100 + Free CVC Worksheets, Activities and games.

Making English Fun

Here you will find 1000’s of free CVC worksheets, games and activities for teaching CVC words and sound blending. Teaching CVC skills and segmenting words is an important phonetic skill accords the year groups from kindergarten, second language students and ESL students all the way to first grade and primary students.

These CVC blending and reading skills help to develop reading skills that will last a lifetime. We have FREE board games, online games for both classroom and as apps, activities and of course the tried and tested worksheets. All these CVC word worksheets, games and activities are free to download for teachers, homeschoolers and anyone else who needs to practice or to teach students how to develop these CVC skills.

I will split these up into sections just to make it easier, so if you need to jump to the right section just use the links below. They should take you where you need to be 😊

FREE CVC worksheets

I am a teacher, an English teacher actually, in Hong Kong. A large part of my role is skills, rather than knowledge teaching. To do this I have to take it back to basics, those basics are simple word construction and initial, medial and final sound recognition. This all depends on the level of my students, but one of my most important aims is to have students constructing and deconstructing simple CVC words. This selection of free CVC worksheets are my favourite ones I have made, and a selection of the best ones I have found. These all are click and print so you don’t have to sign in or provide your email login.

4 medial vowel CVC worksheets

A set of 4 CVC medial vowel worksheets great for short vowel practice.

Read write colour CVC worksheets

4 Different Read Write and Colour CVC worksheets. Perfect for younger learners.

CVC wordsearch
4 CVC Word Searches

4 Different CVC word search and colouring, usable for writing practice as well.

10 CVC Word Sort Worksheets

10 Different cut and paste CVC Word sort activity for younger learners.

Rhyming pairs Worksheet Short vowels and CVC
5 Rhyming Pairs Worksheets

Rhyming is a great way to practice CVC and oneset and rime.

Which Vowel CVC Phonics Worksheets
3 Which Vowel Worksheets

Which vowel worksheets teach the sounds of short vowels.

short e CVC Phonics worksheet
10 CVC scramble Worksheets

10 different CVC scramble worksheets. Great for beginning spelling practice.

Free Short vowel A Colouring Phonics worksheets
Colour the short vowel worksheets

5 individual and 1 mixed colour the short vowel, these are great for sound recognition.

Farming for Vowels Phonics worksheet
5 Farming for Phonics Worksheets

Farming for phonics CVC worksheets and word sort.

Phonics Maze Short vowel U Worksheet
5 Space phonics Worksheets

A space themed set of five phonics and CVC worksheets.

Colour the Rhyme Short Vowels Worksheet
5 Rhyming Pairs Worksheets

4 CVC and Rhyming colouring worksheets

Long and Short vowel worksheets
3 CVC and Vowel Sort Worksheets

Long and Short vowel sorting worksheets.

140 CVC Short Vowel Worksheets
Fishing for Phonics worksheet
7 Fishing for Phonics Worksheets
find the rhymes worksheet
4 Find the Rhymes worksheet
10 Word Families CVC Worksheets

FREE Online CVC games

The future is here, and because of the pandemic it arrived a little earlier than most of us (me included!) were prepared for. Lockdowns and school closures put millions of students into a fairly haphazard and disjointed online learning environment. I had been using the online CVC games below in class, and they were reasonably useful for zoom classes as well. Yes, I tried to use online CVC games in zoom classrooms with six years olds! Some worked, some didn’t. Hey, we are all learning, right? I will put a little note on each one mentioning if I think its suitable for online group classrooms.

Some of these are mine, mainly because I made this in both app and online versions for my own needs, but 500,000 people now use them yearly so they have uses outside of my own classrooms as well. There are some of the better ones from others here as well. These are all playable online on PC, and some are also apps on the app store as well if you needed to download as phonics apps for classrooms.

Phonics and English games
CVC blitz – Four Phonics games in one

This a very user friendly game. 4 different ways of teaching CVC words. matching, spelling, listening and a quiz.

Online suitable, quiz is zoom suitable

Is also an app on Apple

Phonics Hop and Pop

I love playing this in classrooms. Students listen then jump to the correct CVC word. Has 8 other English subjects as well.

Very online suitable, not zoom

Also an App on Google and Apple

sentence builder
Sentence Builder

Learn how to put simple sentences together, including ones containing CVC words

Online suitable, not zoom

As an App on Google as well.

CVC Scramble

Longer version of CVC scramble. Students have to put the letter n the correct order. Picture clues and hints

not Zoom suitable

App on Google as well.

CVC Generator

This is great in classrooms, it really reinforces the sounds and blending skills of CVC words.

Made for classrooms! , great on zoom

On Google as an app

Swing words and phonics

Follows the phonics order of SATIPN from Jolly phonics and works on word and sound recognition

Online suitable, zoom suitable

On Google as an app as well.

One Stop English

Eight English Subjects, including CVC. Has matching exercises, sound quizzes and more.

not online suitable

Also as an app on Google.

Turtle Diary Short Vowel game

Turtle diary offers this short vowel game. Flash though, so not sure how long it will work.

online suitable and zoom

CVC Board Games and Free Card Games

I love using these phonic and Free CVC board games. There is no better feeling, as a teacher, than setting a task, maybe a little challenging and watching your class put their heads down. When I make that task a CVC Board game or CVC card game it is really REALLY well received by students. It is also self-directed so you can monitor the whole class easier. I have a selection of my own here and links to some cool ones from other creators as well. You will need to print them, and maybe laminate if you want longer use out of them. I also have a paid CVC card game coming out soon, so indulge me if I advertise that on here as well.

Soundopoly 3 versions

Based on Monopoly with game cards and questions about CVC words.

8 sounds and CVC board games

A selection of dice game boards for sounds and CVC.

CVC Board Game Connect four

This is great for groups in classrooms. A connect four CVC game.

CVC matching dominoes

A simple print and cut out CVC dominoes game.

Other FREE CVC printables and CVC reading comprehension worksheets.

There is more to life than CVC Worksheets and games – and I am saying this as a teacher! So I have linked in a range of other phonics and CVC activities, some that require students to put the skills they have practiced and learnt with the resources above into practice. So these are free CVC printables that may be matching tasks, or reading both for comprehension and for word recognition / phonics practice.

CVC bingo 16 cards

Bingo cards for classes. Great game to play with younger children.

The classic I have , who has game for a full class. We have 5 versions of this on the site.

The Fortune teller template for multiple English topics including short vowels.

Other resources for phonics worksheets for kindergarten, ESL and Primary grades

FREE CVC Worksheets and resources are undoubtable useful, but it doesn’t end there. We have linked some other FREE English worksheets and games below that may be useful as you progress with English. So, some of these will be for higher level phonics, digraphs, diphthongs, syllables. Vowels and more. However, it will just be a few to wet your appetite and I will post more in another post. You came here for FREE CVC worksheets and CVC Printables so that’s what this page is! Hope you found them useful.

Don’t miss our sets of grades 1 to 5/6 FREE Reading comprehension cards, these are great for lessons and we have over 100 pages of these now.

If you are looking for some Science or Stem worksheets head over to our portfolio to check out the Kindergarten and primary science lessons we have. I use these in my classes all the time and LOVE introducing quite complex topics in a way that is fun and engaging to young learners.

To check out all our resources we have an organised page with all our resources on them right here

And in the style of Steve Jobs, Just one more thing.

I should probably have put this at the top of this post, but I am presuming if you are searching for FREE CVC worksheets you are probably going to know what they are. However, just in case here we go.

In phonics we have a lot of jargon to help teachers understand (or to confuse them- we are still unsure about this) One of these collections of jargon and abbreviations is CVC. It simply stands for Consonant – Vowel – Consonant. These are made of some of the simplest words in English all containing a short vowel sound. They are perfect for emergent readers as they use single sounds that can be blended together to make words. When students have grasped the concept you can add CCVC (you can probably worth that out) and then CCvCC ( and I am fairly sure you can work out this one as well)

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Do Adverbs Always End in -ly?

What is an Adverb

Adverbs are words that can added to verbs, adjective or even other adverbs to change or add meaning. When you add an adverb changes a verb, it can give information on how, where, when, how often, why, and how much the action is occuring.

The majority of adverbs do end in ”ly” but it is not a set rule. There is more to consider than just the ending spellings of words to determine what meaning to apportion to them. Not all words that end in ly are adverbs, for example sly and lily, and not all adverbs end in -ly – for example never and very.

We will provide a list of examples below for both adverbs that do end in Ly and ones that don’t and links to full lists as well.

The Role of Adverbs

Words play roles in language. Some words have multiple roles. Read can be different words with different pronunciations, and this greatly depends on the usage. A person can be well-read (looked at and comprehended many books and articles). A person can read (looks at comprehends words on a page currently).

A person may also have read books before (looked at and comprehended words before now). Each of these words is related, but they have different meanings. Two of them are verbs. Reading, whether past or present, is an activity. To be well-read, however, is an adjective describing a person.

There are two common parts of speech beginning with ad—adjective and adverb. You may recall that an adjective describes an object or noun. Adverbs are similar. They are also describing words, and they are used to describe verbs.

They tell us how a verb was performed. Let’s look back at the verb read. There are many ways to describe how someone is reading. She read the book quietly while she waited. She read the book aloud noisily. He read the book clumsily, unable to understand the words (meaning he stumbled over the words).

Examples of Use of Adverbs

She read the book aloud clearly. He read the book excitedly, anticipating the next paragraph. These sentences all describe how someone was reading, so the words that describe reading are adverbs.

If you notice, in two of them, two words describe how the book was read. One says the book was read aloud noisily, and the other says that it was read aloud clearly. In this case, aloud is an adverb describing how the book was read and noisily or clearly describe how the audible reading sounded.

There are two adverbs. One adverb describes another. Likewise, in both of these examples, aloud is an adverb that doesn’t end in -ly, demonstrating that all adverbs do not need to end in -ly. However, quietly, noisily, clumsily, clearly, and excitedly demonstrate the frequency in which these words do end in -ly.

Double Duty Descriptors

Just as we had dual adverbs earlier, we often have adjectives that masquerade as adverbs sometimes. One of those examples is the word hard. A test can be hard (difficult). A rock can be hard. In this case, it’s a hard test or a hard rock. However, if it is raining hard, the adverb for raining (verb) is hard.

If you are looking for adjective or other grammar activities we have them in the shop here, and free versions right here. There are also sets of adjective worksheets ready to download here as well.

To say the weather is raining hardly, would be inappropriate in this case. Hardly raining would mean not raining very much. Many verbs can be both adjectives and adverbs, depending on how they are used.

Other adjectives can become adverbs by adding ly. Sweet is a fantastic example of this. The boy gave his friend a sweet card. Sweet describes the card in this case. Since card is a noun, sweet becomes an adjective (adjectives describe objects).

However, by adding -ly we get an adverb. Sam smiled sweetly at Jack. In this case, sweetly describes how Sam smiled. The root of both words is sweet, but adding the ly changes it from an adjective to an adverb (adverbs describe verbs).

Tutoring side hustle

Flat or Bare Adverbs

Flat adverbs, sometimes referred to as bare adverbs, are those that do not have an -ly ending but could. These are words like slow, real, tight, and close. Some of these words change meaning when they get the ly, so you use the flat adverb instead.

Take the example from above. When you say it is hardly raining, this takes on an entirely different meaning than it is raining hard. Both words describe the intensity at which it is raining, but with the ly, we learn that it is not raining much at all. Without the ly, we discover that it is indeed raining intensely.

Adverbials (Part Time Adverbs)

Sometimes, we may see the term adverbial. This is any word or phrase that behaves like an adverb. These are not typically adverbs, but they are pretending to be one in the sentence or phrase. Some examples are deep, in town, or at work. “She sleeps at work.” In this sentence, at work describes where or how she sleeps. “His anger runs deep.”  Deep, in the previous sentence, describes how his anger runs.

Comparative and Superlative Adverbs

Sometimes you may want to use adverbs in a comparative or superlative sense. You may want to compare whose smile is sweeter. In this case, you would say that Sam smiles more sweetly than Jack. Sweetlier would not be a word. Some comparative and superlative forms do get er and est, but they never end in ly first.

For flat adverbs, you will use the same rules that you would for the word as an adjective. For instance, harder or hardest would be appropriate because of the length of words. Keep in mind that we do not always use words or phrases in informal English as we would in more formal settings.

For instance, we might say “drive careful” to a loved one, but the standard formal English should be “drive carefully.” No one is going to correct you for leaving off the ly in this case as it is the informal accepted form of the phrase. If speaking to a friend, this phrase is acceptable, but on an English quiz, you might want to avoid it.

Other Parts of Speech Ending in Ly

As noted already, there have been many adverbs that do not end in ly or take the adjective form depending on their usage. There are also more than enough words that end in ly but are not adverbs. Most often, these words are adjectives. A common way to turn a noun into an adjective is to add ly.

For instance, “a northerly wind blows tonight” contains northerly, but it refers to the wind, not the blowing. Technically, it is blowing northerly, but we generally are describing the wind and not the blow. A scholarly argument is one that the person considered and researched their topic carefully. Argument is a noun in this case, and scholarly is describing the kind of argument.

List of Adverbs ending in – ly

Here we have an example list of both adverbs ending in ly, and other words ( not adverbs) that also end in ly just to add to the confusion!!! an then we have a list of adverbs that do not end in ly.

Adverbs ending in lyAdverbs not ending in lyWords ending in ly – not adverbs
correctlyaheadfamily
angrilyagaindaily
finallyyesterdayreply
happilysoonsilly
quicklyalwaysugly
loudlyoftenholly
sadlyneverbelly
softlyherecurly
suddenlyseldombutterfly
faintlyoutsidesly

If you need a linger list there is a PDF here

Final Thoughts

Many words can be manipulated to have several different forms and meanings. Just because a word ends in ly does not make it an adverb. The absence of such letters also does not make it another part of speech. We have to look at what each word is doing in the sentence. If a word is a person, place, thing, or idea, it is a noun. If another word is describing that noun, it becomes an adjective.

Similarly, if the word is an action, we call it a verb, and a word describing that action is an adverb. Even if the word is sometimes used in another part of speech, we have to take each encounter for what it represents. Adverbials nearly never have ly endings.

Should You Teach Vowels Or Consonants First?

Vowels and consonants are the sounds of the English language. There are 44 mostly agreed sounds in the English language. There are 20 vowels and 24 consonant sounds. Although this number can be a subject of debate.

Young Children and infants will start producing sounds that resemble vowels and consonants at about 16 to 30 weeks, although these are unlikely to be mimicry and there seems to be limited vocal control at this age.

It is not recommended to teach vowel and consonant sounds in isolation. Many phonics instruction methods introduce a mix of common vowel and consonant sounds enabling children to learn both the sounds of English and how to blend together simple words. One popular order of phonics is the S-A-T-I-P-N order.

Teaching literacy to young children can be challenging. Phonics got a bad reputation back in the 1980s with Hooked on Phonics. While phonics instruction cannot be the only instruction, phonemic awareness and phonics should be taught to emerging readers. This is not to say that the program had no place in literacy learning. Teaching phonics in schools has become about the whole word and language rather than simply chunking words based upon sounds. There is more than phonics at play.

How to read bedtime stories

Phonemic Awareness

You may be wondering what phonemic awareness is. Phonemic awareness is being able to hear and manipulate the smallest units of sound. Phonemes are these sounds. The awareness of these sounds is quite simply phonemic awareness. It is classified as a subset of phonological awareness.

Phonological Awareness

The overarching term of phonological awareness is defined as, “A broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language – parts such as words, syllables, and onsets and rimes.”[1] This concept is about more than phonemes. In this case, the types of sound as is their placement.

Phonics

The other component of this group is phonics. Phonics is the study of graphemes (letters) and sounds. This requires phonemic awareness, and the failure of past programs has been that they leave phonological and phonemic awareness out.

What phonics to teach first?

Now That I know the Components, What Do I Do?

Teaching literacy begins with phonemic awareness. Several schools of thought exist on what should be taught first. One consensus is that similar-looking letters should not be taught at the same time. Likewise, similar sounds should be avoided at the same time. It is essential to understand the types of phonemes as well. Typically, they are taught by type.

A,I,P,T,S,N

Many resources suggest that the above combination be taught first. Several short words can be taught using this simple combination. Each letter has a different sound, and the graphemes look remarkably different. A and I are often taught as short vowel sounds, at first rather than long. Long sounds have many spellings and add confusion if introduced at this stage.

Writing

Reading and writing go hand in hand. When teaching these phonemes, it is equally important to teach the letter and formation of that letter. Many children lack handwriting skills when they begin reading, and by learning together, they have more connection between the symbolic letter and auditory sound. It is a more holistic approach to language instruction.

A,D,F,I,M,S,T

Another variation to teach early on is the above letters. Again, with these two vowels and this group of consonants, many words can be created. The first group is slightly more common, but either one should work.

CK, D, E, H, M, R

The next group is often this set of letters. This is when the first blend is introduced. Again, the vowels are still only short sounds. Do not teach them independently from the past letters. A, I, and E are all used with combinations of the other letters. Teaching phonics should be more like scaffolding than independent concepts. Each set of letters should build on the last. Phonemes and graphemes are the building blocks of words.

Then What?

Once you have taught the entire alphabet, you should begin to teach words based on the patterns of letters. The simplest ones to learn are the consonant vowel consonant pattern. These are words like cat, hat, dog, map, pam, pat, and other similar words. You should still be using short vowel sounds at this juncture.

This will also tell you whether or not children have grasped the phonemic awareness lessons taught so far. The good news is that if your students are struggling with this, you can return to the lessons on phonemic awareness and phonemes. It is not enough to learn the sounds of letters; the children must also connect them with the graphemes or written letters.

When your students have mastered the CVC pattern, you can move on to some more blends. They can begin to learn ccvc and cvcc patterns during this process.

Digraphs

While you may have used a few digraphs when teaching before, your students probably do not know what they are or why we need two letters to make a single sound. The vowel sounds should still be short sounds as well. When teaching these diagraphs, you should continue to follow the suggestions above of not teaching the two-letter sounds that look similar—it and ot.

Blends

Since your students have learned some basic digraphs and blends at this point, you can introduce them to more complex blends. The sh, th, wh, bl, and pr blends are commonly taught now. Since you still haven’t taught long vowel sounds, be sure that you do not introduce them during this time.

Longer Blends and Complex Sounds

Double letters, three-letter blends, and unusual blended sounds can come next. These are ph words, voiced and unvoiced th, and double-letter words (ss), to name a few. Once vowel blends such as oo, ow, and oi are introduced, you can begin introducing long vowel sounds, and unique vowel sounds like the a in cart or the long a in pain.

One Grapheme, Two Phonemes

Some words have one grapheme and two phonemes. The most common is the x in fox that has the ks sound rather than just one or the other. The qu in quick also combines as kw, and most words do not have a q without the u.

Prefixes, Suffixes, Diphthongs, and Silent Letters

The more your students learn, the more they are capable of learning. All of these concepts will not happen in kindergarten or even first grade. Reading takes a few years to become fluent and expert readers. Vocabulary acquisition never ends, so your students should be comfortable with how to read words and what they mean.

Fluency

Once your students have moved to these more complex sounds and letter combinations, they will start building reading fluency. It may seem that this process takes a long time, and in many ways, it does. However, this is a skill that will be with your students forever. It takes practice, but once your students begin understanding how to combine words that are longer and more complex, they will begin to decode the text more readily.

What is Decoding?

Decoding is what your students do when they are reading and understanding the text. Reading words that have no meaning does not help fluency or literacy. They may be able to read the words, but students also need to be capable of comprehending that text too. Decoding is the act of reading and comprehending together.

Free Phonics Activities

Phonics Teaching Tips

Explicit teaching is crucial to teaching phonics. Reading is not intuitive, as it is a learned skill. Learning this skill will allow students to learn nearly every other skill they will ever learn. Here are our 10 tips to keep phonics learning effective

  • Keep phonics lessons short. Try to follow a little and often approach with your phonics instruction. Children’, especially, younger children have a short attention span and introducing and practicing sounds each day for 5 to 10 minutes is much more beneficial than an hour lesson once a week.
  • Take it one step at a time. Make sure what ever step you are teaching is fully learnt before moving on to the next step. In phonics it is important to follow a progression so your children and students can use their previous knowledge to help them learn the new concepts.
  • Use different resources and methods: There are a million and one different resources for teaching reading and phonics we have board games, apps and worksheets here for free and in the shop for a few dollars. make sure to mix up your instruction to help maintain motivation and interest levels.
  • Use games where you can: Children love playing games and having fun, especially now with so many more distractions in the world. Try to introduce games into your home or class room that focus on reading skills and phonics. You can check out board games, and apps here that we have made for this purpose.
  • Music helps children remember and learn: There are plenty of phonics and English songs out there on YouTube and other platforms. try to learn and sing them with your children on the drive to school, or walking together. Any activity can be turned into a learning experience.
  • Show the real word use (CVC Etc): Phonics, just like reading, is a real world skill. Teaching students how it can be used to help them in school will encourage them to place importance on learning them. Testing including spelling, unseen dictation can all be improved by using phonics.
  • Team up with the teacher: It is highly likely that your children’s school will be using a reading or phonics program and if not they will have a school based structure set up. Discuss with the teacher activities and ideas you could use at home to help your children in the classroom.
  • Read books together: Children will lean by example. so set aside reading time where you can read together and share your stories. If you do this regularly then you child will develop reading habits and love for reading on their own.
  • Introduce phonics wherever you can. Letter and words are all over the place. Ask your students and children to say sounds as you see them during the day. it reactivates their knowledge and gives it purpose.

Final Thoughts

The first question was whether you should teach vowels or consonants first. Reading is rarely consonant or vowel-only words. In fact, there are very few words with no vowels. There are many ways to group students and letters, but the most important thing is to teach with kindness, patience, and explicit instruction. Don’t be afraid to repeat lessons and to remember that everyone learns at different speeds. Pick a system, seek advice and don’t be afraid to change how you teach things.


Sources: https://www.readingrockets.org/helping/target/phonologicalphonemic

Do Teachers Actually Check Sources?

Do teachers check sources

When heading into upper secondary, and always at university there is a requirement to cite references and find sources to back up findings and arguments. It also offers a way to avoid plagiarism and show research. Bit does any teacher or lecturer actually ever check those sources.

Although the verification of sources is more common at university level than in high school it does occur in both. Teachers and professors are often familiar with subject literature and if sources are from alternative material outside of reading lists it is more likely they will be checked for legitimacy

Do you Cite and Check Your Own Sources?

If not you could be unintentionally plagiarizing others work and the bottom line is that plagiarism is cheating. However, there are two main types of plagiarism and a few subtypes of each. Intentional and unintentional plagiarism are the two main types. Let’s take a look at how they occur.

Intentional Plagiarism

This type of plagiarism is not as common as you may think. It is the type of plagiarism that occurs when a student or writer knows that what they are writing is not their ideas or words. Entire groups of words are copied, or ideas are taken from someone else. Students know that it is wrong, but they do it in an attempt to get a good grade or to do little work on a paper.

Generally, paid-for papers or copied papers off websites are the most commonly seen intentionally plagiarized paper. Faked sources are another way that students intentionally cheat, and we will cover more of that later. This type of plagiarism can be easy to detect with free and paid online plagiarism checkers, and ones specifically designed for universities like turn it in.

Unintentional Plagiarism

This type is the most common plagiarism detected. In these cases, students did not know what they were doing was cheating or wrong. Usually, it results from not understanding plagiarism or how to check sources properly.

Wholly Quotable

This TED-ed video shows how people sometimes cheat whether they mean to do so or not. In this type of cheating, a student has quote after quote of other material. The paper has very few of the author’s own words. No more than 10 percent of the paper should be someone else’s thoughts or words, generally speaking. Some instructors will allow up to 25, but more than that is too much.

Forgotten Citations

Sometimes, you just forget to cite your source. Other times, you messed up the source. You may have misquoted or misattributed the source. This type of violation is nearly never intentional. We all miss things now and then. As long as you are not doing this multiple times throughout your work it shouldn’t factor too heavily.

Missing Citations Page

Whether you are using MLA, APA, or another citation style, you must always include a final page of properly formatted sources. An MLA page is a Works Cited, and the APA equivalent is the References page. Other styles may use bibliographies or similarly worded titles. In-text citations are only so helpful for locating sources. Teachers need all source information, and missed citations mean plagiarized work.

Improper Summaries and Paraphrases

Paraphrasing is one of the hardest parts of using someone else’s words. However, using more than a few lines of text is not usually advisable. For this reason, many authors will want to paraphrase the material. Not properly attributing the idea is a forgotten citation, but if you simply substitute each word for another, that is improperly paraphrased. A paraphrase should be in your own words, not the thesaurus.

Self-Plagiarism

This type of plagiarism can fall under both intentional and unintentional. Students who reuse their work from other courses or assignments are self-plagiarizing. Most assignments require new work or studies to be accurate. Some instructors will grant permission, but they must be notified first.

How Will My Teacher Know if I Cheated?

Often, when students intentionally cheat, their sources are clearly made up or are unbelievable. The most obvious is the student who cannot form clear sentences for in-class assignments but writes a dissertation worthy essay when given the opportunity to write from home. Sometimes these papers are purchased or done by other students.

Another red flag is when there are few or no in-text citations for a very complex topic. Students in high school probably aren’t familiar with biotechnology. Even if they have a rudimentary understanding, complex concepts are going to be too advanced for the course.

High similarity scores are also a red flag. Teachers often use programs like Turnitin or Sribbr to check the similarity reports of the work students submit. The program provides a percentage of the paper that is found in other sources. The teacher can review each instance of similarity and where the paper originated.

How Does the Teacher Check the Sources?

Sometimes, your teacher can do a Google search and put keywords for your paper. Purchased papers often result from this simple search. Likewise, they can check the article you placed in your references if you have listed them.

If students have no sources, many teachers will simply return it, explaining that they were required to use source materials and lack of using them means they didn’t do the assignment completely. Some instructors give second chances, and others do not.

What Can Happen if I Am Caught Cheating?

The answer to this question is a tricky one. Students in middle or high school who cheat often fail the assignment, and some have to make it up with or without penalty. Some may also have disciplinary consequences such as detention or other penalties. College courses are different, however. Some instructors will allow one plagiarism mistake in a semester.

If you make that mistake, many professors give a 0 for the assignment, though some may let you redo it if it is clear it was a mistake. Other consequences may include failure and withdrawal from the course up to expulsion from school. Most schools do not expel students on the first offense, but this could depend on the situation too. When colleges uncover paper selling rings, all students are often expelled.

If Those Are the Consequences, Why Cheat?

Why, indeed? Students cheat for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the student is busy and thinks that purchasing a paper for a class that is a gen-ed requirement will be no big deal. He or she is not studying psychology, so it’s okay to submit a purchased paper for this class.

Other times, students are just lazy. They do not want to do the work for classes they are disinterested in, so they get someone else to do it. They aren’t working or playing sports—they just don’t feel like working. Most of the time, however, students don’t mean to cheat. They make mistakes or misunderstand the plagiarism that is occurring.

In nearly every instance of intentional plagiarism, the student never imagined they would be caught. They copied sources that were obscure or made the sources look real. Their overconfidence was their downfall.

What Do I Do If I Unintentionally Plagiarized and Was Caught?

Be honest. Let your instructor know what your mistake was, and ask for another chance. If it is clear that it was accidental, many instructors will allow that second chance. Some will not because they want you to learn a hard lesson. No matter the outcome, accept the instructor’s decision.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes people get away with cheating. It is unfortunate and frustrating, but you should expect that your instructor will be checking your sources and citations. If you are confused about how to do this, talk to your instructor or a tutor before your paper is due.

Many will provide you with sources or may help you figure out how to avoid plagiarism. Though there are terrible teachers everywhere, most instructors are only interested in your learning. They want you to be scholars and learn to do the task at hand.

When Should Children Be Able to Read Silently?

At what age should children be able to read silently

To read silently is a skill that nearly every reader learns to do with time. However, some people are more naturally “loud” readers. Remember that milestones are relative when speaking of children and not to worry if this occurs earlier or later.

Many readers begin to read with support around age five or six (grade 1 and grade 2). With a few years of practice, children will begin reading to themselves. Silent reading usually starts in earnest at around six to eight years old, however, it is not uncommon for children to read silently than this age.  

Learning to Read

Reading is an extension of language just as writing or speaking. They often go hand in hand. Children who learn to read using phonics techniques often deploy all three areas of language for their learning. They learn phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters) simultaneously. We have hundreds of phonics resources here.

They not only learn to recognize the graphemes, but they also learn to write them. Reading, writing, and speaking are inseparable for them. Sounding out words is most easily done with the voice, so young children often speak when they read. We have articles in our blog on how to teach the sounds to children.

How to read bedtime stories

When Should I Become Concerned

If your child is clearly avoiding reading aloud to someone or reading silently at their desk or at home by the end of second grade (around 8), you might become a little concerned. However, you have to look at the whole situation. Some reading strategies or skills are developed later.

Your child may not be ready to give up some quiet (but audible) reading quite yet. Skills should essentially be developed that this point with mild resistance to giving up habits. If the resistance is strong, this may indicate a dependence. Likewise, if a child is too scared to read aloud in a group, this could indicate trouble.

Silent Reading is a Skill

Practice makes perfect, but children need to fail too. Children cannot inherently read silently. They must learn to read to themselves with practice. When reading first begins, it is heavily dependent on the reading aloud portion; as time goes on, they have to learn to read silently to themselves.

Encourage Silent Reading in Varied Locations

The more a child practices, the better they get, right? Well, let them practice in a variety of situations. If you are a parent, encourage them to read while others are also reading. This might help them realize that others are reading silently. You can also have them bring a book to appointments or even church.

Do not permit them to read when they should be listening but reading before or after a service while they are waiting can help them get in more minutes of reading and more silent reading practice. Reading in locations where they think they need to be quiet might help them become more conscious of their vocal sounds.

Make Time for Read Alouds

Reading aloud can be fun and entertaining. Doing the voices for multiple characters, emphasizing words and dialogue, and expressive speech can really bring a book to life. Allow your child some time to read to you or another family member. All reading is good reading. Reading aloud can be fun.

Build Fluency by Reading Silently

Silent reading is counterproductive for inexperienced readers. As readers gain fluency, they may be able to read silently, but they need their voices to build fluency first. Reading Rockets reports, “As it turns out, such concerns are justified.

The National Reading Panel* (NRP) concluded there is insufficient support from empirical research to suggest that independent, silent reading can be used to help students improve their fluency.”[1] While there are some students that it may help, most students benefit from being fluent first.

Reading Speed and Read Silently

Students who read silently often read faster. While quick reading doesn’t always mean higher comprehension, it does mean that they are typically more fluent. Readers may not realize that they are slowing themselves down by speaking the words.

However, for students reading a complex or difficult text, they may find that reading aloud helps them understand it because they are a little slower. Find out why your child is resistant to reading silently. It may just be a habit.

Reading Aloud Improves Retention

Reading aloud is not always convenient, but it often improves retention. SciLearn states, “Memory retention was strongest when reading aloud directly, suggesting that the impact came not just from hearing the words, but also speaking them.”[2] If your child is reading about an interesting concept, reading aloud could help him or her to retain the information.

Build Stamina

If your child is new at reading silently, help them build stamina. Reading silently after reading aloud for so long is challenging. Have them start reading silently for a few minutes each day. Extend the reading time by one to two minutes every few days. Before you know it, your child will be reading silently for sustained periods.

Get Quieter Before Reading Silently

If you are concerned with the volume at which your child reads, encourage quieter reading. You do not have to push silent reading, but like building stamina, you can build silence. Have your child read at a lower volume until he or she is barely audible. This can help your child be a little less distracting to other readers.

Offer a Variety of Reading Materials

Reading is challenging to sustain if you are bored. If you have ever picked up a truly boring book, you know that it is nearly impossible to read it and comprehend the words. You are so distracted you just want to throw it out. If it’s reading for pleasure, that might be okay.

However, sometimes young children are reading books their teachers gave them, and they think they have to read them for silent reading. This is nearly never true. Get your children books that they will enjoy or encourage trips to the library. The more a child is invested in reading, the more likely they will develop the silent reading skills you seek.

Share the Silent Reading Time.

Either follow along as your child reads silently or read your own book while he or she reads. Modeling good reading behavior can be very encouraging for students. They see you doing it, and they want to copy you. If you are a classroom teacher with silent reading time, bring a book to read too. Students need to see that reading is important to you too.

Final Thoughts

Students should begin reading silently around the end of second grade. Some may begin at six and others at nine or ten. Most of the time, the exact age is irrelevant, but you need to pay attention to your child’s habits. If they are easily frustrated by reading or refuse to read aloud or silently, these can be red flags.

On the other hand, if they are just creatures of habit, you can help them build new habits. Most adults do not read aloud, so keep this in mind. Sometimes, reading aloud can be very beneficial to memory and learning, so allow your child time to think, grow, and learn with little emphasis on this one skill.


[1] https://www.readingrockets.org/article/students-who-are-not-yet-fluent-silent-reading-not-best-use-classroom-time

[2] https://www.scilearn.com/little-known-truths-about-reading-aloud/

Does Tracing Improve Handwriting? (And Free Resources)

Tracing letters has long been the norm in primary and preschool classrooms. Children learn to write by tracing their names, letters, and even numbers. This is not necessarily the best way to learn to write. Letters have different shapes and hand positions for creating readable graphemes. A grapheme is simply the letter representation of a sound or cluster of sounds.

Handwriting can be practiced by tracing letters; however, tracing mazes and shapes are better suited to practice handwriting. Tracing should be used as part of a wider spectrum of activities and resources. Activities that develop fine and gross motor skills will all help students develop handwriting skills.

Fine Motor and Gross Motor Skills and Handwriting

Fine Motor

Children with fine motor skill challenges will often find writing and coloring difficult. Tracing letters can be incredibly difficult for these students. These students sometimes simply need to strengthen the muscles in their hands or fingers. For other students, they need to learn how to control those muscle movements. Begin with muscle function before ever considering a paper and pencil.

Gross Motor

While handwriting practice is a fine motor skill, it is often beneficial to begin with a gross motor activity. Acting out writing letters by making large, exaggerated movements can help young learners to understand each of the components used in making the letter. Air writing a ”q ”can help children learn the placement of curves and lines. Using playdoh, or plasticine can help make it interactive, fun and educational.

Posture

While it may seem simple, good posture is critical to handwriting skills. Poor posture can increase fatigue, and people tend to be sloppier if they are not sitting upright or trying to maintain good posture. It can also help make hand and arm placement more comfortable.

Although we think this is just acquired, you can actually, demonstrate and encourage this at home and in school to make sure children are starting with the best practices and don’t have to ”unlearn” bad habits later.

Reading Goes with Writing, Not Before

Some educators used to think that students had to learn to read before they could learn to write, but experts have challenged this thinking. Reading and writing should come together rather than separately.

The more of a connection students have between graphemes and phonemes, the more they are ready to be fluent readers and writers. It allows them to see the connection to the words they are practicing hand writing and the stories they listen to or read.

Poor Letter Formation

Tracing letters to encourage handwriting practice may seem like it would encourage good letter formation. On the contrary, it can hinder that formation. Children will be more interested in following lines or staying in a path that they will often make unnecessary strokes or begin from inappropriate points. Tracing is not helping children learn to write when this happens. It is improving their coloring skills.

That is not to say tracing in general is bad, if it is developed to show starting points and the flow of letters, or patterns like the mazes we mentioned above it can be useful. In fact we have cursive tracing sets on the site here.

Cursive writing Workbook

How Do I Teach Handwriting?

You might be thinking that if I won’t let you teach tracing, teaching handwriting will be impossible. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth; there are dozens of things you can do to teach handwriting without tracing letters. Below we have highlighted some handwriting practice activities.

Handwriting Practice Trace Mazes

Wait! I said not to teach tracing letters, but now I am saying to trace mazes. There is a critical difference here. Mazes are meant for staying inside the lines. They can be picked up and started in a variety of places or ways. However, the curves, lines, or spacing can also help students begin to develop much-needed writing skills.

Build a Letter

Use small trinkets such as buttons, glass stones, craft yarn balls, or pebbles to create the letters. You can use your old tracing sheets for this. Your children will begin to see how to form the letter, not just what it should look like written. However, as your child begins to see how letters take shape, take the tracing paper away. Have them use the same materials to build without the tray.

Secret Codes

Allow students to use their fingers to draw short words on the backs of their friends. The friend cannot see the hand movement and will have to rely on the letter’s structure. This means the “writer” has to write very carefully. For young students just starting out, two or three-letter words should be sufficient. Let your students take turns. You could even keep score. How many letters did you get on the first try, second try, and third or more?

There’s an App for Hand Writing Practice.

Yes, just like everything else, there is an app for teaching handwriting. In fact there are many apps for cursive and handwriting practice. I caution you against relying heavily on these apps because students writing on phones and devices often struggle with realistic movements as screens do not always behave as we expect.

Sidewalk Chalk

Most kids love to play outside. If possible, take a bucket of sidewalk chalk outside. For handwriting practice draw a large letter in the center and encourage your students to make a smaller version like your letter. Make it large enough several children can do it at once. Move to another place or use a little water on hot days and “erase” the chalk with a scrubber.

Shaving Cream, Whipped Cream, or Pudding

Don’t be afraid to get messy. If you are afraid your children will eat any “creamy” substance put in front of them, encourage them to play with their food and create a pudding or whipped cream surface. Let your students draw in their food with their fingers. If you aren’t afraid, shaving cream can often do wonders for a stained table. The soap in it will sometimes clean the surface. Check with the school and parents before using anything that could have potential allergens.

Sensory Bags

If you like the idea of drawing with fingers but are not too fond of the mess from above, you can make a sensory bag using a gel. Colored hair gel or gel with food coloring are popular choices, as Understood explains[1]. Put just a little in the bag and remove the air when sealing. Allow children to draw using their finger or a rounded stylus or pencil eraser.

Stop Writing Letters

Okay, you are probably starting to think we are losing it. How does not writing help writing? We didn’t say put down your pencils. Writing depends on fine motor skills, as we have already noted. Drawing and coloring help students practice these skills. Allow your students to take a little time to draw and practice doodling shapes and lines. This will improve their writing skills.

Of course there are plenty of letter tracing workbooks, we have our own here, and another site has one here as well.

Don’t Erase

Children will often focus on perfection. However, handwriting is not mastered from the first try. Help your students learn to move on by encouraging them to mark it out and move on. Once the legibility is achieved, erasing can be introduced if you want. Progress is important—not perfection.

Get a Grip for handwriting practice.

Practice pencil gripping whether writing that day or not. Students need to maintain a good grip to avoid cramping and to provide control over the instrument. Multiple grips can be used, but your students must be able to hold one that is conducive to writing.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons that tracing does not work. It doesn’t encourage proper letter formation or connection to the letter. It becomes more of a task to connect parts than to write a letter. Getting your students writing does not have to involve pencils and paper at all. A friend’s back or hand, a plastic bag, or even a sensory table can be used to promote handwriting. On the playground, encourage students to use sticks and dirt to practice drawing lines or letters. Learning can take place anywhere—a classroom desk or table, cafeteria tray, or playground dirt. Keep encouraging your students to practice their writing skills and not get upset if they mess up. Mistakes are how we learn and a part of life. Good grips, posture, fine motor, and gross motor skills are all vital in learning to write. Have fun with it.


[1] https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/6-multisensory-techniques-for-teaching-handwriting

How to Make Bedtime Stories Educational (with 12 Questions to ask!)

Reading bedtime stories with your children is one of the best things you can do to improve their cognition, memory, and academic skills. However, parents sometimes forget to be interactive with children when reading. The more interactive you are, the more you can build these skills.

Unfortunately, parents do not always know how to do that. Below are a few of the ways you can help your children think about their reading and have fun at the same time!.

I just finished watching News of the World, with Tom Hanks. (I mean he is the star, I wasn’t watching it with him!) It is the story of a man who goes from town to town 150 years ago and reads the newspapers to people who can’t read. It made me think of how we read to our children at bedtime.

Bedtime stories are an underutilized way of improving a child’s reading comprehension, higher order thinking and meta cognition skills. Developing a series of simple questions will enable them to practice and develop reading skills including empathy, comparison, summarizing, and prediction skills at all ages.

Below we highlight 14 Questions that are for the most part suitable for all ages. They can be scaffolded to become more complex or easier depending on the age of your children. Even during bedtime you can still be teaching them!

You can also find a good list of bedtime stories (classics and modern) here.

Bedtime stories are all about connection, relaxation and fun but that is not to say you can slip a little education in there as well. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Spend a couple of minutes looking through the bedtime stories you read with your children and then think of a could of question you could ask about the stories.

What asking questions during Storytime is not, is a test, children have WAY to many of those without bringing them to bedtime. What is is does is make bedtime stories interactive, and fun. Children can imagine themselves in the story, and change the outcome depending on their actions.

Bedtime stories are all about connection, relaxation and fun but that is not to say you can slip a little education in there as well.

Making English Fun

This will bring a deeper involvement in the bedtime story, and as a welcome side effect will help them develop reading comprehension skills, as well as interaction and social skills as well. What are you waiting for! grab a book and go 😛

We have 14 questions to help you get started, but they are not definite, however they are generic enough to be used in most books and will get you off to a great start!

Bedtiem story questions

1. Ask About What They See

Ask your children about what they see on the page. This gets children thinking about the text in more than one way. For instance, if there are photos or pictures, the child must consider how they relate to the story or information. Likewise, even if it is a novel with few pictures at all, changes in text/ font, paragraph length, dialogue, and bold words can give clues as to what is happening in the book.

2. Recap the Bedtime Story

If this is a book that is being read over several days, ask your child to recap previous days. For instance, if you are reading a novel and are on chapter ten, you might ask your child what has already happened. This exercise triggers recall as well as discrimination of information. Your child will have to decide which information is essential and which is not.

This is a great reading skill, and encourages children to listen to the story not just the soothing sound of your voice!

3. Predict and Preview the Bedtime Story

Ask your child what they think will happen or what can be assumed by looking at what they see. This activity will go along with asking what they see. They will look at pictures, text clues and consider what they already know about the book. Make predictions before you begin reading.

You can couple this with the recap questions for longer books. As you are reading, revisit the preview, and adjust your predictions. Make new predictions if you think the previous ones are wrong. Be sure to stop and ask about new predictions when something affects earlier predictions.

4. Motives of the Characters

When characters do something big in a story, ask why you think they made their choice. This allows children to consider why people make choices, and it helps to develop empathy. They will learn to consider others’ motives and reasons before making judgments. You can ”think out loud” to demonstrate this to you children. They will certainly offer their opinions as well!

5. What Would They Do?

Ask children to talk about what choices they might make. Just as asking about character choices, ask why they would make these decisions. Ask them what they think the outcome would be if the character made the choice they would. You can also ask why they think the character did not make that choice.

This allows them to use their own schema, or own priorities and put themselves in the story. Don’t worry if they say something like they would have kicked Cinderella in the head and run off with the prince. It also develops imagination!!!

6. Do You Like the Main Character?

While this question might seem silly, asking how they feel about characters might help them decide what makes a person likable, but they also might consider why they feel that way about the character. You can also ask if the main character reminds them of someone else.

You can add to this with why they like or don’t like, and let them develop knowledge of traits that are important to them.

7. Would You Want to Live There?

Ask your child if they would want to live where the story takes place. Why would they? Or why wouldn’t they? What do they think they would like about that location. If the location is similar to their current hometown, get them to explain why or how.

8. How Does the Character Feel?

This is a great question to ask children about all of the characters. In a scene where many characters are interacting, ask how the most active characters are feeling. However, if it is a scene between only a few characters, let your child consider everyone’s feelings. you can introduce both empathy and reasoning with these type of questions.

9. How Would You Feel?

If this happened to you, how would you feel? This is a great question to ask young students who are struggling with feelings. Additionally, older students can also benefit from considering how others’ actions might affect them if they were involved.

Ask them how they would deal with those feelings, what can they and the characters do about it.

10. What Do You Still Wonder About?

At the end of the book, we sometimes have questions. Ask your child what he or she is still wondering about. Are there things the author left up to the reader to decide? Is there a sequel that will answer questions? Have your child consider what they feel has not been answered yet.

11. What’s the Point of the Story?

Asking about the author’s purpose or theme of a story might help children understand why characters behaved as they did. This can drive empathy. It can also help children consider whether the story is teaching them something or merely entertaining them.

Although this might be more difficult for younger learners you can certainly scaffold this down, ask ask if they know of other stories like it, and if they learnt anything from it.

12. Is There Anything That You Do Not Understand?

At any point in a story, you might ask if there is something they do not understand. This is especially important for texts with difficult words, old-fashioned dialects, or unfamiliar terms. Helping children figure out these answers early can make the story more enjoyable. This can be an ongoing exercise, and depending how much you want them to sleep, you can ask them how they will find out the answers.

Final Thoughts

Asking your child questions during bedtime stories should not be a chore. Ask them to interact with you and help you see the story from another perspective. Make the questions natural and comfortable. Don’t make it seem so much like a language arts lesson. You can help your child improve comprehension of reading material and build life skills simultaneously.

Bedtime reading, as we said in the quote above is about connections and fun. All of these tasks should be part of that. If it turns into a lesson, with right and wrong answers then it is is counter productive. All steps, including small steps still get you to the destination!

Reading bedtime stories

Additional Resources

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

How to Deal with Homework Struggles – Practical Solutions

One of the biggest fights that children and parents have is over homework. For some students, homework struggles are a frequent occurrence and can be extremely challenging without the benefit of the teacher present.

However, Having a plan in place and a little knowledge you can get through these with a little patience and commitment. Here are some tips on how to prevent those homework struggles from spiraling out of control.

Students struggling with homework is an increasing problem. Ever increasing demands on student’s time, and a shortening attention span globally are some root causes. Solutions can include: Schedule setting, regular break periods, extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, and teacher parent cooperation.

Many schools have gone to either online learning, remote learning, or in-person learning with remote or online days and times. This new learning format is challenging, even for older children. Young children with less experience in the classroom are miserable at times.

Homework struggles does not necessarily mean struggling students. Students who are not getting adequate instruction time are struggling even though they wouldn’t usually. We have compiled some tips for parents experiencing struggles with their young kids doing homework.

Understanding the Problem

If your child is struggling with homework, you need to understand what is causing the struggle. Are your children resistant to beginning homework or having trouble with a specific type of assignment? The answer to this question will determine what you do next.

If your child has trouble remembering instructions or comprehending them, you might have to look for alternate instructions or access to their coursework. Sometimes students forget assignments, and writing them down is the best thing they can do.

For other students, they hear the instructions and do not comprehend them. This type of challenge may indicate a learning disability, so you need to determine which issue your child is having. Keep in mind that not every child having trouble remembering or comprehending instructions has a disability.

Potential Problems and Possible Solutions

We want to address a variety of problems and their solutions. Each problem may have several solutions. They may even have solutions that we do not list. These are merely some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.

Struggling with the Homework

Children who are struggling with assignments are often resistant to doing the assignment. Even if they sit down to do the assignment, students who are working to the point of frustration will sometimes fight or kick and scream and call themselves names. This behavior is not only frustrating for parents, but it is also heartbreaking.

Assist with Assignments

While homework is for student practice, they cannot practice what they do not know. Act as a facilitator. Help reread assignment instructions and go over the material again if you can. As a parent watching your child struggle, it can be tempting to tell them the right answer, but this does not help them learn. Help students discover the answer by slowing down and chunking the steps.

Talk to the Teacher

Encourage your child to work with the teacher to find solutions, but emailing or talking to the teacher may help you find ways to help your child at home. Ask for additional information that can help you and your child get through these challenges at home.

Asking for clarification may help you find new ways to explain the material to your child. If the teacher notices a trend, he or she may recommend interventions or tutoring for your child.

Flip The Classroom / Stop with the Worksheets

Although we are aiming this article at parents trying to combat homework struggles, this one if for the teacher. STOP GIVING BORING HOMEWORK! try flipping the classroom. send home the materials to read, watch, engage with. Send home a game to play with their parents, or on their own, it can still all be assessed.

Sending home work sheet after worksheet will not achieve much more than causing problems and division. There are hundreds of games here on our site that offer a little more interaction. None of them are candy crush or Minecraft, but children will respond if they feel teachers are making an effort to make work more interesting.

If you need to edit games we even sell those in our shop, then you can arm yourself with a suite of tasks that if not quite as exciting as Disney at least they are a step in the right direction.

Procrastination and Attention

Procrastination is fun for kids. Legos, Elsa and Anna, dinosaurs, and balls are much more interesting than math, science, or writing. Children need help with self-regulation of behaviors.

Executive function is not an innate skill. It must be taught. Sometimes children just have trouble with procrastinating or paying attention.

Set a Schedule

Set a time to do homework. Nothing else is allowed to be done during homework time. You might even have to “countdown” homework time; a two-minute warning does not have to be reserved for Monday night football.

Take Frequent Breaks

When children are having trouble concentrating, taking a break is a good idea. Adults usually don’t work for more than 45 minutes or an hour before needing to stretch and losing their ability to concentrate. Set a timer for twenty to thirty minutes and then a five-to-ten-minute break.

This does not mean that your child should be done with a whole assignment in those thirty minutes. It simply means that they need a minute or two to gather their thoughts and begin again. For children with true Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, this can be the difference between success and failure. A few minutes to get the wiggles out is spectacular.

Find a quick movement video on YouTube if you want to give them something specific to do.

Lack of Interest In Homework

Lack of interest is probably the hardest one to overcome. Students who lack interest will procrastinate, misunderstand, and not be able to concentrate. This problem often has elements of the above two. You can combat it in small ways.

Incorporate Something They Like

Sometimes this one may feel like bribery. You can trade a few minutes of something they love for every thirty minutes of work and real concentration. They must work hard on the assignment and cannot rush through it. During their break, they can play five minutes of their favorite game, listen to their favorite song, or build with their Legos—trade a little fun for a little hard work.

Do It First and Get It Out Of The Way.

Teach your children to do the uninteresting thing first. Insist that they do it well or require it to be redone, but let them do the boring stuff and get it out of the way. Then they can move on to the exciting assignments. If there is a motivator to just get through it it may help them stop fighting it and just do it.

You can use extrinsic and intrinsic motivators here, but if you can help them understand we are all doing this for a reason and the reason is not to bore them out of their minds!! (that is just an unfortunate by-product)

With smaller children it is unlikely you will be able to explain to them there merit of their learning for the future right now. They do understand rewards they can see and touch.

Would We Work For Free?

I have a system in my classroom that rewards good behavior, a table on the wall. I add points for behavior helpfulness, kindness, exceptional effort and work. After they reach a certain number of points there is a tangible reward structure. that enables the children can choose what they would like with the points they have earned. Adapting this to avoid homework struggles is perfectly feasible.

Reward Factors

  • behavior
  • Quality of work
  • helpfulness
  • kindness
  • politeness
  • Punctuality
  • professionalism

Potential Rewards

  • stationary, cool pencils, pens, erasers etc
  • Trips to play areas
  • Use of an iPad / tablet to play (educational) games for a recess
  • lunch with the principal ( for me a punishment, for them an honor!)
  • Award certificate for them
  • Books to take home
  • Monitor for a week
  • VR trips

I designed that ( its actually bigger, for my classes in school). I do this by introducing that we cant pay children money, its a shame but we cant. We tried it but then they didn’t go to school. So I can pay for good work a different way.

Now, i know teachers have mixed opinions on this. I don’t, if its done correctly. I regard extrinsic motivators as a waypoint on the path to intrinsic ones. I also believe that the are times when we just have to sit and do the boring task, stripping wallpaper, washing the pots and completing homework.

How much nicer is it to say after the wallpaper I will have a tea and cookie, after the pots I will sit and watch my TV show and after my homework I can play with my toys for 30 mins.

We are teaching more than the subject with methods like these we are teaching children how to monitor their time, how to be patient, how to negotiate and how to do boring task that just need doing!

Final Thoughts

There are only a few suggestions and issues here. If you are concerned about your child’s abilities, always seek advice from teachers or physicians first. Learning disabilities, visual problems, hearing challenges, and other medical and learning needs can be addressed with the appropriate interventions. However, for most children, homework struggles are simply a matter of disinterest, procrastination, or typical challenges with new material keep trying new approaches and you will find the way that works best for your own children.

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

Is Reading More Than One Book At Once Bad?

So many good books in the world and so little time, but it is a good idea to read more than one at the same time. I am sure we have all done this, right now there may be a couple of books on the bedside table, Well the answer many surprise you.

Reading multiple books concurrently should pose few if any negative issues for most people unless there are underlying issues. Conversely it can offer benefits including increased vocabulary, memorary improvements and more timing reading to both children and adults.

Although there is no single answer to the above question. Reading books is almost always a good thing. Reading more than one book at one time can be challenging, but it is not impossible. However, when reading with children, you need to be careful about how you take on this task. We will cover the good, the bad and the ugly related to reading multiple books with children and for yourself.

Disadvantages

Below are the things that people are concerned might be disadvantages. While they may be disadvantages for some, do not let them hold you back. There were few real disadvantages to be found.

Confusion

Many people become concerned that reading multiple books at once can cause confusion. While you wouldn’t necessarily want to drop one book and immediately pick up the next, you can rest assured that confusion can be minimized.

Children can recall several television shows at once. Even a three-year-old knows what sequence Mickey Mouse Clubhouse does things and the names and jobs of all the dogs on Paw Patrol.

Children and adults can recall several storylines from different books, shows, and movies at once. After all, kids and adults tend to like more than one thing!

Confusion can be a concern if you are not careful how and when you read to them. The act of reading different books does not inherently cause confusion. Consider reading different types of books to keep from confusing similar stories.

Think about reading a non-fiction and fiction book with different subjects.

Taking Longer

Some people may be concerned that reading multiple books will take longer to read them. However, you can probably still read about fifteen to thirty minutes from each book each day. Even if it takes a little longer, reading does not need to be a race.

Many teachers are not concerned with how many books students are reading. Instead, they are concerned with how much time they spend reading. Is there a set time that you must read a book?

Library checkouts are generally 14-21 days, but many of them let you renew if no one is waiting on the book.

Preference

Some people feel they cannot read more than one book because they do not want to like one book better than the other. That’s just silly. Of course, you will. Your children will too.

Sometimes, you will not like the same book. Does that matter? If you are reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, you will like one or the other better, and so will they.

It’s really not a big deal. If you read them one at a time, you are still going to feel the same way.

Advantages

There are more advantages than disadvantages to reading, in general. However, reading multiple books at once can have some specific advantages.

Reading More Variety

By intentionally reading different genres, or styles, of books, you can increase the variety of books you read. You can find titles in many genres that you like and read them in many formats and places.

Increase Reading Time

Many people who read multiple books report more reading time. They want to read a little more about multiple subjects. Children may ask to read more often because they want to hear more of the story or information being presented.

Keep in mind that biographies and memoirs can also be non-fiction choices, so you don’t have to read a science book and a trade book simultaneously. If your child is really into dinosaurs, feel free to do just that.

Improved Memory

One consistent report by readers of multiple books is that they are exercising their memory more. They have to think a moment about the last scene in the book that they are reading.

Doing this can improve memory function altogether. The more that you use those brain cells, the more you improve their function.

Improved Vocabulary

It’s no secret that reading books improves vocabulary. Reading multiple books at once provides vocabulary from multiple sources. Fiction also has positive impacts on vocabulary, especially for children.

Incorporate challenging materials to boost this advantage even more.

How to Master Multiple Books at Once

There are many ways to read multiple books at once, but some children need some structure at first until they learn to juggle them.

Read at Certain Times

Read non-fiction in the morning and fiction at bedtime. This will help children maintain the separation between the texts if you are concerned.

You can also read one fiction genre on certain days of the week and another genre on other days.

Incorporate Audiobooks

Reading doesn’t have to be staring at words on a page. If you are reading with your child, he or she is listening to you tell the story.

Audiobooks are the same way. You are just listening to someone else’s voice. Hit the library’s digital collection to find some fabulous audiobooks.

Ask Questions

Ask your child questions about the books as you are reading. Interacting with them will improve comprehension, whether you are reading one book or five books.

Read with them daily and interact. Ask questions about motives, characters, and situations.

Final Thoughts

There are dozens of advantages to reading with your child. Introducing multiple texts at once can increase those advantages. You do not have to read challenging books all the time, either. One reader I know is reading a textbook, classic, and romance novel at once. For adults we watch multiple TV shows, juggle different tasks at work those same multi tasking tools are perfectly transferable when reading two books at the same time. However, putting a book in each hand and trying it, well that probably wont work 😛

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

Free STEM Lessons: Making a Milk Rainbow

How to Make A milk Rainbow

I love doing this experiment with my students. I have made Milk Fireworks, Milk Explosions, Milk rainbows or what ever you wish to call them for years in my classrooms. Children love to experiment and learn and encouraging them to question the world around them is one of the greatest things a teacher can do.

Making a milk rainbow or milk firework simply requires a few drops of food coloring placed in milk and a drop of soap added to initiate the chemical reaction between them. It is beneficial to use oil based food coloring, washing liquid and full fat milk to achieve the most dramatic results.


I enjoy putting real activities and learning experiences into my classes and this is great for it. 

I don’t think English learning just has to be about textbooks and teacher led lessons so using these activities the students not only learn simple science techniques and vocabulary but they also get to practice their English is an authentic , fun and engaging setting. 


So i have, and am continuing to use, these science experiments in ESL classrooms to let the students enjoy using a second language for real and not just for practice!


I have included the instructions and some simple tasks for students to follow to do this classic experiment at the bottom of this post. It is free to download.

Their reaction is great and it really sparks their curiosity. It can be used to teach colors and procedural text for grades 3 plus. Is also part of the upcoming full ESL science pack that has many lessons, vocab and oral matching or description activities and suggestions for home activities for further learning. 

Instructions:

This experiment is so easy you can do it at home (ask your parents first!) you are going to make a rainbow with some milk and some food color. It really will be amazing and you will want to do it again and again!

Equipment ( things you need)

  • Plastic plate for the milk
  • Old Newspaper incase of spills!
  • Soap
  • Cotton buds
  • Full Fat Milk
  • A selection of Food Colorings ( this is important as there are different types. We use these as they are 9 Dollars for 12 on Amazon! Link under here 🙂
  • A camera or paper
  • The worksheets and activities for free download!

Method ( you can look at the photo to guide you for this as well.)

  1. Put some milk onto the plate just so the bottom of the plate is covered. Full fat is better than no fat milk but you can try this as well later to see what happens. Make sure there is some old newspaper in case of spills!
How to Make a Milk Rainbow
  1. Carefully drop 2 or 3 drops of your food color into different parts of the milk. Do not use too much. Try different colors in different places.

Before you do the experiment:

This is all on
this worksheet.

Can you write down or draw what you think you will see when you put the soap into the milk? What do you think will happen?

3. Now you are ready to try to make your rainbow. So put a little drop of soap on to your chopstick or cotton bud.

4. Now put the soap slowly into the milk and watch what happens. You can try to put it in other parts of the milks to see what it looks like.

5. This is your milk rainbow, and it will look fantastic! Now it is your turn to do a little bit of work.

Explanations

This is a sure fire hit with students, and if you are homeschooling you can do it at home as well. As this is a science experiment it would be useful to know the science behind it as well! Now i teach second language learners, so I am a little more basic than the following explanation.

We also have a YouTube Video that guides you through this popular experiment below.

This must be
the teachers
edition.

Milk, or the fat inside the milk is a non polar molecule, simply put it doesn’t dissolve in water (you can see this in a frying pan when you try to clean it. The fat floats to the top.) When soap is placed into the mix the soap breaks up and collects the fat molecules. As they chase the fat molecules about in the milk they disturb the food coloring, which means we can see all this movement, and as a by product we get beautiful patterns emerging!

If you want the full on science reasons why this happens, this guy knows what he is taking about.

I explain it that the soap chases the milk fat around and the food colouring gets bumped all over the place. My students are seven and way more interested in having another go!

Here is the link to the download page

Hope you enjoy the lesson, please comment if you did 🙂

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

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14 Tips For Your First Parent Teacher Conference – For Teachers

As a new teacher, parent-teacher conferences can be a bit intimidating. The first year is full of challenging new experiences, but they only help you grow as a teacher. A parent-teacher conference is another one of those experiences. With care, compassion, and proper planning, you can make these conferences go as smoothly as possible.

It is essential to effectively plan parent teacher conferences, especially if you lack experience. Considerations such as: Including positives, how to involve parents, allowing questions, student backgrounds, solutions to problems and follow up after will help conduct a successful parent teacher conference.

There are many more considerations and we address these in more detail in the article below. We also have other tips for all teachers but especially if you are starting out in a career in education here.

Consider Your Audience

1) Always include positives

Many new teachers are not parents, so it is hard to empathize with them at times. However, you can empathize with the way that parents feel about their children. You have someone in your life that you love more than any other. Imagine being in a conference with a caregiver, physician, or concerned friend. If every word you hear is negative, how would you begin to feel? Would you begin to feel that they were useless, bothersome, and a burden? Parents feel like this with their children. You may not have a child, but you do have a favorite person.

2) Be Aware of Demands on Others Time.

Considering your audience also requires understanding that while education is your entire day, parents have other responsibilities during school hours. Being late for a conference may be unintentional. Parents often have jobs or other children to care for, and though the child in your class is important, sometimes they get delayed. While your schedule is equally important, you must know what it’s like to have one of those days when you have a critical appointment, and things go wrong on your way.

3) Remember They are Parents Not Teachers

You are well-trained in education. The majority of parents have little to no experience in education. This lack of educational training does not mean that they are uneducated. You do not need to speak down to them, but try to remember that educationese may not be one of their fluent languages. Banking, nursing, and manufacturing are equally as unlikely to be areas of your expertise. Speak to them as equals, and explain and even better avoid educational jargon.

4) Include The Student If They Are Present.

Students have a variety of educational experiences. Some of these experiences are positive, and others are negative. After a few years, students start to have more of one or the other, which can certainly change the way you handle conferences. Invite students to attend and give feedback when possible. Students who take ownership of their education tend to do better. If they feel empowered, they can often speak up in times of trouble.

Students need support and encouragement, but they also need to understand that their actions have consequences, good and bad, and responsible for them. Students should also be challenged to do and try new things. While you should always be in charge of the conference, students can certainly participate and advocate for what they need from parents and teachers.

Prepare for the Parent Teacher Conference

5) Know the Backgrounds and Environments of your Students.

Learn about the students, parents, family and living arrangements. This suggestion is about more than just learning about their socioeconomic standing. Do they live with extended family due to health, culture, or emergent situations? Who is in their household? Are their cousins being raised as children because aunts or uncles are deceased? There are many things to consider about the student’s living situation that may be positive.

6) Show that you know more than just your students grades

Learn about the child’s likes and dislikes as well. First conferences with parents are awkward if you do not seem to know their child beyond academic statistics. Parents need to know that you are taking an active role in their child’s education and growth.

Make notes of things the child is doing well and things you want to work on with them. You need to have positive things to present to parents at a conference. If a parent feels that everything is negative, they will be far less likely to work with you. They will be more likely to work against you.

7) Prepare Solutions to Potential Problems you Highlight

Provide some solutions to challenges. Students sometimes have challenges, but telling a parent what those challenges are will not help the student. If you want to express concern about reading levels, math skills, or science skills, offer links to websites, books, or other resources they can use at home. Explain how parents can take active roles in their children’s progress and you will instill the feeling of working as team.

8) You Don’t have to Wait till a Conference.

Do not wait until conference time to introduce yourself to the parents. Try to send an email, postcard, or make a phone call early in the year. Tell the parents one great thing that happened with their child in recent weeks. If the child is challenging, be sure that you say something good sometimes whenever you make contact. You do not want to call every time for something negative.

During the Parent Teacher Conference

9) Always allow time for questions

It is important to allow parents to ask questions during the conference. If you can create a welcoming atmosphere it will put them at ease. It may be your first time but you will not be the only one feeling nervous so let the conversation be open and free just like you would in a classroom. Put up examples of good students work, or have a portfolio if you are not in your classroom. This is particularly useful if you have to show parents if there student is underperforming as you can highlight the good work in the class as well

10) Involve the parents

We mentioned it above but is an important point. and highlighted in both the resilient educator and Education week. Studies have shown that students who have active parent involvement in their education are likely to show not only improved improved results.

  • Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs;
  • Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits;
  • Attend school regularly;
  • Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school; and
  • Graduate and go on to postsecondary education” (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Source

It is possible for teachers to involve parents in numerous ways. However, as we also mentioned above, it is important to remember parents are not teachers so there will have to be some support for them. Possible ways they could help and involve themselves in their students (and others) school life are as follows

  • Check if your school has progress reports and encourage parents to check and monitor them
  • Ask them if its possible to have set times for homework and you can assist them with a planner
  • If there are facilities for students to have extra time at school ( to help with parents who work late or are the only adult) make sure you inform parents of these
  • If there is a Teaching assistant or Parent program see if they want to get involved.
  • Have a selection of resources ready for your subject to give to parents.

11) What to do if there is conflict

It is possible, probable even, that some parents may not exactly be aware of how their students are behaving or performing in school. When you explain these issues, no matter how much you explain it professionally and diplomatically, it may be that you face defensive or even worse aggressive.

If you are faced with this then is better to politely conclude the meeting and arrange for another try later. If you are worried, especially if it is the first time, always ask for a senior teacher or member of the administration to be in the meeting. It is not a sign of failure it is a sign of professionalism.

After the Parent Teacher Conference

12) Open your doors

Open your “doors” to parents. Ask your students’ parents to call or email anytime. You can also allow visitors with open arms as often as possible. Most parents won’t stop by, but if they feel that the lines of communication are open, they are more likely to call or email when they are concerned. It also develops a rapport so if issues or situations do occur you have already built the foundations of a relationship.

13) Do some follow up afterwards

After the conference, and a well deserved rest!, it is good practice to send a message to parents both those who attended and those that didn’t. You can over some of the broader points of the feedback and how you plan to take parents thoughts on board as well. It allows parents to ask any questions they thought of after the meeting to address them now. It also Shows you are open to keeping lines of communication open for them as well.

14) Keep them involved

If you have access to the technology you can use apps like Seesaw and Class Dojo to maintain contact and show what is happening in your classrooms. They are lovely ways for parents to see the topics and progress their students are making. If you do use this try to make sure you showcase as many students as possible so they all get their moment in the sun.

Final Thoughts

Parents want what is best for their children. They know that education is beneficial for them, but they do not always know what to do to help. If you want to establish a positive relationship with them you have to be both diplomatic and honest. Some of the news must be positive. If the student is creative, be sure to compliment them on this, but also make sure that any problems are highlighted and bring solutions to the table as well.

Parents want to know that their children have talents in and out of the classroom. Prepare by getting to know the students and their families and open lines of communication. Care and compassion are hard to come by when there are concerns, but be sure that your students and parents are able to feel a little of that from you.

And congratulations on your first successful parent teacher conference!

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children