Morning Time Plans

Morning Time, Circle Time, Morning Basket…the names for this time of gathering everyone together for shared learning is as varied as the houses that practice it. Most often in our home is it, “Everyone Grab Your Bible and Come to the Living Room” Time. Catchy title, right? I can already see it on t-shirts and coffee mugs. It works for us and it seems silly to tell my high school students to get ready for Circle Time.

Before our unplanned summer break, I was almost completely winging this portion of our day. In different seasons the method of winging it works better than others. This season we all needed a bit more structure and planning. Planning and organizing are not my strengths and it took me longer than I wanted but I think we finally have a Morning Time Plan.

For our Morning Time, I will have eight children at home; ages 15 down to 10 months. For this term, we will read/discuss Bible, poetry, government, science, history, literature, etc at varying levels. We have already started and the discussions we have engaged in have been delightful!

Here is the Morning Time Plan:

Daily:

Bible Reading: Each day we will read Scripture. We are alternating between Joshua and Matthew for four days. On Fridays we will be reading a Psalm and from The Ology. ( I am loving this resource!) While it may seem that alternating text might be confusing for the younger ones, it has not been an issue at all. We practice oral narrations after our readings and there is almost always discussion. It works beautifully! Utilizing the New City Catechism (they also have an app) is a new addition for us this term. I am simply offering up one question per week. We shall see how that goes!

Poetry: This time can get a bit crazy. For now we are using Favorite Poems Old and New. Each child calls out a page number and I read from that page. It is quick and fun. And you know what? My children love poetry. We have stumbled across new favorites. My older children do read poetry from an assigned poet as well in their individual studies.

Recitation/Memory Work: As a family we work on a Scripture passage together. We are currently working on Matthew 5: 3 -16. There is other recitation/memory work required but it is handled individually.

Hymns: Our Morning Time always starts with a hymn. We have a few hymnals that we share. Our current hymns are Come Thou Fount, Brethren We Have Met to Worship, and My Father’s World.  My goal is to have a balance between songs we sing often in church and hymns we just enjoy as a family.

Weekly Rotations:

Read Alouds: Generally we have more than one read aloud for Morning Time underway. For this term we have a selection for History (I, Juan de Pareja), Science (Science Matters), and Literature (Haven’t quite decided on this one yet! Pondering a little something by Dickens.)

Government/Civics: In the past this has not been an area covered in our Morning Time. We are going to give it a go for a few weeks and see how it flows and decide from there. I will likely choose one topic/article from the week to discuss for Current Events or perhaps let one of my teens offer up a topic that has intrigued them in their individual studies. I will also be pulling a Civics’s Question of the Week from the Learn about the United States: Quick Civics Lessons from the Naturalization Test. There are so many facts and interesting points of history that we forget or have never learned. This is simple enough for my younger ones to join in and my older ones can always expand from this to deeper reading/discussion/study. It also fits well with our current time of history being studied.

Artist/Composer: Jan Vermeer is our chosen artist and Vivaldi is our composer. We will enjoy paintings and music throughout the week. However, once a week we will have a bit of discussion about a particular painting, an interesting fact about the artist/composer, or share a favorite piece of music. Simple but effective.

This time of everyone coming together is not always easy. However, it is an important part of our day, our life, our family. These sometimes chaotic moments are building connections and memories that will last a lifetime and longer.

Up next? I’ll try to share what else we have in store for the coming year!

 

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Ultimate Phonics Reading Program – A Review

In our home, teaching phonics and reading has been approached in a simple and straightforward manner. This has worked well for us as I have a houseful of avid readers across the ages. While the approach and resources have not changed over the years, I am not opposed to adding in extras to help supplement in weak areas of phonics and reading. Two of my children have been using Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning to supplement their reading instruction and practice.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a downloadable software that provides reading instruction for beginning readers to older readers who may be struggling at various levels.  Due to the presentation of the program, Ultimate Phonics is not limited to a young age range but can be helpful to mature readers.

You can view a DEMO and have 10 Days to use Ultimate Phonics for Free.

Ultimate Phonics consists of 262 lessons that covers all the phonic sounds and rules. The lessons cover sounds, words, and sentences. While the lessons build on each other, you have the freedom to begin at any level based on the needs of the reader. You can also choose to complete parts of the lessons instead of the whole. As the reader progresses through the program, you may find that a bit of review may be necessary. This is not a problem as moving back and forth in the lessons is a simple click of a button. The Scope and Sequence for Ultimate Phonics is a great resource for an overview of the lessons. A  Placement Test is available which is so helpful in finding a starting point for your reader.

How We used Ultimate Phonics Reading Program

Two of my children have been using Ultimate Phonics over the past several weeks. Sam, 6, who would be considered a beginning reader, started this program at Lesson One. We continued our normal daily phonics instruction and added Ultimate Phonics in a few times a week to serve as a supplement for him. Since it was on the computer, Sam was happy to work with Ultimate Phonics and enjoyed the program.

I had originally hoped that this program could serve as a bit of independent study for Sam but I was mistaken. I quickly found that Sam was listening to the sounds and words being read but not attempting to read them on his own aloud. This was totally an oversight on my part especially given Sam’s age. We continued to use Ultimate Phonics and I had Sam read aloud with someone close at hand to listen in and make sure he was progressing nicely. Since this was a supplement resource for him, it worked out well in this manner.

Sarah, 8, also used portions of Ultimate Phonics. I would not classify Sarah as a struggling reader but one who needs to build her confidence in her ability. She reads well but often tries to read too fast and that jumbles her sounds and words. I did not have her complete whole lesson of Ultimate Phonics. Instead she only worked with the sentence portions of each lessons. This provided review and confidence building for her. Since she was ahead of Sam, she could also listen to Sam during his lessons. Sarah loves helping and was a great confidence boost for her.

Final Thoughts

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a straightforward, easy to use and implement resource for phonics instruction. There are no silly graphics, characters, or games that limit this program to a young age range. It is definitely a bit dry in presentation and the automated voice that reads is a bit annoying. However, that means little distraction from the purpose of this resource which is to teach phonics and reading.

Ultimate Phonics works well as a supplement or a full phonics program. With the simple approach it can easily be used with a range of skill levels and learning abilities. Others on the Homeschool Review Crew used Ultimate Phonics so make sure you see how this program worked with a variety of readers!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
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Getting Started with French – A Review

In our homeschool, one of my weak areas is foreign language. Despite taking three semesters of Spanish in college, I can barely greet you in Spanish. Let us not even discuss my accent. Needless to say finding resources and curriculum to help my children experience, enjoy, and master a foreign language is important. When I heard that Armfield Academic Press has a foreign language resource, Getting Started with French, I hoped that it would be a helpful tool for my daughter, Mary, a high school junior.

Getting Started with French is a beginning French resource that works well for self-teaching students of any age. Whether it is used by a homeschool student like my daughter or an adult with a desire to learn French, anyone can quickly and easily put this program into practice.

Armfield Academic Press has other foreign language resources: Getting Started with Spanish, Getting Started with Latin,and soon they will have Getting Started with Russian.

How to Use This Book

Before handing Getting Started with French to my daughter, I did a read through on the “How to Use This Book” section at the beginning. This gave me a clear understanding of how the program worked and confirmed that my daughter could use this independently.

The set up is broken down into daily lessons that introduce new words, offer grammatical information, and translation exercises. One of my favorite aspects of this program is the free audio files that you can download. Being able to hear the correct pronunciation by a native French speaker is so helpful! My daughter found that the audio files were clear and easy to understand. She also noted that the pace or speed of the speaker was helpful.

The goal of Getting Started with French is mastery so you are encouraged to work on the lessons daily but to take time to review as needed. Practice speaking with your family in French or translating English text into French are great ways to work on review and repetition.

One way my daughter worked on review and repetition to build mastery was to utilize classic children’s literature. Our library had a few books such as Goodnight Moon and The Three Little Pigs available in French. We checked those out and she practiced translating the words into English. It was a bit more challenging than expected but a fun way to practice what she was learning.

Getting Started with French offers flexibility for your style of learning and setting your own schedule and pace. While the presentation is simple and user friendly, it is an effective approach.

You can preview Getting Started with French to get a feel for how the program is set up.

Mary’s Thoughts

Since Mary works independently I have very little interaction directly with this program but discuss what is being taught with Mary to keep an eye on her progress. Here is what she has to say:

I found Getting Started with French very easy to use. Since it can be used by all ages, I was worried at first that it might be too simple and not challenging or helpful. But that wasn’t a problem at all. It encouraged you to take your time and to not rush. It was very easy to understand the lessons and what was being taught. I found it very helpful in understanding the masculine/female gender usage and the pronunciations guides were very helpful for me. Mary – 16

Overall we are both very pleased with this program. I love the approach used and that Mary can work on it independently. Being able to set her own pace and schedule is a huge plus for Mary. She likes the flexibility that it offers.

As a homeschool family with a wide range of ages, I love that it can easily be used by different ages. I have Getting Started with Spanish on my to buy list. I think it would be a great addition to our Group Learning and be a fun family learning experience. Maybe I can finally get the proper Spanish accent?  Oh, and it is a non-consumable resource which is always a huge plus for our family. Just give everyone a notebook and we are set to learn a foreign language or two!

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
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