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Oral Language

Learning sight words, the fun way!

May 19, 2017

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.


Bottle top bar graphs.

October 28, 2016

My previous post was all about the many ways you can use bottle tops to enhance learning and we had a lot of fun creating our own bar graph so I wanted to share this activity with you!

To begin I explained to Carter that we were creating a bar graph which would show us how many different coloured lids we had. I always try to use the right names/vocabulary even if I think it is beyond him and he won’t remember it-if we don’t expose them to the vocab-they will never learn it.

There are so many different learning opportunities with this activity!

  1. Colour sorting: I explained to Carter that we needed to find all the dark blue lids and put them in a straight line. The more different coloured lids you have, the better the opportunity to revise colours.
  2. Counting: After each line was complete we would count how many lids were in that line. Depending on the age of your child you could scribe the number or they could. Getting them to put their pointer finger on each lid as they count also encourages one to one correspondence (basically ensures they are counting the right amount of lids).
  3. Number identification: Writing the number of lids on a piece of paper and displaying them as part of the graph gives children a reference point, helps them to identify the number of lids and continues to reinforce number identification.
  4. Vocabulary opportunities: These are endless! We used language such as ‘most’, ‘least’, ‘graph’, ‘how many’, ‘graph’, etc. I also tried to ask him as many questions as I could so that he used the graph to obtain his answers. E.G: “Which colour has the most lids?” “How many dark blue lids are there? How could we find out?”
  5. Fine motor skills: I got Carter to cut out the pieces of paper to write our numbers on, he placed the bottle lids in a line-quick little opportunities to practice those fine motor skills!!

This has been one of our favourite activities so far-when Carter asks the next day to make another one you know you are onto a winner!! Enjoy!!


Bottle tops and Maths!

October 20, 2016

It’s been awhile between posts, a busy toddler will do that to you! We have been very busy using bottle tops, they can be used in many ways for a variety of learning opportunities.

Making ‘groups of’.

It’s never too early to start introducing mathematical language. Making groups is not only introducing multiplication but it is also a great way to introduce little ones to the idea of division through equal sharing. To start, I asked Carter how many groups he would like to make. We drew circles to represent the groups (e.g 2) and I then prompted him to put an equal amount of lids in each circle. If he placed three in each, I would then scribe the sentence 2 groups of 3. We would count each group to ensure they both had three lids in each and then to extend the learning we would add the groups together to get a total amount. There’s many concepts involved with this activity, so lots of repetition is the key and I would suggest starting with one group and building from there.


Different coloured lids can be used for making patterns. To begin, I would suggest an adult starting the pattern and then working together with your child to follow it. Depending on the age and ability level of your child would depend on the complexity of the pattern (e.g 4 step patterns). Always verbalize the pattern as you are completing it to explicitly demonstrate that a pattern constantly repeats itself.


Counting by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s-the opportunities are endless depending on the amount of lids you have!!

How many do I have?

Lining up the lids and counting and comparing how many different colours you have encourages children to use language such as ‘more’ and ‘less’ whilst also producing a real life bar graph!

Making number shapes.

An effective way to revise number formation. I have the number written down for Carter and he fills in the number with bottle tops. We focus on where the number starts and ends and once the number is full we count how many lids it took to fill the number. Once your child is confident writing numbers they will be able to begin forming the numbers with bottle tops independently.



The Melbourne Zoo…Carter’s first ‘reading’ book.

June 29, 2016
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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.


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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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’s counting tray.

June 17, 2016
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A great way to use an old egg carton and build fine motor skills whilst also learning to count!

We bought number stickers from Officeworks and stuck them in the egg carton and using screws (to keep Carter engaged) we have been counting the correct number of screws into their corresponding number tray.


  • Counting using one to one correspondence. Carter is learning to count each screw one at a time. Often at this age children tend to ‘double count’, so as he picks each individual screw one at a time, the notion of counting is reinforced.
  • Fine motor skills. Using his fingers to pick up the little screws increases strength in his fingers. As his confidence grows, I plan to introduce a pair of tongs to further develop his skills as he must control the tongs in order to pick up the screw. You could also use tweezers, pegs, etc to pick up the object. Instead of screws you could also use buttons, pom poms, little blocks, anything that will fit into the egg carton!


Carter’s activity board.

June 9, 2016

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).


Sensory bottles.

June 7, 2016

The benefits of sensory bottles vary from babies to toddlers. The purpose of them is to introduce children to their senses and encourage them to use their senses as a means of exploring and learning. With the help of Pinterest I created two which a baby could begin to use with the help of an adult of course. The first is simply half a bottle of water mixed with blue food dye and then topped up with vegetable oil. The combination creates bubbles and a lava lamp effect-great for a baby to track different bubble sizes with their eyes. The second is a little bit louder!! Rice to get a bit of sound happening and pom poms and glitter stars for shapes and colours. This one not only encourages them to explore with their eyes, but also listen for different sounds.

For toddlers the possibilities are also endless. Letters of the alphabet could be placed in them with a combination of water/food dye/sand etc, words, numbers, shapes, anything and everything! It’s a hands on activity which helps them to use their senses to learn 🙂 Sensory bottles have also been known to be used as a meditation and calming tool for children who sometimes need a bit of ‘quiet time’ (maybe not the rice shaker bottle though!!) There’s many benefits to these bottles, and they are really cheap and easy to make too!

I went walking…Sue Machin and Julie Vivas.

May 19, 2016
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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.

BOYS: What I would tell the teacher in me from the mum in me!

May 17, 2016

My little boy is teaching me everyday. Before I had Carter, I was a very different teacher. I misunderstood boys. A lot. I know I’m not alone because I hear it all the time. ‘He doesn’t sit still, if only he would listen’, the list goes on and on. I’ll never forget the days when I would go to mothers group and the kids were beginning to interact. Carter was the only boy with eight little girls and I was amazed at how the girls would focus and play with one toy for what seemed like forever whilst he crawled all over them to get to every single toy and play with it for 20 seconds before moving onto the next one. It was during those play sessions I realized just how different boys and girls are from their attention spans right down to how they learn. If they are so different no wonder the traditional school setting often doesn’t suit the needs of both genders and the way in which a lot of them learn.

So here is me the mother talking to me the teacher about what I’ve learnt about boys.

  • They focus differently. Quite often they won’t look at you when you are teaching them something, they will be looking around the room at whatever has caught their eye at that moment. They could be mistaken as being disengaged. But ask them a question about what you’ve been talking about and nine times out of ten I guarantee they will answer it correctly. Or later when you’re doing something completely different they will bring up the previous topic again. Because they are still thinking about it, and in fact they have thought of more questions and want more answers. Which brings me to my next point…
  • They think differently. Girls will raise their hands and ask questions. They will call out answers when the teacher asks them to. They aim to please. Boys are different. Many won’t raise their hand to answer a question. The majority of them know the answer but some would prefer to whisper it to a friend, keep it to themselves or just move on. Why? Who knows. But we as teachers and parents can’t assume they don’t know it, maybe we are just not providing the right environment for them to shine in. Many boys prefer hands on settings, learning through discovery, small group settings. We need to learn how they think and work best and give them that opportunity whilst at the same time teaching them to have the confidence and ability to contribute in a variety of settings.
  • They need to be moving. Boys find it hard to sit still. There’s a lot of positive things to be said about contemporary learning classrooms that are moving away from tables and chairs and allowing children to stand whilst they work or sit on the floor, beanbags, fit balls etc. Boys need this. Many struggle to maintain focus if they are being forced to sit still. And if they are working better whilst standing, why not let them? It’s about them learning not how they are positioned whilst learning isn’t it?
  • They like to know what’s happening in the quickest way possible. They want to know who is in charge, they want answers to their questions and quick, short, sharp teaching. In other words get to the point or you will often lose their attention.

So the teacher in me has learnt a little bit more about teaching boys from the mum in me, mostly though it’s been a little boy who has been teaching me what he needs to learn best. There’s a lot to be said about learning from little ones, they are after all the experts in their field. 😉


Tiny little fly…Michael Rosen.

May 12, 2016
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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!”…