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  1. I love this thread--and ElizabethB, that video is great! The /a/ with m or n issue is exactly the blending problem that I had with dd using AAR. I didn't notice the way short a changes at first--my mom, with her EdM in language and literacy, pointed it out to me as a reason that dd is struggling to blend--and she's totally right. The the tongue placement for /an/ or /am/ is in a different place than it is for /at/ or /ap/ and dd could not make the leap from saying the separate sounds to saying them as a word when the sound changes even a little bit. My mom said that for kids who struggle with blending you can teach the vowel sound attached to the consonant that controls it (phonics programs already do this for more pronounced examples like r-controlled vowels, ang/ing/ung/ong, etc). So, you teach -an and -am as word parts, and then the child works on blending it with the initial consonant.
  2. I see what you're saying, HoppyTheToad - I haven't previewed past episode 23 but I've read the synopses to 80. It does look like the pace changes at 40 and you get comparatively more sight words. I'd still call in strongly phonics-based though. DD is now 11 lessons in the only sight word on headsprout is "the" (at DD's school they're still introducing letter sounds and not pushing blending that hard, but the kids have 20 sight words they're supposed to know--so that's kind of my point of comparison). The thing I'm really loving about Headsprout is how the phonics are organized. Every sound segment that is introduced is completely stable--so, "ee" will always sound like "ee" in English, and "an" will always sound like "an," "v" is "v" and so on. Part of our struggle with sounding out with AAR was that right from lesson 1-- the short /a/ is introduced with with /p/ and /m/...and /a/ does *not* sound the same in "map" as it does in "Pam." It's subtle, but there's and extra leap the the child needs to make during blending to get to the word. DD wasn't getting it all the time and was getting super frustrated. If you're being introduced to stable sound segments and then blending words like: see, Lee, van, can, ran, etc. It's a lot easier of a bridge to blending, at least for my kid. We'll see how it goes past lesson 40, though, the program definitely changes.
  3. As the title says, I'm in love with this app/program...has anyone else used it with their dcs? We did AAR pre-reading over the summer before K (DD is in public school) and I was attempting AAR Level 1 at home since her school does "whole language" with leveled readers and DD is getting nothing from it--but with AAR she was having a ton of trouble blending and was extremely resistant to the level 1 lessons. DD just completed lesson 10 of headsprout, which is an "assessment level" with fluency sheets to check for weak spots--and I'm so pleased with her progress and the lack of resistance I'm getting from DD when it comes to reading.
  4. Do free trials of everything! We're doing trials of Reading Eggs, Mathseeds and Headsprout right now and I'm extremely impressed with Headsprout. It introduces sounds, blending and segmenting with a lot of varied practice and in a very understandable way. DD is on lesson 9 (doing about 4 a week)--and I'm seeing huge progress. I really like that it introduces stable phonics segments that will virtually always be pronounced exactly the way the child learns them the first time (/ee/, /s/, /v/, /an/, /cl/...). DD is reading the Headsprout readers on her own, something she has not been able to do over the last 2 months with leveled readers provided by her kindergarten, AAR readers, or BOB books despite a lot of effort. I've previewed the lessons up to 20 and I just really impressed with how well thought out it is. I've previewed some of the reading comprehension lessons as part of the free trial too--they look well thought out but I can't comment on why my kid might think of them. :) Reading Eggs moves faster--especially with sight words--than Headsprout. I think it's pretty good reinforcement of letter sounds and sight words but at least for my dd, too fast and not enough blending practice to be her curriculum--I'd use it more as a game. Mathseeds is very repetitive but colorful and cute. Worth a try. I think there are co-op buys for all of these programs right now.
  5. I'm a full-time working mom by necessity--homeschooling is not an option. I'm very inspired by WTM and homeschooling--but for us it has to be afterschooling. Still--there is time in the morning and evening to spend a few minutes doing fun phonics and math--and we spend a ton of time reading. I am deliberate about making our at home time interesting and "enriched" -- Ancient Egypt was been the theme for October. We checked out a ton of books on Ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology and read them together on the evenings and weekends. We drew pictures of Egyptian dress and the gods and pyramids and hieroglyphics. We examine the maps and read related bible stories. We created an egyptian princess halloween costume. We also do units from Mystery Science every few weeks for fun. (The human body ones were super interesting and memorable) The books we checked out for November are about the first Americans (native) and Native American folk tales. It will be super fun. She's at an age where she just wants to soak up all the information and then let her imagination run wild with it. I don't know what it will be like after, say, third grade--but at least for these early years I feel like it's fairly easy to fit in some homeschooling even if you can't home school.
  6. I get it through a testingmom.com subscription which was $118/year. Through testingmom I've also got free logins to a ton of different educational websites/apps including: Webber's Hearbuilder, Wordly Wise 3000, Brittannica, MobyMax, Reading Kingdom, Clay Piggy, Scootpad, Scholastic BookFlix, Tumblebook Library, Planetii Smartmath... It's a surprisingly great deal if you use even 2 of them.
  7. Just wanted to check in and say that successful blending happened this morning!! The look on dd's face when she realized she'd just read "map".... :) And then Pam, sap, am, sam.... I had her touch each letter and make its sound, then do it again faster. then I had her put her finger under the first "m-a" and said, "This says /ma/" and had her repeat--then I asked her if she could add the last sound to that... and she finally did it! It went smoothly with the other words and she's so excited now. For the past week we've revisited blending briefly every day and I've modeled what we're trying to do--the rest of the time we've been working on letter sounds, say it slow-say it fast, and a few sight words she has in Kindergarten. I'd say it's been 3 weeks of attempts before it just now clicked for dd. OP, I hope your son has a breakthrough soon too.
  8. We're in a similar place--AAR pre-reading has totally caught up my 5.5 yo dd on her phonological awareness skills (she passes the AAR 1 pretest with flying colors now) but we've been trying lesson 1 of AAR level 1 for a week now and she can't blend. For now we're in a holding pattern--we review the basic phonograms every day, attempt to blend a few times, and then practice initial sounds and robot voice (say it sloooow, say it fast). It was suggested to me that if you give a child the first consonant attached to the vowel of a cvc word, you can help transition into blending. For example, teach that "ca" says /ca/ and then add /t/ for cat or /p/ for cap, if f that makes sense...We are trying this but it hasn't clicked yet.
  9. What do you guys like the most? History Buffs? Architecture? Art? Pizza? Theatre? Music? If you have anything you're particularly passionate about, NYC will have something one-of-a-kind to offer in that area. Do any of the big attractions call your name?
  10. Yes! If you haven't done so yet, watch this video with him. You might want him to take this free online course on How to Learn Math -- he probably has all kinds of fear and judgments about himself wrapped up in slowness and the possibility of getting the wrong answer. It can be paralyzing.
  11. With a Kindergartener here: I almost don't count our read alouds--they're just part of every day no matter what. Other than reading aloud the one thing I aim to hit every day is phonics.
  12. I'm one of those people who thinks that giftedness in children is kind of a scam. Malcolm Gladwell has written extensively on this--what we call childhood "giftedness"--the 99% percentile 4,5, and 6 year olds--it's not very meaningful in the long-term. That said, a high score on those tests mean extra resources and options for your kid and that's never a bad thing. If you think your child would benefit from the options or accelerated learning, I'd encourage you to prepare them for the test a bit...and take the results either way with a heaping tablespoon of salt. Testing in 6th grade or above is more predictive, but even then it's just a tiny piece of the picture of a child's skills and potential.
  13. The Library is #1 inter-library loan is like Amazon to me, but it's FREE!! I know there are are others with great link collections to vintage public domain materials--they're great. I agree Progressive Phonics is fun and useful. Mystery Science is free this year and we LOVE it. The Crash Course videos are awesome--there is a crash course for kids that geared toward the elementary set. Free Teacher Resources that can be adapted for Homeschool: The Core Knowledge Foundation has pdfs of all of its curriculum for free online--you would probably need an ereader to really use the materials, but the lesson plans and stories are high-quality and could be adapted for use at home. ReadWorks.org https://www.learner.org/
  14. After school crankiness is exactly why I've been doing the bulk of our after schooling in the morning BEFORE the school day. :P Afterschool we mostly just read together. I agree that snacks are hugely important. If we get any learning done in the evening it's with a snack or a Popsicle. One thing I'm surprised the article doesn't mention is sleep. Lots of cranky students are not getting enough sleep at night...I know if DD gets a solid 11 hours I'm probably going to have a good evening cooperator, but if she has trouble falling asleep on time (even just a little less than 10.5 hours at night) she's burned out by 4 pm and I shouldn't push it.
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