Giving you the tools and skills to help you develop into a stronger teacher of literacy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Letters pudding = Letter Writing

A fun way to practice writing letters is to make some pudding.  Put the cooled pudding in a ziplock bag and then put it in a second ziplock bag to prevent leakage.  Show your children how they can use the bag to practice writing letters.  

This is great for kids who have tough control with a pencil.  They use their finger to write the letters.  It's helpful to show the child how to write the letter first, then let the child try.  

Stay with your child so you can keep modeling to encourage correct letter formation.  Remember it is best to start from the top of the letter to the bottom of the letter.

Children often want to start at the bottom to write the letter, but this actually takes more energy than writing from the top to bottom on the paper.  

Also encourage writing from left to write when the child makes letters that go across the paper like the letter "E". 

This activity can also be done with children's paint in a ziplock bag or you can use shaving cream on a cookie sheet.  These are all tactile ways to practice making letters.  

Don't worry about writing correctly on lines until until Kindergarten/First Grade . It takes a lot of fine motor control to be able to write on lines with control and correct letter formation.

What Does Invented Spelling Look Like?

What is invented spelling?  

Invented spelling is an attempted spelling of words using the   sounds the child hears in a word.

How do I teach my child to write using invented spelling?

Ask your child to say the word slowly, like the word is being put through a stretching machine.  You may need to stretch the word out for your child at first.  Eventually they will learn to do this through practice. As you stretch the word, saying the sounds slowly...Ask your child to write what letter he or she hears.  Then the next letter or letters.  Keep doing this until the end of the word.  It's okay if they don't hear all the sounds.  This is developmental and will progress with time and practice. 

When children begin to use invented spelling, they will often start with just the first letter focusing on the beginning sound.  For the word cat...the child may write "c".

Then they will often hear the last letter.  In the example above, look at the word bear..."br". 

As a child's understanding of sounds and letter patterns you will begin to see vowels and consonants in the middle.  Sometimes the child will write the correct letters and sometimes other letters that sound similar to the child.  

Above, look at the word brother...the child hear "bro...v...er".  The child is confusing the "v" with "th" because the child doesn't understand how the "th" blend together.

It is important to encourage any attempts at spelling a word.  The child is demonstrating that they understand that words are made up of sounds and trying to write the word using the sounds they hear.  

As the child learns more about sounds and letter patterns, the child's spelling will gradually migrate closer to conventional spelling or correct spelling. 

Remember the goal is to encourage your child to write.  This will further their understanding of letters, sounds, words and language.  Have fun with it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Best Guess or Invented Spelling Using Fun Shaped Thick Crayons


Getting children to enjoy writing and sharing their ideas first begins with building a love for writing. 

To help your child develop this love and build their fine motor skills, encourage your child to draw pictures of things they enjoy.  This can be their family, favorite animals or places, or anything the child wants to share.  

The above crayons are chunky and fun.  They are easy to hold which makes little ones enjoy writing or drawing even more.  You can also use the thick toddler crayons you find at your local store. 

When your child draws a picture, ask him to tell you about the picture.  If your child is learning or knows letter sounds, encourage the child to listen to the beginning sound of the word that they drew on the paper.

For example, if the picture is of a flower.  Ask the child what letter does flower begin with.  You may need to say the word slowly and stress the beginning sound.  In flower, you would slowly say the "f" sound as you say the word.  Then encourage your child to write the letter "f" on the paper.  

You can help your child spell flower using "best guess or invented spelling" by saying the word slowly and asking the child what sounds they hear and then encourage them to write the letters for those sounds.  

Your child's version will not always have the correct letters.  That is OK!!!  The goal hear is to start writing ideas.  Later, with practice the child will get closer and closer to convention spelling.  

To see your child's progress, date the drawings and compare the words they write over the next few months.  

***Most importantly encourage anything your child writes, even if it is just scribbles.  Scribbling is the first stage of writing.  It shows that your child understands that the black squiggly lines on paper are words and have meaning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blog: Fun Hand and Print Art with Poems / Songs too



Here is a great site with fun ideas on how to use a child's hand or footprint to make art.  There are ways to make animals, plants, and other memorable gifts.  The site also has poems to go along with some of them to tie in literacy.  Your child's art will be fun to display and use as a source of fun reading practice too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Building Words with Bottle Cap Magnets

Here is a fun summer project to do with the kids that will reinforce reading.  Use the directions from Family Fun Magazine to make magnets, however, add letters to the inside so your child can build words.  

Preschoolers can practice learning the letters and spelling their names and some other simple words like cat, dog, mom, dad, and beginner preprimer sight words such as: can, like, and other preprimer words on the Dolch List.  Click on the word Dolch List and it will take you to a listing of all the most frequent words children learn as beginning readers.  

Older children can practice higher level words on the Dolch list as well as build word families.  Common words families include: -an, -ad, ed,-en, -it, -in, -op, -ot, -un.  For a full list click on : Word Family Lists

The goal is for the kids to have fun with making the words!

Keep It Under Your Cap...by Family Fun Magazine


 From FamilyFun Magazine
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Total Time Needed:
1-2 Hours
Think small! These tiny, jewel-like bottle-cap magnets will look fabulous on your fridge door.
  • Paper
  • Clear packing tape
  • Quarter
  • Tacky glue
  • Bottle cap
  • Sequins, rhinestones, beads, googly eyes, and other small decorations
  • Clear sealant
  • Hot glue
  • 1/2-inch-wide magnet
  1. Start by choosing a piece of paper for the collage base. Cover both sides of the paper with clear packing tape (the liquid sealant you'll use later might discolor it otherwise). Using a quarter as a template, cut a circle from the covered paper and use tacky glue to affix it to the inside of a bottle cap.
  2. Now, add sequins, rhinestones, beads, googly eyes — anything that's fairly flat and small — with glue. Let the glue dry, then brush on a generous coat of clear sealant. (In our tests, DecoArt Triple Thick gave us the glossy finish we wanted.)
  3. When the sealant is dry, use hot glue to attach a strong 1/2-inch-wide magnet to the back of the cap.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Building Words and Phoneme Segmentation

If your child can identify the letters of the alphabet and state their corresponding sounds, you can then play with rhyming words.  When you child has a good grasp of rhyming and can give you a rhyming word for any words you give them, your child is ready to play with words in a new way.

***The new game involves segmenting words or breaking words into pieces.  With this exercise, you are segmenting the beginning sound from the remainder of the word.

For example, my word begins with b (say the b sound) and it ends with -ug when we put it together we have b-ug...bug.

If your child doesn't get it at first, don't worry, just keep trying stressing the beginning sound first then the word ending.

Word families are great for this exercise.  More examples include:

c and at ...cat
f and an...fan
b and all...ball
b and ed...bed
s and it...sit
p and in...pin

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stages of Reading: Memorization of books

Do your children ever pick up a book that you have read many times and read it like they know the words on the page.  Many say its just memorization...but that's one of the first steps of learning to read.  

Children need to learn that books and stories have a structure and that stories have a sequence of events.  They also have learned that pictures help tell the story and they use that knowledge later when they are reading and they get stuck on a word.  Children will often look at the picture to see if it gives them a clue as to what the unknown word is.  

So, next time your child is reading a book, praise them for doing a great job and you will be encouraging your child to keep picking up books...which are the key to learning!  

Watching you read is just as important, so make sure your children see you read the newspaper, magazines, and restaurant menus.  You are your child's first model, so model reading regularly!