Lego Word Families!

 Language Development

Word families are groups of words that have a common spelling pattern – they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. Words like cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the “at” sound. Children progress as better readers when they can identify chunks in words like word families (e.g. Words ending with -at, -in) In teaching word families, children learn how to blend sounds (like c-at, b-in). It helps them to decode words faster, improving their word recognition skills as well as spelling skills. Reading books with lots of rhymes like Dr Seuss also helps develop their phonological awareness.

For emergent readers, after they have mastered the phonics sounds, they can proceed to learn word families or words that rhyme. Some word families you can start with are -at, -in, -ig, -an, -ing, -ot. Helping my active learner master the word families is a major milestone in her language acquisition process. To make the learning fun and enjoyable, this simple Lego game requires little preparation and money! It is also a good idea to recycle some of the Duplo Lego bricks that your 4/5 year-old has outgrown!

Simply write out some word family words on sticker labels and group them according to colour.

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Then lay them out on a tray, and invite your learner to listen to each word you read.

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Model the blending for your child. Example: “/C//A//T/”

Find words that rhyme. Stack them up accordingly.

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This simple activity requires listening skills, and builds phonemic awareness/ strengthen their grasp of the sound structures in words families.

Seeing the patterns in the spelling will further prepare them for spelling skills in future.

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Given my preschooler who is always brewing up imaginative ideas. she imagined the Lego characters to be having a competition, and she positioned each character who came in first, second and third in a race! Guess who is the winner? 🙂

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For more word families activities, check out the following ideas we had!

Using Scrabble Chips to teach word families!

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/teaching-word-families-using-scrabble-chips/

Word families Game using paper rolls and balls!

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/word-families-with-balls-and-toilet-rolls/

Wooden Blocks Word families- Onset and Rimes

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/word-families-blocks/

10 activities on teaching word families

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/10-fun-activities-on-word-families/

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Addition Game!

Children learn numbers to represent quantities and to solve quantitative problems. Some pre-skills needful for learning addition include counting, one-to-one correspondence, the concepts of part-while relationship, number bonds, and perhaps recognition of small quantities by sight and grouping objects together.

Learning how to add is an important milestone in a child’s math development. Children develop different strategies to learn how to add- like working with combining small quantities together, using concrete objects to help them count the total number and model approaches.

It is important that your child is ready for such addition concepts. Follow your child’s interest in numbers, and concretise the learning with pictures, visual aids and hands-on materials!

I knew my girl was ready when she came home one day and told me she wants to add using counters. I was delighted she initiated that! A good guess will be she has been using these Montessori materials in her preschool. Using concrete materials to learn is ingrained in them from early exposure to Montessori approach to learning. Visualising the addition process for a Montessori learner is effortless and engaging!

For this hands-on activity, you simply can gather some materials from home:
1. writing board or writing paper
2. Small objects like chips, counters, macaroni, poms poms, or pebbles.
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3. Number dice or number spinners
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To play this game, just ask your child to roll the dice or spin a number.
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Then ask your child to write out the addition sentence using the two numbers.
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Represent the two numbers using the small objects.
Then model the process of addition by counting all the objects represented.
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Complete the addition sentence by writing in the total quantity.
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Some educational videos also make learning fun!
click on the links below!


Learning how to add can be fun and interactive!!

10 Fun Activities on Word Families!

Language Development

Word families are groups of words that have a common spelling pattern – they have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound. Words like cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the “at” sound. Children progress as better readers when they can identify chunks in words like word families (e.g. Words ending with -at, -in) In teaching word families, children learn how to blend sounds (like c-at, b-in). It helps them to decode words faster, improving their word recognition skills as well as spelling skills. Reading books with lots of rhymes like Dr Seuss also helps develop their phonological awareness.

For emergent readers, after they have mastered the phonics sounds, they can proceed to learn word families or words that rhyme. Some word families you can start with are -at, -in, -ig, -an, -ing, -ot.

I have come up with a series of fun and hand-on activities for your beginner reader to pick up new words quickly and enjoyably! Here goes:

1. Sliding Cards!

You can also create word family cards with a movable list of beginning sounds ( an idea that all phonics teachers are familiar with!). Just slide the card up and down & blend the different beginning sounds and the rime (-at, -in) to help them read. First introduce and read the rime ( e.g. -at, -ot). Model the blending slowly for the child by emphasizing the beginning sound, then blend it with the rime. With practice and repetition, the child will be able to see the word patterns in the word families, and effectively decode the words for pronunciation. This activity is visually stimulating and hands-on for little readers!  You can create pictures of objects or animals on the cards that interest your child! Have fun!

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2. Word Family (Onset and Rime) Blocks

For this activity, I created a word family game using some wooden blocks from your child’s collection. Just glue different beginning letter sounds on the blocks. Rotate the block to create different words in the same word family like -at. Or play a game where the child tosses the block like a dice and blends the sounds together to read the word

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 3. Paper rolls and balls!

Just gather some toilet rolls and plastic balls! You can also use pong pong balls or golf balls! Print out the words and pictures and stick them on. You can blend onset (beginning sound) and the rime (-at) for your child. Then in your second round of reading the words, you can ask your child to pick out the right picture that matches the correct word. With practice and repetition, your child will be able to see the word patterns in the word families, and effectively decode the words for pronunciation. This activity is visually stimulating and hands-on for little readers!

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4. Scrabble Letter Chips

To prepare the tray, simply select the scrabble letters for the word family (example:-at) , and various beginning sounds (example: c,b,r,m) for the child to explore different rhyming words. You can use a mini blackboard for my little girl to arrange the chips. I love how this simple activity is so hands-on and concrete! It makes blending of sounds and picking of new words so engaging and interesting!

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5. Plastic Eggs!

You can find these lovely egg containers at toy stores or during Easter season! Just stick the different beginning sounds and twist and turn it to blend into various words in the same word family!  I have these lovely eggs in a basket, and they certainly will capture your child’s attention! This is one hands-on idea that will definitely be a big hit with kids learning to read!

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6. Wooden Letters

Gather all the wooden or foam letters in your house and create word families for your child to play with! Simply print out pictures to match with the words, and your child will learn about the meaning of the words effortlessly!

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7. Clothespins!

This is one cheap and easy-to-make material! Just stick letter labels or write the letter on the clothes pegs with a marker. Clip the clothes pegs on an ice-cream stick to form each word in the word family. As you blend the beginning sound, simply slide the clothespin with the beginning sound (s) towards the ending rime (-it). Join the letters together to form the full word!

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Using clothespins to teach word families

8. Pebbles!

Simply write the letters on pebbles to create rhyming words! Let your child explore this tactile activity of holding and grasping the concrete material!

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9. Word Family Calendar!

Simply recycle your used calendar, and cut it into two parts. Paste beginning sounds and ending sounds on both sides, and get your child to flip the pages to create rhyming words for the same family!

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10. Read Books with Rhymes!

Reading is a sure way to get your child to develop phonemic awareness of rhyming words! Dr Seuss and many other phonics readers are great in familiarizing your child with rhymes!

Teaching Word Families- Using Scrabble Chips

This is an activity following our series of using creative resources to teach word families.To introduce the word family, I would have read to her some of the words in the family like cat, rat, mat, and sat. Reading Dr Seuss’ ‘Cat in the Hat or other phonics books is a good way of introducing children to gain awareness of how rhyming words sound like.

To prepare the tray, simply select the scrabble letters for the word family (example:-at) , and various beginning sounds (example: c,b,r,m) for the child to explore different rhyming words. I used a mini blackboard for my little girl to arrange the chips.

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Playing with rhyming words/ word families

I first laid out the ending sounds -at on the blackboard. And I placed different beginning sounds and modeled how to sound out the word by blending the beginning sound and the ending letters (example: b-at, bat).

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Watching me blend different letter sounds to create different words made my girl really curious about exploring the activity for herself. She swapped the letters one by one, and attempted to sound out the word with a little help from me. Over several repetition, she was beaming with pride that she could read out some words from the word family. She had so much rearranging the scrabble chips that she started creating nonsense words like zat, lat, kat! We had fun trying to pronounce these words and she even started imagining what they meant! She insisted, ” Zat is a type of zebra!” I really chuckled with laughter as she played with meaning of these words!

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I love how this simple activity is so hands-on and concrete! It makes blending of sounds and picking of new words so engaging and interesting!

Look out for our next post of 5 and more activities to teach word families!

Spreading Jam! A Practical Life Activity

Maria Montessori made the observation that young children like to be involved in the daily home activities, and she developed Practical Life activities where children get to emulate adults and perform simple chores like sweeping, dusting, washing dishes and food preparation. This simple activity of spreading jam hones their fine motor skills as they learn to rotate their wrist and spread the jam with precision. Also it trains their independence which builds up their self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy.

The key to practical like activities is to set up learning materials in which the child is able to succeed and do tasks for herself safely.

I prepared the set for my little girl, with utensils including the butter knife and plates that are kids-friendly and safe for her to use.

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You will need:

1. Food Tray or placemat ( to prevent mess and spills)

2. Small butter knife

3. Small Jam (These itty bitty ones are from NTUC/ Cold storage!)

4. Toast or crackers/ rice cakes

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To begin, I showed my girl how the slice of bread is toasted. She then learned how to open a jar of jam, and got to smell the sweet fragrance of her much-loved strawberry jam!

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After that, demonstrate to the child how to spread the jam on the toast. Show your child slowly how to spread the jam by emphasizing small steps such as taking a little bit of jam, and spreading it with the up-down motion, and making sure the whole toast is covered.

As I observed my little girl endeavoring to spread the jam, it requires the rotation of the wrist which certainly trains her for writing in future. She also needs to learn how to control the strength of her fingers while holding the butter knife and it requires coordination of her left hand holding the toast, and right hand maneuvering the knife. It really helped that her knife is little and she could use it with more confidence.

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Food is particularly an interesting topic to most children, especially my daughter who loves to eat! Preparing what they are going to eat makes them more motivated to gobble it up! They feel included into the food-making process and gives them a sense of autonomy. I love  the petite size of the jam jar, as the quantity she can consume is just right for her.

And the greatest gratification? Eating it up!!

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Learning about Shapes with Play Dough & Cookie Cutters!

Children always have endless fun with playdough; squishing, rolling, kneading, pressing it. They can create anything out of their imagination, and the possibilities are limitless!

What children can learn from interacting with playdough:

1. Develops their fine motor skills like strengthening their small muscles

2. Nurtures their imagination for pretend play

3. Develops and reinforces their Math and language concepts

4. Playing play dough with siblings and friends enhances their social skills like sharing, taking turns and enjoying the contribution of ideas by others

To create our little play dough learning set about shapes, you will need:

1. Play dough ( bought or handmade)

2. Rolling pin

3. Cookie cutters/ bottle caps/ shape sorters

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My girl used the rolling pin to flatten the dough with her favourite shade of pink. She used her muscle skills such as kneading the dough and pressing on the rolling pin and the cookie cutter. To extract the shape out, she had to manipulate her small fingers to slowly peel out the shape. All these work happen within the short process of creating the shapes.

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Matching Shapes

After making shapes out of play dough, I asked her to match the shapes to ice-cream sticks with correct names. She was motivated to make more shapes to complete the matching activity!

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Have lots of fun exploring shapes with play dough!

Animal Figurines- Teach New Words

Ever thought what you can do with animal figurines? You can use them to teach new words! Children love learning with such concrete, three-dimensional objects, and using these toy-like materials make learning a lot more fun and interactive!

For this post, I am teaching Rae zoo animals. To introduce your child to zoo animals, you can choose a few picture books that feature such animals. You can read up on  my book picks in this previous post.

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Matching Animal Figurines to the New Words

For this activity, I first read the sight words to Rae, and demonstrated how to match the animal figurines to the sight words. I started with 3 animals, and gradually progressed to 6, then 8 animals in the next consecutive days. To help her to recognise the words, I also sounded the beginning sound of the words, like /z/, Zebra (Since she knows her phonics sounds). This also helps her practice using her phonics skills to decode the words for reading.

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Rae takes a keen interest in learning the new words, because the figurines help her visualise, and internalize the new vocabulary. Whenever I find ways to tap on her interest, she is able to learn new things quickly.  In a matter of two days, she is able to recognise and does the matching herself. The process of learning is just as, if not even more important than the product.

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Book-based Activity: Arranging the Zoo Animals In Sequence

This also evolved into a follow-up activity to the thematic picture books on zoo animals that I had previously read to her. I read “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear” again with Rae.

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While re-reading the book, we arranged the animal figurines in sequence, first the lion polar bear, then the lion.. Rae had so much fun picking up the next animal and lining them up in the correct order. When it came to the last character in the story which was the zoo-keeper, Rae immediately sprang into action to get her Lego figurine from the Duplo box in excitement! Ah… now the story is complete! 🙂

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There are many categories of figurines out at the stores; farm animals, vehicles, insects, birds, and so on. Try this play-based approach to teaching new words to your child!