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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Chinese New Year Gold Coins

You can’t miss these glittery, gold coins during the Chinese New Year season! These gold coins are supposed to signify prosperity and good luck. My little one was drawn to these coins straighaway! Besides being a great chocolate treat, these coins can be used for learning in 5 great ways!

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1. Counting Numbers

Simply use the coins for this Math Montessori idea! Teach your child how to count by using one to one correspondence according to the number cards shown!

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2. Dollars and cents

Show the money equivalent by matching the dollar value with the right number of coins. This is a great to teach value of dollars and the different dollar denominations!

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3. Creating shapes!

Get creative by making different shapes with the gold coins! Your imaginative little one may just surprise you with different shapes to make up a picture!

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4. Letter shape and recognition

You can also create letter awareness by asking your little one to make different letters! This enhances your child’s letter recognition and interest in the alphabet. Along the way,you can also teach phonics sounds!

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5. Comparison of quantity (more or less)

You can also use these beautiful coins for comparison of quantity! Simply stack up quantities like 3 coins and 8 coins and introduce concepts like ‘more’ or ‘less’ by asking your child to compare the different quantities. This helps your child to make visual discrimination of the different quantities.

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10 Great ideas to teach name recognition and spelling

This is a brand new year and school has just started for our little ones! Going to school and coping with all the demands of learning can be a little daunting for our preschoolers, especially those first-timers! Teaching them to recognize and spell their names might be the first step to adapting well to school life 🙂

Why recognising and spelling names is important

Learning to recognise and spell their names is one of the significant milestones in terms of language development. Recognising their names on their belongings and activity sheets helps them to take ownership over their possessions and also orientates them around the premise like knowing which shoe cubicle thy should leave their shoes in when they enter school, and which activity sheet to work on with their names written on it. It also helps them in their transition during different segments of the day like recognising and picking out the correct water bottle and snack box with their name labels during meal times.

We have come up with 10 simple ways you can teach your child how to recognise and write her name! Simply by using things and objects in your own home! 🙂

1. Ice-cream sticks

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2. Foam letters

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3. Toy trains or cars (Boys will love this!!)

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4. Muffins paper cups

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5. Bottle Caps!

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6.Pebbles

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7. Clothes Pegs!

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8. Scrabble Chips!

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9. Lego blocks!

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10. Paper rolls!

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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!

Don’t BOX me up!

Cardboard boxes can engage toddlers and children for hours! Whats great is that boxes are easily available and free! It offers development of skills like creativity, resourcefulness and flexibility! With a little imagination, children can turn these plain boxes into spaceships, cars, castles! Children constantly reinvent, improvise and transform things and ideas in this creative process!

Our little Box Play!

In our previous post, we shared our all-time favourite books titled “Not A Box”.

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Reading the book really got us excited about playing with our own boxes! I searched high and low everywhere in our kitchen and our storage room for boxes, and other recyclable materials like toilet rolls. I presented my girl with the collection of boxes, in all sizes and colours on the rug, and she was raring to go play with the boxes!

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Amongst the printed boxes, she instinctively picked out the cereal box, examined the box, and pointed to me the word “Cheerios”. This is a great way to teach print awareness!

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She further explored the other boxes and created this table with four legs.  She had a few incidents of the table falling over paper rolls of different lengths, which made her realise conceptually to make the legs of the table, she must have legs of the same length. She furthered discovered  that the legs must be evenly and positioned below the four corners of the box in order for the box to be stable!

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Buildings

All this while, my little girl’s mind was quick with ideas on how to transform the materials into pretend objects. She laid the same box on the rug, and this time, she places the rolls of different length onto it. Upon being asked what she was creating, she said,” Mummy, I am making buildings. She described the buildings as she pointed to them one by one, “An office, school, supermarket, shopping centre, Grandma’s house….”

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Trains and Tunnels

To extend and deepen her play episode, I provided more props like trains. Associating trains with tunnels, she created her enactment of the trains traveling through the tunnels, but moving them through or down the paper rolls. To make the trains roll down through the tunnel, she cleverly elevated it by making it rest on the cereal box. And to level the paper roll, she placed it on top of the cereal box. Talk about learning a simple physics lesson!

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Train Station

My little girl then wanted to make a train station!  So she created one, with each train fitted into a paper roll to mark its parking space.  She also started naming them- Goofy, Mickey, Pluto, Minnie… well, you guessed it! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters! I kindda like this train station!

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Making Letters

Rae has always played with ice-cream sticks and twigs to create letters. So almost intuitively, she took the paper rolls and embarked on creating letters of her own. She made Letter L, T, E…. and even a triangle shape. She experimented using only short paper rolls to make letter E, but replaced one roll with a longer one upon realising it needed to be longer.  It’s great to see how paper rolls of differing lengths come into play here for the creation of letters!

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So just give your child boxes, step back and watch the magic of their imagination at work!