Family Puppets – Inspired By WordWorld !

Monday morning used to be our Letter of the Week day but as you may have noticed it’s been missing lately. There is a great reason for that, my son is done , like DONE with these projects. He’s known all his letters for ages and as I preach I also practice following my child’s interests to support his learning. Now we are working on putting letters together, sounding out words as we read and rhyming.  Playing with letters and words in addition to reading is a great way to make learning an experience. Lessons that are fun are more likely to be remembered , connections are stronger and learning is less frustrating.  Sometimes the easiest way to make those fun connections is to use a character,  game, book or in our case a WordWorld ebook as your inspiration. It’s also why most of our crafts are linked to books.

If you aren’t familiar with WordWorld it’s a TV show on PBS that really IS educational. It promotes literacy in a very real way, and for kids like my son who are just starting to make the leap from simple letter recognition to decoding (which is most easily explained as  the process of “sounding out” the word using the letter sounds) it’s super fun to watch because so many of the animations on the show are shaped using their word, so be prepared to hear ” I just read sheep all by myself!”

Did I mention how important confidence is for reading? It’s big.

Ok so here is what we did. Inspired by this ebook we decided to make family word puppets which also uses my son’s absolute love of pretend play.  Instead of using the process of decoding explained above we used encoding (  breaking down the sounds in a word verbally and putting them into print ) to make familiar words we use every day , perfect for his level of mastery.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some family photos, construction paper or card stock, crayons, scissors, tape , sticky back foam letters and popsicle sticks ( tongue depressors would be even better). 
  2. Start by deciding which family members you want to create, make sure the words won’t be too frustrating for your child. Cut those out.
  3. Now decorate the paper however you want with the crayons. We are using crayons and tape with this project so that we are free to play as soon as they are done, if waiting isn’t an issue paint and glue works great too.
  4. Add the letters and photo.I made sure we had all the letters we needed in the pile . Having the letters easy to find ( but not done for him) as soon as he connected the sound to a letter was important to keep his confidence up, fun going and frustration at bay.  If your child is struggling, help by all means this isn’t a test.
  5. Tape on the sticks and pictures.
  6. Make your whole family!
  7. Time for a puppet show. 

I had a blast watching my son’s puppet show, his impressions of our family interactions was eye opening but ultimately heartwarming.

 
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by WordWorld, I also received a DVD free of charge.  The craft concept, educational information, opinions and kids are my own. You can try WordWorld’s  free eBooks and games, and find more information about their iPhone and iPad apps on their website.

Teaching Your Child to Read, Part 1

Guest Post by Jenae from I Can Teach My Child!

This series has been on my mind for a while now. As a former first grade teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions! But because most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old (which is upwards of the targeted age range for my blog), I didn’t want parents to feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (which, by the way, they don’t!). However, the information shared in this series is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not. Don’t implement all of these strategies at once, nor should you expect your child to be able to do everything right away.  It is a process and this information is simply for you to implement when you feel your child is ready.

Read to your child
Teaching your child to read is truly a process that begins at infancy. (No, I am most certainly NOT advocating programs that claim to teach your baby to read using flashcards!) What I AM encouraging you to do is to begin reading with your newborn within days of welcoming her home! Not only is this a special bonding time for the two of you, it instills in her a love for books. Enjoyment while reading is one of the single greatest predictors of reading success in school-age children. If children don’t learn from an early age to enjoy reading, it will most likely hinder their ability sometime down the road.

How much you read to your child is completely up to you and your family, but aim to read at least 3-4 books a day, even while your child is very young. As she gets a little older and can sit for longer stretches of time, make it a family goal to read together for at least 20-minutes each day.

Here are a few suggestions for the types of books to read to your child. But by all means, read whatever your child responds to and enjoys!

  • Birth-1 Year: Lullabies, Board Books (with real pictures), Cloth Books (with various textures), Song Books
  • 1 Year-3 Years: Rhyming Books, Song Books, Short-Story Board Books
  • 3 Years-5 Years: Alphabet Books, Song Books, Picture Books, Rhyming Books

Ask questions
Asking questions while reading to your child is not only great for encouraging your child to interact with the book, but it is also extremely effective in developing his ability to comprehend what he is reading. You see, if our main objective in “reading” is getting our child to “sound out” words, we have missed the boat entirely. Even children who can decode words and “read” with great fluency still might not be able to comprehend what they are reading. If a child can’t comprehend what he is reading, there really is no point to reading at all!

While your child is a baby, ask him questions such as, “Do you see the cat?” while pointing at the picture of the cat. This will not only develop his vocabulary, it will also encourage him to interact with the book that he is reading. As he gets older, ask him to point to things in the book himself and make the noises of the animals he sees.

Once your child is about 2 or 3-years of age, begin asking questions before, during, and after reading the book. Show your child the cover of the book and ask him what he thinks it is going to be about (predicting). While reading, ask him what he thinks is going to happen or why he thinks a character made a particular choice (inferring). If a character is depicting a strong emotion, identify that emotion and ask your child if he has ever felt that way (connecting). At the end of the book, ask if his prediction(s) came true. Afterwards, ask him to tell you what he remembered happening in the book (summarizing).
Modifying each of these techniques during read-alouds to meet the developmental stage of your child is a great way to promote and increase reading comprehension!

Be a good (reading) example
Even if your child is fascinated with books from an early age, her fascination will quickly dwindle if she does not see reading modeled in her home. If you are not an avid reader yourself, make a conscious effort to let your children see you reading for at least a few minutes each day! Read a magazine, a cookbook, a novel, your Bible…it’s up to you! But show your child that reading is something that even adults need to do. If you have a son, share this article with your husband. Sons need to see their fathers read, especially since it is not something that they are naturally prone to doing.

As parents, we can sometimes get wrapped up with what exactly our children should be doing to be successful. But we often forget that children often learn by example. Grab a book and take a load off…for your child’s sake, of course!

The last two parts of this series will be posted over at I Can Teach My Child! in the coming weeks.  Feel free to keep an eye out on Facebook as well!

Readers Corner- Activity Request!

Sight Word Bingo

Sight words are tricky for a lot of kids, since so often we encourage them to sound it out, and take their time, with sight words we want to know them immediately. Here is a fun activity you can do at home to help practice these words! I used this game with a 2nd grader I tutored and it worked like a charm! Oh and yes this is for older children, not toddlers and preschoolers!
  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, a ruler, a marker, scissors, a paper punch or pre punched shapes, and a list of words your child needs to practice. I am using the Dolch Sight Word list for 1st grade.
  2. Using your ruler make a Bingo Board on a plain piece of paper.
  3. Write in the words and don’t forget to have a free space in the middle of the board!
  4. Write the words that are on the board on small pieces of paper , you’ll be drawing them out of a bag/or bowl when it comes time to play.
  5. Using a paper punch , punch out place holders so that you can re sue the board over and over.
  6. You can also use pre cut shapes or characters, these Spider Man shapes came from a large retailer’s birthday party section and work great.
  7. Here are the steps for playing:
  • Start with a bare board.
  • Have your child draw one of the cut out words from a baggy or bowl.
  • Have them tell you what it says, and find it on their board.
  • Pop the marker ( Spider man in this case) on that word.
  • Keep going until they get BINGO!
As you keep playing you will notice they get faster and faster, if there is a word they are having a really hard time with you can always put it on the board more than once to provide additional opportunities to practice it!

Raising Readers – Reading Resources

Early literacy isn’t a unit of study during Kindergarten, early literacy starts when your child is born and you use language to say hello to that tiny little face looking back at you. Sometimes parenting can feel overwhelming so I have brought what I think are some of the very best resources available on the topic of early literacy . It’s never too late to enrich your child and not nearly as hard as it sounds!

This is a fantastic resource, there is all sorts of information about development not just literacy related information. There is a lot on this site so do not try to read it all in one nap time or while watching tv before bed ( I know that’s the only time I have to read! ) , bookmark this one for sure! I love this checklist about everyday learning for babies and toddlers.



Reading is Fundamental

This is a HUGE site with a plethora of information so go slow. There are activities, articles , author Q&A and so much more. I love some of their activities too- they have many that include sensory experiences, and all types of learning! This is exciting to me as an educator because often times learning to read has been stuck in a work sheets and flash card abyss, it’s nice to see we have broken out of that mold for good!

Get Read To Read

This is a good page, but not as easy to find things or read tidbits at a time. They have a fantastic checklist for parents about providing a home environment that will help foster a reader though. Most of this page seems more geared towards the PreK- School age crowd but it is still very useful for parents of toddlers. They have a great resources page too.

Raising Readers

This is a state of Maine initiative but I have posted it because it’s very to the point and reader friendly, which really means it’s short enough that you may be able to read it while your child is awake an ]playing quietly for 4 minutes! There are basic checklists and good lists of what parents can expect their children to be doing at various stages from birth to 5.

Scholastic Parents – Reading Help

Scholastic’s tag line is about making life better by reading everyday. Well they make it easier for parents to find out how to help their kids with the information on this page. There is way more info on Scholastic about reading than this section and I urge you to read through and use their search but I particularly like this section because you can browse by age starting at 0 .

Your Local Library

Please do not forget to go to your local library, I can not stress how fantastic a resource a children’s librarian is!

I hope these sites can be useful for you if not today in the near future, remember kindergarten teachers are magicians, kids start learning how to read the day they are born. We don’t have to push them , we just need to be there to support them!