DIY · education · el cheapo · Homeschool · Kids

Day 155: Teaching E to Read

Now that E is well and truly riding her bike independently (including starting, stopping, and turning), I’m turning my focus back to her reading skills.

When we started with the Bob Books she was zooming right through them. At this point, though, starting set four, she is — how should I say this? — extremely opposed to reading. It seems that she has the same perfectionist streak as her siblings: if she can’t do it perfectly the first time, she gets very upset and refuses to do it at all. Maybe I need to break out the chocolate chips again and reward her every time she’s stumped by a word but works through it?

I’ve taken the advice of some of my readers (thanks, guys!) and tried some of the books from Progressive Phonics. They’re a lot of fun, with silly stories that are designed for the adult and child to take turns reading (adult reads all the words in black, child reads all the words in red.) They’re very basic and easy for her, but I’ve been using them intermittently to keep E enjoying the experience of reading.

In the meantime I’ve discovered a plethora of online resources, many of them free, including this amazing blog called This Reading Mama where, for the low, low price of signing up for her free email newsletter, you can access and download hundreds of materials. I was particularly excited because she has entire packages of games, activities, and puzzles that correspond to each of the Bob Books. I downloaded two to see how E would like them.

She loved them. She was particularly drawn to “I Spy Sight Words” where sight words from the books are printed in teeny-tiny fonts (maybe 4 point?) and hidden in a picture. E was delighted when I handed her the magnifying glass to aid in her search, and she kept me updated by shrieking out the sight words as she found them. I don’t think she even realized she was reading.

We played the “Blend-a-Word” game, in which you draw cards from two piles (beginning and ending), throw them into the “blender” (a printed picture of one, really) and read the result. The beautiful thing about this game is that you’re supposed to write down all the words, including nonsense words that aren’t words at all. The idea of nonsense words tickled E and she was keen to be the first to read the two cards together to see if she could spot a fake word before I could.

Her favourite by far (she loved it enough to play repeatedly with anyone and everyone) is “Oh, Snap!” This one wasn’t from the Bob Books activity packs — I think I found it on Pinterest. The players take turns pulling popsicle sticks out of a cup. If they can read the word written on the end of their stick, they get to keep it; first one to ten sticks wins. Pretty simple, but there are three or four sicks that say “oh snap!” on them. If you get one of those, all of your sticks go back and you have to start from zero. Despite some tears the first couple of times she picked up an “oh snap!”, E keeps coming back to this game.

That’s how we spent an hour this morning: playing games and doing puzzles, reading and playing with the words from the next few Bob books in the series. I’m curious to find out whether E reads the books more easily now that she’s seen the words so many times in a different context. I’ll keep you posted.

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