Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Words: Clear Articulation

When children are learning to read, it's important that they can hear and speak words clearly, so that they can distinguish individual sounds in words. Spoken speech is often unclear: words are often slurred together and vowel sounds are not always clearly articulated. Children who are lacking in confidence may also find it difficult to speak loudly and clearly enough to be properly heard.

To encourage children to speak distinctly, I use poems, songs and nonsense words. Poems and songs can be said or sung using slightly exaggerated articulation and rhythm, without seeming odd. Children can learn simple rhymes and songs, and can have a lot of fun reciting or singing them together, or even individually as they gain confidence.

You can find children's songs easily on the Internet. If you play guitar or ukulele, that can help to maintain a rhythm, to encourage children to sing audibly and to make the songs more fun. If you're just learning, don't be scared to have a go with your children - it's good for children to see adults learning a new skill and even making mistakes! I have a site for beginner or more advanced guitar/ukulele players (, with a page of children's songs: 

Poems can also be lots of fun; I've already posted (here) about poems and alliteration and my site. You can make up simple rhymes with children, and of course they love to have one about themselves. I used to have a book of 'personal poems' for my pre-schoolers, with their own illustrations; the children took great pleasure in 'reading' them to the group.

Nonsense words are also great fun for children as well as being a good way to develop awareness of the sounds and structure in words. You can make up a list of nonsense words that all rhyme with one word or name, then make up a poem using the words, and read it out with varying expression and lots of facial movements. 

One challenge for my 'expressive language' group was to make up the silliest word they could think of, then say it 3 times so it sounded different each time (they could write it out in different styles, too). This is a quick activity that can be repeated as often as you like.

Remember, when you are speaking to children, to articulate words clearly, and make sure the children are facing you so that they can see your mouth. This not only sets a good example, but of course helps them to differentiate words and sounds - valuable for developing their speech and their reading skills.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesday Words - Sight Words to practise

Some sight words seem to be very tricky for children to learn. Here are some that I have found to be especially difficult, although they are very common.

I developed these sheets for children to colour in or decorate and to display somewhere where they will see them frequently.

You can print these off if you like for your children. Click on the thumbnail to open a PDF document:




The sheets can be decorated with coloured pencils or felt pens, stickers, paste & glitter/ confetti/sand etc… anything that makes the word stand out and does not obscure the outlines of the letters.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Words: new Sight Words board game for February

This week, I'm posting a new printable board game to use with Sight Words cards. 

I've done a Hearts theme for Valentine's Day.

You can use the game with a small group, or with an individual child (to see how quickly they can finish the game). 

You will need to print the game on light card (laminate for best results), and you will also need little 'movers' or tokens, a die (dice) and word cards. You can use any words that you want the child to practise (see Jan 21 post for tips on sight words cards).

Here is the game to print (click on the picture to open the .pdf document): 

You are welcome to use this game for your personal home or classroom use. It will be available during February.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Small Group management strategy: 'Good Group Work' sheets

Working as an Intervention teacher, I have taught small groups of children at times, in order to work on specific skills or areas of learning.

These groups need to be very focused, but often the children who need intervention are those with other behavioural or focus issues. A calm, attentive atmosphere can be difficult to achieve.

One group I had was particularly inclined to be restless and to disrupt each other’s learning. I realised they needed a tangible reminder of the expected behaviour of the group, as well as a ‘reward’ for making an effort.

These are the ‘Good Group Work’ sheets I devised. We discussed the expected behaviours in the group (‘extra work’ - at home- was not compulsory but was well worth recognising). 

The children chose their preferred colour sheet (easy enough to photocopy onto coloured paper). They decorated them as they wished.

At the end of each session (after reminders/prompting if needed), each sheet was stamped in the relevant columns if the child had succeeded in that aspect (or if they had made a real effort– some would find some aspects quite challenging). The children were encouraged to work as a team (or tribe, as the ‘Tribes’ program was in use), so that they would help each other and we would all celebrate their successes in this area as well as in the reading skills learnt.

After several sessions, the reminders were far less frequent and the feeling of achievement was high. The children had better control of their behaviour and they were proud of their increased self-control and their increased learning ability. No further ‘reward’ was needed.

Here is a copy of the ‘Good group Work Sheet’; you are welcome to print it off for your classroom or home use (print/copy in black and white onto coloured paper/card; you can of course use stickers/stars instead of stamps): 

Click on the picture to open the .pdf file