If you’re a fan of Fred books, you have probably purchased (or are considering purchasing) the new Life of Fred Beginning Readers! Here’s a handful of ideas and tips for using the Life of Fred readers in your homeschool. These tips are completely flexible; modify them based on your own needs! Take what you like and work with these ideas. Hopefully you’ll find them as helpful as we do!
1. Familiarize yourself with the book before you delve into reading it to/with your child.
2. Read each book twice. During the first read, simply read to the child. Point to some of the large text or colorful words (i.e., STOP or blue), but don’t point to all the words.
Ask your child questions during the text. For example, in the first book, Fred states he wants to go somewhere “blue.” My daughter stated, “the sky is blue!” and believe it or not, the book told Fred to go to the sky! During the second read, point to the words “STOP” or “blue” and as you point, ask your child to sound out the word with you. You can point to the rest of the text during the second read.
3. Write down several words you’d like your child to learn first. Sentence strips from the dollar store are a great choice because they can be tacked to the wall, used like flashcards, or placed into pocket charts. Show and read the words on the sentence strips to your child. Ask him/her to repeat the word. Then, go over the words a couple of times. Discuss the sounds the letters make. Decode the words together (for those that can be decoded). Treat this is your first true opportunity to introduce sight words (of your choosing) to your child. Here is a sample of words chosen from the beginning of the Life of Fred Blue reader:
It might be wise to write down a few repeated phrases in the book. Below is a sample of phrases that occur in the beginning of the Life of Fred Blue reader. “I want to go” appears on several pages.
4. Read the book again and this time, point to your selected sight words as they appear and ask your child to read them instead of you. At first, your child will likely need some assistance, but eventually s/he will learn the words! How fun is that?
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with new words when you feel your child is ready to move forward. This could take a week, a few days, a couple of weeks, etc. It’s individualized pacing and learning, so enjoy it and do what’s best for you.
6. Eventually, your child ideally will have learned nearly all the words in the book and hopefully can read the book from front to back independently. That will be a sign to move onto the next book. Try repeating the above steps if you felt they worked, and as always, modify if needed!
How can you incorporate what your student is reading into a writing program?
1. Dictation: you say any of the learned words to your child and ask him/her to write it down (on either a white board, paper, chalkboard, the sidewalk, the bathroom wall during bath time, etc!). Then, show them how you’d write it. If your words match, your child wrote the word correctly. If they don’t, your child can see where his/her mistake was made (and hopefully mentally correct it for next time).
2. Create your own worksheets that utilize the words in either sentence or copy form! You use use tracing worksheets if your child needs work on his/her penmanship or simple fill-in-the-blanks. If you haven’t seen Startwrite, you’re missing out! This software allows you to design worksheets that help aid in handwriting (can be customized!).
3. Thankfully, Life of Fred has lots of Dolch and Fry words in it, so any of our downloadable sight word practice sheets can help. We really like Time 4 Kindergarten’s Bundle 1 because it contains a handful of sight words that are the main focus and many of these words are in the Life of Fred books!
4. This is one of our favorites: Have your child journal on a weekly (or daily) basis and date each journal. For early writers and readers, one sentence is enough; “I went to the park this weekend” which might look more like “I wnt tu da prk ds wekend” (vowels are often left out initially). Children can draw a picture to illustrate their sentence. As skills improve, children can start writing two or three sentence journal entries. At the end of the school year, compile all journals in order from start to finish. Seeing your child’s writing skills improve over the course of a year is truly amazing and it’s a great keepsake. If coming up with daily or weekly prompts is too daunting, check out Edventures at Home’s Daily Journal Bundle. It contains an entire year’s worth of printable journal prompts. Each month contains 23 different journal prompts. You’ll never run out of prompts!
Seeing your child’s writing skills improve over the course of a year is truly amazing and it’s a great keepsake.
Check out the Fred Books on Educents
Grab the entire Life of Fred Beginning Readers set at the BEST price on Educents.
*Two important things to consider prior to beginning a literacy program:
1. Your child needs to understand that words are made up of letters and letters represent sounds. Cat, for example, is a great word to illustrate this concept: there are both three letters and three sounds: /c/ /a/ /t/ or cat. Not surprisingly, simple words like mom, dad, dog, hat, sad, pig, etc., are excellent beginning words for kids to sound out. As the instructor, it’s important that you recognize how you’re pronouncing letter sounds. The letter p is not pronounced “puh” and is instead a simple “p.” The letter b is not pronounced “buh.” Why is this important? Because children need to learn exactly what sounds are represented by letters. If a child is writing down a word but doesn’t know how to spell it, she might ask for assistance. Let’s say your child is writing down pig and you state that the first letter is “puh”, the student hears two letter sounds and thus might write two letters.
2. Your approach to literacy needs to be balanced. This means your child should be reading with you, reading words (sight words) on his/her own, but also should begin to write letters/words. How does this look? Ask your child to write the word cat. Help your child identify the three letter sounds that exist (mentioned above). Then, ask your child to write the letters. How well does s/he do? This is a crucial step in literacy that often gets left out because it seems like a more advanced stage of literacy when in fact, it should be coupled with the early stages of reading. Yes, some students might have a difficult time writing clearly or legibly, but it’s important to incorporate writing when you begin a literacy program. If children can represent letter sounds through letters on their own, they can decode (sound out) words more easily.