Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Wide World of Words

by Guest Blogger Rebecca Messmann of

Do you ever wonder how to make words come alive for dyslexic kids? It is so hard when the words just seem to float around in space. Well, there is a nifty way to bring them back down to the ground and tether them in some reality for our kids. My family calls it the Wide World of Words and it is so simple to do.

First, buy a cheap photo album. I buy the ones that are about 4”x8”. Check out your local dollar store for one. Next, charge up the digital camera and give it to your child. Join them in a photo tour of your home, your neighborhood and anywhere else you can think of that is “real” to them. Your ideas for photos will need to be a bit dependent on the age of your child but some ideas would be the mailbox, the flowers, the school, the grocery store, and anything and everything along the way to these places. Let them snap those photos till they are blue in the face.

Come back home, pop the disc in the computer and print those photos out. I just print them out on regular paper, not photo paper. You can usually get about four photos (4”x5”) on and 8 1/2”x11” piece of paper. My sons write down the words on another sheet of paper.

When you file the photo and the word in the album do so with the photo on the left hand side and the word on the right hand side (most of the time their eyes will fall naturally to the right hand page first).

Now, when you study sight words (download a free PDF here!) you have something concrete to use with them and it lots of fun to make!

Another idea I am working on with this concept is directions for my oldest son. He will be walking to school alone next year and is scared he will get lost. I am thinking about taking photos of his way to and from school so he can check to see if he is on the right track.

Be creative and let the world of words open to your child so they are not just these random symbols floating around!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New, Lower Prices for AVKO's E-books

We have decided to lower the prices on our e-books to accommodate the tightened pursestrings of our members. Now, no individual e-book is more than $24.95 -- and they always have free shipping and handling. Check out our updated Materials Catalog for more information.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New AVKO Materials: Engaging Language Kits!

AVKO is proud to announce that we have have introduced a new line of supplemental curriculum materials for language arts: Engaging Language Kits (by Brian McCabe).  Each of these seven kits corresponds to one of the levels of Sequential Spelling to reinforce the word families learned in that level.  Each kit has over 125 pages of activities for your students:

  • Creative writing prompts
  • Word games using the word families of the Sequential Spelling level
    • Anagrams
    • Word Searches
    • Scrambled Words
    • Missing Word Families
    • Speech to Spelling Translation
  • Dictation exercises
  • Story writing
  • Readings for Comprehension
  • Helpful Appendix Items for Even More Activities and Prompts
Though these activities correspond to each of the levels of Sequential Spelling, one needn't be teaching Sequential Spelling to use these exercises with students.  They will complement any language arts curriculum or just for fun!  They ascend in level of difficulty with each volume (level of abstract thought, word families presented, etc.).

Each Engaging Language Kit costs only $12.95 and comes in a 3-ring binder for easy access to the worksheets.   Use the e-coupon code "blog" to receive a 10% discount on your order.  

Buy the Engaging Language Kit 1 now: 

or visit to purchase the other levels.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Resources for All Your Spelling Needs

Resources for All Your Spelling Needs

Teacher Involved
Pre-Packaged; Limited Teacher InvolvementSpecific Problem AreasCompletely Customized; Teacher Involved
Sequential Spelling 1-7

Learn more aboutSequential Spelling.

word lists on

Use the lists as they are.
The lists are ascend in level of difficulty.

Access the lists now

The Tricky Words

Learn More

Individualized Spelling
word lists on

Use the lists
as diagnostic tests,

teaching only the word families that need to be taught.

Learn how to create
your program

Sequential Spelling for Adults

Become an
AVKO member

to access
supplemental materials, including
readings for comprehension, worksheets, and the versatile book, Word Families
in Sentence Context

The I Before E Set

Become an
AVKO member

to access the spelling
and reference materials necessary to create your own
Sequential Spelling
-like tests, includingThe Patterns of English Spelling.

If it is to be, it is up to me to do it

Sequential Spelling on DVD

Speech to Spelling

Individualized Spelling

Other Resources:

Homeschooling: Then and Now

by Guest Blogger Rebecca Messmann of

                There is a group of parents that I originally thought I would be a part of.   This was before I had children and before I mentioned homeschooling to my in-laws and received the “not with my grandchildren” look. 

                I have to admit that when I considered homeschooling my friends and family looked at me as if I had stepped right out of the 1960’s.  Somehow I had magically transformed into a flower child that was bucking the system.  I wasn’t really bucking the system; I just wanted what I perceived was the best for my child.  But, then like I said I had children and realized that I would be a poor educator.  I could partner with a public school which is what I like to call what I do but I could not be the only one responsible for my child’s education – if so we would be counting Froot Loops and watching Oprah all day.   

                While I don’t homeschool I have many, many friends that do and it is amazing to see that what I and my in-laws thought about homeschooling is such a small part of it today.  Today, parents have become organizers of their children’s education.  Gone is that “kitchen-table” mentality and in its place is the “well-rounded” approach public and even private schools can only dream about. 

I see my friends who home school not as folks in isolation but rather as folks who have found a niche in small groups.  They get together with each other and even us public school folks.  They don’t limit their child’s educators to just themselves, they search out experts.  They go on field trips.  They live the education! 

Homeschooling is no longer the taboo is was when I first considered it.  It is an industry in and of itself today producing valid, sustainable results with children.  It is something that should be on the list for consideration when you have children, right next to public and private schools.  

And, now as the “school year” winds down they are looking ahead to next year and conventions are popping up everywhere!  Check out the AVKO schedule of conventions to find out where we will be at and definitely stop by and say hello. 

It’s a funny thing to miss something you never had but often I find myself missing that life. If you are at all considering homeschooling one of these conventions would be a great place to stop by for lots of information.  And, if you can’t make one of them do a search in your city for a homeschool association, you might be surprised to find that your city is home to lots of homeschoolers!  

Editor's Note: Homeschooling conventions (and indeed, resources "for" homeschoolers) needn't only be used by homeschooling parents.  School educators are under a lot of the same pressures as homeschooling parents (time constraints, budget--or lack thereof, lack of a support system, inadequate training in all domains, etc.).  School teachers should take advantage of opportunities like homeschooling conventions, homeschool blogs, and all of the free and low-cost resources and downloads that these places have to offer.  Educational resources do not discriminate! 

                 Read the Rest of the AVKO Blog | Visit the AVKO Website

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Benefits and Features of Sequential Spelling

AVKO's Sequential Spelling program is very effective and is very simple to use. No preparation required on the part of the homeschooling parent or teacher. The student doesn't have to do any copywork or busywork in order to get the benefits of the program -- but these may be used to reinforce or review the words or the lessons.

This new graphic shows how the word families presented in Sequential Spelling build both vertically and horizontally. See how there are teachable moments embedded in the lessons -- contractions, tricky words, possessives, names, etc. See the cross-referencing to The Patterns of English Spelling (available for free with membership as an e-book) and important rules or spelling notes in the footnotes.

AVKO's Book of the Month for May

Each month, AVKO selects one of its materials to feature and discounts it by at least10%. Members receive even more discounts. This month, the special is on the Advanced Student Speller Pack, Sequential Spelling volumes 5-7.

Another month, another new special. This month, we are highlighting the advanced levels of Sequential Spelling, Volumes 5, 6, and 7. If you have an advanced speller or if you just want to stockpile your Sequential Spelling books until you are ready for them, take advantage of this offer from AVKO!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Workshop Recorings Now Available on CD!

These recordings of popular topics on which Don McCabe speaks are available for FREE with AVKO Membership or you may order them on audio CDs for $2.50 each. Free Shipping on Audio CDs!

Available Topics:
  • I Think My Child Might Be Dyslexic -- Does it Matter?
  • Spelling -- Accentuate the Positive; Eliminate the Negative
  • The Mechanics of English Spelling
  • Phonics -- The Most Misunderstood Approach to Teaching Reading
  • Create Your Own Spelling Program That Really Works
  • You Don't Need a Master's Degree to Teach Your Kids -- Just a Degree of Caring

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inspirational Quotes About Success and Literacy

Here is a collection of some of the most recent, great quotes I've come across -- for your inspiration, encouragement, or bit of whimsy for today :) These (and other pithy) quotes can also be used for Readings for Comprehension.

  • "The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug. "-Twain
  • "Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke." -F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • "A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." -Chinese Proverb
  • "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." -Mark Twain
  • "A room without books is like a body without soul." -Cicero
  • "The biggest block to any man's success is in his head." -Anonymous
  • "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -Will Rogers
  • "Don't agonize. Organize." - Florynce R. Kennedy
  • "To escape criticism--do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." -Elbert Hubbard
  • "Beaten paths are for beaten men." -Eric Johnston
  • "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do." -Walter Bagehot
  • "The man who wins may have been counted out several times, but he didn't hear the referee." -H.E. Jansen
  • "All glory comes from daring to begin." -Eugene F. Ware
  • "To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you're overdoing it." -J. Jenkins
Do you have any great quotes that you want to share? Send 'em on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

AVKO Recommends These Books

AVKO recommends these books to supplement your educational, homeschooling, and grammar experience. Let us know if you recommend any other books. We will be adding to this list continually.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sorry for the delay in AVKO blog posts

Sorry for the delay in AVKO blog posts, but we are back up to date and have added the posts for the past week. Be sure that you didn't miss any exciting AVKO news, specials, or resources in the last weeks' posts.

Last Chance for the Book of the Month Special

Today is the last day to get your copy of Starting at Square One at a drastically reduced price. The special ends at midnight tonight (the special has been extended to end at midnight of May 1st!). If you need a language arts curriculum for your kindergartner or first grader (K-1), ESL, or older student who needs help with phonemic awareness and/or word attack skills, this is the book for you. As the alphabet is taught, your student will learn reading, spelling, handwriting, and keyboarding. The book uses completely decodable words as the letters of the alphabet are taught.