K5 Review

About 6 weeks ago, we started our free trial of K5 Learning.  

Butterfly girl FT

My daughter loved to work on all the programs and especially enjoyed the creative activities.  She (recently turned-12-years old) said this,

“I enjoyed the options the program provided and the fun activities.  The lessons were very helpful and gave me a boost in Maths.”

Let me start from the beginning ~

Their initial assessment was excellent. The results were detailed and clear, and for the first time in our homeschooling career, I had an accurate breakdown in my child’s Maths and Reading skill levels and abilities.

My daughter loved the Maths Facts section – mental maths “designed to help kids develop instant recall of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts”. She worked positively to maintain high scores and loved to see her mastery results on the K5 Math Fact Matrix display. What impressed me was that the program constantly adapted to reinforce specific maths facts which she missed or took too long to recall.  

The Maths program has excellent explanations of new maths concepts with good, clear examples of the work, followed by the exercises.  Without too much fuss, K5 gave a quick sound effect to indicate success or mistake.  After the exercise series, my child was given time to play on an “arcade game” which gave her a few minutes of  fun as a refreshing break.

The Reading and comprehension was thorough and very comprehensive. I was impressed with the comprehension questions and the vocabulary extension.

We struggled with the Spelling program because there was no “teaching” or pre-learning component on the spelling lessons presented.  The program presented the vocabulary test and practice almost blind.  Despite trying to change the grade levels, we didn’t seem to find our level and so we did not enjoy the spelling program. 

My only regret was that we didn’t have reliable, speedy Internet service during our free trial period and so we missed several days each week of online learning.  But I highly recommend this program to any homeschooler!  It is excellent and very effective! From an educational perspective, it is outstanding and their methodology is excellent.  From a parent’s perspective it is very easy to use, log in to assess and keep in touch with the child’s progress.  For the child, it is simple to log in and work on his or her own.

K5 learning badge125x125

K5 Learning has a referral program, which pays participants $25 for each new subscriber that clicks over to K5, so my daughter and I will be very grateful if you click here to go start your free trial!

Blessings,

Free Trial K5 Learning

I seldom promote products and have never done reviews, but an invitation to try K5 Learning caught my attention.

Home

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

After receiving this invitation, I popped over to check out their website and I was very impressed.  Their demo videos looked so inviting and their approach and methodology seemed excellent.

My initial thoughts were that my youngest is already in grade 5 & 6 and up in most her subjects and that this might not fit into our homeschool schedule, but their Math Facts heading caught my eye and I thought that this would be worth doing the free trial.  They explain ~

“Learn math facts online and say goodbye to counting fingers”

“Recalling math facts efficiently is critical because it allows a student to study more advanced math topics without being bogged down by simple calculations.”

So, I hope to use K5 Learning with my youngest and trust that she will both enjoy and learn a lot more than she does with my Mental Maths fun worksheets and Bananagram spelling games.

For more information please go to http://www.k5learning.com/.  I will be back with my honest review in 6 weeks time.

Blessings,

Amazing Arrows

Long ago, when I studied remedial education, I learnt about the arrow chart. This chart trains children in spacial awareness and directionality, and it is extremely effective. Arrow Chart

Free DownloadArrow Chart

Back in the day, as a grade 6 & 7 public school teacher, I conducted my own research using the arrow chart for 2 of my 3 English classes (I taught 3 homogeneous classes the same lessons).  Classes 1 and 2 performed a few random rows of arrow movements, then they sat and wrote their spelling test. The 3rd class simply entered the class, sat and wrote the same spelling test. I recorded their results on the back of my board. By the end of the month, the 3rd class was clearly lagging in every result. When they saw the results, they begged me to do the arrow exercises with them. Their improvement was instant and very encouraging. It takes just a few minutes. Homeschool2 It is fun! It is physical.  It’s effective. It is simple.  It is mentally stimulating.  It is amazing! These exercises are especially effective before maths classes, handwriting lessons, early reading sessions and before any test.  I found that these activities  help “center” the child, especially after a break, or after outdoors activities, when they need to settle down to concentrate on their books.  While it is fun and stimulating, it helps the child to focus on the next task at hand.  Children with attention deficit disorders especially benefit from these arrows activities in between lessons, or when they are distracted.

How it works:

  1. Place the chart in view, orientated randomly. (Any side is on top.)
  2. Describe what action the child must do in the same direction of the arrow. (Suggested actions listed below.)
  3. Start on any row.  Start beginners on the shorter rows.  Always start from the left and go across to the right.  Once the child gains confidence, start some rows from the top and work down to the bottom of the row.  ( I almost never work right to left, or bottom to top.)
  4. When working one-on-one with a child, the parent/ teacher can simply point along the row.  Once the child gains confidence, simply point to the starting arrow in a row and the child progresses along the row at their own pace, performing quick, clear movements.
  5. When working with a group, the teacher/ parent must tap each arrow with a pointer. The children must be trained to execute the movement instantly, quickly and then stand ready for the next tap on the following arrow.
  6. Once a row is complete, point to the next random row.  I often turn the chart around so that the child does not anticipate the direction or row to follow.

Suggested movements: You will need: a foam square or a small pillow, about 6 bean bags, a small plastic chair, an inflatable beach ball & a hula hoop.  Use your mini trampoline too, if you have one! 

Ideally, the movement should be a large physical movement, especially where the child’s whole body changes position:  (Remember the concept of teaching “big before small“?)

  • Stand on a foam square and jump off the square and immediately back into the square ready for the next arrow – jump in front/ behind/ left/ right.
  • Stand in a hula hoop on the ground and turn and lean down and touch the ground with both hands & immediately stand up – touch in front/ behind/ left/ right. (They could also jump out of the hoop, and back in, instead of touching the ground with both hands.)
  • Place a small plastic chair in a clear space and the child must sit ready to move.  They jump up, take a few quick steps to the front/ back/left or right of the chair and then quickly sit down again.
  • On a mini trampoline mark the center with a small masking tape cross and place a small arrow pointing in all 4 directions on the rim of the trampoline. The child stands in the center, on the cross, and jumps forward/ back/ left or right according to the arrow chart and immediately back to the center cross.

Good movements should include crossing the body’s mid-line to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain:

  • Stand in a clear space and quickly stretch both arms straight up/ down/ left or right.  When stretching arms left or right, the one arm will stretch cross the whole body.
  • Sit on a pillow or foam square on the ground and hold a box of bean bags in their lap. The child must take the bean bag in the right hand and place it in front/ behind/ left or right on the ground next to the pillow.  They can alternate doing a row using the left hand and then a row using the right hand.

Homeschool

Throwing and catching is fun too!

  • The child has the bean bags and throws them in front/ behind/ left or right of a target like a foam square/ a hula hoop/ a bucket.
  • Draw a large square with chalk on a wall.  The child holds an inflatable beach ball and throws it to the position up/ down/ left or right of the square on the wall.  The ball will bounce back and the child needs to catch it again.  (I place the chart on the wall near the chalk square and point to the arrows in the row.)
  • A partner/ parent or sibling stands in front of the standing child. Place the arrow chart on the ground in front of the child.  The parent tosses one bean bag to the child who catches it and tosses it to the front/ back/ left/ right of his feet.  He then quickly stands ready to catch and toss the bean bag for the next arrow. When the row is complete, he picks up each bean bag and tosses it back to the parent.

For quick sessions, especially for groups, call the children to stand up next to their chairs and use both arms to move quickly straight up/down/ left or right.  I turn the chart around a few times, then I hold it where the group can see it, and randomly point to a row.  I usually only do 2 to 3 rows in a session.

DON’T speak.  I simply point.  This is a visual activity.  (But it can be easily made into an auditory message, if the parent calls out the direction and the child moves.)

My youngest child, now 11-years, still LOVES these quick, fun sessions!  Not only is her concentration focused, all her skills show a marked improvement. Handwriting speed and control is noticeably better too!

I highly recommend these amazing arrows.

Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences with this arrow chart with other readers in the comments below.

All in grace,

Learning Phonics the ABACARD® Way!

When I started homeschooling over 12 years ago, I used ABACARD® to teach phonics and early reading.

This system, created by © Shirley Epstein and other teachers and artists,  have designed picture clues within each letter shape.  This concept assists memory of the shape and sound of each letter.

“It works because the clue is contained in  the letter shape!”

When my young children showed signs of reading readiness, I put the wall chart up on near their beds.

I simply pointed to and read each letter sound and named the picture inside it, such as: “a is for apple“, “b is for ball”  and “c is for colours“.    Then they repeated the sounds and named the picture clue inside each letter.

Each day I revised the previous letters and continued with the next set.  Within 3 days or so, we had covered the alphabet.  At each bedtime and nap-time we would run through the chart.

I was delighted to hear my young 4-year-old reading the chart aloud on her own to herself as she lay down for her midday nap after just a few days!

Then I took out our ABACARD® cards.

They come in a nifty hanging plastic holder with clear plastic pockets containing packs of 4 of each letter.  My kids loved the colourful jellytot sweets design on the back of these cards.

We revised the letters and then played games several fun games like “snap”, “memory” and “twin and win”.  The pack comes with a lovely instruction booklet.

Then we started building words with the cards. Taking just the letters p, t, b, g, and the vowels a, e, i, o and u we made the word bag. We swapped a and made beg, then big and bog and bug. Using this principle we made up lots of words – my child WAS READING!

When we moved on to early readers, we used these cards to make up the new vocabulary and played games until these new words were easy to read.

ABACARD® is an excellent tool for remedial work too.  Because each letter has a picture inside it, children are less likely to confuse letters!

I highly recommend this to anyone with young children who are ready to learn to read.

When I contacted the company, I was given the following email address and contact telephone numbers:

abacard@telkomsa.net

(South Africa) 011 642 9828

Contact them to ask for a catalog and order through them.

(I have no idea of their current prices or mailing costs and I am not affiliated to them or their products. :)  )

Blessings,

Is it b or d? New Posters for b/d Reversal

Aren’t these posters gorgeous?

They so clearly show the difference between b and d.

Here is your free download ~ bed or deb posters

Mari Saaiman created these lovely graphics.

You can see my other posts with Games for b/d reversal and letter confusion and some gentle encouragement when there are problems.

Blessings,

Sliding Sound Blends for reading practice

I needed some remedial activities to reinforce my youngest child’s reading and spelling,

I used my very useful reference book, Remedial Education in the Primary School, by M.C. Grove’ and H.M.A.M Hauptfleisch, pg.155, for some hands-on reading practice tools.

These authors state that,

“Reading, spelling and word-building are very closely related and exert a reciprocal influence on one another.  For the purpose of remedial teaching this fact must always be borne in mind and reading, spelling and word-building should be treated as a unit.”

So, in a nutshell, children must recognize letter sounds to read and spell.

I went ahead and made some …

Sliding strips and frames to reinforce sound blends and practice reading.

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I would love to share these with you all!

Please click here for your download ~ Sound Blend Strips

Some practical tips:

  • I covered mine strips with clear tape, but you could laminate them or put clear contact adhesive plastic over yours for durability.  (These strips are handled a lot!)
  • Tape the strips together where they run over 2 pages to create 1 long strip.
  • Leave the top sound blends heading on each strip so that you can put it in the correct frame if it falls out.
  • The sound blend strip and frame are the same colour, so they are easy to match.
  • Store the slide strips in a large Ziplock bag in your remedial file.
  • Store the child’s slide strip/s for the week in a smaller Ziplock bag in their file/ workbox.
  • Select just a few slide strips (or 1 long one) for each week.
  • The child must write those words formed for spelling.
  • They  must practice reading and spelling daily for a week or until the child has mastered the blends.

How do these strips fit into my reading and spelling program?

This would be your progression before you can use the sliding strips:

1. A child must learn all the letter sounds of the alphabet;

a for apple, b for ball, c for cat and so on.

(I have had amazing success with the ABBAcard system where each letter has the picture of its sound in the letter shape.  i.e: a dog in the d, an umbrella in the u, etc.  They have a large wall chart which we look at and read aloud together for several days until my child can read the alphabet without any help.  They have a set of the same picture alphabet with pictures on cards.  We play snap and build 3-letter words with the cards.)  But, what ever your program is, make sure your child know letters by their sound first!

Only once the child knows letter sounds for the alphabet very well, should the letter names be introduced.

2. The child can now learn alphabet names;

a = ay, b = bee, c = see and so on.  I usually introduce a chart with capital letters next the lower case letters and we sing the alphabet song.

3. Next the child must learn basic letter blends;

sh-, th-, ch-, -mp, ee-, oo-, str-, and so on.

4.  Now we can practice reading with the sound blend strips.

  • Introduce the blends.
  • Start the slide and say the new word with the first letter.
  • Allow the child to read all the new words.
  • Challenge the child to find these new words in their readers.  You’ll be amazed at how they spot all “their” new words!

5. Practice spelling the new sound blend words.

  • Practice spelling on a white board.
  • Let them write these words in their spelling list sheet.
  • When you test spelling, always give the word in a sentence.
  • Let your children make up silly sentences using as many of the words as they can.
  • Older children can write out the dictated sentences in their tests.
  • Use these words for weekly spelling and add thematic vocabulary for older children.

Hope this helps other struggling readers and spellers!

Blessings,

Confound those confusing letters!

Last month my youngest child was quite ill.

 

Play dough

Image via Wikipedia

 

She lost weight and she lost her appetite.

She also lost ground at school.

Old weaknesses resurfaced.

She struggled again with reading, spelling and maths.

She lost her confidence and joy.

Everything seemed harder.

I have to boost her physically with prayer, tonic and a healthy diet.

At school I boost her with prayer and…

GAMES!

Remedial  Activities.

We play with spinners,

magnet letters,

bean bags, hula hoops

maths rods and counting blocks.

To combat letter reversals I pulled out my old remedial Games for b,d,t,f,p,q reversals .

I was amazed at how quickly we played the games.

Just a few minutes of play and the confusion was gone!

I decided to reinforce this and made a few more new activities.

Click here for this download ~ Confusing Letters Spinner and Activities

Letter Spinner

Mount the pointer and spin!

  • Make the letter with your whole body lying on the floor
  • Form the letter with a stick, hula hoop and skipping rope
  • Form the letter play dough/ in sand on a tray/ with shapes
  • Grab the correct magnetic letter from the row laid out in front
  • Call the letter sound out loud
  • Say the letter name out loud
  • Match the letter to its upper case letter
  • Make the felt letter match the spinner letter

Felt Letters

  • Felt letters are large and durable
  • They can be reversed so this is great to play b/d/p/q reversal games
  • Likewise they can be turned upside down and kids can play with u/n
  • Letter shapes can be built with felt as it sticks in layers
  • Felt board/ a carpet tile works well to display felt letters
  • Make pictures with the letters to reinforce the direction
  • Use arrows to play direction games with felt letters (turn the b to the left – it now is …)

Some dry-wipe marker worksheets

  • Place these pages in plastic protectors and use dry-wipe markers for quick easy games
  • Do just 1 or 2 activities at a time
  • Enlarge the page for younger children

During my formal teaching career I saw many children battle and struggle and “fall through the cracks”  because the system does not offer safety nets for those who can’t keep up.  Children who are given remedial help, label themselves and live with stress, fear and low self-esteem.

Homeschool is the perfect place to build up confidence, boost self-esteem and progress at a pace that the child copes with.  Parents can tailor-make their schooling to suit the child’s learning styles, interests and needs.

I am so grateful that I can quickly respond to my child’s difficulty.  I don’t mind spending a week on the mat instead of her weeping over her notebooks.

Even my middle child joins in because she doesn’t want to miss out on the fun!  And why not?  She can reinforce her skills and boost her confidence.  My children have fun and catch up without even realizing that we are doing therapy.

We keep the sessions short and sweet.  And with repetition, she will quickly improve her skills.

(While these activities were created for remedial work, young kindergarten children will benefit playing these games to boost their pre-reading skills.  Use colours and shapes instead of letters. :) )

Blessings,