Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Game for Teaching Blending

Here's a way to use the Soundabet King's or Queen's cards to teach blending. I do this in a small group setting, though it would work fine with individual kids at home or in whole class settings, too.

Tell the kids that there are two kind of Soundabet sounds: the vowels which have the red letters & the consonants which have the black letters. (I add that the consonants are girl cards and much more likely to behave themselves as expected. The vowels are boys and tend to act up a bit more. I don't necessarily recommend this, I'm just telling you what I do—and shhhh! it works!)

I tell the children that they need both black cards and red cards to make most words. I tell the kids that it takes both "girl" red cards and "boy" black cards to make little word babies. Somehow this makes perfect sense to their five year old minds.

I also say that all the sounds have to be in your mouth together and come out all snuggled up to each other for the word to come out whole. Again, this helps kids who have trouble with the idea of blending.

As I'm telling the kids this, I am putting the cards out in an array where the black cards and red cards are separated. I make no effort to arrange the cards within each type in any particular order. Just put the red cards together in a row or rows and the black cards same.

Looked like this today:

They enjoyed the game.

To play:

1. Ask one of the students to pick a number. In this case the boy on the left picked "4" and I counted across the top to 4. I landed on the OU card. I took that card out of the array and put it near the students.

2. Ask for a number to help you find a black card to go with it. The second boy from the left picked "5" and I counted to 5 stopping on the F card. I pulled it out.

3. Repeating this process, we pulled out an L card.

4. Now we arrange these three cards and see if we can form any real words from the cards selected. In this case we could make the word, "FOUL" and they did know what it meant. "Like a foul ball in baseball," one of them said. The boy on the right said, "We hunt for fowl," and, you guessed it, I did not correct him—I congratulated him for knowing about that kind of fowl. Later on, this boy can learn about the spellings of these homonyms, foul and fowl, in fourth grade, or whenever they cover that stuff. For my purposes, he "got" it.

5. Each time a word can be created we give a point to the "real words" tally. If we can see "wannabe words" like "LOUF" we tally those, too, but in a separate tally. As you might guess, a game like this builds skills for DIBELS nonsense word fluency assessments later on in the year.

This game practices counting skills as well as blending and phonemic awareness skills. These are good skills for beginning kindergarten kids to use.

Note: You can adapt this game by limiting the cards in the deck to a smaller universe of cards. I do not do this. You might decide differently from me, though, and that's okay! Similarly, you can go for words more advanced than simple CVC words.

Have a look another word we came up with in today's game:

So one little deck of Soundabet cards can go a long way to teaching reading!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Price Increase

Over the holiday I went to my suppliers to restock inventory for next year. It's probably not a surprise to you that I found prices to have gone up. So, though I don't often do this, I've had to increase the prices of Soundabet materials for 2012.

Because I believe in relocalizing our economy, I now use only very local (like in my own home town) suppliers in favor of sourcing my production overseas. The result is much higher costs to me, higher prices for you, and the feeling that I'm doing the right thing overall. My choices make work for people who live nearby me and somehow that helps me sleep better....