It’s been awhile between blog posts-a newborn and toddler will do that to you, but here I am!!
Sight words-let’s start with what they are…Basically they are the words that make up the majority of words found in reading and writing. They are also the hardest to learn because they often use different sounds to the sounds the letter would traditionally make. For example, the word ‘said’ when sounded out should be spelt ‘sed’, so in order to learn these words need to be visually memorized.
So….How can we teach our child the sight words?
GAMES! Make it fun and interesting. Here are some ideas to help you along:
- Chalk words: We played this outside just to mix it up. I wrote the sight words on the ground using chalk and Carter had the cards. He then read the card and matched it to the sight word on the ground-a quick game to set up and an easy one too! If you don’t have sight words cards, use post it notes.
- Memory: Using a set of sight words cards, the child must read the word when they turn it over and then try to find its partner-this is also a great activity for short term memory.
- Word hunt: have the words stuck up around the house and give a list of the words to the child and send them on their hunt!
- Make them: you can use magnetic letters, write them in the sand, use shaving cream-anything and everything!
- Book match: write the words on post it notes and when reading your story ask your child to match the sight word to the one in the text.
Remember: Repetition is the key! The more they see the words, the quicker they will learn them. Being able to recognize these words will hold them in good stead when learning to read at school.
To introduce your child to reading a text, it’s a great idea to use a rich learning experience. There are a few things that you need to remember when creating a book for your child.
- Keep the sentences short and repetitive. For example the focus here is ‘I saw a…’ so each page should repeat that sentence (I saw a lion, I saw a giraffe etc), with the exception of the front cover which should simply state the name of the place-making it easy for your child to remember and the first page (I went to….). By changing up the first page (I went to the zoo) a child understands that they cannot rote learn each page and it encourages them to look at the words for clarification. Keeping the remaining sentences repetitive allows children to memorize the words and then visualize what the words look like-making connections between the two.
- Using photos which have your child in them encourages your child to look at the photos and generates discussion-great for oral language skills! They also introduce the concept of using pictures to assist when decoding a text. When your child is reading ‘I saw a lion’, they will quickly learn to look at the picture to assist them with decoding this new word. As their confidence grows they will learn what the word ‘lion’ looks like and begin to read it without using the pictures for support.
- Using a rich learning experience allows a child to take ownership over their learning as they have experienced it. They are engaged as it is a topic they are interested in and they have enjoyed the experience making the learning more accessible and achievable.
Carter has become increasingly interested in how things work. Toys are often turned upside down to see where the batteries fit, locks have been unlocked and locked many, many times and Daddy’s tool box is the latest obsession and he could spend hours exploring its contents…
His Grandpa got creative this week and made him his own activity board and it’s a hit. Bunnings themed of course because that’s Carter’s favourite place to hang out 🙂
The board includes:
- A ruler which is placed on a hook-great for introductory measurement activities;
- a padlock which when unlocked opens a small square door;
- lots of different sized hooks to fit certain shaped chains-Carter is also learning to hang one chain between two hooks-the chains are different lengths though so he has to work out which one will be the best fit, which ones don’t reach etc-encouraging problem solving skills;
- cylinder shaped lids which he can unscrew and inside he will find more tools (great for revising which way we open and close);
- a padlock with a key-teaching him about spatial awareness;
- a ramp so he can have car races (of course);
- a tap;
- Bunnings stickers-an engaging way to encourage reading and letter identification;
- a flashing light…
The list goes on!
There are many benefits to activity boards. They keep children engaged through a variety of sensory activities and the board encourages them to use their imagination to create their own play whilst also problem solving in a ‘hands on’ learning environment. They encourage discussion and therefore develop vocabulary and communication skills whilst also prompting a child to manipulate objects and use their fine motor skills in order to achieve a desired result (e.g: unlock a padlock by fitting the key).
The repetitiveness and predictability of this book makes it book of the week because it’s a great one when you are starting to teach the reading process. We have read this book with Carter SO many times that when he pulled it out to read this week I almost shuddered. Then I had a thought, why not get him to read it. So I did. I read the first word of each sentence to begin with and then he read the rest of the sentence. Yes he’s completely memorized it and therefore some would say he technically isn’t reading, but we’ve slowed him down and we are pointing to the words as he reads so he’s learning that the words on the page have meaning and the illustrations are helping to prompt him as to which animal he is reading about.
Using repetitive text assists children as they can focus on the entire process of reading (turning the pages, looking at the words and pictures) rather than spending the time trying to decode the words. With toddlers it’s also really important to make the text easy for them so they don’t lose focus and engagement in the reading process. Make it achievable and then slowly introduce new more difficult words as their ability grows.
A cheeky little fly is causing mischief in this week’s book of the week! Another rhyming book which as you all know I love. Rhyming in stories encourages participation and builds vocabulary, however what makes this story unique is its huge, engaging illustrations which also compliment the rhyme. Children can follow the fly on his journey and they can ‘read’ the animal part he has landed on using the picture as well as the rhyme to help them predict it. The story also uses the same sequence of words throughout it encouraging children to join in once they’ve read it a few times.
It’s a fun story with a few teaching points along the way 🙂
…Great big Hippo winks one eye, says to himself, “I’m going to catch that fly!”…
This one is a quick activity because let’s be honest, a two year old’s attention span requires VERY quick activities!!
I modeled writing a letter (I chose C not only because it’s the first letter of Carter’s name but also because it only requires the hand to move in one motion). I then drew the dots, explaining to him that a ‘c moves from the top, around and down’ and gave him the texta so he could trace the dots. He loved it!
Really important things to remember with this one:
- Show them the starting point, which dot to start at.
- Encouragement and positive reinforcement is really important.
- Close enough is good enough. They don’t need to trace exactly over the dots.
- Don’t worry too much about pencil/texta grip. You need to choose your focus. If it’s a tracing activity, forget about the grip-don’t overload them with too much information.
- Display their work-handwriting is hard work and requires a lot of concentration. put it on the fridge for all to see!!
- The more experience they have with writing the more confident they will become and the greater strength and control they will have over the pencil. Make it fun and also keep it short and simple.
We had a lot of fun with this one, and it was so nice to hear his answers! We’ve been talking to Carter about what he likes and doesn’t like and explaining to him that when something is his ‘favourite’ it means he likes it better than anything else. It’s been a great way to introduce new vocabulary.
This morning I ‘interviewed’ him which he absolutely loved!! We talked about his favourite things and I wrote them down, saying the words as I wrote them so that he could see the connection between spoken and written word. We later wrote his least favourite things which was a laugh…apparently we aren’t a fan of sauce or elephants 😉
A quick, fun learning activity that not only introduces new words but is a great way to get an insight into what your little one is thinking!
There’s lots of books which will be given as Mother’s Day gifts this Sunday, so for book of the week I’ve decided to share with you my favourite!
Carter was given this book when he was born and the reason I love it is because it’s written by children. Being a Prep Teacher I always heard many stories in my classroom (5 year olds are honest…brutally honest…) and this book demonstrates the innocence and love our little ones have. It’s a beautiful book, illustrated by Daniel Howarth and reminds us that our little ones adore us for many reasons (some which might even surprise us)!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummies out there 🙂
I started Carter at Mini Maestros when he was around 6 months old. To be honest at the beginning I didn’t really think he was getting much out of it. During class he seemed disengaged, wouldn’t really join in and half the time I was either chasing him and sitting him back in the circle or trying to get him to at least look semi interested. When it came to re enrollment time I had decided that there would be no point continuing…enter my son who was determined to prove me wrong. Second last class for the term rolled around and Carter found his inner rock star. He knew absolutely everything that had been going on during those lessons and not only had he taken it in but all of a sudden he was confident to have a go. Mini Maestros has taught me about Carter as a learner and it’s benefits have really shown in Carter’s development.
What are the benefits?
- Oral language skills-he is using language I wouldn’t have even thought to teach him at home;
- Music-he is learning how to play different instruments as well as rhythm and beat;
- Social skills-he is learning to share, co-operate, take turns and be in an environment where team work is encouraged with children his own age;
- Focus and concentration-Carter is a typical boy and wants to be moving constantly. Mini Maestros has taught him to focus and concentrate to learn a new skill;
- Independence-he’s learning from someone who isn’t my husband, myself or a family member. He respects Michelle as his teacher and loves seeing her each week;
- Confidence-Carter has quite a timid personality so Mini Maestros provides him with a supportive environment to step out of his comfort zone and try new things;
- As a parent I’ve also learnt a few things! I’ve been able to watch Carter in a learning environment and have seen first hand how he learns. He observes- taking mental ‘pictures’ of what’s going on and then when he is confident enough he tries it. Now that I know what type of a learner he is, it’s so much easier to help him learn new things. It’s been a fantastic experience for him and I and a year on we are still going to Mini Maestros each week!
As a Teacher I was often asked by parents; “how is my child going in maths? I was never good at it so I want to know how they are doing”. I was surprised how often I heard those words…”I was never good at maths.” To be honest, I said it myself. There seems to be a negative stigma associated with maths, you’re either considered ‘good at it’ or you’re not. It’s often an internal assessment, it seems to be one of those areas in life that people are either confident in or even the thought of solving an equation makes them anxious. Maths is often misunderstood though. When undertaking professional development at my school the year I was pregnant I learnt to think about maths differently. Rather than there being a problem that needed to be solved with one specific method, I was taught to ask open ended questions and allow my students to learn through discovery. It sounds so simple now looking back- but it’s often the case, we think we must get to an answer using one method and we forget that children learn differently, they bring their own knowledge and skills to the table, even as toddlers and they can actually teach us different ways to learn.
So as the autumn leaves begin to fall in Melbourne town, we are outside all rugged up, exploring. Today we are counting the leaves one by one and moving as we count to encourage one to one correspondence. I’ve learnt that Carter needs to be moving and preferably outdoors (typical boy) so I’m learning what works for him and teaching accordingly. At his age it also needs to be quick teaching points so I incorporate some open ended teaching questions into whatever activity we might already be doing. It’s hands on and engaging and he takes ownership. He’s learning because he is discovering it all himself, and that’s where the authentic learning really happens.