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for the love of reading

One of my biggest goals as a mother and homeschooler is to raise readers. I grew up in a “reading family.” We didn’t watch much T.V. but we had unlimited amounts of books always available to us to enjoy. And I can safely say with the exception of maybe one sibling we ALL are pretty avid readers. I.LOVE.TO.READ. I easily read one book a week. Seriously, nothing makes me happier that sitting down with a good book. However, in this day and age with so many avenues of entertainment available to kids it makes raising readers a bit more challenging. I am constantly reading blogs, checking Pinterest and searching the discovery page on Instagram for new and exciting books to share with my littles. But I find that sometimes it’s not just the content of the book itself that gets my kids excited but more so the event and/or environment surrounding reading time. It’s amazing how a cup of hot chocolate or tea, a cozy blanket and roaring fire can turn reading time into a cozy event, or a comfy patio chair, sunshine and a glass of lemonade can make reading a reward after a morning of school.

We also do a read aloud as a family. Last year we read the Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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It was lovely, through By the Banks of Plum Creek. My kiddos enjoyed hearing about Laura’s adventures with her sisters and life as a pioneer family. Well all that changed when we hit By the Shores of Silver Lake…

WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD

When we returned to Plum Creek my kids where devastated to find out that Mary was now blind, Jack was dead and they had to leave their lovely home on Plum Creek because poor Pa, bless his heart, just couldn’t produce a fruitful crop of ANYTHING. It was upsetting to say the least. We had to take a step back from the Little House Series because I thought, “well kids if you think this is bad wait till we get to the Long Winter!”

Anyway, this year we are doing the Harry Potter Series.

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Which is a ton more fun because after we finish each book we have what we call a, “Harry Potter Party” watch the movie and have themed snacks and drinks! I know what you are thinking, if my kids couldn’t handle a blind girl and a dead dog how in the world are they going to process the trauma that is the Harry Potter Series? First of all(“through God all things are possible. Write that down.” – Always Sunny anyone?), since Harry Potter is clearly fictional my kids see it as merely that, a fun FAKE story about a wizard boy and his wizard friends but we will see how they feel when we get to the end, YIKES!

It takes us quite a bit to get through the books because our short attention spans only allow us to read a chapter a school day but we finished The Chamber of Secrets(book 2) this past week and enjoyed Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets on Friday complete with…

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and of course

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This has become such a fun tradition for our family and it gets them so excited to keep reading.

What do you do to inspire reading in your kiddos? Comment below with ideas or tips you would like to share as well as books you think we might enjoy!

Happy Sunday!

learning to read

First of all I’d like to start out by saying I AM NOT A TEACHER. Anything I share in this post or any others about teaching my children at home is not in anyway to be taken as “expert advice” and merely the sharing of methods and products that have worked for my kiddos. I am also not being paid to share ANY of these products #Ipaidforthis.

Anyway, like I said before I do not have a degree in education, I am actually fun fact, a beautician. But I will say I am the single most invested person in my children’s academic progress. That fact plus the unending supply of resources and products available to me(and you!) online, at the library or in your local bookstore make me perfectly qualified to teach my babies anything really but today we are talking about reading so lets chat about that….

When Gracie was learning to read I was obsessed with researching and purchasing the BEST tools to help her and guess what? All those super amazing kits/tools I bought spent the majority of their life with us in a box on a shelf and now they live in a beautiful magical place called, The Goodwill. These are the things that worked best for my kiddos and honeslty made the whole process much easier for me.

First, letter magnets. We have had several different kinds but these are the ones we are using right now.

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And they are by far a crowd favorite over here. Also, spoiler alert I found them in the dollar spot at Target. These magnets live on our fridge and honestly they are already becoming obsolete because Eliot has mastered letter recognition. My kids spend a majority of their time at my feet while I am in the kitchen so every time I was doing dishes or cooking dinner we would go over the letters just a few at a time until they knew them all and could put them in order.

Another fun toy that was often played on the kitchen floor is this letter puzzle by Melissa and Doug.

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This one in particular is perfect for introducing letter sounds and they are self correcting which I am all about anything that does a little bit of the work for me, am I right moms or am I right?

This book was recommended to me by another homeschooling mother recently and I love it.

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It focuses on letter sounds and putting them together and it gradually moves on with simple, short lessons that can be completed 10-15 minutes. I did not have this book when I was working with Gracie and Noah and damn I wish I had because it is so easy to follow and all you need is the book, kindergarten lined paper and a pencil.

My absolute FAVORITE products for teaching your child to read is hands down the BOB book series.

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Gracie and Noah both used these books and I just added this Sight Word box for Eliot.

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They are perfect for building confidence because they follow simple phonics and are perfectly short and kinda funny which is key for keeping your littles attention.

I’m linking an Amazon list I created here with all these products if you are interested in purchasing any of these items for your little student. Also, comment below or send me an email if you have any tips/tricks/tools/products you used and LOVED or HATED for teaching reading.

we homeschool but we are still sort of normal

In 2017 Corey and I decided to pull our kids out of school and begin homeschooling. It has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of parenthood to say the least. First I would like to say we were completely happy with the school my children were attending. They were happy, I was happy, they were learning and growing had good friends all that stuff. I just felt in my “mommy gut” that this was not the place we were supposed to be. I was homeschooled as a child, did you know that? Honestly looking back it was such a wonderful gift my parents gave to us kids. My siblings and I are still so close and I believe that is a direct result of the fact that we spent EVERYDAY together. Those relationships have been the driving force behind our decision to homeschool. Anytime, I feel discouraged or I start to wonder if what I’m doing is best I think about all the fun memories of making up games with my siblings, riding bikes in the circle or the endless hours we spent in the woods swinging on vines and building club houses. That is what I want for my kids. Because it really is true that friendships will always come and go and evolve over the years but family, that’s forever.

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I’d be lying if I said the transition from private school to homeschool was seamless. Anytime you make a change in your life there are going to be complications and kinks that need to be worked out. I am still figuring out curriculums(I’ll talk more about this later) that work best for my kiddos (spoiler:they all need something different) and most days we are just trying our best. But you know what? Gracie and Noah both did state testing at the end of the year and humble teacher mommy brag, Gracie tested almost identical if not above how she tested in private school and Noah literally owned that test! Seriously, the kid tested above and beyond his previous testing scores {insert mommy giving herself a high five}.

You want to know the best part of having them home? The way they treat each other, love each other and truly enjoy each other is by far my greatest accomplishment. And that relationship I so desperately want them to have with each other? It’s there, growing and weaving their little lives together every day.

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We may not homeschool forever but I am so very thankful for this time with them at home. And even if tomorrow we wake up and decide this isn’t whats best for our family anymore they will always have the memory of the two years we spent around our dining room table learning, laughing and sometimes crying together.

If you are interested in homeschooling leave a comment below or shoot me an email. I’d love to chat!

About Me

Hi! I’m Joanna, a wife and mom of three. I was born and raised on the West Side of Cincinnati Ohio and Corey and I are now raising our kiddos here. Our life isn’t all that glamorous or exciting but it’s ours and I’m obsessed.