Logic of English: Knitting Knights

We’ve finally settled back home after our long trip to the mainland and have slowly been returning to our routines, but adding school back in is always a little tricky after so much time off. The kids never seem to take it well… there tends to be a lot of tears, complaining, and whining involved. Does that happen in your family?

Whistling Whales: Beyond the Sounds of ABC, by Logic of EnglishWhen I saw how much Bella enjoyed reading Logic of English’s Whistling Whales: Beyond the Sounds of ABC with me (read about our experience with Whistling Whales here), I knew we’d be sitting down for our regular reading lessons again soon. It warmed her up so well in fact, that one day I threw caution to the wind and simply asked, “Bella, would you like to do a reading lesson right now?”

It is homeschooling 101: Never ASK your child if they would LIKE to do school work. Yet there I was… asking. Oops. But really, who ASKS their kid if they’d LIKE to do a lesson?! What was I thinking?! I immediately regretted my choice of words and braced myself for the refusal I was surely about to face. To my (pleasant) surprise though, she began excitedly jumping up and down while chanting, “Yes! Yes! YES!” She jumped excitedly, folks. In anticipation of school work!

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Logic of English: Whistling Whales 

Whew! It has been one crazy fun summer for our Ohana (family). We took a long trip to the mainland U.S., with stops in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, Connecticut, and Vermont. Needless to say, we are all EXHAUSTED. I’m sure I’ll write up something about our adventures and how we made our trip tie into our homeschool, but for now I have to share about this great new book from Logic of English (LOE). It has helped us jump back into schoolwork smoothly and without complaint!

Whistling Whales: Beyond the Sounds of ABC, by Logic of English

Logic of English released two new picture books this summer, Whistling Whales: Beyond the Sounds of ABC and Knitting Knights: Beyond the Sounds of ABC, for use alongside their Foundations B and C programs, respectively. Written by Denise Eide, the founder of Logic of English, Whistling Whales is now included with the purchase of the Foundations A-B Complete Set. Knitting Knights accompanies the Foundations C-D Complete Set. Both books can also be purchased separately, priced about the same as most hardcover picture books at $15. Like Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds, (LOE’s first picture book used in Foundations A), both of these new read-aloud books reinforce all of the phonograms taught in their corresponding levels. In Foundations B and C, however, the phonograms are multi-letter phonograms such as TH, SH, TCH, etc, so Whistling Whales and Knitting Knights definitely include a bit more challenging phonograms for the advancing new reader. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, head over to my review of Logic of English’s Foundations A program for a little background.)

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CC Review Games that Rock

I’ve been working on this list for a VERY long time. In recent conversation with my CC tutor buddies though, I realized that this won’t be of much help to tutors and parents if I never move it out of my “drafts” folder and get it published! So here it is. These are some fun ways to review Classical Conversations material (or really any material for that matter) with your class or with your own students at home. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these were what I’ve regularly used, seen in use, and enjoyed with my students. I’m sure there are lots more fantastic ideas on CC Connected, so don’t forget to check there as well!

First a few tips… When I was tutoring I always liked to pair or team my students up to answer review questions because it really ISN’T a competition. It’s more about letting the students go through the material again, whether they’re reciting it or simply hearing it; every exposure counts. By teaming or partnering students up, it’s less likely anyone will feel disappointed if they can’t think of the answer and you’ll be more likely to have attentive students since they will be busy helping one another.

For most of these games I just used my Foundations Guide to choose questions. I’d make a light pencil mark next to the ones I already asked if I started to get confused, but usually I was able to keep track by focusing on either one week at a time or one subject at a time. As I set up any game I often had the class sing the Timeline Song together and then I’d omit that subject from the game. So we’d only go through: Grammar, Math, Science, History Sentence, Geography, and Latin during the game play. You can nearly change any game into a review game by simply having students answer a review question before their turn. You just need to be diligent in selecting games that require little play time, so each student’s turn isn’t so long that it squanders the review time.

We actually use this other brand like Kerplunk but called Tumble. It works just as well.

Kerplunk – Students answer a review question before pulling a stick from the Kerplunk stand.

Candyland – My girls love this one in the classroom AND at home. It works best when the class is split into 2-4 groups. I assign each subject a color and usually omit the Timeline when playing. Then it works out just right to use the solid colors for each subject. There are special “Candy” spaces too, that you could use as free cards and students could move to that space without answering a review question. Alternately, you could allow students to choose a subject when they draw those cards. I have heard of some tutors who use their color-coded review cards for this game and the colors coorespond with the game cards, too. Makes me want to buy those cards… lol! Continue reading

The Waikiki Aquarium Critter Encounter

IMG_0654I have lived on Oahu for over 9 years and somehow I’ve never made a trip to the Waikiki Aquarium… until now. When Moms In Hawaii reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing the Critter Encounter at the Waikiki Aquarium, I jumped at the opportunity. Our family has participated in reef walks twice, visited the Living Art Marine Center a few times, and we regularly explore the creatures in our local Hawaiian waters. So I guess you could say I wasn’t expecting to learn much new information on this visit to the aquarium. My girls were excited, of course, but I figured we wouldn’t be adding much to the base knowledge we’ve acquired over the years of these little critters. Fortunately, I was very, very wrong!

IMG_0662Mary, our critter connoisseur and guide, met us soon after our arrival and escorted us to the touch pools. As we walked she spoke a little about the aquarium’s two resident seals, stopping to let the girls watch them swim around. She answered all of Bean’s questions then continued to lead us to the touch pools tucked away at the back of the park. We felt quite special being led into the “Authorized Personnel Only” area, which by the way, highlighted the beauty of the location. Just look at that view! Aquarium trip followed by beach day, anyone?

Once inside, Mary took a few minutes to give Bean and Bella a little teaser about what they would be seeing during our encounter and the rules they’d need to follow. She went over what kinds of critters they’d be allowed to touch, hold, and even feed. She primed their little brains quite well and didn’t just tell them the basics, but instead spoke about the details, what made the critters alike and different. Next, clearly knowing how intimidating it might be for a child to get up the nerve to touch at a living sea urchin, she showed them a shell and spines while explaining that they had once been a part of a living sea urchin.


Bean touched the shell of a sea urchin, as well as a fallen spine. Mary showed how the spine was once attached to the urchin.

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Logic of English: Essentials 2nd Edition 

Some days I really realize just how very blessed I am. Every time I pull out our Essentials manual I am reminded that I was blessed by Logic of English with the opportunity to review it. After I posted my review of their Foundations program I was approached to join their affiliate program and was later given a special opportunity to receive a copy of the NEW Essentials 2nd edition for review. How cool is that?! So blessed. So grateful.

Essentials is designed for children age 8 and up. The complete set runs $198, but if you’ve already used the 1st edition of Essentials,  you will only need the upgrade set for $93. If you’ve used the Foundations program, you may already have much of the materials needed as well and can start with the upgrade set, adding additional items al la carte. I ended up purchasing Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive as well to use for the Pre-Lessons (more on that in a minute). The complete set contains all you see here.

I took the teacher’s manual to my room with me the first night after receiving it. This is my happy place- laying in bed propped up on my reading pillows, all alone… In the silence and comfort of my own room. Silence is rare in a homeschool house, am I right?! It took about two or three evenings spent reading to get through those first pages, being sure I was understanding it completely.

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Reading 101

Once upon a time I was a teacher. A reading specialist, actually. I pulled children out from the classroom and held small group and one-on-one instruction with them. I watched second grade students reading at the kindergarten level (still working on letter sounds) advance to their proper grade level over the course of a semester. It was incredible to be a part of that transition for those children!

Sometimes, though, I think I learned more than they did during that time. I learned that the BIGGEST contributing factor to reading success is not instruction time, flash cards, or hands on techniques. It is simply time spent reading together. Working out those sounds, together. Encountering new words, together. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t have to be a teacher and student interaction. It can be parent with child, classmates, siblings, friends, and even stuffed animals.

I have a memory of reading in third grade… My teacher put us in small groups of two or three to read together. She must have seen the future teacher in my eyes, because she whispered to me when she partnered me with the child reading at the lowest level, “I think you can be a great helper for Tina. Can you help her read today?” I will never forget the pride I felt being able to help my friend.

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Logic of English: Foundations A

When I taught Bean how to read, we focused a lot on sight words alongside basic phonics. I learned in college that children worked best with a combination of phonics and whole word methods, so we utilized both. It was exhilarating to watch her learn to read before kindergarten with our Preschool Prep Company Meet the Sight Words videos, flashcards, and books. Her excitement over each learned word was infectious.

While Bean is a fantastic reader today, reading at least two levels above her grade level, she struggles with the rules of the English language. She is more likely to take guesses at long unfamiliar words than she is to sound each letter or letter combination. She has a terrible time remembering spelling patterns and has been known to read entire books while mispronouncing names, places, or other words. At some point that will interfere with her comprehension, I am certain.

As I have learned so many times on our homeschool journey, passing time means furthering society’s knowledge about education. As research has continued, data has been collected, and new conclusions have been drawn, the ever-changing world of education, well, changes…

One day last year, I stumbled upon a YouTube video, where Denise Eide explains the logical side of English. After watching it, I sort of had an “aha!” moment and decided I needed to learn more, so bought her book, “Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common Sense Approach to Teaching Reading, Spelling, and Literacy,” for my Kindle and did some reading. After just a few pages, I knew she had the right ideas. I wasn’t even half way through the book before I decided I’d check out her homeschool program.

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