Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mea Culpa

THANK YOU to a careful new reader (Smellyann) for pointing out that in my last post I spelled sight words as site words as in Web site. How embarrassing! She was right--you’d think if I’m teaching children to read at the very least I’d be a good speller. Unfortunately it was an excellent example of how NOT to rely on spell check when you’re in a hurry. The good news is you don’t have to be a good speller to be a good reader. And the even better news is the more you read the more your spelling improves.

It brings up an interesting topic: spelling games and mnemonics. As a child, we learned to spell using little phrases like “friends to the end” to remind us that the word friend ends with end. Did you learn a mnemonic about how to remember the difference between stationary and stationery? The word letter has two e’s, and you write a letter on stationery—the word with the e. I always remember there’s a rat in the middle of separate because you always want to separate yourself from a rat. We all know “i before e except after c.” But that one has so many exceptions!

I clearly need to learn one for helping me remember the difference between site and sight. But as Anne in Anne of Green Gables says, “One good thing about me is I never do the same wrong thing twice.”

Thanks, again for the correction, Smellyann. I hope my error won’t turn you off from us, forever!

What spelling games or mnemonics do you have?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Word Games in the News

I was sitting on a train last week with my new boss talking for a good 2 hours about Hooked on Phonics. It has been my experience that anytime I mention where I work, people always want to share stories about teaching their children to read, which of course, I love. That day was no exception. When we finally got to our stop, the gentleman sitting next to my boss told us about a great word game his sons play. I thought it was clever and easy so I thought I’d pass it on.

The boys names are Matthew and Andrew. They are 5 and 6 and all about learning sight words. It just so happens that Matthew has the sight word “the” in his name and Andrew has “and.” So the boys make a competition by taking newspaper articles and counting how many times their sight word appears in it. As it turns out, “the” almost always wins. But I still think it’s a great game!

What words can you make from your child’s name? If there isn’t one as obvious as Andrew or Matthew, take the child’s name and mix the letters up to make a word. Then choose an article or book and count the times the word appears.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eco-Friendly Reading!

This week we will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed on April 22 each year by more than 500 million people and several national governments in 175 countries.

To celebrate Earth Day 2010, here’s a list of books you can read with your young children to educate them on ways in which kids and their families can avoid waste and be environmentally conscious. Enjoy!

I Can Save The Earth! by Alison Inches

Recycle! A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons

The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca

Why Should I Save Energy? by Jen Green

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches

The Earth and I by Frank Asch

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Google Earth ABCs!

Here's an advanced alphabet challenge: Take your kids on a geography letter scavenger hunt.
If you have Google Earth on your computer (and you should, because it's free and it's amazing) then try this puzzler with your family: Search the planet and try to spot all the letters from A to Z. Okay. Maybe that is a little ambitious. So try this: Spend 15 minutes with your kid, and try to spot his/her INITIALS on Planet Earth.
Here are a few hints to help you get started:
1) Parks, airports and school parking lots are good ways to find lots of letter shapes.
2) Zoom in and out a lot. Letters can magically appear when you change altitude.
3) There are lots of interesting shapes along coastlines, especially big cities and ports.
4) Many football stadiums have a big letter in the center of the field. (Above is the M from Ann Arbor's Big House.)

Let the hunt begin!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Hey--did you know it was Beverly Cleary's birthday? I just found out, too! I adore Beverly Cleary. She was a staple in my path to loving reading as a child. My sisters Mary and Karen gave me the Ramona Quimby book set for Christmas in 2nd grade and I fell in love.

I still think of Ramona every time I put on a pair of pantyhose. There is a moment in one of the books where she wants to be an actress on tv so she quotes a commercial that is making fun of drooping hose. She quotes it to her teacher, ABOUT her teacher's saggy pantyhose. It is not well-received. I could always relate to talking without thinking, a specialty of Ramona's.

There is also the Ralph S. Mouse series which we read in school. Who wouldn't love a mouse whose initial S stands for SMART?!

If you didn't read Beverly Cleary and any of her Newbery Honor books as a child or if you're children aren't reading her now, time to check her out. You can't go wrong.

Happy Birthday, Beverly, and thanks for all the great stories!

Monday, April 5, 2010

We’re back on TV!

You probably first heard of Hooked on Phonics some 15 or 20 years ago with our most famous infomercial catch phrase, “It worked for me!” Well it’s still working for you, and now it’s back on TV. We aired our first “short form” infomercial today and our full length one will air in mid-May.

Check out our 2 minute infomercial here.