Monday, February 28, 2011

Two videos: Phonics Song & Short Vowels Song

I haven't been able to post in a while.  My daughter had her birthday (she is FOUR now!), my husband and I had our wedding anniversary..and other family things kept me from updating on my daughter's progress.  She learned the Phonics Song and the Short Vowels song well enough for me to video tape her. She's been known to belt these out from the seat of the shopping cart at the grocery store.  One thing about teaching to read at this age is that preschoolers thrive on repetition, something really essential to getting the basics of reading down.

Here is my daughter singing the Phonics Song:

And here she is singing the Short Vowel Song:

Since my older set didn't have short vowel cards any more, I made my own by picking a basic font in Word and making it large enough to fill a page in landscape format.  I then printed them on colored card stock, a different color for each letter. I couldn't find a font that printed a basic handwritten-style lower case "a", so I typed the letter "o" and then used a black Sharpie to add the line.  It's good to introduce both styles of "a" right from the start, since the "fancier" version is what the child will see in most books.

Now we're working on her learning the Ferris Wheel, where she is putting consonant sounds in front of short vowels.

Here she is proudly standing in front of the race track, showing the progress her race car is making:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sharing Some of My Favorite Alphabet Books

Before ever formally teaching any of my children to read, we have filled their lives with books.  We have an extensive home library that gives our children plenty of reading options.  I've always loved alphabet books as an easy way to begin introducing letter sounds to my children.  I like to use a wide variety of them.  For one thing, each one has a different set of words it uses for the letter sounds, giving the child many different examples of a letter's usage.  Additionally, alphabet books can be a creative way of introducing other topics to your child, from math or science to the fine arts.

If you have a pre-reader or new reader in your home, here are some titles that you might like add to your home library.  Otherwise, check to see if your local public library has these available.


A is for Africa  introduces young children to another culture.  I think that the earlier this is done the better.  Young children are curious about the world around them as it is, so this is a perfect time to show them just how diverse the world is.  Seeing other children and how they live and dress...both the differences and the similarities...are invaluable to every child's education. This title is filled with photographs of traditional life and culture in Nigeria.

Bird Alphabet (A Happy Day Book) We've had this book since my oldest was about a year old.  It was a gift from my mother-in-law.  It has undergone numerous repairs over the years! Set in rhyme, it introduces a different bird for each letter of the alphabet.  A fun part of the illustration is that each letter is made with feathers.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Can a home library be complete without this book?  A perennial favorite, just about everyone in our household can recite this book from memory.  We've had to go through multiple copies over the last 20 years!  All of my children have taken great delight in exclaiming "OH NO!" when all the letters fall from the tree.

The Frog Alphabet Book , The Butterfly Alphabet Book, The Underwater Alphabet Book, The Icky Bug Alphabet Book and more, all by Jerry Pallotta, are humorous and extremely educational.  For younger listeners, you can simply read the letter and the name of the highlighted creature or object.  For older listeners there is more in-depth information provided to enhance their learning experience. Pallotta has written over two dozen alphabet books, so you're sure to find at least one of his titles that will interest your child.

Museum ABC provides a wonderful way to introduce very young children to the works of many great artists.  From The Metropolitan Museum of Art, this book includes works by Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet and other western artists, as well as pieces from Japan, China, Africa and more.  I love giving my children early exposure to great works of art, and this book is a gentle introduction that gives young children a familiarity with the images of a wide variety of artists and artistic styles.

Dr Seuss ABC is another one of those books that I can't imagine a home library without!  This book too is nearly memorized in our home.  Filled with the typical whimsy of Dr Seuss, my personal favorite is the choice for the letter "T":  Ten tired turtles on a Tuttle-tuttle tree.

Eating the Alphabet is a new favorite in our home.  Multiple examples of fruits and vegetables are given for each letter of the alphabet.  This has helped my preschooler be more open to trying some of these, as she's excited when she recognizes their name from this book!  One time we had a lot of fun going to the grocery store together and looking for some of the produce named in this book.  She was so excited to see eggplant and kohlrabi!

There are so many more delightful titles I could share here, but then this post would get way too long!  I'd love to hear about your own favorite alphabet books.  Please share yours!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning the Alphabet Sounds Song

Here is my preschooler learning the sounds of the alphabet by singing along to the video of a classroom demonstration.  We do also have the song on a cassette tape, but my daughter is especially thrilled to hear and see it on video.  I scan briefly to the video on our TV.  The video is quite old and a bit shaky, but it's fun for us to watch as we actually know one of the little girls who is prominently featured in many of the demonstrations.  Only she isn't a little girl any more!  She's a mom with children of her own!

My daughter isn't singing very loud in this recording, so I don't know how well you can hear her.  Once she has the song completely memorized I will post a video of her singing it without any accompaniment.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Beginning a new adventure

It's hard to believe it was around this time of year in 1995 when I first sat down with my oldest daughter to begin teaching her to read.  She was 4 years old at the time and eager to learn.  She already knew all her letter sounds, could identify the letter symbols and when we played a game where I'd say a word to her, she could tell me many of the letter sounds she heard in the word.  After several months of wondering what to do and having no idea how to teach her to read, a friend who had homeschooled for a number of years loaned me her own set of Sing, Spell, Read and Write and our adventure began!

She devoured the program and was finished with it and reading fluently within three months, about a month shy of her 5th birthday.  If I had wondered before then, it was clear that she wasn't a typical 4 year old, as she went from completing this program to reading at a 5th grade level.  It was like all she needed was someone to show her how the puzzle fit together and she would take over from there.

From then on it was clear that I would be homeschooling her, as the schools where we lived at the time didn't teach children to read until the first grade!  What would they do with a barely 5 year old kindergartner who was reading the Little House books?

And so the years have gone by and I've taught two other children to read and have homeschooled them (my son now attends an area Vo-Tech high school so he can major in computers).  Unfortunately I moved away from where the friend lives who loaned my Sing, Spell, Read & Write so was unable to use it for the next two children as it was out of my price range.

Now I've got my youngest, turning 4 later this month, behaving much as her older sister did.  She already knows all her letter sounds, can pick out the sounds of letters in some words, and knows by sight all the letters of the alphabet.  As young as she is, it's time to begin.  What amazes me...and humbles me...about this is that this is my daughter who was born 13 weeks premature and weighed only 1 lb, 12 oz at birth and was only 13 inches long!  According to her pediatrician (who is also a neonatologist), only 30% of babies born as early as she was have no problems.  In my daughter's case, she is one of that 30%, having no disabilities, no delays, no health issues whatsoever.  She is very small for her age, but that is not a problem.  She's about the size of an average 2 year old, but she doesn't let that stop her.

You'll note in the photos that she wears glasses.  While many preemies wear glasses due to a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), her vision issues are completely unrelated to her prematurity and are solely a hereditary nearsightedness.  She actually has better vision than her two older sisters who also wore glasses as preschoolers!

Anyway, back to our new adventure!  Last week I received in the mail an old edition of Sing, Spell, Read & Write, the same edition I used back in 1995.  The person who sent it to me asked me to just pay for the postage cost.  What a blessing!  Yesterday I began to teach my youngest daughter the first song in the program.  You'll note from the photo below that if you are familiar with current version of SSRW, there have been a few changes to the song.  But this is the version I used before, so I am quite happy with it.

I don't know if my youngest will learn as quickly or take off as high as my oldest did back in 1995.  That isn't important.  Right now she's eager to learn and having fun, so we'll keep moving forward as long as it's fun.  I'd love for you to join me in this adventure!