Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Next Post-Created Just For You

I have decided that my next post will come from your questions regarding reading.  So, I want to hear from you. 
  • Is your child struggling in the area of reading and you aren't sure what to try next?
  • Have you attended a Student Study Team meeting (SST) regarding a reading-related issue and you are not sure what to make of the results?
  • Is your child beginning to show signs that he is ready to start reading, but you are not sure where to start?
  • Are you concerned that your child may have a serious reading problem?
These questions only cover many of the topics I have often discus with parents.  I am happy to answer ANY questions you may have.  I will use your questions as my next topics for posts (I promise to keep anonymous), so leave me a comment.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Personally Yours Books-Review and GIVEAWAY (Ends 4/29)

I remember when I was a child and how much I LOVED seeing my name in print! I guess I was a little more enthusiastic than most given that my first name is Ellery....and honestly, how often do you come across that one?!

My kids were so excited when we received a book from Personally Yours Books with Mickey on the cover, but the pure joy came as I began to read it.

Personally Yours Books creates personalized storybooks with your child's name, family/friends names, and your location in it.  It was fun to see that it had Mr. F's name on every page, and had references to LoLo, LaLa, and me as well.  Every time I would read the kids names aloud their mouths would drop open, then they would giggle.  It really helped to keep their attention for the whole story.

I like that the cover is hard and well made, though the pages are paper (so not appropriate for very little ones to handle).  The size is a little smaller than a traditional hard-back storybook, but I found that I liked that because it was more portable.  These books are really cute, and now is your chance to win your own!

To enter the giveaway, visit 
by clicking HERE.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Great Digraph Printables-Carl's Corner

If you haven't read my previous post on Carl's Corner, you might not be aware that I love, love, love this site! It has so many great resources for every area of teaching reading. 

I thought that after my last post on digraphs and tongue twisters, you might be interested in more resources to help you teach digraphs.  Carl's Corner had a great page on digraphs (that also includes vowel pair digraphs), with TONS of printable worksheets, rhymes, games and activities.  This resource is free, and is a great place to find everything you will need to successfully teach digraphs to your reader.

-To find out more about digraphs, visit my previous articles on:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Digraphs and Tongue Twisters

One great way to teach digraphs is through tongue twisters.  Even if your child is not yet reading, tongue twisters are a good tool to use for teaching them auditory recognition of digraphs.

For more on what digraphs are revisit my post on them.

Here are some tongue twisters you can use to help teach digraphs:
  • How much wood could Chuck Woods' woodchuck chuck, if Chuck Woods' woodchuck could and would chuck wood? If Chuck Woods' woodchuck could and would chuck wood, how much wood could and would Chuck Woods' woodchuck chuck? Chuck Woods' woodchuck would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as any woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could and would chuck wood. (To teach CH)
  • She saw Sherif's shoes on the sofa. But was she so sure she saw Sherif's shoes on the sofa? (To teach SH)
  • Thirty-three thirsty, thundering thoroughbreds thumped Mr. Thurber on Thursday. (To teach TH)
  • Why do you cry, Willy?
    Why do you cry?
    Why, Willy?
    Why, Willy?
    Why, Willy? Why? (To teach WH)
  • Tom threw Tim three thumbtacks. (To teach TH)
  • He threw three free throws. (TH)
  • Chester Cheetah chews a chunk of cheep cheddar cheese. (CH)
  • There those thousand thinkers were thinking
    where did those other three thieves go through. (TH)
  • Thirty-three thousand people think that Thursday is their thirtieth birthday. (TH-good one to use to point out that TH can be at the beginning, middle or end of a word)
  • Fresh fried fish,
    Fish fresh fried,
    Fried fish fresh,
    Fish fried fresh. (SH)
  • If two witches would watch two watches, which witch would watch which watch? (CH-also teach the difference between CH and TCH)
  • King Thistle stuck a thousand thistles in the thistle of his thumb.
    A thousand thistles King Thistle stuck in the thistle of his thumb.
    If King Thistle stuck a thousand thistles in the thistle of his thumb,
    How many thistles did King Thistle stick in the thistle of his thumb? (TH)
  • Which witch snitched the stitched switch for which the Swiss witch wished? (TCH)
  • Thirty-three thousand feathers on a thrushes throat. (TH)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sight Word Game #1

Learning sight words is often times done with flashcards and repetition.  Works for some, but not for all.  I really suggest making learning sight words a game. 
Here is one game I like to play with my son (4 years old) that he just loves.

Here is what you will need:
  • old magazines, newspapers, or flyers that come in the mail
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • plain paper
  • pencil
Take the plain paper and fold it in half long wall, so you have a vertical line.  Write one sight word at the top of one side, and another on the other side.  We only do 2 words at a time right now because he is only 4, and we have learned "the" and "and."  Then have him find the words in the magazines/papers you have.  For my son, I show him a page that does have the words on it and tear around the paragraph or phrase.  He then has to find the word, cut it out, and glue it on the correct side of the paper.

This game makes learning those sight words a little more fun and exciting, while exposing him to recognizing different fonts, capital and lowercase letters, and different styles of writing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sign Language And Phonics-Tip #4

I can not tout the benefits enough of using sign language and phonics, but I also believe it works wonders to teach phonemic awareness.  Remember phonemic awareness is a skill pre-readers need to master in order to begin reading.  It is the realization (and understanding) that spoken words are made up of sets of sounds. 

Example: the word cat is made up of the SOUNDS /c/, /a/, /t/.  This is NOT referring to the letters and their individual sounds, but the sounds heard within a given spoken word.

Now with that clarified, here are some helpful hints to using signs to teach phonemic awareness:
  • As you are teaching segmenting, it works well to teach each sound with a handsign.  For this I would use one sign for each sound.  So for example, for the word cat you would say /c/, /a/, /t/, and use each ASL handsign for each letter.  It is important to use one sign for every sound to help your child better understand that each sound is unique and individual.
  • When you are teaching blending, I suggest using the same handsigns (as you did for segmenting) but now stretch them out from left to right as you blend the sounds. For example, say the word cat slowly with the letter sounds connecting.  As you speak, do the hand signs from left to right changing them as the sound changes.  This will help your child begin to understand that sounds can be connected together to make a word, and that words go from left to right (later helping with reading).
Do you have questions about how to implement this? Ask away-I will answer!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sign Language And Phonics-Tip #3

I had mentioned before that when I am teaching sign language with phonics I do it in conjunction with the Houghton Mifflin Sound Spelling Cards.  Here is a link to see what the cards look like.  You will notice that this is a pdf file that was created by another school district which shows recreated Sound Spelling Cards.  That is because you are not able to reproduce the actual materials from Houghton Mifflin (HM).  You can buy them for $139 if you like!

When you look at the cards you will see that there is a picture for each card, and the various spellings for each sound.  I like that these cards show you ALL the variations for how the sound can be spelled, unlike other letter cards that just show a picture and the letter.  This is another reason why when I teach the sign for each card I use the picture, not the letter handsign. 

For example, look at the letter C card.  It is a picture of a cat.  I would have the card hanging on the wall and say "C as in cat says /c/, /c/"  and sign the word cat as I am saying this.  Then, I would stop and explain that C can say /c/ on its own, or the best friends CK can also say /c/, but only at the end or middle of a word.

I would usually teach about one sound/spelling card every 3 days or so until it was mastered.  Then as I add in new ones to teach, I always end the lesson with a review of all the cards I have done.  I would suggest that you align your lessons with the language arts adoption that your child will be using in his elementary school.  If you are not sure which program they use, just call the school and ask.  You can always create your own too, but why not give them a head start!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sign Language and Phonics-Tip #2

It is so nice to read that PBS has posted an article on the benefits of Sign Language and reading.  It talks about how sign language can benefit the kinesthetic learner (as well as everyone else), and how it aids in the development of early reading skills.  Definitely worth a read.
Check it out HERE.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sign Language and Phonics-Tip #1

In my previous post on sign language and phonics I talked about the benefits of connecting phonics and sign language.  In this post I bring you a great resource that can teach you quickly and easily the various signs you might need.  This website, called, gives you an online dictionary that shows videos of people signing rather than other ones that show pictures. After all, sign language can not be shown accurately through words since it is a visual language. 

I suggest that you use the ASL dictionary portion of the website. You just choose the word you want, click play, and watch the video which shows how to create the sign for your word. Enjoy!