Friday, August 23, 2013

K to the z

For many new parents of kindergartners school can be overwhelming. Especially if it means all day every day school instead of half days like preschool.

When Ava started school in Ohio last year the half day every other day was a huge adjustment. And then when we moved and she had an intensive all day every day routine at her new school it was an adjustment for our family. Since she had been only going half days, she was behind in her new school and needed extra help.

After about two weeks of research I found some great resources. These ideas helped shift our teaching and educated me as a parent. I thought it would be helpful to share some of these ideas with you all!

Want to have your child thrive? 

Become informed about how to encourage and help your kids!

I have five awesome steps that we did (trial and error!) and Ava went from barely able to write a full sentence to winning the handwriting award her final week of school!

1. Become the most informed parent you can be even before your student enters the classroom. Our state (VA) has a curriculum link on their county website that lists the curriculum for the upcoming year.

This allows you as a parent to have a really great overview about what they will be learning.

And, you can make this fun and exciting! Our teacher also had a Website so on Monday we would review the letter or sight words of the week so she had some exposure prior to the lesson.

Also, enter the classroom and help out. Try to make connections at school and with other parents!

Word families are fun ways to help learn reading. 

We would do something fun like watching the Richmond Squirrels and then write all of the words that came to mind at the game. Ava would also write a 3-4 sentence report. The dot stickers are awesome. They help show that every word has a certain number of letters. 

Every 2-3 weeks we had some goals for Ava and Sophie to do. And they got to pick an activity to do. This was super cheap (20 for both for 2 hours!) 

One of our favorite stories is "Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded by Water."

This felt board I purchased at the teacher store has been so much fun. Reminds me of sunday school. 

Every word has a certain number of letters. Sophie has six letters in her name. The foam is very tactile and the dots represent how many letters are in her name.

Circle stickers are fun ways to write sight words. 

Back to school pics last year! 

2. Sight words and reading.
Sight words are the first words that many students use to begin reading. They are the best way to enable your child will thrive.

Here is a link to some fun sight word games you can purchase that incorporate sight words.

Sight words like "this" "little" and "look" will be a major part of your child's learning how to read. You may have a great teacher that explains this or not. But, you will do yourself a favor if you research how teachers are teaching students to read.

I took a whole weekend to do this and Website's like Mrs. Jump's are awesome. She has a free downloadable right now that uses your child's name in the "Wheels on the Bus" song. Ava and Sophie like singing with their names in the song.

Her story also is pretty cool! She earned more than a million dollars selling her classroom lessons!

The famous Mrs. Jump who was featured on CNN  for her lesson plans that earned more than a million dollars on

Here are some of the fun ways Ava memorized her sight words.
  • Sight words on balloons
  • Sight words on index cards
  • Sight word spelling bees 
  • Sight word egg find (take sight words and put in plastic eggs) 
  • Sight word sentences (Make a sentence out of the word of the week)
  • Nightly (!) sight word review
  • Point and tell - have Ava circle around the sight words on wall and pick a sight word to read 
3. Reading.
Read everything! We had Ava do grocery lists, poems, label drawings (known as guided drawing), read Sophia stories and read her stories. Experts also state that children are usually 2-3 levels above their reading level for listening to stories so we read chapter books. 

Show her your love of reading as well. Both Brandon and I love to read and really have a ton of books. Experts also say that the more books your child owns (not sure why it means owns and not library books) is an indicator of their success in school. So we try to make it fun to go to Barnes and Nobles and get their level readers

And label your child's lunch baggies and refer to their color by the same color sharpie! 

Here are some of the ideas I used. 

Add some key sight words she is working on that week and underline. 

  • Blue chips (print in blue) 
  • red apples (print in red)
  • Yellow peppers (print in yellow) 
As your child sees the color + word it starts to makes sense. There are two words and the first is always color and the second is the name of the food. That means there are two spaces or words that are used to describe the snack. 

4. Find an awesome teacher store and load up. This is a great way to get some fun products that incorporate reading, art and math. 

I really loved the color and number chart we purchased. And here are some of the other favorites. Both Ava and Sophie are able to use them. 

Magnetic Sight-Word...
Five-star rated, this toy allows Ava to see how a sentence is formed and its easy to use because it's color coded. 

Flip & Read Sight...
Also a five-star toy, the flip and sort sentence builder allows your student to use sight words to write letters. 

Lakeshore Magnetic Fishing Set
These fishing poles are so fun for all of my kids. They are worth every penny and help build hand/eye coordination. I thought about adding sight words on to the fishes. It's also fun in their water table. 

Alphabet Picture Stickers
ABC stickers that also look fun! 
5. Process and build.
Just like running a half marathon, your child's reading is built upon repetition and practice running their "miles". Build confidence in them by having them learn "I," "and," and other easy sight words and later they will be able to use these in a sentence. 

The Website has a great way to personalize your writing! I used it to help Sophie write her name. 

A habit of writing 

It will help your child to also write everyday. With Ava, we had her writing at least three to four sentences twice a day. It sounds like a lot and at first it was very tedious. However, it helped develop a habit of writing. 

As a journalism student my teacher also told us that journalists become great writers by habit. Many writers sit down and type away 100-200 words a day. 

A couple of times I videotaped Ava reading her book. She really liked hearing how the words sounded to someone else. 

Youtube it up

Super "E"  - Super cheesy and super catchy as it teaches about the silent "e." 

One word of advice? Have fun! Your kids will love learning and this will not be school. It will be fun! Teaching them things is a byproduct of your time and energy.

Next we will talk about building sentences with sight words! :) 



Jess said...

Im drinking this in friend!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE. OK if I share this link to a friend asking about homeschooling ideas on Facebook?

Jess said...

Im drinking this in friend!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE. OK if I share this link to a friend asking about homeschooling ideas on Facebook?

Erin said...

Of course!! Thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot!

Lisa said...

Wow!! Impressive!!