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Bright Ideas Just For Fun

Technology Class Failure. But…

We started school officially today, and Ana charged me with doing a technology session for Pea. I had this grand idea of having her come up with a 6 paneled comic strip that she could create with this cool and simple comic generator I found. Um…yeah…I still forget sometimes that I’m working with a 5 year old attention span. We spent about 15 minutes on that. While it’s a really cool (and free) tool, it takes too long for kids that age to get any results for their efforts.

Lesson learned.

But I was able to salvage our time by doing something that was really easy, entertaining, and hilarious. Why not start with helping her get familiar with a computer keyboard, right? And what if we could work in some sight word exercises, vocabulary expansion, and foreign language practice too? Pea’s Spanish has been suffering lately. She understands fine, but refuses to speak. I think I may have stumbled onto something that will help with that though.

Silly Sentences and Google Translate

 

I wrote some silly sentences on paper, then Pea typed them into Google Translate. She tried to read all the sentences, and she could get most of the words, but I made it just hard enough that she couldn’t read it on her own and was so ridiculous that she wouldn’t get the joke until she listed to it. She loved hearing the silly sentences in Spanish and actually ran to repeat them to Ana. She actually chose to speak Spanish.

Now the challenge is to keep coming up with silly sentences and working the same words over and over until she can read them on her own. She’s already pretty good at finding the letters on the keyboard, but it’s good practice!

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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Pop For Sight Words Game Option

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One of the best literacy gifts Pea got for Christmas this year was the Pop For Sight Words game. It’s a pretty simple toy–a popcorn box filled with sight words printed onto little cardboard pieces of popcorn. There are also some instructions included on how to play the “official” game, but we haven’t played it that way yet. Instead, we’ve made up a bunch of different games we can play with the pieces of popcorn.


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Pea’s favorite way of playing right now pits her against us. She picks a word and tries to read it (preferably by sight, but we’ll let her try to sound it out). If she can read it within three seconds, she gets to keep it in her stack. If she can’t we get the piece. One important action to take here is to not just read the word and put it in your own stack. Make sure you show your child the word as you say it. Remember, we’re working on sight words here, so it really drives it home for them to see the word and hear it at the same time. The good thing about the words included with the kit is that many of them are really hard to sound out (“when”, “where”, etc.), so it really emphasizes sight word learning.

We play until we have 10 words in our pile–these are words that she could not read. Then we give her an opportunity to “steal”. We show her every word in our stack, and if she can read it she gets to steal it to her pile. Another option would be to wait until we’ve gone through all the words and give her only one chance to steal, and we may change to that option later. But by having a “steal” round every 10 words it gives her a chance to see and hear the words she’s having trouble with several times throughout the game.

At the end of the game, she gets to count all of the words in her pile (not a bad math activity either), and we keep a running score of how many words she’s able to read. We’ve seen some really good improvement, and we’ve noticed that the more often we play the game the more quickly her score rises. Repetition!

Note: the packaging makes this game very convenient and fun for the kids, but there’s no reason to purchase it necessarily. You could make your own sight word cards yourself. We’ll probably end up doing this ourselves in order to expand the number of words involved.

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Bright Ideas Just For Fun Lesson Ideas

Sight Word Shuttle Runs…In Reverse!

A while back, Ana made up a fun game we call Sight Word Shuttle Runs that not only helps the kids with learning new sight words, but also lets them burn up some energy. We just realized at dinner last night that we can play the game in reverse too.

The original game was to have the child look at a word, read it correctly, then run to a designated spot to pick up pennies, toy soldiers, stickers, or whatever else motivates your child.

The reverse game is to say the word to the child, then have them run to the designated spot to find the correct word written on an index card with a bunch of other words written on cards. If they bring back the right word, they get the motivational item to add to their pile. If not, they take the card back and try again.

Yet another fun twist to help build vocabulary is to begin a sentence and leave off the last word, having them run and pick out the word that makes the most sense to complete the sentence.

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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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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!