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We start our school days with a fun exercise similar to brainstorming - we each take a piece of paper and pencil, set the kitchen timer for ten to fifteen minutes and see how many words we can make from the letters in the topic word or phrase. Lately, we've been using The Daily Buzzword for this activity. If the word is too short, we use a modification of it - adding 'ly' or 'ing' or the like. Each letter can only be used once in the new word for every time it occurs in the original word. Then we take turns reading off our list and marking the duplicates with a circle or dot...then we see who had the most words, who had the most unique words, how many we had all together, and what ratio of unique words to total words we had. It gets everybody thinking, and it's good practice for neatness, spelling and stretching the mind. The kids absolutely love it - of course, the younger kids' spelling will likely b a little inventive, but they love to participate too, and often come up with several that the rest missed. (Alternatives: write down all the words you can think of that have anything to do with a particular subject (we've used water, noses, trees, food, home, etc., or a topic that we are studying) or see how many words you can come up with that rhyme with it.)
Another fun practice is to pick a dipthong (a vowel sound combination like ou, ay, ow, etc.) or starting consonant blend (like th, st, dr, etc.) and see how many words you can come up with that include it.

Scrabble, UpWords, Boggle and dictionary games are fun ways to work on spelling, speech and thinking skills too.

Reading Links:

NEWHeaps of Harry Potter Spots Loads of links for using the Potter books to teach and enhance reading and writing skills
Timeless Classics booklists according to student age
the Academy of American Poets includes National Poetry Month (April) Website!
Mother Goose Rebus Rhymes
The Goggle-Eyed Green Hairy Monster and Me An fun and friendly uproarious romp with the critter under the bed
A Child's Garden of Verses
Poems Selected by Jim Trelease
Poetry for Kids
Favorite Poem Project: Americans Saying Poems They Love (Ages 13+)- Parental Guidance Suggested
Teach With Movies Guide sheets for many movies that can be used as teaching tools - great resource!
Shakespeare is Elementary!
Shakespeare for Children
A Short Course on Shakespeare's Hamlet
We're Making Macbeth Teaching Shakespeare to Children
Myths and Fables From around the world
Fighting the Fidgets take action when working with the younger ones
The Caldicot Awards Winners History of the award and a listing of all the winners since it's inception in 1938
Summer of My German Soldier Study Guide
The Official Brian Jacques Homepage Get to Know the Redwall Series
The Reading Dimension Great place! Author info, crossword puzzles with story words, book list to introduce the story, discussion with other kids online after you've read the book and an online literature expert you can ask if you have questions
Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fables
Read by Age 3 Reading and Reading Disabilities
Book Talk The newsletter for kids who love books
Jan Brett's Home Page She shares some wonderful stuff here, drawing lessons, coloring pages, masks for "The Mitten", and more - A Must Visit!
Little House in the Big Woods Activities
Children's Literature Carol Hurst's book reviews, recommendations, lists by author, title, subject and grade level
Reading List from The National Endowment for the Humanities - grade specific - some texts available on-line
Adventures From the Book of Virtues
Reading Rainbow
A Celebration of Women Writers
Tarika Readin', Ritin' &'Rithmatic
Valder Learning Systems teaching reading & great used book source (proceeds go to fund scholarships at their tutoring center)
Jennifer Slegg's Little House Homepage Lots of Laura Ingalls Wilder info and links
American Literature WOW! Classics, on line, by the chapter...WOW again!
Children's Authors and Illustrators & their Books also teacher resources
The Library in the Sky
Eldritch Press Nathanial Hawthorne and more online classics

Search BarnesandNoble.com for kids read

Writing, Spelling & Grammar Links:

Spelling it Right - Learn to Spell Confidently Advice, exercises and puzzles to help you improve spelling skills.
Five Guidelines for Learning to Spell and Six Ways to Practice Spelling
Penmanship Fonts at the Teachers' Parking Lot
Paragraph Draft Sheet to print out font is alittle rough, but useable - I'll try to get a better one.
Cursive Writing Practice Sheet to print out has base and middle guidelines
Phonemic Awareness
Two Word Autobiopoem write a fun poem describing yourself
Basic Cursive Handwriting Font includes the lines for setting up practice sheets, an excellent cursive font for under $10!
Memaw's Creative Writing Corner includes "Poetry Patterns, Journal Topics, Warm-up Activities, Word Play Fun, Literature and Poetry Springboards, Short Subjects, A Special Measure of Gratitude", and other writing project starters for elementary grades
Spelling Activities word lists & mini-lessons help students achieve spelling mastery
Exploratorium Magazine Where do Languages Come From?
WriteGuide individualized writing curriculum - use as a one-time service for an important piece of writing, such as a college essay, term paper, or other single writing assignment, or a full-fledged writing curriculum, tutor, or curriculum supplement - has a reasonable fee for submission of writing projects.
28 Rules of Spelling from the Riggs Institute
Word Central Really great place with 'Word of the Day', dictionary history, fun games and more
The Neverending Tale An on-line, interactive writing adventure
FunBrain! Lots of fun interactive games to hone your skills!
Ask Jeeves For Kids Easy, Fast, Safe place for kids to get answers on the net
The Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurusthe Educational Dictionary - Play the Word-Link Game
Vocabulary Universityexercises to enrich classroom curriculum and to help prepare for the SSAT®, PSAT®, GED®, SAT® and ACT®
WWWebster Thesaurus
Roget's Internet Thesaurus
Origin of Phrases
One Look Dictionaries
Ask Eric Language Arts Lesson Plans
Wacky Web Tales on-line wacky story writer that helps with parts of speech practice
Getting Started With Journals
Twain Associates, Inc. Enough About Grammar: What Really Matters and What Really Doesn't?
Young Writers
Elementary Grammar
The Alaphabet Superhighway See the Writing Center (Lots of other good stuff here too!)
Guide to Grammar Grammar helps with Grammar (but where's Gampar?)
The Eight Parts of Speech and a whole lot more
The Write Site Middle grade students and instructors will find lots to use here

Search BarnesandNoble.com for Elementary Grammar

Suggested Software and Videos

Basic Cosy Grammar Course(youth-adult) - A gentle, quiet set of easy to understand lessons in a thorough two-video course. See our REVIEW

Hickory and Me (preK-1) - Alphabet practice and letter games - My 5yo has loved it for a couple of years now.

Word Rescue/Word Rescue Plus Word Rescue, Episode #1 (preK-4) is available as downloadable shareware from Redwood Games (another homeschooling mother!) - 4-way scrolling levels - customize 3 difficulty levels: - match words with their pictures - pop-up help for pre-readers - choose to play as a girl or boy - great fun for lower grades (and parents)

Reading and Me (preK-1) Reading readiness

Reader Rabbit 1, or 3 - (K-3) - The Learning Company - fun honing of reading, writing & thinking skills

Storybook Weaver Deluxe - (K-12) -from The Learning Company - Great creative tool, with story starters, pictures for illustration, backgrounds, stamps, many picture editing capabilities, spell checker, sound effects, and more...turn the kids loose and see some results!

Word Munchers and Super Munchers - (6-adult) - from MECC - loads of fun and great practice keeping the troublesome Troggles at bay while learning, matching and munching words with like vowel sounds or similar meanings, catagories, etc. - customizable!

As some wize person once said, "So many books,...so little time...".

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This page last updated on 06/13/01