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/

10 Frozen Fun Activities!

 10 Frozen Fun Activities!

The insane popularity of this Disney movie has gotten kids singing the theme songs in the malls, classrooms and kids’ playdates.

Tapping on my little girl’s interest in the movie hit Frozen, I have decided to capitalise on that to come up with 10 different sensorial and learning activities!

1. Pretend Play

My 3 year old has been so captivated by the characters in Frozen movie, that she does all kinds of pretend play with her princess dolls.

I enjoy watching and being amused by the play scripts my girl comes up with whenever she is engaged in pretend, dramatic play. The latest being the conversations and songs between the Frozen sister, Elsa and Anna

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2. Making a Snowflake!

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/snowflake-ornament/

Tying in with the Frozen Movie craze, my gal has been fascinated with the idea of snow despite our hot humid weather all year round.

I thought why not let her experience deeper with the concept of snow by making a snowflake ornament, with the colour theme blue, so as to add to her Frozen props for role-play!

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 3. Frozen Ice!

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/frozen-fun/

I thought to make the play scene more elaborate and sensorial, why not create some frozen fun for her with some ice blocks and ice cubes?

To make the ice blocks, simply recycle your plastic containers, add some blue food colouring and freeze it overnight! And you are ready to enact the play scene!

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4. Frozen Snow Globe!

https://playhood.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/frozen-snow-globe/

One of my favourite activities is to come up with a snow globe, based on the theme of snow and winter throughout.

The shimmering magic of snowfall is always transfixing, whether s it winter or not for your season.

These globes allow your child to create a wintry scene straight out of their own imagination.

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5. Storytelling with the books!

Nothing like retelling this heartwarming plot through the use of books! Allow your child to experience the depth of the characters and seeing the story come alive through the use of beautiful illustrations!

6. Olaf Marshmallow!

Kids will love this food making activity! Just get marshmallows, chocolate chips, raisins and some orange icing and they are ready to make the adorable snowman that is also edible!

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7. Olaf Sushi!

Thanks to my sister-in-law who ingeniously created this incredible Olaf Sushi! This is too cute to be eaten, but my girl gobbled it all up in no time!

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8. Stickers

Why not add some magnetic tape on the Frozen character stickers and create props for the children to enact scenes from the story on magnetic whiteboards?

9. Making an Olaf Snowman!

You can create a Olaf tray where the child has to assemble the different Olaf snowman body parts together!

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10. Colouring & Drawing

For some quiet seat work, colouring is great for them to focus and fill the pages of their favourite characters with colour! Drawing the characters out also stretches their imagination and builds their attention to details. We were at a play date when the kids started drawing the characters on white sheets and even on paper plates!

For colouring pages, just google Frozen Colouring Pages

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Have an icy blast with the kids with these activities! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Maxilla-Book Review and 5 Book Activities!

Book Review- Maxilla

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When my friend, Lianne first contacted me to do a blog write-up for her newly published book, “Maxilla”, I couldn’t be prouder of her! I have always been an ardent fan of local writers and illustrators, as I strongly believe they have so much to offer in terms of creating a local context for children to relate their daily experiences to, as well as showcasing their storytelling and artistic flare. So you can imagine how elated I was to receive this book! By our very local writer!

In this picture book, Lianne recounts her own boy’s magical experience with a caterpillar, and how a greater lesson of letting go comes through the storyline. The main character, Reuben found a caterpillar in the garden, named it Maxilla and hoped to see it transform into a butterfly. However, he found out that Maxilla can only survive in a natural habitat, otherwise it may die. Reuben is then confronted with the tough decision of whether to set it free or keep it.

Although this picture book resembled the theme in the all-time favourite- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it carries a deeper, more personalized meaning for young children. Children can easily relate to Reuben’s struggles of letting go, especially when they want something so badly. And the embedded message is when you choose to let go and do what is best, you may just be surprised with something remarkable!

My first reading with my little 3-year old was amazing. She was enthralled and captivated by the colourful, realistic illustrations. She could also relate with the main character in the story as we too had an amazing encounter with some caterpillars once! She could recall her past experience of watching her caterpillars metamorphosise into moths.

5 Awesome Activities Based on Maxilla

This book is rich in its potential to bring forth several learning objectives in terms of language, math and science! Based on this book, I have come up with 5 activities for my preschooler girl.

1. Caterpillar Art

For this simple art activity, simply re-use your little tea cups or bottles to make circle prints for the caterpillar! My little girl had so much fun making adjacent circles and seeing the caterpillar emerge in no time! She then requested to paint the caterpillar body green, as she recalled the illustration from the book Maxilla. She said she wanted the same caterpillar as Reuben in the story.

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2. Counting Caterpillar

The idea of using the circles to learn counting came to mind straight away when I was thinking up of a math-related activity to do. Simply write consecutive numbers on circle cut-outs, and you can create several caterpillars with numbers from 1 to 10, 10 to 20, and so on. Your child will be extremely motivated to line the numbers in sequence to create the caterpillar! It’s a great way to teach your child how to count using one-to-one correspondence!

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3. Subtraction Story

For older children, your child can come up with a subtraction story, where they imagine the hungry caterpillar eating up food items. You can use food cut-outs as visual aids for your child, and simply write out a subtraction story. Then come up with a subtraction sentence and number bond representation for the story. This method helps to contextualize learning for your child since it is a book-based activity, and also interests your child to pick up beginning concepts of subtraction. I did this activity with my class of 6-year olds and they love it!

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4. Butterfly Snack

I saw this lovely idea online and decided to try making some butterfly snacks for my girl and her classmates. We went to the supermarket to browse through the selection of nuts and cereals, and turned out to be a very enriching experience of getting to know the various types of nuts and cereals! She then worked with me to decorate the clothespins and her eyes sparkled when I put it together to make into butterflies! It is a wonderful way to entice your little one to eat healthy!

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5. Butterfly Kit

This is probably our favourite activity to do! Learning science is simply about tickling your child’s curious mind. Providing a sense of wonder and curiosity is the first steps to getting your child excited about learning about the objects around them. This picture book is ideal in introducing the theme of insects or caterpillars to your child! You can easily get a butterfly kit from Oh Farms, and let your child have an experience of caring for their very own caterpillar and watching it turn into a butterfly! Through it, the lesson on the life cycle of a butterfly takes on greater meaning as they  experience it first-hand for themselves! Remember to document the whole process with photos and dialogues with your child, and it can become a long-lasting memory for your child!

You can find out more about purchasing your butterfly kits from this website http://www.ohfarms.com.sg/products/butterfly_kits

Author Biography

Lianne Ong is a freelance writer who writes primarily about parenting, education and fashion. Maxilla was written based on events that happened when her family was living in California. She now lives in Singapore with her husband and two children, Reuben and Phoebe.

Maxilla Book

Grab a copy of Maxilla picture book at all major bookstores in Singapore (Kinokuniya, Times Bookstore and MPH Bookstores) at only SGD $10.60!

For our overseas readers, it is also available worldwide at MPH Online!

For more information on Maxilla, do visit the Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/MaxillaTheBook

(FYI, I do not receive any monetary reward for writing this book review! It’s all for the love of supporting our local writers! 🙂

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This blog post is published in The Preschool Survival Kit Magazine distributed to all preschools in Singapore. 

 

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!

Word families- With Balls and Toilet Rolls!

Teaching Word Families

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 and letter combination in common.

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.

Materials you need:

Just 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.

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Other concepts you can teach using this activity:

Numbers (matching 1 to one)

Ordinal numbers (matching 1st to first)

Phonics sounds (Matching a letter-sound to the correct picture)

Vocabulary (Matching words with pictures)

Math addition (Matching addition sums/subtraction sums to the answers)

Shapes (Matching spelling to the correct picture)

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My little girl’s interaction with the materials

Before I could introduce to my curious little preschooler what the activity is about, she grabbed one of the colourful balls and placed it above the toilet roll and said, “Mummy, look this is an ice-cream cone!” I was amused and tickled at her little ingenious idea! So I played along with her and said yes, we are going to make some ice-cream cones for our little treats today!

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I said I will show her how to make the ice-cream treats, and read out the words one by one on the paper rolls. Prior to that, I had read to her “Cat in the Hat” by Dr Seuss, and she could recall some of the -at words from the book. I started blending the onset (beginning sound) and the rime (-at) for her. Then in our second round of reading the words, I asked her to pick out the right ball that matches the correct word. She also repeated the word after we finished making the ‘ice-cream cone’.

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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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10 Activity Ideas for Goldilocks And The Three Bears!

Based on the much-loved tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, we have come up with 10 perfect activity ideas for your little preschooler at home or children in your classroom. Your children will love reading this classic and doing these activities as fun extensions!

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Skills covered in these activities:

A. Fine motor skills such as weaving

B. Math skills such as counting, comparing sizes, and one-to-one correspondence.

C. Language skills such as using adjectives, antonyms, word recognition and narrative language for pretend play. 

Go read the fairy tale and immerse your child in these wonderful 10 activity ideas!

1. Antonyms (Opposites)

Allow your child to learn about opposites such as hard, soft, cold, hot, rough, smooth, by using this sensory bin as touch game. Fill a basket with objects of opposites, and watch how your child use her senses to differentiate the opposite properties. This is also a great sorting activity!

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2. Counting using One-to-one correspondence

The number 3 is mentioned repeatedly throughout the story- 3 bears, 3 beds, 3 chairs and 3 bowls. The book is a great context for your child to learn counting, using one-to-one correspondence in this counting game. The number chart helps your child to visually understand comparison of quantities for each number and concepts such as “more” or “less”. Simply use some bear biscuits and a number chart and your child will be delighted to try it out, and gratify herself with a nice treat after!

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3.  Weaving Bear

This is a Montessori-inspired practical activity! Cut out a bear figure and use a one-hole puncher to make holes for your child to weave through! It trains your child’s fine motor skills and concentration. My girl had tons of fun toying with the shoe lace and pulling it up and down through the holes!

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4. Pretend Play!

Having this sensory bin will definitely appeal to your child to do some pretend play and role-play. Re-enacting the story is made fun with these concrete, hands-on props! Pretend-play is great for your child to practice skills like story-sequencing, recalling events, using a narrative script as well use of new language words from the book. My girl was parroting the repetitive phrases/ language chunks as she re-tells the stories with lines from the story like ” This porridge is too hot! This chair is too hard!” Its wonderful to see how the story comes alive in my preschooler’s pretend play script and dramatization with the props!

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5. Comparing Sizes

To teach concepts of big, medium and small, I came up this matching activity with picture cards of varying sizes. My little preschooler loves assigning the right size of objects to each respective bear character and indirectly learning how to arrange objects according to size. You can also introduce matching with word cards like “Big” “Medium” “Small”.

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6. Role-play using Magnetic Characters

This is another way of getting your child to do pretend play or role-play. Simply put magnetic strips behind the characters and the props and your child is ready to engage herself with some story-telling on the magnetic easel board.  Great activity to occupy your child!

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7. Contextual words

Create this simple sensory bin , where picture cards are hidden in rice, beans or pom poms! Learning new words becomes fun and sensorial when your child gets to dig out the right picture card to match the word. Learning new words never get this fun!

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8. Scavenger Hunt

Get your child busy searching  for objects around the house by going on a scavenger hunt. These words are extracted from the story and I printed them out to make word cards. Get your child to take a photo of the object with a camera, print it out and get your child to match the photo with the word!

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9. Readers’ Theatre

Readers’ Theatre is a great way to dramatise the story with a group of children! Get ready some scripts, masks for the main characters and you can have a theatre show right there!

10. Read, Read, Read!

Your little one will never tire of reading this book over and over again! These book-activities are sure to get your child craving for more readings! Your  child is sure to pick up new concepts from each new reading, and you will be surprised how quickly your child can internalise new words when learnt contextually from the book!

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 This blog post is published in The Preschool Survival Kit Magazine distributed to all preschools in Singapore. 

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