A writer uses Figurative Language to include a word or phrase that doesn’t have an everyday, or literal meaning.
S/he uses one or more types of Figurative Language to emphasize:
and/or size of a situation and/or character
outside of its usual, normal place.
Humor and drama can be part of the writer’s purpose and expression.
Usually, Figurative Language tries to explain something that is not real or factual by helping the reader form a visual image.
Writers of novels, short stories, poetry, songs, plays, speeches, news, and, even, informational, nonfiction texts will entertain and engage their readers with one or more of the different types of Figurative Language.
What Are The Different Forms, or Types of Figurative Language ?
Although there are between 10 and 15 types of Figurative Language, your 8 ~ 11 year-old child will be learning seven of them.
As a Third Grader, s/he will be taught to recognize the difference between literal and non-literal language when reading, writing, and speaking.
Of the seven different forms of Figurative Language, usually Similes and Metaphors are introduced as the first of these types to explore. Your child may already be familiar with these 2forms of Figurative Language. S/he can identify them through the content s/he reads and hears in the classroom.
S/he will probably be familiar with the other types through interactive family, friends, and environmental communication. They are: Idioms, Hyperboles, Personification, Alliteration, and Onomatopoeia.
Now, you may be wondering why would a writer want to use Figurative Language.
Are There Advantages to Using Figurative Language ?
Yes ! There are more than a few Benefits for encouraging your budding writer (and speaker) to include Figurative Language in his/her expressions.
Your child hears Figurative Language expressed in music, radio announcements, speeches, commercials, movies, and TV shows. It’s important for him/her to understand what is being said.
Your child engages their creativity and imagination when including Figurative Language during oral and written expression.
As your child transitions from concrete to abstract thinking, Figurative Language can make those complex ideas, concepts, and feelings easier to visualize and, then, understand.
If your child is learning the literal words & phrases of English as another language, practice with Figurative Language will improve his/her literacy & communication skills.
Your child’s understanding of Figurative Language will increase her/his overall comprehension of the content being read.
Not only does reading text with Figurative Language engage a reader, it, also, helps your child visualize, interpret and analyze the setting, character traits, plot, and author’s purpose of the story.
Using Figurative Language when writing presents your child with many opportunities for expressing his/her thoughts in vivid, colorful, unique, and interesting ways.
Your child’s ability to use Figurative Language is a way to effectively change a simple thought into a beautiful, complex image.
So, How Do I Support My Child’s Learning?
Here are a few suggestions for supporting your child’s usage of Figurative Language:
Make sure s/he can define the meanings of each type of Figurative Language.
Use a variety of different forms of Figurative Language when communicating and identify them individually.
Point out examples when reading, watching media, listening to music, information & advertisements as well as writing.
Ask questions about your child’s writing, such as “compared to what, as in, sounds like, looks like, feels like, smells like, etc.
See if your child can differentiate the different kinds of Figurative Language and tell you when it is NOT being used.
Try some interactive activities, too.
How About Some FUN Learning Activities ?
Games and other interactive, hands-on activities with cross-curricular inclusions are effective ways to engage your child’s learning of figurative Language.
See if you and yours enjoy identifying some of the types when doing any of these:
Present a collection of picture books & magazines. Take turns locating and identifying which forms of Figurative Language are being used and what they mean.
During your next walk in Nature or anywhere, have your child describe the surroundings using the five senses with Figurative Language phrasing.
Select different objects around the house and ask your child you use a specific form of Figurative Language when describing them.
Look a a piece of art the next time you visit a museum and both of you use Figurative Language to describe the piece and how it makes you feel.
Create a Figurative Language Image Gallery and play a Match game with the drawings to the form of figurative Language.
Write skits that include Figurative Language and act them out.
Teaching your growing Learners this valuable Literacy element can be a very engaging and valuable asset for encouraging creativity and understanding our Language. I hope you will find some, if not all, of these Units useful.
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If you become a bird and fly away from me, I will be a tree that you come home to. ~ from The Runaway Bunnyby Margaret Wise Brown
I’m sure you’re noticing A LOT of changes in your 8~11 year-old child….oops..I mean, young girl/boy…
In my experience with this age group, I discovered these children to be immersed in what I call “The Golden Age of Learning”.
Their Literacy independence is inspiring them to explore a plethora of adventures in an imaginative and creative way. They are able to locate the answers to SO MANY of the questions they continually ask every day. And are SO VERY delighted to be able to do so!
Their Problem Solving skills as well as Task Completion rate are increasing with accuracy….most of the time.
If you haven’t done so already, dear Reader, NOW is the time to UP YOUR GAME for your Upper Elementary child’s Literacy!!!
Your Upper Elementary Child’s Literacy
I’m sure you’re SO over hearing “I’m NOT a CHILD anymore!” (note the correction in the Intro….), especially when supervision is a must.
Family Time is becoming…..rare, unless, of course, a few of “my friends” can be included…. Just how many extracurricular activities can one person participate in !?!?
I will tell you, though, those clubs, classes and sports will be a GOOD thing in the coming years….Seriously~keep the meter running.
Oh, and Hobbies & Collections are DEFINITELY a MUST for elevating your Upper Elementary child’s Literacy. Here are a few categories:
Visual Arts, like painting, sculpting, drawing
Crafts (several), like scrap-booking, sewing, cooking, etc.
Performing Arts, like acting, singing, dancing, etc.
Musical Instruments, like piano, guitar, trumpet, etc.
Sports: Team & Solo, like soccer, baseball, tennis, track, skating, martial arts, etc.
Camping Excursions, like scouting, nature hikes, etc.
Gardening, like veggies, fruits, herbs, flowers, landscaping, etc.
Building Sets, like Legos, Lincoln logs, etc.
Model Kits, like ships, airplanes, cars, rockets, etc.
Board Games, especially ones that involve mystery & strategy.
Need more ideas ? BLB’s Library has a few Resources for you. Just click on these links:
Not only is your 8~11 year-old digging deep into how things work, they are, also, developing quite a passion for the world beyond their family and surrounding community.
WOW! It’s A Great Big World Out There!
Your child’s interest in reading about exciting adventure, fantasies, and science fiction’s future feeds his/her daydreams. Seeking other places, cultures, and, yes, even worlds influences daily thoughts and ideas.
Having the tools of independent research allows her/him to travel into the far-reaching realms of imagination and creativity.
Don’t be surprised if s/he wants to learn a few more languages along the way….
Language’s listening and talking are taking on a whole new perspective within your 8~11 year-old’s communication skills.
Well, You Won’t Believe What Happened Next….
You may have to “listen in” to conversations between your youngster and her/his friends to hear the substantial amount of new vocabulary being included in the day-to-day dialogues.
And they’re not just everyday words either….
S/he is learning how to say exactly what s/he wants/means to say. Communication, especially between peers, is becoming more and more important.
The phone, if you are permitting one, is a new “appendage”…
You’ll, also, notice a keener sense of humor is emerging. There is, also, an appreciation for solving riddles and a more sophisticated involvement in word play. S/he is very entertained/ing with his/her clever, sly Language skills.
BLB’s Library has a Resource for encouraging your child’s “funny bones”:
So, “Where is all this ‘sophistication’ coming from?” you wonder….
Common Core’s Ongoing Language Expectations
Beginning in Third Grade and continuing throughout each grade level, s/he is expected to “demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking”.
Here’s a general list of the sentence structures s/he is expected to understand, form and utilize with accuracy:
Explain what a noun, verb, adjective and adverb is and how they are used in a sentence
Form sentences with accurate subject-verb agreement
Can form & speak simple, compound & complex sentences
Specifically, there are expectations for forming & using the different parts of speech as well:
regular & irregular plural nouns
regular & irregular verbs
simple verb tenses
comparative & superlative adjectives and adverbs
Many of these expectations are modeled and taught during reading instruction. Remember~ your child’s independent level of Reading is not only contributing to the amount s/he chooses to read, but, also, the escalating amount of fiction and nonfiction texts s/he is experiencing in the classroom.
I Am Reading to Learn
Today a Reader, tomorrow a Leader.~Margaret Fuller
Even though your upper elementary child’s literacy level may enable her/him to read independently, you can continue to ensure her/his comprehension of the text by listening to him/her read aloud and using the following strategies:
Ensure the content is not only appropriate for his/her maturity level, but, also, her/his actual reading level.
Encourage a Pre-Read for background knowledge, vocabulary understanding & interest level.
Confirm the content of fictional reads has a predictable Beginning, Middle & Ending structure with one Main Problem/Conflict.
Make sure the content of nonfictional reads has a predictable & supported Main topic.
Periodically, ask questions about the read and/or have her/him retell what was just read.
If you want to wait until after s/he has finished reading the chapter or slim book, here are some comprehensions questions to ask:
What happened in the Beginning of the story? (listen for Important Details)
Middle? Ending? (again, listen for Important Details to be included during the Retell)
Did the story remind you of anything or anyone? (his/her response should be a “Yes, it made me think about….”)
What is the Setting of the story? (characters, place & time)
What was the Main Problem, or Conflict in the story & how did it get Solved? (several solution attempts may be made before the actual success of one)
Using these comprehension strategies verbally or in a Reading Response Journal will continue to strengthen your Upper Elementary child’s Literacy.
Is your child a “Good” Reader?
“Good” Reader Strategies
Yes, reading for pleasure is VERY important. However, Your Independent Reader needs to read for accuracy so s/he is learning as s/he reads.
Look at the Book Cover & Title
Do a Picture Walk & scan some of the Text
Ask Who did What, When, Where, Why & How.
Ask if the text is making sense & supporting the Main Idea.
Wonder about what you think will happen in the story.
Make some predictions and, then, read to find out how accurate your predictions were.
Think about how some of the Important Details are meaningful to the story.
Use those Details to help you define the Author’s Purpose for telling the story.
Relate the story to your thoughts, feelings and what you know.
Compare/Contrast the story to other stories you’ve read or heard as well as the world around you.
Organize/Sequence the Main Details of the story.
Draw Conclusions about those Important Details.
Once you have finished reading the story, decide what you learned from the text.
Then, decide if what you read was important to you & if you enjoyed reading it.
And, what is your Independent Reader reading?
Your Child’s Reading Interest Levels
You can continue elevating your upper elementary child’s Literacy by making sure s/he has access to a wide ~ and I mean WIDE~ variety of fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, newspapers & how-to project books.
Books about historic, modern, and futuristic adventures with humor, excitement, mystery and the “unexpected” are definitely reads to pique his/her interests.
Here’s a great link with Book Ideas for your Independent, Upper Elementary Reader:
Yes, like last year, this year is another HUGE one for your 6-year-old. First Grade is filled with incredible LEAPS & BOUNDS! Your child’s growth & development intellectually, physically AND emotionally is almost approaching “light year” speed.
Five of the major Literacy Arenas influencing his/her ground-breaking discoveries are: Learning & Language Skills, Creative Arts & Play Shills, Inquiry Power, Reading Skills , and Writing Skills. So, I am dividing this incredibly important year into a series of 4 or 5 separate blog posts.
PART ONE : Learning & Language Skills
Children always learn, but not necessarily what you want them to learn. ~ Dr. L. Katz
Somewhere during the summer, before your 6-year-old enters First Grade, you’ll notice your somewhat-round child became all arms and legs. No way are last year’s clothes & shoes going to fit! This growth will continue for a few years ~an average of 2 to 2.5 inches per year. Remember the thumbprint-measure at the end of new shoes.…. Ignore the “This is TOO BIG for ME!” comments…. And cross your fingers to prolong another wardrobe upgrade before next Summer…..hopefully, Fall……
Must have been all the new physical skills~fine & gross motor~ s/he kept practicing all Summer…. running & jumping & skipping & hopping & skipping & skipping & hopping….EVERYWHERE!!!!! Oh.. and, purposely, rolling & spinning ’round & ’round…..
Indoors found him/her drawing lots of pictures & cutting out lots of pictures to accompany lots of newly written stories….drawing & cutting & gluing (“Teacher says ‘Just a dot, not a lot’ “) & writing….Yes, s/he needs more paper & magazines & glue…..
Although the hand-eye coordination is improving….s/he will probably fall out of chairs several times in the next year and baby teeth will fall out of her/his mouth. Pencils can become “teething sticks”. As a First Grade teacher, I was asked to “pop-out” many front teeth and scooped up many “plopped-on-the-floor” bodies…
BIG NEWS FLASH!!!! S/he is TYING her/his own shoes laces!!!!!!
How does s/he have enough energy to ask SSSSOOOOO many questions?!?!?!?
Your Budding Brainiac
Even at rest, your soon-to-be First Grader spends hours upon hours pondering the great questions of the Universe and her/his place in it. The Age of Reason has arrived in your child’s brain development, stimulated by the opportunities received at school to learn new concepts and ideas.
Curiosity encourages exploration and discovery. PBSParents offers a few tips on how you can help build these Learning Skills:
Allow him/her to make simple choices, such as what to wear, what to eat for snack, where to eat out for a meal, which shoes to buy (of the several options you’ve okayed), what present to buy for whom (within your budget).
Give your child some support when needed to finish a new task or activity, but don’t take over or rush him/her to complete it.
Encourage creativity in your child’s expressions by offering new material & experiences without influencing her/his decisions.
Praise achievements, progress & eagerness to take risks (safely, of course).
“Inside the First Grader’s Brain”
Although I have taught many First Graders ~ and what an absolutely FASCINATING bunch they are ~ I, myself was curious to know what makes those incredibly interesting 6-year-old brains tick. Hank Pellissier, founder of the Brighter Brains Institute, contributed an article in June 2018 to greatschools.org with the above title.
Scientifically, this is what is happening inside your First Grader’s brain:
The sensory lobes that recognize & analyze challenges are maturing at a rapid rate.
There is rapid brain growth in vocabulary, grammar & pronunciation.
Your child is probably “leaping” from magical thinking to logical, rational mental processing.
S/he may become fixed on rules & regulations.
You can “nuture” your child’s logical mental processing & satisfy his/her Rules & Regulations focus with a small activity game I created : “Choose A Category”. You’ll find it in BLB Shop by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for some suggestions on nurturing this brain stage.
Pellissier’s Parenting Your First Grader’s Brain Tips
Included in his article are some tips (with some comments from yours truly) on how you can help your child’s brain during this stage of growth & development:
Set high expectations ~ they will be welcomed, met & exceeded
Provide a relaxed & emotionally secure environment ~ so effective for his/her explosive world of intellectual adventures
Contribute PATIENCE during her/his dramatics ~ enrollment in the Creative Arts, especially music will help temper some of these behaviors-6-year-olds can be quite a “serious” bunch and “talking about feelings” is still too confusing for them….too busy emoting
Make SURE s/he runs & plays outside EVERYDAY for at least 30 minutes ~ non-negotiable, rain or shine, in addition to school recess
Focus your child’s attention with board games & limit TV/video games time ~ yes. yes. yes- you will notice BIG behavior changes
Include lots of vocabulary exploration because s/he can acquire 10 NEW WORDS A DAY, plus now would be a good time to expose your child to another language ~ I retained lots of another language I learned as a child as well as many First Grade ESL students exit into mainstream
Encourage your young reader to pay attention to ALL letter sounds in words ~ s/he can’t WAIT to get to the next word……
SO MANY QUESTIONS !!!!
Children must be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think. ~ Margaret Mead
Or you can click on this pdf link to download, copy & print “A Short List of Critical Thinking Question Stems” I created to get you started: A Short List of CT Questions
And What Is Critical Thinking?
“Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well-thought out. It is a way of thinking in which you don’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions you are exposed to but rather have an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions.” ~ study.com
You will notice your VERY curious & engaged 6-year-old studying things intensely. S/he will, then, describe a thing (or 20) using its characteristics, and, then, find similarities & differences between a variety of things. These are his/her growing & developing cognitive skills at work!
These “working” words will show up at the most surprising times……correctly,too!
Favorite First Grader phrases include:
“You’re not the boss of me!” (I still use that one…)
“I didn’t do it!” (use that one, too)
“S/he told me to……”
“S/he did it, too!”
And tho’ your First Grader “hates” tattle tales, s/he is quite the tattler…. such talkers….
The rate your child is learning to understand and speak new words is growing, quite literally, by leaps & bounds ~ about 3000 within the school year! S/he is even talking ABOUT words, not just using them during expression.
S/he is starting conversations, using defining & describing words more frequently, staying on topic, taking turns during the conversation, and ~ this is a jewel~ giving directions to others. S/he is, also, able to re-state ideas using different words if what was expressed is not understood by the listener.
And how did all this happen, you may ask?? Some of those high expectations coupled with lots of “world” knowledge being shared in school are definitely factors influencing this language growth.
The “Common Core” Standard Expectations for Language
By the completion of First Grade, your child is expected to show mastery in quite a few grammatical conventions as well as a number of other areas in the English language. I’m just going to list some general ones, because, quite frankly, college graduates haven’t mastered some of these……really….., so, maybe, this is why these Standards are being implemented in so many states’ public school districts.
There are 10 “command”, or mastery expectations for speaking & writing, but I’m just listing a few of the main ones :
common, proper & possessive nouns
singular & plural nouns with matching verb agreement
The National PTA has written a “Parents’ Guide to Student Success” regarding the Common Core Standards. It lists the main Mastery expectations for ELA Literacy & Mathematics as well as some ELA Literacy Parent Involvement at Home tips for your First Grader:
Read books together with your child & help him/her sound out difficult words.
Act out stories together from books, TV and your child’s imagination.
Pick a “Word of the Day” every day, beginning with a different letter. Have your child write the word & look for other things beginning with the same letter.
Have your child sign up for a Public Library card & visit the with your child every week, checking a variety of books ~ fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays.
Literacy Language Lifters
Here are a few additional suggestions for promoting your First Grader’s listening & speaking skills:
Continue playing with language through rhymes, songs & word games, especially when new nonsense words can be created
Invent meanings for those new nonsense words
Increase verbal directions from one & two-step to three-step
Ask your child to repeat those directions back to you
Promote the understanding of game rules
Include Time (before/after) & Distance (close/far) concepts in your interactive conversations
Ask her/him to repeat stories that have a series of events to relate in order
Continue asking the “wh” questions for comprehension: who, what, when, where, why
Introduce your child to a different language ~ s/he will absolutely LOVE learning words in another language AND 6-years-old is an optimal time in his/her language development for this skill.
Learning Another Language Benefits
There are more than a few advantages to having a access to another language. Learning another language increases your child’s literacy, analytical,and problem-solving skills. It boosts your child’s confidence, self-image, and tolerance.
According to pandatree.com, a multilingual teaching website, your child will experience 15 or more benefits. Among them are:
speaking, understanding & connecting with more people.
stimulating his/her brain growth.
boosting first language abilities
training one’s ear for music
increasing out-of-the-box thinking
And in my experience as an educator~ all my students thought it was great fun and were always eager to learn MORE!
So, if you would like to teach your child a few common vocabulary words and phrases in another language ~ say Spanish~ BLB Shop has just the product for you and yours: Let’s Learn A Little Spanish has 10 mini-lessons with easy-to-use instructions. Just click on the link below:
Just a little postscript: Your First Grader’s Learning & Language Skills is the first part of this 4, maybe 5 part series for First Graders. Play, Inquiry, Reading & Writing are in the mix as well. Stay tuned!
Any Questions? Concerns? Shares?
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Welcome to Part Three of The FLC First Grader’s Series
Your 6-year-old is asking MORE questions than s/he usually does.
And even though s/he LOVES rules and boundaries in his/her expanding world, those very important inquiries are giving you clues to the puzzles being solved in her/his broadening brain.
Your First Grader’s Inquiry Skills are growing. They are becoming an important part of his/her brain development and academic success.
A “How-To……” book of instructions for everything in life right now would be just fine with her/him!
PART THREE : Inquiry Skills
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. ~ Eugene Ionesco
There is a philosophy that an answer can be found within the context of its question…..or at least its beginning is….
Your First Grader comes home with many new & wonderful ideas to share. S/he LOVES explaining how explorations became discoveries.
And, THEN, “what if…..?” Oh, the imagination of the inquiring mind!!!!
This state of inquiry, however, is not satisfied with thinking about things.
Your 6-year-old and his/her longer attention span likes to learn & problem solve by doing: experimenting, planning, building, collecting, and, maybe even , performing magic tricks just to solve what “appears” to be unsolvable.
You can promote these Critical Thinking questions. BLB’s Library has several ideas for you to use in an interactive resource:
Although it can be time-consuming, I found a KWL chart to be a very valuable exploration & discovery tool. Used interactively, it provided me, and my students, with knowledge already in place~no wasted time on redundancy~ and ownership of what was to be learned ~ with a few prompted questions, ideas, & vocabulary clues from me.
When Do We Use A KWL ?
You can use this tool with your child in a variety of scenarios:
to enrich & reinforce a variety of science, social studies & geography topics being taught in school
to increase reading comprehension elements in fiction & nonfiction reads at home and for school
to use as a home-management builder in a number of arenas: chores, safety, nutrition, clothing/weather, etc.
SO~I’ve created something a little different that includes a Resource section in this discovery chat titled KQRL. Here’s a downloadable 8.5×11″ PDF template you can print, laminate & re-use during you & yours’ Inquiry Investigations: KQRL Template
Wondering what science, social studies & geography concepts your First Grader will be learning in the classroom?
Your child’s school district can provide you with a list of objectives & expectations. Ask her/his teacher for assistance and explanations.
Science Explorations in First Grade
Your child will engage his/her 5 Senses to observe, ask questions, and, then, record what s/he is learning. Entering data on graphs (pictographs & bar graphs), hand-drawings as well as written words are products used to show what s/he understands.
This is a “general” list of science concepts your child may (or may not) be learning throughout his/her year in First Grade:
Forces in Motion: push & pull, balance, magnetism, electricity
Changes in States of Matter (solid, liquid & gas)
Properties of Liquids
Sound Production & Travel
Properties of Air
The Universe: day & night sky, moon, stars, sun
Weather: seasons, temperature measurement
Properties & Uses of Earth Materials: soil, rocks, minerals, water
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. ~ Mary Lou Cook
PBSParents offers some very useful suggestions on how to explore science concepts with your child in everyday scenarios. And just for you, I created a table -YIPEE- to help with that!
Home~Grown Science Explorations & Discoveries
PHYSICAL SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
EARTH SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
LIFE SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
Forces in Motion: trikes, bikes, scooter, wagon; playground equipment
Matter: solids, liquids, gases
Sound:different machines in the air/on the ground
Properties of Air: balloons, paper airplanes, Frisbee, kites, leaves
Light/Dark: day & night sky elements, moon phases, shadows, shade, self-reflection in water
Weather: clouds, temperature, precipitation
Materials:different rocks, soil varieties, waters(lake, pond, brook, river, mud puddles)
Different Plant & Animal Ecosystems
Stages of growth in plants & animals
In the Car
On the Bus/Train
Forces in Motion: Push / Pull
Sound: Machines at work
Light/Dark: self-reflection in window, vision adjustments to sight, building sights, day vs night sky visibility in different environments
Weather: cloud formations in open sky, visibility during precipitation at different speeds
Materials: landforms, bodies of water
Different Plant & Animal Ecosystems: city/country, desert/plains/forest/seaside
In the Kitchen
At the Market
Forces in Motion: push/pull of different utensils, float/sink of different food elements
Matter: changing states from solid to liquid to gas
Liquid Properties: changes with heat, cold, mixtures
Properties of Air: forces of air when applied to different foods, like meringues
Weather: on foods' stability, spoilage, growth in the garden
Materials: how rocks, soil, water affect foods
Human Body: nutrition, food groups, menu/recipe combinations, extra foods
Plant & Animal Ecosystems: growth, food sources, omnivores/herbivores/carnivores
Life Cycles: plants from seed, growth/harvest, preparation
I don’t know about you, but, there are questions children ask that defy an explanation…..So, instead of trying to give reason that might not be understandable or accurate, a more “scientific” approach will probably satisfy those questions. Wonder, inquire & investigate along with your child, encouraging him/her to explain why s/he thinks the way s/he does. Yes~answer a question with another question.
Ready to Set Up A Home~Grown Science Lab ?
Your Primary learner LOVES to investigate his/her Inquiries!
I’ve created 4 of them for you & yours, addressing several of the objectives found in the Physical, Earth, Life & Ecology Sciences. Each contain several investigations with sequential activities for observations, predictions, explorations, experiments & discoveries appropriate for children, ages 5-8. You can visit these “Labs” in BLB’s Shop by clicking on the links below:
Your First grader will, also, be learning about the diverse cultures & countries of the world. Using the Inquiry approach to these studies is a great interactive way to engage her/his learning.
Navigating the World Through Investigations
I found Social Studies & Geography an easy way to integrate reading & writing. Not only are they inter-related, they are incredibly relevant & engaging for most children. Who doesn’t want to explore his/her home country, ancestral roots, holiday traditions, and, then, navigate the way there?!
Here’s a general, sequential inquiry map several fellow teachers & I used in our classrooms before the curriculum timeline rules changed. It’s a thematic approach that blended & covered all required objectives, including some Math, Health & Science expectations. We began at the beginning~the Home.
Family & Home
Where do you live: apartment, house, duplex, trailer, shelter?
Can you draw a map of the inside of your home?
Who is part of your family at home?
What are the needs of most families?
How do families meet those needs?
Are chores & shared responsibilities part of your family?
What other buildings are in your neighborhood?
How is an apartment complex like a neighborhood?
Do your friends and/or relatives live nearby?
Is there a park or playscape in your neighborhood?
Are these other places in your neighborhood: school, gas station, restaurants, markets?
Can you draw a map of your neighborhood, using a few symbols & a compass rose for directions?
The Communities in A Town or City
What is a community?
How are neighborhoods & communities the same? Different?
Do you know where these buildings are in your community: retail shops, restaurants, fire & police stations, schools, churches, hospitals, clinics/offices, athletic fields, cinemas?
Who are the community helpers in these places?
How do you know ( uniforms, special jobs)?
When do you need these community helpers?
How do some of them keep communities safe?
What are “goods” and “services”?
Which community helpers provide services? Goods?
What is the difference between a town & a city?
Do you know how many people live in our town/city?
How many of these places have you visited: concert hall, opera house, theater, museum, historical sites, sports arena, transportation hubs ~ bus terminal, train station, airport?
How did you travel to those places?
Where can you find a major waterway in our town/city? What is its name?
Have you ever traveled to a different town or city?
Was it in our state or a different state?
Can you locate our town/city on this map?
Widening the Scope
A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils. ~ Ever Garrison
What is the name of the state we live in?
Is a state larger or smaller than a city?
Are there only towns & cities in our state?
Do you know the names of some other towns or cities in our state?
Do you know the names of any other states?
Have you ever traveled to any other state?
What did you see/do there?
Where is it on this map?
How did you travel there?
Can you locate our state on this map?
What are those other names a part of on the map?
What is famous about our state?
These states are all part of a what?
What is a country?
Do you know the names of any other countries?
What is the name of our country?
Why is our country called “The United States of America”?
Click on the link below to download, copy & print a PFD I created for celebrating USA Symbols, Citizenship & National Holidays:
There is another, more in-depth way to encourage your child’s Inquiry Skills. It’s a technique called UbD.
Big Ideas & Essential Questions
An idea is “big” if it helps us make sense of lots of confusing experience and seemingly isolated facts. It’s like the picture that connects the dots or a simple rule of thumb in a complex field. ~ Grant Wiggins
Your child’s classroom teacher may, also, (or maybe not) be using a learning technique called UbD~Understanding by Design ~ especially during science, geography & social studies units, which are, then, coordinated thematically with fiction & nonfiction reads. Projects & knowledge are student-driven through exploration & discovery guided by questions the students have formed regarding the subject.
The “Essential Questions” will usually help define the “Big Idea”, which is usually a general, or abstract statement.
When forming the Questions, keep these insights in mind:
They have no right or wrong answers
They promote inquiry to help learn the Big Idea.
They encourage critical thinking, curiosity & real life problem solving.
Basically~ What do you see? What do you think about what you see? What do you wonder about when you see it? How & where can you find out more?
Need more info and tips on how to provide your child with inquiry-based explorations? George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia is a great site to visit. Just click on the link below:
Greetings! You have arrived at Part Four of The FLC First Grader’s Series: Enriching the FLC with Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
Depending on the expectations of your First Grader’s campus, s/he may or may not be reading grade level text.
Most public school systems want their Kindergartners reading at a certain level before going into First Grade. Some private schools feel the same way.
Other schools offer a different approach entirely when preparing a child to read. There are MANY different methods you can try, especially if your child is a reluctant reader.
Reading Rockets cited Understood.org’s article, which listed 11 Methods for teaching reading, especially if your child is struggling with this all-important skill. You can check them out by clicking on the link below:
As a trained Special Education teacher, I used a variety of methods, even when I was teaching in the Gen Ed classroom.
PART FOUR: Enriching Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well:They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. ~ William James
I was, and am, a book eater, I mean reader. I have been devouring books since I was 5 or 6 years old. Not that I didn’t enjoy other recreations as most children do, but reading is a Passion for me. It is one I love to share, especially with children. Teaching a child how to read is one of the most exhilarating things in the world that I can share…..
And like Mr. James says, it’s not just about the actual reading & understanding of the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs & pages. It’s more about the participation in and the inspiration of thoughts, imaginations, inventions, and, yes, “worlds”.
As a child, and now, as an adult, my inquiring nose can usually be found in one of many genres of books.
How I Learned to Read
The other day I read an interesting & nostalgic memory shared by Theresa, a teacher & fellow-lover of reading. She has a site called Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits. While introducing her great nephew’s reading progressions, she, also, offered her ” Becoming A Reader” experiences as a child. Here’s the link to her post:
It sparked some recollections in me as well. My parents were both avid readers. My mother, especially, loved reading to us ~ we, who could sit still long enough, loved it, too. She read patiently, deliberately, interactively, and always with lots of expression. Lots of books, both novels & informative as well as STACKS of comic books were always in our home. Saturday trips to the library (a favorite of mine) were a frequent part of our errands.
And let me be clear……this reader-nurturing environment does NOT guarantee you’ll raise a Book-Lover. Several of my siblings (and my child), bright as they are, had “better things to do than sit around and read a book!”
However, college & life influenced changes in that opinion…….
Reading at my school was taught with the Dick, Jane, Puff & Spot primers (yes, I’m that old) in small reading groups named Bluebirds, Red Robins, etc. ; spelling lists with sentences & book reports~written with oral presentation (YIKES!).
My parents’ expectations & participation with teachers ensured all of their children were reading on or above grade level. No foolishness allowed!
Teaching methods have changes A LOT since then (more on that later), except, of course, within the setting of your child’s First Classroom ~ at home.
My Child Can Read……When S/He HAS TO DO IT
Feel fortunate s/he can read. Promoting ENJOYMENT during the read, especially with a very, physically-active child & the instant gratification of tech EVERYWHERE can be a challenge….
To quote Dr. Frank Serafini, a professor of Literacy Education & Children’s Literature~
There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who haven’t found the right book.
In addition to reading with your child since in utero, having lots of different types of reading material (yes, magazines & comic books count) lying around, visiting the library, and reading yourself (WHEW!!), there are a few other things you can do (as if that’s not enough…). Dr. Tiffani Chen, the author of School Sense & creator of the site edboost.org has some other suggestions (with a few of my ideas thrown in). Just click on the PDF link below:
You know you can always ask your child’s classroom teacher and/or your school’s media specialist for some assistance as well.
well….I Don’t Always Understand What the Teacher’s Reading Terms Mean…
As teachers we get very comfortable with our “environmental language.” Met with the blanks stares of our students usually gives us the visual clues we need to re-state and/or define some of the vocabulary words we educators use constantly all day long.
Do NOT hesitate to ask your child’s teacher to do the same for you. There are quite a few of them, like Fluency, Tracking, High Frequency Words, etc. So, instead of being shy and/or confused during a parent-teacher conference regarding his/he reading progress…..
I created a PDF list of the Literacy terms educators use to define reading elements with explanations for you, written in the sequence I use in my Reading Program. Click on the link below:
Your First Grader has a long, on-going list of Reading Goals to achieve by the end of the year…….
TARGET: Your Child As An Independent Reader
If your child attends a school, public or private, that has adopted the Common Core, you’re probably familiar with the academic objectives & expectations his/her teacher uses to guide instruction.
Although your BIG First Grader continues to enjoy being read to, s/he is becoming more interested in the actual skill of how-to read. Soon, you will be read to by her/him!
His/her listening & speaking language skills are growing at an almost accelerated pace. S/he understands opposite concepts & how things are the same & different. S/he uses adjectives, adverbs & prepositions when expressing thoughts.
LinguiSystems, Inc. compiled a Communication Milestones Guide as a general growth & developmental reference for reading & writing during your child’s year in First Grade.
Beginning of First Grade
Identifies more & more sight words with accuracy
Begins to decode new words with more independence
Uses a variety of reading strategies to increase comprehension
Reads aloud & retells familiar stories easily
End of First Grade
Recognizes 100 sight words
Understands words make up sentences
Reads & comprehends grade level material fluently
Common Core basics for Reading is divided into 3 areas:
Understanding & locating Key Ideas & Details when reading grade level Literature (Fiction) & Informational Text (Nonfiction)
Identifying & explaining the content structure of Literature & Informational Text
Knowing & applying the reading skills of phonological awareness, phonics (spelling), word recognition & fluency
The National PTA has written a downloadable PDF Parents’ Guide to Student Success, which you can access by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for how~my~students~learn~to~read “skeleton” formula……
My “Skeleton” Reading Skills Formula Sequence
Reading a book is like looking through a window. ~ Zetta Hupf
Or the “bare bones”……. in baseball lingo:
The Warm-Up/On Deck
Sight Words & Phrases
The Pitch/In the Box
Silent Read with Vocabulary Search
At Bat/The Swing
In Scoring Position
Student Retell/Key Elements included?
Comprehension Q & A if any missed on the retell
Independent, Hands-on project
Sound like a lot???? Actually it depends on the levels of each reader. After assessment, I use the areas of strength to support & promote the areas that need more stability.
A Quick Beginning
Prepare your emergent reader’s brain with his/her current, leveled Sight Word review. Whether you’re pointing to the word(s) or s/he is handing you known Sight Word cards, this “warm up” activity is a effective way to begin the Reading Circle. Each word should be recognized in seconds without needing to be decoded. I use Dolch’s Sight Words & Phrases. This PDF link includes Sentences as well.
The Curriculum Corner offers reading-leveled Fluency sentences choices, using Fry’s 500 High Frequency Words list as a downloadable PDF. An assessment tracker is included. Here’s the link to this very helpful resource:
The accuracy of words being read is built on your child’s ability to use these 2 skills: decoding & context clues.
What Are Decoding Skills & How Are They Used?
Your child’s Decoding Skills rely heavily on her/his PhonologicalAwarenessSkills. How s/he tries to figure out a new, unknown word during reading depends on what s/he has mastered regarding the letters & their sounds.
Need to know what your child knows in the phonological realm?
An educational site, Heggerty, has created a group of serious, Phonemic Awareness Assessments, complete with how-to-administer instructions. It has downloads for grade levels PreK and above. Just click on the link below to select a downloadable PDF:
I know this sounds like A LOT of prep before getting to the book, but all this groundwork is building confidence in your young reader.
Once you form a “getting ’round to reading” routine, this predictable~prep pattern will become a successful stepping stone your beginning reader expects. S/he, even, looks forward to its repetition & will remind you if you forget something.
Okay…….time for a Picture Walk. This is a confidence & comprehension builder. Your child will actually delight in his/her ability to predict & understand a new story just by carefully studying the pictures. Here’s downloadable PDF guide for Going on A Picture Walk with Your Child: A Pre-Reading Tool :
Onto understanding & defining the Vocabulary element……
Solving the Mystery of Those New Vocabulary Words
A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese Proverb
Many new vocabulary words can be understood using context clues, that is, reading the understood words before & after the unknown word to solve its meaning.
I have found that after the Picture Walk, some readers enjoy reading silently to see if the predictions they made are true.
As another pre-reading strategy for understanding, I make a list of vocabulary words I think may be new & challenging. Of course, a new word in isolation can be difficult to define, but you’d be surprised to learn what your First Grader knows.
A vocabulary word can be heard & correctly understood, spoken with accuracy, and, even, read exactly. Applying, or using the word during writing or as an answer to comprehension questions is another skill altogether.
Organizing words into groups can be an effective way to understand vocabulary words. BLB Shop has a game for learning this Critical Thinking skill. Check it out by clicking on the link below:
Reading a new story is a very exciting activity. Using picture clues & context clues gives your beginning reader the tools s/he need to recognize words accurately, fluently & with understanding.
Decoding Skills play a huge part in the flow and comprehension of the text. Like a mystery, a new, unknown word can be daunting (YIKES!) or challenging (WAIT~I GOT THIS!). There are several ways your young (and older) reader can “attack” and succeed.
And, YES, I created a downloadable PDF Parent Guide for Helping Your Child Use Decoding Skills:
Does your child want to reread the story? How about taking turns, page by page? This activity will reinforce the understanding of the text as well as give you the opportunity to model fluency & expression.
Was S/he Thinking About What S/he Was Reading?
Understanding the question is half the answer. ~ Socrates
WOW! What a beautiful read!
Most emergent readers take great pride in the ability to “read” & decode all the words in a story. However……
Some readers struggle with Thinking While Reading….
Is your child asking questions before, during & after reading the story? If so, YAY! That means s/he is Thinking While Reading.
If s/he has been thinking & understanding what s/he is reading, his/her re-tell of the story should be fairly accurate.
Re-telling the story in a sequence might be a little difficult, so, listen, first. Jumping into the plot, or actions of the story may be where s/he begins.
You can use prompting questions, such as: What happened at the beginning of the story? Then, what happened? Why did that happen? and so on.
Need a little guidance? Here’s a downloadable PDF you can use to help your child understand what s/he is reading:
If you’ve read to the end of this post ~ Thank You! I hope you found some information that was helpful. Your First Grader deserves every opportunity to continue his/her education in the excited way s/he has approached learning this year. Reading is a MAJOR key to his/her success ! Let me know if I can help!
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And NOW….The Final Post in FLC’s 5~Part First Grader’s Series….
Enriching the FLC with your First Grader’s Writing Skills has its challenges and rewards…..
Wish you (or someone) could record all those wonderful new ideas & vocabulary words your incredibly bright First Grader is sharing?
Writing them down would take more than a considerable amount of time…
However, encouraging the source of all that growth to write down all those ideas & words shouldn’t be too difficult…Should it ?!?!?
Part FIVE: The Hard-Won Skill of Writing
Teach children what to think and you limit their ideas. Teach children how to think and their ideas are unlimited. ~ Sandra Parks
What favorite story, or stories do you tirelessly read again & again?
Which author do you trust to transform dull, dry facts into fascinating information?
What cookbook(s) and/or manual(s) do you refer to constantly with easy-to-follow directions that always bring great results?
Do you have a favorite editor and/or critic whose opinion you value, even when you don’t share the same view(s) about certain topics ?
You are one of the reasons why writers write !
Not only do writers love to write (on most days), they, also, write to share ideas, important events & teach. They want to share & communicate their experiences, feelings & information. They love to ask questions & solve mysteries or problems.
As a writer, you tell your story as only you can. Whether reflecting, explaining, judging, exploring, learning, interpreting, problem solving, and/or taking a stand, your words are your words are your words…
As a parent & writer, encourage your young scribe to see & use the power of Written Expression for his/her self and/or to share with others. How ~ by modeling with everyday examples.
Soooo…Are You A Writer ?
Does your child see you write ?
Not only do you show your child how writing helps with daily life, it, also, helps to have a variety of the printed words scattered throughout the home: magazines, cookbooks, manuals, newspapers, cartoons, advertisement slicks, comics, posters, dictionaries, and. of course, many different kinds of books.
Is your child writing everyday ? I’m sure s/he is trying to read EVERYTHING in sight….oh yeah….
Yes, Your Child Needs to Write Everyday
Some time during the day , engage your child is some type of writing activity. It can be a Free Write about anything s/he is interested in exploring, feeling good or bad about, and/or asking for more information.
Practice, practice, practice ~ and remember to encourage your writer to slow down, otherwise….
Try to make it a “routine” event. You may want to collect these writings into a box and/or scrapbook :
Give him/her a personal calendar to record special dates, like holidays, celebrations, birthdays, vacations, play-dates, field trips, memories, etc.
Have her/him write Thank-You cards , notes & letters.
BLB Shop has a Writing Literacy Tool~Lists, Labels & Love Notes– to help engage your young writer. Just click on the link below:
Make sure s/he has a “Storybook” spiral for writing those creative tales with different, colorful writing tools.
Add another “Info & Data Collection” notebook with Topic Tabs for research finds & new information.
Here are some other suggestions from a First Grade Teacher @ primaryjunction.net:
Create a Family newspaper to record weekly activities, articles & upcoming events. You may want to include a comic strip, an advice column with some want ads & an advertisement or two.
Enlist your child to help write shopping & to-do lists.
Play word games like Wheel of Fortune & Hangman while waiting in an office.
Make sure to Publish, Display & Share completed stories, posters, reports, etc.
One of the BEST ways I discovered to engage children in writing is with an Interactive Journal. Prepare yourself for some “eye-openers !”
Your Child’s Favorite Writing Activity
Whether you and/or some other family member participates in this very effective writing activity, the results will prove to be insightful, entertaining &, at times, hilarious.
A simple lined or unlined journal provides numerous opportunities for you & your budding author to share feelings, information, reflections, memories, problems and interactive solutions to life’s daily moments.
Usually written before “lights out”, your child will not only tell you about his/her thoughts, but also, ask you some interesting questions. You, then, answer the question(s) while s/he sleeps, respond with some comments & ask some questions of your own ~ which may, or may not, be answered.
This form of writing is a powerful communication tool and will, definitely engage your young writer. Include drawings with a variety of text lettering & messaging for emphasis & amusement.
So, What Are the Writing Expectations for My First Grader ?
At the beginning of First Grade, your Summer-of-Growth Kindergartner can decide (without your prompting) when to read & when to write (even though they occur simultaneously)…
S/he is able to sound out the “big” sounds & write them down when trying to spell words while writing thoughts.
S/he is even trying to use capital letters & punctuation ~ amazing, huh?!?
At the end of First Grade, s/he is probably printing very legibly when expressing thoughts in stories, journals & notes.
S/he will frequently spell familiar words correctly AND begin sentences with capital letters as well as end those sentences with a punctuation mark (most of the time….when s/he remembers to do so…).
How did this happen, you may ask….
Your First grader is writing in the classroom ALL DAY LONG ~ in all subject areas ~ math, science, social studies, health. S/he writes during trips to the Media Center, Art, Music & occasionally in P.E.
Here’s a wonderful example of a classroom Writing Workshop, posted by Chandra, a primary teacher & parent, on her website teachingwithcrayonsandcurls:
AND, if your school district follows the Common Core, here are the Writing & Language expectations for your First Grader. Keep in mind, some of these objectives began in Kindergarten & will continue in the years to come.
The Common Core’s Writing Expectations
Language & Writing, as well as Reading, are heavily linked together within the Common Core’s Expectations & Objectives for First Graders.
“With the guidance & support from adults” s/he will be writing & editing opinion pieces, informative, or explanatory text and sequenced narratives, or stories.
Each form of writing has a specific process for your young writer to follow. S/he is expected to include reasons to support opinions, facts to support informational topics, and sequential details to support stories.
During the writing & editing process, s/he needs to “demonstrate command” of “standard English grammar”. Some of these include:
printing all upper & lowercase letters with accuracy
using common, proper & possessive nouns
using singular & plural nouns with verb agreement
using past, present & future verbs with accuracy
S/he, also, is expected to “demonstrate command” of “standard English capitalization, punctuation & spelling” (at grade level).
Here’s a Parent-friendly version of the Common Core’s ELA guidelines for First Grade. Just click on the link below:
You can help your First Grader’s growth & development with some of these specific Writing Literacy Skills at home.
How Do I Build Some of These Skills at Home ?
These are some of the Writing Skills you can help your child master at home:
You child should be able to read his/her own writing ~ need some handwriting practice sheets? AtoZ is a great website to explore for teacher tools. You can custom-make sheets to match your child’s handwriting needs while writing spelling words & sentences. Just click on the link below:
Hope these ideas help, especially with the FOUR FORMS OF WRITING!!!! Not talking about Lists, Labels, Letters & Love Notes…..
Those 4 Forms of Writing
Regardless of which Form your child is writing, each one should start with a Main Idea, or Topic sentence & end with a Conclusion sentence.
Each Form of writing should have a beginning, middle & an ending.
Informative writing should include 3-5 facts about the Topic. Narrative writing should include at least 3 interesting events within the story. Opinion writing should have 3 or more reasons to support the opinion. How-To writing needs an order of specific steps for someone to follow.
BLB Shop has an easy-to-use, step-by-step Primary Writing Toolkit to help you help your child with these specific Forms of writing. Just click on the link below:
Is your youngster still struggling with her/his Writing Skills? Read on….
YIKES! My Bright Child Hates to Write!!!!!
There are several reasons why your young creative child may be reluctant to write. Hand strength, or the lack of it, could be the cause. Tuning up those Fine Motor Skills can help. Try weaving baskets, forming pottery, working wood, playing a musical instrument, building models, and creating jewelry . BLB Library has a Resource listing several websites with LOTS of other ideas:
And once you feel your young author has sharpened her/his pencils, but needs to SEE images before writing about them, BLB Shop has a great Story Starter Tool for doing just that. Just click on the link below:
Can you tell I like to write ?!?!? I hope you have found some useful information regarding this extremely important Literacy Skill. Yes, it is complex and, sometimes, frustrating ~ even for those of us who love to write. But it a VERY necessary component of life!
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Upgrading the Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
In Second Grade ALREADY!!!!! Prepare for Academic Acceleration in Learning & Language Literacy Skills. Listening & Speaking Vocabulary become increasingly…complex. Reading & Writing expectations approach independence. And the ongoing Research Projects….
Yes, there’s a TON of Academic Acceleration happening during your 7 year-old’s Second Grade year! And, yours truly is here to try & offer some helpful strategies & tips for “dealing” with this “BLOW OUT” year, which, BTW, will set the tone for next year’s “I Totally Got This !” Third Grade year….
So, Faithful Reader, I’m, again, writing a 5 ~ part Series. This time for Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grade: Language Skills, Celebrations (Part 2), Research Skills (Part 3), and the ever-ongoing Literacy Skills of Reading (Part 4) & Writing (Part 5).
This is Part One :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Learning & Language Skills
Your Second Grader’s Learning & Language Skills
There are no seven wonders in the eyes of a child. There are seven million. ~ Walt Streighttiff
Notice anything different about the way your 7 year-old looks? Some of that “baby-ness” may be slowly melting away as his/her motor skills continue to mature. S/he may even grow a few inches taller. Ready to take the training wheels off that two-wheeler?
Not only is his/her curiosity continuing to increase, the abilities to investigate & analyze the mysteries of the world are growing as well.
Those limitless questions are part of the excitement s/he is feeling about the exploration and discoveries of new environments as well as all those social situations. (OMG ~ did s/he just ask me THAT question?!?)
S/he is beginning to prefer playing with friends instead of adults, although family outings are still very enjoyable.
Once answered, s/he is eager to share the new knowledge s/he has learned with others, making your child a perfect candidate as a Peer-Mediator for a school-wide program called “PMII”, or Peer-Mediated Instruction & Intervention.
Yes, I’ve Heard About That Program
As a Peer-Instructor, s/he may act as an assistant during classroom instruction, cooperative learning, and/or peer-tutoring.
S/he may, also, be asked to help as a peer-supporter with social skills connections, such as easing reluctant students into group-share situations (cafeteria, recess, activities).
One of the most successful roles s/he will participate in is as a peer-interventionist during conflict resolution scenarios. As an educator of the young, I can tell you these youngsters work wonders with their peers as situational problem solvers without the company of an adult or teacher. Here’s a sample of an effective dialogue a Peer Mediator may use. This PDF includes strategies with options as well as typical student conflicts.
However, because your Second Grader is beginning to show concerns about what others (especially peers) think of him/her~ growing self-criticism & some confidence-shrinking may become an issue occasionally. And then, there’s the Worry-Wartness symptoms….
What’s to Worry About?
That malady called “Peer Pressure” is beginning to take hold now. Longing to be part of a group, your 7 year-old does not appreciate having attention called to his/her actions and/or accomplishments…. unlike the last few years…..oh dear…
Your child may worry about things that never seemed bothersome in the past, like clothes (“Too babyish!”), homework (“I’ll NEVER get all this done !”), physical irritations (“I think I have a deadly disease!”), bedtime (“I know there’s something hiding in my closet…”).
According to Hank Pellissier, founder & director of the Brighter Brains Institute, many Second Graders ” HATE making mistakes, not finishing tasks, and losing at anything. They have to be first, correct, punctual, best & perfect.” Sound familiar???
He further states that all this particular area of angst is part of your child’s brain growth. Understanding concepts like time, space, direction, distance & time are influencing the expectations s/he has on the completion of activities.
You Can Learn from Your Mistakes
You must never feel badly about making mistakes…as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons that you do by being right for the wrong reasons. ~The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
I came across this great piece of helpful information when trying to boost a child’s confidence, especially when s/he is feeling insecure during the learning process. It is an anchor chart, Jen of Runde’s Room discovered created by a group of elementary school teachers. I did some editing, so please feel to use it with your little WorryWart:
So, of course, a safe, reliable, predictable & reassuring environment is necessary for maximum learning to occur. Keep those routines in place!
Your Child’s Classroom Learning Environment
Although having high expectations for your child may seem a bit harsh, they are, in fact, a match for those s/he and her/his classroom teacher has already put into play. Your Second Grader loves a good challenge ~ even thrives on it ~ as long as the limits are not too stressful. Rigor is a part of the curriculum.
The Second Grade classroom is filled with SEVERAL libraries: fiction readers ~ Picture & beginning Chapter trade books; nonfiction readers ~ earth, physical, ecology & life science concepts; social studies concepts ~ world culture, community helpers, economics, historical biographies, & atlases; math concepts ~ measurement, computation, fractions, money, geometry. There are bins of manipulatives, tools, instruments, notebooks, writing supplies, art supplies, etc. Center nooks are usually in place : reading, writing, science, math, social studies, a large, interactive calendar, maps, and, maybe even, a globe.
Your Child’s Home Learning Environment
Your Home Learning Environment probably shares many of the same elements. My Resource Library has some information for you regarding Your Educational Home Environment. Here’s the link:
And, then, there’s your Brain’s favorite Learning environment ~ the Great Outdoors! Nothing like fresh oxygen!
Your Seven Year-Old’s Brain
Call for brain power. ~Barbara Jordan
Outdoor play is critical to all children’s growth & development. They need to walk, run, jump, twist, turn, spin & play. Not only are 7 year-olds ready for free physical play, they are, also, ready get those training wheels off their speed racers, skateboard (YIKES) and participate in organized sports as well as back yard games. You remember these, right?!
Hide ‘n Seek
Red Light, Green Light
Mother/Father/Granny/Granpa/Auntie/Uncle, May I ?
Multiple Tag Games
In a recent article “Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature”, written by Danielle Cohen & published on the Child Mind Institute website, research supports what we humans, have known all along.
As educators, we all agree indoor recess is just not the same as being outside on the playground. Being outdoors is beneficial, not only to your physical health, but also, to your mental wellness.
“Most of the studies agree that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.”
Here are links to the complete article with an additional link for Ideas:
Lots of research, also, suggests students who engage in physical, outdoor play are able to learn more easily in academic environments. Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist & author of the book, Spark : The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain states exercise elevates a brain-building chemical he calls “Miracle-Gro for the Brain” because it encourages its growth & development.
And there are lots of indoor Brain exercises you can do.
Inside the Brain Activities
Second Grade requires students to participate in a more rigorous learning environment. Their Critical Thinking skills are engaging them in more complex reading, longer writing compositions, and greater problem solving concepts.
Because they are improving their brains’ processing skills, creating & presenting research projects become a significant part of their everyday classroom expectations. Technology will be used for these investigations, but…..go easy on Screen Time….it’s a Brain ~ Eater, but more on that in Part 2…..
Memory & rational brain areas are growing, giving them more impulse control, independence & planning power. Three-step directions should be easier for your child to follow ~ clothes in the hamper, bath with soap, pajamas on. Oh, and brush teeth & hair….guess that’s more than 3….
Numerous brain scientists & nutritionists agree ~ there are certain foods, when part of our daily diet, actually help brains grow, develop & function more effectively. I created a little PDF reminder you can put on the fridge next to your grocery shopping list. It’s a broad, general list, so Go Julia (Child) ! Brain Foods Poster
Many lists I read, listed Oatmeal, Blueberries & Eggs as the top 3 foods, especially for children. Hmmm…sounds like Breakfast & Cookies…… And because I LOVE to cook, especially with children, I adapted a few recipes using these ingredients for you to make and eat with your child (ren). They’re in a PDF, recipe card format with front & back covers, so you can download, copy, print & cut apart to include as a section in your kitchen recipe box or notebook :
Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
You may have noticed a BIG difference in your soon-to-become-a-Second-Grader’s speaking, listening & reading skills over the summer.
Not only is s/he listening for the meaning of discussions & conversations, s/he is, also, participating with his/her ideas clearly expressed in complete sentences AND is following multi-step directions with accuracy.
These are some of the “perks” her/his progress with reading comprehension skills : Main Ideas, Details, Sequence.
S/he is very excited about his/her ability to read some text independently.
And, although, s/he wants to transition from an Emergent/Beginning Reader into an Independent Reader, s/he still LOVES your time together reading together, especially those wonderful Chapter Books.
This is Part Four :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Reading Skills
Your Second Grade Reader
The more that you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss
Here’s a brief checklist of other Reading Skills your child is preparing to use in Second Grade. S/he can:
Recognize & understand new words by using phonics & context clues
Use a basic sight & high frequency words vocabulary with accuracy
Speak the beginning, middle & end sounds within a word
Add, omit or change sounds in a word to make a different word
Read & make words in word families
Read some compound words & contractions
Understand & interpret stories or short passages
Answer the 5 Ws & How questions accurately
Retell the Main Idea, Characters, Setting & the Sequence of Events with accuracy
Use a story’s elements to make a plausible prediction
Follow simple, written directions correctly
Your child will continue to develop and extend these skills during Second Grade as well as adding just a “few” more….
How’s your Literacy ~ Rich Home Environment coming along?
From Playroom to Study Nook
Is there a place in your home, near the “library ” bookcase for bean bags & large floor pillows?
If your child has a bookcase in his/her nook, make sure to include other reading materials besides fiction & nonfiction books, like pamphlets, catalogs, comic books, magazines.
You may want to set up a special “display” area for current study materials as well as a calendar/schedule on a cork board.
Include infographics, labeled/captioned posters, and/or maybe an “anchor chart” regarding specific skills ~ your child’s teacher may help with that resource.
Here’s an I AM A READER Poster you can make with your soon-to-be-an-Independent-Reader : I Am A Reader poster
Oh, and a dry erase board with multi-colored dry erase markers is a great tool for planning, vocabulary word of the day, graphic organizers, and, of course, a brain-break doodling session.
Your Home is your child’s first classroom and can continue to provide an on-going Literacy Space. It will encourage and build her/his academic success with Reading accuracy as its foundation.
Second Grade’s Reading Expectations
Reading becomes more complex in its vocabulary within much longer content. The words have more syllables, common prefixes & suffixes, irregular spellings & complex phonetic rules. Synonyms, antonyms, compound words & adjectives are part of word definitions.
The variety of fiction & nonfiction genres as well as poetry types expands into:
Story Structure (beginning, middle & end) with its Elements (Main Idea, Character, Setting, Problem/Solution, Lesson) are explored in greater detail. Emphasis of comprehension can be done by comparing & contrasting similar stories, characters’ response, and cultural definitions. Why the author wrote the story is, also, part of the comprehension discussion.
Nonfictional reading is used for Research Projects with attention given to text features such as labels, caption, diagrams, glossaries, indexes, etc. Click on my previous post for A LOT more info:
So ~ reading at grade-level includes word recognition accuracy at a steady pace with expression. Using Comprehension strategies to locate evidence and self-correction skills are benchmarks for your Second Grade reader.
Here’s a List of the Reading Literacy Terms such as Decoding Skills & Fluency Rate, your child’s teacher will be using during The Conference : Literacy Terms
Let’s Begin At The Beginning
You and your child have been “working” on Word Attack Skills since, really, s/he was in-utero. Letters, sounds & their combos are the building blocks of beginning to read ~ think the hearing & speaking skills of Phonological Awareness to Phonemic Awareness and, now, Phonics ~ the written version.
Second Grade currently introduces more of those Phonetic structures to increase your child’s ability to Decode all those BIG, unknown vocabulary words s/he is experiencing while reading more complex content.
Along with blending 2 or more consonant sounds together at the beginning and/or ending of a word, here are some other graphemes (written letters) & phonemes (spoken sounds), your child will be learning this year:
Consonants Digraphs: ch, sh, th, wh, qu, ng
Hard & Soft c & g
Silent Consonants: wr, kn, lk, mb
Long Vowels: silent e & teams
Vowel Patterns: igh, y
Diphthongs: ou, ow, oo, aw, au, oi, oy
Inflectional Endings: s, es, ies, ves, ed, ing
BLB Shop has TONS of games for teaching some of these specific skills:
Malia Hollowell from Playdough to Plato created & shared several Reading Roadmap “Sheets” for meeting some of readers’ challenges. Among her suggestions are:
Does that sound in the word: Make sense, sound right, look right?
Skip the word & come back to it during the re-read
Stretch out the word slowly; then saying it again fast (kids love this one & it can be very effective)
Make a good guess
Decoding Skills go hand-in-hand with the speed & flow of your child’s reading.
The Ebb & Flow of Fluency
Fluency, or Fluent Reading is the ability to read without stopping to decode words. Decoding occurs in a quick, mental, self-check way.
Speed, Word Recognition Accuracy, Comma Pauses, End Punctuation Inflections, and Expression are all components of Reading Fluency.
Getting stuck can be disruptive to his/her thought process & comprehension, although, it doesn’t always affect understanding.
For example, a child may read the words accurately without stopping in an even pace, but NOT understand anything s/he read. Just as another child may read and decode more slowly, but understands exactly what s/he read.
Finally, I organized my Reading Strategies into a Mini-Poster & Flip Cards Sequence Guide ~ Ready To Read ~ for your Second Grade Reader when solving the “I’m STUCK on this word!” dilemma : Reading Success Sequence
The Vocabulary in the MANY different books s/he is reading this year is GINORMOUS!!!
So, What Books Are on My Second Grader’s Level?
A book is a dream you hold in your hand. ~ Neil Gaiman
Before I get into actual Reading Comprehension Strategies, I thought I’d go on a bit more about the “newer” book genres your child will be sharing with you from the classroom (according to the Second Grade Core Expectations).
Within the Fiction Genre, there is an emphasis on stories created that could happen in real-life, have a historical basis, contain mysteries to be solved as well as inventive futuristic stories and imaginary fantasies. Books & stories about the Creative Arts can be very engaging to your aspiring artists.
Comprehension Skills can be mastered by using a variety of Reading Strategies.
You have been teaching your child many of these during your read-alouds with him/her throughout the years. You did this by:
pointing out specific details & key ideas/facts in the illustrations on the Picture Walk and throughout the story (click on this link for the Parent Guide to the Picture Walk :Going on A Picture Walk)
asking & answering the 5 Ws
defining time & place regarding present, past ,future & fantasy vs reality
retelling the story by including important details, such as the characters, setting & plot (click on this link for the Parent Guide to Tell Me A Story : Tell Me A Story Abt the Story Read)
using descriptive language & lots of expression
explaining new vocabulary words
making personal connections to the story
discussing lessons & morals of the stories
sharing both fiction & nonfiction books
Your child’s teacher uses similar strategies during read-alouds to encourage comprehension.
Guided reading promotes an effective way to teach how-to-understand-the-read strategies during one-on-one time.
Guided Reading Comprehension Strategies
In Second Grade many of the following Story Elements Comprehension Questions are discussed orally with maybe a short prompt or two for written responses.
However, as the year progresses, written responses to these questions begin to occur more frequently. This Comprehension Q & A can help your child understand & answer those questions with accuracy: Primary Rdr’s Comp Q & A
Filling in Graphic Organizers (Click on this Reading Graphic Organizers link: K Rdg Comp GOrgs ) are easy ways to engage your child’s understanding of texts read. Here’s a Comprehension Freebie example using Aesop’s fable ~ “The Crow and the Pitcher” : I Understand the Story
Take a breath ~
Although your Second Grader may feel overwhelmed at certain times, s/he is totally capable of learning all these things AND MORE!!! You and yours have got this!!!
OMG!!!! How Can I Help!?!?!
Now that you’ve taken a deep breath…or several….
Remember, there are several ways you can help your child read and listen to stories with a purpose in mind, which you have probably been doing for years.
Dr. Michael Gurian, a brain scientist, family therapist & author of the book, Nurture the Nature, offers these suggestions:
Engage discovery in nature
Encourage imagination with physical & mental play
Include morals & values in family discussions
Foster positive relationships with peers
Show support of the school environment
There are many DIY Comprehension games you can make together & play with your child to keep learning fun. Here are a few links:
Keep reading anything everywhere with your child everyday and encourage her/him to read to other children. Listen to books on tape while driving. Record your child reading a story. Act out stories.
And… if your child struggles with reading…….
Teaching Your Child to Read WITHOUT Words
For some children Reading is a challenge…..for a number of reasons.
Does your child “freeze” at the sight of words on a page you are not reading?
Wordless Picture Books are not just created for “babies”. They are, also, “written” for older children ~ like me ~ and may be the way to actually engage your child into reading. Really….
They can inspire your child’s creativity & imagination while building reading comprehension skills, vocabulary AND critical thinking.
Nicole Clevenger@playfullearning.net and I have some suggestions for fun activities with Wordless Picture Books:
Use Post It notes to write down thoughts or dialogue of the characters & place them directly on the book pages beside them.
Use Post It notes to write down observations, questions, predictions, and/or inferences about what’s happening in the illustrations.
Ask your child to write a book review that includes the story elements: Main Idea, Characters, Setting, Problem/Solution.
Encourage your child to create a Wordless Picture Book and narrate it as it is being read. Write down those thoughts & attach them to the backs of the illustrations. Hopefully, your child will want to read those words.
I, also, compiled a Wordless Picture Books list for older children:
One more VERY effective Reading Strategy for engaging a Reluctant Reader is Partner, or Paired, Reading ~ usually with a peer, friend or slightly older “mentor”.
I used this reading strategy every year with my struggling readers and found this approach to be highly effective for building confidence, improving reading skills, and encouraging a love for reading ~ for pleasure. A definite Win ~ Win ~ Win !!!
Click on this Reading Rockets link below for more information:
Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
If your soon-to-be Second Grader’s vocabulary & reading skills have progressed over the summer, pat yourself on the back because those daily reading sessions have worked. Even s/he is surprised (YAY for the Family Literacy Circle !).
Now……How are those Writing Skills coming along ?
Unless your child LOVES to write…..prepare for a Super-Sized learning curve with Super-Sized expectations in your Second Grader’s Writing Workshop.
Got your Family Literacy Circle Writing Center ready?
Here are some suggestions for your young author’s Writing Space:
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Writing Skills
Your Second Grade Writer
Sometime this summer, inventory the following Writing & Spelling Skills with your soon-to-be Second Grader:
Writes last name with accuracy
Writes messages using phrases & sentences
Writes simple stories with a beginning, middle & ending
Recognizes & uses print conventions when writing: end punctuation, grammar, nouns/verbs
Spells common grade-level words with accuracy
Locates known & unknown words in a picture dictionary
Recognizes & uses phonetic rules to spell unknown words
Understands & identifies the differences between a noun & a verb
Can write a simple, complete sentence
Understands compound words
Identifies some prefixes & suffixes
Identifies regular & some irregular plurals
Understands the meanings of synonyms & antonyms
Yeah! And there will be MORE to learn in the Writing Arena throughout the year….
Oh ! A quick word or two about Handwriting…..
The Labors of Legible Handwriting
Picking up a paper using those fine motors skills is easy compared to the complex set of muscles (brain included) needed to write thoughts, grasping a #2 pencil onto that piece of paper in a clear, readable way.
Those skills ~ still growing and developing~ can be “nurtured” in several ways. Seemingly, “mindless” practice is one of them, but they are part of your Second Grader’s Writing Skills.
Click on this link to access a Resource on Fine Motor Skills from BLB’s Library :
Engaging your child to draw pictures of the words s/he is reading can be a stepping stone into the Writing Process. S/he may decide the story should be written differently and will “edit” the text (YAY!) in a creative way.
Using Dialogue clouds in those character pictures is definitely writing. Think comic books and cartoon strips.
Here are some book title ideas in this little freebie~ Read, Write and Draw Books :
Engaging your child in the fun and creative process of story telling is a very productive way to inspire writing. However, your Second Grader’s Writing Skills will include learning and mastering many other writing elements this year
Second Grade Writing Expectations & Objectives
If your campus follows the Common Core, there are two major components of the Writing Process: Language, or Standard English Conventions, and the actual Writing Purposes.
Here’s a General Overview, listing the Second Grader’s Writing Skills Expectations for Language Usage & Composition:
I’ll get into a little (haha) more detail on these 2 HUGE topics, beginning with Standard English, or Grammar.
Good Grief, Grammar !!!
No one is perfect ~ that’s why pencils have erasers. ~ Wolfgang Riebe
Informal speech, also known as slang, colloquialisms, street talk, jargon, lingo and, even, dialect, can make learning “proper”, or Standard English confusing. Heard in peer groups, media and read in “literature”, expecting your child to use good grammar while speaking can be frustrating.
And in writing….oh my…..
Here are a few of my Freebie Helpers with a BLB’s Shop Product:
I, also, created a 100+ page Grammar Handbook that includes lots of activities for learning & practicing Good Grammar with a Sentence Builder component, using Adjectives & Adverbs. You can preview it in my TpT Shop. Here’s the product link:
And, although Vocabulary is listed as more of a Reading Skill, I’d like to chat a little (again, haha) about it’s significant role in writing ~ choosing the exact words to express exactly what you want to say.
Here’s What I Want to Say…..
Although reading plays a large role in Vocabulary Acquisition, knowing which words you want to use in your writing, how to find them, and how to spell them correctly definitely takes some practice. It is a skill good writers learn through lots of repetition and review.
Using a Picture Dictionary is more appropriate for Second graders than teaching the actual Dictionary skills. Even my Third Graders found learning how to use a dictionary challenging. Again, practice, practice, practice.
Click on the link below for ideas and games to help teach your Second Grader how to use a dictionary:
Yes, ALL of this in a Written Expression or Ten….yes, at least 10 by the end of Second Grade…..
The Storyteller Becomes The Author
Write the kind of story you would like to read. ~ Meg Cabot
Your youngster has been inventing & writing stories since Kindergarten. This year those stories will be following certain guidelines to meet Expectations. Her/his editing skills, as well as, paragraph construction play heavily into meeting those expectations.
Believe it or not, within the first few weeks of school, your Second Grader’s Writing Skills will help him/her produce more complex and interesting stories, opinions and reports.
Does s/he keep a journal or diary at home ?
S/he will probably be excited about an upcoming Research Project (aren’t you?). YAY! It’s Our Family Tree Project !!!
And, yes, there’s more….
The Second Grade Writing Experience
There are more than a few writing assignments s/he will be given during Second Grade. Here’s a list of Written Expressions (with some helpful Resource links ) your child will be composing this year:
The 5~Sentence Paragraph Formula ~ topic sentence, 3+ topic-supporting sentences, and a conclusion sentence, which re-states the beginning topic sentence