“Look” for more!

My original plan was to teach our children three sight words, better known as “high frequency” words – “go”, “to” and “the.”   These 3 words can be found on a longer list of high frequency words that are the most frequently used words in books. We want children to instantly recognize these words by sight because it builds up reading fluency. “Go”, “to”, and “the” were chosen because our upcoming Easter egg hunt clues will read something like, “Go to the p______.” Once your child finds the next egg at the piano, it may read, “Go to the b______” for the bathtub, and so on.  You know your child best and have observed how the last few days have gone introducing 3 new words.

Here have been my observations of my daughter, KC:

  • She gets up and is immediately looking for her new word.
  • If there is no word (like yesterday when we focused on making a book), she is disappointed. (By the way, I quickly wrote out “go to the” on a piece of paper and stuck it to the fridge yesterday morning after I saw how upset she was that the words were all gone.
  • This has been something she looks forward to learning each day. For example, at the grocery store yesterday I told her that I have a surprise for her the next day. She asked what it was and I told her it would be a new word. Her response, “Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!” puts her excitement lightly. To her dismay, I kept it a surprise.
  • She seems to enjoy the conversations we have together as I lead her to the answers rather that just telling her. For example, when she chose the sentence, “Go to the grocery store” but didn’t think she could draw a grocery store, I asked her if the store reminded her of a house. She immediately drew a square with a door and doorknob inside it. Then I asked her what she can find in a grocery store. She quickly listed off apples, oranges, cherries, bananas, ice cream and more. I told her to draw that and she was in heaven that she figured it out on her own and drew the cutest picture ever.

Do any of these bullet points sound familiar for your child? If yes, consider joining me below.*

Or, if you decide that it’s best for your child to keep working on “go”, “to”, and “the” with them, then review these 3 words until Easter and continue to play games emphasizing them as well. The memory game I explain below is perfect for your child without adding any new words. Simply use the 3 words you’re focusing on for that game.

Important tip: Remember, anything that involves movement of their body is a GREAT idea! So get creative! 

*Here’s our new expanded version of our upcoming Easter egg hunt: 

In addition to “Go to the”, clues will now also include the sentence “Look in the” and quite possibly, “Look at the”. It’s really based on each individual child and us parents will know when we’ve hit the right amount of new words for our child.

Today KC woke up and found the word, “Look” and “look” written on her bathroom mirror, on the fridge and a few other mirrors throughout the house. I model how to trace the word “look”, saying each letter aloud as I trace it, then slide my finger under it as I say the word, “This is the word ‘look’.” Next, KC says each letter aloud as she traces them, then slides her finger under it as she says, “look.” We do it twice, once for “Look” with a capital L and once for “look” with a lower case l. Her response actually floored me this morning. When I told her the word for today is “look”, she said “and tomorrow will be ‘at’.” How in the world did she know that? I promise that I never mentioned it in front of her. The word was going to be “in” but since I planned on teaching “at” soon after that, I may switch them and do “at” tomorrow. I asked her how she predicted the next word would be ‘at’ and she said “because, look at” so matter-of-factly. Then she looked at me and said, “well, sometimes the words are surprises!”

To help review past words, she will also find (Go/go/To/to/The/the) hidden throughout the house today in places that she frequents. I saved papers that have been stuck to the fridge over the last few days. When she found the word “to” today, she said “t-o go!.” A good response for that is “Try again. What letters do you see?” KC immediately said “to” and when asked how she came to that conclusion, she said it’s “t-o.” This is another great example of how to lead your child to the answer rather than giving it to them.

Games on the agenda for today include:

1) Memory game (also known as Concentration) – It’s best to use card stock so the words don’t show through. If the  paper is 8 1/2 x 11″, you can get 8 pieces that are approximately 2″ x 2 1/2″. Write 1 of the words on two squares, then another word on two more pieces of paper, etc.  You will end up with 8 squares with the words (Go/go/To/to/The/the/Look/look).  You can write the words with pencil, pen, crayon, etc. as long as the words doesn’t show through the paper.  To begin the game, mix up the words well and lay them face down (maybe  4 across and 4 down). You turn over any square, leaving it in the same spot and you read the word aloud.  Then you turn over any other square and you read it aloud.  If it’s not a match, turn them both back over.  Then your child has a turn.  Fun way to review words learned as well as having to concentrate and focus on which word is where and to learn strategies for game playing.

To avoid frustration at first and to understand how to play, I would recommend just starting with 3 words (go/to/the) which would be 6 squares.  3 rows of 3, with space between them.  Play that a few times, then you can add the word “look”.

You might even verbalize a few times when you play and say, “My word is ‘go, g-o, go’.  Now I have turned over ‘the, t-h-e, the’. I’m looking really hard and trying to concentrate on where my words are because I’m going to turn them face down and I want to remember where each word is.”  When it’s your child’s turn, let’s say he/she turns over a different “the”, you might prompt them by saying “do you remember where my “the” is?  If she turns it over, you can excitedly say “you got a match, you found a pair, so you get to take your two cards and put them over next to you.”  This works well the first few times your child is learning how to play and then you won’t need to prompt them once they get it.
Note: If you don’t have card stock, index cards work well if you just cut them in half. You’ll be able to use these words for other games later.

2) Word hopscotch or Running word search (simply running around to words scattered around the backyard,  saying and spelling them as she jumps on each like, “Go! G-o!”) – We like this last game because it will be easy to add “Look” into the mix since we’ve already played this game with “go”, “to”, and “the” spelled out on card stock. Write each word twice, one with the first letter capitalized and one all lowercase letters. Your child will benefit just from the fact that this game involves movement of running to and jumping on the word.

One last thing, before introducing the word “at” tomorrow, I’ve asked her these questions: “What letter does the word ‘apple’ start with?” She said “a” and I said “Good! And what sound does that make?” She made the correct sound. “Great! Now what letter do you think the word ‘at’ starts with if it starts with the same sound as ‘apple’?” It got a little tricky here. She started telling me rhyming words with ‘at’. I continued to ask questions like “What letter does ‘apple’ start with again? Oh, so if ‘a’ makes the sound [sound of a in the word apple], and ‘at’ makes the sound [sound of a in the word at], then what letter do you think ‘at’ starts with?” I kept rephrasing my questions and it eventually clicked and she was thrilled to have figured it out by herself.

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