Differentiating in the Classroom

October 3rd, 2022 by

The Kendore Kingdom curriculum is designed to benefit all students. Our activities enable teachers to continually assess student progress so that they can help struggling readers while also giving those who catch on quickly the opportunity to delve deeper. We recently received the following question from a Kendore-trained teacher and thought it was worth sharing.

Hi Jennifer,
What do I do if I have students in my group that already know or quickly grasp the understanding of sounds and letters? I want to make sure I attend to all the kids in my classroom, and not hold anyone back.
Sincerely,
Dealing with Mixed Levels

 
Hi Dealing with Mixed Levels,
Great question! All students can benefit from retrieval, memory and phonological awareness activities while building reading capacity. Teachers often confuse rushing through phonics as true reading instruction, but that would be like memorizing the rule book for a sport and never over-learning the fundamentals.

We want students of all levels to have a solid foundation before moving forward, and because our curriculum is full of activities all students are sure to stay engaged!

Here are some recommendations for providing your students with challenges while focusing on phonological awareness.

  • Provide students with a word and ask them to give you words that rhyme with it (e.g., cat, bat, hat). Discuss why the words rhyme by breaking down the sounds in the word.
  • Use Smiley Thumbs Up lists and have students identify words containing the target sounds for the week. You can always add more challenging words to test high performing students.
  • Lots of kids may know their sounds, but do they know how they’re produced? Talk to your students about how the sounds are made, where the air travels, tongue placement, etc., and ask them to watch themselves in a mirror for full kinesthetic learning.
  • Incorporate oral punctuation and oral sentence construction into your lessons! Watch this helpful demonstration to see how.
  • Try Magazine Madness, the activity where kids cut pictures from magazines into either syllables or phonemes. This can prove to be quite challenging!
  • Incorporate parts of speech into your lessons by using a MadLib to teach nouns, verbs and adjectives containing the target sounds.
  • Even high performers can build automaticity to increase their reading rate! Use fluency drills to build sound retrieval, and pair off students of similar levels to time each other.
With card games, memory building activities, Sound Track and more, the possibilities are endless!
Please contact us if you need more ideas or have a question you’d like answered. We may feature it in a future blog post.

Chunking Information Helps Students Remember What They Learn

September 5th, 2022 by

When delivering new content to students (particularly struggling learners), it is important to chunk information into small, digestible parts. Why?

By breaking content into smaller bits, and presenting it gradually over a period of time, we maximize retention rates in the classroom because chunking makes more efficient use of working memory. A child is more likely to remember twenty vocabulary words if they are presented with two or three new words each day rather than all at once.

Watch this short video to hear Jennifer Hasser explain why this strategy helps students succeed!

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Summer Learning Activities

May 2nd, 2022 by

Summer provides an excellent opportunity to work with your kids to boost their skills and prevent the dreaded (and very real) summer slide. But mention summer learning, and most parents envision grumbling kids and workbooks at the kitchen table — enough to make them call it quits before even beginning.

We know that learning is most effective when it is enjoyable, when it engages the senses (i.e. when it’s multisensory) and when it involves new and unique experiences. So get your kids moving this summer and promote learning while they are having fun. They’ll never even realize they are doing their “summer work!”

Note: we have geared these activities toward reading/writing and phonemic awareness, but you can easily adapt many of them to other concepts you are reinforcing.

1. Sand Writing

Have your child practice sounds or sight words in sand. Writing in different textures makes writing a multisensory activity and helps kids retain what they learn. Plus, it’s fun!

2. Beach Ball Toss

Toss and Teach Beach Ball makes learning fun and effective.

With a permanent marker, write sounds, words, or nonsense words on a beach ball. Toss the ball to your child and have them read the words closest to their thumbs. For advanced students, cover the ball with blends, vowel teams, roots, examples of syllable types, etc.  For a beach ball that doesn’t become obsolete once your child masters the concepts you are practicing, check out the Toss & Teach Beach Ball, which features reusable pockets ideal for flash cards or cards from our card decks.

3. Scavenger Hunt

Send your kids outside on a scavenger hunt in search of the sounds they are learning (or for objects that have the sounds in the middle or end of their names). If your kids are old enough to use a camera or phone, have them photograph what they find and review their photos and sounds with you. You can make this more challenging for advanced kids by asking them to find objects with a certain number of syllables or with certain syllable types in their names.

4. Paint the House (Yikes!)

Multisensory outdoor learning activities

Give the kids a bucket of water and paint brushes. Have them write sounds, words, or even a whole story on the house, driveway, deck, etc. Watch as the writing evaporates and fades away.

5. Graffiti

Let the kids write on the windows with dry erase markers or dry erase crayons.  Older kids can play hangman and younger children can practice their name and alphabet. Make sure to have a roll of paper towels on hand!

6. Chain ‘Em Up 

No, we are not suggesting a new way to restrain your kids (hmmm…there’s a thought). Say a word and have your child repeat it slowly, emphasizing the ending sound.  Ask your child to think of another word that begins with the ending sound of the first word.  For instance, if you say “cat,” your child could say, “top.”  Take turns…forming a chain of words. Note: use the words’ ending sounds, not their ending letters (so if someone says “happy,” the next word could be “eagle,” but NOT “yellow”).

7. Mad LibsTM

Play Mad LibsTM with a twist!  Buy a Mad LibsTM tablet, download the Mad LibsTM App, or download pages by searching the internet for “free Mad Libs printables.”  Have an adult (non-driving, please!!) call out the word-type needed, but with an added twist.  For instance, “I need a verb that starts with /p/,” or “Give me a three-syllable noun.”

8. Story Building

Have one family member develop the first sentence of a story.  Take turns adding a sentence.  You won’t believe the plot twists that ensue!

9. Unfortunately/Fortunately

Similar to Story Building, you will create a story one sentence at a time.  However, the beginning word of each sentence must alternate between “unfortunately” and “fortunately.”

This is how your story might unfold: “Unfortunately, on the way to Grandma’s house, Mom took a wrong turn. Fortunately, the road led to an amusement park.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  Fortunately, the gate was unlocked.  Unfortunately, a guard dog blocked the entrance.”  And so on…

10.  Audiobooks

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesDid you know listening to books can help build your children’s vocabulary and make them better readers?

Often there is more than one way to sound out a word.  If your child has heard a wide variety of words in literature, she will be better able to access her decoding skills and read more fluently because it is easier to read words you have heard before. Audiobooks also improve listening comprehension. Follow along with the written book, or sit back and enjoy the scenery.  Either way is beneficial.

Share Your Ideas

Have an idea of your own?  Email us and we’ll include it in a future blog post!

Make Significant Strides With Summer Tutoring

May 1st, 2022 by

During the school year, students squeeze tutoring into a schedule packed with school, sports, homework, and other after school commitments. Summer frees up not only time, but also brain bandwidth — making summer tutoring at Syllables extremely productive.

Don’t miss the chance to help fill in any learning gaps and prepare your child to succeed next school year!

How Syllables Can Help

  • Intensive Tutoring:  Speed up your time with us by increasing tutoring frequency or scheduling two-hour sessions. Students who complete “intensive summer tutoring” make remarkable strides and dramatically shorten the time they need to spend with us during the school year. Because our therapists are experts at keeping students engaged and active, double sessions are extremely productive.
  • Brush-Up for Syllables Alumni: If your child has graduated from Syllables’ reading program, they are welcome to come in for a free retest. We will determine if your child has retained their skills and kept up with their peers. If we see any deficits, summer is a good time to fill in gaps.
  • Study Skills: Did you know that we are experts in teaching kids study skills? Summer tutoring is an excellent way to develop these skills without the pressure of daily schoolwork. Learn More
  • Work at Home: Parents who work with their child at home decrease their child’s time at Syllables. Make sure to complete the practice your therapist recommends between sessions. You can also visit our YouTube channel to watch demonstrations of games you can play and activities you can do at home.
  • Attend a Training Session: Parents are welcome to attend our teacher training sessions (offered through our sister company, Kendore Learning). You’ll learn our proven method of teaching reading and you will leave prepared to help your child at home more than you ever thought possible! Parents of currently-enrolled Syllables students receive 40% off of Kendore Kingdom training.  View Our Training Schedule
  • Sibling Screenings: Dyslexia and other learning disabilities run in families. If you have a current Syllables student and are concerned about their sibling(s), bring them in for a complimentary one-hour reading assessment. If there is an issue, we can help you make a plan.

Not sure how to structure your child’s summer at Syllables? Give us a call at 770-752-1724. We are experts at assessing students and helping you make the most of your child’s time with us.

Make Summer Learning Fun With These Four Outdoor Activities!

May 1st, 2022 by

Summer provides an excellent opportunity to work with your kids to boost their skills and prevent the dreaded (and very real) summer slide. But mention summer learning, and most parents envision grumbling kids and workbooks at the kitchen table — enough to make them call it quits before even beginning.

We know that learning is most effective when it is enjoyable, when it engages the senses (i.e. when it’s multisensory) and when it involves new and unique experiences. So get your kids moving this summer and promote learning while they are having fun outside. They’ll never even realize they are doing their “summer work!”

Four Multisensory Outdoor Activities to Promote Summer Learning

Note: we have geared these activities toward reading/writing and phonemic awareness, but you can easily adapt them to other concepts you are reinforcing.

  1. Sandwriting

    Sandwriting makes learning funHeading to the beach or playground? Have your child practice sounds or sight words in sand. Writing in different textures makes writing a multisensory activity and helps kids retain what they learn. Plus, it’s fun!

  2. Beach Ball Toss

    Toss and Teach Beach Ball makes learning fun and effective. With a permanent marker, write sounds, words, or nonsense words on a beach ball. Toss the ball to your child and have them read the words closest to their thumbs. For advanced students, cover the ball with blends, vowel teams, roots, examples of syllable types, etc.  For a beach ball that doesn’t become obsolete once your child masters the concepts you are practicing, check out the Toss & Teach Beach Ball, which features reusable pockets ideal for flash cards or cards from our card decks.

  3. Scavenger Hunt

    Send your kids on a scavenger hunt in search of the sounds they are learning (or for objects that have the sounds in the middle or end of their names). If your kids are old enough to use a camera or phone, have them photograph what they find and review their photos and sounds with you. You can make this more challenging for advanced kids by asking them to find objects with a certain number of syllables or with certain syllable types in their names.

  4. Paint the House (Yikes!)

    Multisensory outdoor learning activitiesGive the kids a bucket of water and paint brushes. Have them write sounds, words, or even a whole story on the house, driveway, deck, etc. Watch as the writing evaporates and fades away.

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word Games

April 30th, 2022 by

Road Tripping this Summer?

10 ways to eliminate the “I’m Bored,” chorus from the backseat.

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word Games

Whether you’re traveling cross country or logging time running errands around town, put your car time to good use this summer with these 10 fun road trip word games. Shhhh — don’t tell the kids that you are reinforcing language skills while they are having fun.

1. Graffiti

Let the kids write on the windows with dry erase markers.  Older kids can play hangman and younger children can practice their name and alphabet. Make sure to have a roll of paper towels on hand!

2. License Plate News

Call out the letters on the license plate in front of you and have your kids develop a wacky newspaper headline using the letters as the start of each word.  For instance, MEW could be “Man Eats Walrus,” and BDH could be “Boy Develops Hovercraft.”  For younger kids, simply have them think of a word for each letter.

3. Chain ‘Em Up 

No, we are not suggesting a new way to restrain your kids (hmmm…there’s a thought). Say a word and have your child repeat it slowly, emphasizing the ending sound.  Ask your child to think of another word that begins with the ending sound of the first word.  For instance, if you say “cat,” your child could say, “top.”  Take turns…forming a chain of words. Note: use the words’ ending sounds, not their ending letters (so if someone says “happy,” the next word could be “eagle,” but NOT “yellow”).

4. ABC Scrapbook Page

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesWhile traveling home from vacation, have your children write the letters A – Z down the left hand side of a piece of notebook paper.  Have them think of a word from your trip that starts with each letter.  Be creative.  For instance, a trip to Disney World might yield a list that starts like this, “Ariel, Belle, Carousel, Dad, Everybody was happy, Florida, and so on.” Your children may either write or illustrate their word if it is too difficult to spell. This idea was submitted by a parent who regularly plays this game with her kids and saves the results as a trip memento.

5. Mad LibsTM

Play Mad LibsTM with a twist!  Buy a Mad LibsTM tablet, download the Mad LibsTM App, or download pages by searching the internet for “free Mad Libs printables.”  Have an adult (non-driving, please!!) call out the word-type needed, but with an added twist.  For instance, “I need a verb that starts with /p/,” or “Give me a three-syllable noun.”

6. Travelogue

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesFor older kids with internet access: have your child Google the towns you pass through and ask them to find and read aloud three interesting facts about that town.  If you are in no-man’s land, have them research your destination and tell you about some of the landmarks you will see there.

7. Story Building

Have one family member develop the first sentence of a story.  Take turns adding a sentence.  You won’t believe the plot twists that ensue!

8. Unfortunately/Fortunately

Similar to Story Building, you will create a story one sentence at a time.  However, the beginning word of each sentence must alternate between “unfortunately” and “fortunately.”

This is how your story might unfold: “Unfortunately, on the way to Grandma’s house, Mom took a wrong turn. Fortunately, the road led to an amusement park.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  Fortunately, the gate was unlocked.  Unfortunately, a guard dog blocked the entrance.”  And so on…

9.  Grocery List

Build an imaginary grocery list one item at a time in alphabetical order.  The trick is remembering each item on the list as it grows.  For example, the first person might say, “I went to the grocery store and I bought artichokes.” The next person might say, “I went to the grocery store and I bought artichokes and Band-Aids.”  Create any kind of list you want — items to take to the beach, things found in Aunt Betty’s house, etc.

10.  Audiobooks

Ten Fun (and Educational) Road Trip Word GamesDid you know listening to books can help build your children’s vocabulary and make them better readers?

Often there is more than one way to sound out a word.  If your child has heard a wide variety of words in literature, she will be better able to access her decoding skills and read more fluently because it is easier to read words you have heard before. Audiobooks also improve listening comprehension. While traveling this summer, consider listening to audio books in the car instead of listening to the radio or watching a DVD. Follow along with the written book, or sit back and enjoy the scenery.  Either way is beneficial.

Share Your Ideas

Have an idea of your own?  Email us and we’ll include it in a future blog post!

Our Language Makes Sense

April 19th, 2022 by

All too often, we hear people say that the English language doesn’t make sense and that spelling and word meaning “just have to be memorized.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! Our language does make sense…if you know the rules.

Let’s stop telling our students that our language is illogical, and let’s teach them the tools they need to easily break the code to read and spell thousands of words.

Advanced Activities for Kendore-Trained Teachers

March 1st, 2022 by

Adapting Activities for REVLOC

This blog post highlights how the multisensory Kendore activities our teachers know and love can be altered to help students work on advanced concepts, including syllable types (“REVLOC”). If you are a Kendore-trained teacher, read on! If you would like to know more about becoming trained in our curriculum, check out Kendore Learning’s website or contact us.

Hot Lava

Early in the curriculum, teachers learn how to use the Code Quest Consonant and Vowel decks to play Hot Lava to test their students’ automaticity. Quick recap: Set down a series of cards on the ground and ask your student to say the sound before hopping to the next card. If the student incorrectly identifies the sound, they fall into “hot lava” and have to go back to the beginning. Students love using their imaginations with this activity, pretending to meet a fiery demise when they misstep.

The UNLOCK REVLOC deck is perfect for Hot Lava! Lay down two or three syllable cards next to each other to form a multisyllabic word. Ask students to read the word and then hop on it to stay “safe.” Create a path of these words. Note that the word you form with the REVLOC cards do not have to be real words because students need practice decoding both real and nonsense words in order to know how to apply the rules you are teaching.
You can also create a path using a variety of single syllable cards. Ask the students to cross the “hot lava” by jumping only on a certain syllable type, or by naming the syllable type before they jump on the card. For a Hot Lava reminder, watch our demonstration video.

Beach Ball Toss

This Kendore activity is an excellent way to get students up and moving while they practice syllable types.

Place cards from the UNLOCK REVLOC deck inside the pockets of the Toss and Teach Beach Ball. Toss
the ball back and forth and ask your student to read the card their thumb lands on and identify what syllable type is represented. Advance to having the student read two cards next to each other on the beach ball so that they can practice decoding and smoothly reading multisyllabic words. Remember that having them practice reading real and nonsense words will help them build automaticity.
For a reminder about how to use the Toss and Teach Beach Ball, watch our demonstration video.

Syllable Tracking

You’ve been working with your students on Sound Track since their very first Kendore lesson. Now that they’ve been introduced to some of the syllable types, they can work on Syllable Tracking. This activity follows the same structure as Sound Track, but now each rainbow token will represent one syllable. Therefore, your student will work on strengthening their memory skills by recalling a multisyllabic nonsense word, identifying which syllable is changing, and showing the change.
If you have any questions about these activities, please contact us. We would be more than happy to help!

GURRRRRR! R-Controlled Vowels

March 1st, 2022 by

The letter <r> becomes very bossy when it follows a vowel! This letter affects the sound a vowel makes, giving a vowel followed by an <r> the name “r-controlled vowel.”

Tricky R-Controlled Vowels: ‘er’, ‘ur’, and ‘ir’

Growing r tiger helps teach r-controlled vowels.In the Kendore Kingdom, we call these three r-controlled vowels “growling r” vowels because rather than letting the vowel say its sound or name, the <r> makes the vowel growl like a tiger.  Growling r vowels are vowel digraphs since they are two letters representing one sound.

Since <er>, <ur>, and <ir> all sound the same, spelling these digraphs can be tricky. It helps to know that <er> is the most common spelling of the /er/ sound (40%), <ur> is the second most common (26%), and <ir> is the least common (13%). When all else fails and the student does not know the proper spelling, knowing frequency will help students make an educated spelling guess.

‘ar’ and ‘or’

While <r> still controls the sound of /ar/ and /or/, these r-controlled vowels have unique sounds — making them easier for children to spell.

Teaching R-Controlled Vowels

The Kendore Kingdom features a memorable story about Growling ‘r’ tiger.  Poor Growling ‘r’ hasn’t learned his manners and he growls when introduced to new friends. Children remember the adventures of Growling ‘r’ tiger and translate this story into an understanding of r-controlled vowels. If you are a Kendore-trained teacher, be sure to refer to your manual for instructions on using Growling ‘r’ tiger to teach your students r-controlled vowels.

When writing/spelling a word with an r-controlled vowel, students will often incorrectly reverse the <r> and the vowel. In many words, reversing the two letters will still produce a real word (barn/bran, arm/ram). Dot and Jot (phoneme/grapheme mapping) can help students prevent these transpositions.

Tiger Trek Card Game

Tiger Trek card games are a fun, multisensory way to reinforce r-controlled vowels. Tiger Trek can be used to play many games, including war, rummy, memory, go fish and more! The Tiger Trek deck contains both real and nonsense words in order to assess concept knowledge and discourage rote memorization. Students should be able to decode nonsense words such as ‘fram’ and ‘terk’ as well as real words.

Watch a demonstration of Tiger Trek games.

Order a Tiger Trek card deck.

What is Working Memory and Why is it Important?

January 20th, 2022 by

Working memory is the brain’s system for temporarily storing and managing the information required to carry out complex tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension.

Children with poor working memory typically have difficulty remembering multi-step tasks and instructions. They also may have issues with impulse control, because their brain cannot hold the thought of both an action and its consequence at the same time.

Working memory has a profound impact on reading because sounding out words requires that a child hold each sound in working memory before putting those sounds together. For instance, a child with a working memory deficit may sound out /b/, /a/, /t/, and then go back to say the word, only to find that they have forgotten the sounds they just decoded. The child will then guess by saying “butter” or “bite.”

One of the best ways to help a struggling reader who has working memory deficits is to help reading become automatic. Teaching good decoding strategies creates automaticity, which frees up working memory space. Students with poor working memory can also benefit from brain training programs such as Cogmed.

Learn more about working memory by watching the video below: