activities

 

What are Sight Words?

What’s the most common word in the English language?  It’s the. Imagine if every time you saw this word, you had to stop and figure out what it was. It would make reading even the simplest text very slow and painful. Being able to read the at first sight makes things a lot easier: no sounding out, no trying to remember. You recognize it just like your own name. Sight words are words like the. These words occur so frequently that readers, including very young readers, need to know them instantly.  

So, why memorize these words rather than sounding them out? The sad truth is that many of the most common words in English do not follow the rules for sounding out words. Why, for instance, doesn’t the word was rhyme with has? Why doesn’t have rhyme with gave? Or the rhyme with she? Yes, learning to read English is tricky! This is why we set aside the most common words, designate them as sight words, and get children to memorize them…on sight.  

Decades ago, an educator named Edward Dolch developed a list, used widely by teachers, of the 220 most common words in English. The words are broken down by levels: pre-primer, primer, first grade, second grade, third grade. This set of words does not include nouns. Therefore, Edward Dolch created a second list composed of 95 nouns. Some of the 315 words that comprise the two lists are very easy for kids to learn: a, I, it. Others offer more of a challenge. For instance, the pre-primer list includes you, said, and where.

 

Time to Play

Parents can perform a crucial role in helping children learn sight words, not by badgering or forcing them to run through endless flashcards, but by doing what children truly enjoy: playing games.

Here is a list of the 45 sight words we include in our Beginning Reader and Growing Reader pathways:

And, a, the, on, is, to, I, was, you, your, yes, no, do, they, with, that, are, said, girl, boy, were, this, look, like, want, has, of, what, see, go, play, here, very, good, his, her, there, where, have, walk, talk, know, blue, green, little

Here is a link to the two Dolch words lists

 

Using either list, pick six words you know your child needs to learn and use them in the following games. Slowly add new words and drop the old ones. Don’t expect to conquer the whole Dolch list or even our more limited list in a week or a month or even in six months. However, if you’re consistent and play the sight word games regularly, your child can become a sight word wonder!

 

Sight Word Twister:  This is a version of the popular game, Twister. Write your six sight words on index cards — one word on each card. Then clear a space on a wooden or linoleum floor and tape each word so that they are all just a little bit apart from each other. Now the fun begins. Tell your child to find one of the words — have, for instance — and place an elbow on the word. Then they must put their knee on a second word and their nose on a third. You can go on to a fourth, fifth, or sixth word, or you can stop at three. The effort to twist and turn doesn’t need to be exclusively your child’s. In my experience, children want ME to play Sight Word Twist too, and I’m happy to comply. Children will play many rounds of this game, but it’s best to limit your play to two or threerounds per player. Better to leave them eager for more than risk their getting bored. If they are eager for more, they will happily play again in a day or two.  

Pick the Word: Write your six words on index cards — one word per card. On a sheet of paper, list the six words twice — one list for you, one for your child. Next, place the index cards with the words facing down. You can take the first turn. After picking a word from your list, flip four of the cards so the words are showing. If you uncover the word you’re seeking, you can cross that word off your list. At the end of your turn, flip the cards back over, mix them up, and give your child a turn at flipping four of the cards. If on your first turn you did not find the word you wanted, you have to hunt for the same word on your next turn. If you found the word you wanted, pick a second word from the list. The first player to cross off four words wins. To make the game more challenging, you can turn over three cards per turn instead of four, or you can aim to find all six words instead of just four of the words.

Word Match Up: On a sheet of paper, write your six sight words three times. Your child’s job is to draw a line that connects each word to the two identical words on the sheet. After drawing a line that connects the first three words, it’s time to connect the next three matching words. Sounds easy, but here’s the hitch: your child cannot cross any line already on the page. The page gets pretty crowded with lines, so this is not an easy accomplishment. Try it yourself. The more you stumble and struggle, the more your child will enjoy the game.   

Word Toss: Write each sight word on its own Post-it®  and then stick the words on the floor. You can also stick them to a wall or a door. Get a soft toy, like a small stuffed animal, and stand a few feet away from the words. Choose a word and say it aloud. Your child must toss the toy so that it hits the right word. Your turn next. Your child picks a word for you to hit. The game is more fun if you miss, so don’t worry about having poor aim. You can play to see who reaches a set number of points or who has the most points after five or six rounds.

Word Toss Sight Word Game Video

 

Games like these are easy to play, require very little equipment, and are highly effective. The more you play these or similar games, the faster your child will learn lots of sight words, which will make them stronger, more confident readers.

Written by: Peggy Kaye, Chief Curriculum Officer

 

Let us know which sight word game is your favorite in the comments below!

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Music is an essential and important part of a child’s life. What’s great is that music also has a positive impact on your child’s development. Read about some of the learning benefits below. Then check out this amazing playlist Rockabye Baby put together for us, raise the volume a little higher than you usually would, and have some fun listening to your favorite tunes (lullaby edition) with your kids!

1. Vocabulary and language development. Music can introduce kids to new vocabulary words and understand that song lyrics have meaning. Even songs without lyrics help a child develop listening skills, an instrumental (see what I did there) part of language development.

2. Patterns and predictable sequences. Songs follow a pattern, and children’s songs are often designed so kids can easily learn that pattern and follow along. Through repetition, kids also begin to learn the sequence of songs, a skill important for reading, math, and coding.

3. Mindfulness. Young children are still learning how to navigate their emotions. Kids can learn to use music as an outlet to express even negative emotions in a positive way, or as a strategy to calm down. Maybe there’s a particular song your child wants to listen to when they’re sad or upset. Maybe calming music paired with a few deep breaths can help a child move on from these emotions.

4. Movement and rhythm. It’s no surprise that movement made the list! Movement helps kids develop gross motor skills like coordination, improves our mood, can even help us sleep better. What better way to reap those benefits than through an epic dance party?

ROCKABYE BABY! x HOMER HAPPY PLAYLIST

 

Head to our Instagram for a chance to win $100 worth of Rockabye Baby product and a FREE YEAR of HOMER!

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Exploring an area of interest helps children grow their vocabulary and background knowledge, gives them an outlet for creative self-expression, and helps them make sense of how the world works can even help them discover new interests. Importantly, it also creates a positive attitude towards learning that can have a lasting impact.

Here are ways you can motivate your child to learn through their passions more and ensure they are  actively engaged in what they’re learning:

 

Engage all of the senses! Help make their interests visual through books, videos, or even trips or experiences like visiting a local fire station. Incorporate the sounds of a fire engine or make it tactile with a themed sensory bin. Experiencing it in these ways will help build a child’s understanding of the topic.

 

 

• Help kids make a connection to something new. Whether it’s really literal like watching the garbage truck come to your house and comparing/ contrasting with your child’s toy garbage truck, to something more abstract like relating how a character from your child’s favorite movie feels in a scene to a time your child is feeling something similar, building on what a child already knows is a great way to learn something new.

• Use it to incorporate something totally unrelated. One time, I tried to do letter play with my son and his magnetic letters, even giving each letter a personality and special voice. He wanted nothing to do with it. But he was in a phase of loving playing with trains on his train track, so I drew a track on butcher paper in the letters of his name. We had the best time decorating the track and creating a new way to play with his trains, and I was able to work the letters into our play (“I’m over here driving on the C, meet me over at the L”) in a way that wasn’t pushing him to do something he didn’t want to do.

• Spark some fun into daily routines or things a child might not want to do. A big mom win for me was when I was able to avoid a toddler meltdown leaving the park by suggesting we pretend to be race cars on the way home. You better believe I added sound effects and some race car vocabulary to the mix, too.

• Use it as an opportunity to connect with your child. This one may seem obvious, but there are so many educational and developmental benefits to simply having a conversation with your child that I couldn’t leave it off the list. Let your child drive the conversation about what interests them, ask questions, and add information to deepen their understanding of the concept. They will feel proud getting to share their interests with you and having some bonding time over something that matters to them. No materials or set-up required!

As parents, what can we do to support our children’s interests and incorporate their passions in creative ways?

Let us know on IG @learnwithhomer using the #KidPoweredLearning

 

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This month is all about LOVE and expressing that love through kindness!

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it and let’s face it– we’re parents and we’re always busy! Instead of heading out to the store, simply fire up your printers and print these original HOMER cards. You and your little ones can personalize them together by coloring, adding glitter, leaving notes and so much more– that way they stand out! Best of all, these adorable cards don’t require candy additions, so you’re following the teachers’ directions and everyone in the class can feel special!

Happy ❤️ Day!

 

HOMER CARD

MILLIE CARD

NIP CARD

 

Get to DIYing and don’t forget to share your cards with us on Instagram using #KidPoweredLearning

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With the new year comes new year’s resolutions. While some people love the opportunity to get organized and set goals, some dread resolutions and get discouraged when they feel like they’re not keeping them. We spoke to some of the HOMER parents on our team to find out which camp they’re in, and what goals they have for their families for the month of January.

Here’s what they said:

 

SAM

This holiday season felt particularly frantic. I had high hopes of staying on top of my to-do list so we could spend December making precious holiday memories, but then I blinked, my family passed around a couple colds, and all of a sudden it was December 20th. Because of that, my goals for my family for January are simple.

  1. Do one thing a week that is outside. It’s cold and it gets dark early and it probably will snow, but we all seem to feel better when we’re moving around in the fresh air. Maybe we’ll go for walks, maybe we’ll head to the park, maybe we’ll just run from the house to our car on our way to the grocery store. All of those things will count.
  2. Listen to more music. This is something else that just seems to put us all in a good mood. My three-year old son has always loved initiating dance parties, and now my 8-month old loves watching her brother’s crazy moves and clapping along. P.S., does anyone else add things they KNOW they’ll be able to cross off?
  3. My last goal for January is to be kind to myself and understand that life happens. I might not get to cross everything off the list, and that’s okay.

KAYLA

I’m a full time working mom, so this year I’m trying some easier, gentler, more mindful resolutions– I’m okay with that! Instead of setting myself up to fail by February, this year I’m striving for goals that are actually doable. Join me?

  1. Walk to work: I’ve always said that convenience is absolutely worth the price, but with on-demand transportation being so readily available for us at any time of the day, I’ve gotten very used to my easy routine. Not having to worry about train delays or walking in the cold was a dream, but I really want to be better about my personal finances and health. Walking to work is an easy way to get those steps in!
  2. Be more involved in my daughter’s daily activities: I’m beginning to think that the “perfect balance” doesn’t exist, but I’m determined to figure out what works best for me and my family. I want to enjoy the moments I can with my little one and stop stressing about what I’ve “missed”, because, at the end of the day, this is what it’s really all about.
  3. Waste less food and eat together as a family: I’m not saying this needs to happen everyday. I love my TV tray dinners, but I think involving everyone in the preparation and then sitting at the table as a family at least once a week, will encourage family togetherness.
  4. Stop Over-Apologizing: “When did you become such a chronic apologizer?” My mom asked me that not too long ago and it really threw me off guard. She was right! As women, it’s easy to often feel the need to prove our self-worth and how capable we are, while avoiding being “aggressive.” As moms, even more so! I’m a human being and there are things I need to apologize for, but trying to make it in a competitive world is not one of them. My little one absorbs everything and repeats me all the time, so I want to make sure I’m leading by example. I want to reserve apologies for when they’re necessary, for when I’ve made a mistake. I will not apologize because I’m expected to.

STEFAN

None of these are new. In fact, I’ll admit I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. But I acknowledge it can be a good time to refocus on current goals and determine if there’s a better way of reaching those goals. These are the big ones for me:

  1. Create, not Consume. Even after deleting all social media apps from my phone years ago, I find myself spending too much time consuming rather than creating.  Even something as respectable as reading the NY times throughout the day is consuming vs creating. I love to draw. It refreshes me. Instead of keeping this a broad goal, I am recommitting with a small, attainable one of drawing once a week. The hope is it snowballs to more creating and less consuming in my life.
  2. Learn Another Language. I am Swedish-American, and despite my father’s occasional Swedish and living in Stockholm for a couple years, my Swedish is severely lacking. Luckily I’ve found a great language-learning app that I use on weekends or for 10-minute sprints. The real bonus is that my 7 year old loves it too. After our “lessons”, we’ll try speaking only Swedish with each other for the next half hour.  
  3. Rest. With 3 kids, true rest is hard to come by in our home. We are making an effort to do activities that provide real relaxation, like reading, drawing (two birds, one stone?!), and doing puzzles, rather than just turning on a movie. My wife is really blazing the trail on this one, so I’m confident at least this one will happen.

We want to hear from YOU! Share your #FamilyGoals with us on Instagram.

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