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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Sight Word Shuttle Runs

I went downstairs for a cup of coffee this morning and saw Ana playing a new game with Pea. This one combines sight words with fitness (i.e. “energy release”). How lucky are we that she’s able to make up stuff like this on the spot?!?!

Pea is a very “high energy” kid. Sometimes when she’s really revved up we go out in the yard and do shuttle runs to help her release some tension and empty the tank. You may have done shuttle runs if you ever played basketball, soccer, rugby, etc. The basic concept is that you run to one point, touch the ground, run back to the starting point, touch the ground, and repeat until you are gassed. We don’t make her do this–she loves it on her own.

The game Ana came up with today was to put several slips of paper with sight words (“and”, “or”, “the”, “she”, etc.) written on them into a hat. That’s the starting point. The game is to take a word out of the hat and read it by sight, not by sounding it out. When she reads the word correctly, she gets to run all the way down the hallway to pick up an item out of a bucket. Use whatever motivates your child–marshmallows, pennies, small toys–for them to retrieve and bring back.

I could not believe how much she loved this game. The best part is that it’s very easy to add more and more words to change the difficulty level. And for a bonus, Bug was following her the whole time. She loved chasing her sister up and down the hall and repeating the words!

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Just For Fun

Oh Yeah, This Is Fun Too

The other night I was reading the girls a book at bedtime, and I picked up on something I think may be really important to our girls learning to read. Now, we seem to always be on the lookout for “teachable moments” around here. Sometimes that means stopping to ask questions about the book we’re reading or pointing out some aspect of the book that ties in with something else we’ve been working on. We’re lucky that they usually lead us into this , so it’s not as if we’re forcing them into it. In fact, we never push anything on them if they don’t seem interested because we want them to enjoy the learning as much as we enjoy the teaching.

But this time something weird was going on. Chick Pea wasn’t stopping me on every page to ask questions about the story, and Bug wasn’t grabbing at the book or pointing at the pages while yelling out made-up words. They were both sitting quietly, listening to the story. They were engrossed. So I went with it.

I realized later that I wasn’t actually missing out on a teachable moment. I was taking advantage of one.

The lesson I was teaching them is that reading is an enjoyable and fun thing to do! We don’t always have to have a measurable objective every time we pick up a book.  Sometimes (most of time?) the best part of reading is getting so into the story that you lose yourself in it. If we can one day establish a love of reading independently in our kids, just imagine the gains they’ll be able to make in fluency and vocabulary on their own, not to mention all the other things they’ll be able to learn about.

We have to keep our long-term goal in mine: give them the tools that allow them to read to learn.

Loving to read is a pretty powerful tool.

Categories
Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Word Group Hunt

Chick Pea loves to play hide and seek, so we made up a fun game to help her with her word groups. Right now we’re working with the “-at” words (cat, hat, mat, rat, etc.). The game is pretty easy–make up cards with the words on them and put them in various places around the house. Next, we go to “base” and look at a group of pictures that represent the various words. For each picture, we send her off “hunting” for the word that goes with the picture.

The words don’t really need to be hidden. In fact, it’s probably better if they can see the several different words as they are looking for a single word, just to become familiar with the differences. It’s also a memory exercise since they can spot words they aren’t looking find them quickly when the appropriate picture shows up.

If you have a group of kids, you can make it a contest–send them all out hunting and see who can find a word first. It’s a great game for outdoors as well!

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Bright Ideas

Reading Kits Help Comprehension

Reading Kits are something really cool and easy that you can make for your kids. Even if your kids are good readers, these kits can really enhance your literacy instruction while making it lots of fun for your child! They can be used to boost vocabulary instruction, make note of clues during reading, help kids visualize things, and much more!

Reading Kits can include:

  • highlighters and highlighting tape
  • sticky notes
  • bookmarks
  • color markers
  • pens and pencils
  • index cards

Here are some quick ideas on how to use the reading kits:

  • Color Coded Highlighters can be used  by your child to highlight  words they don’t know or interesting passages that he/she likes. You can use a different color to go through and highlight vocab words you want your child to focus on, interesting characters, or sections of a chapter book that you’d like to discuss later. You can also do this with colored sticky notes if you don’t want to write in the book.
  • Sticky Notes can be used by your child to write questions or thoughts about what they are reading. These can be used for discussion later. You can use them to write down your own questions or pointers that you want your child to think about while they read certain sections of a book – just write them ahead of time and place them on the pages throughout the book.
  • Index Cards have lots of uses! Have your child write short sentences, phrases, or even pictures on the cards to summarize a paragraph or page. You can assign sections of a book for your child to write retells or reactions to something in the story (an event, character analyzation, a prediction, etc.).
  • Time Lines can also be made using index cards and sticky notes. Have your child make a time line of the events in a story/book (either with words or pictures or both). This really helps them with the comprehension skill of sequencing!

Reading Kits are really easy to put together, yet they can really make a difference in the way your child understands a book or text. Plus, they love to have their little “tools” while reading their book!

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Curricula and Books Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

September Giveaway and More For October!

First of all, thanks to everyone who participated in our August giveaway by subscribing to Reading Coach Online! We’ve randomly chosen and notified our winner for the Abunga
gift card (Congratulations!), and we’re even doing another Gift Card Giveaway in September to give everyone else another chance to win.  Don’t worry, September’s giveaway is open to our current subscribers as well as new subscribers.  If you’ve already subscribed you are eligible, and if you haven’t subscribed yet, what are you waiting for?

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to browse through our Lesson Ideas and have found activities that are both fun and educational for your children.  We encourage you to not only try these ideas, but also leave comments and let us know how they’ve worked for your family (including any tweaks and variations you come up with).

We have a big contest planned for October, and all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on one of our Lesson Ideas or write a blog post linking to your favorite lesson idea. We’re lining up prizes right now, and we’ll release prize details as soon as they are finalized. I just wanted to give you all a heads up on the October contest so that you have time to try out some of the lesson ideas if you decide to join in on the fun. So stayed tuned for more details!

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Curricula and Books Just For Fun

You Still Have Time…

To win a $20 gift card to Abunga.com for this month’s Back To School or Home School Giveaway. We’ll be drawing a random name from our email subscribers on September 1st, so go ahead and subscribe today!

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Curricula and Books Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Back To School, Or Homeschool, Giveaway

Summer is flying by, and people are no doubt getting geared up for back to school. Whether your kids go to public school, private school, or homeschool, we want to help you get this year started on the right foot by giving away a $20 Abunga.com Gift Card to one of our new subscribers this August. To be eligible, all you have to do is subscribe to our site through email (it’s free) using the form below. That’s it!

Enter your email address:

Seriously, that’s it! Only email subscribers are eligible, but if you’ve already subscribed in a feed reader you can always subscribe by email too. As long as you subscribe before midnight on August 31, you will be included in the random drawing.

If you don’t know about Abunga, it’s a family friendly, online discount bookstore that gives 5% of its revenues to non-profits.

Thanks, and good luck!

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Articles Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Digital ABCs — Lesson Idea #1

Over the weekend we were visiting some friends who have a three year old, and we were talking about activities parents can do with kids his age to prepare them to be successful readers. One of the ideas we came up with was to go on a walk or hike with a digital camera. The mission/game in this activity is to get the child to take as many photos as they can of things that begin with a certain sound (phoneme). The game can be played a different way for more advanced kids, who you can ask to take photos of things that begin with a certain letter.

In the first game we’re working on phonemic awareness, so if we’re trying to find things that start with the /f/ sound, a phone booth is a great photo. In the second game we’re working on phonics (connecting sounds with letters), so the phone booth becomes tricky. It would be a great photo if we’re looking for things that begin with the letter “p”, but not if we’re looking for things that begin with the letter “f”.

You can even make this a math activity by having the kids count the photos, add the correct and incorrect answers together, subtract incorrect from correct, etc.