For Parents and Teachers of Struggling Students

If you don’t happen to be one of my fellow sellers at Teachers Pay Teachers you might not know that we tend to treat our top sellers over there kind of like rock stars.

 

We admire them. We sometimes gush like groupies any time we communicate with them. And, naturally, some of us want to be them. Not for the fame, of course, but for the incredible impact they continue to make on so many students.

 

Thank you, Minds in Bloom, for the opportunity to contribute "What Your Struggling Students Need You to Know."I’m honored to have contributed to the blog of one such rock star, Rachel Lynette. You can find my guest post, “What Your Struggling Students Need You to Know” on her blog, Minds in Bloom. Even though I wrote this one with teachers of struggling students in mind, the information is just as relevant and important for parents as well.

 

Rachel Lynette does leave comments open over there, so please check it out and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you.

 

What’s the Deal with Sight Words?

For those of you who would like a better understanding of sight words I’m happy to introduce my guest today, Margo Edwards. From the wonderful place called SightWords.com she’s here to help make everything clear.

 

If you have a child who has reached Kindergarten (maybe even Pre-K), you have probably heard her teacher mention something about “sight words.” And you may have asked yourself why in the world your child needed to memorize these words. Isn’t she (or he) supposed to be learning phonics? Doesn’t that teach children to “de-code” the words so they don’t have to memorize? Isn’t memorization the most boring thing ever?

 

Learn more about sight words, the what, the why, and the how.

A word cloud of all the Dolch sight words.

 

Don’t worry—the teacher is not shirking her educational duties by having students just memorize stuff. Sight words are a supplement to, not a replacement for, phonics instruction. Sight words are, in the grand scheme of things, a small but vitally important percentage of your child’s vocabulary. These words occur very frequently in the English language, words like it, can, and will. For example, the 315 words in the Dolch sight word list (taught in many American schools) include 80% of the words found in a typical children’s book and 50% of the words in an average newspaper.

 

Also, some of these high-frequency words are phonetically irregular, meaning they don’t follow the “rules” of phonics—words like buy, talk, and come. So your child has to memorize those anyway. But even this will pay off later when she can apply her knowledge to other similar non-phonetic words, such as guy, walk, or some.

 

Sight words are memorized so that a child can recognize commonly-used or non-phonetic words at a glance—by sight—without needing to slow down and go letter by letter. If your child has to stop and think every time she encounters one of these high-frequency or phonetically irregular words, she can’t pay proper attention to what the sentence is about. She needs to be able to recognize these words in an instant so she can focus her brainpower on more difficult words and on understanding the meaning of a sentence or paragraph.

 

This concept is called “Learn to Read, so you can Read to Learn.” These early years of your child’s education will concentrate on teaching her to read fluently. Once she is fluent in written English, she can then focus on the content of what she is reading. Older students don’t have to think about the structure of a paragraph or sentence or how to pronounce all the words; they are instead learning the history or science being explained in the text.

 

For an analogy, think about driving a car. You have to pay attention to several things—traffic signals, other cars, pedestrians, street signs. Now imagine that you also had to stop every few seconds and think, “Wait, which one is the gas pedal?” It’s incredibly difficult to navigate your way to a new destination if you’re struggling to remember the basics of how to operate the car.

 

Young drivers need to log lots of practice time behind the wheel, until driving the car becomes second nature. Then they can focus their attention on getting where they are going. Likewise, sight words practice helps young readers become so familiar with high-frequency words that reading them becomes second nature.

 

Snakes and ladders board game is a great way to teach and reinforce sight words.

Sight Words Snakes & Ladders is similar to the classic board game Chutes Ladders.

 

What does sight words instruction actually look like? Memorization through repetition sounds pretty boring, but it doesn’t have to be. In just ten minutes of simple lesson time, you can introduce 3-5 new sight words to your child. Then follow that with 20 minutes of playing sight words games. The games reinforce the lesson by incorporating more repetition of the sight words, but it’s disguised in a fun activity.

 

Hopefully this has answered some of your questions about sight words. You can now take this knowledge and help your child make the most of her early education!

 

Margo Edwards holds degrees from Rice University and George Washington University and is the Director of Content Development at SightWords.com, a website dedicated to providing free resources—from lessons to flashcards to games—to promote child literacy. SightWords.com is proud to be sponsored by the Georgia Preschool Association.

 

Me… Jane, The Picture Book Biography of Dr. Jane Goodall

What inspired Dr. Jane Goodall to become a primatologist? In children’s book Me… Jane, award-winning picture book author Patrick McDonnell introduces us to young Jane and her trusty childhood companion, a chimpanzee named Jubilee.

Me... Jane, a picture book biography of Dr. Jane Goodall, teaches kids what passion, persistence, and a little dreaming can really do. Quick children's book review.

 

The Story

Jane takes Jubilee everywhere she goes. Their many outdoor adventures together help Jane feel very much a part of nature. Fascinated by books that teach her all about animals, Jane dreams of someday living in Africa and helping animals, much like the girl (also named Jane) in the book Tarzan of the Apes.

 

What I Love About This Children’s Book

It’s not unusual for young children to love animals. What we learn about Dr. Jane Goodall is that her passion for animals not only started at a young age, she never let it go. We also learn of the profound impact a single book can have on a child’s life.

 

At the end of this lovely children’s biography, Me… Jane, we learn more about Jane Goodall, especially the great work she does for people, animals and the environment. In her own words she encourages us all:

 

We cannot live through a single day without making an impact on the world – and we have a choice as to what sort of difference we make.

 

Of course, you already know from my previous review of Guardians of Being that I adore the illustrations of Patrick McDonnell. Really, what’s not to love?

 

Me… Jane is recommended for ages 4-7, but I recommend it for everyone.

 

There are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds, or blazed a path along which others could follow… They inspire me. They inspire those around them.

– Jane Goodall

 

For more picture books with inspirational themes check out these Children’s Book Finds.

 

Printable Seek and Find and Color Me Easter Eggs for Kids

This Easter themed printable activity for kids helps build visual discrimination, visual figure ground, and other important learning skills. Seek, find and color. Just one of many learning powered printables for spring.In today’s Easter themed printable fun page, Seek and Find and Color Me Easter Eggs, students search for patterned Easter eggs on this busy page, then color each egg its assigned color.

 

The kids won’t know what you’re REALLY up to, helping them build visual discrimination skills, and visual figure ground skills, and even fine motor and attention skills. YOU, dear reader, will know this sugar free holiday treat is subtly strengthening their learning ability all while the kids engage in fun, quiet playtime.

 

Tip: If you want students to practice focusing on the details, try colored pencils or thin markers for this activity. And if you don’t mind the mess, feel free to go crazy with glue and glitter!

 

If you like Seek and Find and Color Me Easter Eggs, I have some more fun printables you might like to try.

 

More Easter and Spring Themed Printables

 

Finish the Symmetrical Drawing: Easter Egg Patterns Finish the Symmetrical Drawing: Easter Egg Patterns

 

 

 

 

Patterned EggsPrintable Patterned Eggs (for art, memory, and more)

 

 

 

 

 

Printable Paper Scene: Hello SpringPrintable Paper Scene "Hello Spring"

 

 

 

Color Me Bookmarks - Bugs!Color Me Bookmarks: Bugs

 

 

 

 

More Seek and Find and Color Me Printables

 

Seek and Find and Color Me HeartsValentine's Day Seek and Find and Color-Me Hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek and Find and Color Me StarsSeek and Find and Color Me Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

These printables are all free to subscribers. For access, please sign up in the box at the right. Already subscribed? Thank you! Please sign in.

 

Fun Activities to Teach and Reinforce the Months of the Year

You may have already learned why some students struggle to learn the months of the year. I talked about it when I offered a free mini activity book for kids to help reinforce the concepts of January.

 

You haven’t seen it yet? Head on over to My Little Fun Book of January. You’ll learn why continuing to reinforce facts about the months of the year is so important in both lower and upper elementary.

 

A growing bundle of mini activity books for kids helps reinforce knowledge of the months of the year.

If you and the kids enjoyed My Little Fun Book of January, I thought you might like to have all of the mini-books, January through December. They are useful for:

classroom centers

 morning calendar work

early finishers

fun homework

homeschool assignments

educational therapy settings

even summer road trips

 

The thing is, they aren’t all completed just yet. That’s actually good news for you!

 

Have you heard of the growing bundle? It’s an opportunity to own a large bundle of (printable, learning ability boosting) activities before all of the activities have been added. Not only do you save a percentage off of the entire bundle, but if you scoop it up early you receive all future files in that bundle for free. And we sure like “free” around here, don’t we?

 

 

The months of the year growing bundle is available today. Each time a new mini-book is added the bundle price will increase. The final price of this money-saving bundle will be $19.20. That’s 20% savings off the individual listings. Purchase at today’s price and save even more.

 

 

What’s today’s price? This is a moving target, so visit the Months of the Year Growing Bundle to find out just how much you’ll save. If you notice a gigantic savings, that’s no mistake. I realize that many of us are approaching the end of the school year and aren’t thinking much about calendar work. This is my way of incentivizing you early planners for next year, or you road-trippers, or you year-round homeschoolers.

 

 

Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy reinforcing months of the year concepts with fun, easy to use mini-books. Find My Little Fun Books of January through December here.

 

Intervention Strategies for Struggling Students – Take a Test Drive

As you probably know, learning-powered printable activities for kids show up fairly often around here at Inner Pieces Gallery. Today I offer you a bonus freebie, only this time you’ll find it in my store over at Teachers Pay Teachers.

 

 

Are you ever at a loss when helping your struggling students? Wonder which intervention strategies work for which challenges? Try the Intervention Sampler, free.  Build visual tracking, visual memory, visual closure, visual figure ground, visual discrimination, and spatial awareness.  Learn when and why to target each skill.Of course, you don’t have to be a teacher to join the TPT membership site (if you haven’t already). You just need a name and a valid email address. A desire to help children learn as efficiently as possible, well, that’s certainly something I admire about you but it’s not actually required.

 

 

Here’s why I think signing up is worth your (much appreciated) effort.

 

 

As a parent or educator, are you ever at a loss when it comes to helping your struggling learners? You’ll now find in my store a free sampler of six different learning ability boosters. While each printable activity targets one specific learning skill, all six have the side benefit of strengthening multiple skills at the same time.

 

 

If you’re also a subscriber here at Inner Pieces Gallery you’ve seen a few of these samples before. However, this sampler also includes a brief description of each targeted skill, what it is, signs of struggle to watch out for, and various tools to help boost each foundation skill.

 

 

When you learn as much as you can about the reasons why some students have gaps in their learning, you are better equipped to help them overcome their challenges and potentially avoid years of unnecessary struggle. Here’s a good place to start:

 

 

Activities from the Intervention Sampler You Can Take for a Free Test Drive

 

  Grid Maze

Targeted learning skill: Visual Tracking

 

  Memory Matching Game – Digraphs

Targeted learning skill: Visual Memory

 

  Finish the Monster Drawing

Targeted learning skill: Visual Closure

 

  Dot Grid Pattern Play

Targeted learning skill: Visual Figure Ground

 

  Word Play

Targeted learning skill: Visual Discrimination

 

  Visual Spatial Puzzle Play

Targeted learning skill: Spatial Awareness

 

 

While the information in this free sampler may not magically transform you into an educational therapist or expert learning specialist, it might just offer some clues to the challenge of helping your child learn with ease and confidence.

 

 

If you know someone else who may benefit from this information, thank you in advance for sharing the Intervention Sampler link.

 

Lost and Found Will Find a Place in Your Heart

Children's picture book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers.  A charming tale of friendship between a boy and a penguin.

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is a charming tale of unexpected friendship. What we think is lost in the beginning turns out to be something entirely different in the end.

 

The Story

A kind little boy decides to help a penguin who is lost. At least, that’s what the boy believes. Of course, penguins don’t say much, so the boy assumes this lost penguin needs help finding its way home.

 

Adventure ensues. A friendship is born. When the two finally reach their destination and say goodbye, the boy realizes an important truth. The penguin wasn’t lost. It was simply in need of a friend. As the title suggests, the story ends with a heartwarming reunion. A true friendship is found.

 

What I Love About This Children’s Book

Lost and Found touches on kindness, courage, friendship, loneliness and empathy all in a sweet engaging tale about a boy and a penguin. And with an artist like Oliver Jeffers, who also authored and illustrated the beloved bestseller The Day the Crayons Quit, we can expect nothing less than a visual treat on every page.

 

Recommended for ages 3 and up.

 

If you like Lost and Found, you might also like this growing list of Inspiring Children’s Book Finds for young and old alike.