My youngest son wants to learn to read. A lot. He wants the first book he reads to be Harry Potter so he can join the unofficial fan club made up of his older siblings and assorted friends.
In his mind, he will skip over beginning readers, Dr. Seuss, and Magic Tree House. It will not surprise me if this is what happens; the acquisition of reading skills among my children has not followed the typical curricular arc at all.
Guest post by Amy Bowers (www.mamascout.com)
This summer we are concentrating on reading. He spells words (in wax sticks, magnets, with rubber stamps…), writes letters to friends and family, does some worksheet activities, and decodes simple stories. He was starting to get bored with the tedium and sameness of it all. So, I broke out the sight word ball and we have been having a blast!
These balls are a classic classroom staple. At my local educational supply store, they are available with numbers, words, and even comprehension questions. But for one dollar, you can make your own! Using a Sharpie marker, I covered the ball with a few dozen sight words, making sure to include some he already knew well so the game could move quickly. As he gained confidence, we added more.
Our game was simple. We threw the ball back and forth and whichever word the pointer finger touched, the catcher sounded out the word. When I caught the ball, I showed him the word and modeled sounding it out. He had so much more practice reading with the sight ball than if he did a traditional worksheet. He wanted to play and play.
Eventually, our game became more complex. We started trying to remember the order of each word we read in a sequence. Next, we made up a charade and sentence for each word – getting sillier and weirder with each one.
Playing with the ball, he was both physically and mentally active while decoding and was able to read longer without the struggle of trying to sit still in a chair. And I should add that he was emotionally engaged too.
Laughing and joking the whole time makes learning and retention a positive, joyful, and effortless endeavor– which is the guiding goal in our homeschool.
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