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Something to Think About, Something to Do, Something to Love

Something to Do, Something to Think About, and Something to Love

Susan Franklin

July 15, 2019

 

One of education reformer Charlotte Mason’s standards was that every child should have three things every day: something to think about, something to do, and something to love. Here are some favorites that can provide these for more than just one day.

Something to Think About

The Frances Collection and A Bargain for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban. The gritty but warm dialogue and complex problem and solution portrayed in these books can be read and reread for understanding at increasingly complex levels. In A Bargain for Frances, Frances has to learn to recognize a friend’s deceit and manipulation, then respond to teach her a lesson. Then she shows surprising maturity when she forgives and restores the friendship. Not your average picture book.

 

Something to Do

The Draw Write Now series. Little hands can stay busy with manuscript print practice, drawing lessons, and coloring their own drawings. The pictures depict many important scenes such as the statue of liberty, a farm, the continents and weaves lessons in history, mathematics, creative writing and more into these non-consumable books. Companion consumable workbooks are available for students as well.

 

Something to Love

James Herriott’s Treasury for Children. James Herriott fans need no explanation for why this is included. But for the uninitiated, veterinarian James Herriott wrote a series of books recounting his humorous and heart-warming experiences caring for animals and sometimes their owners in Wales during the early 20th century. This book of children’s stories has exquisite artwork and rich vocabulary meant to be read aloud and enjoyed together.  Recommending these books is like sharing a precious secret. But it’s okay if you tell. 

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Nourishing the Young Mind: An Antidote to Pop Culture

Susan Franklin

July 15, 2019

 

One of education reformer Charlotte Mason’s standards was that every child should have three things every day: something to think about, something to do, and something to love. Here are some favorites that can provide these for more than just one day.

Something to Think About

The Frances Collection and A Bargain for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban. The gritty but warm dialogue and complex problem and solution portrayed in these books can be read and reread for understanding at increasingly complex levels. In A Bargain for Frances, Frances has to learn to recognize a friend’s deceit and manipulation, then respond to teach her a lesson. Then she shows surprising maturity when she forgives and restores the friendship. Not your average picture book.

 

Something to Do

The Draw Write Now series. Little hands can stay busy with manuscript print practice, drawing lessons, and coloring their own drawings. The pictures depict many important scenes such as the statue of liberty, a farm, the continents and weaves lessons in history, mathematics, creative writing and more into these non-consumable books. Companion consumable workbooks are available for students as well.

 

Something to Love

James Herriott’s Treasury for Children. James Herriott fans need no explanation for why this is included. But for the uninitiated, veterinarian James Herriott wrote a series of books recounting his humorous and heart-warming experiences caring for animals and sometimes their owners in Wales during the early 20th century. This book of children’s stories has exquisite artwork and rich vocabulary meant to be read aloud and enjoyed together.  Recommending these books is like sharing a precious secret. But it’s okay if you tell. 

With a solid start understanding the sounds of speech each phonogram represents, and a parent who enthusiastically reads aloud often, any child can go into the early elementary years with linguistic skills ready to learn and ultimately able to learn by reading in a short time. To make this a positive experience, games that include multiple senses will have the most profound impact on retaining those sounds and attaching them to the letters and letter groups, known as phonograms.

Research conducted warns that without direct instruction in phonemic awareness about 25% of first-graders from middle-class homes lack this skill, resulting in difficulty in learning to read and write. *

"Phonogram" similar to "phoneme" means a written symbol representing a sound. So the letter "a" represents three distinct sounds as in the words apple, ape, and wasp. But before learning phonogram sounds or even letter names, it is appropriate to simply learn to distinguish various sounds from one another. Here are a few beginning game ideas.

1. Any listening game, such as "Mother, May I?" can be used for this. Also, add training in attentiveness by playing "Whisper Me" where you whisper the child's name and if he comes to you the first time, he gets a special hug and kiss or a treat.

Move toward training the child in the ability to distinguish between sounds like tapping, clapping, snapping. After naming and demonstrating the sounds, ask the child to close her eyes and listen with the purpose of naming the sounds, then listen with the purpose of determining which sound is missing, listening for the sequence of sounds.

2. Rhyming games, poetry, rhyming stories. Fingerplays that rhymes are easy to act out with your hands. Here are a few samples. One way to use these is to whisper the words that rhyme. Another variation is to omit the rhyming words after a few readings for repetition.

3. Words and Sentences. Differentiate between individual words of long and short length and various kinds of sentences as well. Build sentences using individual word cards. Count words in each sentence.

The next level of games include syllable awareness, phonograms or phonemes, then letter names and spellings.

A fabulous resource on this topic is the book Phonemic Awareness in Young Children by Marily Jager Adams, et. al.   

 

*Adams, M.J. (1990) Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambidge, MA: MIT Press.

 

Phonemic Awareness Games for Preschoolers

by Susan Franklin

 

What is Intensive Phonics?

by Susan Franklin

January 21, 2018

 

A few people may wonder why I made the move from teaching high school English and Theatre Arts to teaching reading recovery in the elementary grades. Here is why.

 

When a child says, "I don't know that word" he has obviously not been properly taught to read using phonics. Further, if there is not automaticity in decoding a word, how can one really think about the content that is being read? As a high school, English and Theatre Arts teacher I heard "I don't know that word" so many times, and it always made me cringe.

 

If direct instruction in phonics has taken place early in the school years, reading any word should be nearly subconscious because all of the sounds of each phonogram are taught early and simultaneously. For example, the phonogram "A" has three sounds: as in "cat," "bake" and "wasp." All of these are taught from the beginning; the brain can easily store these in the same location for easy retrieval.

 

Strategies to guess at the word would not be needed. Not only does this speed up the decoding, but as a bonus, it frees up the brain to think about the meaning of the text. We need more thinkers, don't we?

 

The English language has more than 500,000 words! Learning to read word by word is really impossible in that context. But English has only forty-five sounds written in seventy basic letter groups or phonograms. The one thousand most frequently used words can be sounded out with these seventy basic phonograms.

 

Further, combined with twenty-eight spelling rules and a few additional advanced phonograms the logic of English can be directly taught over time to preschool and early elementary-age students. This method, which focuses on simultaneous multi-sensory learning of the phonograms without pictures or gimmicks, has been used in the past successfully but is no longer in fashion in public education. Too often, only if a child has been failing in reading for years and tested to be dyslexic can he or she be taught using this proven method. I believe all children are deserving of the best we have to offer in reading instruction. What could be more important?

 

Variations of this method are known as Orton-Gillingham, Spalding, Spell to Write and Read, The Logic of English, and Riggs.

 

If all early elementary children were taught this way, almost no child would be in high school looking at a word on the page and saying, "I don't know that word."

 

 

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