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The Teaching Home
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement


Number 25                                        Jan. 17, 2003
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

Table of Contents

  • Part 5 of Our 15-Part Basic Skills Series
  •      Reading Comprehension: Inferences
  •      Learning Activities for Reading Comprehension
  •      Literature-Based Unit Studies
  • Recommended Resources
  •      The Teaching Home Back Issues
  •      "At Last! A Reading Method for Every Child"
  •      Buy Christian Bank Checks Online
  •      "Through the Bible in Felt" & Educational Felt Sets
  •      The Teaching Tank: Science for Homeschool Families
  • Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote

         In this issue we return to our 15-part series on basic skills by addressing another level of reading comprehension. While the examples deal mainly with literature, they can also be applied to the reading of factual material such as textbooks.

         May you experience the joy of the Lord as you study and learn with your family!

    Sue Welch
    for Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
    The Teaching Home is a home-school family business
    produced in our home since 1980.

    Find Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement
         Buy Teaching Home Back Issues Online

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         "The Teaching Home has been one of the most helpful, comforting, inspiring resources I have used in my 15 years of home schooling." Sandra B.

    15-Part Series on Basic Skills
    by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

         Our 15-part series is written to help you evaluate your children's skill levels and help them improve in these areas. Topics include:

         1. Listening - Vol. II, No. 18
         2. Word Analysis/Phonics - Vol. II, No. 19
         3. Vocabulary - Vol. II, No. 21
         4. Reading Comprehension: Facts - Vol. II, No. 23
         5. Reading Comprehension: Inferences (This Issue)
         6. Reading Comprehension: Generalizations
         7. Spelling
         8. Capitalization & Punctuation
         9. Grammar
         10. Writing & Penmanship
         11. Visual Materials
         12. Reference Materials
         13. Math: Concepts & Computation
         14. Math: Problem Solvin
         15. Thinking Skills, Logic, and Speech

    Skill #5 Will Be Continued in Our Next Issue
         The following articles will provide additional information on this topic in our next newsletter:

    Using Study Guides for Literature
    Resources and Links for Literature Study Guides
    100+ Creative Book Reports / Unit Study Activities

    Succeed with Phonics the Easy Way!
         Stop reading problems before they start and resolve any reading problem with simplified techniques in "At Last! a Reading Method for Every Child," by Mary Pecci, "Who's Who of American Women." Free Message Board guidance.

    Reading Comprehension: Inferences (Understanding)

         Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of informational material and make sense out of it.

         We have already dealt with the first level of reading comprehension, which involves observing facts and gaining knowledge from what is read.

         At that level the reader answers the questions "who, what, when, and where?" thus becoming aware of the people and events described and their place in time and space.

         At the second level of reading comprehension, greater understanding is achieved as the reader draws logical conclusions based on evidence the writer includes along with the reader's general knowledge.

         The questions "how and why?" are answered as the reader infers motives and visualizes actions that are not specifically stated but implied by the writer.

    (Reading Comprehension is continued below.)

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    Learning Activities for Reading Comprehension

         These exercises will help your child learn to think about what he reads and comprehend (understand) it more fully.

    __ Describe physical elements (people, places, and things) as well as actions, conversations, and events.

    __ Paraphrase (restate in your own words) a sentence, paragraph, event, description, or conversation.

    __ Translate or convert material from one form to another, for example:
         Words to illustrations.
         Words to numbers (timeline).
         Words to map.

    __ Interpret facts by explaining or summarizing.

    __ Support conclusions drawn from the facts by identifying, locating, and tracing themes or the development of a plot or a change in a character.

    __ Which of the following questions require you to draw conclusions and make inferences beyond what is definitely stated in the context? Cite the passage(s) supporting your answer.

    __ Infer the motives and reasons for the actions of the characters. Why did they behave as they did? What did they hope to achieve?

    __ Discuss the positive and negative traits of the characters. Describe each character in terms of his personality, his moral and ethical character, his choices, and his reactions.

    __ Identify cause and effect relationships. What were the effects of certain actions and events? What made them possible or necessary?

    __ Point out instances in which the cause is not clear and look for facts you can use to infer the cause.

    __ Trace the plot development in terms of cause and effect. How did the events progress? What happened (or what should happen) and why? How was the conflict resolved and why?

    __ What principle is illustrated by a certain cause and effect?

    __ Predict the consequences or effects of a certain action before reading on.

    __ Compare and contrast elements such as: Characters in the same or different stories. Time and place settings of story and your own time and place. Events in a story and the probability of them happening in real life.

    __ Group and classify like elements in a story (e.g., characters, settings, or figures of speech).

    (Reading Comprehension is continued below.)

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    Literature-Based Unit Studies

         You can use one or more pieces of literature (fiction or non-fiction) as the basis and central theme of a unit study that includes projects and assignments in all subject areas.

         These unit studies can be as short and simple or as long and complex as your family's interest and available study time allow. Here are some suggestions from which to choose.

    Choice of Book(s)
         You may want to choose one book, a series, an author, or several books or stories sharing the same topic, setting, or time period. When selecting a book, look for
    1. An unabridged edition.
    2. Large enough print for children (or even a large-print edition).
    3. Reading lines that are not too long.
    4. Type that does not go too far down into the center gutter (the inner margins of the pages, close to the spine).
         You may also want to get an extra copy of the book to mark up and highlight. (See for low-priced used books.)
         Your family may want to start by reading the book aloud together or listening to it on an audio tape, or you may want to integrate your studies into your reading of the book as you go along.

         Next, look for study materials on the specific book as well as supplemental materials related to themes and topics present in the book.
         Look first for resources from a Christian worldview. Possibilities are: a Christian textbook, Christian study guide (see article in next issue), encyclopedia or other reference books, library books, audio tapes, videos, computer or board games, art or craft kits, recipes, costumes, or material from the internet. These materials can be on any level.
         You may want to set aside a large box or shelf to assemble all your resources in one place.

    Research Skills
         Teach your children how to go about finding, evaluating, and gathering the above resources from a variety of sources.

    Language Arts
         Reading, comprehension, spelling, grammar, and penmanship can all be taught using passages from your book for assignments. Various kinds of book reports (see article in next issue) can be used to develop and practice specific language arts skills as well.

    History & Geography
         Maps, a globe, and a timeline will help you place the book and its author in their time and place settings.
         Read in a Christian history textbook or other resources (above) about the time period(s) and place(s), noting the historic characters, events, and prevalent philosophies of the day and how these may have affected the book's plot, characters, and message.

    World View
         Use a Bible concordance to look up words and find passages related to ideas and character traits in your book.
         Analyze the characters and the message of the story from a biblical view-point (see future issue on Reading Comprehension: Evaluation).

         Use a Christian textbook to define and discuss the literary elements of your book such as allusions, characters, dialogue, imagery, plot, poetic form, point of view, setting, theme, and tone.
         Compare and contrast your book with another.
         Are any other books or poems referred to in your book? Look them up and read them as well.

    Art and Music
         You might be able to borrow from your library several editions of the book you are studying to see and discuss the different ways artists interpret the story. State why you like or dislike them and why.
         (Look for article in our next issue with suggestions for art projects.)
         Listen to music referred to in your book (if appropriate). What other music was written in that time period?

    Cultural Elements: Food and Clothing
         Is any food mentioned in the book? Does your library carry a cookbook that goes with the story or that contains recipes for the foods that would have been eaten by its characters? Can you make any of the foods eaten at that time and place?
         Research to find what clothing would have been worn by the characters in the book.

         See suggestions in the next newsletter issue for more unit study projects.

    (Reading Comprehension is continued below.)

    The Teaching Tank: Science for Homeschool Families
         Help feed your child's thirst for knowledge, encourage his/her natural curiosity, and make hands-on science a reality. 150 great science lessons. A very visual and more exciting way to learn science.

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    Hope for Poor Spellers and Hesitant Readers.
    Worship Guitar Class Videos by Jean Welles.
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    Sunny Side Up: Shouldn't She Know That?
         Our 6-year-old proudly quoted a passage of Scripture to me after which I replied, "That's good, Steven. What book (meaning the reference) did this Scripture come from?"
         Steven looked at me in bewilderment and said, "The Bible."
         Sent by Vernice K., Missouri
         You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

    God Loves You.
         Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
         "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).

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