Hide and Seek With Sight Words

This is an easy game to play with sight words.  It’s exercise and learning combined!  It is a great way to take a movement break in the middle of reading or homework.

1.  Purchase some sight word flashcards….or better yet, make your own.

2.  Scatter the sight words around the room writing side up.

3.  Call out a word and see if your kiddo can run and find it.  Exercise and learning combined!!

Okay, it’s not so much hiding as seeking.  Although you could turn the words face down to add an extra memory challenge.  You could also vary the game by the movement involved.  Call out a word and an action (skip to find the word “you”, crawl to the word “can”).  Have fun with it!

 

 

Making Sentences with Sight Words

What can you do with sight words?  Make sentences! Once a kid learns a few sight words, you mix them around and BOOM he is reading a sentence.  It will blow his mind.  All of a sudden, he is a READER!  Very cool.

(Psst…you will need sight words written on index cards, post-its, or other paper.  I made mine with magnets on the back so they can be used on a fridge or magnetic whiteboard.)

Try out a few of these ideas to make sentences together:

  • You say a sentence out loud and then the kiddo makes it using sight words.
  • Your child makes up a sentence and you make it using a combination of sight words and written words.  He reads it out loud to “check” your work.  Kids love this!
  • Your kid makes a sentence that you have read together in a book.
  • You make a sentence with sight words and without saying anything, see if she can read it.
  • Once you make a sentence, show how you can change words to make a new sentence.  “We can go up” can change to “Dada can go up” or “We can go there.”

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  • Make a sentence and leave a blank that you fill in with crazy words.  Instead of “Mama and I go to the store,” how about the moon? Brainstorm a list of ideas to fit in the blank.

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  •  Teach about the meaning of pronouns by substituting “it” for a noun in the sentence.  Try it with other pronouns that you have introduced as sight words: we, she, he, etc.

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  • Extend the activity: Once you have made a sentence, write it on a piece of paper and your child can illustrate it.  You could even make a whole book that they can read!

How to Display and Organize Sight Words

Having sight words around your house is a great way help beginning (or struggling) readers.  Sight words are easy to make (psst…here’s how I made mine) and you can do lots of learning activities with them.  In a classroom, there is a “word wall” where sight words are displayed so they are easily read/spelled.  Why not try something similar in your home?

How do I display sight words?

  • on the fridge-  This is great because they can easily be reached by little hands and moved around.  However, they end up jumbled and might be difficult to find.
  • on a traditional “word wall” in their bedroom or a common room-  Easy to see, but not easy to reach and manipulate (and maybe that’s a good thing?)
  • on a large whiteboard- It’s movable and you can write on it!
  • easel- This is another movable option that doesn’t take up wall space.

How do you organize the sight words?

  • alphabetically- Teachers usually organize their sight words alphabetically.  It’s easy to find words if you know the first letter and it’s a good way to practice ABC order.
  • number of letters- Kids can practice counting while they rearrange words in a different way.
  • tall, small, fall letters- Some letters are tall (t, b, l) some fall below the line (g, p, y) and some are small (m, o, a).  Organize the words into groups according to their shapes.
  • words they know/don’t know-  Just like flashcards, split into two groups of words they can easily read and words they are still working on.  Then watch the “know” group grow!
  • any group that makes sense- Experiment with different groupings.  Rearranging sight words means your kiddo is reading, thinking, and organizing words.  All good things!

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(Common Core kindergarten standard: Read common high-frequency words by sight )

Making Sight Words

My oldest daughter is interested in learning to read.  While I think the most important thing I can do is simply have lots of books around the house and READ, READ, READ to her…the teacher in me can’t help but do some other learning activities with her, too.  So one day while she was busy with markers, I made some sight words.

How did I choose the words?  Well, I looked at the pre-primer Dolch list.  You can also get a list from your child’s teacher, or be your own Mr. Dolch and just write down a few words that you see over and over in kid books.

How did I make the words?  I wrote with a black marker on lined paper, cut it out, then glued it onto colored construction paper and cut it out again.  (Hello, my name is Megan and I love scissors.)  I used bright construction paper so that it was easy to see the “shape” of the word.  This is a big help to visual learners.  Then I stuck a magnet on the back.  Everything is better with a magnet.

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Now what?  Now the fun begins!  Usually about once a week (or whenever my daughter asks me) I introduce a new sight word.  We read a book that uses the word a lot.  I show her the word I made.  We spell it.  Maybe she will write it.  There are a bajillion activities you can do with sight words.  I’ll share some in a post, I promise!  One idea is using the sight word in a sentence from the book.  Bonus: the words stick to the magnetic whiteboard!

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We keep the sight words (that we have introduced) on the fridge.  My kids see them and play with them every day.  We refer to the sight words when we read.  “Oh, U-P.  You learned that word.  Do you remember it?”  Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes no.  That’s okay.  Keep it light and fun.  After all, I don’t want to do too much sight word work…then it would be like (gasp!) school.

(Common Core kindergarten standard: Read common high-frequency words by sight )

Learning With Dishes

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Ah, my least favorite chore.  But that’s why we had kids, right?  To do all the chores we hate.  No?  Well, at least get them to help out a little.  I say as soon as kids can stand up, they can help with the dishes.  Toddlers can hand you forks out of the dishwasher (and in fact they love doing it!) and preschoolers can sort silverware.  Elementary age kids are capable of rinsing and loading the dishwasher on their own.  Here’s a tip I learned from other moms: store kid dishes in low cabinets or drawers.  Then it is easy for kids to unload dishes and also get plates/silverware for setting the table.

Doing the dishes is a life skill, so the earlier the better!  Plus any family chore teaches them about responsibility, which in turn builds their self-esteem.  Letting kids handle age-appropriate tasks and praising them for success will increase their confidence.  Finally, getting everyone involved in the after dinner clean-up creates a sense of teamwork and “we’re all in this together” attitude that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  All that from doing the dishes?  Yeah.  Or at least that’s how I’m selling it to my kids.

Choose one or two of these ideas the next time you want to force your kids to do your chores teach your kids while doing the dishes.  Okay, the job might take a little longer…but it will be more fun!

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Use a step stool so they are able to stand in front of the sink.  Let them explore the different textures of water, soap, brushes and sponges.
  • Build motor skills by scrubbing plates.
  • Increase vocabulary by naming the objects you wash.  Use lots of adjectives like the big, red, round plate.
  • Rinse cups by filling them up with water and dumping it into a larger container.  Talk about capacity.  How many little cups of water will it take to fill up the big bowl?  Estimate and check.
  • Try to guess objects in a bubbly sink by touch instead of sight.  Um, don’t play this with knives. 🙂
  • Count objects as they are washed.  You can start counting and see if they can pick up where you left off.  (kindergarten- Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1)
  • Compare the number of objects you are washing.  Do we have more plates or cups to wash?   (kindergarten- Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies)

Elementary

  • Play “I’m thinking of something in the kitchen.”  Once you have something in mind, the other player asks you yes or no questions to identify it.
  • Be silly and make up a story involving the dishes.  What would happen if the dish ran away spoon?  Who would come to its rescue?
  • Ask math problems related to the dishes.  We put away seven spoons and nine forks.  How many utensils is that in all?  (first grade and second grade- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Try more difficult problems on older kids.  If there are five people in our family and each meal we use a fork and a spoon.  How many forks and spoons will we need to wash at the end of the day?  (third grade- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Time the task.  Ask your kiddo to tell the time before you start unloading the dishwasher and then again when you are finished.  How long did it take?  (second grade- Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes)
  • Use the opportunity just to talk about their day or school.

Learning With Dinosaurs

What can you do with all those dinosaur figurines besides, you know, play dinosaurs?  I can only take so many “roars” before I’m ready to switch it up.   Next time you are forced into prehistoric play, pick one of these ideas to add into your game:

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Order the dinosaur toys from smallest to largest
  • Pick out dinosaurs to be in two groups (whichever dinos you want).  Which group has more?    (kindergarten- Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies)
  • Categorize dinosaurs by an attribute and put them into groups.  Some examples are meat eaters vs. plant eaters, number of legs, color, or size.  (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
  • Make a graph of your categories.  (first grade- Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another)
  • Do some math problems while playing dinosaurs.  There are three dinosaurs at the pond and then two more join them.  How many dinosaurs play in the pond together?  Or if your preschooler has some bloodlust…. How many dinosaurs are left after a T Rex eats two?  (kindergarten- Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem)
  • Identify the names of your dino figurines by looking them up in a book.

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  • Draw a picture using a dinosaur figurine as the model.
  • Use the toy dinos to act out a dinosaur book that you have read together.  Or maybe use them to act out the Three Little Pigs.  Hilarious.
  • Play “Hide the T Rex.”  One person hides the dinosaur while the other close their eyes or face a wall.  Give clues if no one can find T Rex.
  • Measure the length of dinosaur toys (second grade- Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes)
  • Make a dinosaur “sculpture” by piling up dinos.  Estimate how tall it is, then measure to see if you were right.  (second grade- Estimate lengths using units of inches, feet, centimeters, and meters)

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  • After you are finished playing dinosaurs, write or draw pictures of what happened.  (kindergarten- Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened) (first grade- Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure )
  • Hide small dinosaur figurines in play-dough (or larger ones in a sandbox).  Then pretend you are a palentologist and dig them out!
  • Discuss imprint fossils and then make dinosaur imprints in play-dough.
  • Paint the dinosaurs’ feet (with washable paint) and make dino tracks on white paper.
  • Talk about how we don’t really know the colors of the dinosaurs.  Then paint them whatever colors you want with washable paint.

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Berenstain Bears: Old Hat New Hat Activities

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One of the best things about being a parent is rereading all the books you loved as a kid.  Some of your childhood favorites are completely forgotten until you randomly come across them again while looking for books for you own kid.  I was so happy when I stumbled on Old Hat New Hat.  I LOVED this book.  I remember looking at all the different hats and picking out my favorites.  I was a big Berenstain Bear fan, but Old Hat New Hat does not feature the Bear family.  Instead it is about a bear going to hat store to replace his worn out hat.  However, he finds something wrong with all of the new hats.  The story is told through very few words so it is a great book for the toddler/preschooler attention span or beginning readers (it’s a first grade reading level).

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Here are some ideas try when you read it:

  • Practice sight words– Pick out one word that is repeated throughout the book (hat, new, too) and see if your kiddo can point them out on the page.  Then practice putting the word together with letter blocks.
  • Opposites– Make a list of all the opposites listed in the book.  (kindergarten- Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites)
  • Too, to, two–  Talk about the different meanings and spellings of “too” and how it is used in the story.
  • Retell the story–  After reading the book, ask your kiddo to retell the story.  It is different from some books because most of the action happens in the pictures, not the words.  (first grade- Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson)
  • Adjectives– Tell them words that describe something are called adjectives.  Identify adjectives in the story.  Look at one of the hats.  What other adjectives could be used to describe it?
  • Touch scavenger hunt– Stop after reading a page and touch things around the room that match the adjectives in the book (bumpy, scratchy, wrinkly, etc.)  This gives kids real-life experience with the words and gets a few wiggles out, too!
  • Ask questions– After you read, ask your kiddo some questions that relate to the story.  Which one was her favorite hat and why?  Why do you think the bear chose the old hat?  Why do you think the salesman looked mad?
  • Make a hat– Decorate an old hat with left-over craft supplies like ribbon, felt, or pom poms.
  • Draw a hat– Draw and color lots of different hats to fit a certain adjective.

Learning Activities with Acorns

Kids love going on walks and picking up things from nature.  But what do you with your “nature pile” (as Big Sis calls it)?  On our most recent outing, the girls got obsessed with collecting acorns.  Choose one or two activities to make acorn collecting a teachable moment!

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Count the acorns.  (kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)
  • Cut the acorn open and see what is inside.  Science!
  • Glue acorns on paper and make some art with crayons or markers.IMG_7423
  • Try using chopsticks to pick up acorns and put them in a bowl.  Tie the chopsticks together with a rubber band at one end to make it easier.  This improves fine motor skills for writing because holding chopsticks takes the same grip as holding a pencil.
  • Compare numbers by making two groups of acorns.  Have your child guess which one has more acorns.  Then count to see if he was right.
  • Write numbers on the flat surface of acorns without hats.  You do this, not the kids…well unless you have preschoolers with very advanced fine motor skills! 🙂  Mix up the acorns and have your kiddo line up the numbers in order. (kindergarten- Know the number names and count sequence)IMG_7428
  • Play a game with the number acorns.  Put them in a container.  Take turns drawing one out, reading the number, and making up a movement to do that number of times.  For example: Clap five times.  Jump eight times.
  • Write the letters of your child’s name on acorns without hats.  See if she can put the letters in order to spell her name.
  • Make a letter with acorns.  Write a large block letter on a piece of paper.  Then ask your kiddo to line up acorns to fill in the letter.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet)

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Elementary

  • Paint with the acorn.  Dip it in paint and make some dots.  Bonus points if you show them pictures of Aboriginal dot paintings for inspiration.
  • Make acorn art by gluing it on a paper.  Fold the paper in half and make a symmetrical design.
  • Put the acorns into equal groups and skip count by twos, fives, or tens.  (second grade- Work with equal groups to gain foundations for multiplication)
  • Tell some math story problems using acorns.  Kids learn best when they are able to see and count the objects. For example, “You picked up 8 acorns and I picked up 6 acorns.  How many do we have in all?”  (first and second grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
  • Use acorns as a unit of measurement.  How many acorns will fit across a paper?  How many acorns long is a pencil?  (first grade- Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units)
  • Take a large group of acorns (maybe 40?) and have your child divide it into two equal groups, then three, four, and so on.  Talk about when you can’t make equal groups.  (third grade- Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division)
  • Make words with acorns.  Have your child write a sight word so large it fits across a paper.  Then cover the lines with acorns.
  • Spell with acorns.  Write letters on the flat surface of acorns without hats.  Kids might be able to do this by themselves.  Then arrange acorns to practice spelling words or other sight words.

Before You Read

Pre-reading activities help kids better understand their reading.  Model how good readers make predictions, connections, and ask questions even before opening the book.  As your child gets older, do less talking and more asking.  Choose one or two of these ideas to try the next time you are reading a book together.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Read the title, author, and illustrator out loud.   Talk about the jobs of author and illustrator.  (kindergarten- With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the stor.)
  • Make connections to other stories by the same author or illustrator- “Oh, Eric Carle.  I remember he wrote and illustrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
  • Titles written in large fonts are perfect for pointing out letters.  Go on a letter hunt for a few letters before you begin reading.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet )
  • Take a close look at the pictures on the cover.  Make predictions by thinking out loud- “I see a picture of a car.  Maybe this book is about a car race.  What do you think?”  (kindergarten- With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear)
  • Compare the title and the pictures.  Think out loud- “The title is Freddy is Lost and there is a picture of a dog.  I think the dog is named Freddy.”
  • Make a connection between the book and your child- “This book is about airplanes.  Remember when we rode on an airplane ride to visit Grandma?”

Elementary

  • Talk about the parts of a book and see if your child can identify the title page, dedication, and even copyright information.  (kindergarten- Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book)
  • See if your child can read the title by himself.  (grades K-5- Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words)
  • Ask if she remembers any other books by the same author/illustrator.
  • Ask him if the book is a fiction or non-fiction book.  How can he tell?  (grade 1- Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types)
  • It if is a non-fiction book, ask “What do you already know about (insert subject matter here)?
  • Ask your child to write down a prediction about the book based on the cover.   What is it about?  Where does it take place?  What characters will be in it?  When you are finished reading see if the predictions were right!

Have fun reading together!

Learning Letters

When do you start teaching your child letters?   Ideally, whenever they show an interest.  Our oldest daughter would hold up magnetic letters and ask “Wat dis?”  But even if you don’t get a clear sign that your child is ready, go ahead and expose them to the alphabet.  Most children will start recognizing a few letters around the age 2-3.

“Expose” sounds dirty.  What do you mean?  Surround them with letters.  We have magnetic letters on the fridge, foam letters in the bathtub, letter puzzles on the toy shelf, letter stickers in the art cabinet, and a letter mat on the floor.  And of course the best way to see lots of letters is by reading!  There are lots of good alphabet books out there.  One of our family favorites is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Okay, we have some letter toys.  Now what?  Just play with the stuff and casually point out letters.  I’d start with the first letter of your child’s name.  Then “M” for Mom, “D” for Dad, and the first letter of sibling names.  Once they are comfortable with those letters, then go back and introduce the other letters in your child’s name.  Use all capital letters at first for consistency.

What about alphabet flashcards?  Keep it fun and leave the letter flashcards in the box.  Unless you want to play a game with them (see below).

I’m bored pointing out letters.  What else can I do?  So glad you asked….

  • Sort letters into groups and see if your child can guess the groupings. Or have them do their own groupings.  Some ideas: capital/lower case, letters with curves/straight letters, letters in their name/not in their name, etc.
  • Go on a letter hunt at a store.  Count all the letter “T”s you can find on signs or products.
  • Trace around one of the letters and let your child decorate it.
  • Take alphabet flashcards and place them on things around the house that begin with that letter.
  • Play Go Fish with alphabet flashcards.  Match up a capital and a lower case letter to form a pair. (hint: If you want a shorter game, only play with half of the alphabet at a time)
  • Write the letters really big with chalk and let your child walk the lines.
  • Arrange objects into letter shapes.  Blocks work great for this.
  • Write out the alphabet and sing the ABC song as you point to them.  Or write them with chalk outside and hop on them.
  • Help your child make his body into a letter shape.  Take his picture so he can see it!
  • Play a find-it game while looking at your letter toys.  “I see a letter that looks like a circle.  Can you find it?”  “Can you find all the letters have lines across the top?”
  • “Write” letters on their back with your finger and see if they can guess the letter.
  • Stash letter toys or flashcards around the house and have your kiddos go on a letter hunt instead of an Easter egg hunt.
  • Put a letter toy in a container.  Have your child reach in and feel the letter without seeing it.  See if she can guess what she is holding.
  • If they are good with scissors, they can cut (big) letters out of magazines.

Remember recognizing and WRITING letters are two different skills.  Identifying letters comes months or years before being able to write the letters.

Common Core Standard:  (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet)