Homeschool Reading Blog

admin's picture

Felt Board Family

Make a set of people for your family in felt. Add as many people as you wish. These are all made with sheets of felt, googly eyes, and a hot glue gun. You could add small buttons or netting, etc. for fun details as well. Again, go as simple or fancy as you have the time for. Pardon the wrinkles in my little people. The kids put them in their bag last obviously & I didn’t bother getting out the iron before snapping the pictures!

You can add seasonal clothes & scenery for them as the year goes on. The felt people took time, but I’ve added outfits & scenery every time we get them out (we’ve now got quite a collection) & the kids have adored playing with them over the years. Best 10 cents a sheet I every invested in as a toy! Well loved & used. : ] Suggestion: make the mouth separate so they can make the person smile or frown. The smiles get lost easier, but they love to change them up. It’s easy to make plenty of extras for when they get lost.

Leigh Ann's picture

Primary Themes

This is a collection of ideas to be used in conjunction with Burton Reading: Beginnings™. At conferences, so many were asking us “What else do we need?” after deciding on Burton Reading for their kindergarten and first grade reading curriculum. The truth is, if you concentrate on your child’s reading & writing skills, getting them down well in the first two years of formal schooling, you will be doing the very best thing for you and your child. If you send them on to brick and mortar school after that, they’ll be successful even if you didn’t do anything else formally with them. If you continue to homeschool, your job as a homeschool mom will be SO much easier with a child who reads & writes independently. But, we also know there are many anxious moms (and I have been one, too) who need more. Many websites list paperwork or meaningless activities to “do”. My intent here is to list the best activities I have found over the years. You will notice I don’t list a bunch of links for “activities” just to fill the site. I have tried to give you only ideas on activities that will accomplish the goal without wasting time & just “doing school” to say you’re doing school.

All that to say, START with Burton Reading. Spend the best hour of your day every day with your child doing that. Afterward, come to this tab & get some fun educational ideas & lists of great books to read together. If there are days or weeks where all you get done is the reading/writing, do not panic or waste one minute worrying your child is getting behind. Your child will be fine. Just pick the other activities up another week. This blog is to be used as a tool to help you have guided, constructive fun together.

Weekly themes dates being used for the 2016-17 school year:

NOTE: Units 37 through 48 are written but not transferred to this site yet (as of June 2016).  In the meantime, go here to get them.  They will be transferred before the school year begins, so check back to see those here soon!  The "1st" track is for those who have used the themes for kindergarten and would like to add a little variation to the weekly themes for the second year. The "1st grade track" adds a focus on the seven continents so you can drop some of the fairy tales the second time around using the same basic themes.


  • August 22-26 = Theme 1: Me
  • Aug. 29-September 2 = Theme 2: Jobs
  • Sept. 5-9 = Theme 3: Grandparents
  • Sept. 12-16 = Theme 4: Fairy Tales
  • ~ 1st grade = Theme 37: My World/Habitats
  • Sept. 19-23 = Theme 5: Apples
  • Sept. 26 - 30 = Theme 6: Manners
  • October 3-7 = Theme 7: Leaves
  • Oct. 10-14 = Theme 8: Safety
  • Oct. 17-21 = Theme 9: Shapes/Patterns
  • Oct. 24-28 = Theme 10: Pumpkins
  • Oct. 31-November 4 = Theme 11: Forest Animals
  • Nov. 7-11 = Theme 12: Native Americans
  • ~ 1st = Theme 38: Highlight North America in Native American Unit.
  • Nov. 14-18 = Theme 13: Thanksgiving
  • Nov. 21-25 = BREAK
  • Nov. 28 - December 2 = Theme 14: Five Senses
  • Dec. 5-9 = Theme 15: Sweet Treats
  • ~ 1st = Theme 39: Planes/Trains/Things That Go!
  • Dec. 12 - 16 = Hanukkah (ideas in separate Holiday section)
  • Jan. 1 = CHRISTMAS BREAK (Christmas ideas in separate Holiday section)
  • ~ For a new twist in 1st grade, go to Theme 48: Christmas Around the World
  • Jan. 2-6 = Theme 16: Keeping Healthy
  • Jan. 9-13 = Theme 17: Biographies (MLK, Jr. Day ideas in the holiday section)
  • Jan. 16-20 = Theme 18: Snow
  • ~ 1st = Theme 40: Highlight Antarctica in Snow Unit.
  • Jan. 23-27 = Theme 19: Outer Space (Chinese New Year ideas found in Holiday section)
  • ~ 1st = Theme 42: Asia.  Note: Chinese New Year is a lunar holiday, so you could touch on Space if you wanted.
  • Jan. 30-February 3 = Theme 20: 100th Day of School
  • ~ 1st = Theme 41: Dinosaurs
  • Feb. 6-10 =Theme 21: Feelings (Valentine's Day ideas found in Holiday section)
  • Feb. 13-17 = Theme 22: Presidents
  • Feb. 20-24 = Theme 23: USA/Patriotic
  • Feb. 297- March 3 = Theme 24: Maple Syrup
  • March 6-10 = Theme 25: Food Groups
  • March 13-17 = Theme 26: Colors (see Holiday section for St. Patrick's Day ideas)
  • ~1st = Theme 43: Europe
  • March 20-24 = Theme 27: Weather
  • March 27 - 31 = Theme 28: Birds
  • ~ 1st= = Theme 44: South America
  • April 3-7 = Theme 29: Farm Animals
  • ~ 1st = Theme 45: Recycling
  • April 10-14 = EASTER BREAK (Passover & Easter ideas in separate Holiday section)
  • April 17-21 = Theme 30: Gardens: Flowers & Vegetables, Seeds
  • April 24-28 = Theme 31: Butterflies
  • ~ 1st = Theme 46: Zoo Animals/Africa
  • May 1-5 = Theme 32: Musical Instruments
  • May 8-12 = Theme 33: Mom/Dad
  • May 15-19 = Theme 34: Bugs
  • May 22-26 = Theme 35: Fish/Oceans
  • ~ 1st = Theme 47: Highlight Australia in Oceans Theme.
  • May 29 - June 2 = Theme 36: Camping 

Every day, you can use a general plan for daily "meeting time". Here is the Morning Meeting Outline. You can print out as many charts as you need throughout the year. Here is a link for a blank hundreds chart. Here is a link for one already numbered. If you use the numbered one, your child can color in the number for the day. Here are a few ideas for calendars to use: a magnetic calendar, a blank generic calendar form, or a blank form with cute little decorations on top of each month for your child to color. Choose your pleasure.

If you do not have a couple good CDs with various children's songs on it, you should get them. Let your child listen to them while they play with playdough, paint, etc. Have a few "instruments" you can bring out occasionally for them to accompany. You could either buy them at the store (kazoo, little drum, jingle bells, tambourine, etc.) or make them (great ideas found here). We will be making more during Unit 30: Music, but please don't wait until then to get music going in your home! That week should only highlight it. Spend some time each week listening and/or playing. Check at your library to see if they have a few fun children song collection CDs to borrow. Here is a list of CDs to give you the idea: Top 50 Kindergarten Songs, Mother Goose Songs, 118 Songs Kids Love to Sing!, 100 Fun Songs for Kids. There are oodles of them out there. I would listen to samples before purchasing & make sure YOU can stand listening to them over & over before buying!

Now for a few other fun ideas to consider:

You can now sign up as a homeschooling teacher with Scholastic Book Clubs & order your own books for your classroom here. After you register, you have to wait a few days to have your account verified, (or you can call them at 800-497-8291 to speed up the process) but once you're in, you will be able to order any time you like all year long! I'm excited to find that little perk. Scholastic is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts, a fun package for your child to get in the mail ANY time of the year, and a relatively cheap place to get those books your child loves or that your library doesn't have. Browse the catalogs on line to get excited  (or maybe it's just me). To be able to order & get the teacher perks, too?? Nice! I've been working with Scholastic for well over a decade & am still impressed with their services. Even if you don't order, the book lists are to drool over. And they have lots of fun links, games, craft ideas, etc. there, too. It is a very well done site - worth checking out & knowing about.

If you liked those papers you read as a class every Friday as a school kid, you can get those for your child, too & have them sent right to your home. Here is the link for Ohio Kindergartners. If you're in another state, just click your state in the drop box at that link to see yours. I haven't ordered from here before, but it looks very nice & reasonably priced. There are samples on line to look at as well.

Here is the link for a Christian weekly paper your child can have delivered to your home. We have used these in years past & it is fun, but I'll be honest, we only read about half the papers that came if that many. It seems pricier than it used to be, but may be a good Christmas gift idea for a grandparent (since we're on that unit!) or someone who wants to give something fun all year long. They also used to have a Christian book club just like Scholastic only with all Christian books, but it seems they shut that down a year or so back. If you hear it's up & running again, please let me know! I really liked that one.

We also put together extra ideas for these holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, MLK Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter Week, & Memorial Day. These are extra ideas for you to pick through whichever ones you'd like to use to celebrate & have fun with a kindergartner in the house.

There's one last thing I wanted to point out before we start. The first half of the year, we encourage you to get fairy tales out of the library & read together, compare, etc. The second half of the year, we'll have a list of biography ideas to do the same thing. These will be explained in the above weeks they are listed. On that week, we'll give you lots of ideas & books for you to use throughout the rest of the weeks. The week they are introduced just gives you a chance to get started on those.

Happy homeschooling these precious early years!  I pray this collection of ideas & book lists helps to take the stress out & gives you many, many joyfilled memories together.   



Carol Burton"I have a degree in elementary education, though I only taught middle schoolers. It is refreshing to see more programming and curriculum that aligns with what I was taught in my education classes in the homeschool community. It makes me chuckle, both your program, and the one we use for math mirror the "best practices" I was taught in my education classes. They taught us the best things to do, but then quickly followed with, but you will not be able to actually teach this way. Now in homeschooling, I can!" - new homeschool mom in Indiana


Leigh Ann's picture

Looking Ahead

  • Call your library to order next week's books on Fairy Tales so they will be ready for you when you need them.
  • Now is the time to google your area for a local apple orchard. Call & see if you can schedule a time to have a tour in two weeks (during the apple unit). Some require a minimal number of ten people in the group, etc. so you may need to call a few other friends with little ones to fill up your tour, but it is a very fun Kindergarten field trip.
  • While you are googling local businesses, add the local theater to your list. Call & ask for any children's productions they will be putting on for school groups this next year. Usually they have several & are happy to include homeschooling families. Tickets are generally 3-5$ each & often they let the parent come free. These are excellent ways to introduce your child to the arts for a great price, but they schedule at the beginning of the school year.
  • You may have a grandparent that lives far away (or even close) that would love a list of ideas for little gifts to get your child to help keep them connected. We have one that lives several states away who loved to take my theme list & send a care package once a month with items for the next month. If you are so blessed, the "Looking Ahead" section would be a great one to pass on to them. They might just enjoy collecting those extra items like smelly pencils, scratch 'n sniff stickers, etc. for you.
Luke's picture

Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I remember reading this book (or having this book read to me) as a child. I still love it! My kids have always loved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, too. What is your favorite Eric Carle book?


Luke's picture

Do You Itch?

I found this video from the creator of Itchy's Alphabet. What a great tool to help teach phonics! This is one itch that I hope doesn't go away


Leigh Ann's picture

Bedtime Chapter Book List

We started reading books to the kids the half-hour or so before bedtime about seven years ago. I really didn’t think we’d read that many, but when I sat down & made a list, we’ve covered a lot of ground! Our first read aloud was the first in the Betsy & Tacy books. We started there because our little neighbor came over for the afternoon & I had gotten the book out in hopes of reading it. After they were tuckered out from playing outside, I asked them to all gather around & listen as I read about two little neighbor girls about their ages (four years old). We read through four or five chapters at that sitting! They were hooked.

We’ve had lulls in the reading time through the years. When we finish a book, sometimes it takes us a week to settle on the next read. Here’s a list of what we’ve done so far…

That takes us to today. We are currently in the middle of the Odyssey Series. Right now, we’re reading The King’s Quest, sixth book of twelve in the set.  This is a great series to read with your preteens to get discussions going on some issues you may never naturally get around to talking with your child about, but would be wise to do so before they leave your "nest".

What books have you enjoyed reading with your children over the years?  Recommendations welcomed.

Leigh Ann's picture

Ten Reasons Why I'm Glad We Get to Homeschool

10) The core lessons, when taught one-on-one, don’t take that long! This leaves plenty of time to pursue other things: read the classics, memorize Scripture, learn how to knit, try out Tae Kwon Do or ballet lessons on DVD, exercise with Mom & Dad, piano, fun family trips, etc.

9) When someone comes to visit, everything can revolve around enjoying the visitor (Grandma, aunts & uncles, etc.) These are cherished times! I want my kids to know their extended family.

8 ) I get to choose who my kids hang out with & form friendships with – an ever increasing “must” for both safety & wisdom in this day & age.

7) My children can grow at their own pace. They may excel beyond their assigned grade in one area, but need to take extra time to learn another, for them, more challenging skill. Every child is unique in their learning skills & styles.

6) My kids don’t have to waste their time standing in line for the bathroom, wait for everyone else to get out their books & sharpen pencils to start lessons, or learn new “tricks” in the lunchroom or playground. That’s not to say they don’t waste time or learn new tricks, but I have a lot more control over all that in these early years.

5) My kids don’t compare themselves to others – they don’t think they’re the smartest kid on the block, or the dummy in the class, either – healthy self-esteem.

4) I know what my kids are learning & can supplement with resources at the library, etc. We get excited & discuss topics as they “pop up” in real life.

3) I get to introduce God into their lives throughout their studies & day. (ex. – study China/Buddhism = we get to talk about how Jesus is different from other gods.) We can talk about how penguins & peacocks are MADE & how creative God is! We can note God’s awesome creativity in snowflakes, tree varieties, animals, etc.

2) My kids see me as the main authority in their life. They want to please me (for the most part!!), learn from me…I have their hearts. Time will come soon enough for them to give it away to another.

1) My kids know each other. We get to make memories together rather than with 30 kids & the teacher of the year. We spend time together. The older learn to be patient with the younger & the younger admire the older. No, it’s not a utopia of learning every day, but every day I am thankful for this year with my children at home.  It is most definitely worth the effort!

Valerie's picture

Reading Rainbow

As I was gathering materials for our first month of homeschooling, I noticed that many of the recommended books had been featured on Reading Rainbow. I remember watching it growing up; it was fun to see LeVar travel to different places, do fun things, and read all those neat stories to us. I always liked the kids at the end, too, recommending their favorite books. We’re accumulating favorite tv shows on dvd like Between The Lions and Sesame Street ‘Old School’, and I wondered if RR was on dvd. I assumed it was, but was shocked to find out how many episodes there were- the show ran from 1983 to 2006! Luke brought home some episodes from the library- If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Numeroff and Follow The Drinking Gourd by Winter, among others, and it is so fun watching this great show. There just happens to be an Underground Railroad Tour this weekend that we may visit, and the latter of those episodes will fit right in.

Sigh. I heart Reading Rainbow.