Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can You Actually Play While You Learn?

Last year I had the opportunity of being a volunteer facilitator for a pilot program designed by Brigham Young University's School of Education. It is called Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy or SEEL for short. It is a fantastic program proven to drastically improve literacy among the early readers. BUT, it's techniques can be use across the board in all areas of teaching, (more on this later.) In a nutshell, children learn while they play, or they play while they learn. The idea is to use memorable and FUN experiences to engage the children in learning, and they will learn faster, better and more eagerly. I've no time to go into detail here, but I can offer you a link to their web sight (see link on side of page.) There you will see some video explaining SEEL. (you may even catch a glimpse of me) and you will have access to LOTS of teaching material you can print off and use to teach your Kindergartners and First Graders how to read. For you Home Schooling Moms, you will love it! And for you full time teachers, you will love it too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Letter Tiles

Hands-on manipulation is a vital tool in helping children through the learning process. Being able to physically handle letters helps them learn in a different way how to spell. Sometimes this physical manipulation is all a child needs to "get it." I love using these letter tiles when I review spelling word with my 1st grader. These letters were taken from a game called "Upwords" a variation of "Scrabble." You could use Scrabble tiles, but the Upwards tiles stack nicely on top of each other for more manipulation activities. I found the game at a second-hand store (Thanks D.I.) but you can look for it at garage sales, e-bay, and I recommend getting a few games so you will have more letters, but if you only have 1, you can still work with it. I cut the game board into strips with a scroll saw, then I lightly sanded each strip. The game board has raised areas that the tiles fit on nicely. That's what makes it fun for the children. They can spell out their word on their strip and the letters stay together while they slide the strip around showing me and the other children they spelled the word correctly. When reviewing spelling words with several children during centers, I asked each child to spell a different word so we would not run out of letters.

The other day we were working with the diphthong, /ou/ (ow, ou) and I used hot glue to glue the ow and ou letter tiles together. Then I asked the children to spell "cow" and they had to decide if they would use ow or ou, the same with house, brown and so forth. The hot glue easily came off the plastic tiles when we were finished with that letter combination. You could do the same thing for other letter blends like ch, sl, th, ing and so forth.

Teaching phonetics with these word tiles is great because they stack, so a child could spell cow, then you could ask them to place a letter on top of c and spell a different word. They can take an "n" and stack it on top of the c and spell now, then they could try an h and spell how. They could then place a c in front of the h and spell chow. Now they are manipulating words and finding patterns. It is fun for the children to see how high they can get their stack. (Now you can see why you want several games.)