So many good things – including a giveaway!

posted in: journal 24

The last take in today’s post is a giveaway of Brandy Vencel’s phonics lesson plans, Teaching Reading with Bob Books. But there’s a lot of good stuff between here and there, too.

~ 1 ~

We started our Harvest Term this week – I’ll post about our content for the term next week. We seem to have a pre-algebra stall but some significant fraction improvement. By now I have enough experience with these waves of math to not worry about them but just keep everyone putting the next foot forward to take the next step. It all evens out.

What I’m happy with so far is that I’m not neglecting my middle set of students. It’s easy to put off and disregard the early grades, especially with 7th grade at hand, but now is when my 7-year-old is forming those habits that will make teaching her later either possible or exceedingly difficult. So, consistent lessons have been a priority, and they have been happening.

Surprisingly, our favorite bit is spelling! I never was consistent with spelling with the boys, but they also didn’t seem to need it. For Ilse, it’s been a good phonics reinforcement, and she and Knox both love that they get to use markers. I can do it for them both at the same time, and I could it is spelling, extra phonics, and handwriting all in one condensed 10-minute session, so I’m happy, too.

Weekly Wrap-Up
[alpine-phototile-for-instagram id=761 user=”mystiewinckler” src=”user_recent” imgl=”instagram” dl=”1″ dltext=”Follow our homeschool days on Instagram!” style=”cascade” col=”3″ size=”M” num=”9″ shadow=”1″ border=”1″ curve=”1″ align=”center” max=”100″]

~ 2 ~

pretty * happy * funny * real

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

One of my favorite sights to see around the house:

round button chicken

Just don’t look at those feet. I promise I mopped – the next day. After taking the picture, I went and finished my own book.

He’s reading the first book in the fantasy trilogy by Stephen Lawhead: The Dragon King Collection. I chose the trilogy as a birthday present for our now-12-year-old. I’ve read a Lawhead book before, but this series was on the 1000 Good Books list, which has yet to fail me.

The book I finished was The Miracle Worker: A Play, but that one deserves its own Wednesday with Words post!

~ 3 ~

So this week my big win in homeschooling came as a direct result of listening to the master class “Education in an Hour ” with Sarah Mackenzie and Adam Andrews on Saturday while making bread. Three questions. Ask them about any story. Good conversations that move us all toward thoughtfulness and connections happen.

On Monday, I used the questions with Hans and Jaeger separately, asking them about the books they’d each finished over the weekend. I also used it with the picture book and Bible story with Knox and Ilse. Then I used it again with Jaeger when he narrated his Bible reading.


I am set. Seriously.

I watched all the Teaching the Classics videos last summer with a friend, and they are excellent, but they still left me feeling like it would take practice to really make it work. I still felt unsure and awkward and I never really incorporated into normal conversations – and normal, organic conversations are my preference rather than a sit-down, let’s do literary analysis session.

This class distilled Adam Andrew’s approach and made it immediately useful for organic conversations.

I’ve been trying to do more narration this year, and it’s been going well, but it’s never really moved to conversation and although it’s better than just reading and moving on, I’ve been feeling it’s still rather flat for us.

So, my 5th grade son is reading a chapter and the corresponding Bible passage from Starr Meade’s Mighty Acts of God, and he likes to give short and sweet and basic narrations. He knows the stories already, and I want him to narrate more the teaching/doctrine within the story that the book is drawing out, but he doesn’t take well to “drawing out” after he’s given a basic narration. So, I asked what his chapter today was about:


(He expects me to say “tell me about Gideon.”)

“Who was the protagonist?”

He registers a look of surprise at the new question. Thinks. Squints his eyes at me to let me know he’s not going to fall for any trick questions.

“Well, God is the protagonist, because the Bible is about God.”

… And I could have died happy right there.

Yes, I followed up with the other questions and we actually talked about how God uses people even though they are difficult – the kind of conversation I’d been wanting to have, but couldn’t make happen.

I am totally pumped about it – a whole week of the same set of questions every day and it’s worked like a charm with all the kids, every time.

The master class is included in the Read Aloud Revival Membership Site, but you can also purchase it separately. Don’t tell Sarah I told you to do this, but if you didn’t get this master class when it was live, I’d recommend signing up for the Read-Aloud Membership Site, watching this class, downloading the cheat sheet, … watch the other videos while you’re there …. then you can cancel.

Totally worth it.

~ 4 ~

I’m working behind the scenes, after kid’s bedtime, during naptime, and before breakfast on my next thing: Work the Plan Video Training.

It’s coming together and I’m super excited about it!

My signature course, Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done, is for moms who feel like they are drowning, who feel like everything is chaos and there is no way to step out of the frustration. It was birthed from the plans and notes I made for myself after the pregnancy and birth of my fourth and fifth babies (three years apart). Pregnancy and birth and sleep deprivation mess with one’s perspective, and Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done is about finding a path out of negativity and apathy.

Work the Plan is geared at – myself, right now, a mom with several plates to spin who needs to actually work her plans instead of just making them, who needs to spend more time doing and less time listing and brainstorming and planning.

Really, my projects are all created out of pure selfishness: I need a kick in the pants. I know what to do, I just need to pull it together and actually do it. Having to put it together and package it up to make it intelligible and useful for other people forces me to clarify my thoughts and finish the plan all the way instead of being distracted by another idea. Also, if I put something out there as “this is what I do,” well, then I’m also binding myself to do it now, aren’t I? So this is my own strategy for public accountability. Thank you for helping.

My monthly newsletter goes out Saturday morning and will have a sneak peek at one of the videos I’ve already finished for the course. Sign up and make sure you don’t miss it!

~ 5 ~

You didn’t miss Pam’s first episode of her new podcast did you?

Your Morning Basket with Cindy Rollins as the first guest.

You simply must listen. No, you simply must subscribe, because Pam has already recorded with most of the guests for the whole season and they are all going to be incredibly helpful and encouraging!

~ 6 ~

Because I’m recording videos for Work the Plan, I haven’t used Periscope much this week, but my ‘scope on Monday about our EHAP5 practice went over pretty well:

~ 7 ~

And last but still very important, today I get to give away a copy of Brandy Vencel’s phonics guides! Teaching Reading with Bob Books is a step-by-step guide to using the Bob Books to teach phonics thoroughly. She tutored reading before she had kids, and she used this notebook-based and whole-book method to teach all four of her kids to read.

I’ve received several emails in the last week about the phonics program I use and love, TATRAS. It appears to be out of print and no longer available! It was simply sold by the author out of his home in 3-ring binders, and no one has been able to contact anyone through his site. So, especially in light of the fact that the program I’ve recommended for years is now unavailable, I give you a chance to win a free copy of Brandy’s easy-to-use method.

I told her I was picky about my phonics and although I use Bob Books for early reading practice, I think the phonics they teach is sorely inadequate. I also disagree with teaching sight words.

However, it turns out that what Brandy does with her lesson plans is teach actual phonics and phonograms using the Bob Books, but not in the way the Bob Books say to use them. I took a picture of the TATRAS phonogram chart and she said that her program covers every single one of those phonograms by the time you’ve moved through all the Bob Book sets and the Treadwell Readers. She teaches the phonics rules for what Bob Books calls sight words, also. She doesn’t teach all the sounds of each phonogram at the same time (“vertical” phonics), but one can’t have everything, I suppose. ;)

So, she relieved my concerns and now I can whole-heartedly recommend you look at her lesson plans if you are in need of a phonics program.

Enter to win a free copy by leaving a comment telling me your least favorite word to spell. Ha! It’s possible knowing all the phonograms can help.

Brandy is giving away the guide for Set 1 and also the guide for Set 2 which will be released any day now. I’ll choose a winner next Friday!

She also has many cute and helpful phonics teaching tip videos on her Teaching Reading with Bob Books blog.

All the reading lessons are available for free at Teaching Reading with Bob Books, but the lesson plan sets pull it all together so you can print it and use it more effectively.

Check them out…after entering to win!

24 Responses

  1. Bethany
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell is zucchini (did I get it right?). I’m never quite sure how many c’s there are or where the “h” goes ; ).

  2. Katrina
    | Reply

    Anything that does or doesn’t follow the i before e rule. I get it switched quite often.

  3. Catie
    | Reply

    A friend and I were just talking about how the reading program we’ve used (Teach Your Child in 100 EZ Lessons) doesn’t really address grammar rules very well. I would love to win a copy of Brandy’s book!

    I can’t think of my least favorite word to spell right now, but it used to be “definitely” – I would ALWAYS forget the “e”!

  4. dawn
    | Reply

    Love your instagram, so fun!

    I wasn’t sure about Education in an Hour until this post, so I watched this afternoon and it was great! Highly recommended. And Jaeger’s response would stop me in my tracks, too! Great!

    Your Morning Basket is amazing and I followed it up with The Mason Jar which was a great match!

  5. Kimbrah Gonzalez
    | Reply

    I’m not sure if I have a least favorite word to spell. Hmmmm….moxxy gave me a really hard time for a while in Words with Friends. Haha. :)

  6. Rebekah
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell… Those words with the pesky i and e!

  7. Jennifer
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell is grateful, or is it greatful……stumps me every time!

  8. SarahD
    | Reply

    I agree that definitely stumps me sometimes except for me it’s whether the second i should be an a or an i.

  9. Nicki
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell is curriculum, and as a mom of two (soon to be three!) littles who I plan to homeschool, I sure do seem to type it a lot (during my many, many hours of research)!

  10. Kristina
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell is schedule. For some reason I always add an “a” to the word.

  11. Sarah
    | Reply

    This really was a post full of so many great things!! My least favorite word to spell is accommodation. I’m forever leaving out a c or an m!

  12. Amber Vanderpol
    | Reply

    Wow, Harvest Term already and I haven’t even started school yet. I feel like such a slacker. :-D We’re enjoying swimming lessons still and we’re heading to the beach next week… so maybe I’m a slacker but at least I’m a happy one. And since I’ll be still in school mode all May and most of June and we’ll see who is laughing then, right?!?

    So are you doing Periscope now instead of Google Hangouts? Your new course sounds great, what a wonderful project!

    And let’s see… one of my hardest words to spell is bureau. I have a terrible time saying it too. I found this out when I was acting in a short play in 7th grade and was cast as a member of the FBI. I had to introduce myself as an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and practicing that line just about killed me… and my mom!

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Well we finished our last school year the first week of May, so it was high time to start again in early July. :)

      Enjoy your summer!

      I wouldn’t say I’m doing Periscope instead of Google Hangouts. I’d still like to record a hangout once a month or so, but Periscope feels more casual, without the pressure to have it “just right,” so it’s easier to just start. :) And I still will do course Q&A chats with Google Hangouts….unless I switch to so that we can record them…

  13. Tabitha Teeter
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell is ‘diarrhea’. I have a mental block and constantly short an r and add an h. Also, if i’m writing it down, then we are at the doctor office or ER. Boo.

  14. Denise
    | Reply

    I would say chauffeur; however, I think I finally remembered the correct spelling. :)

  15. Kristi McFarland
    | Reply

    The hardest word I have found to spell is facetious. I love your post on Memory work.

  16. Toni
    | Reply

    My least favorite word to spell is vacuum. It’s also one of my least favorite activities :)

  17. Monica K
    | Reply

    My least favorite words are the g/dg words (knowledge, refrigerator etc) almost always have to look up the proper spelling

  18. Amanda
    | Reply

    Oh man. My least favorite word to spell has to be vacuum. I can never remember if it’s two c’s, two u’s, or two m’s. Arg. Thank goodness for auto correct :)

  19. Lora
    | Reply

    My least favorite spelling word has always been soldier. It just doesn’t make sense.

  20. Nicole Walters
    | Reply

    I have two least favorite words: diarrhea and professor. The last mostly because I was a new professor trying to write it on a board and totally blanked on whether it was a double f or s or both.

  21. Catie
    | Reply

    I finally watched your Periscope video. :) I like that EHAP is only 5 minutes–feels much more doable and I love that it incorporates Mom. I can see how sending the kids away could be… interesting.

    Your hair is cute, btw. :)

  22. Beth
    | Reply

    Your morning time webpages have been invaluable as we got our first start on that this year. While not always perfect, we are enjoying it, and I’m deeply grateful for your posts and lists on that.

    I’m wondering if you could at some point in the future post a typical daily schedule. I noticed on your google calendar video that you have a personal time from 5-7 and it looks like you do the bulk of your schooling from 8-12. I also have 5 kids – 1 with special needs, 1 recently diagnosed with dyslexia, all of whom are involved in music to some level (the 12 y.o. practices several hours each day). We are literally schooling almost all day long in order to get it all in, and while we’ve been doing that for years, I want to change things so that I have some personal time as well – time to read and grow and feed my soul. All to say, I’d love to hear how you balance homeschooling 5 kids, managing so many incredible websites, and do all that you do!! How long you spend on particular subjects – and do you designate a time for each subject and stop wherever you after the time is up…

    Do you do consultations?? :) I’d love for someone to help me set my schedule straight!!

  23. Lori
    | Reply

    I would love to hear what you think of using Mighty Acts of God for Bible study at that age. I was actually considering doing exactly the same thing with my 11 year old son this year. I love Starr Meade’s books (one day I’ll go through the Heidelberg Catechism book with the kids, but for now most of them are too young, so I’ve been using it in my own quiet time), and I was considering using Mighty Acts as our circle time reading, but instead decided to use Leading Little Ones to God. So I was considering having my oldest use it as his “textbook” for Bible, and do what you are saying–reading the Bible passage and then text from the book–but I felt like some of the readings were just too long. So I think we’re going to use Meade’s The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study, instead, but I’m still not sold on that for his age. I think you may have inspired me to go back and reconsidering using Mighty Acts of God as his text. What do you do about days when the corresponding Bible reading involves several chapters?

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