Tag Archives: reading

Another Sight Word Game

I’ve posted about sight words in the past but check out another fun game to try from The Activity Mom.  I love stuff like this that is simple, requires only a handful of supplies and is fun!!


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Filed under 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities

So what’s a word family?

When your child is learning to read, looking for patterns in words is huge!  If they know the word, “at” for example, then they know all the words that can be made by putting a consonant in front of it, cat, rat, mat, you get the idea.   Once they understand blends, they can also read those, that, chat, slat.   All these words make up one big happy family, the -at family!  Other common word families that are good for your child to know are: -og, -en, -ack, -ig, I could keep going.  You can go to Mrs. Alphabet and see a list of more. Word families are good rhyming practice and naturally make writing easier too.

When teaching word families at school, we drew a house and gave it a family name, like the Acks!  Then we would write “family members” inside the house.

You could take it a step further and add words with blends.

You can also have them illustrate a picture of the words, ahem, I mean family members!

I also used to read, Flip the Page Rhyme and Read books to the kids to work on word families/rhyming.  It’s a great series with Zug the Bug and Tog the Dog. You can also make your own, as Having Fun at Home did.  Get your kids involved and this could be a great learning activity that is also FUN!

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McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut

What is meant by the term environmental print?

Environmental print is print found in, well, your environment!   The familiar shapes, colors and images of signs and lables help your child recognize and read some of their very first words. When your child sees those golden arches, they know it says McDonalds. This is very powerful for a young reader! Make a point of talking about it whenever you’re out in the car, at the grocery store, at Target or anywhere!

Nilla Wafers environmental printJif environmental printHoney Maid environmental print

Now that I know, what can I do?

Collect environmental print as a family. It can be a ton of fun for the family to collect environmental print together. You can work together to find an example for every letter. If you get stuck, visit Hubbard’s Cupboard for some examples. Save those candy wrappers at Halloween time, too!

Make a book. Lots of our environmental print relates to food. Collect the fronts of cereal boxes, can labels and any other food label you can get your hands on. Then have your child glue these to a piece of paper. Make a page that says, The (family name)’s like to eat … and place this in the front. Staple the pages together and you have a new bedtime story!

Sort. Sort your environmental print by letter name, beginning sounds, ending sounds, syllables, family favorites, you name it.

Take photos. Make it a family outing one day to go and take pictures of signs like stop, yield and exit. Then you can make them into a book, sort them, make doubles and play memory, the possibilities are endless!

Puzzles. Take the fronts of food boxes or enlarged pictures of environmental print and cut them into pieces. Have your child reassemble them.

“I Can Read” bag. Have your child decorate a brown paper lunch sack. Then put pictures of environmental print in it that your child can read. Your child will feel empowered when they show you, other family members and friends the words they can read. Be sure to add to this bag periodically.

Make your own. Make your own environmental print by labeling items in the house. Have your child design the labels and then post them on the item. Increasing the print in your home will boost those early literacy skills.

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Foster a love of reading

How can I help my child learn to read?

The best way to help your child learn to read is to first help them develop a love for reading. Don’t force it! If you make reading tedious, your child is not going to enjoy reading.   This will start a vicious cycle.  If they don’t enjoy reading they most likely aren’t going to be that interested in doing it.   We all know practice makes perfect!   Have you ever found yourself re-reading the same sentence for the third time. It was probably some piece of writing that didn’t interest you. So make reading fun for your child and they’ll be a better reader.

Here are some fun ways to encourage reading:
Audio books. Audio books are great for comprehension! Pop these in on a long car trip and it’s fun entertainment for the entire family. You might also consider getting the audio book and the actual print copy. Have your child listen to the audio book as they read along in the print copy. This reinforces the words being read aurally. You can often find these as a CD/book set already.  If there’s a book your child really wants to read that doesn’t come in a set, get the two parts separately and make your own.

Family members record books. Have different family members record themselves reading a book or have them read a book to your child via webcam.

Family Pets and Stuffed Animals. It can be intimidating to have to read a book out loud to an adult, especially if you know they are going to correct every mistake you make. So encourage your child to practice reading to the family pet or their favorite stuffed animal. They’ll be much more relaxed because everyone knows Fido can’t read so he definitely can’t say you read that word incorrectly. If your child really gets into this, dedicated programs with trained reading dogs are often found at your local library. Check with them or on the Internet to find these opportunities locally.

Magazines, Newspapers and Comics. Let your child read all forms of print. Kid-friendly magazines, newspapers and comics are all forms of print and may just be the format to hook your child on reading.

Library card. Allow your child to get their own public library card. Getting to check out your own books on your own card is a big deal for a kid and a sure way to foster reading. Also, don’t force your child to only check-out books they can read by themselves. Sure, it’s great practice to get a book or two that is at their reading level, but their interest may also be sparked by a more difficult book. Let them get one of these books and then use it as a read aloud book before bedtime.

Nonfiction. Nonfiction isn’t evil. We’ve been trained to think that kids only like storybooks. Kids do love a good story, but they are also naturally curious about their world. Nonfiction is a great way to hook a reluctant reader. Publishers are doing a much better job nowadays of publishing nonfiction text that is at an appropriate level for younger children. Ask your librarian to help you find these.

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Words to know by sight!

What are sight words and how do they help my child learn to read?

Sight words are common words that your child should be able to identify by sight, making reading easier. These are also known as Dolch words. These words are usually divided into Kindergarten words and 1st grade words. Each school district typically adopts the ones they feel a Kindergartener should know before entering First Grade.  While the lists may not be exactly the same, they usually have a lot of overlap from district to district. Just a few examples include: is, and, do, we, of, the, a, I, you, the, to, an, can and will.

When your child is in Kindergarten you may hear them refer to them as word wall words. Almost all Kindergarten classrooms have an area of the room devoted to the Word Wall. The word wall has sight words and student names posted under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Your child’s Kindergarten teacher will use the Word Wall as a reference throughout the year when the children read and write. There are also lots of fun games and center activities that your child will do with these words. Your child’s teacher will likely send home a list of sight words that your child will be working on during the year. If you don’t receive this, ask for a list so you can help her work on them throughout the year.

Now that I know, what should I do?

Play I Spy. When reading with your child, play “I Spy” to find sight words on the page. It is okay to find words within words, but first start with the word by itself. For example, the sight word “a” and “an” are inside “can.” Finding words inside words is definitely higher level thinking. Start slow and work up to this point.

Starfall.com or Jan Brett’s site. Use http://www.starfall.com/n/matching/sight-words/play.htm?f to play a sight word matching game. (By the way, this website is great for all sorts of fun learning to read activities.) You can also find sight words at http://www.janbrett.com/games/jan_brett_dolch_word_list_main.htm

Flashcards. Yes, the trusty flashcards work in this instance but try to make their use fun. Make two sets and play Memory/Concentration or hide them around the house and have a scavenger hunt.

Dr. Seuss. Good ol’ Dr. Seuss used many of these words in his beginner reading books. Kids love Dr. Seuss’ rhymes and rhythm and won’t even realizing they’re learning sight words as they read these books or have them read to them.

Alphabet Magnets. Each morning when your child comes to breakfast have a few sight words spelled on the refrigerator. See if they can identify them. You can also have your child spell different sight words. Going to be in the car for a long day of shopping or vacation? Bring along a cookie sheet and have your child play with the magnets on it. You could even look for sight words on billboards, store signs or road signs.

Sidewalk chalk, bath crayons, paintbrushes and more. Give your child any opportunity to make sight words fun. Use sidewalk chalk or bath crayons. You can even use a paintbrush and water to “paint” the words on the sidewalk. Make a hopscotch court with sight words instead of numbers. Whatever you do, just make it fun!!


Filed under 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Questions