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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 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 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

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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Lesson Ideas

Vocabulary Retells

This simple activity will do wonders for your child’s oral vocabulary (which is important to build so that their reading vocabularies can grow) while working on their comprehension at the same time! You can do this with kids of all ages that can listen to and discuss a book or story.

  1. Prior to reading a book to your child, try to notice words that represent an easy concept for your child that you can replace with a harder, more mature word (this is really easy to do with adjectives). Choose about 3-5 words that you will focus on along with their “big word” synonym.
  2. Read the book as it is with/to your child. Either during or after the reading (while you’re discussing parts of the book with your child), talk about and show them how you can say certain things in a different way. For example: If a character in a book was really hungry, you can say they were famished during your discussion of the story. Talk about how the new word tells the same story, but makes it a bit more interesting!
  3. Here are some other examples of common words and their “big word” synonyms:

yummy: scrumptious

silly: frivolous

friend: acquaintance

These synonyms are examples of Tier Two Words – read more about the importance of these words.

  • You’ll find that the more you do this while you read (or just in conversations with your child) the more they’ll start to use these new words on their own!
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Lesson Ideas

The Beginning of the End–Lesson Idea #36

This is another fun game you can play in a group or as a family in the car. Even mom and dad will be challenged with this phonemic awareness excercise.

The rules of the game are pretty simple–each person, in turn, says a word that begins with the same sound the previous person’s word ended with. Note that it is not the last letter of the previous word that matters, but the sound that is important. For instance, if mom starts off with the word “steak”, the next player must say a word that begins the /k/ sound–‘cake’, ‘climb’, and ‘kindergarten’ are all acceptable.

A variation of this game is to use words from a common category, for example “names for boys” or “things you eat”. This is also a great activity for older kids where the focus would be on building vocabulary rather then phonemic awareness.

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Lesson Ideas

I Say, You Say… Lesson Idea # 35

Here’s an entertaining way to get your kids thinking about and using synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to build your child’s vocabulary because it’s easy for them to learn new words that match a concept they’re already familiar with. Here’s how to play this easy game:

  1. Start off by telling your child that you’re going to say a word and they have to think of another word that means the same thing. You can start off with easy words till they get the hang of it, and then go on to use some harder words.
  2. Sample conversations:

Parent: “I say mad, you say…”

Child: “angry”

Parent: “I say huge, you say…”

Child: “enormous”

  • You can swap roles and have your child start off by choosing the first word for you to respond to with a match. This will give you the chance to model the use of bigger words that are more challenging. For example: If your child says sad, you say melancholy. If your child says hungry, you say famished.
  • As shown by the examples shared here, you can easily make this game as challenging or as easy as you like depending on your child’s level. Have fun helping your child expand his/her vocabulary!
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Lesson Ideas

Idea Prompts

This can be a fresh change to the usual vocabulary activity of “Write a sentence using the word…”. It’s important for your child to practice using newly learned words in addition to talking about them.  So this activity can help your child use the word in a meaningful way which will help them internalize its meaning. It’s also a great way to work on your child’s writing skills!

  1. Choose 3-5  words (or more if you like) that you have chosen as vocabulary words for your child.
  2. Use these words to write sentence stems for your child to complete. The goal is to really make your child think about a word’s meaning so that they can complete the rest of the sentence in a way that makes sense and shows they understand its meaning.

Examples:

triumphant : The gymnast felt triumphant when she…

coax:  I tried to coax my sister to ride the roller coaster with me because…

shabby: The house looked shabby because…

  • You can make this as challenging or as easy as you like depending on your child’s level.
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Lesson Ideas

Build-a-Word – Lesson Idea #28

This hands-on activity helps to reinforce the use of affixes (suffixes and prefixes) to help build and add to your child’s vocabulary. You’ll need some index cards or sentence strips, markers, some baggies, and a list of root words and affixes.

  1. Use a list of root words and affixes to help you make word cards – you can also pull words from the books or selections you have worked on or plan to work on with your child.
  2. Choose a different color marker to write the prefixes, roots, and suffixes onto the cards. For example prefixes can be green, roots purple, and suffixes orange. Place all of the word parts in labeled baggies.
  3. Have your child try to build as many words as they can with the word parts given. You can even have them practice their writing by making a list of all of the words they come up with. Kids love to compete with each other to see who can make the most words – so involve a sibling or friend that can also work with these words for even more fun!
  4. Sample words using prefix: out-, root: stand, suffix: -ing

standing
outstanding
outing

Those are three words from just from one set of word parts. Imagine how many words your child can create with baggies full of word parts!

  • It’s important that your child comes up with real words that make sense! You can let them use a dictionary and/or thesaurus to check their words to make sure they’re real.
  • This is an excellent time to discuss the meanings of these word parts and how affixes can instantly change the meaning of a word. It’s a fun way to make your kids see the power of words!
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Bright Ideas My Humble Opinion

Readers and Golfers

Tiger Woods -- GolferI love to play golf, but I’m not a golfer…yet. That raises the obvious question–what are the differences between a golfer and someone who plays golf? Well, they’re basically the same differences between someone who can read and a reader.

Golfers have spent countless hours practicing chip shots and bunker shots. They’ve hit thousands of buckets of balls with their drivers and irons. They’ve spent time and effort tweaking small nuances in their swings in their basements. They are prepared for every situation the course, which they’ve played dozens of times and know intimately, can throw at them. As a result, they score well on the weekends when they play.

Guys who play golf (like me) usually go out once a week or less to play 18 holes. Maybe we hit a bucket of balls before we play to warm up. We get a little stressed when put in the situation of having to chip downhill onto green because we don’t really have that shot. We lay up instead of going for greens because we can’t hit our 2 iron well every time and can’t rely on it. We basically play every hole shot to shot, reacting to the latest situation we’ve created for ourselves instead of setting ourselves up and executing a strategy.

So what does this have to do with reading? Maybe you can see where I’m headed with this…