High Frequency Words

Learning to read can be a challenge for many kids, but thankfully there are many methods that can be used to help this process along.

One of the most widely used teaching methods is the use of high frequency word lists.

So what are they exactly?

While there are several different lists in use across different countries and school systems, the principle remains the same – have a child learn lists of the most commonly used words in the English language.

In some systems, these high frequency word lists gradually increase in difficulty – where as others simply arrange in order of most commonly used (which often are indeed the simplest of words).

Either way the end result is the child being able to immediately know the majority of basic words on sight in a written passage, which leaves them free to devote more thought to learning the remaining more difficult words.

So let’s look at this concept in more detail, and I’ll share with your some of the techniques that have been most effective in my classroom…

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How to make a DIY Insect Hotel

Today we’re going to look at how to build our own simple DIY insect hotel using only free items found around your garage and garden – a fun little project to work on with input from children at home or at school. 

This will also be a great opportunity to talk to your children about beneficial insects, and their importance to the ecosystem – and in a very tangible way they’ll be helping these little critters to help us.

In my case I have an old discarded wooden mailbox that I want to use as the starting point for this little project, but I’m sure most of you can find something to use – some ideas on what to use for your insect hotel structure are:

  • Small wooden drawer
  • Wooden mailbox
  • Wood offcuts
  • Wooden cubby

Alright so let’s look at what an Insect Hotel is, and what we need to think about when making our own one…

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Kindergarten Readiness Checklist for Parents

Firstly – an important distinction for our international audience!

Different countries refer to the education of a child at 5 years old using conflicting terms.

In the US, children usually attend Kindergarten for one year from the age of 5, and go on to 1st Grade and the rest of their schooling following this.

However in countries like New Zealand, Kindergarten is usually the term for pre-school activity as a 3-4 year old which takes place prior to starting school – and Primary Schooling begins with Year 1 at the age of 5.

Today we’ll be referring to this initial phase of our children’s education from the age of 5 as kindergarten which I’m sure will be most familiar to the majority of our community.

Now before we get to my Kindergarten Readiness Checklist, let’s cover some questions parents have asked me over the years, about how best to prepare their children…

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DIY Busy Board for Toddlers

Preschoolers just love to let their curiosity get the better of them, as any parent can attest to!

Their relentless exploration of their environment does actually play a big part in brain development in a multitude of ways – from problem solving and imagination, to fine motor skills, and everything in between.

I know our little toddler is no exception, and she’s forever roaming the house fiddling with latches, jiggling door knobs, pressing buttons, and more around our house.

So, let’s embrace that, and use the very same instinct for good 🙂

We can attach a whole bunch of items onto a wooden board for her to play with any time – and without danger of breaking anything around our home!

Today we’re going to build a DIY busy board (also known as an activity board, sensory board, Montessori board and many other names it turns out!), using only free bits and pieces I can find around the house.

Total cost? $0.

Now that is what I would call rare when it comes to must-have toddler items. 🙂

So, let’s get started…

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Child using crayons

Cultural Activities for Kids

The World around us is a vast and interesting place! There are so many people, cultures, customs, foods, animals and languages to learn about.

Having had a love of travel and learning about other countries since I was was young, I have always incorporated learning about the World into my classroom program.

I’ve found time and time again that even the newest 5 year old is excited to learn about the World around them! Feedback from parents has been really positive and many have commented they wished they had done this kind of learning at school.

So let’s look at some fun and effective ways I’ve found to help my classes learn about the wider World…

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Home Learning : Story Writing Prompts

A child enjoying writing a story can be a tremendously powerful thing – not only for that child’s continued development, but equally for a parent or teacher wanting to support the child. 

This is true whether the child is writing a story in a school classroom, or in their home.

It is through writing stories that children can build on their love of reading, helping improve literacy and use of language, while taking advantage of the wellspring of imagination and wonder that children have from an early age.

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Using Sight Words To Help 5 Year Olds Read And Write

Learning to read and write can be an exciting part of starting school for a 5
year old! It feels like you’re a big kid when you can recognize words in a book and write some down all by yourself.

Sometimes though, these things can be a bit challenging for some and we need to find ways for these children to have success. I have found repetition and presenting the learning in a fun way has been most successful.

Also, explaining to the children why they are learning these words. E.g. We are learning these words so that when it comes to writing time you will be able to use them.

Teaching my class to read

Recently in my class of 5 year olds I have been working with a group who needed a boost with their sight word recognition to help their reading progress and some spelling work so that they could attempt to write independently.

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Empatico – Collaborate with classrooms around the world

Very often in life, whether as an adult or a child, I believe it is a human connection with someone which leads to a deeper understanding in a particular area or world view.

Something which can limit this of course is that we often spend the majority of our lives surrounded by people very similar to ourselves – usually people living in our immediate vicinity – often sharing the same native language, similar way of life, and so on. I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept.

An example of this is a child growing up in an affluent suburb in an English speaking first-world country, who has many opportunities in education and lifestyle, but might not have any direct connection with children in a very different location and circumstance.

The good news is that using free technology it is now more possible than ever before to put your students in direct contact with a class of students in a far away country, and watch their understanding and curiosity about the wider world grow in leaps and bounds!

I’ve had direct experience of this, and it is wonderful to see the engagement and enthusiasm from the kids, who just can’t wait to speak with their new found friends in another country – exclaiming as they learn about the wild animals that live nearby, and the everyday things which seem so very foreign and interesting.

Today I interview Christina from Empatico about who they are, and what makes them tick!
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Interactive Stories for Kids

I’m sure you would have seen that in the classroom there are few things more captivating for children than a story full of adventure (and ideally, animals)!

Going beyond the written word, I’ve found that there are many fantastic engaging uses for online interactive stories – especially stories which are full of great characters and sounds to draw in even the least enthusiastic readers.

Today I’m going to show you some of my go-to interactive stories for my primary school students, and how I love to make the most of them…

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Spelling Quiz – 20 Common Misspellings

It’s time for you to take my free spelling quiz, and see how you do!

We have here 20 words and their common misspellings.

Share with your friends and colleagues how you do and challenge them! (I made the quiz and only got 19 right – see if you can beat me!)
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