Thursday, June 23, 2011

May I Share our Garden with You?

As much as I'd love to take credit for this beauty, I cannot. This is mostly the creation of my husband, who despite a busy schedule, and out of sheer stubborness, maintains this garden every year. Much of the plants are perennials and I mostly participate by watering and pulling weeds and dead heading. Oh, and collecting Japanese Beetles and drowning them in a diabolical frenzy. Enjoy!

The chainlink fence to the left will be replaced with a wooden privacy fence by our neighbors due to their aggressive dog.  Archie, our airedale will be heartbroken as he adores Gina, the noisy mutt.

Rabbits love this lilly. One year they ate it down to the stem, flowers, leaves and all.

We have a huge, old deck. While a great feature of the backyard, it takes a lot of maintenance. My pressure washer is my best friend! No, wait, that would be my dishwasher. Or is it my washing machine. Actually, it's my coffee maker.

Yup, my gardener husband has to have the dangerous variety of plants too. These cacti have formidable thorns.

Between our front, back and side yard we have approximately 20 different varieties of hostas.

This arrangement never fails to impress. The coleus is the filler and thriller. Potato vine is the spiller and will eventually reach all the way to the bottom. We over winter our many varieties of coleus in our family room.

Some African daisy sort of thing flanked by stingless nettles.

In the background are my tomatoes, jalapenos and green pepper plants. I wish there was space for more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Phonics Friends

One of my favorite early reader resources is a series called 'Phonics Friends' published by 'The Child's World'. The beginner version is called 'Alphabet Friends' but is based on the same principle. The cost is unfortunately prohibitive and simply not something I can image a family purchasing outright. Rather, I would recommend that you check with your local library to see if they have either version. 
          In 'Phonics Friends' children are familiarized with the various sounds a particular letter makes.  We read 'Umberto's Summer Day, The Sound of Short U' today. The book is laid out in a simple, easily understood, format. The first page is an introductory page which can be read by the parent or educator to the child. This page introduces the child to the letter and phonics feature or sound highlighted in that issue. Concluding the book is a page with word lists including the words the child read in the book.  The sentences are easy to understand and a child will feel quite accomplished after reading one of these books. There are photographs on the left page and the right page features two to three sentences. Even an early reader can easily read and comprehend the short, illustrated stories within these books. Each sentence is reasonably short and contains at least one repetition of the phonics sound featured in the book.

My son (who will be six years old in August) loves these books and chooses them over and over again at our local library. He can read the books by himself with minimal assistance. I am a big believer in teaching children to read via phonics, adding high frequency word recognition only once phonics has been mastered.  If I had to rate this series I would quite possibly give it a five out of five stars.