Showcasing your Student’s Work: Language Arts

Children-readingAs I am preparing for families to come this spring and summer for portfolio reviews, I am thinking it beneficial to discuss different ways to document what your student has done this year. I am going to break this down into subject areas over the next several weeks so I can provide you with various options for each area. This week I am going to address Language Arts, particularly reading.


Record oral work. When little ones are just beginning to sound out letters and read, it may be difficult to “show” work that has been done since a large portion of the work is oral. For beginner readers you can record a book that you are reading aloud and the interaction that is taking place. For instance, if you are reading In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming and you are having your reader listen and follow along, pointing to certain letters or words, it documents what is being accomplished. You can have a grandparent listen to it as well. Those are button-busting moments for all involved!

You can also have any of your readers create audio books over a period of time to show progress. Modeling this would be helpful to your child, either by listening to a book on CD or by recording one yourself. These can be short books or a chapter book; it just depends upon what you would like to do. Since it is January, you still have several months to do this before a portfolio review. Play it back for your husband at the dinner table and let your student shine!

Keep a book list. Either keep a receipt from the library; record the titles in your lesson planner; or take pictures of the books, or bring three books with you that were read at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the year. This is an amazing way to see the progress your student has made throughout the year.  There are times when I just don’t think I have done anything and if I have someway of looking back to where I began I am encouraged that I actually did more than I thought. Sometimes you see tremendous growth with your child, and much of the time it is slow and steady.  Both of these are great, so don’t be discouraged. :)

Keep workbook pages. If you are using a traditional workbook, you can pack it up to show at your assessment, or you can tear out 30 pages or so. These pages would be from the beginning, middle, and end of the year.

Check comprehension of reading passages. This can be done by stopping in certain portions of  the story and ask questions such as, “What do you think will happen next?” “How do you think the story will end?”, “Why did the character act that way?” (motive) If your child is not writing yet, then record their answers and be sure to title the page. For example: Caps For Sale  Why did the seller throw his hat down? Record your child’s response.

Having your student draw a picture of the story as a summary or as a prediction for what will happen is a way to record comprehension too. Many reading programs have comprehension questions at the end of the passage so you can include some of those for the portfolio.

Create a picture collage of activities. Perhaps your children make crafts or do some of their schoolwork on the computer. You can take pictures of your children reading directions, and/or show a picture of the computer screen with the results that are given at the end of the lesson or game.

I hope this has given you ideas of documenting your student’s work. As you can see, there are many ways to do this and you are not limited to just one way to do things. You have unique pupils and not each child learns the same way.

Please leave a comment if you have another idea. I’d love to hear it!



My friend Ann sent me a picture of what they do to celebrate reading at their house. They create a Reading Wall. Every time someone reads a book they write the title and their name on a post-it and stick it to the Reading Wall. I love it! Thank you for sharing, Ann. :)photo 1 photo 2








Free Portfolio Review Giveaway!

confetti_falling_iclipThis is the last week for a chance to win

 Woo Hoo! It’s that time of year where I give away two free portfolio reviews! If you are interested in having a chance to win one of the reviews (a $40.00 value) there are six ways to enter.  Each way gives you one chance. I will draw one name for each portfolio review on January 31 and post who won on my blog February 1.

“So, how do I enter a chance for the giveaway?” I am glad you asked! This year there are even more ways to win that last year. :)

  1. Subscribe to my blog. Write a comment that lets me know!
  2. Like me on Facebook. There is a link to my Facebook on the right side of my blog. Write a comment below to let me know you are following.
  3. Write a comment below about why you like to homeschool.
  4. Direct a friend to my blog. Write a comment below that lets me know you did that.
  5. Sign up for a portfolio appointment (March-July) and let me know you want to enter the giveaway.
  6. Recommend me to a friend and have them mention your name (this month) when they schedule a portfolio review. Of course, I am always appreciative when you recommend a friend to me- THANK YOU!

I hope you win!


~ Lisa

Staying on Track: What to do When Life throws a Curve


Recently I went on an anniversary getaway with my husband to Florida. It was one of the most relaxing trips we have ever had until… I wiped out on my bicycle and did a face plant on the concrete. Ouch! To make a long story short, I had to get six stitches around my eye and sported a lovely purple shiner and lots of bruises for several weeks. Of course, that wasn’t planned and we had to adjust our plans to accommodate my accident.

Perhaps you have had a year like that, maybe not one identical to mine. ( I certainly hope not!) But, situations come up and all of the plans you made have suddenly had to be changed to fit the need you have. How do you keep going? How do you stay on track with school?

  1. Teach the main subjects. If you cannot teach every subject due to illness or other circumstances, focus on math and reading. You will be able to teach new science and social studies topics in the near future.
  2. Combine subjects by reading stories that are about history or science. Children always enjoy listening to stories.
  3. Make the circumstance a learning experience. Do you have to visit your sick mother throughout the week? Why not learn about the illness and ways to prevent it? This is a practical way to teach health. How about making up a car travel kit filled with books, math practice sheets, a map to track where you are going, get books on CD from the library, etc.
  4. Complete assignments orally if necessary. My son had to have surgery on his arm and there were several days where we discussed the questions that were in his books I either was his scribe or I noted on his workbook papers that we had done it orally and gave him a score. For instance if he got 8 out of 10 correct I circled the ones he missed and wrote +8/10 on the top of the page along with the date. Dating papers helped keep me on track and later when I glanced through the workbook I wouldn’t panic when I saw a bunch of “blank pages”.
  5. Take a break! Children have sick days in a traditional school setting and you are allowed to do so too. If circumstances are such that there is a long term illness or circumstance, be sure to have your child doing some type of school if at all possible.
  6. Watch educational videos. I am not a huge proponent of television; I don’t even own one! But, history and science are enhanced by watching videos that are related to what you are studying. The Schlessinger Company has great children’s videos about a variety of history topics, both about the United States and other countries. WeetWoo is an app that is parent curated. As with anything, preview the video before allowing your child to watch it. 
  7. Educational Apps can help reinforce concepts that you have been studying. Here are some that have been recommended by and
  • Stack the States (geography)
  • PopMath Basic Math (math)
  • Wurdie (spelling)
  • Bookworm (Spelling- for my own review check out my post about Language Arts games)
  • Sums Stackers (math)
  • Balloony Word (spelling)
  • Green Eggs and Ham (reading)
  • The Magic School Bus: Oceans (science)

Remember, things will return to normal and things will be routine once again.

Have a great week!

~ Lisa

Language Arts Games to Play


Sometimes it’s just hard coming up with a way to reinforce grammar and spelling lessons. Instead of workbooks, how about some games? Your student will be engaged longer with the subject and with more than one of the senses involved, will better retain the information. So, pull out the games and have fun!


Word Games

  • Scrabble and Scrabble Jr. are not only ways to work on spelling, but these games require some strategy in the placement of words on the board. Mathematics skills can be reinforced as well if scorekeeping is involved. You can purchase it as a board game or you can get the app. for FREE!
  • Scattergories (pick a general category and write 10 letters of the alphabet going vertically) You don’t even have to purchase the game! You can create your own. Set the timer for one minute. Each player reviews their words and whoever has the most wins that round. Determine how many points will win the game ahead of time.
  • Boggle is a great game to play for middle school and older students. This online version has a timer and you can see how many words you can spell within the allotted time. Not only is this an online game, but it can be a board game to play with the whole family. You cab also purchase it as a board game if you like. Click Here
  • Mad Libs are fun, nonsensical stories that you fill in the blanks. A review of parts of speech and even giving a mini lesson helps students to think of adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs (plus others) to complete the story. You can download stories or purchase them. You can even download a free app of the game!
  • Bookworm is one of my favorite apps that I play at least once a week. You can play it online and if you like it then you can purchase it for $4.99

18 Activity Bag Ideas


Doctor’s appointments or traveling in the car for long distances provide children with the opportunity to practice being patient and waiting. But, these periods of time can be longer than anticipated and is a perfect time to have an activity bag along for your child(ren). Some items to include are a folder to put papers in, a large gallon bag to put the individual activities inside and a bag to keep all your goodies organized and portable. Keep in the car so you aren’t spending extra time looking for it. Here are some items to include for your bag:

  • Travel size games such as Connect Four or Checkers
  • A book
  • Drawing pad
  • Pencils, both colored and regular
  • Washable markers
  • Math worksheets for extra practice
  • Mad Libs are a fun way to practice parts of speech with fill-in-the-blank stories. Print off a few for an entertaining and educational activity.
  • Hidden Pictures were the only bright spot I remember when I was little and going to the doctor’s office. Now you can have some of these from Highlights to add to your child’s bag.
  • Small Lego set
  • Rubber bands to make friendship bracelets
  • Stickers
  • Stationary cards to write a note to a friend or family member
  • Action figures or small dolls

If you have little ones include the following:

  • Large popsicle sticks with velcro on each end of the stick so they can be used to connect to other sticks. These can be colored for your precious one to match.
  • Duplos
  • Chenille sticks (pipe cleaners) can be used to create various shapes. You can have several shapes already made and trace onto paper so they can match the shapes. This activity can be extended by tracing with various colors and have coordinating colored shapes they match.
  • Pom Poms are great for matching and making things. Put them in a snack bag or a large medicine bottle.
  • A few favorite books