Around the House and Food-Themed Picture and Sight Word Cards

Here are more FREE picture and sight word cards for those of you teaching your kids to read words by sight. This is a set of thirty-eight pictures of items around the house, some clothing, and favorite foods. Use them to build vocabulary, teach sight words, talk about word function, and for sorting.

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Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read: Our Top Ten Resources for Beginning Phonics

Last fall, I began teaching Junior how to decode words. Having taught my five other children to read, I knew that I would have to make each step along the way very incremental and use materials that were hands-on and visual. I was ready for the process to be slow and bumpy, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly Junior learned to decode CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.

So today I’m sharing with you some videos of Junior at work and the resources and methods we used that worked best.

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Autumn-Themed Sight Words and Pictures, See and Learn Style

Can you believe it’s autumn already?

Here are eighteen autumn-themed sight word pictures and word cards. They’re great for building vocabulary, too. Use them just the way you use the See and Learn kits. And since books are always so motivating, here are two books that go with the words:

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Helping Our Children Encounter God: An Interview with Kristen Fisher on “The One Best Thing”

Today I want to share with you one of the *best* resources I’ve used and read as a parent.

Here we are at the start new school year, busy juggling academics, sports, social activities, and so on. In the midst of all this I try to keep our ultimate goal in mind — something I’ve thought about, prayed about, written about, and prayed about again and again. The ultimate goal in raising and educating our kids is sanctity — our kids’ and our own. And so a question I am often pondering is this: how can I help my kids encounter Our Lord in deep and meaningful ways so they grow in their faith and love for God?

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Our Homeschool Room no. 2

Last fall we moved into a new house… actually a very old one, but new for us. So that meant I got to arrange a new homeschool room!

With our oldest daughter in the convent and the three teenage boys in school, we no longer need a large school room like the one we had in our previous home. But we still have a room dedicated to homeschooling our two youngest children. It’s actually the dining room converted into a school room….

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Writing Lessons from Literature, Book 3 – Clara of Strawberry Fields

Just in time for a new school year, here is the third book in our FREE Writing Lessons from Literature series. And it’s based on Clara of Strawberry Fields, a story of a dreamy, imaginative girl growing up on a farm and her perpetually-growing family. It’s a historical novel that will make your daughter laugh and cry as she reads about the misadventures of this impulsive young girl living in the Patapsco Valley of Maryland right before the Civil War.

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Just Released! The Tale of Finegan Patches

I am so excited to share the news that my daughter Carolyn has just published her seventh novel. Set in the Dark Ages, The Tale of Finegan Patches is the story of an impoverished young serf and his epic battle against evil.

For centuries the sinister, blood-thirsty dragon Trepezard had lain asleep in his lair. But something mysterious has awaken him and his wrath. In one fiery breath, the dragon can burn entire villages. The peasants of Leatholin live in mortal fear of their lives. Yet the treacherous and corrupt lords and knights are too afraid to protect their people. Meanwhile, there are threats of the the wild and powerful invaders from the North. The situation is dire and hopeless.

Until one insignificant, simple-hearted farm boy sets out to fight the dragon.

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Writing Lessons from Literature, Book 2: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Here’s the second in our series of FREE Writing Lessons from Literature, and it’s based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s heartwarming tale of friendship and generosity: A Little Princess. Like Book 1 in our Writing Lessons from Literature series, this is a nine week course suitable for children in grades four to six. If not used as a writing course, it can be used for reading comprehension or for a book club.

The main goal of this series is to teach children how to write by studying and analyzing passages from novels and by imitating writing techniques used by the authors. The secondary goal is to help children develop an appreciation for the novel by looking at the underlying themes and character development.

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Short Vowel Stories Adapted for Children with Down Syndrome

As promised in my last post about our top ten resources for teaching beginning phonics, here is a collection of Short Vowel Stories adapted for children with T21. I wrote these for my oldest child when she was learning to read. Since I’m all about adapting materials for children with T21, of course I had to adapt these stories for Junior. I spent a fair amount of time adapting the stories for him, increasing the font size, putting double spaces between each word, and adding a lot more visuals to help with reading comprehension. So, when he buzzed through these stories, I have to admit I was pleased, but I also had that unsettling feeling you get when you spend two hours cooking up a wonderful meal and then your teenage sons devour it in five minutes.

Anyways, I think this collection of very short stories will help your children (with or without Down Syndrome) enjoy success as they first read phonetically. And yes, for you they’re free.

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Writing Lessons from Literature Book 1: Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

Do you have a daughter who loves to read and write stories? If you do, here is something I think you’ll both appreciate. It’s a resource you can use for reading comprehension, for a book club, or for writing lessons.

For years I have thought that a wonderful way to teach writing would be to help students study and analyze the actual writings of accomplished authors. It’s how musicians learn to compose music (at least back in the day when I was studying music theory and composition.) We’d study the music of the great composers by analyzing the chord progressions and melodies, taking note of the structures of the compositions, investigating the composers’ use of instrumentation, and so on. And then we’d try to imitate their style in our own compositions.

I have looked and looked for a similar approach to teaching writing. However, I have not been able to find exactly what I was searching for. So last year my college-age daughter and I wrote Writing Lessons from Literature for my youngest daughter. They include the following:

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