A Simple Game for Learning Beginning Sounds

After determining the number of sounds to be learned, using blank cards, a picture was pasted on each one. The pictures could be cut out of a beginning sounds workbook. In my combined first and second grade, beginning sounds were divided into three groups. Players could use one pack until proficient, then use the second pack, and finally the third one. However, as their skill increased two or three packs would be used for one game.

To play the game, each card in the pack was placed on a table or rug with the picture side up. A small marker, such as a lima bean, was placed on each card. During a child’s turn, she would point to the beginning sound of a picture on a card and if correct, would take the lima bean. Her play continued until she couldn’t remember any more. Then she counted her lima beans and marked her score on a piece of paper. Her beans were replaced on each blank card. While her partner took his turn, her attention was apt to be focused on his responses to try and remember more when it was her turn again. I’m retired now but my favorite classes were  combined first and second grades.   The first graders loved this game and chose to play it over and over again.

Read more about beginning reading programs in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

Reading Comprehension for Beginning Readers

After receiving three reading groups in my first year of teaching, I never used three groups again. The only ones with the most confidence were the top readers in the first group. Because in each group there were variations of ability all recognized by others.

I’m retired now but taught for many years. I developed a program where each child, in my combined first and second grades, had their own reading book and soon was able to choose which stories of interest to read. Good comprehension followed after also being exposed to understanding literature read to them and thinking about writing their own stories.

See my entry about this approach: http://peggybroadbent.com/blog/developing-comprehension-for-beginning-readers-91215.html

A First Grade Story Book

In my combined first and second grade, for about two weeks in mid-fall, the first graders met with me daily to create a story book. So, while making the book they were learning together and exploring more about story content which hopefully would be an aid while writing their own stories. This book was kept secret from the second graders. They ignored or pretended to ignore what was happening. After all, each had created a book of his own the previous year.

Children voted for the characters, what their attributes were, and where it would take place. I also offered suggestions but mostly asked questions. Volunteers dictated the sentences for the introduction. This was usually composed quite easily.

The plot and theme were more difficult. Again I asked lots of questions and offered some suggestions. Certainly their ideas predominated, especially with the details. There was a time of rejection and acceptance until they agreed, with a good idea for a plot. It was rare in the fall that first graders could suggest the theme. Finally they would agree upon one from several I had offered.

Upon completing the conclusion different children were called upon to dictate sentences. Throughout the process, they were shown my notes and writing which were the first, second, third, etc. drafts until we had the whole thing dictated. Then a few children would offer some morals. Throughout all, the process and purpose of how to write a story was explained, and sometimes compared with professional authors.

After I typed the story, I would cut the pages into the number of sections that equaled the number of children, with each one pasted at the bottom of a blank page. Then each child was given a five by six inch piece of blank paper to make a picture with a black marker. (It was not a good idea for children to draw directly on a page because I’d hear, “Oops, I goofed.”) The picture was pasted above the typing with their name under it. The story title for the cover and the authors’ names were written on a cover and volunteers decorated it. After it was sent to the district printing department, it was returned with two copies for each first grader and one copy for every second grader with extras for the Book Center.

Finally the afternoon arrived when the books were passed out, and after practicing with each other, the proud first graders read the story to the second graders. Second graders were a great audience and contributed fine comments and asked good questions.

Read more about early reading and writing programs in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

Early Math Concepts for Young Children

In my combined first and second grade, activities during Choice Time provided children with opportunities to make discoveries and achieve mathematical understanding through play. In the Math Center, while constructing, playing games, and pondering puzzles they were problem solving, using logic, and gaining various concepts of number. The Art Center also provided opportunities for expanding math concepts through creating constructions, collages which involve sorting and classifying, and carrying out ideas for patterning. And throughout the year, there were studies and emphases on symmetry and patterning. These concepts are assets for good achievement, enabling children to fully understand their math. Plus, new math concepts in the district-required math books always involved concrete experiences and manipulatives. Lots of them in various forms. Yes, it’s possible for children to manage correct answers in their books without understanding, but that guarantees from about third grade on – huge difficulties. I always hoped that they would know how and why they arrived at their answers and see the purpose of learning math in their daily lives. Then good abstract math would follow.

The children also understood that there may not be only one right answer in all circumstances. They should think about it. You know, a three-year-old once taught me that 1 + 1 = 1. It was a beautiful day outside when he was concentrating upon pouring a heavy pail of water into his pail of sand. When he finished and looked down at his pail of sand he was shocked and asked, “Hey, what happened to my pail of water?” He found out that one pail of sand, plus one pail of water, equals one pail of wet sand. So, questioning results in class was encouraged, so that math could be fun and creative and encourage problem solving.

Learn more about the math program and Choice Time in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

“I’ve Got an A” Game for Learning Names of Letters

“I’ve Got an A” game used a set of 4” wooden letters placed in a bag. The game board was a large piece of poster board, about 24”x 28”. It was covered with a piece of wrapping paper with tracings of each wooden letter on 3” by 5” labels’ The labels were pressed on the board in alphabetical order. The game could be played using a small set of letters or using the whole alphabet. A child would reach in a bag and pull out a letter and say, “I’ve got a B” (or whatever letter was pulled out) and place the letter over the white one on the board. This continued until all letters were covered on the board with a wooden one. There was no winner.

A variation included a pack of cards with two letters on each card. The cards were placed down in a pile. The required wooden letters were spread out in front of the game board. When a child picked up a card, he would look and see if one of the letters was available, pick up the letter, and say, “I’ve got an S” and cover the white S on the board with the wooden one. If he had the letter, he would keep the card. If both letters were already on the board, he would place the card in a discard pile. The child with the most cards at the end won.

A little more advanced variation involved putting all the letters in front of the game board and each child taking a turn naming and placing as many letters as possible on the board. When no more letters could be remembered to place on the board, the covered letters would be counted. Letters were taken off the board for the next child’s turn. After all turns were taken, the child with the highest number won.

Read about games for beginning readers in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

   Teaching Young Children © Peggy Broadbent 2011 - All Rights Reserved