Teaching My Baby To Read

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My daughter’s breakthrough with “All About Reading”

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Last Saturday my daughter ran around the house saying “Pinch me. Is this a dream? I can read!” It was the cutest thing ever, but it also broke my heart a little bit. Two months ago we realized “Jenna” needed glasses. Now, we’re still regrouping.

First self portrait with glasses.

First self portrait with glasses.

One thing I know for sure is that Bob Books weren’t working for Jenna. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bob Books and have blogged about them often. But they weren’t working for Jenna, probably because she had developed an aversion to them because her eyes were hurting.

Since we already owned All About Spelling I decided to buy the All About Reading readers. (Full disclosure: I am an All About Learning affiliate.) All About Spelling and All About Reading are based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, which means teaching kids phonics in discrete, multisensory lessons that build upon each other. It’s the gold standard for helping kids with dyslexia. To be clear, I’m not supposing my daughter has dyslexia, but if she did, All About Learning products would be a recommended intervention.

Doing All About Spelling with my daughter has been a completely different experience than working through the program with my son.) You can read about “Bruce’s experience here.) Bruce blew through each step in a couple of days. Jenna does better spending one or two weeks on every step. She is fabulous at spelling out words with the tiles. Dictating words on paper is also a strength. But when it comes to flashcards, or simply reading the words from the book, she needs more time. I have to be patient.

So honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when we first opened RUN, BUG, RUN! Would this be a good fit?

It turns out, it wasn’t only a good fit, it was a home run. (And yes, I’m mixing metaphors!)

Every time Jenna reads a story we give her a star sticker. This picture shows how many stickers she’s earned in five days. Forty stickers!

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There is a combination of things going on that are contributing to Jenna’s success:

  1. She finally has glasses!
  2. The stories are at the exactly right level for Jenna. They don’t include any spelling patterns she hasn’t learned yet.
  3. The illustrations by Matt Chapman, Donna Goeddaeus and Dave LaTulippe are beyond charming.
  4. Reading focus cards seem to really help.
Fanciful pictures delight.

Fanciful pictures delight.

 

Reading focus cards help words pop-especially for a little girl who has struggled with her vision.

Reading focus cards help words pop-especially for a little girl who has struggled with her vision.

The other thing I should add is the $1 I spent on those star sticks was totally worth it Getting a star sticker is incredibly motivating and we’ve been celebrating every time Jenna earns ten stars.

As a mom, I feel a tremendous amount of relief to have a program that works. Sure, I have my whole litany of free strategies to teach kids to read but for some reason Jenna needed something different. I’m not sure if it was the undiagnosed vision problem, or something else. But now I feel like we are solidly back on track.

Go ahead and pinch me. I’m living the dream!

Reading Focus Cards

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A month ago I purchased Reading Focus Cards to help support my daughter’s ability to track words. In the past, I’ve made homemade versions of the same idea for free (see how here), but I felt we were ready for an upgrade.

The benefit of reading focus cards is that they come with different colored films and your child gets to choose which color window is the best fit for his or her brain. After a lot of experimentation, Jenna chose yellow.

This is what the reading focus cards look like in action:

 

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The big question: do they help?

Since I’m a fast reader–technically a “speed reader”, the cards slow me down considerably, although they do improve my comprehension. But I wasn’t purchasing the card for me; they are meant for my daughter.

Jenna is very neutral about them. Sometimes she wants to use the cards, sometimes she doesn’t. But as her mom, I’m glad I bought them and have the cards as an available resource.

Kindergarten Benchmark Sight Words

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Here are the benchmark sight words my daughter’s Kindergarten class is expected to master by first grade:

is

a

the

has

and

of

with

see

for

no

cannot

have

are

said

I

you

me

come

here

to

my

look

he

go

put

want

this

she

saw

now

like

do

home

they

went

good

was

be

we

there

then

out

Fun book for beginning readers

Looking for a book that fits somewhere between Level 2 Book Books and Level 3? Check out Early Bird by Toni Yuly. This is a bright, cheerful story for beginning readers that my own daughter really enjoyed. We found this book at our local library.

A fun aspect about Early Bird is that in addition to the lovely illustrations, the text is presented in an interesting way, so that the words  “pop” out to kids. My daughter and I enjoyed  Early Bird  a lot, and can’t wait to see the author’s new book, Night Owl, which comes out in a few days.


 

Put a window on it

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Get out your scissors, moms and dads. Here’s a trick straight from the classroom that will make it easier for you to teach your child to read. Give your young reader a special bookmark called a word window.

My daughter Jenna has just turned five-years old and is chugging along at a first grade reading level. She can read between 75 and 100 words but still get easily frustrated. Too many words on a page overwhelms her.

An easy solution for this is using a word window. A word window is a bookmark with a hole cut out in the middle. In the past I’ve made fancy ones out of construction paper and clear tape.  But simple word windows made out of plain white paper work well too.

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Eventually my daughter will outgrow word windows, but right now they are extremely helpful.

P.S. Got an older kid with reading issues? Word windows work for third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders too, especially if they have ADHD.

Why I’m impressed with Reading Eggs

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My broken wrist has really cramped our ordinary Afterschooling schedule. One bright spot has been Reading Eggs. I purchased a subscription through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op and have been extremely impressed.

Here’s why the former Kindergarten teacher in me loves Reading Eggs:

  • It’s systematic and sequential
  • It’s balanced, (phonics and sight words)
  • It’s diagnostic, (built in assessments keep kids on track)
  • It’s FUN!

The way Reading Eggs works is there are 12 maps with ten lessons each. Every lesson has 11 activities.  My daughter took the placement quiz and began on map 3. At the end of map 3 she passed a simple quiz to move on to map 4.

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Drawbacks:

    • Clicking with a mouse can be hard for little hands. We don’t have an iPad, but we do have a touch screen computer. That really helps. However, some of the activities work better with the screen and some work better with the mouse. I need to be on standby in case my preschooler becomes frustrated.

Jenna has been playing Reading Eggs for three weeks now and I’m already seeing a big difference. Level 3 Bob Books are a lot easier for her now, and she has more confidence when sounding out words.

For more information about Reading Eggs, please click here.