Friday, January 31, 2014

Teaching the /l/ Sound

l button

This is an excerpt from Super Star Speech, which includes instruction for teaching most of the speech sounds. Many more teaching tools and practice activities are included in the book, but I hope this will be of help to some of you!

L is produced by placing the tongue tip behind the upper front teeth, against the gum ridge. The sides of the tongue are lowered in order to allow the voice to pass around the sides of the tongue.


1. Use a mirror to model the correct placement of the tongue. Touch the gum ridge with a spoon or popsicle stick to instruct the child where to make tongue contact.

2. Practice raising and lowering the tongue tip to strengthen the tongue and develop awareness.

3. Have the child open his mouth widely, sustain an “ah” sound while raising his tongue tip to the /l/ position.

4. Practice /l/ vowel babbling…. Lalala, loolooloo, leeleelee. You may find that the /l/ is easier to produce with one vowel over another. Practice the easier syllables first.

5. Compare the tongue tip sounds. Have the child practice: “tee, dee, nee, lee,” etc.

6. If the child substitutes /w/ for /l/, gently spread the child’s lips to discourage him from rounding them when producing /l/.


L Practice Initial Position

Practice these words:

lemon leash
lips ladder
lose like
love load

loose lead
long lamp
light loop
loan lap

1. Do you know a girl's name with the L sound?
2. Name some foods that begin with L.
3. Name an animal with a mane that begins with L.
4. A baby sheep is called a __________________.
5. It is dark. Please turn on the ________________.
6. What do you need to walk your dog?
7.Name a number with the L sound.
8. A fruit that is very sour is a ________________.
9. The opposite of "win" is _________________.
10.What color is the sun?
11. When you sleep, you put your head on a _________________.
12. The opposite of "tight" is _____________________.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Purex Giveaway!

Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. I’ve read so many stories of families that have been blessed by this organization. Did you know…

  • A wish is granted every 38 minutes.
  • 89% of doctors, nurses, and health professionals surveyed believe that a wish can affect kids’ physical health.
  • The average cost of a wish is $8200.
  • Parents report increased happiness in their children as a result of wishes.

The Purex brand is teaming up with Make-A-Wish to bring bright wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Every purchase you make of Purex detergent or liquid fabric softener during the month of February will help support this wonderful cause! Now is a good time to stock up! To learn more about Purex and Make-A-Wish, please visit


I’ve always thought that Purex does a good job of getting our clothes clean and at a great price.

Would you like a chance to win free Mountain Breeze Purex detergent? If you win this giveaway, I’ll send a coupon for 2 free bottles right out to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am a member of Purex Insiders and received free detergent coupons in exchange for sharing about this product and the Make-A-Wish organization. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Operation Smile and Campus Book Rentals


Did you know that every 3 minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip and/or palate? Or that 10% of these children will die before their first birthday? Children in the U.S. and other first-world countries have access to surgical and medical treatments to correct clefts, but sadly, this isn’t the case for children in many parts of the world. As a speech-pathologist, I know how big a handicap a cleft lip or palate can be to sucking/eating and to speech. Furthermore, the obvious facial deformities can cause children to be shunned in their communities.

Operation Smile is a wonderful volunteer-based medical charity that provides free cleft surgeries to children and young adults in more than 60 countries, resulting in over 200,000 surgeries and changed lives since 1982.

I was interested to learn that makes a donation to Operation Smile with every book rented. That is a double-win for college students and homeschoolers—saving money on textbooks and helping out a worthy organization!

My three oldest children recently graduated from college. We were all shocked to realize how much textbooks cost—especially if they were all purchased at the college bookstore. If the students chose to sell the books back at the end of the term, they only received a small fraction of the purchase price back. So we definitely looked for other options when possible! is a site where students can very affordably rent the books they need for the semester and save 40-90%.  Shipping is free each way, rental periods are flexible, and students may even highlight in the textbooks. When textbooks can cost $100 or more, this can be a big money saver!

On the other side of the equation, students who have a stack of books at the end of the year and want to recoup some of the investment they made in these books can participate in the program. In this case, books are shipped to (at no cost) and are available to be rented out to other students again and again and again. And each time, the student is paid a rental fee!

Homeschoolers… also offers elementary through high school materials! A quick search showed me that a Saxon Algebra book rental was available for about $24 (depending on the rental term).  Homeschoolers spend a lot of money on textbooks also, so I’m glad to hear of this money-saving option.


Disclaimer: I will be receiving compensation for sharing about,, and Operation Smile. All opinions are my own.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Homeschooling Essentials—My Favorite Tools

(Contains affiliate links.) 

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Over the years, I’ve discovered a lot of great toys—I mean tools!-- that help make homeschooling easier, more organized, or just more enjoyable. Here are some of my favorites.

Laser Printer

I love love love my laser printer. I purchased my first one seven years ago when I published my first edition of Super Star Speech. I printed everything at home and sold it in 3-ring binders. I have since moved on to professionally printed spiral bound books, but my first Samsung laser printer was a workhorse, printing many thousands of pages before it died last year. Now I have the Brother HL2280DW—it’s wireless and it makes copies! The great thing about laser printers is how inexpensive pages are to print—just a fraction of the cost of inkjet printers. I currently pay $18 for a generic toner cartridge that will print over 2000 pages. At that cost (and because I get most of my paper free with Staples rebates), I don’t mind printing anything for homeschooling like I used to. And did I mention that it is fast!

Black and white laser printers are priced similarly to color ink jet printers, but the toner is so much cheaper to print with than ink-jet ink, that the savings really add up. I still have my ink-jet printer for the occasional color printing need, but find that black and white is really fine 95% of the time.   Brother Printer Wireless Monochrome Printer, Dark Grey (HL2280DW)


ProClick Binding Machine

This has been a lot of fun, and useful, too. I have so many resources in PDF format that need to be printed out for use. Some resources are only available that way, and others are much cheaper to purchase in an e-book format. Initially, I kept these printed pages in 3 ring binders. That worked fine, but binders take up a lot of shelf space. With my ProClick, I can punch holes for spiral binding my own books, then just twist the coil into the holes in just seconds. The ProClick only punches about 5 sheets at a time, so it’s not super fast, but I love the finished result. With a laminated cover, my printed books look quite professionally done.   GBC ProClick P50 Desktop Binding Machine (2515650)



Another fun tool! I’ve laminated all the games and game cards for my homemade games (Super Star Games). We’ve made bookmarks, laminated worksheets for use with dry erase markers, and made covers for the notebooks that I spiral bind with my ProClick.

Scotch Thermal Laminator 2 Roller System (TL901)


This is a planner that I put together using my printer, ProClick and laminator. (The cover is laminated scrapbooking paper.)




We use a ten-drawer cart for our workboxes. Initially, I found that this system helped us organize our day better and kept Emily on track with her assignments. Now, we use the cart to organize books by subject. With a drawer for each subject, Emily always knows where to find her books, notebooks, and project materials (assuming things were put away properly!)

Advantus 10-Drawer Rolling Organizer, 37.6 x 13 x 15.4 Inches, Multi-Colored (AVT34004)


What are your favorite homeschool tools?


Read more about “Homeschooling Essentials” this week at the following blogs, or click on the banner below!

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs

Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life

Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler

Laura @ Four Little Pengins

Dinah @ The Traveling Classroom

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Erin @ Water on the Floor

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Homeschool Essential—Books!

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials


I am a book lover. I always have been. From elementary school on, I was a bookworm, checking out stacks of books from the library and carrying a book with me much of the time! I would have LOVED the opportunity to be homeschooled and to use a curriculum like Sonlight that is based on great books!

So, it’s no great surprise that books have played such an important role in our homeschool through the years. We have used both Sonlight and Diana Waring’s “History Revealed” program for our history spine. Both involved spending large amounts of time both reading aloud and reading independently. My children developed a love of books and a love of history because they were exposed to more than just dry textbook facts. Instead they often begged for “just one more chapter” of the latest mystery or stayed up late reading biographies of missionaries or scientists. I think they have retained more knowledge through reading lots of “real” books. I love when my young adult children reminisce fondly about the novels they read in the fourth or fifth grades!

Because they all read a lot when they were young, my children absorbed grammar and punctuation rules well just from seeing them in use. We did use grammar programs, but not every year. They also seemed to be naturally good writers without a lot of instruction. I believe this is due to the amount of reading they did when they were young. I realize that not all students will learn writing or grammar rules without specific instruction, but I’m sure that reading will help all students with these skills.

If you have a small homeschooling budget, the library is a great resource. Who needs a science book when you can visit your local library to find several books on planets or Isaac Newton, or mammals at any reading level? Even if you prefer to use a textbook curriculum, adding supplemental “real” books can add more interest or color or give additional information on any topic. I just can’t imagine homeschooling without access to a large variety of books!


Read more about “Homeschooling Essentials” this week at the following blogs, or click on the banner below!

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs  Supplies

Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life Books Every Family Should Own

Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler  Have a Plan

Laura @ Four Little Penguins  Non-Essential Essentials

Dinah @ The Traveling Classroom

Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Erin @ Water on the Floor Successful Homeschool Days Require Prepping Schoolwork


5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fun With Hands-On Science

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

It may be easiest to do all of your science studies from a text book, but some of my children’s most memorable experiences have been  their hands-on science activities, both field-trip activities and experiments. During the elementary school years, we didn’t even use a traditional curriculum for science at all. We used lots of library books, experiment books, and Bill Nye and Magic School Bus videos/ TV shows. All of the kids have considered science one of their favorite subjects and they always scored well on achievement tests despite our atypical curriculum.

Here are some photos of our science fun through the years. I’m not sure what’s happening here—maybe observing the motion of homemade boats?


Hands-down, the most fun science field trip we participated in were a couple of 3 day “Sea Lab” trips we took to Dauphin Island, AL. The kids were able to study waves, dissect squid, learn about ocean creatures, and the ecosystems of the ocean and marshes.


Dissecting owl pellets is a fun (and non-stinky) way to try out dissection while learning about owls and rodents.


Learning about polymers while making slime


I challenge you to add some more hands-on activities to your science curriculum!

Read more about “Homeschooling Essentials” this week at the following blogs!

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool The Library

Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs Know Your Enemy

Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life 5 Homeschool Supplies I Can’t Live Without

Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler Find Support

Laura @ Four Little Pengins Essential Tools

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses Homeschool 4 FREE Resource Lists

Dinah @ The Traveling Classroom Family Friendly Field Trips

Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool Hands-On!

Erin @ Water on the Floor Successful Homeschool Days Require Meal Planning

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Homeschool Essential—Fun!


Yesterday, I talked about the necessity of having a plan for your homeschool year. As much as I like schedules, I don’t see school time as just cracking the books and checking off the boxes. One of the huge advantages of homeschooling is the ability to make school fun.

Certainly, parts of school won’t be so much fun. Some children just don’t like math or handwriting, but putting in the time to achieve competence is necessary. Learning to stick with unpleasant tasks is good for the character, too!

On the other hand, looking for ways to help a child enjoy learning more is always a good idea. Does your child like the computer? Maybe a computer-based drill program for math facts will bring him up to speed quickly. A colorful textbook might seem more enjoyable to your child than a black and white text.  Most children like stories and can learn and retain as much or more from historical fiction or captivating biographies than from a text book. Having Mom read, or listening to a recorded book while they eat or draw might be more enjoyable than reading alone. We all enjoy learning more when it involves our preferred learning styles.

Hands-on science activities can bring topics to life. Yes, they can be messy and time consuming, .but experiments can turn a science-hater into a science-lover. Playing with water, balloons, sticky stuff, and building materials will entertain just about any child!

And games…there are so many educational games on the market, covering science, grammar, history, and more! It’s pretty easy to make your own games, as well. A deck of cards can be used for math fact games. Index cards can be cut in half to make question and answer cards or matching games to review history or science facts or vocabulary. You can see some of the games I designed for our home here. Super Star Games. Feel free to use the ideas for inspiration!

What do you do to make your school days more fun?

Read more about “Homeschooling Essentials” this week at the following blogs, or click on the banner below!

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool Internet and Pinterest

Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs Know Yourself

Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life 12 Must-Have Books for Homeschool Moms

Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler Understand The Rules

Laura @ Four Little Pengins Community

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses Magnetic Book Marks

Dinah @ The Traveling Classroom

Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool Essential Skills to Getting a Job

Erin @ Water on the Floor Individual Learning vs. Group Learning

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Homeschool Essential— A Plan!


Long before I begin each school year, I start the planning process. Actually, I love planning, and often get started preparing for the next school year in March or so.

First, I think about my goals for the upcoming year—both in academic topics and skills. For example, for English, I may want my daughter to complete a vocabulary workbook, read a certain number of books, and develop competence in writing 5-paragraph essays and diagramming sentences. In history/geography, I may want to cover a specific time period of history and have her memorize 10 historical dates and be able to label all the states on a US map.

The next step is choosing the resources I will use. I try to look at my goals as I’m deciding which books and materials will best help us to meet those goals. Personally, I do a lot of picking and choosing from different publishers, use the library and computer a lot, and make some of my own materials.

Then, I map out a rough schedule for the year. Some resources will be used for only a few weeks, while others will be used for the full year. The yearly plan is subject to change, but it gives me a good framework to work with, and allows me to see an overall picture of the year.

I use a lesson planning grid to plan the daily/weekly lessons. I do this throughout the year, planning lessons 3 or 4 weeks at a time. This helps me allow for unforeseen delays, rabbit trails, and review products.

I’m a naturally organized person, but I think that a plan is important for anyone who wants to homeschool successfully. Otherwise, it can be too easy to fall behind, or let important skills slip through the cracks. This does apply more to older students, though. I’m all for short school days, hands-on experiences, and lots of time cuddled up on the couch reading for little ones!

Read more about “Homeschooling Essentials” this week at the following blogs, or click on the banner below!

Amanda @  Hopkins Homeschool  Daily Planners

Jennifer @  Royal Little Lambs Planning

Sarah @  My Joy-Filled Life Our 2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Lisa Marie @The Canadian Homeschooler Know the Reason Why

Laura @ Four Little Pengins Seeing Your Vision

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses Stationary

Dinah @ The Traveling Classroom Ten reasons why food is important in our homeschooling

Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool The *MOST IMPORTANT* Thing in Our Homeschool

Erin @ Water on the Floor New Year, New Curriculum


5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Friday, January 17, 2014

Win a $1000 Shopping Spree from Purex!


Would you like to win a $1000 shopping spree for a new wardrobe AND a year’s supply of Purex detergent? Just click to enter the Get a Clean Start With Purex sweepstakes!

(I’m sharing this opportunity as part of the Purex Insider team.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Language Sequencing Skills

sequencing button

This is an excerpt from my book, Language Lessons: From Listening Skills to Conversation (available in PDF or Kindle format).

The ability to sequence requires auditory memory, comprehension, and the ability to organize thoughts and to convey ideas in a logical manner. Sequencing skills are crucial for reading, writing, and oral language. All of these abilities can be strengthened by the following exercises.


Put a set of objects or scraps of paper in front of your child. Have him put them in order from smallest to largest.

Cut apart comic strips. Lay them out on the table in sequence and have your child tell you the story. Then mix them up and ask your child to put them back in the correct order.

Have your child put these words in a logical sequence from small to large, old to young, first to last, etc.

· child, adult, baby

· ant, elephant, dog

· spoon, cup, bucket

· house, castle, tent

· afternoon, morning, evening

· sun, flashlight, light bulb

· whisper, shout, talk

· Tuesday, Thursday, Monday

· Saturday, Friday, Thursday

· minute, hour, second


Ask your child to make fix these scrambled sentences:

· door, the, open (Open the door.)

· the, howls, dog (The dog howls.)

· hand, raise, your (Raise your hand.)

· you, love, I (I love you.)

· milk your drink (Drink your milk.)

· hands, wash, your (Wash your hands.)

· quiet, be, please (Please be quiet.)

· shoes, tie, your (Tie your shoes.)

· horns, have, rhinos (Rhinos have horns)

· fierce, lions, are (Lions are fierce.)

· can, jump, Macy (Macy can jump.)

· my, soccer, brother, plays (My brother plays soccer.)

· teacher, nice, my, is (My teacher is nice.)

· the, scratch, will, cat (The cat will scratch.)

· crab, bit, me, that (That crab bit me.)

· brush, go, teeth, your (Go brush your teeth.)


Ask your child to describe these events. Encourage him to use the words, "first," "then," and "next," or ask him to give 3 (or 4 or 5) steps in each process.

· Making a sandwich

· Making scrambled eggs

· Getting dressed in the morning

· Playing a favorite board game or sport

· Putting on a pair of shoes

· Making a bed


More activities for sequencing, as well as vocabulary enrichment and other language skills are included in Language Lessons: From Listening Skills to Conversation .

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ready to start your taxes? Turbo Tax Bargain

I’m planning to get started on my taxes next week. Yes, I realize that some of you think I’m crazy!

I actually spent some time yesterday doing my business (Super Star Speech) inventory and finishing up my year-end bookkeeping, so that part of my tax prep. is done. I always use Turbo Tax, so I was looking around for the best deal. I discovered that many stores have Turbo Tax Deluxe on sale this week for $49.99. The price seemed to be the same everywhere. Then….I noticed that at Amazon, there’s a special price of $39.99 just for Amazon Prime members! (I didn’t realize that Amazon Prime members got special deals as well as the free shipping, Kindle library, and video benefits.)  If you plan to buy Turbo Tax, you should grab it at this price while you can! (This is an affiliate link, so I’ll get a small percentage if you buy through my link.)

TurboTax Deluxe Fed, Efile and State 2013 with Refund Bonus Offer

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Free Kindle Books for Children and Homeschooling


Free Kindle Books for Kids

(Includes affiliate links.)

Except as noted, these Kindle books were all free at the time of posting. Please check the price before purchasing, since prices are subject to change! We’ve been enjoying the free classics with the accompanying audio books—a great deal at $0.99 or less!*

**My Adblock program blocked the display of these books. If you don’t see the links, you may need to disable your ad blocking program for this page!


Early Readers and Picture Books

Middle Grade Books

Childhood Favorites
Here are just a few of the charming Thornton Burgess animal books. Many more are available in the Kindle store. These are entertaining stories (chapter books) that teach about animal life. The free versions may not include the pictures, so it you may find it worth buying a $.99 version that includes them.

Most of these classics offer a free discounted audible companion book after purchase of the (free) classic. Many of these professionally read narrations are only $.49 or $.99!

Book Collections (Most are $.99)