Saturday, 29 October 2016

Jump from reading and writing words, to sentences and stories!

I have been having lots of fun lately with the children, writing and reading sentences. I am often frustrated at the point when children are ready to start reading small books, because it is often very difficult to pinpoint exactly what they are ready to read. If it is too hard or the book too long it isn't great for their confidence and requires a lot of help and attention from the teachers. This activity is fantastic because it can so easily be adjusted to their ability, is not too long and the time spent writing the sentence in between each turn reading gives me time to help some other children as well :) The writing part also gives them some practice at forming their letters, helps them to learn how to space words and use a capital and full stop. Furthermore it reinforces their reading skill and their knowledge of what a sentence is.

It all started when Jake and I were trapped in a large fort made of bed sheets one afternoon, dressed as Spiderman, and needing something to do that under no circumstances needed anyone to leave the fort...

I experimented with variations and saw that a lot of the children picked up that the words were the same on each line and remembered them well, when reading the following sentences. By starting very simply with a sheet that just had a few sight words and a few phonetic words the children were off and running, suddenly going from being able to read just short words to being able to read sentences with confidence!

Here was one that I did with someone who was confident reading short phonetic words, it introduced 'the' and 'a', but otherwise was not asking more than a bit of phonetic reading that the child easily did. They suddenly were reading not just words, but reading sentences, that made up
a story - so exciting! As she read the sentences I asked her what she thought it was and at the end we found out the answer to our little mystery!

The child that I worked with the sheet below is very confident with their phonetic reading and getting good at sight words, so we were doing lots of sight words here, again in a pretty repetitive way so that he quickly felt like he was a pro! I like to talk about silent 'e' and sing/ play the children this little song Silent E! whenever we are doing a word where it has an 'e' on the end. Again, after the repetitive sight words at the start of the sentence I end with a little phonetic word for him to sound out.

For the two girls that I did this next sheet with, we sat down and went through all the words with phonograms in them, before reading and writing the sentences. I told them that the 'a' and 'i' sounds in 'said' were always joining up to make an 'e' sound, and wrote an 'e' over it to help demonstrate. I quizzed them on some of the combination sounds they had worked on before like 'ow', 'oo' and 'ee', so that when they got to them they were fresh in their minds. We hunted for all the combinations we could find and underlined them as well for added reinforcement.

If your child is able to copy all the letters and is reading phonetically with confidence this is a great activity to take them to the next step and give them a big confidence boost. It is lots of fun if you can build a guessing game around it and don't forget to finish with some beautiful drawings because they are always so cute! 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Writing - Watch the video!!

This is a long one, I say it is short at the start, but I didn't know what I was talking about... I do feel like I know a bit about how to teach writing and it is so much easier for your child to learn to write the right way, so give it a quick look. If you feel like you have got the idea, skip to around the 17 minute mark and I give a bit of a run down on the best order to teach, which I think gives a good insight on the reasoning behind how we are doing this. The children often go through periods where they love writing and when it leads to quick progress I think that excites them, so try to get two minutes of writing into your busy days whenever you can (so much easier said, than done) and you will see the skill blossom.

Download writing squares - Everyone should print a few dozen of these!
Download writing sheets for short phonetic words
Download writing sheets for longer phonetic words

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Numbers Video

Here is a youtube video on how to teach the numbers. Here is the associations we use for teaching the numbers Learning the Letters and Numbers. This video doesn't show the very important part of learning the numbers, which is having your child find each of the numbers for you. Don't forget that you need to do a lot of this before they can tell you what they are!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Don't stop at ten!

Jake learnt all his numbers to ten long ago, but I was recently asked how he was going with the teen numbers and realised that for so long he had just been doing 1-10, with not much development beyond that. It is really common that the children easily get good at 1-10 and then just don’t progress further for a long time, so I thought it was a good idea to encourage you all to keep going! We have had lots of fun at home and school playing a little game with all the number cards from 1-20. Any child who has a fair ability to recognise the numbers 1-10 can do this game as learning numbers 14-19 helps reinforce the learning of numbers 4-9.
I start by laying out all the cards, telling the children what they are as I do so. 

Then, we play finding the numbers, but in order, so I start by asking the children to find me number one. After we have found it and placed it in the line, I ask them what comes after number one. Often as they get to the bigger numbers they need to go back to number one and count through to figure out what number comes next, so this is great counting practice too. I have them point to the cards in the line as they count for extra reinforcement recognizing the numbers.

When they have laid all the numbers out from 1-20 go back and count with them all the way through. Jake was really struggling to remember 15 when he was counting, but having the numbers in front of him helped to not forget any of them. We pretended the number cards were train stations and we needed to put them in order along the track. At the end we pretended we were the train going through all the stations and announcing the numbers…
Notes on teaching teen numbers
11 – remind them at the start it is a 1 and a 1 – hold up index finger on both hands
12 – I say t for two and t for twelve
13 – Th for three and th for thirteen
14-19 – Use the same associations for 4-9 and point to the one in front of it as you say teen.

Four – while tracing over the number say “number four, shut the door” (chopping through the number is shut the door)

Five – we have five fingers on our hand (hold up your hand and then make a hook with your fingers and thumb and show that it is a hook like at the bottom of the five. It is also fun to give them a high five and if they are at all interested in pirates you can say that we have five fingers but instead Captain Hook has a hook.
Six – silly, silly six is standing on his head with his feet in the air (he is so silly isn’t he!)
Seven – number seven, straight straight to heaven (trace over the number showing how it is a straight line)
Eight – eight like a roller coaster (trace around the eight showing how it is like a roller coaster going around and around. If your child doesn’t understand what a roller coaster is you can say it is like a crazy little dog, when you stand in the middle it runs around and around. Pretend that they are standing in the middle of the eight and show them how the crazy little dog is so excited that it runs around and around).
Nine – Sensible number nine (number nine isn’t like number six at all, he is very sensible. Number nine stands up nice and straight with his head in the air and his feet on the floor. Not like silly number six). *This is often a number that children get confused with six, so it is very good to accentuate the difference.

Here is a link to printable number cards in case you don't have any:

Friday, 22 January 2016

How about eggs for breakfast?

Three boiled eggs should get you around 10 minutes of peace, quiet and total focus from your little one! It is great for fine motor skills, concentration and independence so it is a win for everyone. They will love being able to serve you breakfast 

smile emoticon

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Success builds confidence!

Let's start the year by sending our children off to succeed! Remember we want every task that we give the children to be an attainable one, in which they can always succeed and build their confidence.
Another school year is ramping up to start soon, for all of you at Shenton Park, Mount Lawley and Karrinyup we will be starting the school year on the 18th of January, for Swanbourne we will be back on the 1st of February. I know you will be soon starting to get prepared, every year I send out the basic info about what to bring and I know a few parents read it, but since it doesn't seem to be too many I am trying a different tack!
Here is a bit of role playing for the day. I want you to imagine you are a three year old and you are coming towards the end of your day at preschool, time to pack your school bag up to take home. Now you have a lunch box, drink bottle, hat, spare change of clothes, 3 paintings, a page of writing, some sewing, a macaroni necklace, the shoes and socks that you quickly cast aside five minutes after mum left, your jumper and a small, but very important crocodile you coloured and stuck together this afternoon!
Now imagine that your mum had given you the adorable little lady bird bag, that quite literally won't fit a lunchbox in it... Do you think you would be able to easily complete the task, feeling competent and successful at the end of doing so? If you answered that question with a big fat no, then I beg you to think long and hard before sending your child off to preschool with anything resembling this.
On the other hand, faced with something like the snowman bag, your child is much less likely to give up, because it isn’t nearly so difficult. They can pack their bag, feeling competent and successful. Instead of chucking everything they accumulate over the course of the day on the floor in the general bag keeping area, they can easily pop into a bag that presents no resistance. They can learn to look after their things, keep a tidy area and be much less likely to lose things. Their lovely little creations and work don’t get scrunched up, left on the ground to get stepped on or eventually thrown out because no one knows who it belongs to. All round success!
The third photo is of the mess of bags packed to go home at the end of the day last year in Swanbourne. One parent had bought a bag like I had recommended… In a sea of little bags surrounded by mess it stands out, easy to fill with a nice big opening, no fiddly zips and plenty of space. I think this one came from Coles, they have some fruity ones. Best and Less had some last year with all kinds of characters like Peppa Pig, Spiderman etc if you think that would be more up your child’s alley and I know on ebay you can get all kinds of different characters. Cloth ones seem to be less useful than these plastic ones as they seem to be too floppy for the children to keep open and fill. They cost about $2-5, a small price to pay for giving your child attainable success and the ability to look after their belongings…

Sunday, 10 January 2016

10 Things to do to make your next car trip fun, educational and entertaining!


      Life is busy, I know most of you are juggling school runs for multiple children and locations, football, tennis, dance, music, gymnastics, swimming, the list goes on… Chances are your child is spending a few minutes just sitting in the car or stroller every day. Here are ten games to help your child develop while on the move, whether it is a drive down to Dunsborough or to the park, keep your little one busy, entertained and learning! Remember repetition is needed for all their skills to develop, so don’t just play a game once, if they show interest do it over and over and over and over!

     1.       Animal Sound I spy – ask your child what sound a c – a – t makes. Sound out the letter sounds, not names and if they make the right animal sound, you know they have made the connection between the letters and formed the correct word. This is great practice for preparing them for reading phonetically.

     2.       If they are good at the above game you can ask them what letter sound does a word starts with. I.e. ‘What letter sound does cat start with’. Remember this is sounds, not letter names. The obvious progression, have them sound out short phonetic words. ‘how do you sound out dog?’ d-o-g etc. You can also play the old I Spy game in a simplified version: 'find me something beginning with c'.

     3. True or False: Test what they know and teach them some new facts. You can also test their comprehension and quiz them on a story you read that day or the night before. See what they have understood or remembered, you may hear some interesting interpretations of the story or be entertained by what they have taken away from it! 

     4.       Play ‘What is the right thing to do?’ You can pose all sorts of behavioural/ social questions to them, you probably have a fair idea of what kind of situations your child might benefit from talking through. There is a big range of things that the children go through from the youngest ones lashing out physically when in confrontational situations to the older ones forming cliques, excluding children etc. You can make these pretty leading questions so they know what the obvious answer is and accentuate the point you are trying to make. When they get it right, you can agree with them and point out why they are so right to reinforce the correct behaviour.
·         ‘If Sam has the puzzle that you want, do you go and push him out of the way and snatch it or do you wait until he has finished and then ask him if you can have a turn?’
·          ‘If you are playing with your best friend and Sophie wants to play with you as well, do you tell Sophie that you already have a friend to play with and run away from her or do you play all together because it is nice to be friends with everyone and more fun with more friends?’
·         If you need help or want to tell me something while I am speaking to someone else, do you wail like a baby and tug on my arm or do you say “excuse me Mummy, I need help’ and wait for me to finish what I am doing?

     5.       A bit of counting practice at the lights. ‘Let’s see how much we can count to before the lights change to green.’

     6.       Singing! We really believe that singing things makes it easy to remember. Heck, before I was a preschool teacher I would have had to think long and hard to tell you all the planet names, now I can list them all in order without a second thought, all thanks to a little song! Teach them what you know and I will make sure to get some videos of the children singing our favourite songs up soon!

     7.       Once your child knows a few songs, hum the tune and have them guess what the song is. In the class we play the song on the keyboard and have them guess what the song is. They get pretty fast with a bit of practice!

     8.       One for children who have insecurities being left: On the way to school talk about what they would like to do first. I had one little boy last year who would decide in the car on the way to school with his mum, what flag he would like to colour in.  He started the day confidently with a clear idea of what he wanted to do. If asking your child what they want to do first is too broad a question, figure out something they like to do like flags, puzzles, sewing, making an animal, drawing, writing etc. and just ask them what variety of this they will start the day with.

     9.       For the way home: Ask your child what the best thing they did at school was, what made them the most happy? Studies show that reflecting on the things that we are thankful for or have enjoyed make us happier people. It is also more likely to give you an insight into what they have done and get them talking than asking ‘how was your day?’ or ‘what did you do today?’ If they struggle to answer you at first, tell them what was the best part of your day and why. They may copy your answers at first, but with time they should start to give it more thought over the day and remember little things to tell you.

    10.    In the morning, quiz your child on what day of the week it is, what month, what season it is, what the date is and what the weather is like. Start with the easy ones like the weather and give them hints like what the day before was if they need it. If they remember what they have talked about with you, until they do the days of the week activity at Smart Start, they will be sure to impress their teacher!