parenting

 

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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From recruiters to engineers, and graphic designers to member experience associates, there are so many passionate people bringing #kidpoweredlearning to life here at HOMER. In this new series, we’ll introduce you to the team, one by one.

First up: Chris Gelles!

 

What do you do at HOMER and what’s your favorite part about your job?
I lead the Art & Media Production Team! You can call us “AMP” since we love acronyms so much. 

Oof. So much. I’m surrounded by a brilliant, talented and deeply experienced team. And, where I like to dig in is in brainstorming ways our characters, stories, media in general can leverage our technology to create a unique experience for the kids.

Which interests would you pick in the HOMER app?

Dinosaurs, Robots, science. Do we have monsters?

 

What were you passionate about as a kid and how has that shaped you into the adult you are today?

Passionate…That’s a good question. Dinosaurs blew my mind (giant monsters that were real!). I loved animals of all kinds. As I grew, this migrated to very science-focused interests. I loved biology and mechanical–anything. Eventually, in my early college years, I tried to combine those by studying biomedical engineering.

But, underneath it all, I could draw. My mom was an art teacher. So, I learned to see shapes in everything. I learned to jot down my ideas, give form to my imagination from a really early age.





Where’s your happy place this season?

This season? Well…I just got married in November. And, I’m still hanging onto happy memories of being in a cabin on the ocean (in freezing cold weather). We had two fireplaces and pretty much most of Cape Cod to ourselves.

 

Who is your favorite HOMER character?

Tutt. Always Tutt. The trickster, the rascal. The force of chaos.

Tutt is the most fun-loving of all the HOMER characters.

What are your top emojis?

❤️ and 💩, naturally.

 

If you could be a contestant on one game/reality show what would it be?

What’s that one that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hosts? I’d do that one just to say hi to him…again. Fun fact: I went to high school with him. We shared a moment in the Track & Field bus as we traveled to an ‘away game.’ “Hi, Dwayne!”

 

 

What does reading mean to you?

Gaining knowledge. Being inspired. Living dreams.

What are the words you live by?

I try to keep up with Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world.” Not sure I measure up to that all the time. But, it’s a worthy goal. 

Actually, I looked this up to make sure I was quoting him correctly…turns out the sentiment is a bit more ambitious:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a [hu]man changes [their] own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards [them]. … We need not wait to see what others do.” (cleaned up to be less gender-centric)

 

Want to learn more about Chris and the HOMER team? Follow @learnwithhomer to see more of what happens behind the scenes in the office.

Let us know who you want to hear from next!

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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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