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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 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!”

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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Weaving Literacy Into Learning Numbers

Here’s a fun way to help your child expand their vocabulary when you aren’t even “working” on reading.

Chick Pea is working on a weekly art project that is geared towards helping her learn the numbers that are multiples of ten. Each week, she gets to glue the appropriate number of objects onto the numbers, counting them out (with Ana’s help when needed). There’s also a corresponding sentence that accompanies each number that describes what’s going on in the picture. These will later be put into a book that she can look through on her own for review.

She loves to do art projects, and it’s really helping her get a concrete idea of amounts of objects. That alone makes this a great activity. But while I was admiring her work last night, Ana pointed out something very interesting about the project that I hadn’t picked up on. Can you see it?

Notice that the words “speedy”  and “fierce” are used to describe the animals in the project. This is important because Chick Pea doesn’t know what these words mean–at least she didn’t before. She knows what “fast” and “angry” mean. Those are words she can naturally understand because they are used so often. And even though she may not make sentences with the new words on a daily basis, just being exposed to them is helping to expand her vocabulary.

Another activity Ana has planned once an entire book is finished is to point out to her that all of the sentences start the same: “I am as…”. Notice how those small words are one line by themselves. This can be used to help her expand her bank of sight words and also introduce the concept of similes.

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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 Lesson Ideas

Animal Letter Crafts

Chick Pea has really been enjoying a weekly craft day that allows us to work on letters and sounds. It’s a great way to not only teach kids the letters and their sounds, but also give them a chance to work on their fine motor skills by placing the animal parts onto the paper. She’s also very proud of the them, and loves to look at them displayed on the wall.

So far, we’ve made it through “I for Iguana”, and the quality seems to be improving every week. The excitement builds up every week because she now knows which letter is coming next and which animal she’s going to be constructing.

Here’s a list of animals you can use, but feel free to come up with your own creative ways to go through the letters with different animals or a different set of objects altogether. TIP–spend 10 or 15 minutes after bed time the night before you plan on doing the craft to prepare everything, cut out the shapes you’ll be using, etc.

  • Alligator
  • Bee
  • Caterpillar
  • Dog/Dragon
  • Elephant
  • Flamingo
  • Giraffe/Gorilla
  • Horse
  • Iguana
  • Jaguar
  • Kangaroo
  • Llama
  • Monkey
  • Nautilus/nest
  • Octopus
  • Penguin
  • Quetzal
  • Rabbit
  • Snake
  • Tiger
  • Unicorn/Umbrella Fish
  • Vampire Bat
  • Walrus
  • Fox
  • Yak
  • Zebra
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Lesson Ideas

Rhyming Down the Alphabet

Last weekend, a friend was telling me how much her three year old loves playing the Good Night Rhymes game. We talked about it as a bedtime game, but they play in the car. She started noticing that her little boy would always make a rhyme that started with the letter ‘L’. So if she says “boy” his response would be “loy”.

As I said in the original post on Good Night Rhymes, made up words are perfectly fine. The point of the game is to work on phonemic awareness. But she was wondering how she could get him to try different sounds. One approach she used was to start the game with a word that starts with an ‘L’ to stump him.

An easy variation on the game is to ask your child to rhyme the starting word using every letter of the alphabet. So if you started the game with “sit”, your child can use an alphabet chart to go down the letters to see what new words they can make. Although it doesn’t matter if the words don’t make sense, try to steer them towards words that “could be” words. For example, when you start with the letter ‘A’ for the word ‘sit’ you end up with “ait”. You can just say something like “That doesn’t sound right, let’s try the next letter. Bit, cit, dit, eit, fit, git, etc.”

This also changes the game from a phonemic awareness exercise to a phonics exercise because you are now asking your child to connect the letter of the alphabet with the sounds they make.

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Lesson Ideas

Guess Who I Am

This engaging activity can be adapted for different ages easily and it can be a great way to get your kids to do some character analyzation (which really helps comprehension).

  1. Choose a character from a book or story you are currently reading or have read with your child. Tell your child that you will be playing a guessing game in which you will give them clues about a character and they will have to guess who it is.
  2. Once the correct character has been named, you can switch turns and have your child make you guess the next one. Having your child pick a character and thinking of clues for himself is where they will really get practice in analyzing character traits and elements of the story.
  • For older kids, this type of game is great for making your child go beyond the superficial details and allowing them to think critically about the characters – especially when you challenge them to make it hard for you!
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Lesson Ideas

Letter Charades

This is a really fun game that lets your kids practice matching objects to letters and sounds. You’ll need some picture cards of various objects (and/or magazine pictures) and a bit of creative imagination. You can play with two players, but the more the merrier!

  1. Choose a target letter to work on (for example: M) and select several pictures of objects that begin with M. Sample pictures can include: monkey, mother, mop, motorcycle, mirror, etc.
  2. Place the pictures in a basket or bag so that they can be chosen randomly without being seen by the other player(s).
  3. Have the first player pick a picture from the bag and act out the object for the other player(s) to guess. Note: I recommend that the parent be the first to choose a picture to act out so that you can model how to play.
  4. Once your child guesses the object, ask them to tell you what sound it starts with. Then ask them if they can tell and show you what letter it starts with. If your child is in the beginning stages of learning their sounds and letters, help them out by telling them this information.
  5. Continue the game and take turns with your child so that they get a chance to act out the pictures for you.
  • You can play a variation of this to practice more than one letter/sound by mixing up pictures that begin with different letters in the bag. Each player has to guess the object and then match it to the correct letter.
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Lesson Ideas

Straight or Curvy?

This is game you can play with early learners to expose them to some concepts of print…in this case letter shapes (even if they don’t know their letters yet). You’ll need some letter magnets or foam letters that your child can use as manipulatives and some containers (small bins, toy boxes, large cups, baskets, or whatever you have on hand that the letters will fit into).

  1. Put some letters out in front of your child on the floor or table. Ask them some questions about how the letters look: Do these letters look different or do they all look the same? What makes them look different? Do any look alike? What makes these look similar?, etc. You want them to be looking at their shape and size.
  2. Ask your child to pick 2-3 letters to look at more closely. Depending on the letters your child picks, you can talk about how the letters are made up of straight lines, curvy lines, or both. Have your child trace the letters they chose with their finger and talk about whether they are made up of curvy lines (for example: S or C), straight lines (A or T), or both (B or R).
  3. If your child understands and shows interest, you can tell them you’re going to play a game where they have to separate the letters by what kind of lines they have. Have three containers ready, each labeled with a picture of the different lines.
  4. Play along with your child as you place the letters in the correct containers!
  • This game can also be used with older kids who are learning to write their letters to help reinforce what types of lines they should use.
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Lesson Ideas

Good Night Rhymes

Here’s a quick and simple game you can play during your bedtime routine with your child that will help them learn to make words rhyme.

  1. Think of a word and tell your child that the two of you will take turns saying a word that rhymes with the given word. These words can be real or make-believe as long as they rhyme!
  2. When you run out of words, ask your child to think of the next word – or save it for another night!

For example: You say “free”, your child can follow with “tree”, and you can come back with “glee”…”flea, tea, me, plea, we, tree, gee, bee, nee, kee, zee, etc.” (the last three words were examples of make-believe words)

  • Kids have a lot of fun with this one because they don’t have to worry about word meaning, they only have to match the ending sound. You can tell them that Dr. Seuss was an expert on making up words that rhyme. Read one of his books that night to help you guys get started with the game.
  • Although this is a good bedtime activity, it can be done anytime and anywhere!