Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Finds...

These great white board crayons (instead of markers) for little ones can be found at  your local Wal-Mart!
They are by Crayola and are a real hit with the children that I know.  They even come with a special glove with which to wipe the board clean! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First of a Series of Musings on Exciting Ways to Motivate Your Young Child to Read

If I was asked to write a list of fun and inspiring ways to motivate your young child to read, at the top of the list would be a way for the written word to have intense meaning to your child.

When I taught First Grade many years ago, I came across Sylvia Ashton-Warner's book, Teacher .  In this book, she describes her technique for teaching reading to young Maori children.  I decided to adapt her program to my classroom and found it to be a great way to launch children into the world of reading!  As the author points out, children's first words and first books should come from their life.  So, I started each morning with "Key Vocabulary"(Miss Ashton-Warner's name for it), a "one-look" sight vocabulary originating from the child himself.

 Each day each child would think of a word he wanted to know.  I wrote it on an index card.  These self-chosen words accumulated and were kept in  his specially decorated shoebox.  The next day, before giving him a new word, I would ask for the "old" words .  If a word was not remembered I would put it aside and eventually toss it in the trash because it had failed as a "one-look" word, and could not have been of much importance to the child.  While I was giving words to each child, the others were sharing their words with partners, or printing their words on the chalkboard.  Still others were putting their words on a  magnetic board or on a felt board with felt letters.  All of the children were busy sharing and learning each others words!

 When it got to the point of having 20 words in the box the child would make a "word book" in which he drew pictures for his words to share with the class, or a parent, etc.  Then, we would begin again with some different words to put in his box!  The children were never at a loss for words!

This time of "Organic Reading" was the noisiest and the most productive time of the day.  I believe its success stemmed from the concept of using words important to the child, the language of his world to the written language of reading.  What joy!  After having the security of his world in the written word, the child can then reach out in love and joy to other books, other readers.

Sylvia-Ashton's Warner's book Teacher  (reprinted version) can still be purchased for you to read from Barnes and Noble. 

NB  I first bought this book in 1973 , my first year of teaching, when First Grade was the grade to initiate reading.  Everything is done so much earlier these days.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thoughts on TP

Now I know you all are thinking,  "What in the world is TP ?" Those silly acronyms!  Is it some new method of teaching, or a label for a little-known learning disorder, or maybe my thoughts on being "Tickled Pink"?

Well, I don't know about you but I can NEVER find paper when I need it.  One day I wanted to write down a few thoughts pertaining to learning   - I can't remember if they were my thoughts or someone else's - before they disappeared from my mind.  These little snippets  are very basic ideas but, very foundational in the ability (or inability) of students to learn.  They are realizations relating to one's own experiences as teacher, as well as, learner.

SO here are my "Thoughts on Toilet Paper" concerning basic learning principles.  Yes, I finally found some paper!  In the bathroom!  Desperate measures for desperate times.   LOL!

1.  To help students learn something  you  should first understand what they already know

2.  Showing students how to do something is better than telling them, and letting them do it is best of all

3.  Do not show or tell too much at once, since learners digest new ideas slowly and should feel secure with new skills or knowledge before acquiring  more

4.  It is necessary to give your pupils as much time as they need or want to absorb what you have shown or told  them

5.  Instead of testing their understanding with questions, let them show how much or little they understand by the questions they ask you

6.  Do not get impatient or angry when learners do not understand, frightening them only blocks learning

Something to think about and ponder.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


It's been a long time since I have been in the classroom, but some of my fondest memories are of teaching children to learn. I loved to guide my students through important discoveries...the shapes of letters and numerals, the way a word looked, how words were similar and different. Not exactly earth-shattering discoveries you say? Not so! I could see the blast of a rocket in the eyes of a child who figured out a word by blending sounds together. The brilliant light of the stars reflected on the face of a student who added sets of objects and came up with the correct sum.

Working with children and seeing them succeed was the delight of my heart and my reason for teaching! Early Childhood Education was my major and I pretty much, over the course of years, taught 3 year old preschool up to second grade. Teaching in many different states and different types of schools (public, private, christian, home school umbrella school) I found children of these age levels to display the same love and determination to learn!

In recent months I have had the privilege of walking alongside a few young moms who have chosen for one reason or another to take on the full responsibility(along with the father, of course) for the education of their children. I have enjoyed the wonderful delight of troubleshooting for them the little glitches that pop up in the educational process. And, in turn, that has led me to jot down a few thoughts on my teaching ideas and methods that might be helpful to others.

Even if this goal is not accomplished the way I am anticipating, I am looking forward to seeing what the musing of an ex-schoolteacher will do to bless those who have children at these ages. Ideas are floating around in my head - quite dangerous for a 59 year old because you never know where they are going to land - as to what form this blog will take. So join with me in this endeavor and add what comments or questions that you may have and let's see where we will journey together .