Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Start at the Very Beginning........

Remember that song from "The Sound of Music" where Maria wants to teach the von Trapp children how to sing?  Her idea was to start with the main pitches/notes on the scale and move onto words and songs once the kids had the basics down.

Well that's the approach I've been taking with teaching Owen how to read.  The first step was to teach him all the letters of the alphabet.  I have used a few different techniques to do that, including several apps on the Kindle (thank goodness for the Super Why! app.....he loves playing the letter games on there).  It's beyond clear that he knows the alphabet.

The next step is to begin identifying words.  This is often known as teaching sight words.  This part was a little trickier for me.  Owen hates flashcards.  He always has, mostly because it means having to sit still and focus on pieces of paper.  That's not very interactive for him; he really wants to be involved in the process and he wants it to be fun.  And let's be honest.......flashcards aren't all that fun!

I looked up some more apps on the Kindle that specifically target sight words, most of which come from Dolch word lists.  These lists are what is taught in preschool and early elementary grades.  I also decided to sign up for an account with ABC Mouse which has some great online activities like matching the words and pictures, rhyming, and hearing the sounds of letters and words (which Owen randomly tries to imitate--I'm not pushing him, but it is VERY cool to hear him try this!).  We do have a plain set of flashcards on a large book ring with the pre-primer list of Dolch words and I pull them out during mealtimes and run through them quickly.  I also give him the set and let him look through them.  When he holds a card up, I say the word, spell it, and then say it again.  He seems to like that approach too--it's probably fun to demand something from Mom once in awhile instead of the other way around!

We have been asking him to find certain words when we read books too.  At first we would say, "Find the word Elmo.  It starts with the letter E."  We did it that way for a few weeks and eventually we were able to just say "Find the word ____." and he has been able to do it for quite a few words.  We can also say "Find the word red.  Ra-ra-red." and he will find it.  He knows the sounds of letters.......who knew that a non-verbal kid would understand and identify words based on phonics??

At this point, he recognizes and identifies the following words:  Mom, Dad, Owen, red, blue, green, black, dog, fox, bear, Elmo, owl, deer, eagle, turtle, up, down, in, out, can.  I plan to make several posters with all the level 1 Dolch words as well as words we find commonly in the books he enjoys the most.  He's very much into animals, so that's why he seems to be catching onto those words quicker than others. 

This is such a fun and exciting thing to teach Owen.  He loves books and this seems to be an activity that he is really enjoying.  I know he wants to read his books on his own and I often find him in his reading corner, sitting on his chair with his finger under the words on a book's page.  Since I'm a huge reader, I really want to be able to share this love with Owen.  We will continue with these methods as he learns more words and moves onto harder Dolch lists.

8 comments:

  1. Fantastic!! Our kids are very visual learners. DSFOC (Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County) has some excellent downloads on their website in their Learning Program tab. Lots of fun pictures matching to the words. Making your own basic books about things that Owen is interested in, using lots of pictures and simple sentences is a great way to teach reading, too. I'm so excited that he's catching on so quickly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, I have DSFOC bookmarked and frequent their site all the time. They are pretty awesome! I just bought myself a laminator and I'm going to work on making little books with the Dolch words in them and also some about opposites like big/small, up/down, open/closed, on/off, in/out because they are working on those concepts at school right now.

      Delete
  2. Way to go ,Owen! He is doing great. I like Becca's idea about making the books. I may have to borrow that idea for Ellie :-) Ellie cannot say her letters but she makes the phonics sound for each one. Funny how that works. I used to work on words in the bath (and then I got lazy about it). I would use a Sharpie and write a word on a foam star. They stick to the tub and tilework so Ellie thought that was neat. Keep us posted on his rockstar progress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am totally stealing that bathtub idea, Anna! We used the letters in the tub and did little quizzes. Now he's over the letters, so it's time to move onto words. I'll be at Michael's if you're looking for me!! :)

      Delete
  3. We just started a local version if The Learning Program here. Using the Special Words app, ( uses the See and Learn stuff that TLP uses) Cora has been learning sight words. She almost never shows me what she knows, but sometimes it sneaks out. We also got the Brill Knds Little Reader program, which I think is great for input. I used to be consistent with it, but not as much these days. But Cora loves it. It doesn't test knowledge really, but I like that about it, since she doesn't feel pressured. And a couple years ago, we got it for free. At the time anyone with a disability qualified. I love reading and am glad Cora seems to, as well. The awesome thing is that reading is very often a strength for kids with Ds. And it can impact so much other learning. Can't wait to hear more. Definitely the hardest part is not often getting a measurement of how much a child is learning when they aren't speaking. But I am realizing how worth it is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is so exciting! I should start working with Ben soon!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Boo loves the sight words app. She doesn't get she is reading yet, though. I am so glad you have found a way to connect your love of reading and share it

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments and answering questions, so please let me know that you stopped by!