Literacy Night Merging with Halloween

I spend a fair amount of time volunteering at a local elementary school. It is 100% free or reduced lunch.  The students are about 100% African Americans although that statistic hides the deep diversity in that community.  If there were other stats kept and published by schools about how “challenging” the school population is, this school would register as having a very tough time. Data could be on number of single parent homes, mobility of population, substance abuse issues, percent of adults with high school education completed etc etc.

However, they are doing well. They get the parents in for events for instance.  One way is they focus on events where the kids perform and which are fun and which have food.  They avoid long talks or any talks by admins which are unpleasant boring and slow.

Every year, they have a Halloween night (usually the week before) when the kids read aloud in the evening. They perform.  The parents attend to hear the kids read. Sometimes to keep it fast and light, they have several kids read together. So four kids might read and perform together.

Every year there is a theme. Last year was Suess. This year was super heros. So the kids were reading books or in the upper fifth grades, essays written by the kids which featured a superhero theme.  And some adults entertained dressed as super heros!

One question that obsesses me is to figure out what the US population of fifth graders is really like demographically, what are the statistics on the 5th grade US population in 2017-18 school year? The article that I cite and where I am trying to make pingbacks work has high level stats on the types of education they receive (homeschool, private, public, charter, virtual) but does not segment them by demographics, odds of success, state or otherwise. So much to figure out still!

Spring or Fall?

Last I worked on this educational blog, I was very spring themed. I’m now looking forward and I feel to happy and bright, it feels like spring time! Realistically, not so true since this is October and I can remember learning in elementary school about the four seasons and how they work with the months.

Anybody remember the story of the king who wanted a fifth season with something more than sun, leaves, snow, and rain? It was a Dr Suess book with Oobleck, the foolish king wanted something new to fall from the sky. So he had his magicians conjure up oobleck which of course turned out to be a terrible disaster.

I have long wondered where in the history of teaching reading and literacy, the Suess books belong. Are they consider decodable readers with no intrinsic value? Are they “authentic” literature which pulls students towards literacy?

I’ve been into the reading and history of literacy teaching in the US and I’m appalled by how many major goofs have been made by educators, researchers, and the politicians.  More on this later. Right now, let me throw in my two cents for the traditional practice of vocabulary and spelling words in each though a word list that is relevant to this weeks words, that teaches important patterns and distinctions, and which uses words that are vital to the curriculum and which will reappear regularly so that they enter long term memory. For those of you who would like some materials to being with, I strongly advise using well curated lists from VocabularySpellingCity such as  second grade spelling word liststhird grade spelling listsfourth grade spelling lists, and fifth grade spelling spelling list.

SpellingCity aims to help fourth grade teachers by providing hundreds of free fourth grade spelling and vocabulary word lists that can be used in their lesson plans. Word lists can be used to assign fourth grade-level interactive games and activities to students that supplement vocabulary, and word study instruction. Teachers can also access printable worksheets that coincide with pre-made lists, like the Metaphor Practice Worksheet. These free printable worksheets are perfect homework practice for students who do not have access to technology.

Fourth grade spelling and vocabulary word lists are aligned to popular reading series and literacy programs including Journeys and Wonders, making them easy to add into fourth grade lesson plans. Such lists support fourth grade language arts curriculum and can be paired with VocabularySpellingCity’s online games and activities to provide literacy practice. There are also vocabulary lists for fourth grade literature studies such as Bud, Not BuddyBecause of Winn Dixie, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

VocabularySpellingCity also offers varied fourth grade lists that support ELA standards. These include lists that support grammar, vocabulary, word choice and writing such as antonyms and synonyms; homophones and homonyms (multiple meaning words); and figurative language. Writing practice activities can be assigned on the VocabularySpellingCity site to further engage fourth grade students in vocabulary study.

Spring Is Kite Flying Season

Did you fly a kite when you were a kid? I think I can safely say that most of us have at one time or another flown a kite. In fact, I still fly them. I guess this is one part of my childhood that I never grew out of. There is just something about picking out a new colorful kite and watching it soar high into the sky. Since spring is the best season for kite flying because winds tend to be the most prevalent, this would be a great time to buy a kite. Or as part of your homeschooling, art curriculum, you could even have your child make a kite with you. Then you and your child could enjoy this favorite childhood past time together.

Spring into Science

Spring has arrived! This is the time of year for animals to come out of hibernation. If  you have not studied about the different animals that hibernate in your homeschooling yet, now could be a great time to learn. I have always found it interesting that animals are able to survive for so long, asleep. For example, did you know that if blood is taken from a hibernating ground squirrel in the winter and then injected into an active squirrel in the spring time, that active squirrel will actually go into hibernation. Why? Apparently, scientists have found a special substance in the blood of hibernating animals called HIT (Hibernation Inducement Trigger). There are so many more interesting facts about hibernating animals. This is a perfect study to add to your 5th grader’s science lessons (;

Interest Learning

Interest learning is always the best, in my opinion. I think we can all agree that when you are interested in what you are learning, you are able to retain the information much better. That is why I love to add interest led unit studies to our regular homeschool curriculum. Recently, my 5th grader has been obsessed with space travel, planets and such. From books to documentaries, and internet searches, he just cannot seem to get enough information about the topic. I love to see my children thirst for knowledge. Reminds me of one of the reasons I chose to homeschool 🙂

Valentine’s Day

February 14th, Valentines day, is almost here. Growing up I went to public school and I can still remember how much fun I had picking out Valentines for my classmates. We always had a party when we would give out our Valentines and then we would go through and see the Valentines we had received. Cupcakes and punch were also part of the day’s events. Now that I have my own children, I knew that even though I would be homeschooling, I wanted them to have fond memories of holidays in school too. That is why I have always made the day special. I let them make themed decorations. We add themed printable worksheets, and games too. Of course, I also buy cupcakes and let my children make Valentines for family and friends. It is just a lot of fun, not just for my kids, but for me too. Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone <3

Internet Safety

Does your 5th grader have their own computer, tablet, or maybe a smart phone? Maybe they got one for Christmas, or maybe they do not have their own, but they have access to one of these devices from other family members. With access to the internet available in most homes today, and many kids having their own devices, the ability for kids to get online is easier than ever before. This makes internet safety for kids that much more important. If you have not talked to your kids about internet safety, if you have not put safe searches and parental guards on the devices your child has access to, now would be the time. Remember that children, no matter how young or old need us to provide these safe guards for them.


Homeschooling in the Winter

Winter has arrived! Time for days filled with snowball fights, snowman making, sledding, and nights cozied up in front of a roaring fire. Just a fun time of year! Of course, this time of year is also great for homeschooling. Winter unit studies are a thing fun to do, in place or in addition, to your regular homeschool curriculum. Your child can learn about winter weather and winter animals. You can also add fun themed printable worksheets and crafts. A unit study is simple to create, but you can also buy them pre-made. Whether you make or buy one, it is sure to liven up your homeschool lessons. Happy Holiday’s Everyone!

Fifth Grade Math

Math is one of the subjects that either you like or you do not like. So, unless your child likes this subject, you may already being hearing some complaining about their fifth grade math . At this time, the math is getting a bit harder. Your child is doing decimals, fractions, and may even be starting to do some algebra and geometry too. For my children, I try to help lighten the mood during math, by adding some math gamesMath games can really help ease math anxiety and help children not only learn the material, but maybe even develop a love for math.

Spooky Homeschool Fun

Does your fifth grader like Halloween? Most kids do. I mean what is not to like? There is dressing up, candy, spooky decorations, spooky television shows, and spooky books. Holiday’s like Halloween are a great opportunity to add some fun into your homeschooling. Besides making themed printable worksheets and reading spooky books, you can teach cooking by having your child make candy or Halloween themed foods. Kids can also have fun making decorations for the house. They can even help create and make their own costume. So, as you can see, Halloween really offers a lot of spooky learning opportunities.


Happy Halloween Everyone!