2012 – National Year of Reading

I know I have spoken a few times about how much we all love to read books. I fact my ultimate goal in life is to have enough books – and my own dedicated room –  to have my own library… Ambitious I know, but hey, I love books!

I however find it very distressing to know that according to love2read.org.au

Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.

This statistic makes me so sad for all those people who can not read or stuggle with words. Yet it also makes me extremely happy that I have a family of readers, who can not only follow a recipe, make sense of timetables and read a newspaper, but choose to read for the sheer pleasure a book brings to their lives.

For us, the opportunity to read a book is an opportunity to be carried away to a far off time or place. It allows us the privilege of being able to view life through another persons perceptive. It brings far of lands closer to home and the opportunity to step back in time or travel to the future. Every word in every book, brings with it a new experience, an increased level of fulfillment and also contributes to the overall well being of us all.

So if you love books, why not share this love in 2012, by involving yourself in one of the following activities (these are just examples, the possibilities are endless!):

  • Read to your children for a minimum of 30 minutes a day or
  • Incorporate a minimum of one hour of reading into your learning week
  • Share a good book with a friend or family member
  • Buy a book as a gift for the birthday party you or your child/ren have been invited too.
  • Blog about your favourite book,
  • Spend family time around a book, rather than in front of the TV
  • Curl up in bed or on the couch with a good book

What ever you decide to to enjoy yourselves!

Tasmanian Premier’s Reading Challenge 2011

Well over the last week and a half the children have been busy getting stuck into the Tasmanian Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2011. The challenge runs for ten weeks from the 16th of May until the 22nd of July. The idea is that the children each read ten books – around one a week – for the duration of the challenge. The books can be anything they choose to read that is age appropriate. We however set our own goals and rules for the challenge which differ from the exact rules of the Premier’s Reading Challenge.

For Phinee we have decided in consultation with her that she is to read a minimum of 20 books during the course of the challenge- which is roughly 2 books a week. It was agreed that Phinee can choose ten books to read and the other ten books will be chosen by Tata and I. So far Phinee has already read 5 books, 2 of which she has chosen herself and 3 that we designated. As always it is likely that Phinee will finish this challenge way ahead of schedule as she is a very active and strong reader who chooses to read books just for the sheer pleasure of doing it :).

As for Nik well the idea is for her is to try and read ten books during the challenge. Being only new to reading and just 5 years of age, We have chosen books for her to read that are engaging and meaningful plus we take the opportunity to read them with her first a few times, before she reads them to us. Already she has read three books for the challenge in just over a week, so we are very confident that she too will complete the challenge in the designated time frame.

The girls also love reading books together and here they are with a few of their favourites!

Weekly Update – 9th April 2011

Well another week has come and gone. This week has seen us continue on our path of learning and exploring Aesops fables. As part of this we had to make ourselves headbands to depict three characters from the Tortoise and the Hare fable.

We then wore the headbands and the girls had to explore the story and possible alternative endings. We read multiple versions of this story written by various authors to understand different view points and perspectives as each story had the same underlying features, but each was also unique in how the story was told. This was a fun and exciting exercise. We talked about events and how different people see them differently and how even though multiple people can experience the same event they can have very different perspectives and viewpoints and recount very different experiences.

In following with this theme we have started reading a series of books called ‘My Side of the Story‘. They focus on an event in time and then present two sides to that one event. The first book we read was Escape from War. This book presents two perspectives from two very different children, Frank and Hannah, who are living through the events of the second world war. Their paths are interconnected, yet each has their own unique spin on the war and how it has affected them and their families, and therefore how they perceive it. The book is true to the difficulties faced by children in World War II and is very engaging and informative.

The second book we have read is called The Plague. It focuses on the bubonic plague as it embraces London in 1665. This story focuses on the lives of two children called Rachel and Robert. They two have interconnected lives, yet each has their own story to tell regarding the plague and how it affects their lives and families. This book is also based on facts about the bubonic plague and provides a very interesting account of what it could have been like to live in London during this frightening event.

Both of these book have provided Phinee with access to historical information, as well as two very different perspectives of the same major life changing event as seen through the eyes of children around her own age. This has helped to make the challenges they faced seem more real to her and opened up her knowledge of how far we, as a human race, have come since these early years. Discussions we have had have focused around topics such as medical improvements, health conditions, living conditions, a superior breed of humans, freedom of religion as well as needs of people and how they have changed (or haven’t) over time and so much more. We now can’t wait to read two other books in the series together – Salem Witch and  Trouble at the Mill.

Phinee has also been busy reading books of her own choosing. This week seen her enjoy the following books within the Roman Mysteries Series by Caroline Lawrence. They are books 3,4,5,6 & 7 and called The Pirates of Pompeii, The Assassins of Rome, The Dolphins of Laurentum, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina and is now onto The Enemies of Jupiter. There are 17 books in this series, so she has a few more to go before she is finished.

On Monday we took a trip into Richmond. Richmond is a gorgeous town in Tasmania, full of history, fine dinning, shopping and many little art galleries, specialty shops and tourist attractions such as the Richmond Gaol and The Richmond Bridge. We had wanted to have a picnic in the gardens there, but the weather was not the best, so we just enjoyed a stroll around the town and a look at the local buildings. The girls share my passion for old and interesting architecture, so we had lots to look at.

During the week Phinee has written a long letter to one of her penpals Anneke in America and sent it through the post with a few postcards as well as a small gift for her. Now all she has to do is respond to her other penpals in Florida, Hawaii, Alaska and then she might be back on top of her letter writing! She has continued to explore her latest interest in Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. As part of her English work this week she had to envisage herself as being Queen Elizabeth I and write a letter to her father explaining what had occurred since his death. Phinee embraced this challenge and wrote a lovely long letter to King Henry VIII that was full of  facts, and feeling and was very engaging to read.

This week has seen Nik show more enthusiasm for sit down learning. She loves to do a lot of hands on activities, but getting her to actually sit and do her book work at times can be difficult. She is a real wriggler at times. She has however managed to complete all tasks as given which is all we can ask. Nik is yet to write another letter to her penpal in Florida, but she enjoys receiving letters so much, that I just need to remind her that to receive a letter, she has to actually write back to her friend and then I am sure she will finish her letter and post it this upcoming week

Wednesday seen us all enjoy a night out at the local pub for a meal. This is something we have done a few times since moving here. It is always nice to go out and enjoy some one elses cooking, and even more wonderful when you are supporting local businesses, especially when we have so few of them in town!

Other things the girls enjoyed this week include netball, dancing and bike riding. We walked around our town of Kempton (originally called Green Ponds) and took some pictures of the town. We enjoyed a morning in Claremont at the park while Tata’s car was getting serviced. We did some cooking, played hopscotch, completed our learning outside in nature and had a great week.

Here are some picture of our week in action, Enjoy!


Weekly Update – 2nd April 2011

Usually I write my weekly updates just for our family, and keep them with all the documentation I usually stow away for our monitoring visits. Sometimes we will reread them just for our own memory lane kind of activity, thus giving us an insight into how far we have come and what we have covered. However we have decided to share these – as often as we can – hopefully weekly with anyone who cares to read them.

This week has seen us extremely busy with our reading. Nik has enjoyed the progressive phonics books along with our nightly reading as we read together from the book Disneys Bedtime Stories. This book has fast become a nighttime favourite. Phinee has also enjoyed a good week of reading. It is always hard to try and keep up with not only the names, but number of books she has read in any one particular week. This week she has finished reading The complete collection of the Brothers Grimm’s Fairytales and The Roman Mysteries book 1 -The Thieves of Ostia, however I know that she has read a number of books that I have not written down, which is something I should have done. Note to self for next week – write the names of the books down for future reference!

Finally we finished reading our family read aloud book Elizabeth by Katheryn Lasky. This was a very good read and left us wanting to read more. The discussions that occurred through the reading of this book were also very interesting. We discussed the fact that Elizabeth only had one stable person in her young life, which was that of her nanny. The fact that she was never meant to be a queen and what that meant for her in life, as well as how it affected the way her father approached her and her upbringing. We also discussed her relationship with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, and how the beheading of her Mother, Anne Boleyn, affected her throughout life, even though she was very young at the time her mother was beheaded Elizabeth was greatly affected by her mothers passing.

Phinee can name the order of Henry VIII’s wives, she also can explain the differences between his three children, who are all half siblings, and who their mother’s where. She has learnt the order of the demise of Henry VIII’s wives also….

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived!

We are now looking for our next book to read together. Not sure which book that might be…. but we will choose from the following books. I have a sneaking suspicion that as we are studying the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland in depth the winner will be ‘Henry VIII  Wives‘, but you never know!


Other things we have been up to this week include a lot of cooking. The girls enjoy this kind of activity very much. We have tried a few new recipes as well as some tried and true old favourites. They included choc chip cookies, scouse, rum balls, bean and tomato soup and kotletti. I had taken some photos of the girls cooking, but the memory card in my camera decided to become faulty, so I have lost them. Thankfully I have managed to order a new card and hopefully it will arrive on our doorstep on Monday, so we don’t miss out on photo opportunities too much in the near future.

This past week has also seen Phinee get back into the swing of Netball, which started a few weeks ago. She is playing well and keeping on top of the other players she comes up against. So far they have played four games and won two out of four. Nik on the other hand has started dancing up again. She first started dancing a few years ago, but with us moving and different things happening in our lives, it just never stuck. Anyway, Nik has now started her dancing again, which she is very excited about. So we went and purchased her some new pink leather dancing shoes and also some tan Bloch tap shoes. She has her own black leotard and top. The dance schools colours are deep purple and black, so I am hoping to eventually find her a purple top or leotard to mix and match her black dancing clothes.

We have started reading and looking at Aesop’s fables. This came about while reading ‘Elizabeth’ as it talks about her reading Aesop’s Fables and actually translating them from Latin into English. We however have just started reading them and trying to take a deeper understanding of certain one’s. I purchased the following book – Literature Pockets, Aesop’s Fables and we have been using part of it along with our own study pages to explore Aesop’s fables and all they have to offer. The girls are enjoying this, especially Nik.

Nik has been working hard in her Spelling Rules A and Comprehension Checkpoints workbooks. The more she uses them the more she enjoys them and feels a sense of achievement. Nik is also using the Targeting Handwriting Book 1. We have found these textbooks to be great for our homeschooling needs. Nik loves the fact she has her own books, that are similar to Phinee’s and that she can do the ‘same’ book at the same time as her bigger sister. Phinee is however using the Spelling Rules D book as well as Targeting Handwriting 5 and Comprehension Checkpoints 5. Other books Phinee utilises are Mighty Mentals and Signpost Math 5.

Here is what some of these books look like –

Targeting Handwriting: Year 1 Student Book
Mighty Mentals: Bk. C
New Signpost Maths for Victoria: Student Book 5 (Signpost Maths)
Targeting Handwriting: Year 5
Spelling Rules!: Makes Spelling Stick: Bk. A: Student (Spelling Rules! S.)
Spelling Rules!: Bk. D: Student (Spelling Rules! S.)

I am sure there is a million more wonderful things we have been up to this week, but for now I shall wind up the weekly wrap up and if anything comes to mind I shall put it in a separate post!

Enjoy your upcoming week, as we definitely will!


Progressive Phonics has returned!

Years ago when Phinee was learning to read, I stumbled across on online website called progressive phonics. This started the whirl wind love affair that I have with this reading program. I found this site as Phinee had struggled through 12 months of learning to read at school and gotten nowhere.

The usual system of how children are taught to read these days totally failed her. So in sheer desperation I looked for an alternative method of teaching her to read. So over the Christmas Holidays of 2006 I stumbled across and started implementing progressive phonics. Back then the first few books were free in order to show you what the system offered and then if you wished you could purchase (for around $15 usd) the whole program. So I bought it and six weeks later Phinee was a confident reader and she has never looked back! My Money was more than well spent!

Roll on 2011, Now it is Nik’s turn to learn to read. She has always had a keen interest in books and loves to have stories read to her, but now she really wants to be able to read herself. So I brought out the progressive phonics books I used with Phinee and decided to also check out the website to see if any new books were available.. Well wasn’t I pleasantly surprised! Progressive phonics has definably progressed. The books have been rewritten and are now available totally free to anyone who wishes to register and download them! – Thanks to some sponsorship the creator managed to gain 🙂 – absolutely fantastic!

So here we are now enjoying the alphabetti books, beginner phonics books and the sheer delight in Nik’s increasing ability to read more and more words.

The books are very engaging, yet simple. The illustrations funny and overall the whole program amazing!

Dod and Bob are definite favourites in our house!

Here is a sneak peek at the Alphabetti books available at Progressive Phonics!