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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 12 - December, 2011
You can sometimes make words using the letters in a larger word. For example, from the word "tube" you can make "be," "bet," "but," and "tub." Now onto a harder one: how many words can you make from the word "snowman?" (Hint: we found 24.)

Riddles for Kids: Snow
Q: Where does a snowman keep his money?
A: In a snowbank!

Q: What do you call a snowman in the summer?
A: A puddle!

Q: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
A: Frosted Flakes!

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?
A: Frostbite!

Q: What do snowmen wear on their heads?
A: Ice caps!

Q: What does Frosty’s wife put on her face at night?
A: Cold cream!

Q: What did Jack Frost say to Frosty the Snowman?
A: Have an ice day!

Q: What does a snowman take when he gets sick?
A: A chill pill!

Q: Where do snowmen go to dance?
A: A snowball!

Q: How does a snowman get to work?
A: By icicle!

Answers to WordsInWords
Am, an, as, ma, man, moan, moans, mow, mown, mows, no, on, own, owns, saw, snow, so, sow, sown, swam, swan, was, woman, won.

In This Issue

  • Stories from the Kids: Jack and Roman
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • Phonemic Awareness: What Is It, and Why Do People Talk About It?
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in December!

In Upcoming Issues

  • How to Help Your Child Write Short Sequences
  • Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
  • What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?
  • Home Treatment for Language Delayed Kids

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Our ongoing goal is to keep you informed about all matters related to the Communication Continuum: Speech, Language, and Literacy; to keep you updated on our seminars and other matters of interest; to answer questions you may have, and also provide some fun activities for your child, created by us, by colleagues, as well as syndicated content.


Please submit any questions you have regarding Speech, Language, and Literacy, and we'll be happy to reply in an upcoming issue of CC-News. If you do submit a question (to news@parkslopecc.com), be sure to let us know if you'd like your name (first and/or last) to appear, or if you'd prefer it left out.

Question: M.D., the parent of a 4 year old asked, "What is the best way for me to help my son use complete sentences?"

Answer: Most children by this age do, in fact, use complete sentences. However, this is often not so for children with speech or language delays, who tend to reduce the grammatical complexity of their utterances. The best way a parent can help is by repeating what their child said, but as a complete sentence, and emphasizing the omitted words. For example, if your son or daughter says "Daddy walking the dog," reply by saying something like "That's right, daddy is walking the dog." By doing this, you have responded to your child in a way which avoids frustration (as opposed to making a correction outright) and you have let him hear the sentence correctly.


In the past, we've held seminars and discussions on: Stuttering, Auditory Processing Disorders, How to Help Your Child Develop Reading Skills, Early Speech and Language Development (0 - 5), Speech/Language/Feeding Developmental Milestones, Using the Phonic Engine® Reading Method to Facilitate Reading, Writing, and Spelling. Please let us know if you'd personally like any of these repeated, or have other topics that you'd like to hear about.

Stories from the Kids

The students in our reading groups produce writings using KidsVoyager Online with KidsVoyager Animated Storywriter. The writings may be imaginative stories, summaries of things they've read online, writings to teach higher level skills, such as persuasion, and so on. The stories are entered into the Online Storywriter's text box using typed spelling, combined with Phonic Engine Encoding (i.e. selecting initial & final phonemes for a word, then clicking a matching word displayed in a multisensory word grid). Writing is a terrific way to learn, teaches numerous skills, and kids love it. We hope you enjoy them.

Bob, by Roman

Hi I am Bob the not so friendly tarantula. I live in Roman's house. I am Roman's pet. Roman is awesome because he gave me a mini trampoline!

I bungee jump with my spider silk onto the trampoline and then I bounce back up. Roman gives me steak frites for dinner sometimes.

Roman made me a cave in my tank and sometimes I go inside and invent video games like Spiderman. This is an awesome life!

Wild Turkey Chase, by Jack

Hi, I'm Gobble Gobble. But you can just call me Gob. I'm a turkey and because Thanksgiving is near, I don't want to be killed.

I live on a farm in a cage. A big cage, but still a cage. One day a random person walked by. I asked him to go to the costume store and get an extra, extra, extra, extra small chicken costume. That person just walked away and stared.

The next day, I was being shot at, but I wasn't killed. The next day, I saw another person wandering on the farm. I asked him to go get me an extra, extra, extra, extra small chicken costume. He said if I gave him $20, he would do it. I asked him if he could open my cage for a second.

He did and I flew to the front desk and got $20. I gave it to him, praying he would come back. He forgot to lock my cage so I made sure he got that chicken costume.

He didn't know I was behind him. He bought a video game with the $20 and never went to the costume store. What made me even more mad was that it rated "T" for teen. I'm only 11.

That night, I got revenge. I knocked over every single thing in his house. The next morning he wondered who did this to his house. He did not know that I was out of my cage. He forgot all about me and just ran with his rated "T" video game.

I got my $20 back, went to the costume store and all the employees were shocked that a turkey was in the store. They let me grab my chicken costume and go.

I did not see one extra so I ended up with an extra, extra, extra, extra, extra small chicken costume. The man still doesn't know that it was me who he forgot when he forgot to lock my cage.

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: November, 2011

November was a month with two important holidays: Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving. Our reading groups all read about the significance of Veteran's Day. Much of our reading material came from Apples4theteacher.com, a website which comprises fiction, nonfiction, games and even craft ideas pertaining to seasonal topics. Using KidsVoyager Online, the students were able to read about the history of Veteran's Day. They learned that it was originally called Armistice Day, celebrating the end of WWI. In 1954, the name was changed to Veteran's Day by Congress, in order to honor all veterans. The children were very curious about WWI since they had not heard much about it.

We read The First Thanksgiving by Nora Smith, also at apples4theteacher.com, and the students shared their own knowledge and readings about Thanksgiving. Additionally, they also shared their own family traditions, which ranged from traveling out of town, to having lots of company, to going to the movies. Several of the groups wrote about their past holidays and their expectations for this one.

We spent most of November reading all kinds of stories, and in reading these stories, we also touched on skills we had worked on in previous months. We read fiction that was told in the first person and in the third person. The students had to figure out who was telling the story.

In addition, the students were asked to identify what kind of story they had read. For example, was it mystery? Was it realistic fiction? We also returned to the notion of "author's intent," a lesson in which the students were asked to decide whether the author was trying to inform the reader, persuade the reader or entertain the reader.

Two stories that some of our groups read were, The Fisherman and His Wife, which is a well-known story about greed and Miss Jeanette's Jiffy Monster Buster Wand (from BAB Books at www.sundhagen.com/babbooks/), which had a theme similar to Dumbo, who thought he needed a magic feather to fly. In this case, the story is about a young girl who is convinced that there are monsters under her bed.

She believes that the wand that Miss Jeanette, the ice cream lady, has given her will protect her from monsters and will keep them from hiding under her bed. After a while the girl has lost her fear and Miss Jeanette asks for the wand back so she can give it to another frightened child. At this point, the girl realizes that there were never monsters under her bed at all.

The children were given a worksheet, with questions (specifically ordered to help organize writing) asking them about their own fears. After answering these five "wh" questions, the students had to write a story about these fears and how they got over them.

Play scripts are found at a website called kidsinco.com. The plays are very short and are perfect for our sessions. In addition, they are divided by how many characters are in each one, so we can use them regardless of how many children are attending at a time. We bring the selected play up in KidsVoyager Online and read it along with Merlin. This helps to familiarize the children with not only their role, but with the entire play. If there are any words that they cannot decode, they can listen to Merlin (our text reader) read them. If it is a word they do not know, they can double click on the word to find out its meaning. When it comes time to perform their parts, we print the plays out so the students can face each other. Doing these short plays is so much fun for all of us. Additionally, the students get to practice vocal expression and reading fluency. We practice many areas of literacy and, simultaneously, have a lot of fun.

With the younger groups, we review short vowels approximately once a month, or so. This is because they are very common and because they can sound similar to each other ( except for the short /o/, which is the vowel sound in "hot"), so children may mix them up. The students were given worksheets, with beginning and ending sounds and they had to pick out which words had specific short vowel sounds. The younger groups also worked on diphthong vowels, such as aw as in saw, or the "oy" sound as in toy. Phonic Engine Spelling activities facilitate both decoding and encoding, and we worked on these sounds from both angles. One more spelling rule we reviewed was the conjugation of verbs ending in "y" and in cry. Most of our students remembered that the 'y" becomes an "i" when a grammatical ending such as 'ed' is added.

Most of our students read with interest and enthusiasm. This is a major goal of our program: to elicit enthusiastic responses to literature, as this causes children to become more engaged which, in turn, also has a positive effect on skill development.

Phonemic Awareness: What Is It, and Why Do People Talk About It?

Parents often hear speech, language, hearing and reading professionals use the term phonemic awareness. The term phonemic awareness refers to the knowledge that words are made up of sounds, and that sounds can be manipulated to form words, make new words, and even be added to make the meaning slightly different. For example, most children know (even though they are not consciously aware) that if they add a /s/ or /z/ sound to the end of a noun, they mean more than one. Phonemic awareness is knowing that if I say the word "rack" and I add the /t/ sound to the beginning of the word, I have formed the word "track." Similarly, it is knowing that if the short sound of the letter /a/ were changed to the short sound of the letter /u/, the word "truck" would be formed.

Phonemic awareness is essential for the development of literacy skills. It isn't hard to understand why. We know that children learn reading using an organized, structured phonics approach. We know that phonics programs require a child to understand the connection between sounds and symbols. If a child does not have a consistent mental representation for a sound, s/he will not be able to attach a symbol to it. Furthermore, once a sound-symbol connection has been made, s/he has to be able to blend those sounds. Let's say a child is reading the word "hat". S/He has to take the sounds /h/-/short a/-unaspirated /t/, blend them together to make the sound sequence /hat/ and then read the word "hat". If a child knows how to read and spell the word "hat", and s/he sees "hit", s/he has to be able to substitute the short a with the short i, and figure out what this new word is. Then, if the beginning letter was changed from /h/ to /s/, and the beginning sound was likewise changed, we have a new word, "sit".

So how can parents facilitate their child's phonemic awareness? One activity is similar to "The Name Game" song, in which the first sound in a word is changed. Pick a word and ask your child to change the first sound. "Say house…now change the first sound /h/ to /m/." Another activity is to say a word and together with your child, count the sounds in that word. "Say boat" "Now let's count the sounds in that word, "b (1 finger), o (long o, holding up a second finger) and t (holding up a third finger.) Three, there are three sounds in the word "boat". These are just a few ideas that can be helpful to your child.

In sum, phonemic awareness is necessary to connect a sound to a symbol, to blend those sounds, and then to read them either aloud or silently. Well developed phonemic awareness is considered to be an important underpinning of reading and all language arts.

Trivia Quiz: Football Fun

1. Which quarterback led the 1951 Cleveland Browns to an 11-1 season record?
2. Two months after President Kennedy was assassinated, which team won the NFL Championship game?
3. Which team was the last in the 20th century to go defunct?
4. What position did Jerry Rice play throughout most of his career?
5. Where did quarterback Donovan McNabb play college football?
6. True or False: Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl.
7. What position takes the hand-offs and also can move out as a receiver?
8. What was the original name of the New York Jets when they were in the AFL, before joining the NFL?
9. Who holds the title of the most fumbles in the NFL?
10. What is the length in yards of a football field, from one end to the other?


1. Otto Graham.
2. Chicago Bears.
3. Dallas Texans (in 1952).
4. Wide receiver.
5. Syracuse.
6. True.
7. Running back.
8. New York Titans.
9. Jon Kitna.
10. 120.

December 2011 Holidays and Events

Bingo’s Birthday Month
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
National Write a Business Plan Month
Safe Toys and Gifts Month
Spiritual Literacy Month
Worldwide Food Service Safety Month

1-7 Cookie Cutter Week
10-17 Human Rights Week
18-24 Gluten-Free Baking Week

1 World AIDS Day
2 Special Education Day
2 International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities
4 National Dice Day
6 National Miner’s Day
6 National Pawnbrokers Day
7 National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
7 International Civil Aviation Day
9 National Salesperson’s Day
10 Human Rights Day
10 International Shareware Day
10 National Day of the Horse
11 International Mountain Day
15 Bill of Rights Day
15 Cat Herders Day
16 Underdog Day
17 Wright Brothers Day
18 International Migrants Day
20 International Human Solidarity Day
21 Forefathers’ Day
21 Humbug Day
22 National Haiku Poetry Day
22 First Day of Winter
24 Christmas Eve
25 Christmas
26 Boxing Day
26 National Thank You Note Day
26 National Whiner’s Day
29 Tick Tock Day
30 Bacon Day
30 No Interruptions Day
31 Make Up Your Mind Day
31 New Year’s Eve

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