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A Word from Miss Clare

Products – Blackbird and Company

What parents are saying about Pages:

“Thank you for making class so enjoyable and personal. My daughter’s writing has really expanded since being in classes with you.”

“I really appreciate you going through the different areas of reading and writing in class as opposed to having him do it all on his own at home. It sets a good example of what to do (i.e. what to look for and pay close attention to as he reads) and how to do it (i.e. organize his thoughts and get ready to write into paragraphs).”

I’ve been overseeing and teaching Pages online literature + writing workshops for two years now.

I’ve homeschooled for over 15 years plus taught in the classroom along the journey. I’ve gone to Homeschool Vendor fairs as a parent and a teacher. And I talk to many parents and teachers. I often get asked what makes our curriculum or our classes different. I’m  never sure where to start. But a word that often comes to mind is relationship.

This word makes a difference. I can see this difference when we’re at conference and a parent comes to our booth. Or I get a phone call, or a parent sends in an email with a question. Parents don’t seem to worry as much about finding a child’s history program or science materials. Parents even seem to worry less about pairing math. But reading, and even more so writing, is a whole different story. Reading and writing are essential to understand the world, to communicate with people, understand culture and are vital to learning and exploring all the other subjects. When parents contact Blackbird & Company, they tend to share stories of their triumphs and struggles with reading and writing. For someone who has children who learn differently, or are simply not motivated to read or write well, the work of reading and writing can lead to worry, frustration, sadness, and many a day in tears. I was one of those moms for many years until I discovered Blackbird & Company Curriculum and my very own community of support.

Pages classes are, first and foremost, a Community of Support. We take a great piece of literature and walk students through it for 5 weeks using the curriculum as guide. We break up the reading each week and dive into Character Traits, Setting, Plot, Vocabulary, Plot Questions and Discussion. We end each week with a personal writing prompt that ties into the book. The teacher becomes your student’s editor, teaching all the form needed to become a successful writer while, at the same time, protecting and valuing the student’s great ideas. The time and support we give each student are something I have never seen before in other classes. We communicate with both the parent and student regularly forming a strong relationship based on mutual respect. Both parents and students share their hearts and, consequently, writing skills soar.

Students might begin in a Pages class timidly writing just a few sentences, but by the end they are courageously writing multiple paragraphs. Their ideas are valued and that is motivating. We learn in collaboration and that is encouraging. On the last class of each session, each student presents a final project that they created inspired by the book. This project always involves creativity and might be something built, crafted, written, or researched. this opportunity gives students a creative outlet to dive deeper into application and an opportunity to participate in public speaking.

When parents have their students take a Pages class, both will learn how to pace and structure the work. Parents will learn tips to support their student, and both will experience the rhythm of the guides. Students form relationships with the teacher and their cohort of students, relationships that are long lasting. They engage in meaningful and challenging discussions of literature. They learn tools to write quality, original ideas. They learn to read closely and write authentically.

I am really honored to be the Lead Teacher of the Pages team of teachers. You will find bios of all our amazing teachers on our website soon. Please take a look! We are all excited for this year’s offering which we have expanded to multiple times and multiple days hoping to accommodate more of our families’ varying schedules. We have printed a sneak-peak of our session a year in advance so you can plan!! Come July 5, enrollment will open!

We hope to form a relationship with you and your student(s) and, come fall, become your Community of Support. We look forward to the journey and hope to give your student the needed tools to fill their blank canvas, one idea at a time!

I’m certainly looking forward to reading well, writing well and thinking well with your students!


~Miss Clare

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Pages Online Coming SOON!

This coming year we will be offering 5 Sessions of Pages Online, FIVE! We hope that Pages classes, led by our exceptional teachers, will inspire your students to pick up their pencils and share ideas. A sneak peak of Pages at-a-glance is available on the “classes” landing page.

Here’s what we are offering:

  • We will, of course, be offering classes focusing on our CORE Literature & Writing units—Earlybird, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4. And we’ve added a variety of titles and class times for your convenience.
  • This year we will be offering historical insight tied to select novels via our “History Add-on” option. During this add-on hour, students will be guided to go deeper into the world of the story in real world history.
  • Our 3-week compositional writing classes, scheduled during Session 1 and Session 2, are designed to help students get started with our introductory or intermediate composition units.
  • During Session 3 and Session 4 we will offer our 2-week creative writing classes focusing on the wonder of words and poetic forms.
  • Our research writing classes will, each session, walk students, each step of the way, through the one of our Research Discovery Guides.
  • Our NEW Arts Discovery! Our brand-new Arts offering will not only introduce students to exciting poets of art history and the techniques employed by great artists but will involve students in art making! Get ready to enjoy the process of telling visual stories!
  • Our NEW Music Discovery! Our brand-new Music offering will introduce students to the language of music. Students will enjoy learning about the voice of a singular musician as they discover the techniques that make the music unique. Get ready for some exciting listening and lively discussion.

Here’s how your students might participate:

Students may enroll in as many classes as they are interested in this coming year, but we will limit class size to a maximum of 10 students. Enfollment will begin July 5, so stay tuned for details.

Our recommendation, when it comes to our CORE offering, the Literature and Writing Discovery Guides, is that students complete 6 per year. We are offering 5 sessions which means students participating consecutively will only have to complete one more unit independent from Pages! But some students may only participate in one or two CORE classes, choosing to take what they learn from the group and complete the remaining units on their own.

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Around the Campfire: Writing is a GIFT

Tip #5

Writing is a gift.

I’ve been teaching the art of writing for over 30 years. I DO NOT insist my students wrangle a lasso to subdue their grammar. Remember, Form follows Function. I DO insist they value their ideas, and engage in the art of communicating authentically. I tell them:

Wrap your idea like a gift you would like to receive.

Would a beautiful gift be wrapped in sloppy handwriting? Would it contain run-on sentences with no end marks e-v-e-r?  Would it be tedious to read with holes in the flow that confused the reader?

I don’t think so!

I tell my students: Your writing is a gift!

When it comes to learning language arts much of the exceptional work that your students will accomplish is subjective in nature tied to their ideas. As we moms and teachers value these ideas and challenge them to catalog and craft these ideas over time, literacy skills soar.

Ideas spring from a wealth of knowledge tied to curiosity. During the elementary years students from grade 3 through grade 8 will read 36 (yes, THIRTY SIX!) novels!  Their discoveries from reading tied to their observations and inspired by imagination and curiosity will enable them to engage in the weekly writing exercise—a simple paragraph communicating an idea unique to the writer. Students will compose 144 paragraphs. What is unique about our approach is that the paragraphs being composed will be meaningful to the writer. Unique. Authentic.

Each of our Literature & Writing Discovery Guides is designed to guide students into the art of reading and writing and thinking.  But there is an added bonus, Section 5. Please don’t skip Section 5!

Section 5 sets aside a week to think about, absorb, and apply the story as a whole. The goal of Section 5 of is to create a project to remind readers that stories are gifts that  keep giving.

This project is tied to the story City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. This student used singular words related to the story, themes, and quotes to decorate the outside of a little box. Inside they found an object—a lightbulb vase—and filled it with glow-in-the-dark paint to visually represent the conflict of the story:

What will happen when the generator finally fails?

I love this little project. I love the story City of Ember. The takeaway for this teacher: If we were to reduce writing to mere mechanics, darkness would fall on ideas and we would be sorry readers!

Let then write ideas!



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So much gratutide!

Fall is a cozy season. It’s the season of turning leaves 🍂🍁, of imaginary forests and fairy stories, of bundling up with mugs simmering cider for long meandering walks, of collecting pinecones and spying animals readying for the long winter nap. Most of all, fall is the season of gratitude! And this means GIVEAWAYS!

TWO, to be exact…


Recently we stumbled upon an amazing trilogy of board books created by artist and speech pathologist, Tabitha Paige, CCC-SLP designed to help little ones celebrate one of our very favorite things—words! These delightful stories will jump start the young child’s vocabulary and introduce them to early language concepts! 

Lessons include:

  • Spatial Words: Follow along with Little Fox as he plans a surprise picnic for his friend Owl in A Trip to the Farmers Market.
  • Quantity Words: Follow along with Little Hedgehog as he helps his friend Squirrel search for missing acorns in A Trip to the Forest.
  • Colors and Counting: Follow along with Little Rabbit as she gathers wildflowers to cheer up her friend Mouse in A Trip to the Wildflower Meadow.

We love that this little set that captures the magic of language and offers practical tips for this most important pre-reading stage. Mostly we love that these books do this the beautiful way! These stories are a perfect opportunity for older siblings to read aloud to younger siblings.


Puzzles are a perfect way to snuggle in to the coziness of fall. When we stumbled upon this puzzle, we thought: “HOW PERFECT!” Celebrating two of our favorite things, words plus the best technology when it comes to writing—the humble pencil. This promises to be an activity the whole family (and extended family too) will enjoy.


Click here to check out our December Giveaway!


~From all of us at Blackbird & Company to all of you: So very thankful 🍂🍁🧡

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It’s Section 5 Season!

It thrills us this time of year to know that many students have completed (or are close to completing) the first of their six CORE Blackbird & Company ELA units and are brainstorming ideas for the Section 5 culminating project.

To celebrate this season, click through here to download a FREEbie Section 5 Planning Worksheet.

Section 5 is the week when students get to step outside of the rhythm of reading, contemplating, and journaling and create a project to celebrate the story’s wonder! This project is a throwback to a Blackbird and Company limited edition “Section 5 Kit” tied to City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. We provided the box, a lightbulb shaped jar, black paint, glow-in-the-dark paint, paintbrush, Sharpie, and left the rest to the student’s imagination.

Earth is, of course, being ravaged by a series of apocalyptic events known as the Disaster. Light is one of Ember’s most important resources. Without light, the city will cower in complete darkness. Around the clock darkness. Not good. It is this terror of darkness that drives the story. So when the great lamps that light the city begin to flicker, Lina and Doon have a quest set before them. With blackouts and shortages someone needs to take action! Why not our twelve-year-old protagonists?

But we stop here because the purpose of creating a culminating project is NOT to retell the story, but rather to advertise. That’s right, advertise. The culminating project should share JOYbites from the book that will inspire others to pick the book up and fearlessly enter the world of the story.

For this Section 5 project, the student decorated the outside of the box with juicy words and quotes from the story, painted the inside of the box black represent the problem facing the people of Ember, and poured the glow-in-the-dark paint into the light bulb. Ultimately the little project is an amazing advert!

Now its your turn.

Download the FREE Section 5 Planning Worksheet and get started on your build week.

It’s Section 5 Season!

So never, never  e v e r  skip Section 5!

Section 5 is a gift…


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Phonics for Reading AND Writing

Let’s talk phonics for reading AND writing?

Yes. That’s what I said.

In the August issue of National Review’s Special Issue on Education, there is an interesting article about the science of reading. In “Casualties of The Reading Wars” by Dale Chu, asserts a profound truth in the midst of the phonics vs. whole language argument: learning to read is work.

Being the mother of 4 children (now thriving adults), I possess all sorts of memorabilia. A personal favorite is a scrappy little book where I collected words and phrases my little ones used as they were in the midst of learning to speak. The invented word yesternight is a personal favorite, “Mommy, remember the story we read yesternight?”

Children learn to speak because they are surrounded by spoken language. Children are able to create meaning from all sorts of spoken fodder, as is the case here. Using the yester of yesterday and replacing day with night to create a sophisticated descriptor with apt specificity, came to my 3 year old with no lesson at all! Genius!

But contrary to the proponents of whole language, “easy” is not how children learn to read. This article points this out articulately: “To crack the code of how the spoken word connects to the word on the printed page, children need explicit, systematic phonics instruction.”

I will go one step further. This code cracking that demands explicit, systematic phonics instruction applies to BOTH learning to read AND learning to write.

Every word we speak is made up of bits sound sound bites called phonemes. There are only 44 phonemes that enable us to read and write every single word you can imagine! When words are in print, these 44 sound bites are called graphemes. Systematically introducing children to these phonemes and giving them ample practice reading and writing graphemes is the road to literacy. What saddened me about this article is the fact that learning to write was not mentioned once! I read articles about literacy often—I’m kind of nerdy that way! Rarely do these articles address the interconnectedness of phonics instruction for reading and writing.

When a child reads, text is being decoded—basically translated into sounds that carry meaning. When a child writes, sounds that carry meaning, again the very same graphemes, are being encoded to the page. Reading enables the child to gather knowledge. Writing enables the child to craft and share ideas.

This said, I agree, we need to provide explicit, systematic phonics. But there is nuance involved in explicit, systematic phonics instruction. The 44 phonemes that are the building blocks of the English language need to be introduced in a wonderfully playful way. Think of it like this, every word you can imagine is made of some combination of one or two or three of the 44 pieces! Think “rooster” and “lemon” and “shelter” and “croon” and on and on and on. This should be awe inspiring. Should land you in the realm of wonder! When you are teaching your students to read and to write, the goal is to guide them on a journey to this realm, NOT the realm of rote, where memorization masks wonder!

Here are some Tips and Tricks to pack in your knapsack:

1.  Tap into the cognitive ability of your students and give them tools (metacognitive skills) to have at the ready, not material to memorize. For example: bl makes a sound that is part of the word blue, blackberry, blunder (write these for your students to read). Can we think of others together? Let’s write a list. Have students copy the list. As you introduce phonemes, provide opportunity for students to read AND write. If your student is in kindergarten or 1st grade and using our Hatchling curriculum, this approach is built in! If your child is older, and needs remediation with phonics for writing, check back this spring because we have something new in store!

2. Use a pencil. Always use a pencil. Through the 12th grade use a pencil! This technology is the best tool to establish literacy.

3. Establish the tradition of “work is GOOD”! Over the years I’ve had the privilege to encourage parents and teachers alike who have students weary and discouraged with the work of reading and writing. What I say to them is this: Pack an imaginary knapsack with all the books you enjoyed as a child, and use these stories to remind you that language is full of wonder, is wonderful! Pack the knapsack with hope, and happy, and hurrah! Pack it with a reminder to self that reading and writing is not an easy task, but is is a GOOD pursuit. Pack it with this phrase: Yes! Yes YOU can!



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Back-to-School with Pages!

Our live online sessions meet once a week for five weeks to dive deep into great stories. Each week our exceptional instructors will lead discussion of the reading and offer insight to inspire students to think deeply about the story’s action. Conversing and thinking about books is a terrific spark for original ideas, and original ideas motivate students to write! After the video gathering, your student will submit weekly writing and receive individualized written feedback from the teacher.

Space is limited to 10 students per group. Price includes curriculum.

Enrollment is OPEN click through here!

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Pages Sessions for K & 1st Grade

We are excited to offer two sessions each for students using Hatching to kickstart the school year. Our teachers will help your students get started on the rhythm + routine of learning with Hatchling Volume 1 or Hatchling Volume 2. These 1-hour sessions will be filled with fun activities using the multi-sensory approach to primary learning. Our teachers will walk students and their parents (who are encouraged to join) through activities that can be incorporated each week to solidify happy ELA learning. Cost is $30 (curriculum is not included).

Kindergarten Dates

1st Grade Dates

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Ready! Set! Pages!

It’s never too early to think Back-to-School.

We are excited to release our Pages 2022/2023 schedule  very soon.

With a bit of help from our wonderful online teachers, kick off the school year with a spark of inspiration!

Here is how Pages classes work:

  1. We will offer 4 5-week sessions this coming year across all five of the following levels—Earlybird, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4. There are two ways to purchase. If you already have curriculum, you can pay for the class only. If you do not have the curriculum, purchase the class and the curriculum in one click.
  2. Online class links will be sent via your Pages teacher once you are enrolled and set with curriculum. Classes meet on Thursdays or Fridays for an hour per week.
  3. Pages teachers will offer inspiring information each week that will help students dive deeper into the sory at hand. Teachers will offer individual feedback and strategies to improve writing. Our online classes include a robust weekly discussion.
  4. During the Kickstarter Friday Sessions in August, we will offer one 4-week class to help Storymakers get the writing started. We will offer another 4-week class to inspire students utilizing students utilizing Tools of Style (books 1-4) and Operation Lexicon (books 4-12)
  5. And stay tuned for special poetry to be announced this winter.

Let’s take flight together! Please let us know below which session you’re interested in registering for here.

All meeting times are PST. Following is a sneak peak (links to be posted on our website soon):

Session 1

Thursdays – 9/15, 22, 29, 10/6, 13
Fridays – 9/16, 23, 30, 10/7, 10/14


9 – 10:15

A. Earlybird – Fall Stories

B. Level 2 – Twenty and Ten

10:30 – 11:45

Level 1 – The Year of Miss Agnes

1 – 2:15

Hatchling for Parents (9/15)

“Welcome to Kinder & 1st Grade

Hatchling V1 (9/22, 10/6)

Hatchling V2 (9/29, 10/13)


9 – 10:15

Level 3 – The Westing Game

10:30 – 11:45

Level 4 – Skellig

Session 2

Thursdays – 1/5, 12, 19, 26, 2/2
Fridays – 1/6, 13, 20, 27, 2/3


9 – 10:15

Earlybird – Leo Lionni

Level 2 – Inside Out and Back Again

10:30 – 11:45

Level 1 – Rickshaw Girl


9 – 10:15

Level 3 – Out of the Dust

10:30 – 11:45

Level 4 – Boys in the Boat

Session 3

Thursdays – 2/23, 3/2, 9, 16, 23
Fridays – 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 17, 24


9 – 10:15

Earlybird – Paul Galdonne

Level 2 – Rascal

10:30 – 11:45

Level 1 – The Poet’s Dog


9 – 10:15

Level 3 – A Wrinkle in Time

10:30 – 11:45

Level 4 – Howl’s Moving Castle

Session 4

Thursdays – 4/27, 5/4, 11, 18, 25
Fridays – 4/28, 5/5, 12, 19, 26


9 – 10:15

Earlybird – Paul Galdonne

Level 2 – Pablo and Birdy

10:30 – 11:45

Level 1 – The Iron Giant


9 – 10:15

Level 3 – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

10:30 – 11:45

Level 4

The Book Thief

Kickstarter Friday Sessions

8/5, 12, 19, 26

10 – 11


11:15 – 12:30

Operation Lexicon & One True Sentence Introduction

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Discover our Grade Level Collections

Welcome to Blackbird & Company! If you’re looking for a fun and inspirational language arts program, we have everything you need. Whether you are in a classroom, a homeschool, or an independent study program, we want to empower you, encourage you, and give you confidence to Take Flight and begin the adventurous journey of literacy with one of our Grade Level Collections.

Kindergarten through 2nd Grade

3rd through 5th Grade

6th through 8th Grade

9th through 12th Grade