Wednesday, May 18, 2022

ABC Letter Crafts for Uppercase Letters!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page.

Looking for a fun way to teach letters? Check out the new Uppercase Letter Crafts book from All About Learning Press! 

These are so cute and would make a fun supplement to Pre-reading or just on their own as an introduction to letters!

Uppercase Letter Crafts has 120 pages and features:

  • 26 colorful cut-and-paste animal crafts that can be completed using only scissors and glue
  • Fun rhymes that accompany each craft
  • Additional activity ideas that reinforce important pre-reading skills
Here are the online samples. Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Giveaway: All About COLOR!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page.

All About Reading is coming out with an amazing, new FULL COLOR edition for all levels! The Readers, Activity Books, and Teachers' Manuals will all be in color! This will be ready to ship on January 10th. Check out all the details in this blog post, Introducing All About Reading Color Edition!

And to top it off--they are having a HUGE giveaway worth $1000! All 4 levels plus an Amazon gift card and other items--check out all the details here!

$1000 GIVEAWAY! I can't even believe it! So awesome!

Have any questions? On Tuesday, December 11th at 3 PM Central there will be a Facebook live Q&A where I'll be sharing more about some of the updates and answering your questions--I hope you can join us! Watch our Facebook page for details. And don't worry if you miss it--you can still view the video later. Hope to "see" you there!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Super-cute, FREE, ABC Crafts for Preschoolers!

Free ABC Animal Craft Book for Preschoolers! 

If you're teaching a preschooler this year, here are some great activities! Every Wednesday for the next 26 weeks, All About Learning Press will be sharing a series of cut-and-paste alphabet crafts for preschoolers. (Note: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page.)

Use these to reinforce certain letters or make them all and let your future reader create a book! Each letter craft is perfect to use as a stand-alone lesson or along with other “letter-of-the-week” activities.

ABC Crafts
Kids can create their own ABC book!

What’s in the Series?

  • Weekly craft posts (the first one publishes on August 16!) featuring easy-to-follow instructions and downloadable templates for every letter of the alphabet
  • Handy tips for incorporating essential pre-reading skills into craft time
  • Quick demonstration videos for each craft

Letter "A" is a toothy alligator, J is a jiggly jellyfish, R is a rascally raccoon... adorable!

And if you would like even more ideas for working on letter recognition, check out these hands-on activities:

Preschool Letter Recognition
Play-dough, tactile letters, fabric alphabet, bracelets, caterpillers, and more!

Have fun working with your little ones!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Should I Do All Seven Levels of All About Spelling?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page.

Sometimes people do three or four levels of All About Spelling and then wonder if they should complete the program or move on to something more independent for their children. I always like to say--if it's "not broke, don't fix it!" But sometimes there’s only so much of mom to go around and parents wonder if it will be time well spent. We decided to do all seven levels, which takes students up to high school level spelling (the last level includes 9th-12th grade level words). So I can say without reservation, it was definitely worthwhile for us! 

So, how can you decide what you should do?

First, consider your children’s abilities. Do they tend to pick up spelling concepts easily? If so, they might be fine moving to something that’s more independent. On the other hand, if their current successes are due to being directly taught (All About Spelling is working), or if they tend to need lots of review and a mastery-based program in order to succeed, then continuing on is a good idea. 

Second, consider your goals and your children’s interests. Are they enjoying the program? Do you find that learning the rules behind why we spell words they way we do is helping them to be successful? If so, these can be good reasons to continue rather than try an independent program. I loved several aspects about the upper levels:
  • Everything starts to come together in level 5. Students learn the rest of the phonograms and can start spelling longer and harder words. The upper levels helped me address many more spelling mistakes.
  • There is more focus on word analysis. In the lower levels, students are told which spelling method to use, but in the upper levels, they learn how to decide this for themselves so that they can learn how to study any word actively. (My kids used to want to skimp on the word analysis, but this is some of the most important work in the program—this is where kids’ really learn to appropriate the concepts for themselves. If you have a student who isn’t actively applying what they know, work more on word analysis skills.) 
  • There are a number of helpful rules in the upper levels (one rule in level 6 helped me overcome one of my spelling bugaboos). Students also learn how morphology (or word parts) can help them spell tricky parts of words. A word like local where the A is muffled is easy to spell if you know the word locality, because you can clearly hear the short A sound.  Many “shun” endings (-tion, -sion, -cian) become clearer to students when they understand how morphology can help.
  • We loved learning Greek and Latin roots in level 7 and how that knowledge impacts spelling. 
  • I was able to get “double duty” out of Levels 6 and 7 by teaching a lot of vocabulary at the same time that we did spelling. 
  • The seventh level includes creative writing prompts—my daughter had a lot of fun with those!
Older students can sometimes move on from the tiles and do all of their practice in writing. Or, it might be time to consider the Letter Tiles App if they still benefit from the hands-on practice and demonstrations but feel they've outgrown the physical tiles. 

I also found I could tweak my approach in the older years and do one or two independent days each week. I taught them one-on-one Monday-Wednesday, or sometimes Thursday if needed. At the end of Wednesday's lesson, I gave them the words for the Writing Station activity, and had them do that for Thursday's work. On Friday, they used a page or two from the All About Homophones book. 

Finally, think through your priorities and time needs. Where do your children need the most help? If your child has never struggled with spelling or seems to learn words without any practice, an independent program is worth considering. In our case, I knew that my children really needed that support in spelling and to continue working on automaticity in writing through spelling practice and the dictation exercises. People use spelling and writing skills on a daily basis, so they are critical skill areas like reading and math. 

However, my time already felt pressed on all sides with students who also needed ongoing support in reading and math, vision therapy for one, and a husband who is disabled. So, sometimes I had to get creative in making everything work! 

For example: one year for science I used an audio-book for my 7th grader (so he could read along or just listen if the volume was too much), and I let my fifth grader basically “unschool” for science. She helped pick the books, and I told her to work on science for 30 minutes each day. She could: read, copy a diagram into her science notebook, do an experiment, go in the back yard to do nature studies, or draw or write about science in her notebook. We do a one-on-one time daily, so I was able to check in on her progress and hear about what she was up to. I was a bit nervous about this "hands-off" approach at first, but ironically it turned out to be a great year. A budding little scientist emerged who took part in science fairs for the next 6 years!

Some families find that they can restructure priorities in other ways. Maybe Dad can take over a subject such as science experiments, reading history, checking math, or another subject that can lighten the load. Other families use audio- or video-based materials for history, or choose to outsource a class.  If spelling needs to be a priority in your family, think outside the box about how you might restructure your time to meet this need.

I’m glad we worked through all seven levels. All About Spelling has given my kids a great foundation for life-long spelling. When my kids went to college and needed to take essay tests, they were really glad for the years we spent working on spelling and writing! What has worked for your family?

All About Spelling

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Combining Notgrass Government and Sonlight 430

I've done several posts on combining Mystery of History with Sonlight--we really enjoy Sonlight's literature selections and some of the biographies, but I often find myself drawn to other spine texts. When it came time for my oldest to do Government, we decided to go with Notgrass (which he really enjoyed). Not wanting to miss Sonlight's literature, we again added in many of their selections as readers and read-alouds. We did this his Junior year, while we were waiting for the last volume of Mystery of History to come out. My daughter will use it for her her senior year (and I'll have to come up with some different read-alouds when she does it, since she's heard these). Here's what we did (and how we liked the books):

For Read-Alouds:
1 – Scarlet Letter, (My kids enjoyed this as a read-aloud and thought Pearl was laugh-out-loud funny--which made me ham her up a bit. Seriously, they made me like this book instead of just considering it "good to eat" like veggies, LOL!)
4 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,
10 – The Day They Came to Arrest the Book, (Good follow-up to Huck Finn--I think this might have been removed from 430)
13 – My Antonia, (Enjoyed when I was a teen too)
16 – Mama’s Bank Account, (Notgrass suggestion, delightful)
19 – Best Short Stories of O. Henry, (eh, we read a few, not our fave)
22 – Dry Divide, (excellent)
25 – Snow Treasure, (Core H I think...anyway, it was fun to read aloud)
28 – Escape from Warsaw, (ditto)
31 – Death of a Salesman, (talk about a totally depressing play with almost no redeeming characters--one minor character, and the possibility of one character becoming redeemable...but I was glad to read it because I knew a man just like the main character, who also met the same end for the same I found it deeply profound despite my daughter's protests of "why would you read such a book to us?!")
34 – The View from Saturday, (profound, funny, sometimes sad, wonderful. Might have been moved to 100--I'd do it either way)

1 – Dug Down Deep, (book I added, pretty good)
4 – The Giver, (well-liked)
6 – Mark Twain: Humorous Stories and Sketches, (Notgrass suggestion--I did it so my son would have a reader by Mark Twain since I was doing Huck Finn as a RA, but the stories were very enjoyable)
8 – The Portable Edgar Allen Poe, (My poetry-hating son LOVED Poe!)
10 – In His Steps, (I think this was a Notgrass suggestion...powerful book worth reading)
14 – Our Town, (Classic play, worth reading, enjoyable)
16 – Bud, Not Buddy, (Son really enjoyed this book)
19 – The Chosen, (excellent)
23 – Evidence Not Seen (excellent)
26 – Going Solo, (Core 200...son enjoyed)
29 – Black Like Me, (powerful book, worth reading)
33 – The Outsiders, (again a powerful book--one of my son's favorites of the year)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mystery of History 4 and Sonlight for High School

As I have posted before, Mystery of History 4 works well with Sonlight and for high school. We're using it this year for my senior and sophomore, and have not been disappointed. This may turn out to be our favorite volume yet! Even my non-history loving child has been excited to tell me about several of the lessons (the early one on Bach and Handel helped my music-lover!)

This year is our most "eclectic" year yet. I had planned to pull books mainly from Sonlight 300 and then other cores for the earlier time period, but I also really wanted my oldest to get some British literature in, and a more focused "literature course" before going to college. (I tend to have us read and enjoy literature, discuss what interests us, and only occasionally do "literature analysis.") So with that in mind, I had to be pretty ruthless in deciding which Sonlight 300 books we could read aloud. I decided in the end to do Learning Language Arts Through Literature Gold (British Lit), some 300 books, a few from 530, and even a book from Core H and Core F, to round out our lit for this year.

We read aloud for about 30-45 minutes per day typically. Here's what I came up with (the number preceeding the book shows the approximate week I hope to start this book, and the chapters after show how much I anticipate reading per day):

Summer Read-alouds:

The Best of Sherlock Holmes (2 days per story, 4 weeks)
The Wednesday Wars (9 sections, 30 pgs each, 2 weeks)

School Year Read-alouds:

1- In Search of Honor. (Core H. 1787 – French Revolution: 3 ch)
3- Jane Eyre – (Core 200. 1 ch)
9-The Importance of Being Earnest – (Core 530. 1890’s: ½ Act/day 1-2, 1 Act 3)
10- The Great Brain – (1900’s beginning: 1 ch)
12- Murder on the Orient Express (2 ch)
15- Old Man and the Sea – (1940’s: 25 pages)
16- The Hiding Place (1940’s: 1 ch)
19- The Great Divorce (Core 530. 1-2 ch)
21- Alas, Babylon – (1950’s written: 1 ch)
23- Breaking Stalin’s Nose – (Core F. 1950’s-ruled 20’s – 50’s: 6 ch)
24- My Father’s Daughter – (1952: 1 ch)
27- Red Scarf Girl – (1966: 1 ch)
30- To Destroy You Is No Loss – (1975: 1 ch)
33- There’s a sheep in my Bathtub – (1990’s: 2 ch)


The Scarlet Pimpernel (French Revolution)
As You Like It – Shakespeare (filmed at the Globe)
All Quiet on the Western Front  (WW I)
Cry, the Beloved Country (1940’s just after WWII)
Ghandi (1950s)


Gulliver’s Travels (1726: 39 chapters, 2 chapters per day, 3 weeks)
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (53 chapters, 2 per day = 4-5 weeks)
Fallacy Detective: 38 Lessons, 1 per week?



1 – Emphasis on Poetry
6 – Romantic Poets – Wordsworth, Coleridge
9 – Frankenstein
13 – More Romantic Poets – Shelley, Keats
15 – Emma for dd, Gulliver's Travels for ds
21 – Victorian Poets – Tennyson, Browning, Arnold
24 – A Tale of Two Cities
30 – More Victorian Poets – Hopkins, Hardy
31 – The Time Machine
33 – Modern Poets – Eliot, Owen, Graves
34 – Animal Farm

If I wasn't doing British Lit, I might have chosen differently for the readers, though I think the time frame lines up nicely to do British Lit with this level of MOH.

We've already veered from this slightly--since MOH 4 wasn't ready when we started our school year, I started with Jane Eyre (thought-provoking look at character, faith, the internal battle when resisting sin.) Hopefully we'll hit In Search of Honor close to when we study the French Revolution.

One more change--after pre-reading Emma (used in LLATL Gold), I decided my son would not be interested or amused by it! (He did sit through Pride and Prejudice as a read-aloud a couple of years ago, and did well with that after the first 1/3.) So I'm going to substitute Gulliver's Travels for him when that comes up.

That's one reason I really like coming up with a one-page list like this--it makes it easy for me to alter plans depending on what we're doing in the year, and to make the curriculum work for us, while at the same time giving me a solid plan to follow for the year.

I'm really excited about the variety of books this year, and the chance to discuss compelling works, as well as include some humor. I'm treasuring this last year of working with my son before he graduates, and enjoying both students as they become young adults. Sometimes homeschooling high school is intimidating--I can look too far ahead and lapse into worry and fear about the future. But the Lord pulls me back and reminds me they are in his hands, and to treasure and cherish today and the gift of homeschooling.

Friday, August 22, 2014

AAR 4 Sneak Peek

For those of you anxiously awaiting the release of All About Reading 4--it's not too much longer! All About Learning Press is hoping to release it the week of September 8th. Read more about it and check out an activity you can download to get started: "Eagles Learn to Fly"


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Games for Practicing Math Facts

Many family games and board games involve a math or reading component and can combine family togetherness with working on math facts in a fun way. Games for younger kids can strengthen counting skills (Think Uncle Wiggly, Sorry, CandyLand, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho-Cheerio and the like), and games for older kids can strengthen calculation skills.

Here are some games we've used for practicing math facts:

Multiplication Math war: 

This is just like the card game war--each player gets half a deck of cards, but instead of turning up one and having the highest number take both player's cards, turn up 2 cards, multiply, and the highest product takes both. If you tie, then you do a war--3 cards upside down, and then 2 turned up to multiply.

Play until one player has all cards or set a time limit & the person with the most cards wins.

Take out Jacks-Kings if you don't want to multiply with them, but you can use them for 11, 12, and 13. Aces can be 1 or 14, depending on whether you wan to go easy or hard.

You can also follow similar rules to play Addition War--highest Sum wins.

Phase 10 Dice 

This is a great game for showing kids how to add quickly by making 10s, as well as beginning probability skills.

The game comes with 10 dice, and the player has to make sets and runs, depending on which round they are working on. They get three rolls, and if they complete the "phase," they add up the points on their dice. I modeled adding by physically making 10's with my dice--9 and 1, 8 and 2, or 8, 7, and 5 to make a 20, and so on. Once the kids saw how this made adding faster, they quickly learned to manipulate their dice to make 10's or 20's as well.


Addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills are all used in this game. And as a bonus, there are cards to read as well.


Addition and multiplication skills


Conceptual skills with fitting shapes together and using them to block your opponent's moves


Definitely a family-favorite! A dice game that involves addition, multiplication, and probability

Five Crowns 

A fun card game with changing wild cards and progressively more cards that need to be used. Addition skills--players have to add the remaining points in their hand.

What are some of your favorite games that also involve a math component?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hope Is My Anchor: Win Invisible Illness, Visible God, and other book...

Hope Is My Anchor: Win Invisible Illness, Visible God, and other book...: Jenn at Busy Being Blessed is having a " Blogiversary Bash " to celebrate her 12 years of blogging! She has some amazing giveaways and freebies planned, including many homeschool items...


Monday, May 26, 2014

AAR - Fun Review and Fluency Pages

Here's a bunch of ideas you can use for both the fluency pages and the word cards in All About Reading to incorporate more review. Have Fun!

For the word cards

Use games to review the word cards. Pull out favorite family board games like Sorry or Candy Land, and have each player read a word before his or her turn. You might enjoy Bake the Cookies as a way of reviewing.

There's also a bunch of other free games--Over Easy, Word Flippers with F/L/S, A Flock of Ducks for L1, and Feed The Anteater, Be a Lumberjack, and Wake the Sheep for L2.

All About Reading Activity Bundle

For compound words, there's Banana Splits. You can find that and the Free Penguin Fun Facts book for reading or spelling practice in the free Winter Practice Activities.

If your child enjoys games, consider getting the Ziggy Supplement for some folder game options you can use for review. (These were designed to go with level 1, but can be used with cards from any level.) 


You may also want to check out: Rhyming with Candy Hearts, which has words you can use with levels 1-3 of AAR.


Use the word cards to make up phrases and sentences for your child to read. Let your child also make up funny or silly ones for you (or a reading buddy) to read as well. Some kids really like that!

Pull out word cards that rhyme (start with a small number and work up) and play the matching game--mix  them up, turn them over and each player flips over 2 cards, says the words, and if they rhyme, the player keeps that pair.

Here’s an idea for kids who like to color: take coloring pages with big spaces and write review words or phrases in blanks. When the child reads the word, they get to color that space until the picture is complete.

Do the activities from the activity book more than once during the current lesson, and also bring back activities from previous lessons.

For the fluency pages:

Sometimes students do get overwhelmed by the amount of words on the fluency pages. Marie has some great ideas for using the pages to make them more fun or interesting (and there are more great ideas in the comments section to, be sure to check that out!) Check out the Top 5 Tips for Using the AAR Practice Pages. A lot of these will work for readers too. A few more ideas:

Use the viewfinder bookmark to read them.

Use the page for your reference only and write the words, phrases, or sentences one at a time on a white board.  When your child can read one line well, try writing two lines at a time.

Make the words/phrases/sentences with tiles for your child to read.

Mix up the exercises a bit more–do something from the next step and then just a bit of the fluency reading from the previous step. This will stretch the next step out a bit more, and give a bit more fluency practice, without having the practice be all together in one chunk.

Use the words, phrases, and sentences to come up with a little book together that your child can read.  Put one phrase or sentence on each page, and let your child draw a picture, or cut and paste pictures from a magazine on each page.  My kids used to really enjoy making up little books like this.

What are some fun review ideas you have used with the cards or fluency pages?