Monday, February 28, 2011

I Know How I'm Shopping This Year

Oh this technology. It's something else.

Friday nights we have a Bible study at our house. Right now we are watching The Truth Project. It's really good stuff. This week's lesson was on History. Somehow we got to talking about our history curriculum. We constantly use The Mystery of History in our Bible study time. None of us learned history in this way when we were in school so we are learning it now as adults. There was a new lady at the study who had not heard of it and so I went and got the book.

Next thing I know, our friend Mark is looking on his iPhone. Oh, here is TMOH for (some price amount). WHAT??? I paid a lot more for it than that!!! Where are you looking?

He has an app on his phone where you scan the bar code of something and it shows you where you can buy it. And all the different prices you can buy it for. Hmm. Interesting. I didn't believe him that is would work on anything so he scanned a box of mac n cheese from my pantry. Boom. There it was.

Sunday night at Bible study, a gentleman had a book that S was interested in. I saw S trying to snap a picture of the book with his phone. So I quickly downloaded the bar code app, scanned the book, and found him a copy for $5.

Now my brain is spinning. You see where this is going right? You go to a store that sells homeschool curriculum. You find something you like. You scan the bar code. Boom. Price wars right there on your phone.

Oh yeah. I'm saving money this year is what I'm saying.

I like technology today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting Books Your Kids Can Read

So, I totally overwhelmed you all with my information on Lexile Reading levels a few weeks ago. It's really useful once you get the hang of it and I know I still owe you that post on early readers.

But....I found out something cool and wanted to share. If you order books from Scholastic, they have Lexile levels for the books!

What this means is, you can actually click on a range of Lexile levels and they will show you all the books in that range that are for sale. This way, you can be sure that what you are ordering for you child (or at least some of what you are ordering, after all, some books are for read alouds or just for fun) are in a range they can actually be expected to read. You can also just look at the information on each book and the Lexile level is provided at the bottom.

Very useful if you are needing independent reading material for your kiddo.

And if you aren't ordering from Scholastic, you really should! You can get cheaper games in their "Click" flyer. I ordered Math Blaster for DS! Many of their games, just like their books, are cheaper than stores.

By the way, I've actually been posting at my other blog this week quite a lot! Who knew I would have so much to say about food and my kitchen? Big things happening over there! Here's a sneak peek:

Go check it out! (see sidebar)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If You Still Have Snow, You May Not Be Interested

It's been pretty warm here. We've had fans going and the windows open. SO nice. I saw a snowstorm on TV so I'm pretty sure not everyone is ready to talk swimsuits.

I just have one thing to say, however. I am VERY disappointed in Land's End swimsuits this year! Two years ago I bought the girls suits from Land's End and they actually still fit. I know they won't make it through the whole summer still fitting though, so it's time to get new ones.

We spent a good amount of money on those 2 suits. ($90-95 including shipping) But, they were totally worth it. TWO summers of fun and me not having to shop for suits last year? Worth it. They were modest, they gave great sun protection. I know I used 1/4 of the sunscreen that I usually use. They only needed sunscreen on their forearms and faces. It was awesome.

I guess modest is not really in style this year. Either that or Land's End doesn't know that they had a pretty good base of customers who shopped with them because of their modest swimsuit choices. Sigh.

The few suits on their website that I would consider didn't get good reviews at all. Seems the sizes are all wonky this year.

This is going to be a big pain. My plan is to find a modest fitting one piece (the top part is the only part that really needs to be modest) and have them wear board shorts over it. HOWEVER, the swimsuit manufacturers and I disagree on the length of board shorts. They seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Board shorts are supposed to be long. You could surf in them....I think that's the point of board shorts.

So if you've seen anything out there that will fit our needs, please give a sister a link.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Being Little Bit

My name is Little Bit. And I'm 7 years old. 

I'm missing 2 teeth right now. 

I have a duck collection. I like to arrange them in families.

I like to be big and do big girl things. I am quite independent.

I LOVE playing with my sister. She is my favorite playmate.

We made a scarecrow together and surprised Mom.

I love fairies and this is the Valentine box my Mommy and I made together.

My mom thinks being 7 is a pretty sweet deal.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Week Off

 We did a lot of nothing...and playing....and watching I Love Lucy...and running around. But then, on Thursday, I got serious. This is what the week off is really about.

The pencils are all sharpened  found. The table caddy is organized again.

And yes, I did give a lecture today about how things are in categories. See the categories? You better put things back in the right category.
 And it has been 6 MONTHS since I rearranged this room!!!! HOW did I let THAT happen????

Ah, our spelling board is up off the floor now. Much better.
 All our spelling cards and math DVDs are stored here. So nice. Easy readers on the right.

I don't think I ever showed you our word wall. I seriously need to add words to this! My back used to be to it so I never noticed it much.

That's our Bible timeline up high.

The hermit crabs are over by the nice warm sunshine now.

Ah. It just makes me so happy when this room is clean for 10 minutes every 6 weeks.

But alas, there is a pile in the hallway.

Then I made lesson plans. I never really feel totally done with lesson plans because there is so much to think about. But we started new lapbooks today and did all of our subjects except one. It was a good day.

In a very clean room.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To Love

I was thinking this morning about how NOT fun my life is lately. Oh I'm not complaining, just realizing that there are a lot of chores and school lessons and errands and laundry and meals to prepare and a lot of things that need to be done.

But without a few minutes to sit down and nurse a baby who will stop eating just to smile at you.

And without little chubby three year old fingers to play play-doh with.

And without little baby clothes to pick out and put on sweet, fat legs.

And without a cute little nursery that takes 5 minutes to pick up and have picture ready.

Big kids are different. I'm not used to being the Mom to big kids. I was the Mommy to little ones and I liked that role. This new role is different.

There are no diapers or sippy cups or lovies or pacifiers or thumbs or tiny socks or plastic plates.

Granted, those are all things we were, at one time, glad to be rid of. Kind of. I knew when I threw out that last sippy cup that things were changing. And I didn't really like it.

Now there are new undergarments in my laundry and ladies size 7 shoes laying around on the floor. Little Bit is still kind of little and I cherish every "little girl" thing she still does and likes. Soon I will have really big kids.

Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have all this help with chores and housework. Last Sunday the only reason we got to church on time was the girls made breakfast from start to finish. That's nice.

Maybe I'm looking at things through rose colored glasses, but this morning, big kids didn't seem as fun to me as little kids and babies. I could be remembering those days with too much fondness...I don't know.

But then it occurred to me that the Bible does not tell me to "slave over" my children. It does not tell me to "work like a dog" for them.

It tells me to love them.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5

(Yes, it says to love our husbands as well but that's not the point of this particular post.)

To love my children. Of course I love my children. But how does that look?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Ouch. Patient? Kind? Not irritable? Enduring all things?

EVEN when we are cleaning up their horrible messy room for the 6th time this week? EVEN when they drop, spill, break, and mess up things? EVEN when it seems their brain leaked out of their head overnight and they don't know the answer to the simplest questions in school?

Yes. Love looks like that.

Loving my children means not spending my days in discontent because I miss "the good old days." Goodness sake, they are SUPPOSED to grow up! It is exciting to see what new things they are learning and to see what they can do. Sure, it's uncharted territory for me...but the Lord knows the path and is already way ahead of us.

I am to love my children. THESE children. The ones I have right now who wear the ladies size 7 shoes and know how to make their own breakfast.

I remember moving from realizing I was "pregnant" to "I'm going to have a BABY." Then I remember moving from "I have a baby" to "I have a child." (as in, a real person with opinions and who is mobile!) With each new stage I have done the same things: gone to God's word.

I remember when Sweetheart was moving into toddler hood, I looked up every verse on parents and children in the Bible and wrote them down. I wanted to be sure what I was supposed to be doing. I had spent a lot of time imagining me with a baby, but not so much time imagining me with a CHILD.

I've spent even less time imagining us with young ladies. How will our home be then? What will our expectations be? I may not know...but I do know I am supposed to love them.

And I have a feeling that once I get my bearings, I will enjoy this new stage just as much as I did the old one.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Medical Disaster Award of the Week...

...goes to Sweetheart!

She slipped and fell in their room last week. (Lesson here? I think so.) She caught herself on the loft bed but fell on one elbow. That arm still hurts so we're off to the doctor this morning to have it looked at. I'm sure it's fine. But she's planning on having that arm for a long time so I want make sure.

And then yesterday I bought a different brand of vitamins than usual. They were out of the kind I usually buy. The old kind required the girls to take 2 of each per day. THIS kind requires 1 per day. Sweetheart took 2 before I could tell her. Oops. We were fairly sure that was no big deal but then on the back of the bottle it talks about "iron overdose" and "can cause death". Yeah, the label said, "In children under 6..." but still. Hmm. Does she need to drink milk? Should we make her throw up? I mean, she weighs what some 6 year olds weigh!

Sweetheart knew where the number to poison control was because she's been reading up on being a babysitter. I called and they said an extra children's vitamin is never a big deal. Its' only when little kids get hold of the bottle and start downing them like candy that there can be a problem.

Whew. But before the lady gave me any information, she wanted to know our zip code, my full name, and Sweetheart's full name.

Um. Kinda reminded me of the time I called 911 when 7 month old Little Bit dove off the changing table. Oh my heart. That was not a good day. The police was the first one to show up and they have to do a report on the accident. I felt like our home was "marked." And yes, the police officer was looking around our home. Oh dear. I had just quit teaching and had brought 15 boxes of stuff home with me to go through. They were stacked everywhere. There were toys out. (Sweetheart was 4, of COURSE there were toys out.) The house was kind of "lived in." He said, "You've got your hands full here." I was thinking, "I only have 2 kids..what do you mean?" But after he left I looked around. Yikes. I did have my hands full. But that didn't have anything to do with the baby falling. (By the way, the paramedics said, after seeing where she fell from, "Oh, it was just a little fall." WHAT?? And she was fine. She had even stopped crying by the time they got there.)

It was an icky feeling knowing the police were filing a report on our accident prone house! Ha! Oh well, Poison Control has our info now too.

Someone make me feel better about that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How's Your Weather?

At the end of last week and over the weekend, we had temperatures in the 20s and low 30s.

Today, my kids are playing in the sprinkler in the backyard.

Just wanted to let you know that.

Upgrading My Can Opener

Our laptop died this weekend.

Tragic, yes? Even more so when you know that our laptop was the most advanced piece of technological equipment that we owned. Before I tell you about our prehistoric ways, I am reminded of a friend from college.

Todd was going to be rooming with 3 other guys in an apartment come fall, so they had all been on the phone during the summer hashing out the details. Mike had a couch he could bring....Chris had access to a dining room table, etc.

Finally it came down to little things like who has a can opener? Todd said he did and he would gladly bring it in August when they moved in. Everyone was pleased until Todd showed up with something like this:

Picture source.
There was talk of violence among them is all I'm saying. ALL of the other 3 guys could have gotten their hands on an ELECTRIC can opener but no....they had trusted Todd. Todd and his sad, pathetic excuse for a can opener. (Never mind the part where I just got an electric can opener a few months ago.)

The point of the story is my cell phone. We paid for S to have a phone with data access because he was in leadership at our church and needed to have access to the e-mails that invariably go along with that even during the day. But I did not see the need to pay "all that money" for a nice data phone for myself. I mean...I'm home a lot. We have internet at home. What else do I need?

But let me tell you, whenever a group of homeschool moms would be sitting in a group visiting and someone would ask, "when is that conference?" and 14 moms pulled out their phones to check?

I felt sorta like Todd. But if you needed to know what time it was...I was your woman. MY phone proudly displayed the time in DIGITAL FORMAT 24/7.

I know!

So suffice it to say, we had already been talking about the need to upgrade our phones and then our laptop died. This got us to making an entire technology upgrade plan for our family. I mean, it's time to switch from cassette tape to CD's, you know? Figuratively speaking, of course.

And while we were at the phone store forking over the money, I told S this was a GREAT Valentine's Day gift. If he were smoother, he could have said, "I thought so too." But you could see the lightbulb go on over his head about what a great idea that was, so...OK...he still gets credit.

I love my Valentine's present honey!

One of the most delightful things to me, other than the fact that I will not have to drive around lost and call a friend to have them look up directions for me on the internet and call me back, is the typing. It's HORRIBLE. I cannot type on that phone to save my life. But even when I type in alien language like:

eana!  ael ;avn bnkldk!

My phone spits out:

Great! See you there!

This post sent to you from my desktop computer, which sports a slot for a 3.5 inch floppy disk.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Pick Me Up

I know I live in Texas.

I know it's not even snowing here.

I know I could get out and go do something and other people can't.

But all this staying inside gets to you either way. I'm not depressed. It's not Vitamin D deficiency.

But I need a pick-me-up.

I need a beach day.

But in lieu of that, since it was 22 degrees when I woke up and that does not make a good beach day, I think I shall rearrange.

I know. I've documented my sickness on this blog. But this time I'm not talking about furniture. I just want a different LOOK around here.

I love to Google pictures of other people's living rooms. Of other people's houses. I know what looks I love.

But what I HAVE is a 12 year old plaid couch and the same stuff all around me that we've had for a long time. I think I'm beginning to see how you end up with an avocado green refrigerator and pictures of fruit on the walls. I used to think, "My word. Why don't people update their stuff every now and then?" But you don't notice it. And new stuff takes money. And one day you realize you have had the same fork and spoon on the wall for way too long and there's no moving them. (a la Everyone Loves Raymond--can NOT find a clip of that. I loved that.)

So today I think I will take all the accessories down and pile them on the table. Then I will redistribute them around the house.

This is VERY hard for me. My sister came and did it for me when we lived at our old house. I simply could not imagine a different place for things. The clock has ALWAYS gone there! Where else could we possibly put it?

Drives me crazy. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it today. I'll just act like I'm shopping for accessories for a new house. Or for a model home. Oh I loved that show Designed to Sell on HGTV. I haven't seen that in (well, a year--when we got rid of TV). Everything always looked so simple and fresh and pulled together without all the clutter of everyday life thrown up all around the room.

Wish me luck. I'm hoping for big results.

If this doesn't work, I may have to bundle up and go to the beach.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Looked It Up

Isn't that what you are supposed to do when you want to know something?

Last week or maybe the week before that, who can remember, I asked you all "What does reverence in worship look like?"

We had a little conversation in the comments section about it. It's still been on my mind. Maybe part of it is because we visited at a church on Sunday with a much different "worship style" than our own church. The difference was stark.

No, it's been on my mind for weeks and weeks now. Reverence in worship. Are we reverent in the way we act/behave/approach the Lord during church?

Well, it turns out I was asking a redundant question.

Merriam-Webster defines worship (n) this way: Reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power.

For Bible words, we like to use Webster's 1828 dictionary. Just to see if meanings have changed. Here is what the old Webster's said about worship (v): To adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.

Everywhere we looked, the word worship was directly tied to reverence. In fact, one might argue it is the definition of it.

So it turns out I was asking a dumb question. And yes, worship is a way of life. It is how we live. It is not a song service.

I think these definitions really drive that home.

Any thoughts?

I Looked It Up

Isn't that what you are supposed to do when you want to know something?

Last week or maybe the week before that, who can remember, I asked you all "What does reverence in worship look like?"

We had a little conversation in the comments section about it. It's still been on my mind. Maybe part of it is because we visited at a church on Sunday with a much different "worship style" than our own church. The difference was stark.

No, it's been on my mind for weeks and weeks now. Reverence in worship. Are we reverent in the way we act/behave/approach the Lord during church?

Well, it turns out I was asking a redundant question.

Merriam-Webster defines worship (n) this way: Reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power.

For Bible words, we like to use Webster's 1828 dictionary. Just to see if meanings have changed. Here is what the old Webster's said about worship (v): To adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.

Everywhere we looked, the word worship was directly tied to reverence. In fact, one might argue it is the definition of it.

So it turns out I was asking a dumb question. And yes, worship is a way of life. It is how we live. It is not a song service.

I think these definitions really drive that home.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Seem to Be Suffering From a Lack of Theme Lately

Once again, a post with no cohesiveness.

Welcome to my brain!!!

Little Bit has had quite a big week here. First, her top tooth FINALLY fell out. She smiled at me at church on Sunday and something looked odd. I looked closer. Her top tooth was BACKWARDS IN HER HEAD. Gross. I am not about the pulling teeth, but this one needed to come out.

All better.

What's with the fake smile? Look excited!
That's better!
Then, her long awaited Bitty Baby arrived today. It was delayed because of the Arctic Blast covering the country last week. She had told me she would, before playing with the doll, first run around the house screaming.

And she did. You might have heard her?

Then she took a picture of her new baby.
Welcome Home Sonya!

We are working on Valentine's boxes for our homeschool Valentine skate party later this week. Little Bit wanted something with fairies.

This is where we stand right now. HELP! It's going to be a flower with big petals all around. The yellow circle is the middle of the flower and the flap lifts up to put the cards in. That's all good. But the fairies were going to be made out of clothespins. Where do we clip them? How do we attach them? Any ideas? My brain didn't plan this one out very well.

Sweetheart wanted to make a robot. Here's the beginnings of one. Thanks to Google and a good blogger who posted pictures of her children's creations. All good ideas come from Google and bloggers, right?

 The other thing we've been busy doing is learning music notes. Sweetheart is sort of at a standstill in her piano lessons until she memorizes the notes. So, the Mama who knows NOTHING about reading music is attempting to assist her.

I feel a letter to my 4th/5th grade music teacher is in order:

Dear Mr. McCallen,

Thank you so much for making music class fun. I really liked singing all through class. I remember singing Senor Don Gato Was a Cat.....and My Gal's a Corker, She's a New Yorker.

And remember how, right before it was time for your evaluation, you would spend 2 days trying to teach us actual music?

Haha. Good times.


Your former student who is musically illiterate, but likes to sing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Having Your Husband At Home

There was a lot of ice last week. Snow was predicted, but did not happen which did not please the younger generation. Schools and businesses had all closed in preparation for the big snowfall so S was home on Friday.

He had already been home on Thursday because he went to an appointment with me. So let's see...that means he was home with us for FOUR DAYS. He doesn't do well just sitting around the house. Some men do. Not S. If there is not a project or something to do he will go crazy. And he couldn't exactly get out of the house on Friday because of all the ice.

We did not do school on Thursday because Daddy was home! so I did go ahead as normal on Friday. S sat around and looked at the weather on his laptop and drank coffee. He was going crazy. So what did he do? Of course he thought of something to do!!!!

And it involved me. BUT...the end result is, you can walk in and use and sewing room and laundry room again!!!! YEAH!!!

That means I did not sew on any quilts as planned. BUT, the bill paying desk is clean and usable. The sewing stuff is back in order on the shelves. You can find things. It's wonderful. We filled 2 city garbage bags with junk.

I also have 2 large bags of give away stuff by the front door. The truck is coming on Thursday. Then there is a small stack to return to sister and parents. Anything that does not belong here is GOING.

I love getting rid of stuff.

So you might read this post and assume that since we were all home together for 4 days that the house is clean and tidy, right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!

How long have you been reading here?

There is clean laundry all over the couch and coffee table. There is a, MOUNTAIN of clothing on the ironing board. (Did I mention there is a new dress code at S's work? It's called "Your Wife Now Has to Iron.") There are library books all over the fireplace. The homeschool room....well....let's just say it doesn't look as featured here.

S is back at work and now I need to get back to work too. Me and my Motivated Moms list can tackle this house!!! Oh, and my helpers. What child labor laws?

What are you up to this Monday?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No One Title Could Pull This Much Random Together

So, we shall employ mini-titles!

Spelling--Keeping it Real

You know I use All About Spelling. You know I highly recommend All About Spelling. But let's remember that even the best curriculum is used by real moms and real children. Speaking of which, Connie over at Smockity Frocks was talking about her favorite reading curriculum today and then she said this quote:

"And I continued thinking that whole superior parenting bit until I bumped into trying to teach a couple of children who live at my house who seemed to wake up every morning completely phonics free."

That is easily the best thing I have read this whole week. I nearly spit my Sonic ice out.

So, on that note, I read one of Sweetheart's journal entries the other day. Out of 97 words in her story, there are over 20 spelling errors ranging from one wrong letter to some form of writing in tongues. It was disheartening at first. But then I got determined. It does no good to learn all this stuff if I don't make sure she applies it. I typed up her story AS IS and highlighted each error. Then I made notes for myself of which spelling rule was violated and has she covered that particular rule. I now have our spelling lessons for next week. After all of that, I am going to hand her back her journal and see how many words she can correct on her own. I'll let you know how that plays out.

Homeschooling Rocks
If for no other reason than we get to have a lot of fun. Last week involved the kids going to a jumping place while the moms visited and knitted and worked out all the world's problems in two hours. I love staying home, but I dearly love play days where I get to talk with other moms. It is muy importante. And oh yeah, the kids had fun too.

 The Bitty Baby
Since Fiona's arm fell off, we ordered a Bitty Baby. Unfortunately, Sonya's (the new baby) arrival has been delayed due to weather. So, we have been keeping busy with all types of preparations. Little Bit got out all the baby doll clothes she could find and we washed them all. She has gathered up all types of baby items and gotten the crib ready (my laundry basket with Fiona's old bedding in it.). Then I had an inspiration. When Little Bit was a baby, her lovey was this:

She called it Bebe. Um...that's Bebe with short e's. Sounds French. She made it up...I don't know. Bebe went everywhere with us for many years.

We decided Sonya needs a Bebe!

Disturbing, no? We aren't through yet.

Little Bit thought it was VERY funny.

Chores (for now)
I ordered the Motivated Moms planner again. This time, instead of being overwhelmed by the list, I am using it for chores for all of us. Well, not S. He works 2 jobs already so he gets a break. Here is a page for next week. It's on a mini-clipboard and we all have a hi liter color. Yellow means we all do it.

Sweetheart and Little Bit take turns on the jobs on the left in pink and blue. So far those are the two jobs I KNOW they can do. I will be adding to Sweetheart's responsibilities a lot in the future. The list on the right changes daily and I have been able to find one thing for each girl every day so far. I think they like that they get something new to do every day. I like that too.

After we do this for another week, Sweetheart will start getting one additional chore than her sister. She IS four years older after all. The Motivated Moms planner really gives me good ideas for what I need to teach the girls to do that I probably would not think of otherwise. Even just watching me do some of the chores is good practice for being a future homemaker. Little Bit was very interested in my chore the other day of cleaning their light fixture.

I'm hoping that in Sweetheart's 12 year old year, if I should be down for the count with a stomach bug or some other atrocity, that she would be able to do the basics on the left. That is my goal. Right now, this is REALLY working for us as far as chores go. Of course, they are also in charge of cleaning their room each day and picking up after themselves.

Proud Math Moment
After watching her sister for 2 years, it was finally Little Bit's turn to do math on the computer. She did her 0s facts three times until she got a blue ribbon! She was very proud. (This is on the Math U See website.)

Mom's Panic Moment
It has suddenly occurred to me that I will have a middle schooler in a few months. I have realized I have no idea how I want her school to change or what things I want to add or what curriculum I will use. I am in uncharted territory here. I'm not freaking out YET, but I am concerned and actually, nerd that I am, I cannot wait to start researching and reading and planning for next year.

Since The Elves Haven't Come YetThey helped the shoemaker, why not me??? All those pieces of flannel I cut out have not pieced themselves into quilts. And it sure would be handy during ARCTIC BLAST '11 if the girls had those quilts, wouldn't it? Since we are staring down being home for the next few days, I'm hoping to sew some. It's on the Motivated Moms planner for Friday--it says, "Work on a craft/hobby." So I shall.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reading Level Help

Today I'd like to show you a website that can help with reading levels. This site is especially helpful for kiddos who are reading independently. Later this week I'll have a post about emergent readers--like Little Bit--who are just learning.

The site is My sister is a middle school reading teacher and she's had tons of training on using Lexile levels. We don't need to have tons of training to use this site. We're smart. We can figure it out. (Plus we aren't trying to teach and track the progress of 100+ disrespectful and disinterested students, but anyway...)

In Texas we aren't required to give standardized tests to our children, but some of you are. On the Lexile site, it lists the tests that will automatically give you a Lexile level for your child. Sweetheart has taken the ITBS for 2 years so I have a Lexile level from her 3rd grade test. Too bad I didn't actually know about that when she was in 3rd grade!

The state tests are listed here and the norm-referenced, etc. tests (like the ITBS) are found here. So if your child has taken one of those tests recently, you should be able to find a Lexile level for them on the results. If not, fear not! You can still find a Lexile range for your child.

See my lovely red circle? This is where you can go to find all about it. It's short. Won't take you a second to read.

There are several options now. You can enter your child's Lexile level if you know it (see red arrow below). Or, you can enter some information (see red circle) and go that way.

For me, because we know our "students" SO very well, there is an easier way. At the top right hand side of the screen above, there is an option to Look up a Book. Let's try that way.

I mentioned in the last post that Magic Tree House books are really easy for Sweetheart. Let's put one of those in and see what we get.

OK. I put in the title Night of the Ninjas and found out that the Lexile level for that book is 280.

So there you go! Isn't that handy? Just kidding. Now how do we find out what 280 means? The Lexile Map of course! You're going to want to print this baby out. You can find it under the heading "TOOLS" at the top of the website.

Here's the map:

This map covers everything from 1st grade reading level to graduate school. Hmm...I wonder where I would fall on this? I guess all I have to do is type in Gulliver's Travels (and find my version--there are tons) and then I would know my "hard" level, huh? Sigh. There are titles on the map to be used as examples of that level, but you will be looking at the numbers and grade levels along the left side of the map.

So, when I check the map for the 280 level of Sweetheart's book, I find out that Night of the Ninjas is a 1st grade level book. Ha!!! I don't know many 1st graders who could read that book, but it might explain why it's easy for Sweetheart. I don't know, it's a high 1st grade level and I have known some students over the years who could have read that book by the end of the year.

So now I need to plug in a book that is harder for Sweetheart. A friend passed some books about horses to us recently. I picked one up just now and used the five finger rule while Sweetheart read a random page. Yep, too hard. I looked it up on Lexile and found out the level is 890.

Checking the Lexile Map, I find that a level of 890 is considered to be between a 5th and 6th grade level. So now I know approximately where her hard level is. (Of course I would want to type in a variety of titles, not just 2.)


It helps by giving me a clue when I pick a book if it is appropriate to her ability. I usually don't assign a lot of reading to Sweetheart because we pretty much have to smack the books out of her hands to get her attention as it is, but every few weeks I like her to read a book for school.

For example, a friend recently suggested that Sweetheart might enjoy reading Little Women. I checked it out on Lexile and found out the original book is at a 1300 level. Um, that's not going to work. But, there is another version at a 700 level (4th grade). Perfect.

I also tested a little girl yesterday who read between a 1st and 2nd grade level. Today I was reading Curious George Flies a Kite to Little Bit and wondered if that little girl would be able to read that book well. Check it out on Lexile......and it's between a 2nd and 3rd grade level. Still, having read with this little girl, I think she could do it. Each book you read with your child, or have them narrate to you to check for understanding, gives you another bit of knowledge about their reading level. All this can be very helpful when selecting books.

In my case, I use it to raise Sweetheart's reading level. She is perfectly happy reading Magic Tree House and Berenstain Bears books, but I now know these are NOT challenging her in any way. Neither do I want to drive her batty giving her WAY too hard of books to read. But, she needs higher level books and it's my job to find them. helps me do that.

There are a lot of helpful things on the Lexile site. I know that no chart beats experience so read with and listen to your children read often. Hope this helps!