC words for a long time, but were still sounding out each letter instead of realizing that if they recognize that a word ends with -AT, then BAT, CAT, HAT, etc.. can all be read quickly.

Homemade CVC flip books can be great for practicing word families.

Activities that have the kids build words are good for showing them that rhyming words will have the same ending but a different beginning sound.  We do a lot of 'magic tricks' where the kids turn cats into mats and pigs into figs. 

4. Sight Words

I made the mistake of teaching my twins sight words before phonics, so they could 'read' by memorizing words, but they were not really reading because if they ran into a word they hadn't learned, they would guess.  Definitely try to teach sight words at the same time or after phonics.  My kids learned 45 of the most common sight words by watching Preschool Prep's Meet the Sight Words DVDs.

5. Fluency Practice

Reading gets easier with practice.  The twins read books every day now and I'm noticing that they are becoming more fluent as they begin recognizing more words.  At first it was hard for them to get the concept of combining phonics and sight words, but the more we practiced, the more they got the hang of it.  They're also reading words with rules that we haven't formally learned yet like long vowel sounds or different vowel combinations now because they figure them out from the context.  I'd say that my 3.5 year olds are somewhere between a Kindergarten and First Grade reading level right now.  It's not because I constantly drilled them or because they have any amazing talent for reading, it was just a lot reading immersion through games and practice.

Keeping it Fun

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into how I taught my preschoolers to read.  Even spending just a couple minutes a day playing games that develop reading skills will come a long way.  It takes patience and some creativity, but the key (and I just can't stress this enough) is to have fun with it.  The journey to early reading is totally worth it when you see the excitement and pride in your children's little faces as everything you've taught them clicks together and they read their first book.

Thank you to Tiffany for letting me share this post with her readers.  If you would like more ideas for early learning activities, be sure to visit the Learners in Bloom Blog or Facebook Page.