Favourite Language Arts Links

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homeschool Under Siege

Read how homeschooling has been banned in Germany  with a new law that is now becoming precedent in other European countries.  We are blessed in Canada to have the full protection of human rights, and as parents to support our children in whatever choice of learning they need.  Who can believe that what started as Nazi based indoctrination is still being pursued in Germany, and now in other parts of Europe.  Should government have the final say over our rights as parents?

What do you think?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Top 25 Early Chapter Books

Moving from picture books to early chapter books is a HUGE transformation for young readers,  and brings with it a HUGE sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT.  This list was drawn up by our teachers for students who are moving from beginner readers to books with more print on the page.  Thank you HCOS teachers!   These books help with reader confidence, inspire good discussions, and include illustrations to keep younger kids visually absorbed.  The way to tell if a child is ready to move onto these kind of books, is to check to see if they cannot recognize more than five words on a page.  This is a sign that they are not ready for this kind of book, and to keep them in the beginner readers a little bit longer. Once your kids are introduced to one of these series, they will be hooked for a long time. 

List of Favourite series:

1.  Little House Chapter Books.
2.  Canadian Flyer Books.  Historical Fiction.
3.  Amelia Bedelia.
4.  Nate The Great.
5.  Veritas Press series.
6.   Sonlight Curriculum.
7.   Frog and Toad Books.
8.   Winnie the Pooh First Readers.
9.   Akimbo series.  Alexander McCall Smith.
10.  Imagination Station Books.  Adventures in Odyssey.
11.  Jeronimo Stilton.
12.  Box-Car Children.
13.  Sigmund Brouwer Early Chapter books.
14.  Stink series.
15.  Canadian Girls Series.
16.  Cam Jansen.
17.  Henry and Mudge.
18.  Black Lagoon Adventures.
19.  Animal Friends.  Janette Oke.
20.  Little Bear.
21.  All the Heroes for Young Readers.  YWAM.
22.  Charlotte Mason Read Alouds.
23.  Cul-de Sac Kids books.  Beverley Lewis.
24.   Junie B Jones.
25.   Pony Pals.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June Library Links

Three reading women in a summer landscapeImage via Wikipedia
Slogging out those last few school days may seem indeterminable, but summer is here and sunshine has come home to root.  Praise God for vitamin D, long leisurely days on the beach, suntan lotion, ice creams, books and more books, and family time.

Here are my best finds from our linking library this month:


Book of James Lapbook.  Thanks Katina:)

Cross Examined Christian young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate, mainly because they are not equipped to examine the skepticism and atheism they encounter after leaving home, often coming from their college professors.  Through seminars, television programs, podcasts, and this site, Frank Turek and the CrossExamined team help young people understand why the Christian faith is true and reasonable and train them to defend that view..


Wordia  Like a traditional dictionary, Wordia allows users to search for the spelling, meaning and etymology of a word but what makes Wordia unique is the ability for users to explore the personal connotation of word through video.

Idiomdictionary New idiom dictionary with over 5000 idioms therein.


Sugar Stacks Learn more how to read labels, to gauge sugar levels on foods we eat with Sugar Stack.

Nourish Interactive  Kids Food Pyramid game.

Fatworld Learn more about obesity, while playing games, and doing fun activities on Fat World.

NSF Scrub Club Scrub Club is for young children to learn more about healthy living, and washing to stop germs from spreading.


Preschool and Kindergarten Worksheets  KidsLearningStation.com is the newest addition to the All Kids Network. This site is dedicated to providing high quality printable worksheets for teachers, parents and other care givers.


Summer Reading List.  101 Books That Hook Kids on Reading.  Thanks Tanya:)

Comic Creator  invites students to compose their own comic strips for a variety of contexts (prewriting, pre- and postreading activities, response to literature, and so on). The organizers focus on the key elements of comic strips by allowing students to choose backgrounds, characters, and props, as well as to compose related dialogue (shown at left). This versatile tool can be used by students from kindergarten through high school, for purposes ranging from learning to write dialogue to an in-depth study of a formerly neglected genre.

Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project.   Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada present a linking library of Shakespeare, interviews with playwrights, lots of teaching guides, a virtual exhibit, and other learning themes centred on Shakespeare.

Myvocabulary  is a spelling curriculum that helps with Latin and Greek roots, includes puzzles and provides tests and word lists.


Slimekids  This school media site is full of good things from, book reviews, reference tools, search engines, book trailers and games. Created by Andy Fine; a teacher and web designer.


Classics for Kids  Learn more about composers, dance, listen to podcasts and enjoy music activities with this child friendly site.


Donna Ward PDF document containing teacher guide and Ebook with ESL content for Canadian Government, grade 5.   Thanks Laura:)

Canadaworksheets Lots of lovely worksheets for Canada.  Still in Beta mode so watch for new additions.


Apps for children with special needs. 

VIDEO GAMES   Christian Gaming looks with Christian perspective at all games,  and reviews them.


PicLit Inspires Writing
You can use prompts or you can pick a picture and write freestyle. Great for middle school and high school creative writing inspiration.

Poetry forms
These are great for students that need some help for writing various forms of poetry.

A Paragraph a Week
Writing prompts that will challenge children to write on a large variety of topics.

Wacky Web Tales
More writing forms for fun writing.

General Language Arts Resources
I especially like the bookmark response bookmarks that are for older students.

Learning the Elements of Fiction
This is fun and interactive for a younger student.

Blessings to you for a warm and blessed summer, and all the right kind of learning in the shade of a tree:)

Pippa and Natalie
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Math Homeschool curriculum for struggling Math students.

Here are some great math ideas for a student who is struggling in math in the middle grades.  This list was drawn up by a group of our teachers. 


Teacher one: ( Names have been excluded for privacy reasons.)

Jump Math is great for visually explaining math, but needs  parent support.  It should not be used on its own without teaching assistance.

Teacher 2:  As for math, if you think the child needs help with basics, like mastery of addition/multiplication facts, then I might point mum to Math U See Beta or Gamma (about gr 2-4 level) – it is plain, sequential, not too stimulating, very mastery-based and has an excellent teaching DVD to introduce lessons. Parents do need to watch the videos too, and then be on hand to ensure that the kids ‘get it’ before going on to next lessons. I think an online course is a great suggestion too.

Teacher 3:  One curriculum that I like is the Teaching Textbooks material.  The program that you load into your computer has aids that "teach" the student the content before the drill and practice. Students can go back and listen to the instructions again. It tracks the percentages for each lesson and student progress as well.

Teacher 4:  I think the key point being made is about assessing for areas of weakness, for targeted re-instruction, until the student achieves mastery. At a grade 6 level, this is very difficult for a student to do on their own. Even at a grade 10-12 level where I mostly work with students it is often the same deal.

Technology can have a role to play in this though. Systems such as Aleks and KahnAcademy are working on mastery based assessment that helps students work until they get it. This is where we are moving towards this summer as well with our StudyForge curriculum development. We have good instruction, and we want to marry it to intuitive assessment that guides the students in mastery, and provides additional instruction in areas where students need help.

This is the whole idea of swapping school from “Testing to Assess to Assessing to Learn” as was pointed out in the Premier’s Technology Report on a “Vision for 21st Century Learning”.

I think the ultimate synergy comes from this relationship:

                - great technology (High tech)
                - great curriculum (High truth)
                - great parent/teacher support (High touch)

It’s hard to have a good “onlineschool” experience if one of those 3 factors is missing.

 Teacher 5:  Just so you all know, we can use our Switched On Online curriculum license to give placement/diagnositic tests in order to find out where the gaps are from grade 3 to grade 12, and then I create a customized online course using the Switched On Schoolhouse curriculum is created in order to give that re-instruction that Richard is talking about.  It is already mastery based, like the Khan academy stuff, and can be done quite independently, though it doesn't teach nearly as well as the Khan academy or Richard's math courses that he's developing.  It is not an ideal homeschooling solution like we would all love but for some families it is a fit because of what life has thrown at them.

Teacher 6:  For kids that struggle in math, I usually recommend either "Math U See"  or "Teaching Textbooks"

Teacher 7:  Our online subscriptions such as Gizmos and a new one that I am negotiating called Adaptive Curriculum will be helpful as a supplement to which ever math program he uses. Plus next year in Grade 7 he may supplement his program with BC Math.

I agree that Math U See or Teaching Textbook are good programs for students struggling with math. My preference of the two is Teaching Textbooks.

Blessings to you, as you share some great math homeschool resources.  If you have tried something that really works well for  middle grade kids,who need hands on math, please let us know:)

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Personalised Learning- An Interactive Discussion

Join the discussion on 21 century learning in British Columbia, as your student's education is improved to prepare for this new generation.

This interactive book was produced by the BC Ministry of Education.  Share your views on how you think education should move to fully support your students.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Learning Commons: Theme of the Month. Seashore!

Seashore iconImage via Wikipedia

Natalie, Shandra and I have collaborated this month to start a new Learning Commons theme.  We hope to have a new theme each month celebrating all the wonderful new additions we find online, and in the physical campus library.  We hope you enjoy!

This month we are excited to bring you information/curriculum resources on the SEASHORE and OCEANS.


Orange sea pen (Ptilosarcus gurneyi) at Monter...Image via Wikipedia
All samples are from homeschoolshare.com and are good for elementary aged students.

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.

Salmon lapbook animal study.

Sea Star Lapbook.

Coral Reef Animal Study.

Whales Animal Study and Lapbook.


Half a Hundred Acre Wood:  Nim Island Unit study and lapbook.

Oceanography:  The Waters He called Seas.

Treasures at Sea. Exploring the Ocean through Literature.


Jason Science. Check the oceans theme under Past curricula.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Ocean Planet Smithsonian.

The Ocean.  National Geographic

Surface supplied diver at the Monterey Bay Aqu...Image via Wikipedia

Monterey Bay Aquarium Games and Interactives.

Ocean craft activities.

Oceans Gallery

Let's Make Waves science activity




Discovery Streaming.  Type in seaside and tons of videos and learning tools are at your fingertips.

Ebscohost and Searchasaurus.  Type in summer fun and you will find lots of educational activities.  Or type in seashore for more information.  To refine your search pick what type of source you would like from the icon screen, magazines, newspapers, animals and books.  This narrows down your search.

BrainPop  Search  Underwater World, Ocean Currents, Oceans,  for a movie and other fun filled activities.

Gizmos.   Use for more information on oceans, tides and the water cycle.

Enchantedlearning.  Earth's Oceans.

Books - bookcase top shelfImage by ~ Phil Moore via Flickr

Books from the HCOS Library:

We have a number of books in the library on the topics of Seashore and Oceans. I have created a Visual Search icon so they are easy to find!

1.     Log in to the library website at:
2.     Click on the Catalog tab. This will take you a Visual Search Screen.
3.     Click on A Monthly Library Theme icon.
4.     Click on Seashores

Now you will see a list of books we have available! Please note that books will not be sent after June 30th.  

Blessings to you from Natalie, Shandra and Pippa!

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Monday, June 13, 2011


TwiducateImage by Kathy Cassidy via Flickr

Recently I have been sharing the joys of using Twitter in the classroom or in your personal learning network.  Twiducate is a fenced social networking tool, that all teachers can feel safe recommending to their students.  Developed by a group of teachers from Ontario in 2010, this social networking tool allows teachers to continue their discussions after class.  Students can strengthen their social networking skills, while learning more about micro blogging, and refining their reading and writing.

Safety is ensured by a password protected platform, and only teachers, parents and students can view the teaching ideas, view materials and collaborate.

Watch the above video to get an idea how to get started.

If you want more ideas on how to use this tool in the classroom you can check out this blog posting.

Blessings to you as you share in making social networking safe in your class.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Children's Laureate winner 2011-2013 BookTrust

Get inspired with Julia Donaldson as she shares about reading, acting out stories, and how drama can influence reading expression in younger years. 

Julia invites me want to bring out the puppets, and start encouraging youngsters to act and write!!  She also speaks out about the importance of libraries.  Yay for Julia:)

Blessings to you!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


As a teacher librarian I just love Qwiki for all kinds of reference retrieval.  Just enter your question and a computer generated voice will relate information while displaying images, maps and videos.  This is a breathtaking tool for all students to use for finding relevant, visual, and interesting information.  Your search is fast, experiential and very personal. It currently holds a database of over 3 million articles and is constantly expanding. I am not sure how often this gets updated, but I guess if it is like Wikipedia it will be on a regular basis.  This is my new best techie tool this week, this month and this year!  Yes for reference librarian Qwiki!

Blessings to you!