Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Skill Focus - Sight Words Fishing Game with Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

In Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss, he describes one of the places you may end up as "the Waiting Place" where people are waiting for all sorts of things to happen. He mentions "waiting for the fish to bite." I love fishing and there is often lots of waiting. And then some more waiting. And then hopefully I catch a fish. Here's hoping! Anyway, a fun little fishing game can be played to work on sight words. Here are two ideas:

First, use a spring loaded curtain rod with a short curtain or piece of cloth on it (this set up could also be used for a puppet show, so it's a good and inexpensive investment!). Take a stick or a simple fishing rod from the dollar store (you could even use a real rod and reel, but I know not everyone has those) and attach a paperclip to it. Then print out the fish sight word pages (hereherehere or here) and cut them out. Have your child stand on one side of the curtain and "cast" over the curtain. You can practice waiting or you can just attach one of the fish to the magnet and give a soft tug. Your child reels in his catch and reads his fish. If he reads it correctly, let him keep it. If not, review the word and toss it back (catch and release!). Play until he has all of the fish.

The second way (and what I usually do with kiddos when we are "fishing" in therapy) is I sprinkle the fish on the floor near a sturdy table and let the child sit on the table. This could also be done off the side of a couch. Just make sure to stay near your child for safety. Have your child catch fish by gently swaying the paperclip over the fish until the paperclip lands on one. You can attach the fish to the paperclip. Then the process is the same as aboveYour child reels in his catch and reads his fish. If he reads it correctly, let him keep it. If not, review the word and toss it back (catch and release!). Play until he has all of the fish.

We had a great time playing even though she modified the rules a little! It was catch and release no matter what :) Regardless of how you play, having fun while practicing is the real goal! Sight words help children read faster, improving their comprehension of the text they are reading. Have fun fishing together!

Here is the list of Sight Word Pages:

As a side note, I used the blank fish at the beginning of the documents to work on some speech sounds in therapy yesterday. We fished off the couch and then hid them around the room for a "Finding Nemo" style game! There's lots you can do with these Sight Word Fish!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Skill Focus - Writing ... Create Your Own Letter with On Beyond Zebra

I just can't stop... I really like this book and all of the great reading skills that can be addressed using this book. My plan had been to create one or two posts for each Dr. Seuss book, but this is number 3 and I really could keep going (I have one more in my head, but I think I'll save it for later...). But after this post, I'll move on to another book. The summer is quickly flying by and there are lots of Dr. Seuss books to read!

We had so much fun with this activity. After we read the book for like the 5th time, we decided to make up our own letters. So I created the writing prompt style page (get it here) and got a box of crayons. She went to work, looking through the book to get ideas and then came up with this:

I would encourage older children to write more about their letter's name and the creature it will help spell. Keep in mind the developmentally appropriate writing skills for your child's age. You can see the whole list here. If your child draws the letter small enough, he can draw a picture near it that shows the creature he can now spell. (If this does not make any sense, read the book and you'll understand more about the new letters that help you spell great new creatures!). If there's not room, use the back of the paper.

I knew that she would excel at this activity because she is constantly making up new words and songs and people's names and ... you name it and she likes to make up a new name for it! So, her letter is the "Paxter Wanwi" and it will help her spell the creature "Naninona." Interesting, right? Well, maybe not so much but the act of being creative and putting new thoughts down on paper is a great skill that will lead to better things in the future.

You can see in the image below, that my husband got in on this activity, too. He created a letter called "Waz" to spell the creature "Waz Mataz."

I created the letter "ihs" so I can spell the creature "ihspeech" who repeats only one phrase "I heart speech! I heart speech!" He would be very motivating to have around the house :) You can see this letter at the top of this blog post.

Print out a few copies of this sheet, one for each member of the family. Have fun reading and creating together! Let me know what interesting creatures you can now discover because you, too, did not stop at the Z!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Skill Focus - Reading (and pre-reading) with On Beyond Zebra

This is a great story to work on your child's reading or pre-reading skills. The little ones (4 to 5 year olds) will enjoy the silliness.

If your child is 5 to 6 years old this is a good time to see if he has the basics of how to read a book. Does he hold the book correctly, know where to start reading, go from the top to the bottom of the page? Drag your finger along the words as you read (this and other books) to show your child what you are reading and to continually draw his attention to the text. 

As your child grows older, your 6 to 7 year old should be able to drag his finger as you read the text. This makes reading together, something that you both participate in... you are really doing it together!  This is not a story that most first graders will read fluently, but they can read some of the words. Another way to read this story would be you read a page or a line, then your child reads a page or a line. 

By the time your child is 7 to 8 years old, he should be able to read most of the words in this story with some help on the very Seuss-y words!

Remember what skills your child needs at each age:

Skill Focus - Reading (or pre-reading)
   4-5: sits and listens to books
   5-6:Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
   6-7:Blend separate sounds to form words, Match spoken words with print, Read grade-level material fluently
   7-8: Read grade-level stories, poetry, or dramatic text silently and aloud with fluency; Read spontaneously

Check out the whole list of reading skills here!

This is a short post, so take the extra time to go read with your child! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Memory Games with Rhyming Words from On Beyond Zebra

This is such a cute story about not being like "most people" who "stop with the Z." In the same line of thinking I wanted to try a new way to play memory. We all have played the tradtional version...lay out all of the cards, flip two over and if they go together (match, rhyme, are opposites or whatever you are working on) you keep the set and go again. Well, that version is fine for people who stop at Z, but not me! And not you either. Try this:

Print out one copy of the Rhyming Memory Cards which you can get here. Cut them out and glue to construction paper if you use regular computer paper. If you print on a thicker card stock or right onto construction paper, just cut them out and you'll be fine.

Mix up the cards then lay them out in a grid pattern. We did not use all of the cards because I thought it would be too much for her, but do what you think your child can handle.

Then, the first player flips over 3 cards and reads them. The object is to have all three cards be rhyming words. This is harder than finding just two words. It'll take a little bit longer to play but it was lots of fun! When a player does flip over 3 cards that all rhyme, she gets to keep them! You can decide if she goes again or if the next player goes - house rules :)

Another way to play, would be to take out one of the rhyming words from each set and set them aside. Then lay out the remaining cards. Take the cards that you had set aside and pass them out to the players. The players then are searching only for the rhyming words that go with their rhyming words. It just adds a little twist to the traditional game.

Of course the traditional game is fun, too! If you leave out the third rhyming word and just play memory, you are still working on a bunch of language skills - social skills (game play), rhyming word matching, you could have your child name other words that rhyme once they make a match, following directions, reading, etc...

Be creative and try to think of other memory-style games that you could play. Let your child make up a game and teach you how to play. That could be fun! Do you have any "new" and fun ways to play memory? I'd love to hear about them! Please leave a comment!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Sneetches - Retell a Story

Reading can be so much fun; take you places that you've never been or that don't even exist. But once you've been there you want to remember it. You want to be able to share that experience with others. This part of reading is not only critical to comprehension and success in school, it is a very social skill. It is so important to be able to accurately retell a story you have heard or read.

Think about having someone who has difficulty recalling details, tell about what happened in the last movie they saw. You either have no idea what actually happened or you only get a vague idea and you have to work very hard to complete the story in your own mind. You probably won't be very excited about seeing that movie. Now, think about it in terms of a story. If your child has difficulty remembering the details of the story- the plot, the main characters or the general idea (main idea) of the story- they will be less excited to tell you about it and won't be eager to read it again. 

We want children to be excited about reading and remembering stories so that they are willing and eager to read them again and tell other's about them.

I have created a short exercise that will help you address the reading skill of Retelling a Story. Get it here.

Remember that at each age level, the skill should get more and more detailed!

First, I would start the story with an overview (which means you need to read it over first!). This gives them the main idea right off the bat. Then read the story. You can point out important bits of information as you read. While you are at it, use the words that they'll hear in school. If words like "characters" and "plot" are going to be discussed in school, give them a head start by using those words in your discussion of the story. I would say something like "oh, look a new character!" or "that's an important part of the plot." Exposing your child to these words makes them familiar so they can learn what the plot is or who the new character is, instead of thinking about the concept that is being asked.

Ok, next, when you are finished reading the story ask a few questions. I like to start with main idea type questions. This tells me if the child understands the big picture. If they do not, then you can ask the detail questions and that may help them be able to "get" the main idea. Details from the story are more specific questions where you are looking for a certain answer directly from the story. They can be about events (sequence) or characters.

Finally, since this is a partially a social skill, I would encourage you to have your child try to tell another person about the story in his own words. Maybe tell dad when he gets home or call an Aunt on the phone. See if he is able to stay on topic, tell enough details that the other person can understand the story and tell the story in a logical order.

Make sure you check out the page that describes exactly what your child should be able to do at his or her age! You can see that skill (and other reading skills) here. You can also get a printable version of it here. Don't forget the questions page (here). 

If you have other age children in the house, who are not currently working on retelling a story, I still would like to encourage you to get them involved. Here is my littlest taking part as a Star Bellied Sneetch!

Get the whole family involved with reading! Make it social and something you talk about with each other. Most importantly... have fun!

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