Browsing Category: homeschool

Day 15: Read the book…see the play

This year, the boy is learning about various genres in literature. He is reading a quality book in a specific genre and then completeing extension activitives about the book and the facets of the genre. So far, this has been a really fun way to grow his literary habits and for the two of us to dig deep into various types of books.

A few weeks ago we wrapped up our study on Adventure books. Being a boy, Isaac is all about the adventure story. One of the books he read during this time was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Over the summer when I was planning for the upcoming school year, I noticed that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was playing at a local theater company.


Last Friday the children and I took school on the road and set out to enjoy this production. Isaac loved seeing the pages of a book he had read and studied come to life on the stage. Ironically, he became terribly involved in the suspense and got upset when he thought danger had taken the life of Tom.

Being the compassionate mother that I am, I leaned over and said, “Dude, you have read the book. You know what happens.”

Mom of the Year over here.

Taking children to see a play based on a book they have read is a great way to ignite a love for reading and for literature. When the story becomes alive on the stage, suddenly loved characters of a book are real and interactive. The places that were once only residing in a child’s imagination are suddenly right before their eyes.

Plays are a great way to encourage a love for books and for the wonder they hold.

Day 14: Step away from the Dora books… (Finding quality children’s books)

It is safe to say that most parents want their children to read, yet some do not know what their child should be reading.

Often times this lack of direction or information leads parents to snatch up the first book bearing the grinning face of a familiar cartoon character

If Dora and that weird monkey wearing galoshes is on the cover, than the book must be good…right?

One could not be more wrong, dear reader.

It only takes a quick peek inside the (hallowed) walls of one’s Barnes and Nobel to see that their is no shortage when it comes to children’s books. There is an abundance of books for children, books about childern, books written by children; all waiting to be scooped up by the literature-loving consumer.

How blessed are we to live in a time when society realizes the need for books oriented towards the child?

Despite this abundance, it is safe to say that some of these books bearing the title of “child lit” are garbage. They are poorly written, have little to no plot line, and do nothing to challenge the mind of a child.

And, yes, some of them are bearing a Disney princess on the cover.

There are a few great resources for parents searching for quality literature. My favorite book that provides a quality list of books for children is Honey for a Child’s Heart.  Books Children Love and Read for the Heart are also great resources.

Below are some of our favorites


Picture Books

Berenstain Bear series

How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight

Bedtime for Frances

Moon Plane


The Snowy Day

The Big Red Barn (and anything by Margaret Wise Brown)



Beginning Readers

Henry and Mudge Series

BOB books

Frog and Toad series

Amelia Bedelia


Chapter Books:

Little House series

Boxcar Children

A to Z Mysteries

Magic Tree House series

Gernomio Stilton series

Charlotte’s Web

Treasure Island

Harriet the Spy (my favorite growing up)

My Father’s Dragon

Ramona series

Ivy and Bean


What are some of your favorite books for kids?




Day 12: Books as Problem-Solvers

Most of us probably loved books as small children. As babies, we likely enjoyed nawwing on a a chunky board book. As toddlers, we loved the feel of carrying books around the house. As preschoolers we found pleasure in being read to by an adult or older sibling.

Then we eventually head off to school and at some point books become assosicated with work.

During my two years of grad school, I doubt I read one book merely for fun. Do not misunderstand…I read a lot (a lot!) during that time but it was all school-associated. I remember the husband and I talking at one point about how nice it would be to read for fun once all of our schooling was behind us.

One way to break this association that older kids may make between reading and school work is to help them understand the usefulness of books at an early age. Books open many doors, including ways to help the reader overcome real life battles.


Issues with bullying? Check out The Juice Box Bully. or 100 Dresses

Having problems getting along with siblings? Read The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight

School anxiety plague your little one? Try 100th Day Worries

Little ones having a difficult time controlling their anger? Pull out When Sophie Gets Angry

Children having issue with rude language? The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect


Showing children that books posses power is a great way to ignite a love for reading. In this case, showing kids how they can read stories that relate to their own lives and situations helps them understand that books are not merely for the classroom.



Day 10: Have a Book Picnic

For some, books seem stiff and boring. They do not talk. They lack a touchscreen with animated sounds. They are housed on dusty shelves placed out of reach from curious hands.

For some, books hold very little wonder.

To inspire a love of reading in children, they sometimes need to be shown the wonder that the written word can hold. A great way to encourage exploration of books is to take them outside. Fall is the perfect time to gather a large stack of books, a big quilt, some tasty treats and head outdoors to read. Books are not meant to be used only indoors in stuffy situations. They are meant to inspire and stimulate the imagination.

I cannot think of a better place for these things to happen than outside.

Day 5: Take it on the Run, Baby

When my children were babies, there were times I would load them up and drive around town aimlessly in hopes of entertaining one and putting the other to sleep.

Years later, I find it amusing that we would get in the car and drive for entertainment. These days, we log many, many miles in the family station wagon. We drive to co-op, we drive to PE, we drive to dance, we drive to church, we drive to Target.

We drive a lot.

Although the current model of the family station wagon does sport a DVD player, we have a pretty strict rule that movies are not turned on unless we are driving for more than 250 miles (*or in case of extreme emergency). Occasionally the kids bring along a Nintendo DS or an iPod touch, but usually we have a no technology rule in the car as well.

What does that leave for two kiddos to do while running all over a large metro area?


Bringing books in the car is a great way to inspire a love of reading. When the kids were little, I kept the backseat stockpiled with board books for them to look through/toss on the floor/use as a snack tray for Cheerios. These days the kids are in charge of bringing their reading entertainment. They know as they are gathering their shoes and water bottles, they also need to grab a few books on the way out the door as well.

Encourage your kids to bring books in the car. A confined time to browse some fun titles is a great way to encourage a love of reading.

Go ahead and toss one in the car for yourself…you never know when the carpool lane will take an extra 30 minu


Day 4: Make it Visual (31 Days Towards Igniting a Love of Reading in Kids)

We live in a culture of praise.

Kids get a to stick their hands in a prize box at school, at home, at the dentist, at Sunday school and basically anywhere they show up and do not act like a complete disaster.

I have some issue about the over-abundance of praise and reward, a thought that basically centers on the idea of what happens when children raised on rewards on no longer rewarded as an adult. A future president of our great country is likely being given a cheap plastic toy and five stickers for merely showing up at school today. The idea is a bit frightening.

The idea of praise and reward stems from the visual and kinesthetic nature of children. They like to SEE how they are doing at something. Slapping a shiny sticker on a chart motivates a child to do a lot things (especially when young) because they enjoy the actual act of sticker-slapping (totally going to coin that phrase, by the way).

One can inspire a love of reading by playing into this desire of kids to see and be involved in their personal progress. Before you run off and stockpile a stash of kiddie meal toys to pass out for each book read, understand that I am not proposing that children be extrinsically rewarded for reading. Rather, create a way to publicly chart and display what the family is reading.

Enter: The Family Reading Log.

This Fall, we are keeping a list of all the books our family reads on our fridge. Even the adults are joining in on the fun as they write down the titles they finish as well. Creating a public space (visual aspect) where kids can write down (kinesthetic aspect) books read is a great way to get them reading. It opens the door for conversation about books read and books one plans to read.

Get friends and family in on the fun. When they stop by, have kids ask if they have read any good books lately. If so, give them a chance to fill in the title on your family reading log.

Everyone feels validated and proud of their reading accomplishments…and there are no junky plastic toys laying around in the end.

Day 2: Seasonal Books (31 Days towards Igniting a Love of Reading)

Tomorrow a cold front is predicted to roll through our area. By Saturday, high temperatures will be in the lower 50’s.

The boots in my closet just did a happy dance.

When you live in a place that could quite possibly see 100 degrees on Halloween (It has happened, people, and it was not pretty), experiencing brisk temperatures early in the Fall is a blessing.

When such weather rolls around, I want to just gather my family together and breathe in the season. Bring on the pumpkins and chili and hot apple cider.

As parents, we all attempt in our own little ways to make the coming and going of seasons fun and exciting for children. Some may go all out and create holiday countdown boards while others scoop up some seasonal donuts and call it a day. A great way to welcome and appreciate the changing of seasons is through books.

Over the years, we have collected a large amount of seasonal books: Back to School books, Halloween Books, Easter books, Valentines Books, etc. Our Christmas book collection has become so crazy that it has a a large plastic bin all its own that lives in the attic eleven months out of the year.

The other books are all housed together in a storage bucket until their season arrives. When a special time comes around (for example: Halloween), the kids and I dig through the seasonal books and pull the appropriate titles. Every year this task is exciting because we see some favorites and also discover some forgotten titles. These seasonal books are put in a bucket by our fireplace where they can be enjoyed for the entire month.

Having a seasonal bucket of books in the main living space of one’s home encourages kids to flip through books on their own. Who doesn’t feel inspired when brisk air is swirling all around the window outside and a tasty treat and a great book are readily available?

Want to ignite a love of reading in your child? Gather up some books about Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving and place them in a bucket in the living room. Toss in a comfy blanket and a soft pillow and your little ones are ready to explore the wonders of the season in their own living room.


This post is a part of an ongoing “31 Series”. For more like this, check out The Nester


31 Days towards a Love of Reading

Want to know what is really great about the Internet?

Creative, inspired, and well-spoken individuals can all come together and share thoughts to motivate others.

And they allow the rest of us to tag along.

For the month of October, The Nester is hosting a “31 series” in which people share 31 posts (one per day) of something for the good of others. Sure the Internet is frustrating at times. And yes, Internet Addiction is about to be added to the new DSM V (let us pause and discuss how the DSM III had just hit the shelves when I started Grad School. Dear Time: Quit Flying.). However, the World Wide Web also allows us to learn and share, the basic rules of friendship we all were taught in our preschool days.

Ignore the fact that the calender reads October 3rd today and I will graciously acknowledge that I am a bit late to the party.

For my 31 Days, I opted to share how to cultivate a love of reading in one’s home. Books are so incredibly important to us here at casa de phillips. The husband and I both entered into our marital union holding a strong affection for a good book. When we travel, we carry no less than 3 books per person and likely toss in a few magazines as well. Reading is third to breathing and eating to us.

We desire for our children to share a love for reading as well.

I hope you will follow along with me this month as I discuss tips, tricks, and ideas on how to ignite a love of reading in children.

Day 1 will be posted shortly.

(Want to write your own 31 Days series? No worries, there is still time to jump on the late bus with me! Head over to The Nester and link up!)


Homeschooling two

Last year was our first year of official homeschooling. Because the daughter was finishing up preschool at a brick and mortar school, I only taught one kiddo at home. As with anything, it took a while but we eventually found our groove.

Then I added the girl to the mix this year and we redefined the word “busy”.

(My friends who homeschool 4, 5 or even 6 children daily are currently shaking their head at me)

Somedays we still search for our groove while others the work seems to fall into place and we get everything done. Eventually, I will type up what a day of homeschooling looks like for our family.

For today, I share this:

For two people so closely related and knit together in so many ways, there are aspects of their personalities which are so different. One prides himself in the tidiness of his desk while the other usually has no less than four stray pencils, three craft projects and a book or two under her desk at any given moment.

Bless her heart.

(By the way, there rooms are pretty much the same story. The girl’s room teeters on the verge of disaster on a daily basis.)

First Days and Too Many Words

Today was our first day back at Classical Conversations.

After being on break from our community since April, we were all ready to dive back into the fun, frantic craziness that is CC (insiders way of referring to “Classical Conversations“).

This year we are in for the long haul, staying all day (rather than leaving at 1pm) so the kids can take an art class and I can supervise. I once painted a very sad clown in sixth grade, titled it “Barbara Bush” and called it Art. Yet, intelligent people allow me to be in charge of challenging art programs.

Go figure.

The obligatory First Day of Class picture


(For some reason it was incredibly humid this morning. Neither kid wanted to bear the weather in order for mommy to take my usual 72 pictures. Fortunately the humidity was in my favor…both kids gave a genuine smile on the first take and we headed for the cool of the car air conditioning. There is a first time for everything…)

Tonight, the boy was in bed asleep by 7:08pm. He was WORN OUT from all that learning (and playing with his good buddies).

The girl had to wind down a bit before she fell asleep. As I was laying in bed with her discussing her class (Because I tutor, I am not in either of my kids’ classes at CC), I asked if she remembered to keep quiet during learning time.

Her reply was classic Evelyn.

“I tried, but I just have too many words.”

I know, baby girl. I know.

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