Archive for the ‘Reading / Phonetics’ Category

Unique Picture Puzzles

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

 This is a fun puzzle (visual discrimination activity) set. Take a snap shot of each student – print off a small picture of each student (no larger than 2” squared). Create individualized name to picture puzzles by pasting each photo onto a recipe type of card – photo on the left side and the student’s name on the right side. Cut a zig-zag line down the center of each card (make sure the lines on each card are unique). Now the students can practice recognizing their own name and their classmates names with these fun (yet simple) puzzles.

Letter Hunt

Monday, October 11th, 2010

 Do you sit and read the newspaper … you’re not alone … get your students involved too!


Provide your students with newspaper sections and send them on a letter hunt. Specify if you want a certain letter, upper case or lower case ….. whatever you are working on at the time. Have the student circle the letter or mark it with a highlighter.


A variation of this activity is to use a magazine and have the students cut out or tear out the letters.


This is a fun sit at the table or desk activity and can inspire future reading too.

Alphabet Adventures for Your Preschool Student

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Working on the alphabet with your preschooler or kindergartener can be a glorious adventure.  The alphabet is literally all around us.  Opening their eyes to this magical world will eventually lead to the door of a successful reader.  Getting to this final destination can take a lot of hard work or a little imagination.  Introduction of the alphabet needs to go beyond the traditional song, tracing exercises and flash cards.  Using the world around us can make this more than just a part of the time-honored routine we have become accustomed to over the years.




Look around your home or classroom; do you see a favored toy of your student(s)?  Does it contain the focused letter of the week?  If not, choose an object that will meet this need.  Create a display or activity center using this item as the focal point.  Create individual letter cards to spell out the item / word and add numbers onto a corner of each card to indicate the ordinal pattern of the letters.  This activity will reinforce any numeric work you are focused on as well.  Add to this center a small picture or toy that represents the beginning sound of each of the letters of the larger, display object.  If the exposure to additional letters / sounds becomes too overwhelming for the student(s) then concentrate on the ‘letter of the week’ only. If focusing on the ‘letter of the week’ is the primary goal then add a variety of picture cards with the letter located in various positions – example:  For the letter B, a toy bus may be the focus object; use picture cards of a boy, tub, ball, cab, bubble, baby, etc…… be sure to add the spelling onto each picture card.  Many other items can be added to the center / display as well. 




Creating the display can incorporate some of these additional suggestions or they can stand alone as alphabet / sound activities.




1)   Textured Letters:  Trace a letter (different fonts are fun too) with glue (add sand or salt if wanted) and let dry.  These are wonderful tactile experiences for the young student.


2)   Name Scramblers:  Using a student’s name – create individualized letter cards – mix them and challenge the student or fellow students to reorganize the letters to recreate the name.  This can be done with more advanced students too – challenge the class to come up with as many words as possible from rearranging the ‘scrambled’ word.


3)   Letter Memory Game:  Using the focus letter of the week – create cards with different font styles (use upper and / or lower case) of the letter; make 2 copies (laminate for durability); cut out; mix the cards; and lay out individually face down; Play as any traditional lotto style game.


4)   Play Dough Mats:  Create large letters (laminate) and have the students roll out dough snakes and place over the letter lines to create the focus letter.  A variation of this activity would be to use cookie dough – repeat the activity; then bake the shape for eating during snack time.


5)   Class Room Labels:  Place labels around the room depicting the objects; Have the students roam the room and count how many of the focused letter they can spy.  Change the labels from day to day to create a new, yet fun, educational routine.



  These are only a few of the activities that can be incorporated easily into the day.  As parents, day care providers and educators we need to provide the key to the door that leads to reading success.  Only your imagination will further their success and make the journey on this adventure won

Alphabet Treasure Hunt for your Preschool and Kindergarten Group

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Struggling with your class recognizing the alphabet?  You are not alone.  Teachers everywhere must accommodate many forms of learning to reach every student.  Although the following suggestions are not necessarily original in thought, sometimes we need reminders of how many options there are for working with the alphabet.


If you are just beginning with the introduction of the alphabet and it is possible to tour your neighborhood on foot, take a Letter Treasure Hunt.  Pencil and pad for the teacher and searching eyes for the students are all that is needed for this adventure.  Walk the area looking for signs that contain your letter and jot down what is found.  Do not restrict the search to just written forms, look at nature for natural occurring forms of your letter.  The clouds, grass blades and even the branches of the trees can naturally produce some forms of letters. 


Do you have old magazines, newspapers and books available? (If not you can always print off various pieces from the Internet for this activity)  If so you can keep the Letter Treasure Hunt indoors on those chilly mornings.  Give each student a letter (upper and lower case) or assign the entire group a single letter, which ever is the most appropriate for your classroom.  Scissors in hand, the students will then spend focused time on the letter assigned, snipping and pasting their found treasure onto a blank piece of paper.  You can make this a game – who can find the most? Or you could create a wall decoration using the assorted letter filled pages.If each group or student was assigned various letters (example – a word of the week was the name James – each group or student could focus on only one letter of the word), once the pages are dry, cut out a larger form of the letter and post the entire word onto the bulletin board.  This activity is incredibly easy to do and reinforces letter recognition and spelling at the same time.  Not to mention the additional bonus of some motor skills work.   


Another form of the Treasure Hunt concept is the classroom styled search.  Prior to the students arriving, place numerous copies in various fonts around the room.  Be creative when locating the letters, hide them in the construction center and science center too, not just taped to the wall.  The letters can be made with textured papers, various construction paper colors, salt dough and even scraps of fabric, do not limit yourself with just the standard magnetic and / or plastic letters that can be purchased at super centers or the dollar stores.  


Set aside a discussion time for the Treasure Hunt.  It does not matter which style of the search that has been incorporated into the day… Discuss it.  Have the children reminisce about the clouds that looked like the W or where they found the letter N.  Was the letter N located at the bottom of the sand bucket? Or hanging from the ceiling … or both?  Did the students locate more than ten or less than five – bonus: basic addition and subtraction intro.  Do the students like the new room decorations that they helped create?  The discussion time is an important part of the day when the students know that their little voices can be heard. For the teacher, it is important as a time of reinforcing the lessons of the day.  


Teaching the alphabet can be a fun part of any day. With just a little imagination and some creativity accommodations can be made for every student.

Almost Friday … PEWE, EBAY & Surprises

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Well it is almost Friday …. And I certainly am ready for it.  It has been a busy week.  I have been working on the new project, selling sample PEWE items on Ebay and finding out that you never know what surprises wait for you around every corner of life.


Never mind the surprises – but a few words on the PEWE set.  I am really excited about it and found it to be a successful tool in a very structured environment.  Unfortunately in our home it is not quite as easy to utilize.  I have a very busy household as many of you know …. So it has been with great pleasure to work with my son on using ‘his words’, sign language and some PECS style communication work.  I do use a wide variety of techniques.  The added benefit of using sign language has been the exposure of a second language to my other children that normally would have no interest in learning it (except for my daughter – she is quite good with sign and studies Spanish too).


My preferred form of teaching reading is via a phonetics style but my overall goal is for my youngest child to experience the joy of reading – on his own that is – I did not set a time limit – I would be thrilled if it happened when he was twenty-six … and he is only nine – I am patient.  I did create a mini series of titles using my PEWE word cards and he does seem to enjoy the independence of being able to read.  I want to add several more titles to this series and when it does occur I will add the set onto Peanut Butter Crunch.  You will be the first to know about it.


As for the Phonetics ‘style’ …. It is the Funtastic Phonetics program that I am speaking of …. In the next 2 months the weekly sets will begin appearing on PBC.  The series is essentially complete … I need to compile the data for the last few weeks … but it will not take long when I begin working on it.  I will write more on the curriculum as the posting time draws near.


Okay … this has been a very brief posting and not a lot of technical jargon but I wanted to keep you up to date about PBC and make sure you know that you are important too!


Have a Great Evening 

The ‘I’ Book – A Communication Board Book Packed with Alot of Extras

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Since my last post I have been busy creating the ‘I’ book.  Inspiration came as I completed the ‘Emergency 911’ book and realized that their was another level of communication needed – especially in an emergency situation –  So was born the ‘I’ book.  The book takes the abilities of the student to a higher level.  The student will become familiar with more than their name and emergency situations – but learn to communicate feelings and in sentence format.  The ‘I’ book will be a tool that can be used in any situation if the PEWE pieces are available.  (I have been working on that too – I am so close to having approximately 2000 pieces added to PBC around the 20th of this month – January).

Below is a brief description of the ‘I’ book.  I will be adding a few tangible copies to Ebay in the next few days to promote PBC.  Remember that as a member of Peanut Butter Crunch – you have access to everything in PDF printable formatting.  As usual – if you have any questions – just ask. 

################The ‘I’ Book################

The ‘I’ book is a handy and easy to use communication book designed for the non-verbal individual as well as the early reader.

Ample storage space for the PEWE (PECS style) pieces that coordinate with this book is an added bonus. 


Using the ‘I’ book will help your student recognize their name, birth date, address, phone number and age.  All of this is on page 1 with the opposite page left empty for adding the unused PEWE pieces or pieces used for another student.


Flip the page and you will find the ‘I feel’ page.  A student will now be able to communicate that they are sick, happy, hungry or one of the many other expressions that can create frustration when not able to communicate with others. 


Another flip of a page will take you to the ‘I love’ communication page.  Does your student love everything?  Now they will be able to express it.  Use the accompanying pieces or add your own descriptive PEWE (PECS style) pieces.  Six spots have been allocated for this page so that the student will be able to communicate their equal love for their family as well as their toys.


Next is the ‘Need / Want’ page.  This page not only allows for communication of these desires but also will help teach the difference in a need and a want.  This is a very useful tool for any early childhood level student / educator.


‘I Can Tell You …’ page shows a basic human form.  On this form a student can identify body parts or indicate where they ‘got a booboo’.  If this page provides too basic of an approach to the ‘I hurt’ communication, then flip the page.  The ‘I hurt’ page will allow the student to use the PEWE pieces to specifically identify the ‘ooowie’ or ‘booboo’.  Included on this page is a simple ‘I am’ sentence starter.  This tool allows for the presentation of not only basic communication skills but also the introduction of sentence formation. 


Growing on this level of education (forming sentences) is the next page – The I Page.  A small child with the I on his t-shirt begins an 8 PEWE space page.  Assist your student with the creating of many sentences that begin with I.  Many of the transition words have been added and are available on the membership site Peanut Butter Crunch located at 


Finally, a schedule page has been provided.  Use this page to help your student / child transition from subject to subject or activity-to-activity.  Nine spaces have been provided, yet options exist on this page.  With a squiggly line between sets of three spots, this could be used as the ‘morning’, ‘afternoon’ and ‘evening’ schedule.  It could also be used as a classroom schedule / planner for the student.  Many options exist for the use of this page.


Although many communication boards have been packed into this handy compact book, it is still large enough to present numerous 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch pieces.  Storage of the extra-unused pieces is as simple as adding hook and loop tape onto the blank pages, which have been provided throughout the ‘I’ book.  Cover to cover, the sturdy, laminated book provides 20 front to back pages.  This allows for the storage of up to 150 extra PEWE pieces that are not in use within the pages of the ‘I’ book.


The ‘I’ book will soon become your student(s) favorite book.  With the use of the ‘I’ book communication / reading just became a lot easier for the child and the teacher.

  Use this book as you would any PECS style communication system.  Grow the students word base as the student grows on a communication level / reading level.  Partner the ‘I’ book with the ‘Emergency 911’ book for coordinated communication in an emergency situation.  This makes an excellent tool for not only the teacher / educator but the parent and childcare provider.  As usual, both books are available in PDF printable format for the members of Peanut Butter Crunch – digital resources for the early childhood educator and their students. 


Check out the Ebay auctions in the next few days …. At the moment I do not have anything added because of focus on creating – But check around January 20th.  My Ebay ID is narcissasummer .  Look me up to see what is available in tangible form – these are sample items – everything is available for the members in PBC (not for resale though – only for private use with your student or classroom).

Preschool Story Time Reading Activities

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

It does not matter if you are a home school educator or a preschool teacher, story time is an important part of any preschool student’s educational experience. Story time can be as simple as reviewing popular nursery rhymes or as extensive as a story soap opera. Depending on the preschool student’s leveled abilities and/or interests, story time can include the ever popular Humpty Dumpty or the divisional break down of popular books such as The Three Little Pigs. The reading item should be chosen based on attention span and actual interest of the preschool student.Preschool leveled students have limited attention spans and the love of reading can be encouraged via fun activities. Include attention grabbing props such as a story time hat, a special story time pillow or chair, a story time flag, special made story mats, a special story time march around the room, a song or even a drum chant. Some of the items can be made by the preschool student. The pillow could be decorated with hand prints using fabric paint. The flag could be made of card stock and pictures collected from old magazines or discarded books. The preschool class could even make up their own song and dance for use during transition to story time. Involving the preschool students encourages their love of reading.

Preschool leveled students will also respond to special activities related to the story. Examples include:
          A story show and tell; Announce the story of the week and ask the students to participate by bringing in an item that relates to a part of the story.

           Incorporating Sign Language; Teach the students special signs that relate to the story line.

           A story treasure chest; Fill a small box with surprise items related to the story.
Prior to removing an item from the chest to share with the preschool students, provide a brief verbal description of the item, then have the class guess what the item could be.
The variations are extensive and are only limited by the vision of the instructor.

Story time excitement can be created in the preschool classroom with a student made book. At the beginning of the preschool year the student could create an ‘About Me’ styled book. Include pages about their favorite foods, family pets, favorite color, a hand drawn family portrait or even a self-portrait. Add the books to the preschool class library to encourage not only the love of reading but individual familiarity. A book extension activity will also encourage the understanding of the book being read. Many extension activities include the creation of a ‘mimic’ styled handmade book produced by the student. It may also include activities / worksheets based on the book being introduced but are inclusive of the basic concepts introduced in a preschool classroom. Again, the limits are only set by the vision of the instructor.

Story time, with its many facets, is an important part of any preschool curriculum. Encouraging the love of reading will not only span the ages but extend the imagination of the preschool student.