Archive for the ‘sight words’ Category

Reading App Review: Bob Books App

February 10, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

Bob Books App

Technically, Bob Books isn’t a book – well, they do have books, but my children have never read them.  However, when I saw they had app for the iPad, I had to download it.  My children use our iPad fairly regularly, mainly for educational games and books.  I knew Bob Books are pretty popular and so I felt the app would be a great tool to enhance my daughter’s beginning reading skills.

Bob Books were created to “guide your child gently through the earliest stages of reading.”  My preschooler sat down one afternoon and played with this app.  The app begins with a black and white picture and a sentence describing the picture.  Children click on specific parts of the picture and then spell the word, phonetically, by dragging the correct letters to the word (which is already spelled for them) in any order.  After they complete the spelling of all of the parts, the sentence is read aloud to them.  My daughter enjoyed spelling the words and attempting to read aloud the sentence before it was read to her.

In looking closer, the app provides the parent with two options: phonics or letter names.  The letter names option allows the child to spell the word without the letters already there.  So parents have the option to scaffold the game for their children based on their developmental level.  Additionally, the game provides players with four different levels.  Each level becomes a little harder for the reader.  My daughter played on Level 1.

On Level 2, children have to place the letters in order from left to right (not just from any direction as my daughter had played).  In Level 3, the letter hints are gone and children will have to spell words from the caption.  In Level 4, there are extra letters that aren’t used in the word.

This app is great for your beginning readers.  My daughter is familiar with many sight words already and has shown an interest in reading.  This app reinforces her interest in reading by engaging her in sight word recognition, as well as phonics.  I like the fact that the app changes by level based on a child’s developmental level.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Developing Preschoolers’ Vocabulary Through Read Alouds

April 27, 2010

We’ve all heard that when children are young, their minds are like sponges.  We want to fill their brain with background knowledge and vocabulary so that they may easily use this knowledge when necessary.  Reading aloud is an excellent way to help build your child’s vocabulary.  Your child will certainly learn new words just by listening and through every day conversation, but here are a few tips to help build your child’s vocabulary explicitly through read alouds:

  • Begin with high-frequency sight words when reading with preschoolers.  These are the words that appear frequently in writing, but are less common in every day conversation.  Children should be able to say the word on sight.  These words are essential to vocabulary development.
  • Use the pictures to help your child make connections to word meanings.  Point to the picture in the text when reading an unknown word.
  • If you come across a word when reading, and you aren’t sure if your child knows what it means, ask him.  This is a perfect opportunity to provide quick vocabulary instruction.  A one to two sentence explanation may be sufficient enough.
  • If your child still has difficulty with vocabulary words, consider creating pictures (either drawing them or printing them online) to help make connections between words and their meanings.  Also consider labeling items in your house (banister, stairs, fireplace, chair, etc.)
  • Word learning is enhanced through repeated readings of text, which provides opportunities to revise and refine word meanings (Kindle, 2009; Carey, 1978).  So, even though you may get tired of reading the same story over and over again, your child is actually morphing through several stages of word knowledge as you do: from never heard it, to sounds familiar, to it has something to do with, to well known (Kindle, 2009; Dale, 1965).

Most important of all: don’t be afraid to read books that have large words in them. Fancy Nancy is a great series of books for girls that provide explicit vocabulary instruction through the story.  I know a few preschool girls who use words like “exquisite” and “furious” – and they use them correctly!

This post was inspired by: Vocabulary Development During Read Alouds: Primary Practices by Karen J. Kindle (The Reading Teacher, 2009).

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

iGames – Fun for the iPod or iPhone

January 21, 2010

I’ll admit that I was a bit resistant to an iPhone at first.  My husband, who loves all things technology, bought me one when they were first released.  But, I fell in love quickly!  Especially, when I realized the educational opportunities the phone provided for my children.  My phone is always with me, and therefore, I always have something to occupy my children at any given time.  The only problem is when I have both kids with me and only one phone!

My son is older (almost seven), so the types of educational apps I have downloaded for him consist of math facts practice, sight word recognition, and books to read.

My daughter is three and a whiz on the iPhone.  It’s really amazing how quickly small children pick up new technology.  And rather than fight it, I say go with it.  The games I download engage her and educate her.  She practices writing her letters and actually spelling words!

So, here are few apps that my children have played or that I would like them to play:

Letter Tracer

This is one of my daughter’s favorites because it allows her to practice writing her letters.  The game provides kids the opportunity to practice “writing” their letters and numbers on screen.  There is an option for capital and lower case letters.  There are three options for the child: simple recognition of the letter, opportunities to trace the letter, or an option to free write the letter.

Clifford’s Be Big with Words by Scholastic

My daughter LOVES this game!  And I love it, because it teaches her how to spell words.  And she is learning how to spell words. . . at three!  A child chooses a letter, and based on what is chosen the child is then provided with different letters until he/she spells a three letter word.  The sound of each letter is pronounced.  The word is stated out loud.  A picture is then shown and the word is used in a sentence.

Word Magic

In this game, kids are provided with an option to find the missing beginning sound, middle sound, or end sound.  A picture is provided and the word is announced.  Children are then given the option between several letters and must choose the correct letter.  This game provides great phonics practice as it allows children to listen to the sound of the letters and determine their location in a word.

Learn Sight Words

This game is clear and simple and provides 300 sight words for a child to practice and know.  Children can choose to learn 25 words at a time or go through all 300 words.  If a word is unknown or difficult, children can flag the word.  They also have an option to go through the flagged words, which gives them the opportunity to review those words.

Spelling Magic

Children can play 4 different games with provided words or words you submit yourself.  So, in essence, you can record your child’s spelling list each week and your child can study on your iPhone.  I love this aspect of this app because children have focused words to study instead of just any old word to spell.  My only complaint is that it is a bit “girlish” with unicorns, princesses, and castles.  I think it could have been designed a bit more generically.  I’m not sure how quickly my son (or any other 6 or 7 year old boy for that matter) will jump to play because of this.  It’s also a bit difficult to hear the words clearly.   But, it’s a free app, and you can add your own words, so it will do.

**Note: I have not been able to find a great spelling app.  If you are familiar with any, please let me know! **

Children’s Picture Book Apps

There are a lot of options for picture book apps.  Three that I would recommend are:

Pic Pocket Books


Mobistories (Disclosure:  I sit on the Parent Advisory Council for Mobistories)

If you have any recommendations for iPhone/iPod literacy apps, I would love to hear them!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Sight Word Games for Your Young Child

January 7, 2010

In order for children to become fluent readers, they must be able to read sight words.  Sight words are the mostcommonly used words in the English language.  These words are known on sight and recognized instantly.   If children know these words by “sight,” reading becomes more fluent and your child can than work to comprehend what he/she has read.

Around 18 months to 3 years, your child is developing environmental print knowledge from the world around him.  Think McDonalds, Target, Starbucks, Stop (sign), gas station names, etc.  This is a precursor to learning sight words.  Encourage your child to notice these words around him/her.

When you read to your pre-school age child, point out common sight words, such as “I, a, an, can, say, and, the.”  After your child has become familiar with some of the common sight words, ask him or her to start pointing them out to you as you read.

Here is a list of the 100 most common sight words. I suggest noting them to yourself and pointing them out as you read aloud to your child.

When your pre-school or kindergarten age child has knowledge of five to ten sight words, begin to play sight word games with him or her.  **It is important to note that the child should be familiar with the sight words prior to incorporating them in a game.**

Sight Word Games:

Sight Word-O – Played just like Bingo, use sight words as the words on the card.  Call out the words one at a time, and ask your child to mark them as he hears them.

Sight Word Memory – Write sight words that your child knows on index cards.  Make two sets.  Mix them up and place them face down.  Ask your child to find the matching sight words. When he doesn’t make a match, he must flip the cards back over again.

Sight Word Go Fish – Use the index cards that you created for Sight Word Memory.  Mix them up and deal out three to five cards to your child and the same amount to yourself.  Put additional cards face down in a pile between you.  Play Sight Word Go Fish as you would traditional Go Fish (it may help to wait to play this game until your child is familiar with ten to fifteen sight words).

Matchbox Match-Up – Using a small car, have your child drive through the parking lot to park in the spot for the sight word you call out.

This month, at Literacy Toolbox, I’m going to focus on literacy games you can play with your children.  Do you have a unique or interesting literacy game you play with your child?

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.