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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Sight Word Activity For Preschool Bird Unit

Mama Bird With Her Word Eggs
Mama Bird With Her Word Eggs

We’re doing an animal unit in our co-op, so I thought I’d share an example of how you can incorporate a book and craft activity into the unit. Preschool and kindergarten kids love doing crafts, and it’s great when you can tie everything together to help them make connections.

Today we focused on birds all day, and we read “An Egg Is Quiet” in class. This is a really nice book I found at the library. It has great information on all types of eggs–bird eggs, reptile eggs (we learned about reptiles last week), insect eggs, fish eggs, and even dinosaur eggs. We learned about dinosaurs in our last school unit!

It’s full of illustrations of different types of eggs, which let us match pictures of eggs with pictures of birds, and some great vocabulary words like “shapely”, “clever”, and “texture”.

Page Full Of Eggs From "An Egg Is Quiet"
Page Full Of Eggs From "An Egg Is Quiet"

After we read the book, we made paper nests to hold “sight word eggs”. On each paper egg, we wrote a sight word on either side. The kids can go through the eggs like they would flash cards, and each time they recognize the word they get to put the egg into the nest. For the nests, we just glued the bottom of the nest onto the paper and left the top open so that the eggs could be placed inside.

As you can tell by the un-named species represented in the first photo, they also have fun coloring the birds. 🙂

Some of the kids in our co-op know many more sight words than others, but that’s ok. Each child gets his/her own set of eggs with the words they are currently working on.

The younger siblings (2 year olds) have been participating in school a lot this year, and they spend time each week making animal letters. For them, we changed the egg/nest activity a little bit. So far they’ve made it up to ‘H’. For them, the game is to match the lowercase letter on the egg with the jumbled capital letter on the page.

Bird Nest for Letter Identification
Bird Nest for Letter Identification
Capital and Lowercase Letter Matching
Capital and Lowercase Letter Matching

 

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Bright Ideas Just For Fun

Chin Bop Syllable Count

Here’s a quick and easy game you can play in the car or around the house.

Learning to count the number of syllables in words they hear and say can help your child learn to “chunk” sounds in a word together when they are reading. A simple way to introduce this concept is to have them make a fist and place it just under their chin. Whenever they say a word, they can count how many times their chin bumps their fist to count the number of syllables in the word.

You can be in charge of keeping a running total of all the syllables they’ve counted, or make it a math/counting game by having them add the syllables in the last word they counted to their total. You can even challenge them to get a “high score” by learning and saying bigger and bigger words to increase their vocabulary.

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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

I Spy With My Little Eye Recycled

Here’s a quick and easy twist on a game your kids already play that can help them work on their phonemic awareness. You are probably all too familiar with I Spy With My Little Eye, where your child guesses which object you see based on the color you tell them. For example, you may say, “I spy with my little eye something…yellow.” And your child will guess all the yellow things she sees until she chooses the banana you were spying.

Try it this way the next time you’re playing–“I spy with my little eye something that begins with the ‘b’ sound.” Now, instead of colors, your child with look for objects that begin with a sound. Recognizing the sound and matching it up with an object is a phonemic awareness exercise. Don’t be afraid to explore other sounds like the ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ sounds.

You can even make it a phonics game by saying, “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter ‘B’.” This will require your child to match up the letter with the sound it makes.

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Lesson Ideas

Blending Phonemes With Your Hands

We’ve been playing a game in our co-op that Pea loves so much she asks to play it by herself as well. She’s a tactile learner, and this game gives her an easy way to visually and physically learn about blending phonemes with her hands. For more information about blending phonemes, you can read our longer article on phonemic awareness.

Here’s the basic idea for blending initial sounds:

  • Hold up your right hand and make the initial sound of the word. For example, if the word you are going to blend is “sat”, you’ll make the ‘s’ sound with your right hand.
  • Next, hold up your left hand and make the sounds for the remainder of the word, ‘-at’ in our example.
  • Finally, bring your two hands together and as you slowly say the whole word, making sure your child gets to hear the initial sound and how it is combined with the remaining sounds.

Once your child gets the idea, you can do the first two steps and let your child do the final step on their own, bringing the sounds together with their own hands to make the word. One key point is to make sure you are using your right hand for the beginning sounds and your left hand for the ending sounds. This drives home the idea that words are formed left to right. Remember, your child is seeing the mirror image of what you see.

You can use this same concept in reverse to isolate final sounds in words too! Just isolate the final sound with your left hand an use your right hand for all of the initial sounds.

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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

What Was Your Favorite Part?

One really easy way to gently coax your child towards reading for comprehension is to ask them a simple question when you finish reading a book to them–“What was your favorite part?”

This works especially well with picture books because it gives them a chance to review the book by turning the pages and finding the one they like best. Once they find their favorite page, ask them what is happening on this page and why it’s their favorite. You can even download and print out coloring story books and let your kids enjoy the activity of coloring their favorite page.

We ask “what was your favorite part” about lots of things–books, movies, outings, and at bedtime (“what was your favorite thing we did today?”). The mental exercise of reviewing and sequencing the events is great, and it’s also a great way to start conversations and encourage them to tell you more about themselves.

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Bright Ideas

Hosting a Kid’s Christmas Party? Include a Book Swap!

If you are hosting or attending a Christmas party geared towards kids this year, consider having them do a book exchange as gifts. You can set a limit on the cost of the books, or even make it a “used only” swap that let’s the kids exchange books they’ve either read the requisite 1,000,000 times or haven’t been that interested in. You can do this with several variations.

For mixed ages, you can do a name draw beforehand and let them exchange books “Secret Santa” style, making sure each child gets an age appropriate book they’ll be interested in. If all the kids are older (i.e. mature enough to handle it) you can even do a White Elephant gift exchange, allowing gifts to be stolen as the game progresses.

If you’re having a party for pre-schoolers, have each child bring a wrapped book to the party and attach letters to the packages with post-it notes as they arrive. When it’s time for the gifts to be opened, let each child draw a letter from a hat and match it to their gift. Opening all of the books at the same time instead of individually may help you avoid some meltdowns since they’ll more than likely be focused on their own book and not on what someone else has.

For a twist, have each child bring two books to the party–one for their friends and another to be donated to a local library, book drive, or other charitable organization.

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Just For Fun

Free Books in Cheerios and Melissa and Doug Toys on Sale

Don’t forget that Cheerios is once again running its Spoonfuls of Stories promotion this year, with free books inside each box.

Also, Amazon is having a one day sale on Melissa and Doug toys, which are some of our favorite learning and educational toys out there. We have a bunch of these on our Wish List! Some of the ones that stand out:

See And Spell, Responsibility Chart, and Alphabet Sound Puzzle.

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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books Just For Fun Lesson Ideas

Activities With “Mouse’s First Snow”

We read “Mouse’s First Snow” yesterday in our co-op as an element of our winter theme, and afterwards we did a couple of activities that tied in with the book.

In the book, Mouse goes outside to play in the snow with his dad and follows his lead as the father does all kinds of outdoor winter activities. We don’t exactly have a winter here in Central Florida, so we had to be a little creative.

First, we let all of the kids have a turn “being” a snow mouse by wrapping them in tissue paper and adding a hat and scarf.

Next the kids built their own snow mice out of marshmallows, raisins, pretzels, and peanut butter. Perfect segue into snack time, where they got to eat their project!

Sometimes you have to use your imagination a little to find ways to tie activities into a book, but the kids don’t mind. They have very active imaginations themselves, and the activities are great for tactile learners and to help them make connections between books and life.

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Bright Ideas Teaching Methods

Modeling Instead of Correcting

Yesterday I was listening to Pea ramble on and on about princesses and all of things that being a princess entails. She was using some of her own Spanglish words in her descriptions,  and I was reminded of something I heard a couple of years ago on an airplane.  The man in the row behind me was traveling with two small kids.  Based on the conversation I could overhear, these kids were obviously very sharp.  One of the kids mentioned that someone had “shutted” the door.  The dad was quick to correct him–“It’s ‘shut’, not ‘shutted’.”

This dad’s heart was in the right place.  He obviously wanted his children to speak correctly, and that’s a good thing. But his method was a little off.  The better response would have been, “Yes, he ‘shut’ the door.”  See the difference?  The second method is called modeling,  where the correct past tense of the word “shut” is demonstrated for the child instead of making a correction of what the child said.

In this case, the kid was actually a lot smarter than the dad realized.  The child is becoming fluent in the English language and has realized that the usual way to make a word past tense is to add the -ed suffix to it.  He incorrectly applied this approach to the word “shut”, but that’s ok.  He just demonstrated that he has a firm grasp on one of the rules of our language.  Modeling the exception for him is a way to positively reinforce one of the many complicated exceptions to the rule without pointing out his error.

Modeling is a strategy commonly used with students who are learning a second language to correct them without making them self-conscious and accidentally discouraging them from continuing to practice.  It only makes sense to do the same thing to help encourage fluency in a small child who is learning his or her first language.

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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books Lesson Ideas

Questions Help Your Young Child Develop Comprehension Skills

There is a big difference between being able to read individual words and being able to comprehend what you read, and this is one of the common issues older readers struggle with. One of the best ways to prevent issues with comprehension is to help your young child develop comprehension skills by asking questions while you’re reading to them.

Relax…we’re not talking about grilling them about plot development or character motivation. After all, “Very Hungry Caterpillar” doesn’t exactly have subplot or a source of conflict. But there are questions you can ask your child as you read it that will encourage them to think about what what the words mean on another level. For example:

  • “The caterpillar in the story likes strawberries. Do you like strawberries?”
  • “Do you think a pickle and a cupcake would taste good if you ate them at the same time?”
  • “Did the caterpillar eat more on Tuesday or Thursday?”
  • “Would it be fun to wrap yourself in a blanket like a caterpillar in a cocoon?”
  • “Why do you think the caterpillar was so hungry?”

Obviously, these are very simple questions–mostly yes/no, and mostly subjective. But they help your child relate to the characters (or animals) in the books you are reading and make connections between the story and their own lives. Try to keep it fun and silly, and if your child needs help with questions that have right and wrong answers give them a little nudge. For instance, if they answer that the caterpillar ate more on Tuesday than Thursday, or if they aren’t sure, help them out by giving them a strategy to find the right answer: “Let’s count and find out!”