Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss - Following Directions



I'd like to give a big thank you to my friend Rebecca for bringing her girls over to play our Following Directions Sneetches Relay Game! Pshew that is a mouth full! Sounds complicated but it was a ton of fun to play today. This was by far one of the easiest games that I've set up to play, it got the girls running (and therefore tired!) and it was a mini-craft, too.

First, we read the story, The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss while we were enjoying a snack. We discussed all sorts of things during the story including feelings, what it means to pay for something and why we should be nice to others.



Then we colored our very own stars (get the Star Page here) for our bellies and I cut them out while they decorated the "machine" (which was just an old diaper box that I covered in art paper). If you do not have a box or do not want to do that part of it, no problem. This game is very modify-able!


Last we went over the directions: run to the "machine" (box) and find your star. Put it on your tummy and run back. Then give a high-five to the next person in line. They then did all of those steps. When everyone had a star on her tummy, we did the process again but this time when they were at the "machine" they took the star off their tummy!





You could make it more complicated, especially for older kiddos, by making it more of an obstacle course. Jump over the pillow, crawl down the couch, hop to the "machine," etc... When taking off the star, you could have them do the course backwards :)

To find out what level of direction your child should be able to follow check out my Reading Development page here. The Following Directions skill information is on the second page.

Don't forget the Star Page (download a free printable page here)!

Have a great time getting and removing starts! Come back soon (everyone is welcome - star or no star!) for our Roast and Toast!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

If I Ran the Zoo - Skill Focus: Writing




Our reading Skill Focus today is going to be Writing!

Research has shown that while repetitive reading of a story or text is very effective in improving comprehension, joint writing activities are even better! If the writing part is fun then this type of reading comprehension activity won't be a struggle! I have created a simple writing activity that appears to be more of a drawing and creative expression activity than a writing activity. Now, it's supposed to be a joint activity, so make sure you print out one for you too! Get the printable page here!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

If I Ran the Zoo - Skill Focus: Letter-Sound Correspondence



Our first Skill Focus for If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss will be Letter-Sound Correspondence. The research shows that being able to quickly and accurately name letters is a good predictor of later reading success. That's good news since working on letter names (and then letter sounds later) can be a lot of fun! The key is to work at your child's level and then increase the difficulty just a little. Then when he can do that, increase the difficulty just a little more. A good, and fun, way to practice letter names and sounds A LOT is while playing tic-tac-toe.

In the story, the Wild Tick-Tack-Toe creature had a tic-tac-toe board on his stomach! Use a set of letters (here) instead of just X's and O's (although those could be good letters to start with!). You'll also need a Tic-Tac-Toe board (here).

You can see how many letters and sounds your child knows by giving them a little quiz. Not in alphabetical order, show him each of the letters and ask "what letter is this?" After you've done that, you can ask "when your eyes see this (show a letter), what sound do you say?" To play the game, I would start by picking one letter/sound he knows and one he doesn't. For the next game, pick two he doesn't know.





If your child is 4-5, pick a handful of letters to work on over a couple of games. Work on saying the name of the letter. You could even do numbers if you'd like.



If you child is 5-6, pick a handful of letters to work on over a couple of games. Try to pick letters/sounds that he doesn't know. Work on saying the name of the letter and the sound that it represents. For example: S is "ssss" Try not to add an "uh" to the end of your letter sound (suh, fuh, buh, etc...) For some letters it'll be harder to not add the "uh" so make that as short of a sound as possible.


If your child is 6-7, play tic-tac-toe in a boggle-style manner. Use a mixture of letters with each person having a different color. Have him say the words that are created as you put down the letters. If your child cannot sound out words, make sure that your child knows all of the sounds associated with letters. If he does not, keep working on developing that skill.

If your child is 7-8, he should have fully mastered phonics/sound awareness. You can still play tic-tac-toe, but maybe use the 2nd Grade sight words instead of letters. However, if your child has not mastered phonics/sound awareness, this is a fun way to work on developing that skill.


Tic-Tac-Toe is a fun game to play when you are waiting in a restaurant or in line at a store. Use a small board (here) or just draw one out on a napkin or scrap piece of paper. Pick the letters that each of you will use and go for it!

Here are the links for the pages that you'll need to play!
Tic-Tac-Toe Board
Colorful Letters

Where is the most creative place that you've played tic-tac-toe with your child?


Friday, June 7, 2013

If I Ran the Circus - Bonus Reading Activity


It's really important to give children exposure to a variety of texts...poems, lists, stories, scripts, etc. As adults, one thing that we read (or at least should read) is manuals. We got a new hot air popcorn popper and since popcorn and circuses go well together, we pulled it out and learned how to use it together.

This was my first time using a hot air popper so I really did need to read it, but regardless, it was good for my daughter to see me pull it out, open it up and read through it. I gave her some time to turn the pages and see what it was like. Then I had her find page 3 where it told us how to use our new machine (she went to page 3 in the French section... I had to show her where page 3 in the English section was. This is a skill that she needs to know, that manuals have a variety of languages and we need to find the section that is written in our language).





Not only does reading a manual help you know what you need to do (in this case how much popcorn is the right amount for the popper) but it also demonstrates to your child that it's ok to look something up, that's how we learn. Children often times think that parent know everything, and as much as I want her to think I am brilliant, I want her to know what to do when she needs to learn something new.

We had such a great time! We mixed a bunch of different flavors with a little bit of melted butter and then poured it over the hot popped corn. It was soooo good!


Because we had read the manual, we knew that we needed to wait a few minutes for the popcorn to start popping. But it was still confusing to wait! Where was that popped corn?




In case you are interested, we made regular salted, cinnamon/brown sugar, taco and caramel flavored popcorn. All we did was mix each of the ingredients in a little bit of melted butter, then separated out portions of the popped corn and poured the butter mixture over the popcorn. If I had been a little bit more prepared, I would have had her read a recipe with me to expose her to another type of text.



I hope that you can find a new type of text to read with your child. If you need to buy a new device just to read the manual, I recommend a hot air popper - it was great fun! If you need a recipe, check out my pinterest page in the food section I have a couple of popcorn recipes!

Do you have a favorite popcorn recipe? I'd love to try it!





Thursday, June 6, 2013

If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss Sight Word Activities



Today's Skills Focus is Sight Words. These are the words that children need to be able to look at and say immediately without sounding them out. When children can read these words quickly it causes them to move at a good pace through the reading material and doing that improves the changes for good comprehension. Now, we are not going to be speed reading with 4 year olds, but this is an important skill for the successful and fluent reading of age appropriate materials.

We will be using Dr. Seuss' If I Ran the Circus to address Sight Words. A circus theme is so much fun! There are a ton of silly, simple carnival style games that you can play!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reading Development for 4-8 Year Olds


To get this Seussy Summer off on the right foot, I want to make sure you know where we are headed and what to expect along the way. Think of this post as a map for you and your child.


My plan is to pick one Dr. Seuss book and pair it with at least one of the Focus Skills that relates to reading. Plus we'll do other fun activities to make the story more than just a book you read at night. The more activities that you do related to a book, the more your child will be excited about reading.

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