Menu

Activities

Children, start your letter writing

It is the time of year when many children sit down to write an important letter addressed to the North Pole. Other children pen thank you notes and party invitations during this busy time of the year. Some say letter writing is a lost art, but it doesn't have to be!

Looking at writing: An emergent writer

This writing sample comes from a 5 year old boy in my neighborhood, who happily wrote a big long message one afternoon. "Wow, Nelson! What did you write?" Mom asked. Nelson looked at it, scrunched his nose, and said, "I dunno. Something about a butterfly, I think."

writing sample 2

What this sample tells me:

Books as play

Recently I was looking for a birthday gift for a soon-to-be five year old girl. As I wandered into the toy department of a well known chain store, I was struck by the number of toys that included some kind of electronic noise or light — a gimmick to grab attention.

I heard guitars without strings, came across talking dolls (fuzzy and not), and even digital cameras for the very young. There were animals that talked, clocks that asked questions, and more.

Teachers take the summer off, right? Ha!

I don't know a single teacher who stops thinking and learning over the summer. Whether we're teaching summer school, doing curriculum development, taking summer classes or observing flowers and insects at the pool, there's a small piece of a teacher's brain associated with sharing information with kids that doesn't shut off (OK, there are no fMRI's to support that statement, just a bunch of anecdotal evidence).

Is it a duck or a rabbit?

Years ago I was in a first grade classroom introducing new words to a small group. The word we were examining was "ditch."

I remember a little boy, Paul, recognized the word and was eager to share. I also remember the ooohs of the other kids when Paul replaced the "d" sound for a "b." (We wound up sounding out the word and coming up with a synonym for a trench, by the way.)

I was reminded of Paul when I recently came across a book entitled Duck! Rabbit! (Chronicle) by Amy Rosenthal and Tom Licktenheld.

'Tis the season, again!

Was it really a year ago that I wrote this post about feeling frenzied and guilty about the lack of quality reading and writing time at our house? Because it's happening again! And once again I realize that my girls ARE engaged in reading and writing. It just looks different this time of year.

Here what we're doing, language arts style, to get ready for the holidays:

How do you cook a turkey?

Every year our paper goes into a preschool to ask the kids their expert advice on how to cook a turkey. I couldn't resist sharing a few of their answers. As a teacher, I'd feel compelled to put these into a class "cookbook," and as a parent, I'd hang the page in the kitchen!

Here are some of their recipes:

Maya: Put in salt and tomatoes and strawberries and ice cream.

Miles: Put it in the oven. Cook it for 6 minutes. Yell for my dad to come to the table.

Reading logs: Our own hot topic

I've written twice before about reading logs: back in August 2007 with "Reading logs, reading blahs" and then again in April 2008 with "Should reading with parents count?"

Those two posts have sparked lots of comments, all of which carried valid points about the purposes and pitfalls of reading logs.

Pen pals, old school style

On the last day of school, Anna came home with a stamped envelope from her kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Z had offered to be pen pals over the summer with kids from her class. By 4:00 that day (the last day of school, after getting home at 3:00), Anna had written her first pen pal letter.

Are word searches a waste of instructional time?

A question came to me via the Ask the Expert service that Reading Rockets provides. With the teacher's permission, I'm including it here to get your opinion.

Pages

"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase