Unschooling Reading Resources

Resources, Unchooling | 0 comments

I’m always on the lookout for good unschooling reading resources. The big question to consider when strewing any resources is how do your kids learn? I’ll be upfront and say that I do very little actual teaching to read and my biggest role was to offer the boys opportunities to learn and then sit back to let them choose what works best for them.

My three older sons all learned their letters and letter sounds around two. (The newborn obviously isn’t reading yet.) My eldest started reading just before his 7th birthday and now, 2 years later, is reading far above grade level. My second son, age 6, is reading some words and, if he decides to sit and practice more regularly, will be well on his way to above grade levels within the next year. My 3 year old is practicing writing letters and pretending to read by sounding out words.

These are some of our favorite reading resources:

Letter Factory DVD

Tad the frog goes to the Letter Factory and Professor Quigley lets him sit in on the lessons as the talking letters learn their sounds. My boys have all loved the characters and Leap Frog has done a fantastic job in making each letter and sound memorable. For example, a “monster” walks into the “A Room” and all the little A’s scream “Aaahh!!!”. Don’t worry, it isn’t a scary monster, just the professor in a fuzzy purple costume. The “P Room” is always a favorite as the P says “P” and pops like popcorn. I recommend this to every mama (or grandma) that I know who wants to introduce their child to letters in a fun way.

Letter Factory Flashcards

We bought the DVD and Flashcards as a bundle and these cards have been played with a ton over the last 8 years. They’ve seen better days but, by some miracle, we have managed to keep all 26 together. The kids love to ask their littlest brother what each letter says and the older two build words and ask each other to guess which word it is. The only downside with word-building is that we only have one of each letter, which limits the amount of words. But they are still a great tool to introduce letters and beginner reading.

Talking Words Factory

(Can you tell that we love Leap Frog? They didn’t even need to pay me for this.) This show came with our initial purchased bundle and shows the Leap, Lily, and Tad going to the Talking Words Factory. I think some of the talking letters must graduate to this factory because it is all the loved letters from the previous show, except this time they go through the “word whammer” and get stuck together, along with the icky, sticky letters (vowels). This is the movie that has gotten both of my older boys interested in building words and all I have to do is hit “play” while I’m making dinner.

The big question to consider when strewing any resources is how do your kids learn?

Originator Apps

These Apps are available for¬†Android and iPhone. We have installed Endless Alphabet (vocabulary words), Endless Reader (sight words), Endless Wordplay (spelling/word building), and Endless Numbers (counting and early arithmetic). The Android version (not sure about the Apple store version) has a few words or levels as a free sample and then you can buy the rest as packages. As of this post, I have not purchased any of the expansion packs for three reasons: I can’t figure out which app I should buy an expansion on (which one the kids would get the most out of), I don’t know if the expansion packs will work with my Google account or if I will have to purchase the pack separately for each tablet. They aren’t cheap, if you move beyond the free versions, but the letters and words make fun sounds and are simple enough for even my toddler to drag and drop. Plus it is really cute to watch my 3 year old kinesthetic learner imitate the goofy motions of the letters!

Reading Eggs

We started out with the free 4 week trial that they offer new users. Then got an email to extend the trial for two weeks… then another few emails. We ended up getting quite a bit of free time playing this game. The boys ended up liking it so much that I bought a subscription. The jist is that the child does a lesson full of games and catchy songs and fun characters to guide them, and then they get to hatch an egg with an animal in it (or they hatch an acorn if they are doing a Mathseed). They boys love figuring out which animal they will ¬†get at the end of the lesson and get excited every 5 lessons when they get a new map.

 

My eldest had issues with the timed lessons so I often sat beside him to turn off the ticking sound and would cover up the timer and tell him we would just practice a few times. He now realizes that the timer is irrelevant and he has learned to turn off the sound and ignore the visual. A great lesson for him to learn how relax enough to think under pressure.

 

I like that it lets you redo the game as many times as they like, though some of those silly songs from lessons the boys did a couple years ago are still stuck in my head! (1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive. 6,7,8,9,10, then I let it go again.) I have also figured out how to skip lessons (hint: change the lesson or map number in the address bar of the browser) which comes in handy when some of the buttons are too small to hit or my son really understands the info and just wants to move on.

 

My eldest has finished all the maps in Mathseeds and Reading Eggs and isn’t interested in Reading Eggspress (too much boring reading and questions is what he decided). My 6 year old loves to cruise through 4-5 lessons in one sitting and then doesn’t touch it for a couple weeks. I don’t force him to sit down but I did put a box on his sticker chart. He does his “morning high-5” and then gets to hatch an egg or seed. Again, I’m not super strict about it and give him the option to do it or not. He often decides that he wants to and I have learned to be okay when he doesn’t.

 

Books, books, and more books

The final resource that has helped my kids with learning and loving to read is to surround ourselves with books. I’m partial to non-fiction books with lots of vivid pictured but I do keep a good stock of quality fiction stories around too. My husband reads a chapter of a read-a-loud every night and I read a lot, both for myself and with them, so reading is just a normal part of their lives. My 9 year old has even started reading a bedtime story to his brothers every evening. I know that the library is ideal for getting fresh books but I love to get books from the thrift store to fill our own shelves. They are super cheap and then the kids can read them over and over again. I also often have a book on hand regarding whatever topic they’re interested in. They don’t have to wait until we make a trip to the library and can delve into that book for however long they want. (Though I have noticed I have a gap in my home library when it comes to geology. Guess I need to make a trip to the thrift store soon, yay!) Sometimes they pull a book of the shelves and get interested in a new topic that way. While I agree that libraries are handy, they do not replace a home library.

As you can see, we love both technology as well as old fashioned paperbacks when it comes to reading. We don’t do phonics lessons, or forced reading assignments and probably never will (unless a child asks for it). My goal is for my kids to grow up thinking reading is a normal part of every day life. We love Leap Frog and also purchased a LeapReader Pen and LeapPad a couple months ago. So far they are well loved and I believe they will both contribute to the boys’ growing love of books and reading.

What are your favorite ways to foster a love of reading in your children? In yourself?

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