Thursday, March 26, 2009

Supercharge Reading and Writing, or Get the Gears In Motion

Get reading and writing skills in high gear by using your child's own words to boost motivation and get the literacy gears clicking.

This process, called "Language Experience," is most often used with children and adults who are learning English.

But Language Experience, using kids' own words to teach them to read and write, works wonders for just about everybody!

Here's how it works:

1. Choose a picture from a magazine, a photograph, or a toy together. Your child will have buy-in if he gets to help pick out the item.

2. Ask your child as many questions about the item as you can think of.
Examples: Who (or what) is in the picture?
What are they (What is it) doing?
Why do you think ... ?
What have you done that is kind of like what you see in the picture?

3. Ask the child to make up a quick story about the picture or toy, and tell him that you will write it down.

Hints: Prompt the child to include a beginning, middle and end.
Keep the story as simple as possible.

4. When the story is finished, read it aloud and let the child make changes, if desired.

5. In your neatest printing, write the first sentence from the story on a long strip of paper.

Hints: Paper can be cut into 3x12 inch strips from construction paper or lined writing tablets. These can be purchased at the drug store or variety store in the stationary section.
If you live near a teacher supply store, you can also buy "sentence strips."

6. Have the child point to and read each word in the first sentence. This will not only help to reinforce letter sounds and blending, it will develop a sight word vocabulary.

7. When your little reader is comfortable reading that sentence, copy the next one, and repeat number 6.

8. Continue the process until the child gets tired, you run out of time, or the story comes to an end.

9. Read whatever portion of the story you have written on strips out loud together, and put the sentences in order.

10. If your child is excited and would like to keep going, mix up the first three sentences, ask him to read each sentence and put them back in order.

If the kid is tired, don't make him keep going or he won't want to come back to it later.

11. Mix up the next three sentences, have the child read them and put them in order, and so on.

12. Once your child has been through the whole story a couple times, cut up the first sentence to make word cards. Have your child read each word, mix up the cards, and let him put the sentence back in order.

Note: Since these are your child's words, these cards will become reading sight words or "instant words" that your child knows because he learned them in context.

13. Provide a piece of paper and pencil for your child to read each word and copy it to write the complete sentence.

14. Repeat the above process with all of the sentences until your child has copied the entire story. Ask your child to read the story aloud.

-The entire process may take several sessions.
-Quit working before your child gets exhausted.
-If your child tires of the story before you make it through the entire process, pick a new object, and start a new story. There's no rule that says you have to finish all the steps for each story.
-Keep reading picture books to your child for variety and to stimulate story ideas.


Thanks for the question, Stacy. :-)

If you have a question, please leave a comment. The answer to your question may be the next post!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun for Mom: The Womens Blogger Directory

Hey Moms,

Check out The Womens Blogger Directory for lots of fun information and insights from the girls.

A friend of mine, Kelly Armstrong, author of The Embassy Wife,
a hilarious account of what it's like to raise American kids abroad (,
recently won the Womens Blogger Directory Sisterhood Award

The Womens Blogger Directory

lists blogs by ladies with all kinds of expertise and wisdom. Listed in categories such as parenting, health, recipes, and poetry, there's a whole array of blogs to enjoy.

Try it out and have some fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

KidZui: Safe Computer Fun for Kids

A friend of mine told me she once innocently ended up on a porn site while surfing the web with her six-year-old, so now she makes sure her daughter steers clear of the computer.

I told her about

If you want your child to visit excellent educational websites that make absorbing lots of skills and information fun and painless; if you want to spark interests in everything from math, science, art, music, history, geography, math, literature, and anything else you can think of, take a trip to

KidZui provides lots of free services:
  • links to thousands of websites arranged by grade level, kindergarten through sixth, listed by subject and interest categories
  • weekly emailed reports of children's online activity and graphs of Internet activity for a 30 day period.
  • the ability to add family blogs and the website of your child's school to KidZui
  • you can register multiple children on different grade levels and receive reports on each child's Internet activity
  • additional services are also available for a nominal fee.
KidZui keeps your child safe from unsavory, inappropriate websites while it opens a new world of opportunities for learning and healthy playtime. On family trips to the zoo, museums or libraries, or just out and about, you'll be surprised at the interesting facts and ideas your child has picked up by playing computer games and watching cool video shorts.

If you have a great website for kids or anything else you'd like to share, leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Trish Wilkinson