Can word families, folders, homeschool and homework all go together? (And some freebies!)

Lots to cover today!  In case you are a new reader (welcome!), I am a former teacher-turned-homeschooling-Momma of three little boys.  My oldest, Captain, is in Junior Kindergarten and is 4.5 years old.  One of many things that I have pondered, since beginning to homeschool, is how to help my husband be more involved in our sons’ education.  My husband is a corporate pilot and a business owner, so to say that he does not have a lot of time is an understatement.  Also, due to his irregular pilot schedule, I needed to come up with something that was not entirely dependent on his availability.  Enter Word Family Homework Folders!  Yes, I know “homework” is a bit of an oxymoron for a homeschooling family, as we school at home all ready.  However, I decided to stick with familiar public/private school terminology, hence, “homework” folders.  So, let’s look at what they are and why they are helping my husband become more involved in Captain’s education.

They are a folder that Captain takes to his father (when he is home – Momma if Daddy is not) after supper and Daddy goes over the word family flashcards with Captain, helps him read the word family reader (if it is included that week) and work on one activity per night.  I have set our folders up to be completed five days a week and it takes about 15-20 minutes maximum.  I am not interested in making Captain, or my husband, put in a lot of time doing this.  Therefore, the Word Family Homework Folders serve two purposes – important review for Captain and an opportunity for my husband to see a part of what Captain is learning and be involved in that process.  Each Monday Captain receives a new Word Family Homework Folder.

I did also have a method to my madness as to why I chose word families.  Word families (also known as rimes) are the single syllable “chunks” (they always begin with a vowel) found at the end of a lot of words.  (Example: -at as in cat, -ill as in bill, -ug as in bug, etc).  In the English language a relatively small number of word families go on to produce over 500 of the most commonly used words.  They are important little groups of words! 🙂  Word families help students learn the concept of rhyming words, as well as provide them with portions of words that they can decode easily.  Word families go hand-in-hand with sight words and fall under the umbrella of phonics instruction. Usually word families are introduced once students have grasped their initial consonant sounds and begin to work on short vowel sounds.

So what does each folder contain?  Here is the usual contents:

  1. Master word family list – please note that each master word family list will not always contain all words for that word family (see below for a  free download of -at family word list!)
  2. Word family flashcards (see below for a free download of those as well!)
  3. 1-2 beginning readers centered on word family
  4. 5 activity sheets for word family (1 sheet per night of Captain’s choosing)

Let’s talk about putting them together and where I get my resources from.  The folders are basic folders (I bought mine in packages of four from the Dollar Store for $1.  Closer to back-to-school time they are even more reasonable to purchase than that).  I write the word family on the front cover with a black marker.  On to contents … I make up my own word family master lists largely because I make my own flashcards and want the list to match.  Don’t worry – if you are interested in doing these or if you just want to use the master lists and/or flashcards, I will be sharing mine for free with you each week, so you can save yourself some time!!  The readers and activity sheets come largely from this site – (Scroll down to the letter of the word family, click through and then choose the word family you are looking for).  I will also link each week to exactly which activities I used.

The first folder is for the -at family(Please see my Word Families resource page for the upcoming word families).

Here are the downloads (click on the picture to be taken to the pdf):

*Note on printing the flashcards – the cards are designed to be printed with the small black cats on the back of the cards, to match the master word list (for ease of organizing cards and master lists).  To do this, if your printer is set up to print double-sided, choose to have the pages flip on the short edge.  You may need to play with your printer a bit to figure out how it works on your personal printer.  Of course, you can print just the word cards … I am a little bit obsessed about keeping things organized, hence the little cats on the back! 🙂

The downloads that I used for our -at family homework folders are all from  They are:

  1. Two Fat Cats Reader
  2. The At Family Album Reader
  3. Various -at family activity sheets

Next weeks word family will be -am.  I will try to have the following week’s Word Family Homework Folder information posted by Wednesday so that you can prepare them for the following week, if you choose to complete a new word family each week.

How do you reinforce word families?  I’d love to hear!!


Sight Words – a freebie!!

I am constantly searching for fun new ways to teach sight words to Captain.  One of his favorite activities is to copy each new sight word into his “Sight Word” journal.  We use a duo-tang folder for his journal.  Each time a new sight word is introduced, he copies it in his book.  I originally had regular ruled paper in his journal and I realized quickly that he was having a difficult time figuring where to put the words, as he is used to using paper with double lines for his printing.  So I decided to make him some proper pages for his journal and would like to share them with you, along with the label that I made for the front of his journal.  I print our journal labels on heavy card-stock and stick them on the folder with double sided tape (placed as close to the edges of the label as I can) and so far, so good.  They seem to stand up quite well.  I’m sure I could get really energetic and laminate them, but that has not happened yet. 🙂

So without further ado, here are your freebies!  Click on each image to be taken to the corresponding pdf.




The journal pages contain five pages, giving you a total of 100 lines for lots of sight words.  Also, the journal pages are offset to the right to allow room for hole punching.  Enjoy!

If you use these, I’d love to hear what you think!

Teacher Appreciation Jackpot

Today only over 150 bloggers are offering one item for free in their Teachers Pay Teachers Store. These items range from $3-8 in value. Head over to the following blogs for the blogs that are participating in that age category:

PK – 2nd hosted at A Modern Teacher

3rd – 6th hosted at Cork-board Connections

7th – 12th hosted at The Tutor House

It’s a blog hop well worth your time! Enjoy teacher appreciation week!!

Week in Review – April 30 – May 4, 2012

Want some {be real}?  This week, to my preplanned mind, could have been viewed as a write-off.  My under-active thyroid is really living up to its descriptor right now.  My thyroid count is about four times off of where it should be.  It is probably due to effects from my pregnancy, but regardless, until my new medication level starts to really take effect, I have been less than productive.  So, my plans for this week?  Largely went awry.  But there is beauty and fun to be had in the unscripted versions of our lives.  Take my trip to Costco on Monday … these adorable imps were my companions …

Shopping Buddies

Shopping Buddies

Yes, Captain really truly marches to his own drumbeat.  He definitely belongs to Christopher and I! 🙂  In case, you aren’t getting the full effect of his outfit, here’s the back view …

Always safety conscious

Always safety conscious

On a day where I could have crawled back into bed and stayed there, I, instead, had the most delightful, fun two hours with these two boys that I could have ever wanted.  It all started with Captain’s outfit.  Yes, he dresses himself and yes, I try to swallow my personal opinions and allow him to wear what he wishes, within reason.  He found the bag he is carrying a while ago and was thrilled that not only was it mine when I was his age, but lo-and-behold, it holds all of his treasures!!  He has a cast-off cell phone, a pack of gum, his wallet and his library card in the bag.  He is ready for whatever he might encounter!  The safety vest is a rather constant part of his outfit.  Still not sure why.  Anyway, who couldn’t smile when walking behind a little boy dressed like that?!?  On our way out of the first store we went to, Engineer discovered the puddles.  He jumped and jumped and jumped in one and then promptly fell on his bum in it.  Cue dirty, wet bum.  Then he was so excited about jumping in the puddle, that when he finally remembered that he was supposed to be going to the car, he started to skip, tripped and fell and cue two dirty, wet knees (thankfully he wasn’t hurt at all!!).  So, the child who left the house 45 minutes earlier with clean, fresh clothes on?  Not so clean or fresh now!!

Once we arrived at the second store, Engineer announced that he wanted to wear his bear harness and have Captain hold his strap.  I cautioned Captain not to pull on Engineer and in we went.  I was looking for the ink I wanted to purchase when I heard behind me “Here puppy!  C’mere sweet puppy!” coupled with some strangely familiar little boy “barking” noises.  I turn around and Engineer is prancing around on the floor on all fours (yes, with a very dirty, still wet bum up in the air!) barking while Captain is apparently training his new-found “puppy” to do tricks!!  Life is never dull – and so much fun when I take the time to see life through the eyes of two little boys!!

Although it seemed like none of the rest of the week went as I had planned, when I chose to look past my expectations, it was truly a fantastic week!  Here’s the run-down on my boys …


Terence Jumping

That blur would be my fearless Captain jumping off of the diving board, at the deep end, during swimming lessons.

*  I introduced a writing binder to him.  It is a zippered binder with the writing activities that we will be working on for the month of May, along with a binder ring with a laminated page for each letter of the alphabet (upper and lower case) that illustrates the proper formation of each letter.  Some of the writing activities that are in there for this month include:

  1. May Writing Work Station, which can be found here.
  2. Farm Fun Read, Trace & Glue activity, which can be found here.
  3. And the alphabet formation cards can be found here. (I printed them four to a page to make booklet sized cards, as opposed to posters)
  4. There was also a very fun Mother’s Day project that he completed for my Mom for Mother’s Day.  I think Mom may read this blog so I don’t want to spoil the surprise – but I’ll share pictures after I know she has received the gift, because it is priceless!!  If you are interested, we used this project (it includes options for mother, grandmother and aunt).  Very cute idea!!

*  His math journal questions centered on subtraction principles.  (Ex:  We bought five pizzas.  We ate two pizzas.  How many pizzas were left?).  He copies the question of the day into his math journal, then we decipher it together and usually he draws out the question and concludes what the answer is.

*  We continued to read from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary.  Both huge hits with him!!

*  In phonics we studied about the letter “X” and its phonetic sound.  This letter concludes our study of the initial sounds of consonants.  After some review next week, we will start working on blending our sounds.  I am very excited about this!! 🙂  Hopefully Terence catches my enthusiasm!

*  Math was a great hit this week, as we started working on weight measurement.  He was thrilled when I produced a balance scale to work on “heavier than / lighter than” concepts.  It was definitely worth the $15!!

*  Printing practice focused on reviewing the letter “A”.  The letter practice sheets that I use come from various free sources that I have found on the internet, but one of our “A” sheets came from an adorable pack that Dawn from Little Monkey Printables created.  It is available here.  Other printing practice packs that I use can be found here and here and here.

This week we did not get to our Nature Journal or craft.  We also did not work specifically on our sight words (a, and, see and the) although we continued to look for them in various things that we saw.  Next week I am going to be introducing a poetry journal to Terence, along with starting an exciting Art Appreciation course.  I am also waiting on new curriculum to arrive for Language Arts and Creative Writing.  I have finally chosen a Science curriculum and plan to order it in the next week or so.  I have been easing Captain in to various subjects, as he is still only 4 yrs and 7 months old.  Currently we work on:

  1. Literature studies
  2. Sight words
  3. Phonics
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Writing
  6. Math
  7. Social Studies
  8. Handwriting

* Other activities:

  1. Swimming – halfway through lessons for the spring session.  Loving every single second of every lesson, as always!
  2. Music – one more lesson to go at the Beckett School of Music.
  3. Cubbies – we missed last Friday as we spent the evening taking Mom to the airport 😦
  4. Kidzone Library Program – today was all about pirates.  There was lots of “I’ll make ya walk the plank, matey!!” in our car on the way home today!!
  5. Bible Study Playgroup – this was our last week until September.  The boys really enjoy their own social time while I participate in my Mom’s Bible Study group.  We are all going to miss it on Tuesday mornings for the summer!


Caleb jumping

And that blur is my previously “scared-to-death-screamed-louder-than-all-of-the-other-pool-noise-won’t-go-in-without-a-life-jacket” Engineer jumping in to Daddy WITHOUT a life jacket on and having a blast!

We continued with the letter L / number 1 / color yellow lesson from the Raising Rock Stars Preschool program.  We just started this program last week and Engineer is loving it so far.  I have the My ABC Bible Verses book on order that goes along with the program, and I plan to wait until it arrives to move on to the next lesson.  Engineer’s favorite part of this lesson is learning the song “This Little Light of Mine”.  Previously he would only shout “No!” at the appropriate time.  At the Dollar Store I found play microphones, so I bought them for our singing time … they brought out the performer in both of my boys!  Engineer actually sang the song this time and Captain cranked up his personal volume – simply because of $1.25 microphones!! Great investment, I think!! 🙂

Sweet singer

Engineer practicing his singing skills with his new “microphone”

* Other activities:

  1. Swimming – Engineer had his third official lesson this week and there were not any tears shed in the pool.  Major success!!


Sweet Baby Patrick

Sweet Baby

Baby worked very hard this week at getting a new tooth, but alas, no brave teeth have poked through so we can see them!!  He wanted to be held a lot and comforted and of course, Momma was very happy to oblige!!  Who could resist such a sweet face??  Here’s hoping that the next week will be more comfortable for him!

And that’s a wrap on our week review – happy weekend to you all!

* Disclaimer – none of the links in this post are affiliate links.  I am not being reimbursed in any way for my opinions.