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/

Fairy Dust Playdough Set

We are all familiar with how play dough has captivated children of all ages! They are fabulous for fun and learning! Here are 5 ways how it helps your child to develop!

1. Fine motor skills

Play dough is ideal for building the tiny motor skills through your child manipulating the malleable material by rolling, pressing, pinching, chopping, shredding and much more!

Poking in objects into the play dough requires focus and coordination.

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2. Develops creativity and imagination

Play dough provides endless possibilities for imaginative play and can represent anything in the mind of a child!

3. Great for building Cognitive skills!

Using play dough with letter shapes us great for letter recognition, and inserting small objects like buttons into play dough can be used for counting! Children can use the play dough to compare sizes, length and thickness. They can roll little balls and learn one to one correspondence, and even addition. They can also sort the balls by colour! iThe choices for learning are limitless!

4. Making Play dough- Great for Science concepts!

When you make play dough with your child, your child gets to be amazed by the process of mixing different ingredients into something gooey, and sticky! They learn to use their senses to learn about texture, and see the process of transformation of different materials!

5. Great for Language Development

Pretend play with play dough contributes greatly to your child’s language play. Interacting with play dough, your child taps on her imagination and comes up with play scripts, where she conceives ideas for a social scenario, and uses her vocabulary and functional language to verbalise and ‘act out’ her ideas. She engages herself in social dialogues and learn to think of solutions to problem-solve.

Our Fairy Dust Play Dough Setup

My little darling has been preoccupied with the theme of fairies in the woods, their magical journeys and fantasies of adventure and wonder.

To encourage creativity, I like to use open-ended materials for her to tap on her imagination and encourage originality.

This thematic fairy-dust playdoh set is easy to set up! And is perfect for a whole afternoon of make-believe and pretend play!

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Presenting the materials on a tray is like an invitation to play! which no child can resist!

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My little one immediately was captivated by the myriad of materials, and started coming up with her ideas as to how to use the materials. As she picks out the different materials, she used adjectives to describe the twigs and the paper flowers. She also started coming up with incredulous ideas about how a fairy has wings, and was  playing in the Pixie Garden. To make the fairy, she had to first used her palm to roll the play dough, and then estimate how to make a big and smaller ball. To join the parts together, I suggested to her using a sharp long object, and she immediately picked out the twig. To create the wings, she selected the angel wing embellishment and pressed it hard to make it stay. Using the eyes and twigs as hands, she completed the look of her little make-believe fairy!

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Next, to create the setting for the main character, she decided to make a garden! She stayed on task for a prolonged period of time trying to actualise her ideas for the garden! She flattened the dough to create grass and ground for the fairy to stand on. Then she inserted flowers and twigs to make it natural looking. She also added in little garden creatures like butterflies and worms. This was a great opportunity for me to use thematic vocabulary like different garden animals! To complete the garden look, she started referring to Tinklebelle story about pixie dust. She then sprinkled some glitter into the play dough and the wonder happened!

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Look at her little Fairy Garden with her Fairy! I love how this process of  creating art and actualising her ideas!

The process of creation far supersedes the finished product!

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Frozen Fun!

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.

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

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.

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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My girl was super thrilled to experience the Frozen fun! It is extremely sensorial and tactile as she holds the cold cubes in her hands! The huge ice blocks are also great for building ‘ice-palace’  for princesses and ‘resting places” for the animals. In watching the ice melt away gradually, she is also picking up the science concepts of ‘melting’, ‘freezing’  and ‘condensation’.

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Importance of Pretend Play

The musical Frozen also comes alive when she enacts the scenes from the movie with her princess dolls. Pretend play is great for language development, and enhances their social skills for friendship and conflict resolution. I love how the conversations between the Frozen sisters evolved into one that resolves around kindness and kinship! She also used new vocabulary that expresses emotions, appearance, apparel and values. Through pretend play, I also got to catch a glimpse into her own thoughts and perceptions of relationships, dreams and even fears. She was scared of the ice monster, and told she sees it in her room sometimes. That actually explained why she refuses to sleep alone in her room! She also said that a princess treats people with kindness, which is a message I have been reinforcing to her when we talk about being a princess.

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Why not try this out at home? It’s free and completely fun for your little one! 🙂

 

 

 

Mark making- Sensory Writing Tray with Flour

Mark-Making

Mark making is an important pre-writing skill for young toddlers. Too often, parents make the mistake of giving their children writing tools too early in their development in hope that they will pick up writing as soon as possible. Children between 2 to 4 years need lots of pre-writing activities to hone their fine motor skills, finger dexterity (how well we handle small objects with our fingers) and lots of mark-making activities to prepare them amply for formal writing.

What is mark making? It is the process where children make early scribblings, often imitating the way adults write, and learn to assign meanings to the marks they make on paper, or any writing surface. For example, you often observe toddlers doodling on paper, and they are able to tell it represents (though you can’t make it out!).

Good sensory information is important for hand skills, especially for young children, as their brains take in these input and stimulate their hands for coordination and precise control. Making marks with their fingers also develops their wrist control and directionality of their writing. For the beginning stage of mark-making, it is a physical activity of engaging the concrete materials with their hands, and it progresses gradually to making more definite, precise, resembling recognizable letters when their muscle control gets more developed.

For young toddlers who are not ready to do formal writing, encourage them to do mark-making with their fingers on the sensory tray. You can use:

1. Sand or coloured sand dust

2. Flour

3. Salt

4. Dough

5. Small beans

6. Shaving cream

Rae’s Mark-Making

Here you see Rae having fun doing mark-making in her sensory tray with flour. She draws lines to show directional marks, with continuous movement of the hand. Making curves and enclosures are important pre-requisites for forming letters and numbers. She also creates dots to make symbols and representations of abstract ideas.

Here I asked her what her initial marks represents, and she exclaimed, ” A snake is moving in the grass!”. To encourage her to make more marks, I prompted her further by asking her, “is it just one snake?” She said her snake friends are coming, and she quickly represented that idea by drawing another few more lines. I then asked, “Besides snakes, who else are her friends?”. She then added another mark signifying a bird in the sky who had flown in to join her snake friends on the grass!

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Hence you can see from Rae’s example, her scribblings are her way of communicating meaning and sharing her ideas with others ( which is the purpose for writing). We can help our children develop an interest for writing by encouraging, praising and valuing their ideas expressed through mark-making!