Short o and Sight Word Play

ALuv is finishing up his study of short o words.  Yes, it has taken us quite some time to get through them.  We have taken short breaks here and there; which has been refreshing.  I also didn’t get pictures of some of the stuff I wanted to post about, but oh well!

After posting all the pictures, it seems it’s about time to take all the fake tatoos off his arms!  🙂


He re-matches the words and pictures multiple times from the Words Their Way sort.  Once we do this together a couple of times, I expect him to do it independently. 

Playing with his Tag Short o reader

spelled short o words with bottle caps, like we did here

checking his answer on the back

sorting/building -op & -og frogs

revisiting his Word Study notebook (for explanation, click here) after gluing down his short o words and pictures from his word sort


Currently, I am introducing an average of only 1 word wall word a week (it is summer), but we review all of them quite often.  I will probably only still do 2-3 a week, beginning in August; then bump it up to maybe 4-5 a week in January.  I would rather he learn them slowly and thoroughly than quickly and only half way.  He already knows about 1/3 of the sight words I taught in Kindergarten.

Here are some ways we’ve played with our sight words:

unscrambling sight words (letters are made from sentence strips)  This one was his favorite!

spelling with magnetic letters

Built words using this idea.  I made two sets out of foam and added a couple pieces of my own to make lower case building easier.  I’ll share those once I draw them out.

Reading, reading, and more reading- I love this picture!


…and measuring (in train cars) our weekly Bible Verse.  I adapted this idea from here.

Here is the list of verses he will learn this summer.  He gets to do something “special” with mommy or daddy each time he memorizes 5 verses.

For more Word Play ideas, remember you can visit and link up to this awesome list from 1+1+1=1.


From Caterpillar to Butterfly

The cool thing about literacy is that you can integrate it with any other content area.  Take, for instance, the caterpillar kit we have from Insect Lore.  As a public school teacher, I did this and the students LOVED it.  I have to admit that I was quite fascinated with it myself. 🙂  Jenae from I Can Teach My Child mentioned it on Facebook and it gave me the push I needed to do it with my own kids!  It took about a week for the caterpillars to arrive in the mail.

Here’s how this reading mama integrated science and literacy:  I had ALuv make observations daily and when he noted a change in the process, he wrote about it in a journal.  Quite simple, really.  When I told him this is what we were going to do, he replied by excitedly saying, “Oh, I get to use a journal just like Sid the Science Kid!”

Below are just some pictures of the journaled journey from caterpillar to butterfly…I’ll spare you from every entry of his journal.

The caterpillars are black and little. – May 20

The caterpillars are bigger with stripes.  -May 23

They poop green poop.  They are getting fat. -May 24; Mom’s favorite sentence…what can I say?!?

The caterpillars are hanging upside down. -May 26

May 27

And finally…

Now they are butterflies! -June 6

I also had him write about some of the butterfly behaviors he noticed while they were in the habitat.  Here is a really cool picture and one of his entries:

If you look carefully, you can see the proboscis (straw-like tongue) coming out to drink the orange.

They are drinking the orange juice. – June 5

The process of getting him to write: After ALuv would make his daily observations, I asked him to narrow down what he wanted to write about.  He would tell me his sentence, then on my lined dry erase board, he would help me write the words.  (We stretched out the words, listening for sounds & used our Word Wall for sight words.)  Using my handwriting as his guide, he would copy the sentences.  And as you may have noticed, his handwriting is getting MUCH better!!  Yay!

Just a side note: For this assignment, I preferred that his spellings be conventional because this text will be read over and over.  There are other times where invented spellings are perfectly fine, like when he wrote HAPPE BERTHDA (Happy Birthday) to MBug the other day.

We released our butterflies on Monday of this week.  When one of our butterflies came out of his chrysalis, he had  a torn wing and was unable to fly away.

ALuv tried so hard to get the butterfly to fly, but he just couldn’t.

So ALuv decided we should keep him.  His name is officially Flutter and he still lives in our playroom.  He now has some green leaves and flowers from our yard to keep him company.

ALuv wanted to include one last page for Flutter.

I let 4 butterflies go, but not Flutter.  His wing is broken.- June 5

I left him to draw the picture on his own and was very impressed when I returned with the attention to details!  Usually, he draws the bare minimal and refuses to give me any details.  ALuv made a cover for his journal and we put the pages in order (this integrated some math skills as he had to look at the dates and get them in the right order) and we stapled it all together.

He was very proud of his finished product…See How They Grow

Here are a few of the read aloud books we read together during this process, yet another way to integrate literacy:

  • The Polliwog and the Caterpillar by Jack Kent
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • It’s a Butterfly’s Life by Irene Kelly (loads of cool facts in this one)
  • Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell (Monarch butterfly)
  • Butterflies and Moths by Kathryn Knight (Target $1 bin)

Saturday’s Sites

Here are a couple of recent sites I’ve found that I wanted to share with you.  Good stuff!

  • Weston Woods, a division of Scholastic, has free study guides you can download as PDFs on their online catalog for their new releases, bestsellers, and other books (left hand sidebar).  On each study guide, there is a summary of the text, learning objectives, before & after reading activities, and other related titles!

            Here’s an example study guide for Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom!

  • Annie, from The Moffatt Girls, has launched her reading program called Ready2Read.  It’s designed for kids who are just beginning to read and it’s free!  She posted her first unit yesterday, which covers 5 sight words & the -at and -an word families.  She even includes lesson plans for her unit.  I like her word family activities because they are similar to Words Their Way.  She has 7 more units to post, so we have more to look forward to!  I hope you’ll check it out.

Saturday's Sites

Here are a couple of recent sites I’ve found that I wanted to share with you.  Good stuff!

  • Weston Woods, a division of Scholastic, has free study guides you can download as PDFs on their online catalog for their new releases, bestsellers, and other books (left hand sidebar).  On each study guide, there is a summary of the text, learning objectives, before & after reading activities, and other related titles!

            Here’s an example study guide for Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom!

  • Annie, from The Moffatt Girls, has launched her reading program called Ready2Read.  It’s designed for kids who are just beginning to read and it’s free!  She posted her first unit yesterday, which covers 5 sight words & the -at and -an word families.  She even includes lesson plans for her unit.  I like her word family activities because they are similar to Words Their Way.  She has 7 more units to post, so we have more to look forward to!  I hope you’ll check it out.

We Play With Words

I’m a little late in doing this, but Carisa at 1+1+1=1 has started a list of things you can do with your child/students to play with words.  What a great idea!  My word “well” runs dry at times and it’s nice to have a source for more ideas when this happens.

So I wanted to join in the fun and share some of the things we do here at this reading mama’s house to work on sight words & word families.  If you follow my blog, many of these pictures will be familiar.  I have provided a link to the original post when available.

We Manipulate Words

stamping words into Play-Doh

building words with Legos

spelling words with letter stickers

spelling words with magnetic letters

My husband made this kitchen set this past year for Christmas (props to my husband).  We primed the refrigerator and cabinet fronts with magnetic primer; so magnets stick…just like the real fridge!

Wikki Stix spelling

We Spell/Write Words

sentence strip spelling & writing

spelling words on a MagnaDoodle, GloDoodle, or AquaDoodle

Exploding with Words (Crayola Explosion)

spelling words on glass

flipping for words

We Read Words

word family sorting from Words Their Way

word hunts (looking for specific words) while reading in context

putting sight words in ABC order

ALuv is only 5, so I don’t have him alphabetize beyond the first letter.

We Play Games with Words

File Folder Games

Memory Match or Go Fish

Four Corners

Write your sight words (or word family words) on individual index cards.  Each person picks 4 to write on their board.  Shuffle all the cards and place them face down in a pile.  Take turns picking off the top card, reading it, and crossing it off your board if you have it.  The first person to cross off all their words first, wins!

Word Swat

 I call out a word on the board.  He uses his special “reading” glasses, which I found at the $1 store, and word swatter (with the inside cut out) to find the word and swat it.  This one is always a real “hit”!

Spelling Flashlight Tag

Sorry the picture is blurry.  I call out a word on our word wall and he has to shine his head lamp on it.  When I taught in the classroom, I used flashlights and with a permanent marker, colored the lens covers two different colors.  This way, you know which student found the word first.

Visit 1+1+1=1 to see more word play ideas!

Sentence Strip Handwriting

Before I get into the nitty gritty here, I want to first say that ALuv is currently 5 1/2 years old.  It’s time for him to work on correct letter formation with the lined paper.  I like Michelle’s post, which reminded me to tell you that I didn’t start ALuv on lined paper.  His fine motor skills weren’t there, yet.  Lined paper would have pushed him and this mama off the edge!  We explored writing in many different ways.  His favorite way was by far the giant dry erase boards I have.

Now for the nitty gritty!  On Monday, I told you that I had thought of a way to have ALuv practice his handwriting.  I know you’ve been awake ever since then just wondering what I did…hehe.

As I pondered a way to have him practice his handwriting on the lined paper, it hit me!  Sentence strips have the same lined pattern as the paper.  And I had tons of sentence strips.  I got to work!

1. I cut apart sentence strips into 1 1/2 inch pieces.  You can find sentence strips at any teacher store.  I think I even saw some at Target the other day.

2. I wrote upper case and lower case letters on the pieces:

  • 3 of every lower case consonant (written in black)
  • 4 of every lower case vowel (red)
  • 2 of every upper case consonant (black)
  • 3 of every upper case vowel (red)

My mind started reeling.  This activity could also be a way to practice his sight words from his Word Wall.  He could even form short sentences to practice punctuation as well!

3. I cut out more pieces for punctuation

  • 2 periods (blue)
  • 2 question marks (blue)
  • 2 exclamation marks (blue)

4. I pulled out the letters & punctuation I needed for these three short sentences:

  • I love you.
  • I go up.
  • I see you.

I kept the sentences short & sweet as the focus of my lesson was more on handwriting than sight words.

5.  I placed all the letters on the floor and modeled with the sentence I go.  I picked the sentence strip letters, spelled the words, then wrote my letters/sentence on the dry erase board; showing him how I used the letters on the sentence strips as my guide to form my letters.

The dry erase lined board is one that I got at Target in their $1 bin last year.  An alternative to this would be to print a page off of this website and laminate it so you can write with a dry erase marker.  Or, you could simply use a pencil and lined paper.

6. I called out one sentence at a time and he got to work.  He manipulated the letters to form words then wrote each sentence.

He really liked this activity and kept commenting on how his letters looked like a first grader had written them!  I was encouraged by his enthusiasm.  We’ll definitely do this again with different sentences.  My hope is that as he gets more comfortable with his handwriting, we can write some longer sentences.

A variation that I thought of after our activity would be to laminate all your sentence strip pieces.  This would not only make them more durable, but would allow your child the ability to practice writing over top of the sentence strip pieces if needed.

NJoy wanted to be right there with us, so here’s what he did with his dry erase markers.  He’s REALLY into drawing balloons these days, so I let him have at it.  Coloring on the dry erase board is a treat for him because I rarely let him do it.  If he’s not overly-supervised, dry erase marker adorns everything in his path! 🙂

Spelling with LEGO Letters

MBug (11 months) gets up many mornings around 4 or 5am to eat, but then goes right back to sleep.  During such a feeding one morning last week, I was contemplating how I could combine ALuv’s obsession with Legos and my love for teaching reading.  As I mulled over how this could be done, an idea popped into my head.

Learning Objective: Child will manipulate Lego pieces to spell words and identify their “shapes”.

Since ALuv has a HUGE bucket of Legos (we easily have over 3,000), I knew he wouldn’t miss a handful of them!

Material Preparation:

1.  I collected the Legos.  My two “helpers” assisted me in pulling out the needed Legos.  Okay, so they really built cars while I did all the work, but good help can be hard to come by these days! 🙂  (If I’d only been as organized as Carisa, this would not have taken so long.)

2.  I sorted the Legos.  The Legos on the left side of this picture are for the short consonants, such as c, m, n, v, etc.  The red Legos in the middle are for vowels, and the Legos on the right side are for tall consonants (b, d, t, l, etc.) or consonants with a “tail” (p, q, j, etc.).

3. I wrote the letters on the Legos.  I placed all the Legos with the bumps facing to the right and wrote with an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie (permanent); which I found at Target.  So far, only the q has smudged; the rest have held up very well.

Here’s a picture of my finished blocks in ABC order.  If you’ll notice, I also included a red w and a red y for when they act as vowels.

One awesome thing about this is that the b, d, q, and g will not fit together if they are turned the wrong way, so it helps to limit their confusion.  I did, however, write all the b‘s on yellow blocks, the d‘s on light green, and the p‘s on white; just to solidify their differences.

Lesson Plan:

1.  We sorted the Lego letters by “shape” (short letters, tall letters, letters with “tails”).

2. I modeled how to click them together correctly so that the letters retained their “shape”.

3. I called out Word Wall words (sight words) and he built them.  These are the words he made: and, can, go, look, like, off, is, stop, the & you.

Once we got into the lesson, this reminded me of the Reading Rods I used in the classroom with my Kinders and 1st graders (only cheaper!).

Variation & Extension Ideas:

I knew NJoy would want to be right in there with us, so I made some letter blocks for him out of the Duplo blocks–upper case on one side and lower case on the other.  This way MBug could safely play, too, while ALuv’s smaller Lego pieces stayed on the table.

naming his letters

Worksheets are not my thing, but ALuv enjoyed spelling the words so much that I created a couple of worksheets for him on A to Z Teacher Stuff.  He did this one as independent work the next day.  He totally LOVED doing this!

For the worksheet, he had to: 1) Look at the words at the top, 2) Build the words with Legos & 3) Write the correct word in each word shape puzzle.

Picture Sorts For Short A & O

Before moving on to short o word families, I did a simple sort with ALuv, comparing the vowel sounds in some short a and short o words.  This was a phonemic awareness activity because print was not involved and I was asking him to isolate the vowel sound in each word as he sorted them.  It took about 7-10 minutes to implement.

These pictures came from the back of Words Their Way and were drawn by one of my professors, Dr. Francine Johnston.  I colored the pictures and laminated them in my pre-kid days of teaching school.

First, I set up my head pictures, modeling how I listened for the vowel sound in each word.  I set out the only words we used: cat & dog.

Then, ALuv sorted the rest of the pictures.  I was amazed at how he did this with very few mistakes!

I chose this activity because I knew I could squeeze it in with our other school work for that afternoon.  But if I had wanted to extend it, I could have had him write down 5 short a and 5 short o words on a recording sheet.  This extension could also be used as independent work (and I might just do that in the next day or so!!).  All of my pictures are self-checking, as the word is written on the back.  By the way, asking kids to phonetically write words is another GREAT way to practice some phonemic awareness.

April Showers

It has rained a tremendous amount over the last 3 weeks where we live!  And then there’s also the old saying: “April showers bring May flowers.”  So we did a few rain activities together.  I meant to post this last week, but forgot…

Day 1:

Read aloud Rain by Robert Kalan (illustrated by Donald Crews).  I would classify this book on a mid-Kindergarten reading level.  ALuv then read it to us (with a little help from me).

Just a note: The book now resides on our white Ikea shelf in the playroom, which helps to remind me to ask him to re-read it a few more times.  Once he has it down independently, I’ll put the book in his ALuv Can Read bin (below).

Read & sang the nursery rhyme Rain on the Green Grass, which I had posted on my kitchen wall.  I picked this rhyme because our sight words for these two weeks are and &  not.  The poem also reviews other Word Wall words (on, the, & me).

We patted our knees to make the rain sound as we sang it in a little song together.

If you’ll notice, I have green grass underlined.  We looked out our windows and took turns changing those lyrics as we sang the song again.  These were some of our other lyrics…Rain on the black road, blue swing, red flowers, green trees, and blue van (NJoy’s favorite…we sang that one each time it was his turn!!).

Writing/Coloring Time: NJoy colored some pictures with the rain theme from DLTK.  His favorite thing about the rain are the “rainbrellas”–why do we call them umbrellas?!?  I like NJoy’s word choice much better! 🙂

While NJoy colored, I started ALuv on writing and illustrating his own Rain book.  I drew some lined paper (see below) for him to use for the book.  On the first 2 pages, I had already written Rain on the and he had to finish the sentence using a color word and an object on which it could rain.  (For example: Rain on the red locomotive).  Once his sentence was complete, he had to draw and color the pictures.  He did these two pages on Day 1 and then we stopped for the day.

For the paper we used on day 1, click here: Rain on the…

Day 2:

Read aloud The Napping House by Audrey WoodWhile reading Rain on Day 1, I was reminded of this book.  It’s one of my mom’s favorite books and has become one of mine, too.  I also have the big book, but couldn’t find it in the attic; which needs a serious organizational overhaul–any volunteers?!? 🙂

Re-read Rain (we shared the reading)

Sang Rain on the Green Grass like Day 1, except we added some spice by singing it fast and slow, while patting our legs fast and slow.

Writing & Coloring: NJoy colored again (the boy loves to color!) while ALuv finished his Rain book.

On the next 3 pages, ALuv had to write the entire sentence and the draw pictures to go with them.  Here’s the paper he used for that: blank writing paper.

On the last page, he spelled the word RAINBOW with rainbow stickers from Target’s $1 bin.

We took 11×14 construction paper and covered & stapled the book together once he was finished.  It now resides in his ALuv Can Read Bin.

Saturday’s Sites

Okay, so I admit it: I’m a little cheesy with my alliteration in the title to this post, but you get the picture.  Each Tuesday I present a teaching tip, so I thought I’d use Saturdays to tell you about sites I think that are very helpful and/or pretty cool to this reading mama.

So, here are this Saturday’s Sites:

Free Printable Writing Paper– For PreK through 2nd grade

You Can Read! is a high frequency word program developed to help your younger reader (below age 5) master basic sight words.  (I think the current cost is $5).

Scholastic is running a deal right now.  If your child completes a MATH and a READING activity sheet, you can earn five FREE books from Scholastic.  I read the fine print, but couldn’t quite determine what kinds of books they are offering for free (I’m pretty sure they are trade books, but wouldn’t be surprised if they might be workbooks), but check it out for yourselves and see what you think.

If you search around on Scholastic’s website, you’ll find it’s loaded with great info and help for parents, like this article called 10 Non-Book Ways to Get Your Child Reading.

So, sit down…and enjoy the sites! 🙂

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