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How to put kids' natural love of word play to work for phonics.

by Babs Hadjusiewicz July 03, 2009

[caption id="attachment_1467" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Rylan & Ryder"]Rylan & Ryder[/caption] There I was this week in the dental hygienist’s chair…and reminded of fun days as a nanny while in college. My three-year-old charge couldn’t say her sister Karen’s name. A precocious one, she loved saying, “I don’t care!” She also loved tricks, giggles, and being my echo. So I asked little Alison to echo me as I said, “I don’t care!” several times. Then, I tricked her and said, “I don’t Karen.” Well, she echoed my sentence perfectly. She giggled and wiggled and jiggled all over with excitement. “I said it!” she bubbled. And, in big-sisterly fashion, Karen good-heartedly answered to “I-don’t-Karen” for a time. How'd the dentist's chair trigger that memory? It was my hygienist’s proud-mama tale of her under-four twins. Krista told how Ryder and Rylan are working on some sounds. In fact, her boys pronounce one sound exactly as Christine's comment on a previous post tells about her son. And, as is often the case with young children, Krista’s boys find it easy to say little words that begin or end in the sound of l. But when that sound sneaks into the middle of a word, watch out! That’s when a pronunciation can easily come off sounding like a y. So Krista often says to her boys, “Yel-low. Like yell-low.” Well, Mom’s lessons haven’t yet yielded perfect l’s; but neither have they fallen on deaf ears. Recently, one of her boys hid behind her, saying, “Mommy, guess what I have! It’s a ro-bot!” WOW! These not-yet-fours have turned a sounds game into a fun way of learning about syllables. Learning to hear word parts, separate those parts, and then put them back together is an all-important reading-readiness skill. Yep, it’s one of the skills that helps children make sense of phonics in order to learn to read. So "Clap It, Tap It, Snap It, Rap It!" twice for words like ro-bot and yel-low. And for mommy, daddy, grandpa, and grandma. Now, keep playing that game with any two-syllable word for several days. Remember, these things take time. Then we'll circle back one day soon to play another version of the "Clap It, Tap It, Snap It, Rap It!" game.


Babs Hadjusiewicz
Babs Hadjusiewicz

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