This time every year, Miss Rhonda’s Primary graduates walk through the courtyard at school, file into chairs and prepare to receive a Montessori diploma. I’ve seen my youngest go through this procession and thought the whole thing too much at only six years of age. Graduation is supposed to be for high school and college. Anything else is for the birds. Oh how wonderful it is to be wrong!
The ceremony always explains graduation by recounting the stages of a caterpillar’s life. By the time the children get done singing a song about taking flight, the adults (including the doubting yours-truly) are tearing up unreservedly. Fast forward three years to now when my youngest is leaving third year and ready to enter Upper El where the “big kids” reside. There won’t be an official ceremony, but the occasion is marked nonetheless by a family of mockingbirds outside of our school window.
I watched the day the eggs were laid. I watched as the hatchlings started to reach up for food. I listened as they turned noisy, chirping for more. And then I obsessively checked on them when they took their turns on the branch for their fledgling flight. My daughter watched with me and I have to admit that I was grateful she was still small enough to not see the nest without me picking her up. It was the classic graduation story again. Our children grow up and take flight. What a beauty. What a time for gratitude. And what a thing to break my heart.
Summer is approaching and life is going to slow down. What better way to spend a quiet moment with your child than doing some good old fashioned handwork? We’ve gathered four of our favorite characters and put them into a Stitchery Pattern collection and they are yours for FREE when you buy Set ONE or Set TWO right now. Stitching + free = happy.
Here’s sneak peek number two from Chapter 2 of Around Town with Miss Rhonda. You can probably guess by the rampant chase what cute, but unwanted, mammal has found itself lost in a neighbor’s house in this chapter. I won’t spoil the ending except to say that it all works out in the end.
The goose is on the loose in Miss Rhonda’s Readers first chapter book. This goose, along with all of our new characters, live in and around Miss Rhonda’s town. They also provide us with chapters focused on specific phonogram blends. oooo…
Heidi and I are in the trenches of Set THREE only it’s not really Set THREE, it’s a chapter book! We are so excited as this is new ground for Miss Rhonda’s Readers. After Alphabet Cards, Word Cards, Set ONE, Set TWO, the biggest fish of all is in development: Around Town with Miss Rhonda. Each chapter focuses on the goings on in Miss Rhonda’s town: a rainstorm, innervated goats, a surprise caterpillar and some industrious beavers. There are also geese who make themselves at home in Miss Rhonda’s yard and a girl who learns to ride a horse. Keep an eye out and we’ll share drawings and sneak peeks as press time approaches this spring.
We wish everyone a healthy and happy 2012.
‘Tis the season for Neel’s Pumpkin and in that spirit, Miss Rhonda would love to see a picture of your pumpkin or pumpkin patch. Do you have plans to go trick-or-treating? She’d also enjoy seeing your costume.
Send us a drawing of your fall pumpkin OR your Halloween costume. Mail it to: Miss Rhonda’s Readers; 501 Creekwood Drive; Marietta, GA 30068. You can also snap a photo of your drawing and email it to: [email protected]
We’ll collect drawings through November 1 and everyone’s a winner! For every entry, we’ll send you a homemade felt pumpkin pouch. It’s perfect for storing seeds for next year’s garden and costume contest. Have fun! Your artwork is always our treat.
Our word cards can be stories in themselves. Miss Rhonda picks each word to be of high interest for children. Once they read it, they’re proud, launching into a conversation about the word. Th frog lived as a classroom tadpole until he was released outside. In leaping toward his new life, he posed briefly on the word card for his beauty shot.
When my youngest was talking with one of Miss Rhonda’s students soon afterwards, frog stories bubbled up and I heard myself inculcated in her tale. ”My mom saw a small frog like that once when she was jogging. She didn’t know frogs could be that small and thought she had eye trouble because she also saw a purple dog that day.” The conversation continued as if purple dogs and small frogs were par for the course. The story was true though and brought back a funny memory. The dog was dyed by a neighbor to root on a football team and the frog was just a small miracle.
Pull out a card, have your child read it and listen to what hops up. Chances are, you’ll be talking ’til the cows come home, regardless of how big they are or the nature of their fur.
Bird identification is a Montessori skill to which my children are well accustomed and I am not. Along with learning more about baseball, history and gardening, identifying birds is a task that long ago I decided was key to an enlightened life. So I felt proud and rather puffed up after naming three water birds I saw while jogging. ”Look at those beautiful storks!”, I said, still panting a bit to my youngest. ”Mom, those are pelicans,” she replied. ”Right.” said I.
And in the natural way, my arrogance was popped and I went back to my bird book and reviewed the photos. Storks have long legs, these did not. Storks do not have a pouch in their beaks, these did. They were pelicans. My brain was a bit twisted after such discernment so I decided to just give up on the bucket list for awhile and do something well within my skill set: jump in and swim.
Our Action Word Cards were recently printed and they have inspired all manner of fruitful activity and boisterous fun. Here’s an example that we hope you try out too.
Take some photos of your daily life, scan through them at home and then ask your child to match them to a word in the card deck. You’ll find happy surprises all around you, trust me. Check out the photo of the fresh cut flower farm. I drove by this beloved spot while visiting our old home in California. It is always a gorgeous visual treat. It also matches our word card, “smell”. What I didn’t photograph was the other surprise that matches “smell”. The local dump is just a quarter mile away from said farm.
Racing out the door the other morning, I received one of those symbolic gifts that are supposed to remind us to stop and smell the roses. I must confess that I practice the lesson less than I should, but I couldn’t hand wave this one away; it was a small turtle parked behind my tire. He was rather poetic sitting there. Dusty. Content. Resting on the cool cement. And he was not going to move according to schedule.
I snapped a photo, called the family to take a look and we all celebrated our visitor with questions as to how he got in, where he might live and whether a turtle family was missing him. We moved him to safety and before I left on my mission of import, I saw him recoiled and waiting in the ivy. I remembered my grandmother saying, “sometimes you need to let your self catch up with your body”. So I took a que from the turtle and took a rest from the radio and waited for my daughter to hop in the backseat. I took a rest from the to-do list I usually announce to her and waited for her to speak. She bubbled up about the turtle and I found that my self caught up with quiet joy. Thanks grandma. Thanks turtle.
Not exactly a club or political party, Renaissance Humanism refers to that grass roots philosophy that focused on education, classical texts and new secular literature. Techno geeks should celebrate because it was the invention of the printing press that led humanists to rally the masses into learning to read. The effort extended beyond adults to include children and in 1484 you have a chap by the name of William Claxton translating and publishing Aesop’s fables as a means to teach literacy. It was a best seller.
Fast forward to 1600, 116 years later, and you’ll find an even broader collection of stories for instruction. The one in the photo is from 1617 and includes grammar notes, discussion points on the fable’s moral and notes to the teacher as to how to present the material to students.
So when you’re sitting down with your child to read a book or a Kindle page, you’ve got at least 527 years of literary and education history behind you. Impressive.
On a recent trip to the (fabulous!) Huntington Museum in LA, I ran across some of the earliest Alphabet Cards for early readers. From St. Paul’s Infant School in London circa 1729 came this brass alphabet plate used as primer. It seems the history of the alphabet card has its roots in the 16th century and were originally made out of one sheet of paper backed by wood and then sealed with a transparent layer of horn. Wow.
It was a beautiful find and humbling too. Our Alphabet Cards seem modest in comparison, but they are, nonetheless, part of a very long history in teaching children to read. Somewhere in history there is an eighteenth century Miss Rhonda who sent the brass versions home in a little pouch with a friendly reminder to play loads of word games after dinner.
Rhonda, Heidi and I are not especially traditional, but we truly love the holidays and this business of mashing them all together is tough. On the one hand, why bring up Christmas and Hannukah when we’re just now cracking open our Joy of Cooking to figure out exactly how long we roast the turkey? There is a non-trifling matter of schedules: Halloween is October. Thanksgiving is November. And holiday gift giving is distinctly December. So before we turn our backs on Thanksgiving, please remember: if you type in your school’s name in the comment section at checkout and you buy Set ONE or Set TWO, we will send $4 back to your school as a Thanksgiving gift.
But the holidays approach and it’s not feasible to wait to tell you about our gift giving specials. We’re waving tradition aside as we turn on the carols and grab rolls of ribbon to offer you this: every order from our website from now through December 18 will be gift wrapped for free!! All you have to do is sign the attached card. We don’t have elves, but we have holiday hamsters and they’re ready to get to work on your package.
There’s one more thing that’s very special and that is a series of handmade linen envelopes and pouches for our books and Phonogram Cards. Please check them out on our Specials link on our website. Because they are hand made, they take a bit longer to send to you so order now. Besides, it wouldn’t be the holidays without a little scrambling so we’ll be jumping on the hamster wheel ourselves to stitch, stamp and wrap your goodies. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
Phonogram Pouches $140-cards not included
Holds 8 books-$15 each
It’s the season for counting blessings and we are always grateful to the schools, parents and teachers who purchase Miss Rhonda’s Readers for their classrooms and students. This month and next, we are re-launching our School Thank You campaign which gives money directly back to schools. Here are the details:
For every purchase of Set ONE or Set TWO (through our website), we will give back $4 to your school of choice. In order to qualify for the Thank You, you must enter the name of the school along with the city and state in the message window at check out. Otherwise, we won’t know which school you want to support. The promotion will run through December 15 and checks will be mailed out before the end of the year. All schools, public, private and charger, are eligible. Parents, friends, family, teachers or anyone who wants to buy Miss Rhonda’s Readers and also have their purchase help a school is eligible to place an order and specify a school name.
Please spread the word as this makes a double gift–you get books for a child and a school gets some spending money! Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving!
We received this drawing a couple of days ago and were so excited when the young artist agreed to let us post it. Of all of the emails we get, I can’t describe how delightful it is to open an attachment and see a child’s drawing or note. So thank you! Your drawing made all of us at Miss Rhonda’s Readers smile.
Join in on the fun! Absolutely everyone who emails or snail mails us a drawing or a story of a newt will receive free newt cards and a handmade bag in which to carry them. Keep reading and writing and drawing….there are lots of stories to share!
It’s Halloween and lore states that “eye of newt” will figure into some haunting recipes. We announced Rhonda’s newt’s birthday last week to prove that the newt has a lot more going on than just his holiday peepers. He’s got a whole body of interesting parts and he wants you to know about them. So in honor of birthdays and de-spooking some witchy traditions, the newt announced a free gift for anyone and everyone showing just a little love. What are his conditions? Easy. Just draw a picture or write a story about a newt and we will send you a FREE set of newt cards in a handmade pouch.
Each card features the newt and one highlighted body part with the corresponding name of that part written below. There’s a card of newt facts and then there’s an instruction card and blank newt cards so that you can construct your very own “Parts of the Newt” book. They all fit neatly into a handmade, drawstring pouch. (*No newts were harmed in the making of these cards or pouches.)
Email us a digital photo of your picture or a copy of your story at [email protected] You can always “newt mail” us the hard copies at 501 Creekwood Drive, Marietta, GA 30068 too. Either way, remember to give us your address so that we can ship the Happy Birthday gift to you.
Accelerated Reader is a program designed to test reading comprehension and measure a child’s reading level. It is used in over 75,000 public and private schools across the country. We applied Miss Rhonda’s Readers to Accelerated Reader and are happy to say that they have assigned each of our 16 titles an official AR reading level and points values. We are also happy that they have added our books to their database.
Our hope is that the Accelerated Reader levels and points values will be one more tool for parents and teachers to use in choosing books for their children. While each book has been awarded the same point value, 0.5, the reading levels vary from 0.3 to 1.9. Most books are 0.7 and higher. Click here for a complete list of titles and their awarded levels.
At the end of the day, all of this is about enjoying a good book, nurturing your child into becoming a life-long reader and enjoying the time together as he or she first learns to read. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. You can email me directly at [email protected] or contact all three of us at [email protected].
You saw Heidi’s owl which is awesome, but truly excels for its adorable potato-like shape. You also saw that she tagged me so I tried to rise to the challenge. I focused on the cute, wee aspect of the owl and translated it to our rabbit in Sniff! Sniff! My oldest daughter, Grace, recommended the pattern so I jumped at her idea. Trouble is, what’s great in your head isn’t always great in reality. His ears got weird so I trimmed them and they say “hamster” now. The tail is all rabbit, though and the color is way off, hence I actually made a Frankenrabbit. I snapped a photo of him in the watermelon patch at Casa where Rhonda teaches. Heidi kindly pointed out that if we mix the owl’s potato shape with the
Frankenrabbit’s hamster ears, we’d basically have Jen’s Hamster. And just look at him! A shining example of trial and error.
The hamster has garnered his own celebrity at school so we’re offering a pattern to make your own felt Jen’s Hamsters for a limited time. Frankenrabbits are an option too for those of you who appreciate the process rather than the end result. The kids love them, but I have to admit I love seeing them on my desk at school too. Email me directly at [email protected] and I’ll email you the instructions.
And lastly…if you do make one, please, please, please send us a photo in a watermelon patch, in a tree, or with a bag of brethren potatoes. Frankly, wherever your hamsters and Frankenrabbits land, we’d love to see them.
We wanted to start sharing news from Rhonda’s class with you and what’s more newsworthy than a 17 year old newt? Nothing really. Rhonda’s teenage newt is more active than ever and made such a ruckus last week for attention that Olivia had to check him out personally. We’d like to see newts get more attention frankly. They’re long forgotten except at Halloween when they’re an ingredient on a fabled list for a witch’s brew. Fact is, newts are loaded with personality. They miss you when you’re gone, they greet you when you return. They live long lives…sixty years! maybe. So we’re saying a hearty “Happy Birthday” to the newt in Rhonda’s room…a lizard with a heart of gold.
A Special Offer From Rhonda’s Newt
Here’s our invitation to you. Can you write a short book on a newt? Maybe as a class or as a family? Or can you draw a picture of a newt? Send us your stories and pictures, we’ll share them with our friends on the website. For every entry (story or drawing), we will mail you a birthday gift from our newt to you! Entries will all receive a small cloth bag with cards featuring the newt, its body parts (ALL of them, not just the beloved eye) and some facts about its life. Happy Birthday!
Please send entries to: Miss Rhonda’s Readers, 501 Creekwood Drive, Marietta, GA 30068 or send digital entries to [email protected]. Offer ends 11/30/2010. Remember to include your name and shipping address or our newt can’t send you his gift!