Word Families Book

A few years ago I shared some ideas for introducing Word Families in another post – check it out if you are interested, just type word families in the search bar.  I know there is a way to insert a link – but that is beyond my technological abilities!

Learning to read word families allows children to easily read so many more simple words.  It also gives them practice starting with the initial sound of a word and blending the other sounds.

My first plan was just to give Max a page like this:

 

But then I was thinking how my children always like books that have parts they can move or play with, so I thought they might like this a little more.

I used cardstock and made a copy of a house with blank windows and asked Max to cut it out.  I helped cut the windows.

 

Here is the master.

Then I printed off pages with the word families.

Now Max can take the house and lay it over the words so they show through the windows.

I will staple all the word family sheets on the left side with this cover.


 

If you fold construction paper to make a cover, and glue this on you could also tape a pocket on the inside of the cover to hold the house.

Here are the pages to print.

pdf fam rhyme book

On my first post about Family Rhymes I mentioned a great song by Dr. Jean Feldman, to the tune of the Addams Family.   It’s called Rime Time and it is on her CD “Sing and Learn.”   I’m singing it in my head right now!

What They Like and What They Need

I wish this photo was a bit more clear but my grandson, Owen, took this selfie on his Kindle and texted it to me.  I am so very grateful for technology that lets me keep in touch with them.

I also don’t think you can over-appreciate the value of playdough.  From my two year old grandson Calvin to my eleven year old grandson Owen, they all love playing with playdough.  Of course what they do with the playdough looks quite a bit different – it is a very versatile material!!

Today Owen used playdough to make a Millenium Falcon – he’s a huge Star Wars fan.

 

I thought it was great and asked him if he had a Star Wars mold.  He did not, and  he took the opportunity to tell me step by step how he constructed it!

First he rolled out the dough to the thickness he wanted.

He used this tool to cut it into a circle, which he traced from the playdough lid.

He sent me all these pictures – I hope I am remembering the steps correctly – he really should have his own blog!

This is how he made the compressions.

He told me he made a cylinder for the cockpit, and two triangles for the things that stick out in front (sorry Owen, I don’t remember all the terminology).  I thought it turned out great!

I think it is really important to have a good balance between allowing your child to do things he or she likes and chooses to do, along with the activities you think he or she needs to reinforce skills.  I also think it’s important to try to make those skill reinforcing activities fun too – especially when they are working at home.  (But the teacher in me would have loved to ask Owen to write a step by step HOW TO book.  I know he is a bit old for that but he was so good at breaking it down and explaining it to me!)

Sometimes you can blend the two – what they like and what they need.  For example you could bring out alphabet cookie cutters, or  a pencil to write numbers or multiplication facts in the playdough – but sometimes they just want to play.

I am trying to give my daughter ideas to help her kids in the areas they need a little practice or reinforcement.   She mentioned that although Max is doing great with sight words and sounds, he could use some practice with lower case letters.  He has been able to name upper letters for a long time, and can identify most lower case letters too.  But most books are written with primarily lower case letters so it is important that they are really confident with them.

I sent her these letter cards to print and cut apart, to play a memory game.  Some lower case letters are the same as the upper case, except for size; like s, o, x, u, z.  I knew Max was confident with those.  I also was trying to limit the number of cards for the game.  If this is still too many you could use half of them at a time – or pick the ones that are tricky for your child.

I printed all the lower case letters on these fish cards – to make a game of GO FISH.  Two or more people can play this game – you would need 2 copies of each letter.  Start with 5 or 6 cards and the first player asks if the other person has a letter that matches one in his/her hand.  If they get the match they put the pair down, if not they pick another card from the fishing pond – pile of cards!

 

Another idea would be to attach a paperclip to each fish.  Then make a fishing pole by tying a piece of yarn or string to a dowel and attaching a magnet to the end.  All the fish should be face down and the child uses the fishing pole to “catch” a fish.  If he or she can name the letter they keep it, if not tell them the name of the letter and it goes back into the pond.

One more idea I gave my daughter for reinforcing lower case letters was to cut apart the sight words Max is able to read.  Put each word into an envelope and ask him to put them in order to spell the word.  Then ask him to name each letter in the word.  I printed them so they are easy to cut apart.  Try to cut all the letters about the same width.

This is also a good activity to practice reading the sight words.  When the kids are writing and use one of these sight words they should be able to spell it in “book spelling” too.

The most important thing is to have fun with your kids!

Writing For A Reason

I used to ask my Kindergarten parents to encourage their children to write for a meaningful reason.  If the kids ask for a certain type of breakfast cereal, have them start a grocery list.  If they don’t want a sibling to knock down a Lego structure – make a label for it.  If they really really want something have them write you a note so you won’t forget about it.

Just like riding a bike or learning to snap your fingers – the more you practice anything the better at it you will become.  Reading and writing definitely follow this principle.  They also work together – when kids read more they become better writers, when they write more, it helps them decode and understand what they read.

One thing you could ask your child to do is to make a list.  Here are some ideas of things they might write about, there are endless ideas!

Of course you can make a list on any type of paper, but some children might be encouraged to write if they have a special piece of paper.

If they have more to add to their list, encourage them to problem solve.  They might ask for more paper or turn it over and write on the back.

Another fun way to start children off writing is to make All About Books.  They can pick any subject at all – flowers, colors, Star Wars, your family; anything they know something about, then write all about it!

When they first start out they might draw a picture and phonetically write one word to label it.   When they are a little more confident with sound spelling they might write a short phrase or sentence about each picture.  Here is a sample:

or another idea:


Here is the paper I used, and the simpler one line version.

Just copy these 2 pages back to back.  Cut them in half  horizontally and fold them in half, you will have 2 books.

Here is the version that has room to write a little more.

Your child might be ready to write even more.  Here is another version that has more room yet.

I sent Nora a paper with a question about leprechauns – afterward I wished I had given her a booklet to write in instead.  Here is her fun story.

Young children usually are not willing to sit and “do school stuff” for very long.  So if you are thinking of something fun and silly you could blow up some balloons – put on some music and tell the kids not to let the balloons touch the floor!  This picture was taken at our 2 year old grandson’s birthday party before quarantines.  Don’t be like these grown ups – join the kids and play too!

Learning at Home

It’s been a long time since I sat at circle time, put words in the pocket chart or led the line down the hall to music class; but I still miss Kindergarten.  I have spent these years loving and playing with grandchildren, and I am missing them so much during this time of social distancing.

My email and Facebook stream are filled today with wonderful suggestions of how parents can spend this time with their children – all the skills and types of learning that they can reinforce.  Pinterest provides an amazing wealth of tried and true lesson plans and learning materials.  But even though so much is available I decided to share some of the ideas I have been emailing to my daughter to do with Nora and Max who are 7 and 6, and at home missing out on 2nd grade and Kindergarten.

All parents are asked to keep reading to their children.  Research shows that it is the most important thing you can do.  I thought it might be helpful to share a few ways to discuss a book you read with your child, or one that your child is reading on his or her own.  It’s helpful to see how much they really understand.

 

Of course sometimes kids just want to hear the story.  You might want to pick out a few questions or check in with them part way through the story to see how well they are comprehending.

Another easy thing to do is to keep track of the weather.  There is no right or wrong way to do it – you could make a weather “clock” out of a paper plate with pictures of sun, snow, wind, rain, etc. around the outside.  Then cut out one or two “hands” that you can turn to the appropriate weather every day.  Fasten the hands to the middle of the plate with a brad fastener.  Or you might want to graph the weather:

There is really no such thing as a typical child in any grade.  In Kindergarten there was a huge range in the skills had when they began school.  Every classroom is also different, and although the school year is more than half over it’s impossible to guess what they are working on.  I started out by asking my daughter to do a few things to get an idea of where her Kindergartner is as far as alphabet recognition, sounds, writing, sight words, numeral recognition, etc. It’s hard for me to know what ideas I can give her until I had more of an idea what skills he is confident with.  This is true for all children, but Nora is very verbal and loves to read, so I had more of an idea where she is and what she might enjoy.

I asked my daughter to ask Max to read these lower case letters.  You can tell how confident your child is by how they read each letter.  I included 2 different types of the letters a and g.

 

I also asked him to write both upper and lower case letters.

To get an idea of how well he can write phonetically (sound spell) I asked him to label these animals.

Then I sent him this sheet where he could look for things around the house that begin with each letter, and draw and write in each box.

I also asked my daughter to have Max write numerals 0-20.  All of this gave me a good idea about his skills and confidence.

No matter what activities you are doing with your child they are constantly learning and growing.  Repeating activities or practicing skills they already know helps them gain confidence.  Your child will give you cues about what they enjoy working on and things they need to work on.  If you introduce something they are not ready for it is fine to stop and do something else.

After these assessment activities I started sending my daughter ideas of things to do with both children.  I will share some of these ideas soon.  I just want to encourage all of you to take a deep breath, smile at your child often, give lots of hugs and encouragement, and enjoy this gift of time.

 

Thanks Miss Julie!

I had been looking for a library story time for Max.  The problem was that most nearby programs began at 11 a.m. and I had to pick up Max’s sister Nora from preschool at 11:30.  Finally I found a time that worked great at the West Acres Branch of the West Bloomfield (MI) library, and they allowed residents from nearby communities to join in!   I loved having this special opportunity for Max, and I was very grateful and impressed by Miss Julie – the story hour teacher.

This story time was special because Miss Julie has really mastered the art of presenting to preschoolers.  She understands early childhood development, she is always well prepared, and her enthusiasm and attitude make it so much fun for the children.

Each week there are between 25-30 children who attend this free program, along with their respective adults!  The little ones range in age from small babies to 4 year old preschoolers, with an occasional older sibling visiting too!   One of the challenges Miss Julie takes in stride is that this room also contains dramatic play equipment, built in along three sides of the room.  There are some children actively playing throughout story time, going back and forth between the program and playing.  There are many other disruptions, such as parents calling their child’s name across the room, phone conversations taking place within a few feet of Julie reading a story, upset toddlers and babies… but Miss Julie just smiles and goes on with her program.

Because Julie understands that young children need consistency and feel secure when they know what to expect, she has a basic format that she uses each week.  She begins the program by encouraging the children to move around and stretch different parts of their body – that also helps them develop self and body awareness.  Then she sings/chants a simple tune:

Come on everybody clap your hands, come on everybody clap your hands

Come on everybody cause we’re gonna read a story, come on everybody clap your hands.

Then she changes it to stomp your feet, pat your knees, wiggle your body, etc. and the final verse is:

Come on everybody take a seat, come on everybody take a seat,

Come on everybody cause we’re gonna read a story, come on everybody take a seat.

Julie uses a wonderful combination of noticing individual children, acknowledging those who blurt out or come up very close to her, and ignoring disruptive behaviors.   Some parents sit on the floor with their kids, others sit in small chairs or stand next to tiny babies in strollers.  Some children are very attentive and follow every move and direction, some come and go, others seem oblivious of the fact that a program is going on in the room.  With so many children and adults in the room, what could be chaotic and unmanageable just seems to work out okay.

Each week Julie has a theme and choses an appropriate story, movement songs and a simple craft that all tie together.  She usually has at least two books that go along with the theme, but often only reads one with the group.  Sometimes she is able to sit down and read to the group, but occasionally she has to stand up to read, carefully holding the book so the children can enjoy the pictures.  Her voice is strong and loud enough for the children to hear without sounding like she is yelling over the crowd.  Her enthusiasm and inflection make listening to the story fun for the children.

What impressed me the most from the first time I brought Max to this story time is how well Julie manages transitions.  After releasing their wiggles, the introductory song ends with the children sitting down ready to hear the story.  She often follows the story by passing out finger puppets that encourage the children to interact in a thematic song.

Sometimes she uses recorded songs for the children to sing along and dance, other times she just plays and sings with them without music.  Her use of technology is seamless – she prepares a playlist on her phone or iPod and simply presses the button to play the next song on a reliable, small speaker.  I never saw her take any time away from the children to find the song or materials she needs – her preparation and organization are remarkable.

I also appreciated the wonderful materials the library made available for these preschool story hours.  I especially loved the amazing variety of finger puppets they shared; and they always had enough for every child.   She always has all the materials she plans to use organized and close at hand.  The first time I took Max I thought he would cry when it was time to give the finger puppet back, but she had the children trade in the puppets for scarves (or rhythm sticks, or another play prop).

Julie gives the children opportunities to follow directions with the materials she shares.  She uses concepts like fast and slow, quiet and loud, up high and down low, as she plays along with the children.  Sometimes she encourages them to make letters by holding the two rhythm sticks in the shape of a V or a T.  The music and songs she uses go along with the weekly theme.  Sometimes she adapts a familiar song to go along with her theme – like instead of 5 Little Monkeys swinging in a tree – 5 Little Fish swimming in the ocean, along came a shark… hungry as can be!

The last thing she passes out to the group every week is small bottles of spill proof bubbles that must need to be refilled often!

After a few minutes of enjoying the bubbles and songs she encourages the children to return the bubbles by singing their good bye song.

“We had some fun and now we’re done!  Good bye!  Good bye!”   Of course you could use any good bye song you like, but it is a clear, friendly signal that story time is over.   Following that the children go out into the main part of the library where materials are organized and available on tables to make a simple thematic craft.

Julie circulates around the room and stops to notice the colors or techniques children are using, and appreciating their effort.

Attending story time each week has been a highlight for Max!  He calls it Story School and always gets excited when Friday comes along.  I just wanted to tell Miss Julie thank you… Max loved it!

 

Fairy Tales

One of Nora’s favorite things to do is act out Fairy Tales.  I love to see how she has taken ownership of these simple stories after “playing them” over and over.  Lately we have been playing “The Princess and the Pea” a LOT.   Max plays the Prince, Nora – of course, is the Princess, and I get to narrate and be the Queen, although Nora often chimes in to help tell the details.  Oh – and Nora also has to be the one to hide the ‘pea.’

She is quite dramatic when she explains what a terrible sleep she had because of that lumpy pea.   Nora loves to play this story, and she certainly knows it and understands it; but she has not wanted to retell the story by herself yet.

 

Many years ago I bought this Frank Schaffer book that contains simple versions of Fairy Tales along with 6 pictures for each story.  I used them in lots of ways to retell stories.  I have shared a few of them on this blog, and I have received many, many requests for a copy of the entire book.  I have tried for the past couple of years to obtain permission from the publisher, but have not been able to contact the right people.  I wrote to the address in the book and got no reply.  Then I found out that Carson Dellosa had bought out Frank Schaffer products but when I contacted them they had no record of this book.

I make no profit from my blog – I don’t charge for anything that I share.  I am happy to help teachers develop materials that they can use to help children.  I am sharing the stories from this book but I am giving full credit to the author Sue Ryono.  Please do not use these images for personal gain – or on TPT or any other site that charges a fee.  If I find out that I am infringing rights I will remove them from my blog.

So today I gave Nora the pictures from the story “The Princess and the Pea” and asked her to put them in order.  It was fun hearing her talk about what was going on in each picture.

After she got them all in the right order she did a great job telling me the entire story without any prompting.  Then she wanted to take the pictures home to tell the story to Mommy and Daddy too!

Acting out stories is a wonderful way to help children with comprehension and developing new vocabulary.   I also see children making connections between stories and other things that they hear or experience.   Last week I baked cookies with my Grandchildren Owen, Anna and Lily.  They went home with a container of our cookies, but when their Dad asked to sample one, Anna asked, “Do you remember the Little Red Hen?”  Since he had not helped she wasn’t sure she wanted to share!

I think these pictures can also be a great resource to encourage children to retell stories.  I hope they are helpful for you!

In the original book these short stories are all in the back of the book, 4 stories on each page.  I enlarged and separated them so I could put each story under the matching sequencing pictures.  I never worried about telling a story exactly as this is written, but they are helpful if you are trying to remember details of some of the stories.

 

 

I hope you love using these as much as I have.  And if you can – take some time to act out stories too!  So much fun!

Holidays Around the World – and a Give Away!!

cover
D. J. Inkers has done it again!!    Take a look at this wonderful set of clipart –  http://www.djinkers.com/clipart/christmas/holidays-around-world-clipart-collection.html.  I used this clipart to create the activities throughout this post.
They are also giving away one of these wonderful clipart sets to one of my readers for FREE!!!
All you have to do is at least 2 of out of 3 of these options:
1) Join one of DJ Inker’s email newsletter lists.
2) Follow one of DJ Inker’s boards on pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/djinkers/
3) Like DJ Inkers on facebook
To enter this contest please leave a comment on this post
by  Monday, December 12
telling me which  of the above options you completed!
Holidays Around the World is a very popular theme in lower elementary grades.  There are lots of wonderful ideas online, and on Pinterest.   I love the idea of creating a Passport to be stamped as you learn about different countries.  Many people shared how they made a suitcase to collect projects that represent different celebrations.  There are countless great suggestions, and using this clipart would enhance any of those ideas.
I am sharing a book I created that highlights five countries, and includes a couple of pages about each one.  I would use it, not only to teach about the holiday customs, but also to reinforce features of informational texts.  I used to read lots of expository books about different countries and their holiday celebrations, so I thought it would be a good time to reinforce the parts of information books.
I wrote a previous post about how I taught the parts of an information book:  https://dbsenk.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/informational-text/, check it out if you have a chance.
holidays-around-world1
I would use this book along with lots of fun activities that help children get a glimpse of the different customs and celebrations.  I would probably spend a day or two on each country, and have the children do the pages that go along with it.  I would like the children to label things in this booklet that are usually found in informational books.  On this page I would have them label the title and the author – which of course would be their own name.
text-features
I might run off these words on a different color of paper.  Then the children could cut apart the words and glue them next to the text features.  Or I might just have the children label the parts of informational texts by writing on each page.
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I included pictures to help the children make associations with each country, and to help the emergent readers recognize the different countries.  Another great thing about DJ Inkers clipart ‘Holidays Around the World’ is that it includes fun facts about each country that lend themselves to great discussions and simple activities.  I highlighted some of those facts on a page about each country.
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This page features bold text, so I would have the children add that label.  I would also have them color or highlight January 6 on the calendar and talk about how the children have to wait that long to get their gifts!  It goes along with how the Three Kings brought gifts to the Christ Child.
On the day we were learning about Mexico I would bring in a simple pinata, and an artificial poinsettia plant.
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The children could use phonetic spelling to label the stick, pinata and candy.   Then they could also add the word ‘labels’ to show they recognize that text feature.
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It would be so much fun to have the children leave their shoes outside the classroom door and ask a friend to put a small toy or candy into each child’s shoe.  You might include a simple T graph about whether the children’s families have put up a Christmas tree.  You might even have some fun with a good luck pickle.  I might laminate a copy of the pickle and put it on a table of quiet or helpful workers.  Throughout the day you could move the pickle to reinforce good habits.  This page would also be labeled ‘bold print.’
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It would be fun to do lots of gingerbread activities while talking about how it is an important German tradition.  The children could color this page and label the caption.
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I would get out a globe to discuss how Australia is in the middle of summer at Christmas time.  I think the children would love to hear about how Santa might give his reindeer a rest and use kangaroos to pull him around instead.  Again the children would label the bold print.
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The children would label Santa, the surfboard and the waves on this page.
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Here is more bold print, meant to emphasize the important words on the page.  I think the children would love to hear how Scandinavian children hear stories of little gnomes who are supposed to be taking care of farm animals, but get into mischief instead.  They might each create a gnome to take home and add to their own Christmas tree.  It would be fun to bake some buns and have a cup of “glogg,” too.
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The children would label the caption on this page.  I also would make a chart comparing what Scandinavian children put on their Christmas trees and what we usually put on our trees.
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Of course we always need to be sensitive to the customs and traditions of the children in our class.  In this book I was highlighting Christmas traditions, but I always spent time discussing other celebrations like Hanukkah and Kwanza.  ‘Holidays Around the World’ includes great clipart for those holidays too.
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Here is a pdf version of this book.
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As I introduce the customs of each country I would post a picture to help remind the children of our discussion, and also so they could see how to spell the name of each country.
mexico
germany
australia
scandinavia
usa
At the end of our unit I would ask the children to draw and write about which country they would like to visit at Christmas, and I would give them space to explain why.
where-visit
I had so much fun using Holidays Around the World.  Please take the time to check out their website and enter the contest for your own copy!  D.J. Inkers is also having a special sale for the holidays (Dec. 1-12, 2016)!  It’s called 12 Holly Daze Sales, you don’t want to miss it!  Here is a link to their website;  http://www.djinkers.com/ and sign up for their email newsletter at http://goo.gl/8OS0D4  .
Happy Holidays!

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