Resources for instructing the early set:
— “Unlocking the Doors The Preschool Years Preparation for Reading, Writing and Math, Birth-Age 5” from
“Montessori Read & Write : A Parent’s Guide to Literacy for Children” by Lynne Lawrence Lynne Lawrence, a leading Montessori practitioner, shows you how you can teach your children to read and write using the famous Montessori method. Packed with ideas and age-specific and fun activities and games. The Montessori strength is that it takes a child on the straightest possible road to literacy, from those first steps in recognizing letters, sounds, and shapes through vocabulary-building and spelling competence to full reading fluency and creative writing skills.

Montessori For Moms is a great online resource with lesson plans and detailed instructions and pictures that you can download here on how to carry out all the essential Montessori lessons List of alphabet activities and coloring pages at here

See article by Terrie Lynn Bittner “Preparing for Kindergarten Academics” and also “Helping Kids Learn to Write

See also Terrie Lynn Bittner’s article “Raising Kids Who Love to Read

Stepping Stones to Learning from Innova offers free online activities, worksheets for eye-hand coordination, observation, fine-motor-skills, thinking and reading preparation tips from

Reading & phonetics resources:

1. 200 quality phonics worksheets (free online but you have to subscribe) at Education Creations. In the 1940s through 60s, a reading book called Reading With Phonics was widely used in the schools. This publication, (Lippencott, 1948), is out of print. (Copies are available from time to time on Amazon, however.) This program taught students to immediately blend the beginning sound with the short vowel that followed. It is an excellent way to teach reading through phonics. A set of worksheets adapted from this book is available at the website with your subscription. The website was voted best of the website for teachers.

2. For a huge resource list of Phonics Products for Home Use Prepared by The National Right to Read Foundation. Prices are indicated. Not comprehensive. Go to the page Also for a large resource see Karl Bunday’s website for a discriminating selection of phonetic instructional materials. See (the link was down recently), please try the main portal page at Learn in

3. Pathway Phonics is recommended as a cheap and effective program by Jessie Wise in “Teaching Reading: Phonics Programs that Work” . Pathway Phonics is available online from Rainbow Resources at Rainbow Also available from Rainbow Resource are MCP Phonics/Explode the Code Workbooks/Alphaphonics/Saxon/ Reading Reflex and many other popular products. Search under phonics at here

4. Ruth Beechick’s 3Rs is a really nice, understandable and do-it-yourself homeschool guide to reading and writing (arithmetic as well) instruction. And these are as cheap as guides come. Dr Beechick’s is famous for her practical experience and common sense in the business of teaching children, and dedication to the idea of parents teaching their children at home. The Three R’s gives guidance for teaching reading, writing, and artihmetic in Kindergarten through third grade. She explains the stages of reading, presents a simple but effective method of teaching phonics to children; goes beyond phonics to explain how to attain fluency. And her other book “Language and Thinking for Young Children” takes literacy even further. Dr Beechick is also popular for her natural method of using literature to teach spelling and writing mechanics (on which the program Learning Language Arts Through Literature is based). I found her little concise booklets very readable but thought the book to be too “bare-bones” and her phonics charts and presentation incomplete to use over the long term. For more info see here (HomeHearts) and here (MottMedia).

5. Teacher’s Edition with Annual Lesson Plans by Myrna McCulloch (is a chronological adaptation and extension of the classic text, “The Writing Road to Reading” by Romalda and Walter Spalding) a. Teaching Reading at Home: A Supplement to WRTR by Wanda Sanseri plus the WISE Guide. The TRaH guides you in teachingspelling/phonics/handwriting using the WRTR method, step by step. The WISE Guide is set up as spelling lists of twenty words on each two page spread.
It includes the words, sample sentences, how to mark each word and the applicable spelling rules as well as extra helps/suggestions for grammar and making it stick. On average, expect to spend 30-40 minutes a day on it.
b. Reading Works by Jay W. Patterson. The first few lessons are scripted, but after that you are on your own. Read the parent’s review here.


c. — Phonics for Reading and Spelling by Bonnie Dettmer  — OR Saxon Phonics (also based on Dr. Orton’s phonogram research but tackles the learning of the phonograms in a completely different way and integrates the famous Saxon spiral approach) reviewed here
— OR
Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself by Charlotte Lockhart
— OR
Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolf Flesch (who shocked millions of parents and indicted most schools with his in 1955. Still available and useful for parents who want to make sure their children learn to read.)

6. Teach America To Read And Spell (T.A.T.R.A.S.) A complete phonics package, beginning with the alphabet; Kit includes complete Instructional Manual, Exercise Books, TATRAS I & II Instructional Audio Cassettes on how to use the program, wide-lined writing paper pad, Flash Cards and Wooden Block Rack, Reading Record Sheets, Wall Chart, Pencils, Penny Primer and Pencil Gripper. The children are taught to correct their own dictation. Involves a lot of page flipping. Teaching follows this order: The Alphabet / Phonics facts / Manuscript letters / Phonics Habit / Instant recognition of most commonly used words (after decoded) / Reading text / Spelling / Writing. Following familiarity with the alphabet, the child is taught the phonograms, e.g., all the sounds of a /A/t cat; /AY/ ate; /AW/ all. Once they master these after five daily lessons, they learn to write it–first trace it on the “finger clock.” The program includes drilling the phonograms daily, dictation, copywork and spelling. Price $34.95 Website on TATRAS at Email for info See a review by the Bluedorns at

7. Sound Beginnings (Riggs’ Institute’s new step-by-step program put out by My Father’s House) a program similar to WRTR, has well scripted lessons to teach the phonograms, phonogram dictation, spelling dictation, and sentence dictation. Also included are worksheets that help with the spelling rules. You can also purchase a premade notebook to go along with the program. Integrated approach with handwriting exercises. Complete in itself, purchase of WRTR is not needed.

8. For the latest thoroughly researched book on reading instruction, see the book “Why Our Children Can’t Read: And What We Can Do about It” by Diane McGuinness, Ph.D. Ms. McGuinness reviews the most up-to-date research on dyslexia, phonological awareness, the practice in most schools, and other vital subjects to provide parents and teachers with accurate, useful information about how to help learners learn to read. I stick with and love using the Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness reading program called READING REFLEX:The Foolproof Phono-Graphix Method for Teaching Your Child to Read, (Fireside, 1999) for my 3 year old. After just one week of painless 5-10 minute lessons on a daily basis, we completed the first phase of instruction and my son learnt to sound out virtually any three letter word. A couple of weeks, my son not only began to sound out four-letter words but also ventured to sound out and read the word “difficult” on his own. Suitable for the very young because of the use of large letter cards, BINGO ames. Because of the authors’ concern with remedial work correcting poor readers, I feel the program “gets it right first time round”, it de-emphasizes rule memorization. Most phonic methods teach about 47 rules but the rules only work 40% of the time.
However, see Jessie Wise’s criticisms of this program at RR is available from Rainbow or for more info see the website:
9. Veritas Press Phonics Museum (VPPM) available from the from Veritas Press. Tel:  (8…. This covers phonics, writing (d’Nealian), spelling, some history and art. Slow starting pace beginning with alphabet sounds means that motivated 4 or 5 year olds can use the program with success. Homeschoolers go ga-ga over the fabulous readers…not your usual “the cat sat on the mat” variety. Kids love the packaged stories like “The Alphabet Quest,” about a little boy who visits a museum with his family and meets “Percival” a talking suit of armor that plays an alphabet game with him. Original CD songs. Fun components include beautiful quality art flash cards and there is a card stock stand up museum where art cards are placed after learning the sounds. (Note: Problem with integrated approach is that younger children generally do not have the fine motor skills for precursive workbooks). The Homeschool Kindergarten Kit is $95.00. Homeschool Kindergarten/Grade 1 Combo Kit is $150.00.

10. The Montessori Phonetic Reading Program on CD Rom. Very innovative presentation using online tutor and the famous Montessori three-period  lessons. Available from Montessori Educational Computer Systems (MECS), Tel/Fax: (5… or email or write to MECS, 13008 Rover Ave, NE, Albuquerque NM 87112 If you are interested in the Montessori method of achieving literacy, you may wish to look at the book “Montessori Read & Write : A Parent’s Guide to Literacy for Children” by Lynne Lawrence Lynne Lawrence, a leading Montessori practitioner. The guide shows you how you can teach your children to read and write using the famous Montessori method. Packed with ideas and age-specific and fun activities and games. The Montessori strength is that it takes a child on the straightest possible road to literacy, from those first steps in recognizing letters, sounds, and shapes through vocabulary-building and spelling competence to full reading fluency and creative writing skills.


11. Sing, Spell, Read and Write is the pricest but many say this the best, multisensory complete with tapes, wall charts -look, listen, point singalong and echo approach – carries the pricest tag too. Available from Rainbow Resource, Veritas Press catalogs as well as


12. Letterland phonics program very popular in the UK. Very complete. Starts from introduction of cutesy alphabet characters, and carries out instruction mainly through its colourful story-book readers. For more details see UK website Available through Japanese agent here at

13. These are the best manipulatives I’ve seen for phonogram work. The Touchphonics Magnetic Tile set includes 193 Magtiles, three pocket charts with grommets for hanging, a Teacher’s Guidebook, a Word List and a Videotape. Durable and textured tile version also available (for Montessori sensorial method). May be used with Ruth Beechick’s 3Rs or with Alphaphonics (the book, not the package) or any program for that matter. Purchase online from If you would like to do phonics wordplay on a magnetic board, then I recommend the Hobnobbers Art easel, guaranteed to be indestructible (made of ceramic) extendable to four heights, very attractive and colorful, multipurpose (chalkboard, magnetic, usable with write and wipe pens, clip on top for attaching paint papers. Available from E

14. Fundamentals curriculum for 2-6 yr old from Accelerated Learning Systems. Very systematic and parent-friendly instruction. Includes phonic cards, 400 key word cards, many more noun and verb word cards, spelling word lists, Bingo word and sentence cames. (However, this is MORE THAN a phonics program, 3Rs and much more included in this complete preschool program) Available from
15. The Sonlight Curriculum Language Arts curricula includes a full complement of resources, instructional materials and schedules for everything from phonics-based reading instruction over several levels/grades, to spelling, handwriting, grammar, and vocabulary development. The curriculum follows Ruth Beechick’s “Natural Language” approach to Language Arts instruction and thus teaches the language arts by means of exercises based on the readaloud or read-for-themselves books that the children are to study in the curriculum package. Dictation assignments highlight phonics rules and very basic issues of grammar. Kindergarten students are offered instruction in the letter symbols and related sounds for consonants and short-vowels (mat, cat, bat, Bob, rob, sob, etc.) and given short, controlled-vocabulary readers that reinforce the specific letter sounds and letter combinations that they have been studying. Children practice handwriting and work on their letter-sound recognition through a variety of activities: a “Go Fish!”-style letter-recognition game, a BINGO-style game of the same nature, and several letter-and-sound recognition worksheets included with the manual. First Grade continues phonics instruction using Sonlight’s I Can Read It! phonics book and the child will be reading the carefully-controlled, phonically-correct stories in I Can Read It!. Beginning with short-a words only in the first lesson, this book progresses very methodically through all the short vowels, consonant blends, and so forth. The stories in the book actually have plots with real conflicts, climaxes, and conclusions
and characters who actually do things. This phonically-correct period of instruction is then closed with an original reader called The Best Trick for additional practice in basic decoding skills. After The Best Trick, fun but sometimes phonically-“incorrect” Easy Reader books such as Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, Stop That Ball!, The Cat in the Hat, are used to more delightful practice reading. First grade includes, besides the phonics text, a “Go-Fish!”-style game that concentrates on basic consonant
blends, and a BINGO-style game having to do with letter blends, clusters and sight words. In Second Grade the pace picks up moving the child on to more advanced phonics. The Explode the Code workbook-oriented series and the Wordly Wise (vocabulary building) series are also offered as options.
A workbook approach to language arts instruction, the MCP Word Study D book and EPS Wordly Wise series carry on from where “natural language” activities and Explode the Code books leave off.
Order online at their website.

16. THE CARDEN READING METHOD An outstanding educator, Mae Carden opened the first Carden school in 1934 at 24 East 68th Street in New York City. Although Mae Cardon passed away, the Carden Reading Method and Curriculum continue to be used by a number of private schools in the US and elsewhere in the world. The Curriculum is an outstanding total language arts
curriculum that assures comprehension by unifying the language arts; reading, spelling, speaking, listening, composition, and paragraph analysis and that emphasizes interrelationship of the content of subjects presented. It shows strengths in developing excellence of speaking vocabulary, diction and enunciation, clarity and fluency of expression. It uses a phonic basis to provide
essential tools for decoding words while providing rich classical literature (including prose, poetry and drama) to be read to and by the student. It also teaches the application of rules of grammar, proper writing skills (Cursive writing, penmanship and composition). To find out about Carden’s SCHOOLING IN THE HOME WITH CARDEN program, refer to their website
ordering page. Or contact:

Carden Educational Foundation,
P. O. Box 659, Brookfield, CT 06804-0659 /Call:
/Fax:860-354-9812 /Email

17. See also Ann Zeis’ reviews of reading instruction materials

18. Phonics Fundamentals NOT the same as the UK preschool program one above. This one is a reproducible workbook for reinforcing any other program. Carried by Veritas Press

19. Oxford Reading Tree scheme (not an intensive phonics system but really a reading support scheme) see full description below. Note: When choosing phonics products, determine whether you want to teach phonics decoding activities alongside of writing. Many of the products tie phonics instruction and writing skills together, especially in workbook style programs. Many teachers advocate that IT IS better to do both at the same time, because the writing reinforces the reading. But some parents like myself, may have a young eager reader on our hands and do not want to hold them back from reading notwithstanding their immature motor skills. Beware that products like WRTR, Explode the Code and MCP Plaid Phonics,Veritas Press Phonics Museum use an integrated approach.

Q: Beyond phonics, how can I help my child become a fluent reader?
“Once beginning readers have acquired the skill of “mapping of print to speech” (phonological awareness and decoding ability) and strong word recognition ability, reading comprehension and other higher-order reading activities can then follow. To become skilful readers the child must learn to do this through practice that reading becomes so automatically and rapidly that it looks like the natural reading of whole words and not the sequential translation of letters into sounds and sounds into words.” Tips
from “
Reading: The First Chapter In Education” from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education.

Beyond phonics, some sources for “readers for practice” are:
1. The Oxford Reading Tree (ORT) is the UK’s favourite reading scheme and mine too. The core of the Oxford Reading Tree program are its graduated series of exciting and gorgeous readers, all beautifully illustrated in the traditional English line-and-watercolor style. Kids grow with the characters Biff, Chip, Kipper, and their dog Floppy and make reading progress through the fourteen stages of the series. Early on, the stories focus on situations children recognize from their own experiences, such as having a wobbly tooth, losing a favourite toy, and making a mess. The stories are carefully written using simple, natural-sounding language that children can understand. ‘Key’ words are repeated throughout the storybooks so that children gradually increase the number of words they can recognize and read. Wrens and Sparrows reader packages provide extra reading practice at the important stages; the Woodpeckers set develop the ability to link sounds and letters (phonics) and supports work on developing essential phonic skills through workbooks and anthologies of stories and rhyme; Robins, Jackdaws, and  Woodpecker books provide a challenging read for fluent readers. With many intriguing titles such as “A Day in London”, “Victorian adventure”, “The Magic Door”, “King Arthur” this series is definitely not inane reading. One teacher in an international school here told me the teachers would fight to look at the latest readers when the packages arrived! ORT is a very complete reading program with a whole array of complements available: teaching guides, workbooks, alphabet friezes, the most glorious poetry anthologies. My only complaint, it has TOO MANY components and is very pricey. Still you can opt to buy just some of the books. See
OUP site for info. Available in Japan, request for a catalog from OUP Tokyo / 2-4-8 Kaname-cho /Toshima-ku Tokyo / Tel: 03…; Fax:03-5995-3415 or get it from Yurindo bookstore off the shelves.

2. The Sonlight Curriculum Language Arts curricula includes short, controlled-vocabulary readers that reinforce the specific letter sounds and letter combinations that they have been studying. First Grade continues phonics instruction using self-published “I Can Read It! phonics book” and the child will be reading the carefully-controlled, phonically-correct stories in “I Can Read It!”. Beginning with short-a words only in the first lesson, this book progresses very methodically through all the short vowels, consonant blends, and so forth. The stories in the book actually have plots with real conflicts, climaxes, and
conclusions and characters who actually do things. There is also an original reader called “The Best Trick” for additional practice in basic decoding skills. After The Best Trick, fun but sometimes phonically-“incorrect” Easy Reader books such as Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, Stop That Ball!, The Cat in the Hat, are used to more delightful practice reading. Order online at 

3. Miscellaneous readers for reading practice: Bob Books for Beginning Readers (Scholastic), 3″x5″ little books in sets;
black and white cute cartoons “Mac had a bag” ‘Mag had a rag” “Mac sat on the rat” and the like. Order from major catalogs, online bookstores Phonics Practice Readers in sets (short vowel/long vowel/blends/digraphs) choose from series A or B. These are colour, cheaper than Bob books, and have lots of books in each set for lots of practice. Available from from Montessori N’Such Catalog Order from Website: Fax: (703)205-0889 or email:

4. Other reading programs popular with Christian homeschoolers include:  Abeka readers and Christian Liberty Readers, reviewed at Cathy Duffy’s site.

— Abeka’s Basic Phonics Readers Set at $11.40 and other readers are available from Do a search for Reading.
— Christian Liberty Press carries Adventures in Phonics workbook series (A and B), and several readers (Hearts & Hands $6.00, Kindergarten Phonics Readers (4 Books) $11.00; Lessons from the Farmyard $3.50, Meeting New Friends $6.00; Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 1-5 $6.00/ $3.00 /$3.50 / $4.00 / $5.00 ; Beautiful Stories for Children $7.00; Child’s Life of Christ $3.95.) Available from Christian Liberty Press

5.  Phonics Readers by Modern Curriculum Press. Order from Rainbow Veritas Press Phonics Museum readers. Order their gorgeous readers separately from the program. Available from Veritas Press.

6. Online reading programs Reading provides over 2,000 downloadable leveled readers for an annual fee starting from around US$50. The books come with lesson plans, worksheets and assessments.

7. Recently I’ve been using a resource with my students that I thought some might find useful for their children. Children could choose their own books to read for pleasure and parents could make available these stories for English work. Grades K through 6, there are quick reads (postcard size), chapter  books and one side of A4 type reads – both fiction and non-fiction, also those choose your ending story mazes, which are popular. The stories are usually interesting and funny for the children, but they follow up with some multiple choice that works on various different aspects – text analysis, vocabulary, meaning etc. By no means perfect (the questions are a bit limited, there are occasional typos and an annoying habit of asking children to check the meaning of a word in the 19th paragraph, with no easy way of working out which is the 19th paragraph) but they are affordable for most ($3.00 per month) and there’s a wide selection that is constantly updated. They are popular with the children I teach. I laminate them with the stories on one side and the questions on the other. They like answering the questions too and I make self-check cards available. — Janina

8. Those of you who are still looking for great reading programmes as comprehensive as possible – take a look at a new series out only this year around March from Usborne:
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you listen to this very useful videoclip by Company founder, Peter Usborne, via the Very First Reading Series, a series of titles that allow a young child just starting to read to progress in easy, logical and enjoyable steps with help from their parents. For more information visit:
I still feel that the new programme’s readers do not reach the charm level or artistic sophistication or humour of some of the other readers I used, but this programme is close, and very good, plus it has a great many levels to do the job, not nearly as many as ORT (but I think it is a little cheaper and therefore a better option than ORT for many people). For those still interested in reading programmes, do check the info out. More info on The Usborne Reading Programme here is a collection of around 250 titles, graded in seven levels and covering a wide range of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction.

Beautifully produced, and with lively writing and fabulous illustrations, the books are designed to capture the imagination and build the confidence of beginner readers, and motivate and inspire those who find reading difficult or dull.

From their website:

Usborne Very First Reading is an inspired series of fifteen books for children who are just starting to learn to read. It offers:

  • the appeal of imaginative rhyming stories and irresistible illustrations
  • the support of a well-researched framework
  • the enjoyment ofshared readingwith an adult

This is the UK website for Usborne Very First Reading. Find out more…

Usborne Very First Reading is based on the principles ofsynthetic phonics, and has been carefully developed to tie in withLetters and Sounds, the UK Government programme used in thousands of primary schools.

Reading is both the key to success at school and the source of a lifetime痴 pleasure. Usborne Very First Reading helps children to develop the skills and motivation they need to read with confidence and enjoyment.



This next section lists miscellaneous resources for taking literacy further and for developing verbal ability, writing and general language prowess.

“Narration is a useful and natural technique to develop verbal and writing skills. The Narration technique which is The Art of Storytelling. The art of narration can begin early, before a child has learned to read. Even a preschool child can “tell back” the favorite stories read over and over by parents. When our young children “read” their favorite books, turning the pages lovingly and repeating the stories to their dolls, that is an unprompted narration. As the words of the bedtime stories and other readaloud literature are lovingly and enthusiastically read to our children, narration can be built upon so that a child learns to think, to sift information and to choose what is important to remember and what is not. We begin with a short paragraph, a brief passage, and then a single page, and gradually build a child’s memory and language skills. Through narration, Gains are also made, in a natural way, in the areas of composition, reading comprehension, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and expressive language skills.” See The Parker Family on Narration

Favorite Handwriting Resources:
— Young kids will LOVE to write with the Kumon write and wipe-off AaBbCc cards (ISBN:4-7743-0357-7) Cost: 1,000 yen. The letters are large. And if
you have seen the Kumon dot-to-star arrow system, you’ll know that it is less confusing than the arrow and number system that conventional writing
workbooks use. Try out some of the gorgeous Kumon 3-D mazes (meiro) books for improving fine motorskills prior to the handwriting books. Pen and
felt eraser included.
— Friendly Schoolwork Helpers’ Beginning Alphabet from Teacher’s Friend Publications, Inc (ISBN    0-943263-57-3  ) is a delightful workbook with nice picture clues for alphabet sounds, big letters to trace through. 630 yen from Maruzen — Good collection of online resources listed by Ann Zeis for teaching your child handwriting. Look for her
links to handwriting software such as StartWrite.— Favorite online handwriting page maker from (formerly These are very good as well: The Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Maker, Italic worksheets, D’Nealian worksheets, and Handwriting for Kids.


Writing can be integrated naturally into a child’s reading. Students of the classical tradition have long used the method of copying. Have your child first copy words, then sentences, then paragraphs and longer passages from good writing from their reading books, but I emphasise GOOD material in form and content. This is because the value of copying lies in the fact that the child’s mind will be formed by the style, manner, sentiment, and diction of those passages you set him to copy. Have the child copy what you read aloud sometimes or copy to make notebooks and journals for pleasure. Imitation of good works can progress into original work (paragraphs, essays, poems, plays, short stories) by the child in the style of authors he has copied and adapted. Eventually the child will assimilate the wide varieties of styles and manners he has read and copied into his own natural writing style and manner.

— On developing the Art of Writing see The Parker Family’s Copywork page
— Article on spelling and copywork from the Classical Homeschooling

Writing is an award winning program that is said to be the best composition writing program there is. For more info see here.
— The
Institute for Excellence in Writing is a writing package by Andrew Pudewa that teaches the teacher how to teach writing; it is not a workbook
or curriculum to give to your child. The core of the program includes a guide called Teaching Writing: Structure & Style, a six-videotape seminar
and a seminar workbook. Many other supplements are also available. The units cover beginning skills that can be taught to young children through
high school. The course allows you to go at your own pace but could be covered in a year with an older, motivated student. The philosophy is learning to write through imitation. The topics cover note taking (making notes of key words in outline form); writing summaries; “dress-ups” and varied sentence openers. Items such as strong verbs, preposition openers, and quality adjectives are included. Other units include: Summarizing References & Writing Reports / Writing from Pictures / Advanced Dress-ups / Writing Reports w/ Multiple Sources / Creative Writing with Structure / Essays / Critiques. Price:$300 (including videotapes) (but it is possible to buy the guide alone) See Curriculum Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing, Rod & Staff Grammar by Susan Wise Bauer at as well as here.
— Writing programs (Writers Inc, Writing Strands, Writers Express, Wordsmith, Understanding Writing and Spelling Power) are reviewed at
Suggestions for Simple Writing Exercises for the Grammar Stage (in the Ancient Greek Progymnasta tradition) from the Class Ed Newsletter
May-June, 2000.
— In
What About Journaling? (Or, My Child Hates His Journal)“Susan Wise Bauer says although no child should be forced to do creative writing, every child should learn to form sentences properly, to construct paragraphs logically, and to build a convincing written argument (no matter how much he complains while learning). Writing, like mental spinach, strengthens the mind — even if you don’t happen to like the taste.

— Writers Inc; School to Work A student writing handbook that includes business letters, resumes and other writing skills needed in the working world.

Wordsmith Craftsman by Janie B. Cheaney takes a student through every day writing such as note taking, letter writing, business reports as well as the essay including descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive. Includes many fundamentals and writing style tips with exercises for practicing specific writing skills in the Language Power section. Excellent program for senior high years.Peguis Publishers, 100-318 McDermott Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3A OA2,  (800…. ISBN 1-895411-87-4. Email:

Elements of Style by E.B. White & William Strunk, Jr. is the favorite recommendation of most writers and editors. Suitable for high school years though the student most get it as a classic resource in college.

Comprehensive Composition is a thorough and methodical writing curriculum for grades K-12. Strength of curriculum is in its flexibility – the user can select topics such as “The Paragraph”, ” The Essay”, “Choosing a Topic”, “Notes and Outlines”, “Descriptive Writing”, “Taking Notes”, “Persuasive Writing” and “Expository Writing”.Actual instructional material provided. The writing activities proposed cover the basics of composition and are suitable for use with any curriculum and concepts are demonstrated with clear illustrations, drawing from a variety of sources (including some Biblical texts. No answer keys mean that user must possess some confidence and skill. 124 pages $14.00.

— Find Ann Zeis’ handwritingsensory pages, writing, software resources and References For Writers

— Also useful articles for reading are Susan Wise Bauer’s Suggestions for Elementary Writing and Why Do Copywork and Dictation? from the Well Trained

— See also Christine Miller’s resources on grammar and on her Great Books reading curriculum.


The Riggs Institute lists all 28 rules for spelling.

Ann Zeis’ spelling and vocabulary resources

The Phonetic Zoo (Andrew Pudewa’s of IEW new spelling program) read about it here. Two main strengths: The first is the auditory nature of the program. Mr. Pudewa notes in the introductory video that if a child has *any* minor visual processing problems, looking at spelling words may never help him learn to spell them. Spelling is sequential and requires remembering the correct letters in the correct order. Hearing them spelled aloud presents the letters in proper order every time, re-enforcing proper spelling. Mr. Pudewa also encourages the use of headphones for the spelling drills since it helps the fidgety and easily distractible child to focus on the lesson at hand.
The lessons move quickly so the program is recommended for those ages 9 and over. The second advantage of the program is that it is designed for
the child to use independently. Parents use flashcards with the spelling rules and lists on them to teach the lesson initially but includes the
daily drills are done independently. The student selects the proper track on the CD and spells the words on paper as they are dictated on the track.
The following track is the correction track where each word is spelled aloud. The student writes the correct spelling in colored ink next to each word. He re-takes the same test every day until he gets all words correct two days in a row.
Review by Karen L. Koehler-Cesa (Note: this is really an intensive spelling program)
I am very sad to say that I didn’t like it enough to keep it…I was SO hoping to like it!! Here’s what I *DID* like about it:
— use of the CD’s instead of audiocassette, while expensive, is a very smart move. EACH lesson is on a different TRACK and can be found
immediately (no more winding/rewinding and throwing up hands in frustration over trying to find the right spot!!);
— it is VERY independent…this is WHY I wanted it to work! I needed that extra time with my youngers to have the olders able to independently do
SOMETHING! [s] — the use of the animals is very engaging…my children saw the flashcards and immediately were drawn to it; -the rule/jingle stuck in my daughter’s head after only 2 days of listening to the CD…she heard someone talking about “ow” and repeated verbatim the jingle.
— There are 47 rules, each to be gone over at three different levels, increasing complexity at each level. Basically, my recommendation is this: PZoo would be, in my opinion, very useful, convenient if you don’t have “problem” spellers. If you do have “problem spellers” (spell phonetically…do ok with spelling list words
but natural spelling still tends to be phonetic) PZoo isn’t “enough”. It’s based on the same idea as Spelling Power, but only contains about 1/4 (if
that) of the “ways to spell each sound”. Even Andrew Pudewa of IEW admits that PZoo “isn’t complete” and that “Spelling Power would be a good
adjunct”. My opinion is if it needs an adjunct, go ahead and buy the complete “adjunct” instead!?

Article on spelling and copywork from the Classical Homeschooling Newsletter (all areas of language arts):

— You will find very valuable, the online resources from The Well Trained Mind on reading and writing.

— See also Classical Homeschooling.Org’s scope and sequence through the stages for help in planning your language arts curriculum.

— Some popular language texts include: Language Arts the Easy Way by Cindy Rushton / Harvey’s Grammar

Other spelling helps: is a free online program. It doesn’t go into the details of spelling rules, etc. that this website seems to, but it does group words according to sounds. You can even delete words or use your own list of words. After the kids complete the day’s work, it gives them a token or two to play one of the REALLY COOL games in their game room. The five-day week progresses so: Monday: introduce the week’s list and have the kid spell all the words. Tuesday: Hangman / Wednesday: Word Scramble / Thursday: Pop Quiz / Friday: Spelling Test. My son (10yo) really enjoys this. I always review the words with him (stating any relevant spelling rules) prior to starting the week’s words. You can get a list of the spelling rules from a number of places, like: and
These programs are free to page through (each and every page in the book!) online, but just doesn’t allow you to print them out: catalog 

— Here is a free online spelling program. I’ve not used it, so I cannot comment on its effectiveness:
— Here’s another program that might be worth checking out:

— Useful Spelling Lists online:Kindergarten OCR 2000 Word List / Sight Words from Open Court / Dolch Words / Dolch and other Sight Word lists / Blending and Phonics page / Pre-Primer Dolch Words by Paducah Kentucky School District / Dolch Sight Word Books / General Sight Word Books / 30 free Reading Books online from Reading

Recommended online resources:

— Terrie Lynn Bittner’s excellent language arts resources. — Learn English Online
An article on preventing how to reduce reading difficulties by the NAP Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children see Grammar resources listed here: Ann Zeis Homeschooling website has a resource called “Click Learning.” Monday is Math day, Tuesday is Science day, Wednesday is Reading & Writing, Thursday is History, Friday is Virtual Field Trips and Saturday is Art & Music. Six days a week, features a great site–filled with educational ideas, activities and suggestions.
— Online language arts ..alphabet games, critical reading (lit) guide, phonics worksheets, writing, spelling guides at
Montessori lesson plans for teaching grammar parts (verbs). Also see AMC’s plans and Christian Hearts Homeschool.
Writing and Understanding and Pattern Recognition and Understanding language learning articles by Lisa vanDamme
Grammar Made Fashionable: Phyllis Davenport’s “Rex Barks”
P is for Pajama Party or Paragraph?
Creating Books with Children by Valerie Bendt will help you use these ideas and bind your child’s work into “book” with dustjacket.

For parents who are tired of managing arts in different areas, spelling/grammar/writing/reading comprehension, try an integrated approach incorporating ideas such as notebooking, journalling, copywork, dictation.

Grammar files from Eclectic English:

Other Literacy Building Resources in Japan:

CLASS (Childhood Learning Association) Bicultural Literacy Circle meets on the second and fourth Saturday every month at Prism Heguri in Ikoma-gun, Nara. 10:00 am – 12 noon. Open to bicultural families with one English speaking parent and the willingness to work with all the kids. Reading group meets every Monday from 3:00 – 4:00 at the Mayeda/Matsumoto home. Limited to children who can currently read and write at the high first grade level (US) and the approval of all parents.
For further information, contact: Ann Mayeda
Ann Mayeda
Refer to our
Reading Room at the Education in Japan website for details of other literacy circles — Biblioteka and Story Circle / Koala Bunko–affiliate of ICBA /Winnie the Pooh Bunko-ICBA
4-H Labo Activities: There are are 30,000 Labo members all over Japan. Most are school children, but there are also pre-schoolers, university students, adults, and senior citizens. Each Labo member belongs to a neighborhood Labo club, called a LABO PARTY, which is directed by a volunteer LABO TUTOR. Labo offers an integrated program of language learning, cultural exploration, and personal discovery and growth.The primary emphasis at Labo is on teaching foreign languages to children.English is the most popular, but there are also programs in Korean, Spanish, and French. Contact: Labo International Exchange Foundation / 8-4-5 Nishi-Shinjuku / Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023 / TEL:  03-… / FAX: 03-3367-2433 For free info pamphlets call them toll
free (free dial) at 0120-808743 /or call them at their HO at  03-…E-mail to them at or LaboLab’s bilingual website See also National 4-H Web-Labo Exchanges (info courtesy of Marlene and Senkyo)

Marlene on Labo Activities:
The past month has been a busy one for me as the Stark County International coordinator for the 4-H/LABO program. 106 Japanese youth and 4 adult chaperones and 2 college mates were hosted by families in Ohio for the past month. I recruited nine local families and our family hosted a chaperone from Takatsuki, which is halfway between Osaka and Kyoto. Three of the nine families are homeschoolers…one with eight children but they still made room in their home and hearts for “one more”. As homeschoolers in Japan, local Labo Clubs activities would be a great experience. Labo headquarters is in Tokyo and I know there are branch offices in Osaka and Hiroshima and then there are many Labo Tutors (like 4-H leaders) that have Labo meetings all over Japan. There are quite a few English speaking staff. Robert Sexton is mid-twenties, an American that has been working at the Labo office in Tokyo for five years.Contacts for the two other Japanese organisations that partner with 4-H: Lex and Utrek: Lex Institute / Mr. Kenshi Suzuki, Managing Director / Ace-Shoto Building / 1-4-7, Shoto Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150 /  03-3… TEL/03-3467-8360 FAX / Take a look at Lex America website to learn more about LEX in Japan.
Senkyo: One info packet arrived and it contains: info on their activities /.info on how to be a Labor Tutor /a promotional mini CD with nursery rhymes and a storytelling session. /a postcard to fill out for more info. Another info packet on Labo group activities that includes: contact to nearest tutor /group lessons and fee /another promotional mini CD with more nursey rhymes /and storytelling session.

Christian Academy in Japan Educational Support Services: 1-2-14
Shinkawa-Cho, Higashi Kurume-Shi/Tokyo 203-0013/Tel. 0424-71-3694/FAX
0424-76-2200 / E-mail: This is a wonderful support service provided by CAJ. Christian Academy in Japan’s School Support Services (SSS) has two options, one is for their lending library, and the other includes that as well as quarterly newsletters and age appropriate worksheets. The library books can be borrowed for a month at a time, and the list is quite impressive! You pay the shipping charges. Info submitted by Cheryl Bostrom

Editor’s Note: There are many local libraries in Japan which do stock English children literature. I borrow English books from three local libraries, the prefectural library in the city, its branch nearest to our home (5 mins) and a prefectural research library. So do check with your shiakusho for a list of libraries.

Lets face it… English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine
in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries
in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet,
are meat. We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicks and can work slowly,
boxing rings are square, and a Guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it
a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers
don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why
isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2
meese? One index, 2 indices? Hmmm.
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? That you
comb through the annals of history but not through a single annal? And if
you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what
do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a
vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that
smell? Drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? How can a slim chance
and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites?
How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a
few are alike?
Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are
absent? For example, have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful
gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house
can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it
out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on. English was invented
by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race
(which, of course, is not a race at all). That is why, when the stars are
out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this
essay, I end it.
Author Unknown