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 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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Shapes on Ice-cream Sticks

This week, we started a series of activities on teaching shapes! I concocted this idea from the many ice-cream sticks I have. My girl, already recognised the shapes and I wanted to teach word recognition of the shape names. So I created this matching game using ice-cream sticks!

Materials:

1. Ice-cream sticks

2. Shapes cut-outs

3. Shape Name word cards

4. Ice-cube Tray with cover

5. Playdoh

6. Paper Cup

I presented the activity for my girl on the learning tray below:

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For preparation, you can stick the shapes and their names on separate ice-cream sticks and place them in a paper cup.

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To start the activity, you can ask your child to put a little playdoh into each compartment of the ice-cube tray! Young children will love this tactile experience of kneading and manipulating the playdoh to fit into the compartment. It also helps them to learn how to estimate the quantity that is needed for each compartment.

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First, model the activity for your child. Place the ice-cream sticks with the shape names firmly into the playdoh in each compartment. Introduce 3-4 shapes for a start. Read out the names of the shapes as you put them one by one. Then match the shape to the names by placing them in front. After you have finished matching, repeat the naming of the shapes as you point to each set, for reinforcement.

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Let your child try the activity out! You can place the shapes in front of the ice-cube tray, and let your child choose the shape to match.

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My girl loves this hands-on learning experience of matching the ice-cream sticks to the names of the shapes! I helped out sound out the first letter of the shape name, and it helped her tremendously to recognise the names of the shapes. After finishing one round of matching, she wanted to repeat the matching game again!

She was also mastering the skill of making the sticks stand upright, and discovered the solution of using more playdoh as the base. Talk about incidental learning!

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The next day, we played the matching game, only this time, I stuck the shapes first, and she has to match differently with the names of the shapes instead. Using a game creatively and differently is often a sure way to sustain their interest in an activity. It also helps them to apply the concepts in different contexts, and thus helps them to transfer the learning.

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If you worry about the playdoh drying up if you can leave them in the ice-cube tray, it won’t happen if you get those that comes with a cover!

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You can also use this activity to introduce other new words such as animals, numbers, anything!

This is going to be a week of learning about shapes for us! Watch out for our next posts!

Word Recognition- Muffin Tray with Farm Animal Figurines

Farm animals is probably one of the first few themes that your child learns about. For introduction, you can read to your child picture books or interactive books on farm animals. Check out our list of English and Chinese books on farm animals.

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For this post, I am using the example of Chinese characters. To prepare the learning tray, I stuck the word cards in each compartment of the muffin tray. Three to six new words is about the right number to introduce to your child if she is fairly new to them.

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How to use the learning tray:

1. Point to each new word in the muffin tray and read out the words to your child.

2. Show each farm animal to your child and name the animal.

3. Then place the animal in the right compartment to match the word.

4. Repeat the same process until your child can name and match some animals.

5. Once your child is confident, let your child use the learning tray independently.

You can introduce other new words and animal figurines once they master the word recognition. This play-based approach can be applied to new English words.

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Dramatic Play

In the process of using the muffin tray, my girl like any other child, likes to do imaginative play with the farm animals. She started narrating a story about the farmer getting the farm animals to line up and used the animal figurines to dramatise it. She lined the animals up on the side of the tray, according to the sequence of animals in her story. When you see your child having a play episode, seize the moment to allow your child learn through play! Make animal sounds and ask your child to guess the animal. Use descriptive words to describe the farm animals. It is through these playful moments that your child gets to pick up new vocabulary from you! 🙂

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Where to get the animal figurines:

I bought these from a party and toy supplies shop, which can be found in heartland neighbourhoods. The more expensive ones can be found in Mothercare or Motherworks.

10 Great Ideas To Teach Naming & Word Recognition!

Here are 10 great ideas you can try out with your preschooler to teach word recognition!

1. Name objects in the home or familiar environment

Whenever possible, name objects found in the familiar environment for the toddler. ” This is a table”, ” That is a soft toy”. Be patient as it takes lots of repetition for the child to process new words. What you are providing is the language input needed for vocabulary building and semantic understanding!

2. Label objects found in the home

You can print or write on index cards names of objects found in your child’s room or home and paste them on the objects (e.g. table, chair, mirror, toys). Consistently reinforce the names of the objects, and the written words helps your child to develop print awareness which is a pre-reading skill.

3. Create a vocabulary book

Recycle your magazine or brochures by asking your child to choose a picture or photo. Tear them out and paste them onto a notebook. Write the names of the objects for the child. You can use this little booklet as a bedtime book to read the names of the objects with your child. Make it enjoyable and fun whenever possible!

4. Go for a learning trip to learn thematic sight words

Choose a theme (e.g. zoo animals, farm animals, plants, airport), and go on a learning trip with your child! Point out the animals or objects you want your child to learn. You can ask your child to snap photos of them with your camera, print out the photos and make your own picture cards! That way  learning comes alive and contextualised, and a positive learning experience definitely will motivate your child to learn enthusiastically and faster!

5. Seize teachable moments in your family routines

Family or travel routines are great opportunities to teach your child to pick up new words! They can include meal times, cooking in the kitchen, watering the plants, getting ready for school, going to the zoo, etc. One of my favourite times are bus trips that I take with my daughter. I love pointing out the trees, birds, people, traffic lights, houses, shops, etc to her and ignite a sense of curiosity about them.

6. I spy with my little eye

This is one traditional game that works wonders when it comes to purposeful play. Play the game to inject some fun into the naming and identification of objects. You can take turns with your child, and say, ” I spy with my little eye, something that is red, round and is very crunchy!” This motivates your child to listen attentively for the cues and to look for the object and name it!

7. Mystery Bag

Put several objects into a mystery bag, feel for an object, describe it and ask your child to make a guess what it could be. Or ask your child to reach into the bag and guess what she touched before pulling it out of the bag. Kids love this games the same way babies love playing peekaboo!

8. Fishing Game

Make a fishing rod with a magnet at the end of the string. Then attach some paper clips to the sight words, read out a word and ask your child to fish for the correct word. This again makes word recognition fun and engaging for your child!

9. Hopscotch

Create a hopscotch in the walkway with chalk, and write some sight words in each box. As the child steps into each box, ask the child to name the words! A very kinesthetic learning activity!

10. Scavenger Hunt

Read out the sight words and ask your child to go on a Scavenger Hunt for the objects (e.g. soft toy, bowl, spoon, pencil, crayon).  Then ask her to match the objects to the words. Your child will be elated to start looking for the objects!

Hope this list tickles your mind to think of fun-filled activities for your child to learn naming and word recognition! Feel free to share any other great idea that works! 🙂

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