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

What is Publc Search Engine – How To catagorize Posts

As content creators, websites and bloggers we are always looking for ways to present our articles and contents to people. Publc is a new search engine that aims to offer an alternative Google, Yahoo, Bing categorizing information online and puts it in the hands of the users instead. It also rewards them for doing so with tokens on the site. For publishers it offers another medium to display their content. We wrote a while ago an article on AdSense alternatives, this is one we could add to that article.

It is a new start up so early adopters should be pleased to be able to jump on and be among the first to participate, and it could also be quite lucrative. However if you want to make the most of this new platform you are going to have to make sure you learn how to categorize your posts as effectively as possible.

Categorizing posts on Publc requires careful navigation of the five options: Image choice, Categories, Topics, Sub Topics and Search Queries. Optimization of these options ensures that the search engine can accurately classify posts and present the most relevant information to users.

If you just want to know how to categorize your posts click here to jump to the guide.

What is Publc Web 3.0 Search Engine

The concept behind Publc is to offer alternatives to the traditional search engine model. Instead of publishers releasing content and hoping it fits current SEO models, now there is a way to format your own SEO priorities and to be rewarded in a way that negates the use of advertisements.

On Publc the content is categorized by users and the publishers of the content. Without a model of advertisements, as of yet, so it creates a level playing field. It hopes to allow content creators the chance to write without having to write for a google search engine but to actually write for people, no more keyword stuffing orSEO optimization it can now be categorized by the users and the creators who know their material the best.

It presents this information in the form of a feed for each individual user. So you can tailor the internet to suit your interests not what the search engine thinks you may be interested in.

You can check out an example page here.

There’s no need to play SEO games anymore; you can simply categorize your content by tagging it to its related topics and search terms that describe it the best.

Publc

Users Earn Publc while they browse

For both users and content creators is offers an entirely different model of browsing, instead of being a passive recipient of the information you put in you can now interact and engage with the search engine. users can categorize the content as they see fit. Adding topics and search terms that may be useful to others, and ones the original creator may have missed. For this there are rewards in the form of publc coin. ( and Ethereum token)

Publishers earn Publc for their content

FOr bloggers and websites by uploading content and having users engage with it will earn Publc tokens as well. each click generates a set amount that is divided between users, Publishers and the Publc team. How much this is ( and will be) worth in the future is an unknown but there are people making money for people reading their content and instead of spending money on advertising they are being ‘‘paid” for eyes they bring to the system.

Every time a user clicks and reads your content you are rewarded for it. Why? Because you should. Simple as that. 

Publc

How sustainable this is remains to be seen but as a start up it is a sea change in how publishers and users are rewarded. If successful it aims to put pressure on the traditional revenue models of advertising and affiliates

It can be accessed by referral links allow content to be shared and introducing people to the platform. You can copy your links and send them in newsletters, Facebook, Instagram etc to encourage people to view your content and engage with you on a new platform.

This links look like this, feel free to try it – it goes to my link as an example of course.

How to click through to Publc to earn tokens

  • Click the picture or link
  • It takes you to a Publc page and says do you want to reward Making English Fun. ( if you are not signed in)
  • You chose yes or no and then it takes you to that page.
  • All of this happens for referrals, if you are browsing the Publc site it is not needed.
  • However referral links do bring in traffic and i average about 40 a day.

How to Categorize Posts on Publc Search Engine.

To make sure you are using the platform effectively it is important to categorize your content correctly. There are guides for this on Publc, but as you are here we have our own photo guide below.

We have a few posts already caterorized

here is one as normal and here is one if you go through publc (if you use referral links that is)

After you have signed up either as a user or a Publisher you will need to load content on to Publc First if you intend n categorizing you own posts this will involve putting a header into your site to prove ownership. Once done you can upload content, or wait till Publc trawls your website for information.

Step 1: Chose an article to categorize from the uncategorized menu, chose the edit symbol to edit it.

Step 2: Select the best image you have for the post. the one that tells all users what the post is about.

Step 3: Chose the categories your post fits into, for me its really only Language and Parenting, but you have options to expand that in the next steps.

Step 4: Now you can ”niche down” and even add your own topics ( capitalize them!) add as many as you think are relevant here, and in the next step you can even add sub topics.

Step 5: Add subtopics, there will be suggestions for your post at this stage, but if you don’t see any you can add your own sub topics as well.

Step 6: Write in some search queries. Our suggestions is to cover broad and narrow ones here. You may find your self with little competition at the moment but the long the site is running the more that will change. I don’t expect my articles to be at the top of the teaching English page for ever, so i will add categories as I need to. You can look at the optimization tabs for this as well.

Step 7: Press the blue tick to send it off to the categorization queue. It usually takes a day or two to be approved and then you can start to share.

That’s it, that’s how to categorize your content on Publc. Now yo can share it, or wait for people to find it and watch the tokens role in.

Top tips For using the Publc Search Engine.

  • There is a plus sign at the top of the site on the right. We suggest adding 5/10 pieces of content to categorize so you can get used to the process and not wait for the search engine to find your content.
  • It takes a day for the tokens to go into you account
  • watch the tutorial video’s on the site more than once! there is a learning curve but its all pretty straight forward
  • The better you categorize the better you will do, the more you will earn.
  • Choose good images, this is important now and will be very important in the future we predict.
  • You can only withdraw your tokens once a month, and keep an eye on the price in the top right as well.

Good luck with it!!!

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

The Best Free Online Sentence Games

Sentences and sentence building are one of the most important skills in English. It is the move away from decoding words with phonics or the recognition of sounds and shows a move to actual communication. Some of the best ways to teach how to construct sentences are with games and activities. We highlight the best Free games to play online and in classrooms.

Sentence games successfully introduce both the initial concepts of sentence construction to young learners and extending that learning with more complex structures with older learners. Games like, Sentence Scramble, Sentence Bridge Builder and Trapped Sentences all help to cement sentence structures.

We also have articles on the best games for other English and Phonics subjects as well. These include:

We have researched some of the better sentence structure games out there for classrooms and homeschool to both introduce simple sentence construction and then to move on to practicing more complex sentences and punctuation.

Sentence Structure and Building Games

  • Making English Fun: Sentence Scramble
  • Making English Fun: Sentence Bridge Builder
  • Education.com: Sentence Builder Proper Nouns
  • Education.com: The Quest for the complete Sentence
  • BBC Bitesize: Small Town Heros
  • Roy The Zebra: Sentences that make sense
  • TopMarks: Trapped Sentences
  • Turtle Diary: Mad Sentences
  • Turtle Diary: Match the Phrase
  • Turtle Diary: Simple Sentences

Sentence Scramble Online GameMaking English Fun

Sentence Building online games

Yes we are going to be guilty of putting our two sentence games up here at the top, it is our site after all! However they are both actually pretty good for classroom use as well. This is actually our oldest game and has over 60000 Active downloads at the time of writing on the Apps stores so it does something right!

The sentence games are fairly simple, students have to press the words they want to swap and try to get the sentence in the correct order. We have three versions in this game, a picture version, a timed mode and a hint mode.

  • 3 versions of this scramble game
  • Starts with simple three word sentences and moves to six word sentences
  • Timed to add a little competition to the game.
  • Playable full screen on whiteboards and Computers

Sentence Bridge Builder – Making English Fun

This is one of our newer English learning games, hence the cute animals we put in it! This online sentence game is also free to play ( just click the link on the picture or below. It has two leveled games. The first missing word is the easier of the two and asks students to slide in the missing word to complete the sentence. We have made this so realistically there is one answer in each selection. The second ask students to rearrange the words to form the sentence. In both games it gets harder after 10 correct answers.

  • 2 Sentence construction games
  • Increases in difficultly as the game progresses
  • Free to play (forever)
  • Great for home computers and whiteboard / projectors in classrooms

Sentence Builder Proper NounsEducation.com

I had to put this game in for three main reasons.

  1. It is a free game ( we tried four times and it let us play without signing in!) which for education.com is a big deal
  2. It starts with the words ”the night is long, and full of terrors” and introduces Floyd Snow who wants to build a wall!
  3. It is good to teach Pronoun capitalization in a sentence structure.

This English sentence building game, and there are couple of other online sentence building games on the site that are quite good as well This is a is simple game and only 5 questions long. However the Game of Thrones and Wall references ae at least funny for teachers, hopefully the age group it is aimed at have no idea what it is talking about!

The Quest for Complete Sentences – Education.com

This sentence game, called Floyd Ranger, is loosely based on Indiana Jones, and with their new games Education.com is really upping their game ( excuse the pun) It is a little more complex so would be suited to older classrooms and students as it asked students to recognize the difference between full and fragments of sentences and categorize them.

It also has a complete the sentence level inside the game as well, with four options to chose from.

  • It is very engaging and very well made sentence structure game
  • Covers more complex language and sentence structures
  • Is free ( on education.com!)
  • Its game play is good for team games in classrooms.

Small Town Superheroes

The BBC have a tendency to make great English learning games, and this is no exception. It is actually a whole town of English learning games that lend themselves to both classroom and individual use. This game starts in a town so we will have to look for the sentences game ( its up the page and next to Ernie’s section ( you will see what I mean) However all other phonics and English games are really good here s well and you can get a good amount of lessons from this site.

The sentences game here is a rearrange the sentence game that put the character in a park and asks them to put the rules of the pack in the correct order.

  • Loads of other games on this site as well as sentences
  • Aimed at younger learners
  • Great graphics and story
  • Only 6 questions on this level

Sentences – Roy the Zebra

Roy the Zebra and his English games have been around for a good many years now. There games are pretty basic by todays standards but fulfil a need if you are in a classroom. This one is more focused on comprehension and error checking. it gives a choice of sentences to the students and they have to decide which one is the correct one to progress. A simple sentence game, and if this what you are looking for, effective as well.

  • Simple and effective
  • Looks at comprehension and attention to detail
  • Other games on the site as well
  • Quite a short game, not really much replay value.

Trapped Sentences – TopMarks

I really like this sentence game, it is very well made very engaging and very easy to play. It is on the Top Marks site but has Bite Size on it so I am not sure if it used to be a BBC game or not. It is beautifully illustrated especially the introductions. The game starts off with an animations explaining you have to answer the questions to get out of the tower.

This sentence game is split into two sections a spot the correct sentence game and a sentence building game. Definitely take the time to look at this one it is great in your classroom. It is easy to work out how to play and suites a home computer or a whiteboard.

  • Beautifully designed sentence game
  • 2 sentence games inside
  • A little short on questions
  • A sure hit in the classroom.

NOTE: the following three games from turtle Diary are all hosted on FLASH. This became obsolete in December 2020 so although it works now ( January 2020) it may or may not become unstable in the future.

Mad Sentences – Turtle Diary

Not so much of a sentence game as an potential exercise for class or home. It has five columns with 3 pictures and options in each. It is a little like Mad Libs so the result can be a little weird or funny. It could be used as a reading exercise and played with the class with each students choosing a tile and then having to read it once completed.

As a writing exercise you could then have them either write the sentences down or play it in pairs and write then down. It would also be possible to use this as a matching oral exercise and have students find the correct picture as other students say them.

Match the PhraseTurtle Diary

This is a sentence matching game. It also tests comprehension as they have to read the options and try to work out which ones are likely to go together. It is more suited to older or higher level students as it is not a simple exercise.

However it is useful and effective at introducing and practicing more complex longer sentences and can be used individually or in groups.

  • This is a Flash game so be aware it may have problems later on some browsers.
  • More suited for higher levels as sentences are quite complex
  • Can be used in class or at home
  • There are many more games on Turtle Diary as well (Flash though)

Simple Sentences – Turtle Diary

A great sentence game for younger learners that asks them to put the simple sentences in the correct order. it has a few levels so could be used at home or as a team game in the classroom. A good way to show how sentences are formed and constructed for beginners of English.

  • Sentences start simple
  • Nice and professional looking
  • Is on Flash so might be unstable in some browsers
  • Large enough to play at home as well.

FInally

Sentence games, and any other, are a useful tool in a classroom. They can motivate students and encourage participation in lessons. Although they shouldn’t be the sole method of instruction they will add to your teachers toolkit. We have researched a whole list of online games, and made some here in house as well. We have those listed both at the top and below if you need some ideas for CVC, Vowels, Digraphs and Syllables.

What To Do When Phonics Doesn’t Work

What To Do When Phonics Doesn’t Work

Phonics is the method of associating the sounds of letters, and groups of letters, with the symbols or words that they make. While phonics is a tried and true method of learning to read, every child learns differently, which means that phonics does not work well for every student. So what do you do if phonics does not work?

Methods such as whole language instruction, balanced literacy, and Native Instruction are alternatives to phonics and may prove successful for many children who struggle with phonics systems. Allowing the students to learn words in context by using pictures, motivation and expression all can improve literacy.

If students are having difficulties learning to read and write using phonics systems, they are not alone. Many students struggle to learn how to read and write using phonics.

There are alternative methods available that have been proven to work for many children who do not respond well to phonics.

So let’s take a look at why phonics is such a popular teaching strategy, why it may not be the right method for every student, as well as some alternatives to the phonics methods.

Why Is Teaching Phonics So Popular?

Phonics is a popular learning strategy for teaching children to read and write largely because it incorporates a wide variety of methods and learning styles that have been proven to help many learners from different backgrounds and languages.

Phonics is a very straight-forward method of learning, as it associates letters, letter groups, and shapes within words with specific sounds that constitute spoken words and syllables. We have hundreds of resources on phonics in your resources section here.

Phonics is an effective learning method for most students, as it causes them to take their time and internalize words, sounds, and syllables before even speaking the full word out loud. The time that it takes to sound out a word using phonics gives the student time to process and remember the sounds and words that they are verbalizing.

However even if using a phonics methods of instruction it is important to remember that there are many ways to teach the same material and students are not all the same, learning styles motivations can all differ. Tailoring your lessons to fit these styles will be way more beneficial to both the students and the outcomes!

Why Would Phonics Not Work?

Phonics is a method that requires every student who uses it to learn in a similar way. (styles and presentation aside) Phonics works very well for many students and should not be discounted from the possible learning strategies for any pupil, but there are reasons why phonics does not work well or does not work at all for other students.

Some of these reasons include:

  • The student has a dominant learning style that is not conducive to learning to read using phonics strategies.
  • The student has not been exposed to much literature or reading opportunities before entering school.
  • The student has some form of Dyslexia, mild or serious that prevents them from progressing using the phonics strategies.

Dominant Learning Styles That are Non-Conducive To Phonics

The three main learning styles that are not conducive to learning to read using phonics are auditory, visual, and physical learning styles.

  • If a student is more adept as an auditory learner, they may struggle to identify the shapes of letters or letter groups in order to associate them with specific sounds or words. Sounding the words out using phonics may seem like the right approach for an auditory learner, but the broken-up sounds may not help these students progress well.
  • Visual learners do not respond well to auditory or tactile cues, and for this reason, phonics may not work well for them. These students require visual aids and cues to associate with letters, sounds, and words.
  • Physical or kinesthetic learners may struggle with phonics because of the lack of physical stimulation and physical shapes. Their motivation may suffer as a result.

Inexperience With Reading

If a student has not had much exposure to reading before entering a phonics-based syllabus, they may have difficulty piecing together the various sounds and verbalizations that phonics employs. The actual concept may be difficult for them and it would be very important to spend time going through pre reading skills with them prior to phonics.

Of course be sure they are at the correct developmental age to actually start phonics instruction as well. We have more on this in our what age to teach phonics post here.

Students With Dyslexia

Students with Dyslexia are certainly able to learn to read, but phonics may not be the best strategy for them in the beginning stages.

Someone who has Dyslexia will not make shape, letter, or word associations in the same way as a person who does not have Dyslexia. This means that an alternative approach must be taken to help these students learn to read and write well.

These students require a whole language instruction method to help them progress, learning to read words as a whole, as opposed to the normal practice of breaking them up into parts and then repeating them to solidify the identification of the words.

Phonics strategies will not work for a student with Dyslexia in the beginning stages of learning to read but may become helpful as the student progresses. Always seek help from speech and language therapist if you suspect or have students with dyslexia in your lessons, they will have multiple tips and resources for you to help make learning more successful. There is a lot more information here on learning strategies and dyslexia.

How Do We Teach Without Phonics?

Alternative methods for English learning are critical for the educational development of many children. To teach without using phonics, the first step is to identify the reason why the student is not responding or progressing well with the phonics-based learning systems.

Identifying these underlying reasons will allow you to find the right methods and take the necessary steps to help the student progress.

Next, familiarize yourself with some of the alternative methods and strategies, such as whole language instruction, balanced approach and native / natural instruction as well as other appropriate strategies based on the requirements of your students.

Whole language instruction

  • Methods such as whole language instruction encourage the student to learn entire words, memorize them, and repeat them. This method relies heavily on a student’s grasp of context, sentence structure, and their ability to absorb and retain information.
  • Whole Language seeks out topics of interest for the students and takes focus away form sounds , or individual word tuition and looks to the sentence to decode meaning.
  • There is limited importance on accurate spelling, and more importance on allowing the children to express themselves as they want.
  • If the student learns very well from context, then the whole language instruction method is the way to help them learn. It is not so much of method as a philosophy.

Balanced Approach

This is increasingly hard to pin down into a definitive explanation. As the Reading hub states it can mean multiple things to different teachers however in essence. It aims to offer elements of different approaches. So it is likely a teacher following this balanced approach will be using elements of whole language methods and phonics instruction. It would be difficult to argue against combining the best of all styles, but care should be taken to not just add confusion to the mix if the methods contradict earn other.

Multiple Intelligence / Learning Styles Adaptations

As we mentioned Learning Styles play a large part in how students react and relate to materials and methods. As far as possible we should be trying to hit as many of these styles as we can over the course of our teaching. The more we can the more engaged all of our students will be.

  • For example, encourage visual learners to read everything around them – road signs, labels on toys or packaging, recipes, posters – encourage them to look for things to read in the world around them.
  • Associate colors and pictures with letters and sounds, use visual aids to teach them entire words. Pictures of animals and places are great options for this, teaching the learner a variety of sounds and words quickly in an easy to associate way.
  • Physical learners can benefit from having tactile interactions while learning to read or by having physical objects to use to manipulate or look at to help them associate words and letters.
  • Magnetic letters to spell out words, blocks with letters on them, or simply letting the student draw letters and write words themselves are all great ways to help physical learners progress in reading and writing.

Dyslexia Adaptations

  • Children with Dyslexia will require more attention and specialized learning methods depending on the severity of their condition.
  • Whole language and whole word-learning strategies, along with many repetitions, can be effective methods for helping these students learn how to read well.
  • These students need to learn to make their own associations with the shapes of words and individual letters, so let them go at their own pace, encouraging them to seek out words that they recognize and building upon them with associated words.
  • With these methods, students with Dyslexia have an opportunity to learn to read and write without any long-term hindrances.

Conclusion

I always wondered, though not to much as I don’t really want to see the answer, of where the phrase the are many ways to skin a cat came from. However we can offer an alternative, and much better visually image!, there are many ways to teach a child.

To most teachers this will not be enlightening news, we are constantly trying, tweaking, twisting our teaching methods to fit the students in our classes. What works one year may not work the next. Phonics is new, educationally speaking as 40 years in education can be regarded as recent!!. We have had great success with it, but we have not had 100% success with it, we always have to look to see if our students are coping and understanding and adapt.

If a student does not progress well, or at all, with reading and writing skills using the phonics methods, that does not mean that they will not learn to read or write well or that they are a slow learner; it simply means that they require a different method of learning to succeed.

All children learn differently in some way or another. It is important to identify the learning style of the student before deciding on the right learning method for them. Take the time to understand the learning style of the student, identifying their strengths and requirements, and structure their learning program accordingly. They will progress and they will succeed.

References

https://www.theschoolrun.com/phonics-teaching-step-by-step

https://www.theschoolrun.com/phonics-teaching-step-by-step

https://psychowith6.com/what-to-do-when-phonics-doesnt-work/

https://www.readwithphonics.com/when-phonics-doesnt-work

https://readingeggs.co.za/articles/2012/10/03/reading-help-for-the-struggling-reader

https://www.dyslexia.com/davis-difference/davis-theory/when-phonics-doesnt-work/

https://thereadingadvicehub.com/teach-your-child-to-read/alternative-approaches/

How to Teach CVC Words to Children with activities and games.

CVC Words are your children’s first step into becoming an independent reader. They are the next step on from the initial sounds and the step before digraphs and long vowel sounds. This step is a big one as it means they have started to understand the difference between English sounds and are starting to experiment with putting them together to make units of sounds, and then actual words.

Ensuring that young learners have mastered single Phonetic sounds prior to attempting CVC words will maximize success rates. Using varied activities and approaches will achieve the best results. Games, activities, songs, rhymes and chants as well as online CVC games all engage and motivate students.

Lets take a look at what CVC words are, When students are ready to learn them, why it is important and then we will offer some of the best ways we have found to teach CVC Words both in your homes and your classrooms. We have freebies and premium items all through the post to help.

IF you know all of this you can jump right to the activities by following the link here. There are 10 here and we have plenty more on the site for free and in the shop for a few dollars.

What are CVC words

CVC words are some of the simplest phonetic words in English. We do have smaller words like a, at, in , on, go etc. but for teaching purposes I prefer to give students more options to make words and simple sentences and CVC words can do this. They are simply words that begin with a consonant followed by a short vowel sound and then end with a consonant. They are simple as they always are made like this and contain no other phonics rules. This is why we start with these for emergent readers. We have some examples below to get you started.

Examples of CVC words

Short Vowel ”a” CVC WordsShort Vowel ”e” CVC WordsShort Vowel ”i” CVC WordsShort Vowel ”o” CVC WordsShort Vowel ”u’ CVC Words
catbethithotbut
canhentinconsun
padtedkidjobsub
tapwetlipmoppup

When Should You Teach CVC Words to Children

Teaching these first words is not something you can just just into with your children, there are skills to learn and steps to follow first. When, as in what age this should happen you can read about here as there are some important issues to consider first. However before teaching CVC word construction to your children it is important that they are aware of short vowel sounds, and some consonant sounds. The more of these consonant sounds they can learn the better so they can have a greater range of words to construct.

There are phonics systems that work with this aim in mind specifically. Jolly Phonics for example teaching the sounds in a specific order.

Jolly Phonics Phonics Sounds Order.

  • s, a, t, i, p, n
  • c, k r, h, r, m, d
  • g, o, u, l, f, b
  • ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or
  • z, w, ng, v, oo, oo
  • y, x, ch, sh, th, th
  • qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar

As you can see the first set give students the chance to sound out CVC words, sat, pin, pat, tap, pit, sit, map, sap and more. They can do this from an early stage.

If they are not quite ready to put three sounds together then it is perfectly fine to try using two. We actually have a name for these. They are called onset and rime, or minimal pairs. the onset being the first sound and the rime being the short vowel and the consonant. (be aware a minimal pair is a word that has one sound changed so the list above included longer words as well) If you practice these small words it wont be long till they are ready to take on the larger CVC words.

Why are CVC words important?

Such small words, but never judge anything from its size! These words are the stepping stone for students to be able to decode and construct phonics words. With their simple and repetitive structure they are the perfect opportunity for emergent readers to proactive blending those individual sounds into actual words. Now i know this sounds easy, but it is a huge jump for them and provides real evidence of progress. No longer are they parroting sounds, but now they are applying a skill to a problem and finding a solution. This is awesome and of all things I teach in the classroom the teaching of my students to decode words like this is my favorite. It shows me they are learning and applying skills and not just vocabulary!

Of all things I teach in the classroom the teaching of my students to decode words is my favorite. It shows me they are actually learning and applying Phonics skills!

MArc Ford

Activities to Teach CVC Words

There are hundreds of ways to teach CVC words, and we have resources all over our site to help both teachers and parents. We will highlight some of those here, and point to other resources as well. As there are so many we also have a post of the best ones we use and have found but here we will list two of ours under each section. .

1) CVC Worksheets

The traditional Phonics worksheet, there are certainly more fun ways to teach and test students knowledge of CVC words but sometimes to consolidate knowledge we just need them. We have hundreds, and hundreds of CVC, and other, phonics worksheets on our site. Two that we use the most are the CVC Word Families selection and our coloring worksheets.

CVC Word Families Worksheets
CVC Worksheet

We actually have these worksheets in two sets of five for both CVC words and for Digraphs. They have five activities on each worksheet to help with recognition and with blending. You can see them here for free download of for a dollar on the shop if you want to change them a little.

CVC and Short Vowel coloring
Free Short Vowel Colouring CVC Phonics worksheets

This is a coloring sheet with a difference. Your children have to find all the CVC words ( by their short vowel sound) and color the correct color. All the animals in the picture have the same short vowel sound in them as you can see. So fox has short /o/ words and cat has short /a/ words. This is great way to start to look at vowel sounds. For the background we have even added words with long vowels if you want to approach those with your children as well. There is a single version of the picture for free, and if you want the big coloring page and the five individual animals so you can work on the sounds individually it is you can click the picture above

2) CVC Printable Board Games

Board games are a great way to allow children to both learn and practice phonics and CVC decoding. It takes the pressure off working in a whole class environment and allows them to interact and practice language with their friends or classmates. We have two examples of our below for you to check out.

Soundopoly Phonics and CVC Words Board Games
Phonics board game

We made this to add some fun into learning. It is based on a monopoly type game where you have to go around the board and gain points ( instead of money) by saying the words when you land on them. We actually have three versions of this and (for the moment) have it editable in the shop as well. The three versions are CVC Words and CCVC words (more on those later) and onset and rimes for learners who are not quite ready to tackle CVC words.

You can get it free by clicking the picture, or check out the paid version if you want to support (and edit the gameboard) here.

Connect Four CVC Words and Board Games
Connect Four Phonics

The CVC Words Connect Four game is one of our most popular games. Perfect for homes and classrooms and it actually has five versions of the game, each covering a different phonics skills, Sounds, Onset and rime, CVC words, Magic E and more. You can play with one students or as a pair. You just have to role a dice, find and say the word and cover it up in your color. First to get four in a row is the winner! Our students love to play this and we keep it as a recess game to play as well.

It is free to download if you click the picture and there is a premium (editable version) in the shop as well.

3) CVC Online Games

Word Hop and Pop

We have this game online for classrooms and computers. It is actually two games in one and covers more than just CVC words. However for listening exercises it is great. children just have to listen to the sound of the word and jump to the correct cloud. They have to race against the other 2 birds to be the winner. We have it on our site and it is free to play 🙂 Just click here or the picture. If you want to take a look we have a video of it here.

CVC Blitz

This is an older game but really popular in kindergarten and grade one. It is three games in one. A matching game to help with vocabulary, a scramble game to help with spelling and a quiz ( turn the volume up though) You can play the CVC word game by clicking here or on the picture. We even have a video to check out here.

4) CVC Word Activities and Resources.

These are our collections to help emergent readers. We have 7 of these but these two are the best suited to teaching and practicing CVC and Short Vowel words and sounds. We have put together the best of our resources in one huge workbook each has over 50 worksheets, games and activities. This is the definitive guide for both parents and classrooms and we are confident it will be a great resource for you and your children on their reading journey.

CVC Phonics Reading Skills – Sounds and CVC Words
Phonics and reading skills Workbook

This Phonics and CVC Workbook offers students the chance to practice using multi intelligence methods and includes  a large selection of CVC activities  to help practice and master blending of simple words and phrases. We have also included the option to color some of these pages to help children and students take ownership of them.

Reading Comprehension Kindergarten to Grade 1 – Short Stories
Kindergarten comprehension readers

Phonics and Topic themed readers designed for younger readers. We include a large selection of CVC readers to help practice and master blending of simple words and phrases. It also moves on to simple topics like parties, space and dinosaurs. We have also included the option to color some of these pages to help children and students take ownership of them.

Though these cost 8.99 each we actually have an ongoing offer of buy one get one for 1 dollar! so you can get both together for 9.99 instead.

Just check here for that!

5) CVC Flash cards

These are easily downloadable, but easier to get worn out, we sue to make our own every year and use them in the class. However there are great and cheap options now, with the added bonus of having little games and activities included in them. These are a selection of ones we recommend and then two that we have in our classroom.

CVC Toolbox

This is actually a game and flashcards. However it is one of the few that actually teaching word blending and allows students to actually get their hands involved in construction words. We have a couple of sets of these in the classroom and they are very popular, including at break time!

Three letter word puzzles.

These are the ones we were talking about above. We used to make these but they get worn out through the course of the year so we invested in some more robust ones. The student has to listen to the word and then try to match the sounds with picture and spell the CVC word correctly. This set actually covers more than just CVC and has words like Bee in it so has a little more longevity than other sets.

6) CVC Classroom Resources (and for home)

CVC Generator and Maker.

This is a great resource for testing and checking your children’s CVC and decoding knowledge, and the best thing is it is free and without adverts. (its ours) we have it online so you can use it on computer in your home or at the front of the class on the white board. It is Super Simple so suitable even for very young learners.

All you do is press the green button and the app goes through and makes a CVC word. We have made sure it can ONLY make CVC words, then the student tried to blend the sounds together to say the word. It has really and nonsense words in there so you can really know if they are using their memory or skills to say the word. We use this in our classrooms all the time, and 500,000 other people around the word use it as well.

CVC Word Bingo
Phonics Bingo

How can we not include a game of bingo! These are free sets of 16 different bingo cards for you to play at home or with your class. Great to test both their listening and reading skills and of course you can have little treats for the winners as well! We actually have four sets of these on the site as well. covering Magic E and Sounds as well. so if you want to move forward or need to go back to sounds we have you covered.

Just need to download here and print.

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned teaching students to use these reading skills is our favorite thing to do in the school year. They show real progress and start to understand that they can actually use their skills rather than rely on a teacher to be the source of information. Its their first step into a wider world and its great to watch them take it. The resources above will help but we have hundreds more on the site so feel free to explore with your children and find activities games and tasks that work for you.

Enjoy the journey!

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

Meta Cognition Activities and Reading Comprehension

Meta cognition Activities

Teaching any reading strategy takes practice, and all offer benefits to students . The metacognition reading comprehension strategy is spectacular at teaching students to use the knowledge and skills from the other six reading comprehension strategies to evaluate and assess their own learning.

Metacognition and evaluating skills can be taught using many traditional classroom activities, mill drills, idea boards, Why, What, Where and time capsule activities are all relatively easily adapted to enable teachers to teach and practice meta cognition and evaluating skills with their students.

It is important to know what meta cognition is and I always prefer my definitions In the simplest terms!

Meta cognition is thinking about thinking.

me

Ok it might need a little more explanation that that, we have a (large article) here on the 7 reading comprehension strategies here that goes deeper if you need, and if you want the theory behind this here are a good selection of books covering reading comprehension strategies here. However Meta cognition in a teaching context is our attempt to give our students the skills they need to evaluate their work, their thinking and their learning. If we can give them the self awareness to know what works for them, wheat they can do to improve and progress we have have instilled in them skills for life long learning. Now that is something worth pursuing! We have a reading strategies workbook in our shop if you are looking for some printable resources on all seven reading strategies.

Now Meta Cognition tends to draw elements of the other six reading comprehension strategies into its sphere and so designing specific activities to teach, introduce and assess it can be slightly problematic. We have listed five below that we have used in classrooms, and linked to more in case this selection doesn’t work for you. Which ever you use, these strategies are the tip of the sword in skills teaching and if you are here considering how to give them to your students you are already winning as a teacher!

Four Activities to Teach Metacognition

1) Think, Pair, Share Activities for Meta Cognition

Think pair share is a collaborative discussion strategy that can with work with primary to university age students.

  • Teachers pose a question and asks the students to think about it for a few minutes.
  • Then you pair, or small group the students so they can discuss their thoughts with each other and you can monitor / keep on track
  • Then return to a whole class activity and ask the class to share any ideas or information they learnt from themselves and their classmates.
  • You can of course allow students to write down their and their partners thoughts as well.

Using it for Meta Cognition in English Teaching

We are an English teaching website so indulge me when I use an example form English lessons. I have used this after completing the reading of a book or chapter. ( of any level). I am in control of the questions so i can steer in any direction I like. It can be questions on motivation, how the reading relates to their lives, what would they do, what was the chapter about, where there any parts they didn’t understand, what can they do to help them understand.

and you can start to see that any and all reading strategies can be practiced with this activity. They get the chance to think first, then share with a friend / partner before risk taking and sharing with the whole class. This is a good way to introduce complex topics in particular as it allows them to take the time to get their thoughts in order before presenting them.

2) Thought Time Capsule / Write a letter to yourself

There are a few versions of this activity. the examples I have seen focus on writing a letter to future students about what they should think about if embarking on the course. We do it a slightly different way. We use a time capsule (a large empty water bottle!) and ask students at the beginning of the year to write a letter to themselves at the end of the year, term, semester, This letter should include questions they have, what they want and what they think they will learn. The pop it in an envelope and put it in the bottle, which we can then seal up and put somewhere. (I wouldn’t bury it though!) Then a year after they can ”receive their letter” and answer their own questions with the knowledge they now have.

Classroom Time Capsule

How to do

  • At the start of the year have your students write about what they think they will learn, what will be difficult, what questions would they like to be answered etc.
  • Put all the letters in a large water bottle ( empty!) and seal it up for the end of the year.
  • Now at the end of the year, open up and deliver the letter to the student. (you could mix this up if you wanted as well)
  • Students now have to think about what they learnt, what they felt was important, tips for their past self and reply to the letter. They have the opportunity to reflect and evaluate their own learning and put it into a real purpose.
  • They can offer advice on what strategies worked for them, and it brings to the forefront how that individual student thinks and learns and actually encourages them to put it in writing for the future.

We love doing this, it firmly includes a beginning and end to their learning for the year.

3) Post it Up

Sticky note CHallenge

Also known as the sticky note challenge this activity is nice, simple and resource light. It can be used to encourage students to reflect on their learning, and how they learnt and requires little set up. It is useful to use it after sections of work so they can carry and develop their knowledge and skills from one task to the next.

  • Set up board / walls with headings ( these heading can be anything you like but if Meta Cognition / evaluating I would use the following or similar)
  • What i learnt – what skills did i use – what could i do better and why- what was difficult and why- What would i change and why – What was easy – why.
  • Then give a number of Post It Notes to students, you can do this individually or in groups, and ask them to look at the headings
  • They have to think of at least one for each heading and then stick it on that board.
  • Take a photo / save the board at the end.

This is great for quick and targeted reflection activities. Therefore it is better to do it while the task is still fresh in students minds. It allows them to keep asking themselves these questions through out the year, and makes sure the skills are both being used, and given meaning throughout the year.

4) Meta Cognition in a Primary Classroom.

Although the ideas above can be scaffolded to suit many levels of learners (and we have done) it is more difficult to gauge what level to aim for if working in Primary or Grade School classrooms. One way of doing is is for the teacher to be the model of thinking for the students, and one study in particular demonstrates this very well. I will summarize this ( another reading strategy!) here but STRONGLY recommend you head over and take a look. It includes lesson plans that are easily adaptable for other resources and books.

Fun English LEssons

Interactive Read Aloud Activity For Metacognition.

  • This is a Read Along, story telling that enables students to interact as the story is being told and and as a result they are able to develop thinking and comprehension skills.
  • By being activity involved they can start to process the information with things they already know, things they think will happen and why ( prediction)
  • The teacher can model questions or Think aloud, during the reading, questions about motivation, if it relates to their lives, summaries and visualizations. Doing this will allow students to experience what they can do do expand their own understanding of texts.
  • All reading strategies can be modeled lie this, including Meta Cognition. After finishing the book the teacher can model evaluation techniques, what they learnt from the books, or I didn’t understand that so i better go back and re read etc.

Check out the full lesson and explanation from the University of Indiana here.

Final Thoughts

Reading Strategies and Comprehension Strategies are the skills that you can give your students to enable them to progress on their own with out you. As sad as this may seem, it is every teachers aim, to be able to pass on not only knowledge but skills on how to use it and how they can acquire and create more. These are higher order thinking skill but not a ”higher year” task and can be introduced from a very early age. The four activities in this article have been used very successfully, and f course averagely successfully – we are teachers after all!, in classrooms all over the world. Help your students learn more about how they think and learn is the greatest gift we can give them as a teachers and sets them up for a word where knowledge is everywhere but the skills to use judge, use and analyze it are sorely lacking.


Further Reading and Sources

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