Monday, March 23, 2009

Sight Words Dice Game

My daughter has been having a harder time with learning her sight words, especially for a word like the. She can't sound it out exactly and doesn't like going over her sight word cards. So, I decided to make a fun game out of it. I made a simple die to help her learn some sight words. It took me about 5-10 minutes to create this, print it out on some orange card stock paper, cut it out and glue it together! We use a simple program called Scrapbook Factory Deluxe to do all the worksheets and activities for learning to read. I thought I would share the die template with you, so hopefully it will only take you a few minutes to create a die if you want to use it :) You could always take the image and erase the words (by covering it with white square or something) and then type or write down your own words you want to work on with your child.

Click on the image above to be taken to a screen that you can print to full page size.

*Other games to play to review sight words-
-Slap the Word- Lay out the words in front of the child. Say a word and they have to slap the right word.
-Hide and Seek- One child hides the sight words in the room while the other child leaves the room. When the child looking for the sight words find them, she/he has to say what word they are.
-Jump Up- Lay out the words in front of the child. Say a word and they have to pick that word up and jump up and sit back down as fast as they can.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Patience with Teaching

Children are extremely sensitive. Not only are they affected by how we treat them, but they can detect real sincerity. I have found as I work with my daughters, if I am not really enjoying working with them (just pretending to have a good attitude) they can instantly sense it. They don't work as well. It's incredible how they can figure out sincerity! Maybe it is because they are so genuine themselves.

As I was working with my daughter with reading, we were reviewing some words she had read the previous day. She kept on making mistake after mistake. I started getting frustrated thinking I had spent so much time with her on these words and now she did not even know them. As our reading time continued, her reading became worse and worse. We ended with both of us feeling frustrated.

In my mind, I remembered a story shared by Shinichi Suzuki in his book Ability Development from Age Zero. He shared the following:

Here is another case which shows that happiness develops ability.

There was one child in my family with a learning disability. His mother scolded him very much when he was six. She said that he would not remember what she taught him. For some reason he could not remember the numbers from one to ten. "Why don't you understand? This is four and this is seven!" she scolded harshly as I watched.

"It will not do any good to scold him, " I warned. After some observation, I realized that four and seven were numbers that the child was scolded about and therefore he could not look at them clearly.

"Hey, come and play with your uncle," I called.

Then I made dice out of paper and on the faces I wrote only fours and sevens.

"Let's play dice," I said, and we started to throw. A four was thrown.

"Four! I said it first. I win, " I said. Again a four was thrown.

"Four! I won again." At this point the little boy was determined to try harder. Again a four was thrown and together we said, "Four!"

"Hey, you said it too!" I praised. His eyes began to sparkle. The game continued with both fours and sevens being thrown. Sometimes I said the answer slowly. Sometime I pretended that I did not know the answer and let the boy win Sometimes I said the wrong one and the boy made no mistake. In this way four and seven became his favorite numbers in a mere ten minutes.

I had the mother write the numbers from one to ten and have the child read them. He said four and seven the quickest and in the loudest voice. These numbers had become the most well known and fun numbers.

The problem is how to combine interest and training. If a child is always scolded about four and seven, his ability will not grow. Even if a parent overflowing with love for a child uses a bad method, the ability of the child will not develop.

Suzuki, Shinichi. Ability Development From Age Zero. Tr. Mary Louise Nagata. Secaucus, New Jersey: Summy-Birchard Inc., 1981.

Isn't this so true! When I am scolded about something that I fail at or someone tells me I can't do something, I can't seem to think clearly when I try to do it again. Now every time, I start getting frustrated with my daughter. I stop and tell myself that getting frustrated will only have the opposite effect of what I want. It will only slow her progress. If I am patient and genuinely happy working with her, she will learn at her own speed. I also love how Suzuki takes the skill and breaks it down to a more simple level. I have also tried doing this. It has been incredible to see the difference this had made!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More Reading Activities

I have been working with E all week teaching her reading. If you change the activity every few minutes, it is surprising how long a child of 4 or 5 can keep interested in doing reading activities.

We played matching games with pictures and word cards. I get pictures off of Microsoft Office Download Clip Art. It is fantastic. I make cards with Short Vowel words. Here is an example of a page. I print it on card stock and have them ready for all kinds of fun games.

One game I do when I have something I want them to learn is the Slapping game. I set two word cards in front of her and she has to slap the one I say. For example, I put down "the" and "this". I use this a lot with the sight words she needs to know. Then I put down another word card and we do a few slaps then I add another one. We get up to about six words. This helps her read them faster.

Anything can be a reward. She reads a list of words and the little remote control dog we bought her at Walgreens barks and says "Good job."

I love to use a stop watch. If she is reading her pile of short U words. I start the stop watch and she reads as many as she can in one minute. Then the next time she does it she gets a smartie for each one she reads more than she did the first time. So if she read 16 the first time, if she reads 19 the next time she gets three smarties. Games like this or counting who won in memory are also excellent for their counting and math understanding.

Another game she love is the Quiet Game. I set four words out in front of her. I have ten in all but just four are set out at a time. I act out a word and she picks it up. I set out another word so there are still four words in front of her. Then I act out another word. Neither of us can say any thing till she has picked out all ten words. We can take turns being the one who acts out the words.

Here are some work sheets we did this week. She likes to cut and paste so she cuts out the words and pastes them into the correct box.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Letter Crafts and Activities

We have already posted the letter cards we use to help children learn the letter sounds, but I love to do other activities. Sometimes we can't do something special with every letter because we don't have time, but I like to pick letters that my kids are having a hard time remembering or saying. Tessa was having a hard time remembering F (she kept on saying th sound instead of f sound!) So we made Flowers from the F shape using a fun new book I found at the library:

*The picture is linked to

When my oldest was about to turn 3, we did a color a week. For example, when she had her cousin visiting, we focused on yellow one week. We painted one egg carton hole yellow to make a bee, we finger painted with lemon pudding, and I hid yellow stars throughout the house that they had to find. My favorite activity was letting them squeeze their own lemons to make lemonade. You could focus your activities on a letter or a color a week. I always loved going on letter or sound hunts. You put a blanket in the middle of the room and find everything in the house that is a certain color or that starts with a certain letter and put it on the blanket. It's a lot of fun and there are a ton of books and websites with lots of ideas.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I have my granddaughter E (turned 5 last month) with me this week. She arrived last night (Sunday) and will stay till we go visit them on Friday. This is Reading Camp. I have done this once before and she can read all the short A and Short I words very well. So last night we began. She began reading the short O words and has picked it up quite easily. She still seems to stop and sound out each word. I want her to get more fluid. She still needs to stop to notice what vowel is there. As I work with her I try to notice what her strengths and weaknesses are so I can work on those.

She brought the Bob Books collection I gave her sister last year, but this is the Collection 3 with compound words and long vowels. I can tell she is very motivated to read books. She is reading all the Hooked on Phonics books I have and going through that workbook. I have all my reading materials organized so we can play lots of games. She has an incredible attention span. I worked with her for 1 1/2 hours last night. She has a room with her sister M who is two years older. She wants to do everything M does. So she is greatly motivated to write and draw. Her ability to write is impressive. Many children this age are not as motivated or coordinated with those muscles but since she is, I can use that to further her reading.

Then we read to her from more advanced books. I read her one of my favorites and discovered that my book is falling apart from so many years of use. "Hats for Sale" is so delightful. Then grandpa started reading the "Fables" book to her.

Many times I have the children read lists of words or flashcards when they are at this level and that gets boring so I do several things to make it more interesting.
1. Explain the meaning of the word to them when they first read the word. Multiple meaning
words need more explanation, but what an opportunity to make their learning deeper with
more definitions.
2. Make up a sentence with the word after they have read it. If the word has more than one
meaning I try to make up sentences with all the meanings.
3. Make up a riddle before they read the word. It is fun because sometimes they think they
know the answer and start trying to read it with the first sound of the word they think it
must be. Then they see it isn't that word and have to figure it out.
4. Last night I tried to make up a story with a series of the words. It turned out to be a silly
5. Have them say a sentence with the word.

I also like to show her pictures of things because she can get a better idea of what they are like if she is not familiar with them. I doubt if she knows what a cot is. I have to buy her a fig this week so she can know what that is. I love vocabulary!

I am including one of the pages I made up for her.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Free Short i Book and Short o Book

The order we like to teach our kids short vowel words as far as vowels go is:
short a

short o

short i

short u

short e

My mom likes to teach the short e last because it is so similar to the short a and short i sounds. There are also not that many short e words.

Here are the mini books I made. One uses only short i words and the other has both short i words and short o words. Again, fold them like a greeting card. The big pig has two greeting cards with one stuck in the middle. It starts with A Pig. I hope that makes sense. Enjoy!

The Dog Bit

The Big Pig
This is page one that is folded like a greeting card. It is the front and back cover.

This is page 2 that is folded and put inside page 1.

If you download these, please leave us a comment. If we get some response, we can post more.