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The Teaching Home
E-MAIL NEWSLETTER
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

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Number 26                                        Jan. 28, 2003
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors
_________________________________________________________

You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

Table of Contents

  • Part 5 of 15-Part Basic Skills Series
  •      Reading Comprehension: Inferences (continued)
  •      Using Study Guides for Literature
  •      Resources & Links for Literature Study Guides
  •      100+ Creative Book Reports / Unit Study Activities
  •      How To Encourage & Record Reading
  • Recommended Resources
  •      Beyond Phonics
  •      PhonicsTutor Software & Books
  •      Science2Discover: Genetics and Biotechnology Made Simple
  •      New & Used Resources from Laurelwood Publications
  • Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote

    Greetings!

         In this issue we continue our discussion of how to help our children understand what they read -- an all-important skill for learning.

         We trust that your family will enjoy these activities together.

    Sincerely,
    Sue Welch
    for Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
    The Teaching Home is a home-school family business produced in our home since 1980.
    http://www.TeachingHome.com
    _________________________________________________________

         Painlessly Catch Up or Accelerate
         Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary

              100 word-family stories for all ages teach phonetic
         patterns. For example:
         "ir": "Virginia watches the birds chirp and stir up dirt . . ."
         "ch": "Michael's schedule gave him a stomach ache . . ."
         http://www.beyondphonics.com $69.95 1-800-51-TEACH
         Christian version available.
    _________________________________________________________

    15-Part Series on Basic Skills
    by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

         Our 15-part series is written to help you evaluate your children's skill levels and help them improve in those areas. Topics include:

         1. Listening - #18
         2. Word Analysis/Phonics - #19
         3. Vocabulary - #21
         4. Reading Comprehension: Facts - #22
         5. Reading Comprehension: Inferences #25
              Reading Comprehension (continued) (This Issue)
         6. Reading Comprehension: Generalizations
         7. Spelling
         8. Capitalization & Punctuation
         9. Grammar
         10. Writing & Penmanship
         11. Visual Materials
         12. Reference Materials
         13. Math: Concepts & Computation
         14. Math: Problem Solving
         15. Thinking Skills, Logic, and Speech

    Reading Comprehension: Inferences (Understanding)
         Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of informational material and make sense out of it.
         In this issue we will explore ways to help your child in his comprehension by the use of study guides for literature and creative book reports that can also be used as unit study activities.
    _________________________________________________________

    Using Study Guides for Literature

         Study guides are written to help you understand all that the author is trying to communicate and to help you get more out of your reading.

    Features of a Study Guide
         Study guides offer a variety of helps that differ accordingly if they are written for children or from a Christian perspective.
         Following are some of the typical elements you might find in a study guide. If you are not using a study guide, these are the things that you should study on your own to help you comprehend a piece of literature.
         1. Introduction to the work with an overview and discussion of why this book is significant.
         2. Biographical information about the author and how his background affected his writing.
         3. Discussion of the setting of time and place and how the culture affects the work.
         4. Plot development through described events, usually including a conflict, a climax, and a resolution.
         5. Character description and analysis.
         6. Explanation of allusions (references to other literature, the Bible, mythology, history, cultural items, historical figures and events).
         7. Imagery or figures of speech, such as similes, metaphors, and personifications.
         8. (For poems) Poetic form and rhyme patterns.
         9. The writer's point of view, his relationship to the events -- either first person (I or we) or third person (he, she, or they).
         10. Theme(s) are identified and the main idea or message revealed.
         11. Description and dialogue are discussed.
         12. Unique or important vocabulary words are defined, as well as idioms.
         13. An annotated synopsis with chapter-by-chapter summaries.
         14. Questions for study or discussion.
         15. Activities.
         16. (Christian study guides) Evaluation of characters, actions, and message of the book from a biblical worldview.
         17. Suggestions for further reading on the book, author, or related subjects.

    Procedure
         There are a couple of ways that you can use a study guide. After you read the introduction and overview of the book:
         1. Read the first chapter, then the notes and any other activities for that chapter. Do the same for each chapter.
         2. Read the chapter notes first so that you can look for various elements as you read. Follow up with activities.

    Length of Study
         As in-depth as a book study can be, it should not take longer than four weeks. It is important to enjoy the work as you read it. Your studies should increase your awareness of the subtleties and enrich the work for you, not distract from it or bog it down.

    Interpretation
         Remember that much of the interpretation of literature is highly subjective. You may come up with something different from the study guide you are using, especially if you are not using a guide written from a Christian perspective.
    _________________________________________________________

         PhonicsTutor Software & Books
              PhonicsTutor products form a complete language
         arts program for beginning and remedial readers.
         Includes computerized instruction, spelling, grammar,
         and teacher's manual. PhonicsTutor has a reputation
         of teaching students of all ages to read when other
         methods have failed.
         http://www.phonicstutor.com?referral=ptth012003
    _________________________________________________________

    Resources & Links for Literature Study Guides

    Christian literature courses and study guides.
         Accelerated Chr. Education http://www.schooloftomorrow.com
         Alpha Omega Publications http://www.aop.com
         A Beka Books http://www.abeka.com
         Bob Jones University Press http://www.bjup.com
         Konos http://www.konos.com
         Progeny Press http://www.progenypress.com
    Christian literature-based unit studies.
         The Helping Hand http://www.classicshome.com
         Christian Novel Studies http://www.ChristianNovelStudies.com
    Teaching history through literature. (Christian)
         Beautiful Feet Books http://www.bfbooks.com
    Learning Language Arts Through Literature.
         Common Sense Press http://www.cspress.com
    Free Online Study Guides.
         Christian Novel Studies http://www.ChristianNovelStudies.com
         NovelGuide.com http://www.NovelGuide.com
         Pink Monkey http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/notes1.asp
         To Kill a Mockingbird http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/Belmont_HS/tkm
         http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/tokil/mocktg.htm
         Harvard Classics (commentary) http://www.bartleby.com/60
         Treasure Island http://www.kellscraft.com/treasureislandcontent.html
    Literature study guides.
         Cliffs Notes http://www.cliffsnotes.com/index.html
         The SparkNotes Study Guides http://www.sparknotes.com
    _________________________________________________________

         Science2Discover: Genetics and Biotechnology Made Simple
              "My Name Is Gene" and its workbook "Fun With Gene"
         are narrated from a Christian perspective by a gene who
         walks elementary through high school students through
         major advances in genetics. Features clear, simple
         language and numerous full-color diagrams.
         http://www.science2discover.com/mynameandfun.htm
    _________________________________________________________

    100+ Creative Book Reports / Unit Study Activities

         Most book reports follow a standard format:
         Introductory Paragraph including the title of the book and name of the author. It will also describe the setting (time and place), give the genre (type of book such as historical fiction, mystery, adventure), and quickly summarize what the book is about.
         Body Paragraphs (three to four paragraphs) including description of the main characters and the conflict. Common conflicts include man vs. man, man vs. nature, or man vs. himself. Then summarize the plot and describe how it relates to the conflict.
         Conclusion including your evaluation and opinion of the book.
         Use some of the ideas below for book report activities that encourage creative and critical thinking skills but still include the essential information of a standard book report.
         You can also use several of these suggestions as assignments for a literature-based unit study.

    Art & Penmanship
    __ Draw a cartoon.
    __ Draw and label a picture or map of the setting.
    __ Make a timeline of the events.
    __ Make a book jacket and write a blurb to accompany it.
    __ Create original illustrations.
    __ Paint a portrait gallery of the main characters.
    __ Design a poster or a bookmark.
    __ Make a mobile or construct a diorama.
    __ Make soap, clay, or balsa-wood models.
    __ Make a collage, mural, or seed mosaic.
    __ Use chalk, dry erase, overheads, or a powerpoint presentation      (computer graphics program).
    __ Make and dress a doll or stand-up characters.
    __ Make a paper doll and costumes of character, period, and      events.
    __ Collect items mentioned in the book for a display.
    __ Make a scrapbook.
    __ Copy and decorate beautiful passages.
    __ Make a crossword puzzle using vocabulary words from the book.
    __ Write rebus (a story using pictures to replace some words).

    Speech & Drama
    __ Tell the story using flannel board figures.
    __ Dress up as a character while giving your report.
    __ Read an exciting, interesting, or amusing passage. Stop at a      moment that leaves the audience hanging.
    __ Make a speech admitting the main character into the Hall of      Fame.
    __ Act out a pantomime.
    __ Write a play or movie script.
    __ Make a video of your report or dramatization of a scene.
    __ Tape record a part of the book, complete with sound effects.
    __ Create, perform, and/or tape record a radio broadcast of your      review.
    __ Watch a video of your book and critique it as to accuracy.
    __ Give an illustrated travel lecture or design a travel brochure on the settings and points of interest.
    __ Use puppets to retell a story.
    __ Prepare a sales talk and try to sell the book.

    Writing Activities
         (Letters and telegrams do not need to actually be sent :-)
    __ Do a parent-supervised internet search on a book, author, or      related subjects and write a report with links to e-mail to      your friends.
    __ List words, expressions, and figures of speech from your book.
    __ Write a letter to a friend recommending a book.
    __ Make up a lost-and-found ad for a person or object in the      story.
    __ Write newspaper stories of different events.
    __ Write a letter requesting the library to purchase the book.
    __ Compose a 15- or 100-word telegram summarizing the book.
    __ Write a riddle about the book, a character, or event.
    __ Write the author telling him what you enjoyed about the book.
    __ Write a letter to a character in a book.
    __ Write questions for others to answer after reading the book.
    __ Have a friend who has read the story stump you with questions.
    __ Prepare questions for an interview with the author.
    __ Write a diary entry as one of the main characters.
    __ Create a newspaper with the plot summary as a news event,      weather, feature story of a character, an editorial of your      opinion of the book, and ads pertinent to the story.
    __ Keep a journal of your thoughts as your read.
    __ Rewrite story as a picture book with simple words for children.

    Especially for Poetry
    __ Write a poem to accompany a story.
    __ Add an original stanza to a poem.
    __ Recite or read a poem with appropriate expression.
    __ Set a poem to music.

    Written and/or Oral Reports
    __ Describe the main character(s), and your opinion of him.
    __ As the main character, tell how you feel about another      character.
    __ Describe the setting: time, place.
    __ Write a short summary of the story.
    __ Describe the most beautiful, humorous, exciting, or sad part.
    __ Find a part that demonstrates one of your personal opinions.
    __ Did the author write to share an experience, information, or      opinion?
    __ Pretend that you are the author. Explain why you wrote this      book.
    __ Could this be a true story? Why or why not? Cite passages.
    __ Write another episode as an added chapter to the book.
    __ Write an original story using the same characters or setting.
    __ Write another ending for the story.
    __ Write about a character you liked or disliked and tell why.
    __ Write a biography of the author. Include a list of his other      books.
    __ Show when and how a character's attitude or behavior changed.
    __ What passages show traits or emotions of characters.
    __ Why did you like or dislike the book?
    __ Compare a book with a similar one or books by the same author.
    __ Write about something you learned from the story.
    __ Choose a quote. Why should or shouldn't you live by it?
    __ Discuss the conflicts and solutions of the story.
    __ Research a topic brought up in your book.
    __ Write an obituary for a character with his accomplishments.
    __ Write a scene that has been lost from the book.
    __ Research and give a brief biography of the author.
    __ Is the title appropriate or would an alternate be better? Why?
    __ Answer one or more of the following.
         When I read this book I felt ___ because ___
         I liked/disliked this part because ___
         When I think of this book, I think of ___ because ___
         This character ___ reminds me of ___ because ___
         The situation when ___ reminds me of the time in my life when ___
         I really don't understand this part because ___
         The character ___ reminds me of myself because ___

    Group Activities
    __ Oral reports or speech and drama projects (even some art projects) can be done together as a group and/or presented to a group -- your family or a group of home-school students.
    __ Have a Book Report party or presentation. Each child (or member of your family) gives a 5-minute report (traditional or an idea from this list) dressed and acting as a character in his book. Set up a table to display books and projects. Refreshments can include some suggested by the books.
    __ Have a group discussion of the questions under "Reports" (below) or "Activities" (above).
    __ Play the Ungame and answer as a character in your book.

    (Adapted from a Teaching Tip in the March/April 1994 Teaching Home.)
    _________________________________________________________

         New & Used Resources from Laurelwood Publications
         Laurelwood Publications is pleased to offer home
         educators the best in New Textbooks and other
         resources. Buy and/or sell Used Curriculum! Rent all or
         part of your curriculum. Equipping parents to "Train up
         a child . . . " (Prov. 22:6).
         http://www.laurelwoodbooks.com
    _________________________________________________________

    How To Encourage & Record Reading

    __ Make a chart or poster to record books read.
    __ Use stickers or grades to evaluate reports.
    __ Offer rewards based on number of books or pages read.
    __ Keep a record of books read in a notebook or file. Include the      student's and/or parent's report/review/evaluation of each book      for future reference.
    __ Make a paper or cloth quilt with a block for each truly      worthy, favorite book. Include title, author, date read, and      perhaps main characters' names and time and place settings.
    _________________________________________________________

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    Sunny Side Up: Something Funny's Going On
         We were studying the bones of the body, and I was quizzing our 6-year-old in front of Dad. I pointed to my upper arm and was looking for the word "humerus."
         When I asked our son if he knew the name of that bone, he exuberantly blurted out, "Hilarious!"
         Sent by Karen B., Missouri
         You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.
    _________________________________________________________

    God Loves You.
         Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
         "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).
         http://www.TeachingHome.com/about/salvation.cfm
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