We finally started on Reading 1 - Bible Blessing Readers which is the curriculum that follows the Beginning Steps to Reading that I previously blogged about. (You have to write Eastern Mennonite Publications for a catalog they do not have a website)As I have stated before, this curriculum was meant to be done all in one year. Beginning Steps to Reading is used for the first semester and Reading 1 for the second. Since my daughter has Down Syndrome I have slowed this material down tremendously and am using each one of them for an entire year. I used Beginning Steps for Kindergarten and am using Reading 1 as 1st grade. (While Gess would be in the 2nd grade based upon her age, socially and academically we are calling this her 1st grade year even though it is our 3rd year homeschooling.)
I am really loving Reading 1 so far as it too progresses at a slower pace. It also still offers multiple choice answers to some questions which really gives children with special needs an opportunity to not just know the potential answer, but to know what they are looking for. Often times children with special needs get the answer wrong because they are simply confused as to what the question means. This material seems to help my daughter in that regard. While my daughter is now writing all the answers to the questions, it does allow the child to simply circle the answer if their motor skills are not yet ready for all that writing. The spelling section does however require lots of writing, but that can always be adapted to other methods like using a keyboard or magnets as I have done in the past (see my Spelling blog for more about that). I will post more about the spelling with this curriculum in a future blog.
For each lesson we have a Bible story that we first teach by emphasizing key words. They also have the story in their reader. There are two sets of workbooks. The first one is for answering questions about the reader and also has activities related to the key words. The other is for spelling and it has one page to spell the words and one to use those words in a sentence. There are also several activities that we do to supplement the workbooks. I want to focus on one of those today.
Each bible story has key words that we focus on. One of the activities we do each week is to have the child use some of those key words in a sentence. I thought that would really be a challenge for Gess but by week 5 she is beginning to come up with sentences all on her own! Sometimes I have to help her restructure the sentence but she is at least telling me a sentence or two that utilizes the key word. I was so excited that this time I had her actually write it down so daddy could see. I wrote the sentence for her and had her fill in the key word. However, these were sentences that Gess came up with herself!
Generally though, it is an oral exercise and no writing is required. The first word we had today was "friends." I started by giving her an example of using it in a sentence by saying, "My friends came over for dinner." I then told her to tell me about her friends and use it in a sentence. She said "I went to the store." Well, I encouraged her to use the word by saying "with?" and she added "my friends." So we wrote that down as a sentence. The next word was night and she came up with that sentence immediately! The word "now" was a bit tougher for her. She came up with "now is school." Usually I tell her each morning "It's time for school" so we added that wording with what she came up with to make it a proper sentence, "Now it is time for school." The yellow she got on her own too. She first said sun after seeing the word yellow. I let her talk it through and reminded her to say it in a sentence. Eventually she said "The sun is yellow." I find that letting her talk it through to be important. Sometimes it seems as if she doesn't have the concept and is babbling about nothing and then finally the word will come out. She simply was telling me a story about whatever it was rather than just one sentence!
Of course we had to begin by first teaching her the concept of what I was looking for. I began the first couple of lessons by explaining that we wanted to use a word in a sentence. I would use it in a sentence for her and then ask her to try too. To show her what I meant I would use it in a partial sentence and have her help me fill in the blank so to speak. For the word "little" I would say "the what is little?" She would say "dog." Then we would say "The dog is little" and I would write that down on the chalkboard. That way she could see we were looking for a way to talk about little. Even now after I say "use it in a sentence" I will sometimes explain that by that I mean for her to "tell me about the word." "Tell me about your friends", or "tell me something about the word yellow", etc. She has come along in the 5 weeks since have started to work on this concept. I can not wait to see how well she can use words in a sentence by the end of the year!