Saturday’s Sites

Here you go…some great sites I’ve found lately!

  • Shining Our Lights Preschool has a free idea to share for keeping track of your child’s reading skills, especially this summer.  If you do Word Study with your child, based off of Words Their Way, they recommend keeping a Word Study notebook.  We do this at this reading mama’s house and it’s another great way to keep track of what your child knows.
  • Do you have a preschooler at home?  Here’s a wonderful blog called A Mom With a Lesson Plan.  She’s got some great ideas.  I plan on using and posting some of her Letter Activities with NJoy soon!
  • I LOVE Michelle’s post on handwriting WITHOUT pencil and paper!  My favorite thing about this reading mama is that she posts videos for every letter to show you how to do it.  Thanks, Michelle!
  • She did it!  I Can Teach My Child came up with a way to use her toilet paper books into word family practice.  Check it out.

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.

Playing with Phonemes-Part 2

PHONEMIC MANIPULATION: There is A LOT of “meat” when it comes to manipulating phonemes!  This is more of an overview, not a comprehensive list.  If you have specific questions or comments, feel free to email me or comment directly on this post.

Again, I want to reiterate that you model these skills before you ask your child to try them.  Let her hear and see you do them before you set her free to try.  This will help to alleviate frustration on the part of your child (and yours as well!)

Phonemic Blending with Onsets and Rimes: Activities with onsets & rimes are a great way to start with phonemic manipulation.

  • To begin with onset and rime, take some picture cards (or objects from your sound tubs) of single syllable words.  The objects could be: cup, cat, dog, bug, goat.  You as the mama/teacher, say the name of an object by segmenting it into the onset and rime, pausing in between the two  (c-up, c-at, d-og, b-ug, and so on).  The child has to find the object/picture card to which you are referring.
  • We like to do the above activity when reading I Spy books.  ALuv has been fascinated with these books for about a year now.  Instead of saying, “I spy a duck”, sometimes I’ll say, “I spy a d-uck.”  This is another way to live literacy.

Moving from phonemes to phonics with onset & rime:

  • Once your child seems to have a grasp for blending together the onset and rimes, written word family games are fun (if you are using the written symbols, you’ve stepped into the phonics world).
  • To keep it extremely simple, write a rime, such as -at, on an index card.  On other index cards write a few onsets: b, c, f, m, r, and so on.  Place the onsets upside down and as you draw one, add it to -at to make a word.  It will sound like this /b/-/at/: bat!  You could make it silly by placing some onsets in the mix that would not make real words, such as gat.  When you add silly words to the mix, make sure you ask your child, “Is it a real or silly word?”
  • I’ve got more activities on my blog (click on the category Word Families) and you can find MANY more by googling “word families”.  I wanted to link some here, but became overwhelmed at the thought!!  There’s SO much out there!

I will mention one resource.  For some free online activities with onset and rime, check out these games originally from Florida’s Reading Research Center.

Individual Phoneme Blending:

  • Once a child can blend together onset and rime chunks to make words, a good thing to try is blending together individual sounds to make a word.  For example, “Listen to me say this word in a funny way: /d/-/o/-/t/.  [separate each sound].  Can you tell what word I was saying?” (dot)
  • You can also do this with picture cards or objects.  Lay several out in front of your child and say, “Can you find the /h/-/a/-/t/?”
  • I like to do this with our I Spy books, like I mentioned above.  “I spy a /d/-/u/-/k/ (duck).”  This is a great way to model this skill!
  • Check out the awesome blending game I discovered just this week on Stay and Play.  I’ve only seen portions of her blog and already know I’m going to LOVE it!

Live literacy with these skills.  Try them in the van, doctor’s office, anywhere you may have to wait or have some down time.  Make it a game…make it fun!  When you need your child to get a cup for their juice, say, “Can you get a c-up or /k/-/u/-/p/?”

Also, check out Bee Ready to Read’s sections: Blending and Manipulation for more ideas!

Remember to follow me on this phonological awareness journey and I have a surprise for you next week!

O What Fun!

Here are some more things we did with short o:

1. We re-matched the words and pictures.  The 2nd time he re-matched pictures and words, I helped.  But after that, I expected him to do it with minimal help from me.

3. We played Concentration or Memory Match

The words are on the left side and the pictures on the right side.  The pictures also have the word written in small print to make this game self-checking.

A match!

Just a side note: I used this green short o memory match set when I taught public school.  I also have another set exactly like this one that is printed on orange construction paper.  That way, I could place both sets in the same Ziploc bag at a center.  If I had 6 students playing short o memory match at the same time, 3 students could easily pull and play with the green set, while the other 3 students could play with the orange set.  I used this color system a lot with small group games to make it easy to identify and divide up sets.

4. We built words with Legos.

I organized the words in the sort (adding hog) so that he only had to change one letter at a time to make each new word.  We first built dog together.  I asked, “Can you change one letter in dog to make dot?”  This is a great phonemic awareness skill (a part of phonological awareness) because he had to listen for the individual sounds in each word to figure out how to spell the new word.

5. We went on a short o Word Hunt.

He read I Can Hop from (I don’t currently have a membership, but the books are downloaded on my computer) and found and colored all the OT and OP words.

Here are the words I pulled out before reading the text.

I remembered as a child sometimes coloring in all the o‘s on the church bulletin during the sermon, so instead of highlighting the words, I thought he’d like to color in the o‘s (OT words in yellow and OP words in pink).  This was also a great way to continue working on his fine motor skills; which he has yet to master.

Ride Over the Word

I had planned on posting today about all the things we did this week to work on short o words, but I needed space to write about our absolute favorite way to play with short o…ALuv called it RIDE OVER THE WORD.

ALuv has recently learned how to ride his bike without training wheels, and to say he’s addicted would be an understatement!

As you can see, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

So, I wrote some short o words on our driveway and cul-de-sac.

I called out a word and he had to find the word &  ride his bike over it.

I was surprised at how long he stuck with this game.  After I had called out all the words, he begged to do it again…and again!  It’s a good thing we did it early in the morning before the temps were too high!

At first, NJoy ran around finding and jumping on letters; mostly his beloved o.

Then he wanted me to call out words for him, too.  I was shocked when he walked up to the word stop and said, “S-T-O-P.  Mommy, that spells stop.”

He then proceeded to decorate the words with his own sidewalk chalk creations.  What fun!

MBug sat in the stroller and as I pushed her around, she cheered for ALuv as he found the words I called.

There are several reasons why this reading mama really like this game:

  • Sidewalk chalk washes off by itself when it rains!  And that’s a good thing because if you don’t have room in your neighborhood, you could do this at a park or low-traffic parking lot.
  • It integrated some great exercise (all except for little MBug).
  • There’s so much flexibility in this game.  You could write the basic ABC’s, numbers, shapes, etc. on the pavement.  Instead of riding a bike, your child could run and jump (like NJoy did) or bounce a ball on top of the object.

I’ve got it in my mind to write some sight words outside soon and let ALuv ride over the word!

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!


After spending a few months in short a word family land :), ALuv and I moved onto short o word families.  This introduction came a day or so after we did this sort with short a and short o pictures.

This sort comes from Word Sorts for Letter Name-Alphabetic Spellers.  It contains 3 short o word families (OP, OT & OG).  I didn’t know if ALuv would be ready to do three, but I thought we’d at least give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The thing I like about these resources from Words Their Way is that they have notes for the teacher (or mama) in the front on how to introduce and practice each of the sorts.

The first thing we did was a rhyming sort with all the pictures.

Next, I laid out all the words and he matched words with the pictures.

We went back through each column and talked about how the rhyming words all had “the same last name” (as my mom says) or pattern.

I mixed all the words up again and ALuv re-matched them.

The last thing we did was read Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson, finding all the OG words.

As we were finishing up the lesson, he asked me, “Are you going to put this lesson on your blog?”  But before I could answer, he said, “Hey, that’s an OG word-blog!”  Yep, he got it!

Easter Egg Word Families

I came across this cool idea on how to integrate Easter eggs and literacy quite a few months back and wanted to share it before Easter…not a minute to spare!  We’re over here playing with Easter eggs right now (actually ALuv is spinning them on our hardwood floors) and it reminded me of this activity regarding Easter eggs and word families.  We haven’t actually done it (b/c I didn’t remember), but if you do it, I’d like to hear from you!

-at hat slider

I said I’d post my -at hat slider what seems like forever ago to go with this lesson.  Thank you for to my WONDERFUL husband for solving the scanning issue with our printer!

You can make this activity more difficult by whiting out the onsets I’ve chosen and putting in blends (such as fl-) or digraphs (such as th-).  Your child could also create her own onsets to go with -at. Carl’s Corner has an -at slider on pp. 37-38 of this PDF file with more difficult onsets.

Short a Review

After studying 5 different short a word families (-at, -an, -ad, -ap, and –ag) with ALuv, we took a break from doing more short a word families and reviewed the short a word pattern (CVC).  I felt that he was ready to do this because he was able to sound out and read short a words we had not studied, yet (such as jam).

Here are some of the things we did to review short a words:

Found in context: While reading texts together during the day or before bed, I would sometimes point to short a words and let him read them.

Spinner Wheel activity (click here & here for the full lesson and templates)

Games: We played a short a file folder game (“Alligator Alley”); matching short a words with short a pictures

This game comes from a Carson Dellosa file folder game book I’ve had for about 12 years.  I’m not sure if they still make it, but I know they have new file folder game books.  I looked online for a free short a file folder game, but could not find one. 😦  There is this website that has many other free folder games you can download.

Internet:– We read Zac the Rat together, then played the AN game and the AT game.  (I actually have all of starfall’s phonics readers laminated and made into books from when I taught, so I pulled out Zac the Rat and let Avery read it again another day.  Then it went into his ALuv Can Read box.)  Starfall has another link on their site that I noticed as well, but you have to pay a membership fee to play most of the games.  Still, ALuv enjoyed playing Word Machines for short a, which was free.

Bottle Cap Spelling: Click here for how I found out about using the bottle caps and where I got my pictures.  I have a Word template for the bottle caps, which is nothing fancy; but feel free to adapt it for your use: bottle cap circles. I only picked picture cards for this activity that had 3 phonemes (or sounds) and 3 letters  in the word.  For example, bat has 3 phonemes (/b/ /a/ /t/); whereas flag has 4 phonemes (/f/ /l/ /a/ /g/).

Tag Reader: To recap our study, I pulled out a Tag short a book (Casey Cat Has a Hat) that I’d been saving just for this occassion.  I have to tell you, he wasn’t initially as excited to see this one, as he was thinking I’d have another I Spy or Cars one for him, but he did eventually open it up!  We went on a short a word hunt together and then he explored the book on his own.

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