If you can't read this Newsletter, please click here

Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 17 - May, 2012
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 "sunshine?" (Hint: we found 36.)

Riddles for Kids: Dinosaurs
Q: What is as big as a dinosaur but weighs nothing?
A: A dinosaur's shadow!

Q: What has a spiked tail, plates on its back, and 16 wheels?
A: A Stegosaurus on roller skates!

Q: What do dinosaurs use for the floors of their homes?
A: Rep-tiles!

Q: What is in the middle of dinosaurs?
A: The letter S!

Q: What do you call it when a Diplodocus makes a goal in soccer?
A: A dino-score!

Q: What do you call a dinosaur in a cowboy hat and boots?
A: Tyrannosaurus tex!

Q: What do you get when you cross a dinosaur with fireworks?
A: Dino-mite!

Q: What do you get if you cross a pig with a dinosaur?
A: Jurassic pork!

Q: How do you stop a charging dinosaur?
A: Take away its credit cards!

Q: Where do dinosaurs go on vacation?
A: To the dino-shore!

Answers to WordsInWords
He, hen, hens, hi, his, hiss, hue, hues, in, inn, inns, is, issue, nine, nines, nun, nuns, she, shies, shin, shine, shines, shins, shun, shuns, sin, sine, sins, sinus, sue, sues, sun, suns, us, use, uses.

In This Issue

  • Summer Programs
  • Stories from the Kids: Ryan, Danny, Roman, Zeon (with videos!)
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • How to Crack the Tough Nut of English Spelling (part 1)
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in April!

In Upcoming Issues

  • Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
  • How to crack the tough nut of English spelling (part 2)
  • Bilingualism, is it a positive or a negative?
  • Speech vitamins: do they work?

You're receiving this newsletter either because you have requested it, or because you're a current or former client or associate of Park Slope Communication & Learning Center. If you do not wish to receive any further newsletters, please click "Unsubscribe" at the bottom. You'll have the opportunity to "opt-out" with every e-mail.

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.


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.

Summer Programs

As we mentioned last month, summer is quickly approaching, and so are our summer programs. This summer, as in the last several summers, we are offering Speech Camp, and our Intensive (but a lot of fun!) Summer Reading Program. Registration forms for both programs are here. Sometimes, these programs fill up quickly, so if you think you may have an interest, please contact us as soon as possible.

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.

Why I Love Spring, by Danny

We are off from school, having those fun Easter egg hunts, and having the test so we can get at least a 3 or a 4! I love spring!!!! :)

Okay my first reason why I love spring is because you're off from school. I know every kid in the world is happy because they're off from school.

No homework, no doing work, nothing like that. Just sitting and relaxing!

You can see and hear Danny's original story here!

Why I Love Spring, by Ryan

I love spring because the sun is so
and flowers come in handy for a
nice sight
since the days are longer we have
more light
and when the birds come back they
chirp with delight!

You can see and hear Ryan's original story here!

A World Without Gravity, by Zeon

Hello, I'm living on a planet that doesn't have something called gravity. I don't know how your life is with gravity. My life is horrible and hard to live with.

I have to wear an oxygen mask twenty-four hours. The ocean water, river water, and all types of water are all around me. I don't know the shape of my planet because it keeps on changing and the movement of the water will change every second and it's hard to move.

I lose a lot of energy while I'm moving around. I have to swim in water and can't use anything called paper or electricity or something your planets use. I wish I could be living on a planet that has gravity.

You can see and hear Zeon's original story here!

Clash of the Seasons, by Roman

On March 20th Winter and Spring have a battle. Spring wins most of the time.

This time Winter had some help. Fall and Winter joined forces to make cold seasons rule the world.

You can see and hear Roman's original story here!

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: April, 2012

Several new students joined our program during the month of April. The beauty of our reading groups is that students seem to benefit from being with other children, even if they are different ages and in different grades. We see the supportive, kind nature that kids have towards each other, rather than the competitiveness one might expect. April was a month in which most students had spring break. Those students wrote about their travels and visits with family and shared them with one another.

Vocabulary and word retrieval were a major focus in April, because some of the newer, younger children had difficulties in these areas. Word retrieval is the ability to quickly and accurately select an appropriate word to express an idea. We want to develop connections between words and their categories, their functions, synonyms and antonyms, as well as descriptive terms such as color, size, shape, etc. Word retrieval comes into play in both reading fluency and in writing. When our students are writing stories and essays, word retrieval skills are extremely important.

We have found that many of our students avoid writing precisely because they find themselves getting stuck on what word to use. They feel unable to write because, while they have great ideas, they feel unable to put those ideas into words. So how do we help our students? There is both a long term solution and a short term solution. The latter helps the child in the moment. It involves helping initiate, expound on or complete a story as it's being written. The long term solution is designed to help the student access words more readily.

We often describe it to parents this way: "We tell our students to think of the brain as a filing cabinet, and think of a word in terms of its sounds, its meaning, its opposite, and its qualities; and then imagine that all of these different relationships are filed away in the same folder as the word. When that is the case, and a child learns to think of words in terms of their relationships, the child is more likely to be successful when trying to access them."

During the month of April, we did many activities to help our students overcome this verbal hump. We did lessons about antonyms and synonyms. The students did sentence fill-ins, such as, "I clean my teeth with a toothbrush and ____?" If we are discussing toothpaste, the kids may also have to talk about what it tastes and feels like, where we find it, what its purpose is and so forth.

We also worked on the concept of sentence types. The four types of sentences are declarative (statement), interrogative (question), imperative (command), and exclamatory (emotional). The students were given words to write sentences demonstrating all four sentence types. "I like apples." became "Do you like apples?" which became "Get me apples" and finally "These apples are delicious!"

The younger groups, below third grade, read many short stories. At magickeys.com, we read the beautifully illustrated The Journey of the Noble Gnarble, about a fish who lives at the bottom of the sea where there is no sunlight. He decides he wants to see the light in spite of all the dangers inherent in making the trip. Many hungry creatures, such as the "silver subbalubble" and the "warckle" try to eat the little gnarble, but he just keeps going until he finally sees the long awaited sun.

At the ipl.com (The Internet Public Library) website, we found a wonderful collection of Aesop's Fables, as well as other fables. We read The Tortoise and the Hare, which the students read with great enthusiasm and excitement. The older students are still reading Dr. Dolittle, summarizing each chapter as they finish it. Each student goes at his or her own pace, and discussions ensue both one to one and among students within a group.

Reading a book, especially a chapter book, has been extremely empowering for our third graders and for all of the students; they are exposed to new vocabulary, figures of speech, and a variety of grammatical structures. Since this story was written in 1920 and by an Englishman, the language is certainly different from what the children are currently reading at home.

The younger students were given many phonics assignments, ranging from finding words with specific beginning or ending sounds, and identifying a phoneme totally by ear. Inherent in the Phonic Engine Method is the ability to find words that contain target phonemes.

As usual, we worked on long and short vowels. Finally, we used Phonic Engine spelling to find and identify homophones with all age groups. For younger students, we want them to understand what a homophone is and to recognize a few of them such as "to, two, too" and, for the older students, we require more with respect to in-depth identification, including defining them and using them in sentences.

The students were given numerous writing assignments, in addition to working on graded spelling lists. One of them related to feelings about spring and the students responded with lots of ideas. They all expressed positive feelings about what spring means to them; aside from spring break, that is!

This was a month of tremendous learning and growth. It is very exciting to anticipate how far these kids can go. The sky's the limit!! And that is an exclamatory sentence!!

How to Crack the Tough Nut of English Spelling

English language spelling is difficult for many children, as well as adults. When in elementary school, children are taught using 3 main strategies. First, students are presented with weekly spelling lists, using word families, such as 'at' to which the teacher adds different initial sounds, such as m-at, c-at, s-at. This is called onset and rime, referring to beginning sound and word family, respectively. Often, the spelling list will also include a few sight words that are used frequently, but cannot be taught phonetically. For example, the word "many" is a word that is used frequently in reading, writing and speaking, but is not spelled completely phonetically.

This brings us to the next important point in learning how to spell, and that is, with enough repetition, our brain makes pictures of the words we read. Have you ever had the experience of writing a word incorrectly and then looking at it and thinking, "That word doesn't look right?" What is happening is that the letters you have written do not match the picture your brain has formed of the word in question.

This is typical, and is what is supposed to happen when we are learning to encode and decode. Eventually, after learning the rules and practicing writing words (including writing them in sentences), as well as reading them in books, your brain makes pictures, called "orthographic images" of all the words that you have seen in print or have written, and you know how to spell them. But, of course, this process takes time, and part of this process is learning the rules of the "spelling road."

Surprisingly to most, English spelling is more rule governed than many think. Also surprisingly, many rules revolve around short vowels, as you will notice as we discuss them.

Children often make mistakes with respect to the letter 'c,' so let's first discuss the letter 'c' rule. In our reading sessions, the students make lists of words beginning with the letter 'c' making both the /s/ sound and the /k/ sound, and they are asked to try to notice a pattern. After some investigation, we discover that when the letter 'c' is followed by the letters 'y', 'i' or 'e', it makes the sound of the letter 's'. Think of the words "circle, "cement," and "cycle," for example. In all other circumstances, the 'c' makes the sound of the letter 'k'. That's it. NO EXCEPTIONS!

Now, let's go over a number of rules that revolve around short vowels:

1.) If a one syllable word has an ending sound of /k/ and has a short vowel, and no other intervening sound, then the /k/ sound is spelled 'ck'; otherwise, it's spelled with a 'k.' Notice "back," "bank," "bake," "lick," "link," and "like." These words include examples of short vowel only, short vowel plus another letter/sound and long vowel. If the word is not a monosyllable and the next letter after the /k/ sound is not 'e', 'i' or 'y', then it is spelled 'cc' as in broccoli, stucco, raccoon. Otherwise it is 'ck' as in lucky, rocker, pickiest.

2.) If a word ends with the /ch/ sound, it's spelled 'tch' when the word has a short vowel and no intervening sound. Some examples include "catch," "pitch," "notch." This rule has some notable exceptions such as "much," "such," and "rich," and the speller has to either remember them or look them up (easy with KidsVoyager Online). Similarly, the /j/ sound at the end of words follows a similar rule. Following a short vowel, the sound is usually spelled 'dge' as in "budge," "hedge," and "ridge" and 'ge' in other circumstances.

3.) The rule of doubling. Think "hop," "hope" and then "hopping" and "hoping." Notice the word with the short vowel (and no intervening consonant) has a doubled consonant when the 'ing' ending is added. This is true for any ending; any ending causes the final consonant to be doubled following a short vowel. (For example, consonant doubling also occurs in words with the 'le' ending. Notice "puzzle," "middle," "bubble" and contrast that to "title," "bangle," "humble.")

When we are made aware of spelling rules, we become better at both decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling).

So the "tough nut" is cracked by learning rules, applying them, and then making mental pictures of what correctly spelled words look like. There are more rules than you probably suspect, but learning them is far simpler than having to learn individual words.

More on this topic next month.

Trivia Quiz: Fascinating Trivia

1. How many letters are there in the Hawaiian alphabet?
2. Which state has the highest percentage of people who walk to work?
3. What is the average number of people airborne over the United States at any given hour?
4. What was the first novel ever written on a typewriter?
5. What distinguishes the news show "60 Minutes" from every other television show?
6. True or False: Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of their birthplace.
7. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "a"?
8. What is the only food that does not spoil?
9. Which holiday has the highest number of collect telephone calls made?
10. Which world city has the most Rolls Royces per capita?


1. 12.
2. Alaska.
3. 61,000.
4. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."
5. It has no theme song.
6. True.
7. One thousand.
8. Honey.
9. Father's Day.
10. Hong Kong.

May 2012 Holidays and Events

Arthritis Awareness Month
Asian/Pacific American Month
Better Hearing and Speech Month
Family Wellness Month
Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month
Get Caught Reading Month
Gifts from the Garden Month
Haitian Heritage Month
Heal the Children Month
Healthy Vision Month
Huntington's Disease Awareness Month
International Business Image Improvement Month
International Civility Awareness Month
International Internal Audit Awareness Month
International Victorious Woman Month
Jewish American Heritage Month
Latino Books Month
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Motorcycle Safety Month
National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month
National Barbecue Month
National Bike Month
National Good Car-Keeping Month
National Hamburger Month
National Hepatitis Awareness Month
National Inventors' Month
National Meditation Month
National Mental Health Month
National Military Appreciation Month
National Moving Month
National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month
National Photo Month
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
National Preservation Month
National Salad Month
National Salsa Month
National Smile Month
National Stroke Awareness Month
National Sweet Vidalia Onion Month
National Vinegar Month
Older Americans Month
Revise Your Work Schedule Month
Strike Out Strokes Month
Tennis Month
Ultraviolet Awareness Month
Women's Health Care Month
Young Achievers/Leaders of Tomorrow Month

1-7 Update Your References Week
6-12 Be Kind to Animals Week
6-12 Choose Privacy Week
6-12 Flexible Work Arrangements week
6-12 Kids Win Week
6-12 national Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week
6-12 National Family Week
6-12 National Hug Holiday week
6-12 National Nurses Week
6-12 National Pet Week
6-12 National Wildflower Week
7-13 Children's Book Week
7-13 National Stuttering Awareness Week
7-13 Work at Home Moms Week
13-19 National Nursing Home Week
13-19 National Police Week
13-19 National Return to Work Week
13-19 National Transportation Week
13-19 Salute to 35+ moms Week
14-18 National Etiquette Week
19-25 National Safe Boating Week
20-26 World Trade Week
21-28 National Backyard Games Week

1 Executive Coaching Day
1 Keep Kids Alive Day—Drive 25 Day
1 Law Day, USA
1 Lei Day
1 Loyalty Day
1 May Day
1 Mother Goose Day
1 New Home Owner's Day
1 School Principals Day
2 Great American Grump Out
3 Garden Meditation Day
3 Lumpy Rug Day
3 National Day of Prayer
3 National Day of Reason
3 National Specially Abled Pets Day
3 National Two Different Colored Shoes Day
3 Paranormal Day
3 World Press Freedom Day
4 International Respect for Chickens Day
4 No Pants Day
4 Star Wars Day
5 Cartoonists Day
5 National Homebrew Day
6 No Diet Day
6 No Homework Day
8 National Teacher Day
8 No Socks Day
9 Donate a Day's Wages to Charity Day
9 National Nightshift Workers Day
9 National Receptionists Day
9 National School Nurse Day
9 National Third Shift Workers Day
10 World Lupus Day
11 Eat What You Want Day
11 Military Spouse Appreciation Day
12 International Migratory Bird Day
12 Limerick Day
12 Mother Ocean Day
12 National Babysitters Day
12 Stay Up All Night Night
12 World Fair Trade Day
13 Mother's Day
14 Underground America Day
15 Peace Officer Memorial Day
15 International Day of Families
16 Biographers Day
17 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day
18 International Museum Day
18 International Virtual Assistants Day
18 National Bike to Work Day
18 National Defense Transportation Day
18 National Pizza Party Day
18 Visit Your Relatives Day
19 Armed Forces Day
20 Neighbor Day
20 Weights and Measures Day
21 National Waitstaff Day
22 National Maritime Day
22 International Day for Biological Diversity
23 International World Turtle Day
24 Brother's Day
24 International Tiara Day
25 National Missing Children's Day
25 National Tap Dance Day
25 Towel Day
28 Memorial Day
30 Hug Your Cat Day
30 National Senior Health and Fitness Day
31 What You Think Upon Grows Day
31 World No Tobacco Day

Have Friends Who Would Like to Keep Informed About Language and Literacy? Forward This Newsletter to Them!

Privacy Policy: We do not give out e-mail addresses -- ever! We support all efforts to stop spam, and do not engage in it.


Our mailing address is: 258 6th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Our telephone is: 718.768.3526

Our Website is: http://www.parkslopecc.com

Copyright (C) 2012 Park Slope Communication & Learning Center • All rights reserved.