Friday, December 16, 2011

beginner reading flash card game

D. has been quite interested in reading and writing lately, which I am thrilled about!  He is sounding out every word he sees and is excited to decipher text he finds around him throughout his day.  When a child shows the interest, it is time to jump!  I assure you there will be many, many mistakes, on the part of the child, and the parent during this learning phase.  The child should really feel comfortable to make mistakes, and to learn through trial and error.  English is very difficult!  Imagine how hard it must be for a child who learns that a letter makes a certain sound only to find out, well... it does... only if it doesn't fall after this letter, or at the end of a word, or by a vowel... there are so many "buts" and "ifs" that it is overwhelming to teach, much less to learn!  When learning to sound out words and taking those first steps into reading, tread lightly, and allow the child to set the tone.  It is best to use positive reinforcement, and to really clue into the child's signs of frustration.  If the child becomes the slightest bit frustrated, its time to go do something else.  
I decided to try to do something fun to support his interest with his very favorite subject... Cars, the movie.  I wanted him to be in charge of this pajama project, and rather than assign popper words, or site words, or a specific blend, I just let him work on words he is interested in, and wants to write, even if they are not quite "on level".  No pressure here to learn, just to have fun!
We began by printing out pictures we found on google images... for D. it was cars, but it could be all the princesses for a girl, or whatever the child is "into".  
Then we cut them out, and before moving into flash card mode, we played with the cars a bit, sorting them first by color, then by type, (fast, small, 4x4s...).  D. loved this!
 this is him examining all the cars
 color sorting
 fitting into categories
 Then, we glued each to a card.  He picked what color cards he wanted them mounted on, and it was always funny to hear his reasoning for picking a color.  "Oh, Francesco should be on black, because he is fast as the fastest tires, and tires are black, so he should be on black, mommy. "
Then I asked him what one word was that he wanted to represent that particular car.  He had some really great adjectives and logical words to go with each.  As I would write the word, I would pretend I couldn't figure out how to spell it, allowing him to do the work, without the pressure.  I also was modeling the difficulty encountered when reading and spelling, "f-l-i, fly!  wait, that isn't right, humm... what other letter makes the "i" sound, oh yeah, "Y"?  wow, this is crazy... why are there two letters that make the same sound?!? (We would both laugh). He thought it was so funny that I couldn't remember and needed his help.
He is actually playing with these cards, and is really making the associations between the words and the cars that he knows and loves.  It was easy to just mention the blends we encountered along the way, without drilling the concepts.  There is plenty of time for subtle exposure, which will solidify these skills over time.  So... when your child shows the interest in reading... JUMP, but not too high, and don't run too fast!  If you do, someone could get hurt!  :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent- better late than never

So, I am slightly late in posting this.... but its better late than never.  You probably are already in full swing, but maybe you can still take some ideas from this.  This year we are adopting the popular "activity advent calendar" where you do daily activities rather than getting a present.

We are trying to make the experience educational in many aspects... some character education (sharing, giving, selflessness) Christian education about Jesus' birth, some reading (trying to decode words on the activity cards), and some math (adding and subtracting to get to the number of the day, calendar math, counting up and down, using Christmas tree manipulatives to explore numbers).  I printed out Christmas tree clip art, and cut them apart.
 Each day we manipulate the trees to get the date for the day.  For example, if today is the 16th, and we are going to pocket 16 on our Advent calendar, then we count out 16 Christmas trees, and then play with them.  Take away 6 trees, how many are left?  Add back 6 trees, and how many are all together?
   I have seen many activities on pintrest, and loved getting fun activities from there, and from other blogs, such as, and .
We are also using a book called My First Countdown to Christmas, by Scholastic.
  For the Activities, I used Print Shop and used a blank business card template.  I used a Christmas border and then printed them out and filled in each card with felt pen.
I went through our community calendar of events and our playgroup calendar and used some of those activities to fill the calendar.  Then I used some of the ideas from sites listed above and some I came up with.  So, each day, my son opens the pocket and discovers the days activity.
  Then at dinner each night, we light our Advent wreath (attached are the Advent prayers) and listen to "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel".

 At night we read Christmas books, and our daily "Count down to Christmas" page.
 That's our little Christmas tradition around our house.  What do you do?
Enjoy this blessed season!