July 2012 archive

We Can All Learn From This Mommy Teacher….Casey From Kidpired Creations!

Hi!  It’s Casey, stopping by from Kidspired Creations once again!  My husband and I have recently discovered the game Bananagrams and it has instantly become a family favorite!  Even my boys (5 and 2) love to play as well… they just play with a different set of rules… Mommy Teacher rules!

If you are not familiar with Bananagrams, it’s a banana-shaped bag filled with Scrabble tiles and, like Scrabble, there are tons of the most frequently used letters in the alphabet (i.e. vowels) and several of the less frequent ones.  This makes building words easier than when you just buy a single pack of 26 letters from the kid’s section at a store because you are able to make words that have double letters, or several words that use the same letters at once.  As you can probably imagine, there are endless ways you can use these tiles to work on basic reading and spelling skills.

One of the building blocks to learning to read is being able to break words into syllables.  As expert readers, we do this au.to.ma.tic.al.ly when we come to a long word, but we are able to do this because we were taught this skill.  I notice myself doing this when I am typing out a long word in an e-mail quite fre.quent.ly.

Refresher course:  what is a syllable?  A syllable is recognized by the presence of a VOWEL SOUND in a word.  For instance, the word “baby” has two syllables (ba.by) because of the presence of the long “A” and long “E” sound in the word.  Be careful, some vowel sounds are hard to hear, like the “schwa” sound in the word “table”/ˈtābəl/. <-That upside down e is called a “schwa.”  It sounds like “uh” and YES it’s a vowel sound.  But, I digress…


My oldest son, James, has already mastered sounding out/reading simple CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) words like “cat,” and bigger compound words like “bedroom” (Jess teaches about compound words here), so now I am moving on to larger polysyllabic words (words with more than one syllable).  These words will be easier for him to read if he separates them into different syllables and reads them individually, but first, I need to teach him how to count syllables.

Clapping out syllables is a great way for kids to be able to HEAR the number of syllables in a word:  BED (clap)  ROOM (clap).  I suggest starting off with simple compound words (cupcake, doghouse, rainbow) because they are made up of two monosyllabic (containing 1 syllable) words, thus it is easier to hear the separate syllables.

Another great way to count syllables is to use objects such as pennies to represent each different syllable.  This helps kids to be able to SEE the number of syllables in a word:  cup.cake = 2 pennies.  Point to each penny as you say each syllable separately.

James found objects around the house

that only have 1 syllable:

car, ball, shoe (though it’s really a slipper),

cap, rock, dice, car (again)

You can also teach your child to FEEL syllables by having him place his hand under his chin as he says the word slowly.  With each syllable that he says out loud, his chin will make his hand move down.  The only problem with this is that some sounds (like the schwa) do not make your chin move, so when I say “table” while teaching this technique it sounds more like “tay-ball”… I over-exaggerate each word and make funny faces when I say it.

When your child has begun to understand the concept of syllables, you can start visually breaking down words into syllables by using the Bananagrams tiles.  Start with words that have short vowel sounds like “exact” (ex.act) or words that are monosyllabic that become polysyllabic when you make it past tense such as “started” (start.ed).

Just for fun, I broke down the word “hippopotamus” because our dog’s name is Hippo.  Notice how James sounded it out “hippo.pot.[long A].mus” and I did not correct him.  Once he put the word together he automatically fixed the “long A” to the schwa sound.  Give your kids a chance; they might surprise you with the things they can figure out without Mommy’s help!

Thanks, Jess, for letting me hop onto your blog!  Please visit my Kidspired Creations blog for affordable, customizable and kidspirational art!  I also frequently post DIY projects and party ideas!  Also, please stop by my personal blog about My Kidspiration and all the hilariousness that comes with raising two boys and a baby girl!

FaVoRiTe Book(s)

Sean Patrick has more than one “Favorite” book.  In fact, the other day I bought a book and before I read it to him he said, “Mom, read me this one.  It’s my favorite book.”

So, as you can tell, he isn’t very credible if you are to ask him about his favorite book.  But, I can pretty much guess his favorite book(s) based on the ones he asks me to read to him OVER and OVER again 😉  I actually enjoy teaching him new things each time but sometimes I find a gem in the book that makes for the best teaching experiences.  And here is one example:

We have been reading “Curious George Makes Pancakes” a lot lately.

I always seem to look for extension activities but the following page jumped out at me because it provided the perfect set up for sequencing and retelling.







I made a copy of the page that showed how George made the pancakes (onto a piece of cardstock that I keep handy in my desk).

Then I split the page into the four steps (yikes I need a new color ink cartridge!) so that I could display them in our kitchen when we make pancakes:







When SP is a little older I will use them as sequencing cards (to observe his thought process as he orders the steps), and as retelling cards to tell me how to make pancakes.

Hope this inspires you to find extension activities in your little one’s favorite books.  If so, please share on my fb page!

Remedy for the little one with the “I can’t” bug!

My son has been using the phrase “I can’t” a lot lately because he is so catious, but lately I have noticed that he is using it as a crutch. We went swimming in the lake on the fourth of July and when asked to go into the lake he cried out “I can’t” because he was scared. I don’t want to ignore his fears so we are going to be swimming in pools more often until he is comfortable. But, I also want to implement the “I can” mentality into his vocabulary as much as I have the influence to do so.

So, here are a few things that I have casually introduced to Sean Patrick and spent time encouraging him with in the past week.

1) We started off coloring an “I Can” book that I could read to him and encourage him to “read” to daddy and others as well.

2) We made a homemade video of him on my iphone acting out all of the “I CAN” actions from the book (I would’ve shared this, but he didn’t feel like putting clothes on for the video haha).

3) I started a little personalized “I can” book for him in a Word document:







And 4) I stumbled upon a Barney (yes the big purple dinosaur) video called “I Can Do That” featuring a group of friends playing “I Can _____” and then putting on a skit about it.

These tips are NOT a short-term “cure” for the I can’ts!  All of these ideas are things I am currently teaching toward a GOAL that we can replace “I can’t” with “I can.”  I’m sure there will be plenty of reminders 🙂

“My Baby Can Read” – Mommy Teacher Review

I may get some hate mail for this “review” but it is long overdue.  I have been asked by several people over the last couple years “What do you think about the ‘My Baby Can Read’ program?”  For the longest time I couldn’t give a straight answer because I didn’t know much about it.







But, not too long ago, my sister asked me if I wanted it because she was going to get rid of it and I took it so that I could review it for everyone who has asked me what I think.  And here goes nothing….

The Program Summary: “My Baby Can Read” is a video series that introduces oral vocabulary with the corresponding print on the television screen.  So, for example, there might be an elephant and then the word “elephant” right after the image of the elephant appears. The same number of words will be repeated a few times throughout the video.

The founder of this program has a “manual” that suggests that children nearly master the words in the first video before moving on to the next.  He claims that children can “read” based on these videos.

What I believe: To build strong, efficient, and strategic readers children should have the opportunities to learn along the reading continuum that I demonstrate in a reading ladder in fun and meaningful ways.

Once children have mastered each tier of the reading ladder and have the ability to understand all of the print concepts and listening skills, then they are on the road to reading success.  THEN words can be memorized to help children FLUENTLY read words that they already know how to decode.

Would I use “My Baby Can Read?”  :  I am not opposed to allowing my little one to watch the videos every now and then to promote ORAL VOCABULARY….basically, to reinforce his first language that he is developing to date as a two year old.  BUT I would NOT use this as reading instruction by any stretch of the imagination….that is my personal opinion.   And I would not buy the program just to aid in reinforcing vocabulary, but I am as frugal as they come.  Hope this is informative for you!



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