Pragmatic Mom

December 13, 2009

Best Math Workbooks for Home Supplementation

Pragmatic Mom finds that no matter how good your elementary school is, there is always a need to supplement your child’s math curriculum at home.  For some of my kids, they needed additional challenge that their school was not providing.  For another child, I found that she needed more individualized attention to really “get it.”  All of my kids benefited from additional math fact drills, and home supplementation helped me to understand how my child learns and exactly what each child needed additional practice on.

I find these math workbooks to be very helpful.  I like to start my kindergartener in a word problem book by Evan-Moore which emulates the Chicago Math program, Everyday Math.  I find that introducing word problems at an early age helps my kids get an intuitive feel for translating words into number sentences.  At this stage, most of the problems are adding or subtracting so word problem translation to number sentences is simpler.  Then, when my kids face word problems in 3rd grade, they are not scared of them.

I like to start my  kindergartener on the First Grade book usually the summer before 1st grade.  This is a really fun book that my kids all actually loved doing.  They generally would do about half the book during the summer and finish up by year-end.  We could do 1-3 weeks in a sitting with my child begging to do more.  Really!  True story!

Daily Word Problems:  Student Practice Books. Grade 1 for incoming Grade 1 summer practice.  Publisher:  Evan-Moor.  Also at Lakeshore Learning. I recommend using the incoming grade book for summer practice  (i.e. going into 4th grade summer, use 4th grade book). Click on image of book to buy through

I  have my kids doing these books as both summer supplementation and supplementation through the year.  I also recommend the Singapore Math curriculum for additional supplementation.  Singapore Math is the curriculum used in Singapore which ranks usually 1st or 2nd in the world in math test scores.   Once you see their system, it’s easy to understand why.  The concepts are presented in a VISUAL and easy-to-understand way.  There is also adequate drill for mastering concepts which Everyday Math does not have.

Singapore Versus U. S. Math:  We Lose.  Singaporean students rank 1st in the world in mathematics on the TIMS and U.S. students rank 16th. …

Here’s a link to a study that rates Singapore best in Math, Science for 7th & 8th graders:

Compare your city’s math scores to the rest of the worlds.  FYI, Singapore scored the highest.

This is an interesting article from the New York Times by Benedict Carey published on December 20, 2009, about how children are capable of learning math at a young age.  They note that some of these methods have been successful in overcoming dyslexia.   Here’s the link:

Pragmatic Mom understands that it’s a lot to get your child to do two different workbooks at home.  I suggest using just the Singapore Math Text Book which is in color and has some drill as well.  Because the Singapore Math curriculum is also in a different sequence than Everyday Math, you will need to pick and choose chapters that reflect what your child is learning.  Use the Singapore Math Text Book to explain a concept your child is confused about and then do the problems in that section.  Alternately, follow the curriculum to challenge your child who is bored with their math curriculum at school and go one grade ahead.

Pragmatic Mom recommends using the book number as correlated to your child’s grade even though the books state one grade lower than the number listed.  If you click on the book, it will take you to Amazon to purchase.

For preschool, 1 year before kindergarten.  Earlybird Kindergarten 1A and 1B.

For incoming Kindergarten.  Earlybird Kindergarten 2A and 2B.

For incoming 1st grade, Primary Mathematics 1A and 1B.

For incoming 2nd grade, Primary Mathematics Textbook 2A and 2B.

For incoming grade 3.

For incoming grade 4.  (It says on the book that this is for grade 5, but it correlates to grade 4 at my school).

For incoming grade 5.


December 5, 2009

Favorite Dinosaur Books

Pragmatic Mom’s son went through a serious dinosaur phase that lasted almost a year when he was 4-years-old.  Now he’s into pokemon….sigh!  I prefer reading about dinosaurs!  But if you can’t beat them, join them.  If I am going to read nothing but dinosaur books, at least I want a range of dinosaur books from non-fiction to fiction to counting books and alphabet books.  Here are our favorite books, both story books and non-fiction books.  As always, click on the image of the book to purchase on


Dinosaur Bones by Bob Barner.  Pragmatic Mom’s neighbor’s boys love this book and wanted to recommend it.  [ages 3-7]






The Great Prehistoric Search by Jane Bingham.  My son loved the The Great Dinosaur Search so much that I got sick of reading it.  This was the next best thing.  [ages 3-7]





Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton.  Who doesn’t love Sandra Boynton books?  We read this book so much it was one of the first books my son memorized and pretended to “read.”  [ages 2-6]

The Magic School Bus:  In The Time of the Dinosaurs by Joanna Cole.  A really excellent series to introduce non-fiction to children.  [ages 5-9]





Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff.  A classic!  [ages 4-7]


The Great Dinosaur Search by Rosie Heyward.  My son’s favorite book; a search and find dinosaur book with lots of factoids.  Read this every night for months and it’s great for counting! [ages 3-7]






Insiders:  Dinosaurs by John Long.  A great reference book that is fun to read with really good and realistic illustrations.  [ages 3-10].

 I’m Bad by Kate and Jim McMullan.  A cute story book about a T-Rex who is hungry and BAAAD! [ages 3-7]





The Dinosaur Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta.  This is a great ABC book with interesting facts to keep the adult and child happy!  [ages 2-6]





Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda.  The most amazing pop-up informative dinosaur book EVER!  And he’s my neighbor’s best friend.  I hope to meet him someday!  [ages 2-adult]






Ten Little Dinosaurs (A Googly Eye Book) by Pattie Schnetzler.  A great counting book to learn numbers AND wiggle the googly eyes.  [ages 2-6]






Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc.  A fun story book to inspire the family to visit a museum of science!  [ages 3-7].






That’s Not My Dinosaur…its body is too squashy.  Usborne touchy-feely books.  A perfect quick bedtime book or for preschoolers who want to “read” on their own. [ages 2-5]

Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaur?  By Bonnie Worth.  A Cat in the Hat book in the style of Dr. Seuss.  This book is great because it gives you the pronunciation of the dinosaur names!  [ages 4-6]






How Do Dinosaurs…Series by Jane Yolen.  My son loves them all, especially reading the dinosaur names on the front and back inside covers.  [ages 2-7].

November 30, 2009

Favorite Picture Books to Build Vocabulary

These picture books are a fun way to build vocabulary effortlessly.  As always, if you click on the picture of any book, you can purchase it at


Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi.  An advanced picture book about a girl and her Korean grandmother and how they both learn to bridge the cultural gap with food.  Yunmi and Halmoni’s Trip is about their trip back to visit Korea.  [ages 5-8]


The Absolutely Awful Alphabet by Mordicai Gerstein.  Chock full of SAT level adjectives. [ages 2-6]






Owen and M’zee Non-Fiction series by Craig Hatkoff.  A true story about a remarkable friendship between an old tortoise and a young hippopotamus.  [ages 4-11]


 The Ballot Box Battle by Emily Arnold McCully.   Elizabeth Stanton tells young Cordelia about the fight for a woman’s right to vote while encouraging her to bravely jump her horse.  We have enjoyed all of her books, especially the Mirette series.  [ages 6-10]



Fancy Nancy series by Jane O’Connor.  Nancy’s fancy capers are beloved by all girls, fancy or not.  [ages 4-8]

Any book by Patricia Polacco except Pink and Say which is a great book about her ancestry at the time the Civil War but the content is too violent and sad  for small children.  If you read any of her book jackets, the  biography of each book will tell you about the people in her life who inspired each story. [ages 6-10]

Thesarus Rex by Laya Steinberg.  Lots of synonyms presented by a T. Rex.  [ages 5-7]

Anatole series by Eve Titus.  Anatole is a French mouse with a keen palate.  [ages 6-8]

November 14, 2009

Favorite Games: Add to 10

Adding to 10 is probably the most important addition fact set your child needs to know because it helps to break down longer addition sums by creating easy to add groups of ten.  In addition, your child can learn adding to nines by knowing the math facts to 10 and noticing that one of the numbers is one less.  So…if 6 +4 = 10, then 6 + 3 must be 9 because 3 is one less than 4.

These are the games she recommends from her assigned summer homework for  Incoming 2nd graders.

This was my middle daughter’s favorite game.  There is a long slow line of numbers and you fire a number ball to make the two numbers add to ten . This eliminates the ball on the line.  She would play this game well beyond her alloted time!

This is another  fun math game, kind of like a word search, except you search for 2 number pairs (either vertical or horizontal) that add to 10.

October 6, 2009

Favorite Chapter Books for Newly Independent Readers

I  find that there is a void for newly independent readers.  You know, the readers that have graduated from Henry and Mudge and insist on chapter books, but not ready for Newbery Award books.  While there are a plethora of chapter books, the quality of many series books  is low with a repetitive and tiresome story line and limited vocabulary. 

These chapter book suggestions come from mom friends as well the Between the Lions Book for Parents:  Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn How to Read by Linda K. Rath, Louis Kennedy, and Christopher Cerf, an excellent reference book.  

If you wish to purchase any book on, simply click on the image of the book.


Ivy and Bean Series by Annie Barrows.  A mom friend just recommended this and my daughter loved it.  The first book is about how Ivy and Bean became friends. [ages 6-9] 


Beast Quest series by Adam Blade.  A great series for a newly independent reader about beasts who threaten a kingdom and a boy who can save them. Here are a few of them. [ages 6-9]


No Flying in the House by Betty Brock.  Finally, a great fairy book without a plot that is recycled throughout an entire series.  This is about a half-blood fairy who is raised by her guardian, a 3 inch talking dog.  Lots of interesting twists and turns and highly recommended by the 7-year-old set.  [ages 7-10]

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh.   A true story about Sarah Noble, a brave 8-year-old pioneer child, who must leave her mother and siblings to accompany her father to the wilds of Connecticut while he builds a house for their family.  Can Sarah keep her courage up when faced with Indians?  With large type and short chapters, this Newbery Honor book is perfect for younger readers.  [ages 6-10]


26 Fairmont Avenue by Tomie DePaola.  Beloved author of Strega Nona fame has an autobiographical series covering 1938 through WWII.  Find these books in the BIOGRAPHY section of the library NOT fiction!  [ages 7-11]

Pinky and Rex Series by James Howe and Melissa Sweet.  Rex, a girl, loves dinosaurs.  Pinky, a boy, is her best friend whose favorite color is pink. Perfect for kids who buck trends.   [ages 6-9] 

My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett. A little boy rescues a young dragon and has adventures with his new friend.  [ages 6-9] 

Go Girl  Series by Thalia Kalkipsakis and Ash Oswald.  A new series a mom friend just recommended this series beccause it is about situations your child can relate to. [ages 6-9]

Lulu’s Hat by Susan Meddaugh.  Susan Meddaugh, author of the popular Martha Speaks series and tv show, has a chapter book written in her same picture book style that combines humor, wit and quick-thinking heroines.  In this case, her heroine is an aspiring magician. [ages 6-9]

Clementine (series) by Sara Pennypacker. [ages 7-10]


The Littles series by John Peterson.  Meet the Little family.  They are just like humans but much smaller with tails and live secretly among humans.  [ages 6-10]


Cobble Street Cousins Series (6 books)  by Cynthia Rylant and Wendy Anderson Halperin.   Wonderfully sweet and beautifully illustrated.  Perfect for girls graduating from Henry and Mudge. [ages 5-7] 

Mr. Putter and Tabby Series by Cynthia Rylant.  Retired Mr. Putter and his old cat Tabby have sweet little adventures together despite their doddering age.  If you are ready to move beyond Henry and Mudge, this is the perfect next move up.  [ages 5-8]. 


Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant.  I do confess that I love this author.  In this book, Cynthia Rylant channels Beatrix Potter writing sweet short stories about meadow animals. [ages 6-8]






Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant.  My second grader loved this book so much that she checked it out from the library after hearing her teacher read it aloud to her class. She highly recommends this to ANYONE!  She needs a little bit of help as there are lots of SAT vocabulary words on every page.  [ages 6-10]

A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.  This is my midde daughter’s all time favorite book for 2nd grade.  It was a little difficult for her to read on her own, so we spent the summer prior to 2nd grade reading it together.  She keeps asking her teacher for a book like this and her teacher, sorry, no other books as good as this one.   We also read Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride and it’s ok, it’s basically a short story about one evening when Chester Cricket makes a new pigeon friend and gets a ride above NYC.   But after trying to finish Chester Cricket’s New Home, my daughter decided to just find a new series because the sequels were disappointing.  Oh well, she’s been reading puppy stories…more on that later!

Favorite Picture Books That Teach Math Concepts

Pragmatic Mom’s oldest child is a visual learner so combining picture books with math concepts was a great way for her to get an intuitive feel for math.  Here’s some books we’ve enjoyed.  If you want to purchase any of the them, please click on the image of the book to buy at

Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz.  A funny story about a boy whose allowance burns a hole in his pocket.  Currency and subtraction are imbedded into the story.  [ages 4-9]

Chicka, Chicka 123 by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson and Lois Ehlert.  Sequel to Chicka Chicka ABC, this book is perfect for a child learning to count to 100.  W use the front and back inside covers to count to 100, count by 10’s, and count by 5’s.  It’s also fun to point out patterns because the numbers are wonderfully color coded as in, hey look how all the numbers in this column end in the number 2!  [ages 2-7]

Telling the Time by Heather Amery.  My five-year-old loves to move the hands of the clock.  It has taught him analog time by the hour and it also has one page to the half hour.  [ages 3-6]

Clocks and More Clocks by Pat Hutchins.  This is a good book to see if your child understands how to apply telling time to a real life situation.  There are different analog times displayed throughout the book in different ways from on the hour, to the half hour, etc.  You can just read the book and enjoy the story, but you can also use this book to practice telling the time.  [ages 4-8]

Ninety-Three in My Family by Erica S. Perl.  A really run rhyming book that is also a great story book . You can sneak math in by counting the 93 members of the family using the handy chart in the back.  Her website has other games and activities incorporating math with her book.   [ages 3-7]

Chimp Math:  Learning About Time from a Baby Chimpanzee by Ann Whitehead Nagda.

Minnie’s Diner:  A Multiplying Menu by Dayle Ann Dodds and John Manders.  The story is so fun that your child doesn’t even realize that s/he is being exposed to the concept of multiplication.  [ages 4-8]

The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang.  Mind stretching math riddles for kids that can visualize math in their heads.  Perfect for kids learning multiplication and skip counting.  [ages 5-9]

The Monster Money Book by Loreen Leedy.  Perfect for budding entrepreneurs as well as  kids learning how to handle their allowance.  [ages 4-9]

Mission Addition by Loreen Leedy.  A visual presentation of addition, perfect for little ones.  [ages 3-7]

Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy.  Fractions are presented in a visual and easy-to-understand way.  [ages 5-8]

Panda Math: Learning About Subtraction from Hua Mei and Mei Sheng by Ann Whitehead Nagda.

Polar Bear Math:  Learning About Fractions  from Klondike and Snow by Ann Whitehead Nagda.

Cheetah Math:  Learning About Division from Baby Cheetahs by Ann Whitehead Nagda.

Tiger Math: Learning to Graph from a Baby Tiger by Ann Whitehead Nagda.

How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz and Steven Kellogg.  It can be hard to describe large numbers to little ones and this book does a great job teaching the concept of a million.  [ages 4-7]

A Grain of Rice by Helena Clare Pittman.  A novel about how a humble farmer is rewarded with a single grain of rice which is doubled every day for 100 days.  A great way to learn about exponential growth…and then talk about this can apply things like saving money!  [ages 7-10]

October 5, 2009

Favorite Picture Books You’ve Never Heard Of

I love picture books; it’s a complete story in 24ish pages with a beginning, a middle and an end.  It’s a visit to an art gallery or a museum with beautiful artwork in all kinds of media — drawings, paintings, collages, and more.  It can transport you to another time and place, a different culture, or a different person’s point of view.  Picture books are NOT just for young children; I insist they are for everyone, adult and child alike.  My 4th grader’s teacher is reading Patricia Polacco’s picture books to the class and the kids are thoroughly enjoying them.  Picture books also make bedtime stories a pleasure because one reader can satisfy a wide audience. 

I  recommend these particular books highly because I don’t mind reading them umpteen times and my kids actually choose them for bedtime stories.   The picture books with an older age span are wonderful for rich vocabulary and many will transport you to other times and places both real and imaginary.  Enjoy!

You can find them on Amazon (click on picture of book to purchase there) or at your local library.  The list is in alphabetical order by author’s last name in case you are searching at the library.  A great resource that many of these books came from is Great Books for Girls and Great Books for Boys, both by Kathleen Odean.  Other entries came from book lists from elementary schools around the country and book lists from libraries.  Most of the authors have written many other books that are also excellent so if your child likes a particular book, I suggest doing an author study.

Click on the image of the book to purchase at

The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson.  Based on a true story set in 1817, this is the story of a sea serpent who came to Gloucester.  [ages 4-9]






The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold.  A ten-year-old girl fights for better working conditions during the industrial revolution.  Based on a true story.  [ages 5-9]

The Shape Game by Anthony Browne.  A trip to the museum turns into a drawing adventure.  Artists and doodles will love this book!  [ages 4-7]

From Here to There by Margery Cuyler.  A great way to get a sense of geography as a little girl travels from her house to the universe.  [ages 3-7]





The Empty Pot by Demi.  Trying your hardest and telling the truth wins a little boy a kingdom. [ages 4-8]

The Greatest Power by Demi.  The sequel to The Empty Pot.  [ages 4-8]






Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English.  Wonderfully illustrated with collage art, this is a story about a hot day in an inner city.  [ages 4-8]





A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee.  James and Eamon go to Nature Day Camp sort of learn about nature but have the best week ever!  [ages 4-8]






Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham.  A classic that I loved as a child that is now a favorite of my kids.






Dog Magic by Carla Golembe.  A story about how a little girl named Molly Gail overcomes her fear of dogs.  [ages 409]






Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson.  Clara is a slave who escapes to freedom by creating a quilt that maps the way to freedom.  [ages 5-9]

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard and E.B. Lewis.  Set in Reconstruction Tennessee, Virgie, a girl, goes to school to learn to be free. [ages 5-9]

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  An African-American  little boy living in an urban city spends the day exploring after a big snow.  A beautifully illustrated story.  [ages 2-7]

The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg.  A little boy’s mysterious tadpole grows too big to keep in his family’s apartment so he must come up with a plan to save it.  [ages 3-8]

Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryann Cocca-Leffler.  Mr. Tanen’s zany ties delight the kids at his school, but when the school superintendent insists he wear plain ties, something unexpected happens.  [4-8]

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester.  A rat with a lisp becomes the unlikely class hero. [ages 4-8]

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin.  A little Asian girl wonders why her garden is filled with ugly vegetables but, after a delicious soup, finds that her neighbors want ugly vegetables in their gardens as well. [ages 4-8]

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long.  A hilarious story of how Jeremy Jacob becomes a pirate. [ages 3-7]






Halibut Jackson by David Lucas.  Halibut Jackson overcomes his shyness and your child will have fun finding him hidden in every page. [ages 2-7]

Hog-Eye by Susan Meddaugh.  A little girl pig uses her wits to outsmart a wolf. [ages 3-8]

Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman.  Moses and his friends are all deaf and they take a class field trip to a symphony to meet a deaf percussionist.  [ages 4-8]

My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel.  Set in Tanzania, Saruni saves his money to buy something special to help out his mother.  [ages 4-9]






The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  A feminist take on a princess story in which the princess rescues the bum prince.  [ages 4-8]

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth.  Chinese philosopher Chuang Tze made accessible for kids. [ages 5-8]

Thank You,  Mr. Falker by Patricia Pollaco.  This is her story about how her teacher diagnosed her learning diability and helped her to learn to read.  My kids both raved about it.  [ages 6-10]






Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman.  School safety has never been so hilarious. [ages 4-8]

Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner.  A beautifully illustrated book about a tiger looking for his smith with a zen message.  [ages 3-6]





Ish by Peter Reynolds.  My preschool-aged son drew a “tree-ish” painting after the teacher read this book to the class about a boy who is discouraged by his paintings but then realizes that “ish” is better than painting realistically.  [ages 3-7]





Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson.  A bookmaker’s daughter during the 1400’s saves the day by helping her father illustrate a book.  Gorgeously illustrated.  [ages 5-9]

When I Was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia RylantA spare but beautiful story of a simple life growing up in West Virginia.  [ages 6-8]






Tea with Milk by Allen Say.  A Japanese-American young lady must adjust to living in Japan.  [ages 5-9]

A Symphony of Whales by Steve Schuch.  A beautiful and haunting story about a Siberian girl who comes up with a plan to save hundreds of beluga whales trapped by ice.  [ages 4-9]

Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Scieszka.  My little son loves this book about an alien boy who has a really great excuse about why he’s late for school.  The book uses words from many different languages which are fun to decode.  [ages 4-7].






Preschool to the Rescue by Judy Sierra.  Preschool-age kids love to act out this book about a sticky icky mud puddle with their trucks.  [ages 2-5]





Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown.  A loving tribute to Dr. Seuss in the style of Dr. Seuss about a library in a zoo.  [ages 3-7]

Don’t Say Ain’t by Irene Small.   Dana learns to navigate two worlds:  an advanced integrated school and the friends she has at home.  [ages 5-10]






Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley.  A funny story about a Sweetness, an orphan, helps the sheriff capture outlaw Coyote Pete.  [ages 4-7]

Doctor DeSoto by William Steig.  A dentist and his wife who are mice outwit a fox. [ages 3-8]






The Gardener by Sarah Stewart.  An uplifting story about a girl who lives during the end of the Great Depression. [ages 4-9]

Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnel.  A true story set in 1914 about getting a little girl to her grandmother’s house seventy-five miles away.  [ages 4-8]





A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams. Finally it’s time that mom gets to buy something for herself and finding the perfect chair is not easy.  [ages 4-8]





Yoko by Rosemary Wells.  Yoko gets bullied because her lunch and snack are different from her classmates.  [ages 4-8]






Night, Night, Stars So Bright by Noreen Wenjen.  The perfect toddler bedtime story.  [ages 2-6]

September 29, 2009

Phonics Workbooks & More

Supplemental Education Tools that Worked for Me — Phonics

There’s nothing like feeling like your child is falling behind to prompt a Pragmatic Mom to scramble for supplemental materials to catch her darling up.  Whether you feel your child is begging for phonics or you feel that your child needs a little boost to be where they should be, these phonics materials really work and come recommended by 3 mom friends who were also teachers.

But first, an aside.  As a new mom, I faced pressure from unnamed individuals who thought the pinnacle of mom-success was getting her toddler to read by age 3.  I could barely get through the day when my oldest was three, what with being pregnant and having a demanding toddler.  Needless to say, the oldest did not get hours of home tutorials in phonics and was sent off to kindergarten recognizing about four words including her name.  But, by December, she was reading and by June she was enjoying the joys of early chapter books (a.k..a Henry and Mudge).  

For the next child, I had my “sharp-as-a-tack” middle child doing daily packets in phonics for a year starting at age 3.  Low and behold, that child went to kindergarten not knowing how to read.  But by January, she was reading, and by the end of school, she too, was enjoying the adventures of Henry and Mudge

They both hit the same milestones at roughly the same point.  I did nothing, and I mean NOTHING, with the first.  I did a lot with the second.  If anything, the second’s literacy milestones was about a month behind her older sibling’s.  As I read articles, which I will try to hunt down and post, it became clear: children read when they are ready.  Just as early walkers do not necessarily become Olympic track stars, early readers do not have a leg up on the Verbal SAT.  So I say, relax and enjoy.  For my third who is a preschooler, no phonics home study is required but we do a lot snuggle time with books.

Pragmatic Mom thinks that you know your child best.  If you feel that some additional home study is needed, these are the materials that teachers use for their own kids. 

Literacy: Phonics

 Hands down, my favorite system is a workbook series called “Explode the Code.”  

It’s in black and white so it’s not pretty like some series, but it works because it breaks down each phonics lesson into segments.  This is the link for Book 1 which covers short vowel sounds.

Book 2 covered two letter sounds.

 I remember that at the end of first grade, my oldest child and I needed to master the concepts through the end of Book 3 which covered 3 letter sounds (like “thr”).

My oldest HATED to read aloud but it was the only way we could figure out if she was decoding the words correctly.  Her little sister was desperate to “read” but knew about five words.  This phonics system which I found online worked to solve both problems.  It’s a fun series of silly poems with words in different colors.  At first, your child only reads the red words.  As you progress through the books, old words are in red, new words in blue and black words are the words you read.  Each book goes through a series of phonics concepts.  When I used this series, the books were downloadable for free, but now there is a fee.  Beware that the books are in color and some are lengthy so you will use a decent amount of toner if you have a color printer and whole lot of paper!

My “reluctant-to-read-aloud” daughter also liked the “You Read to Me and I”ll Read to You” series of books.  You can get them at your local library or buy at .   The books are a series of short, silly poems with two parts to read; one for you to read and one for me to read. 

You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You

You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales,  Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together 


You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You:  Very Short Stories to Read Together

You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales

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