Category Archives: Literacy

6 Ways to Use a $1 Foam Puzzle

I know I’ve said it before but I’m going to say it again, Dollar Tree is a homeschooler’s friend. Our latest Dollar Tree find was a foam puzzle with the letters A -Z and numbers 0-9. It has been pretty easy to adapt this puzzle to practice fine motor, literacy, math, and even life skills. Here are 5 ways we’ve enjoyed using our $1 find:


Learning your phone number. The age in which children should learn this varies. Some 4 year olds can grasp the concept of a phone number, some 6 year olds still struggle with it. Whenever your child seems ready, you should teach them their number (or in our case, mom and dad’s cell phone numbers). Knowing their phone number is especially useful if they ever become lost or separated from you. (more…)

Sensory Sight Word Valentines Work

This was a rather simple yet very fun seasonal twist on our usual sight word work.

I started simply enough with a pink sheet of construction paper which I wrote on with a similar shade of pink crayon. I used simple words: red, pink, one, two, I, love, you, play, look, little, big, etc.. and I also drew several hearts onto the page.

I offered the construction paper on a tray with a few small containers and q-tips for painting.
Inside one container, plain water. Inside the other two containers 1 tablespoon of kool-aide mix with 1 tablespoon of water.

Sensory Sight Word Valentines Work from Suzy Homeschooler 1 (more…)

The Day I met Norbert the Nutjob -or- How I got my First Audio Book

I’ll admit, there was a time when I didn’t see the point in an audio book. My husband offered to get some audio books for the children’s daily quiet time and I declined, “Why would I want an audio book when I could just read aloud to them?”

That all changed the day I met Norbert the Nutjob.
You see, when I read aloud to my children, I often get into the character and adjust my voice to reflect the character’s personality and mood. Norbert the Nutjob is a Viking chief and, like most Vikings he did not speak, he yelled. However, unlike other Vikings, Norbert had a story to tell.

I entered into Norbert’s monologue oblivious to the task I was taking on. When the text said he yelled, so did I, and I did so without a second thought because I had done it so many times before. I yelled when I read the voice of Stoick the Vast. I yelled when I read the voice of Gobber the Belch. I yelled for so many other Vikings and I did so easily because most Vikings are men of few words. It is easy to yell a sentence or even a paragraph.
But Norbert the Nutjob did not stop at one meager paragraph nor did he stop at one measly page. No, Norbert jabbered on and on and on for an entire chapter about the vegetable that we dare not name (potato) from the land that does not exist (America).

By the end of the chapter, I had literally lost my voice.

The next day, when I was still struggling to speak due to the strain on my throat, I quietly asked my husband to please, please get us some audio books.
How I got my first audio book and audio book rental services (more…)

How to Teach Your Kindergartner to Type a Thank-You Note

One thing about my family that some people think is kind of odd, we say thank you a lot. And we mean it when we say it. Example: I make dinner 5-6 nights a week and my husband still looks into my eyes and says, “thank you for cooking.” Another example: My husband has never failed to bring home milk after work when we are running low. After almost 6 years and countless gallons of milk I still kiss him and say, “thank you for picking up milk.”
Our children see this daily effort to express gratitude for other’s efforts and they just naturally fall in step. When our son was a toddler, he used to say, “thank you too much.” Our daughter until recently was selectively mute however she still gave the ASL sign for “thank you.”

I don’t say all this because I want to give the impression that I’m some sanctimommy. The truth is, our family has crap just like any other. But the one thing we are really good at, is appreciating one another.
Unfortunately, when it comes to holiday and birthday gifts, a hug and a heartfelt “thank you,” is simply not enough to truly show gratitude. That is where thank you notes come into play. (more…)

DIY Montessori Movable Alphabet Round-Up

One thing I hate about the Montessori method is how easy it can be for a person to focus on the beautiful yet expensive materials. Many times when reading Montessori blogs and once when reading a Montessori e-book (none of which I will name because I refuse to bad-mouth someone for having a differing opinion than myself), I read about how the Montessori method hinges on the proper equipment. These classroom tools can be pricey individually and when you add them all up the costs become impossible for most homeschoolers. Some people will claim that the Montessori method is only for the “cream of the crop,” not suitable for every family nor every child.

Which brings me to the thing I love most about the Montessori method: it *IS* for everyone. Seriously, I have never met a child who wouldn’t benefit from at least some Montessori inspired activities. Even those who don’t have a strictly Montessori education (we sure don’t, we are an eclectic homeschool) could still benefit from some Montessori work.
And thankfully, it does *NOT* have to cost an arm and a leg to offer your children these activities. I’ve talked to many moms online who have bought materials second-hand or joined a lending library to rent materials at low-cost. Besides that there are whole websites dedicated to DIY Montessori materials! Some projects would take a bit of craftiness but others would be easy for anyone to make.

One tool that we use in our homeschool classroom almost daily is our movable alphabet. It is used in both the traditional Montessori way as well in various fun activities we come up with on the fly.
DIY Movable Alphabet Round-Up, Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)

The Foot Book Sensory Bag

I’ve made sensory bags before and my children both really loved them. It is so easy to do, you just need a Ziploc baggie, some duct tape to reinforce the sides and seal it shut, dish soap or hair gel or similar to fill it, and sometimes some trinkets to toss inside. It is a fun, affordable, mess-free way of getting some sensory play in. Especially great for babies who have limitations on the types of sensory play they can engage in.
I saw this really cool idea to make a sight word sensory bag on Childhood 101. Perfect for LittleMan to practice his reading and still a fun sensory toy that SunnyGirl would enjoy. Unfortunately, mine did *NOT* turn out as well as the one I was inspired by. You should click on the above link and check out the original idea. Beautiful, right? And then there is mine…
The Foot Book Sensory Sight Word Bag, Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)

Free Play with Literacy Manipulatives

Occasionally I like to lay out a variety of materials and let LittleMan pick what we do. When I do this the activities usually either fall into the math or the literacy category, I don’t like to mix numbers and letters at this stage.
Today I put together our set up outside so we could have room to run.
I didn’t bring out all of our literacy manipulative and activities, just about 1/3 of them. I thought too much would be overwhelming and would detract from experience.
Literacy Free Play, Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)

Rescuing Insect Words from a Sticky Spider’s Web

This week we are focusing on insects and arachnids in our homeschool classroom. It has been a fairly dull week, full of the usual activities: reading books about insects and arachnids, looking at dead (preserved) insects and arachnids with a magnifying glass, discussing the anatomy, life cycle, diet, habitat and such of insects and arachnids. It is all fun and fascinating but it has all been blogged about before by so many other people so I won’t bore you with the details.

Here is one thing we did that hopefully you haven’t seen before (because I came up with it myself, lol!).
Insect Names on a Sticky Spider Web from Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)

Using a Coloring Book for Learning Activities

LittleMan has kind of a weird quirk with coloring books. Most children I know will look for a page they like, color it, look for another page they like, color it and when they are done there may be 5-10 pages colored and they are content to move on to a different activity leaving the rest of the pages for another day. LittleMan starts on page one then moves to page two, then page three and so on coloring in EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. refusing to do anything else until the entire book has been finished. His reaction when offered a coloring book is almost obsessive. For this reason, we have had to limit his access to coloring books, which is something we never wanted to have to do.

On the plus side, there are many ways to make garden variety coloring books into an educational activity. Here are some of the ways we utilized a dinosaur coloring book from Dollar Tree in our homeschool classroom:

Using a Coloring Book for Sight Word Practice from Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)