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Friday, January 21, 2011

If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands

Syllables- PreK-Kindergarten Kids

Once children understand that sentences are composed of several words in a certain order and that these words can have multiple sounds within them, it’s time to introduce syllables.  Although technically syllables have no meaning, in contrast to words, they are still extremely important in a child’s literacy development.  If a child can recognize that PENCIL is broken into PEN and CIL, that will help him/her phonetically sound it out later. 

Syllables are an easy one to introduce and practice:
·        Clap your child’s name or other family members’ first and last names.  Demonstrate before having your child copy.
·        Fill a bag with toys, items or pictures that can be easily identified (pencil, spoon, bottle, etc.).  Pull out each object and clap the syllables.  Or, have your child move their hips back and forth each time they hear a new syllable.
·        Give your child motion words (waving, wiggling, clapping, eating, etc.) and demonstrate saying them slowly and broken into syllables like WA-VING.  Have him/her not only say the syllables, but act them out.
·        This activity seems simple, but it fabulous for teaching kids to put sounds together to formulate a word.  Say a 3-4 syllable word extremely slowly.  In fact, put about 5 seconds between each syllable.  See if your child can tell you that word.

I also found this craft online.

Beaded Syllable Name Necklaces

Beaded syllable name necklaces are a fun craft that teach preschoolers about the number of syllables in their own names.
Materials: coloring string, letter beads, other beads
Preparation: Prepare the letter beads for each student by using groups of colored beads for each syllable. For example, the name James contains one syllable so all five letters would be of the same color. The name Oliver, however, contains three syllable so O would be one color, L-I would be a second color, and V-E-R would be a third color.
Instructions: Give each child a piece of string, their name beads, and some other beads. Help each preschooler string their name beads onto the string. Allow the students to add additional beads to decorate their syllable necklaces. Help the children tie their necklaces. Carefully supervise the preschoolers while working with the beads to avoid choking. These beaded syllable name necklaces can be used to facilitate other syllable activities.
Next up… Initial and Final Sounds!

I wanted to break down each part of phonemic awareness so that when I return to giving you great read-alouds with activities, I can list an activity for each step of the process (Listening , Rhyming , Words/Sentences , etc.).  That way, each book can apply to your child!

If you’re looking for a great read-aloud tonight, I just read my kids “Verdi” by Janell Cannon.  A little advanced, but a great message with beautiful illustrations!

I probably won't be around until Monday but happy cuddling and reading in the meantime!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MOO!! CoW (Concept of Word)

Were these posts too easy for your child?
If you have a preschooler or child about to enter Kindergarten, this is the post for you!

One of the first milestones in learning to read is having Concept of Word (also known as CoW).  This means that children can match spoken words to written ones.  Children must understand that spoken words are individual components making up thoughts (sentences).  Here is a YouTube video that shows a little girl taking a Concept of Word test.  The examiner has her memorize the story using pictures before giving her the actual text.  Notice that the adult models how to point to the words before allowing her to try on her own. 

I saw the cutest video in my M.Ed courses where a little boy was supposed to point to the words on a large chart as he recited “Humpty Dumpty.”  He obviously did NOT have concept of word because he was pointing to the end of the entire song when he had only said up to “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.”  I wish I could find that video, but it shows that most kids will move to another word whenever they hear a sound.  Syllables will be an important concept to teach next!

There are several ways you can help your child achieve Concept of Word.  

  • To start, give them a book they’ve read with you before.  This time, allow them to make up sentences to go with the pictures.

  • Let your child choose a sentence from a book.  Write each word of the sentence on a notecard or Post-it.  Read the cards in the correct order several times together.  Next, scramble them up and show your child how to put them back in the right order.  Finally, scramble them and put your child to the test.  Make sure they say each word as they move it into place.  Note that although your child is probably not actually reading the words on the cards yet (or maybe they can), they have memorized the sentence and can associate words spoken with those written!

  • Go on a word hunt throughout a book to find short words (3-4 letters) versus long words (6-7 letters).  Show your child that words vary in length.

  • PALS is a program the University of Virginia developed to assess children’s literacy development in Virginia.  In my public school, we used it at the beginning, middle and end of the year to make sure kids were on the right path.  They have also developed lessons to help teachers achieve their goals for each child.  Here is a CoW lesson I found on their website: 
    • Compose a sentence.
    • Give your child one cube (M&M, lego, toy, etc.) for each word in the sentence and line them up in a straight line.
    • Show your child how to build the sentence by pushing one cube (or item) up each time you hear a word.  Explain that although a word may have more than one syllable, it is still represented by only one cube (or item) in the sentence.
    • Now let him/her try!
Do you have any other suggestions?  What do you find to be the hardest part of teaching or getting your child to read?

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    The Cat in the Hat Sat on a Mat with a Rat


    Was this blog not a good fit for your child?  Typically, our (much) more vocal three, four and five year olds fall into the later categories, depending on their literacy development.  Rhyming is another strategy we tend to overlook when helping our children to read.  Rhyming continues to teach children sensitivity to sound.  It teaches them that words with similar endings sound the same and, when they’re working on writing them later, are spelled the same (sometimes).  Although, it is NOT suggested to have them look at spellings in this stage of the game, especially if rhyming words aren't spelled the same (wool and full).

    I found these great online resources so your child can work on advancing his/her literacy as well as technology skills!

    Rhyme Time BINGO (for more advanced learners- looking at spelling)

    Dr. Seuss is hands-down the king of rhymes.  You can’t go wrong with him.  You can visit HERE to check out the Dr. Seuss website to go along with the books you read.  

    I just stumbled on this one today that I love for January- SNOW 

    Or maybe I'm just hoping for a little ;)

    Here are some hints for when reading rhymes:

    • Whisper the non-rhyming words and yell/scream/say in a funny voice the rhymes.  Get your child to join in when he/she catches on.
    • Point out one word on the page that you see has other rhyming pairs.  Have your child move/dance/give you a hug when he/she hears the rhyming pairs.
    • See if your child can come up with other rhyming words besides the ones in the book.  They can even be made up words!
    • You don't even need a book for this one- Have your child fill in sentences with a rhyming word.  For example, say "A hat fell on a _______." or "We drove in the car to _____."
    • From Phonemic Awareness in Children , play The Ship Is Loaded with... Basically, you say "The ship is loaded with cheese."  Then, your child must say "The ship is loaded with _______ (please, sneeze, etc.)."
    • You can even make your own rhyming book with pictures (or words, depending how advanced).  Search in magazines or newspapers (the comics usually have bright pictures of random items) for rhyming words.  Glue them on construction paper.
    This still too easy for your child?  Stay tuned...

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Calling all NEW moms... or relatively new ones!

    Even though I teach (and LOVE) second grade, I really enjoy doing the more basic activities that have been on this blog for even younger guys.  All the classes I took for my M.Ed in Reading focused on these early learners.  Since I never get to use these particular skills with my budding readers in second grade, I wanted to start this blog so I could... sort of!  I wanted to focus more on how children acquire their reading skills this week.  That way, when I give activities to do with each read-aloud, you’ll have a better picture of which ones apply to your child.

    My Go-To Resource for these activities is Phonemic Awareness in Young Children .  It breaks phonemic awareness into 7 steps: 

    Words and Sentences

    Awareness of Syllables

    Initial and Final Sounds

    Phonemes and

    Letters and Spellings
    Children must master the previous step before moving on.  I wanted to breakdown each one as a reference for you.  That way, no matter what the read-aloud, you’ll know a few good things to try for your child.  Once I’m done describing each part of phonemic awareness, I’ll go back to giving you good books to share!  Promise!
    Listening Comprehension- Age estimate: As soon as your child’s speaking! (Isn't this guy cute?)
    It sounds so simple, but children need to be taught to listen to everyday sounds.  These sounds make up their world, and eventually their literacy world.  Developing a sensitivity to regular sounds will only help children retain that sensitivity later to phonemes (the individual sounds in words) when reading.  

    Ask your child to close his/her eyes and name different sounds they hear.  Go to and type in things like birds, sirens, wind, waves, trains, various animals.  Make sure you screen them first, but see if your child can correctly identify the sounds.
    Once they’ve mastered this, try playing two sounds in a row.  See if they can identify both in the correct order.  Want even more of a challenge?  Play a sequence of several sounds, then leave one out.  Can your child name the missing sound?

    Have your child close his/her eyes again.  Go to a corner of a room, make a sound and return to your child.  Can he/she guess where the noise came from?  You can also hide an alarm clock around the house and see if they can determine its hiding spot!  This really teaches them to listening thoughtfully and develop sensitivity skills.

    Animal sounds- Probably the most popular listening game I’ve noticed.  Have stuffed animals and give your child the sound each makes.  See if they can do it on their own.  Slowly introduce new animals.  Whenever you see these animals in pictures or books, have your child recall the sounds they make rather than read the animal’s name.

    Nonsense words- Practice a familiar story, poem or song with your child.  Once they’ve heard it several times, substitute nonsense words for the real ones in the story.  Can your child guess the nonsense words?  Examples: Baa baa PURPLE sheep, Twinkle, twinkle little CAR, Humpty Dumpty WALL on a SAT, etc.  Dr. Seuss books are wonderful for determining which words are nonsense and which are real.

    Phone is another great game we’re all familiar with that helps with this part of phonemic awareness.  Instead of whispering a sentence or phrase, whisper a word into your child’s ear and have them pass it around to all your family members or friends.  Add more words if he/she proves capable of doing this!
    Again, these seem like common knowledge, but by teaching your child to really listen to everyday sounds, they will be better able to listen to letter and phoneme names later in life, thus making reading a walk in the park :)
    Is your child too advanced for this?  Stay tuned for my next post...

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Sibling Rivalry

    Kevin Henkes does an amazing job describing some emotions and events to which children can relate.  “Julius The Baby of the World” is no different.  Lilly (who also stars in “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”) is about to welcome a new brother into the world.  “Welcome” might be the wrong adjective to use there.  The theme of jealousy is visible throughout a majority of the story.  Her parents “admire his small, black eyes and they stroke his sweet, white fur.”  Lilly sums up her feelings towards him by calling those features “slimy” and “beady.”
    In the end, as most children’s books go, Lilly defends her brother when she hears Cousin Garland utter those same negative words.  I guess Julius is the Baby of the World after all!
    This is a great book to introduce to children who either have, or will be getting, siblings.  Connections can be made with how Lilly feels versus how your child does.  Maybe this book can even solve the age-old sibling rivalry forever?!  Doubtful, but worth a try!
    Make sure to try a few of these out as you read!
    • Children have a difficult time recognizing syllables in words.  This concept is important because it teaches them tracking- or not moving onto the next word whenever they hear a new sound.  Try clapping for each syllable in words.  Let your child point to a word and follow your model of clapping.
    • Children also need to recognize that words have initial and final sounds.  Use the characters’ names in this book to demonstrate.  After telling him/her the initial and final sounds of Julius, Lilly and Garland, play a guessing game.  Say “I’m thinking of someone whose name starts with J and ends with S.”  You can extend this to do with family members.
    • More advanced learners can move onto learning all the phonemes (the actual sounds) in words.  Have your child point out a three letter word from the book (Ex- “can”).  Write each letter on a small scrap of paper.  Model pushing each letter one at a time saying C (push the c)- A (push the a)- N (push the n).  See if your child can do that independently.  If that’s too easy, try some longer words.
    • For the active learner, make hand puppets of the characters once you’ve read the book.  Go back and reread it by acting out the story.
    • This book has some very rich language, as most children’s books do.  More skilled learners can practice drawing from context clues to figure out the meaning of these complex words.  Some of these more challenging words include insulting, admired, ghastly, disgusting, uncooperative, etc.  Have your child predict their meaning by rereading the sentence and looking at the pictures for clues.  This is called using context clues to decode a word.
    I could go on and on with Henkes, but I’ll stop here.  He has MANY other great books to choose from so don’t let your journey stop here!  

    Next week I may switch things up a bit.  I want to break down the different components of learning to read so that you know where your child is functioning.  This will allow you to better choose which activity to use.  This will also give you a broader sense of what you should be doing with your child with any read-aloud.
    Think about where you think your child is on the reading spectrum and check back in next week to see if you’re right!