In This Issue
- Kudos to Gillian and Hannah!
- Reading Readiness
- Stories from the Kids: Daniel, Zeon, Roman (with videos!)
- Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
- Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
- For Fun: Trivia Quiz
- For Fun: Some Interesting Events in June!
In Upcoming Issues
- Bilingualism, is it a positive or a negative?
- Speech vitamins: do they work?
- CAPD (also called APD) testing
- Causes for hearing loss
- How to help your child write short stories
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
Kudos to Gillian and Hannah!
We recently learned that our 2 first reading students, Gillian and Hannah (2006), now attending middle school, are in a book club together! These 2 girls both initially stated "I hate to read!" (Subsequently, they both stated "I love to read!") So, kudos to you, Gillian and Hannah!
Beginning in September, we will be expanding our highly successful reading program, which uses assistive technology, to help pre-school and Kindergarten children prepare for the ever-increasing rigors of reading in school, and to learn to enjoy reading. More on this next issue, and soon to be on our website as well.
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. They are composed by children from Kindergarten on up, including children who have never written things before without a teacher's assistance. 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.
Lost Land, by Zeon
I didn't even know I could swim, but I had to keep going or I would die. I couldn't remember anything, but one thing is about to pop up in my head.
I still had the feeling I shouldn't think about that nightmare. My family was on a trip to go to Germany on the boat from America. I would have never imagined that my brother would push me in the middle of the ocean.
I was dizzy. My head was shaking. I kept on swimming for one day. Finally, I found a small land; it was more like an island. I was washed up on the shore of the island. There was a crowd around me when I woke up. They spoke to me, but I had no clue what they were saying. I thought "is it my head that was going crazy or do my ears have some water in them?" The answer was no; I was in a totally different country.
No one there understood what I said. I stood up and ran to the town. I had no clue what it was. The language on the buildings and walls looked like some Chinese characters to me. A million things went through my head. One of the most important things that went through my head was, "Where was I? In Asia? What do I do now?" The only answer I had was "survival time."
It wasn't really a good idea but it seemed to be the only one, since I couldn't communicate with the villagers. First I needed to get wood for a fishing rod to get fish and some fruits.
Sometimes I even thought I could be Tarzan number two, just for fun. A few years later, I guess that the people in the village started to understand my language. I sometimes got communication with the villagers and we made a lot of trades so I could live every day.
I made a house and survived as long as I could and I made a child that took over my life and I told my child everything I learned over my lifetime; those were my last words.
I kept on watching my son, grandson and daughter, and watched all my family getting larger and larger from above their heads. I finally noticed that my whole family made their own village over the next 900 years. A civilized colony in a small part of Asia.
But, I was still mad at my brother.
You can see and hear Zeon's original story here!
Best Vacation Ever, by Roman
I went to Antarctica. I saw some penguins kill a killer whale. Then some ice fell off and it took me to Guacamacahuli.
Then Cows fell from the sky. So I had steak and hamburgers.
Then I took over the island.
Then I put Gus in the jail that can't be broken out of.
You can see and hear Roman's original story here!
Awful Summer! by Daniel
Dear All 5th graders from PS38,
I just had the worst summer vacation. I went to Coney Island, to those horrible rides.
The clown was stalking people, even me.
When my family was going back to the hotel, I was looking out the window and suddenly, I saw the clown stalker.
It horrified me and I had nightmares. The rides were so scary, I can't stop thinking about it. I have pictures which are horrible.
Don't ever go to Coney Island!
You can see and hear Daniel's original story here!
Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: June, 2012
June was a very busy month as several new students joined us, while some were preparing to go away for the summer. In the latter part of June, we had an influx of kindergarten students whose parents wanted them to be ready for first grade. With these students, we spent a great deal of time reviewing the letter/sound combinations they learned in school. We also worked on sound blending, first using short vowel-consonant combinations such as a-n (an) and i-n (in). Then we did c-v-c (consonant-short vowel-consonant) blends as in m-a-n, man.
We utilized the KidsVoyager Animated Storywriter's text box to test various v-c and c-v-c combinations. The students tried to blend the sounds; then Merlin, the text reader, read them for confirmation or correction. (We have found that the students love the independence this gives them.)
We animated some of the lists to make the practice even more fun, and played online phonics games such as those found at Sadlier-Oxford Phonics.
For most of our students, June was a month of reading, writing and focusing on correct grammar and spelling. Several of our older students got to finish Dr. Dolittle.
After each chapter, the students produced a chapter summary, including the name of the chapter, the setting, the characters, and any new vocabulary words that came up.
We discussed each chapter individually because the children were all reading at their own rates, and therefore reading different sections of the story
We've discovered that, given the option of listening to and reading with Merlin, KidsVoyager Online's text-reading avatar, the students almost always slow his speaking rate down considerably.
This enhances comprehension in general, helps them to more accurately describe what they have read, and produce better predictions as well as more vibrant descriptions.
Even though the story is a total fantasy, they were still able to connect with it.
Another interesting point was that even though the book was not what we would now call "politically correct," and even though our students come from all walks of life and all backgrounds, they could appreciate this old classic for what it was: a fantasy adventure about a people-doctor who preferred animals and discovered that he could communicate with them.
The students truly appreciated his good and kind nature and we got to see them experience and be moved by a book character. In addition, we used the Phonic Engine Spelling method to write our summaries. After finding and checking spelling words, we reviewed applicable spelling rules and patterns.
Also, at stuartstories.com, the younger students read "Alec and the Stream of Words and Ideas." In this story, Alec goes fishing, but has a rather unusual experience. He first notices that when he puts his hand in the stream, it comes out dry. He puts a stick in the stream and the stick comes out dry.
Then he notices the word "fish" swimming in the water; and then he sees more words: words which reflect thoughts and ideas; words such as "love", "truth" and "pleasing." He finally catches "clam" and "ever", which he then throws back.
We used the KidsVoyager Online "double-click page" feature to look up words that were new. We talked about why these words might have been selected for Alec.
Then, the students were asked to write a list of words and ideas that would be fitting for themselves. They had to write words that mattered to them. Without exception, every student put animals on their list. The one most commonly used was "dog", even though most of the students do not have dogs. They also named sports they liked and their close friends.
We talked about the kind of abstract words that Alec found (as noted above) but these students, all in kindergarten and first grade, were more interested in concrete concepts.
At Sheppard Software, we played interactive games that focused on parts of speech. We played "Verbs In Space," "Noun Explorer" and "Adjective Adventure." To solidify these concepts, we went to another website to play Wacky Web Tales, a mad-libs like game. The students entered their own words and then listened to Merlin read their tales. Very fun and funny!
A common writing prompt for summer is "What I am Doing for the Summer." We decided to make a twist on this topic by writing a made-up story called, "My Worst Vacation Ever!" The kids came up with some pretty imaginative ideas, incorporating bad weather, a crazy environment, and unusual people.
At the end of the month, we said "See you in September" to several of our students who were going away for the summer. We also happily greeted many new students who were coming for, as we call it "A Summer Reading Boost." More about that next month.
Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and Factual Topics
In our reading program at Park Slope Communication and Brooklyn Reading Center, we spend a fair amount of time on current events. Using our KidsVoyager Online assistive literacy software, we find articles that are about current events (and other factual material) and are of interest to our students. Because the program reads to the students, they can learn about just about anything that is selected for them.
For those who do not have the benefit of KidsVoyager Online, parents or older siblings can pitch in by reading aloud at home.
An example of a current event that the students enthusiastically enjoyed reading about was the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, in 2010. Many of us saw dramatic footage of the eruption on television news. Looking online, we found numerous articles suitable for youngsters.
One of the best was at Time for Kids, which our text reader read aloud for each student. We also read articles at Scholastic.com and DOGOnews.com, which had spectacular pictures. Finally we read about volcanoes in general at Weather Wiz Kids, which is a wonderful web site written by a meteorologist who writes great material about weather and other natural phenomena for kids.
To add to the interest, we looked at some terrific video. While we read together, kids are exposed to new and interesting vocabulary. If you're new to KidsVoyager Online, it has a "double click page" feature, which allows kids to look up words they don't know without losing their place in their reading (by double clicking on a word, which opens up an online children's dictionary).
We learned about the fact that Iceland was formed by volcanoes and is home to 130 of them, most of which are not active. However, we learned that when they do erupt, it can have a very significant effect of both the weather (as ash can block out sunlight) and sea level, since the heat could potentially cause glaciers to melt.
Learning about this particular event resulted in a lot of lively conversation and the kids also had fun trying to say "Eyjafjallajökull" correctly!
As a follow-up, another volcano erupted in Iceland in 2011. While not as dramatically portrayed in the news, students who had learned about Eyjafjallajökull were very curious about this event and how it compared. (This one was called Grímsvötnv — try saying that one! — and it had its largest explosion in 100 years.)
Again, adults or older siblings reading with kids can accomplish similar things by utilizing a kid's dictionary website or a "regular" children's dictionary. Thus, current events and other things of interest or importance can be learned while engaging in literacy-enhancing activities.
One other topic we frequently focus on is holidays. Around President's Day, we read about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. In a 3rd/4th grade group this school year, not one student knew who Abraham Lincoln was, which was very surprising to us. At a website called apples4theteacher.com, there are always articles about every holiday. Similarly, we read about Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and, most recently, Independence Day.
So, pick any current event or factual topic you think will be interesting to your child. After you pick your topic, sit down and read a relevant kid's magazine, online magazine or website together. Make a list of new words, new word patterns and even new knowledge (e.g., Abraham Lincoln was our 16th president). It will be very enriching for your child and a great thing to share.
For information on word and spelling patterns, see How to Crack the Tough Nut of English Spelling at http://www.parkslopecc.com/ccnews/archive/CC-News_Issue_17_May_2012.htm
Trivia Quiz: July is National Ice Cream Month. Test your frozen confection knowledge with this cool trivia quiz!
1. A popular ice cream topping is sprinkles, also known as nonpareils. Nonpareils is French for what?
2. What flavor of ice cream is most popular?
3. Which American ice cream company has the slogan, "Ice Cream of the Future"?
4. Which U.S. state has the most Dairy Queen stores?
5. Which U.S. state makes the most ice cream each year?
6. What is the best selling frozen novelty in the United States?
7. In which country was ice cream made available to the general public for the first time?
8. Sorbet is unique in that it does not have what ingredient?
9. What do you call the paper wrapper around the bottom of an ice cream cone?
10. A Baked Alaska is an ice cream dessert baked in the oven. What keeps the ice cream from melting?
1. Without equal.
3. Dippin’ Dots.
6. The Klondike Bar.
8. Dairy products.
9. The jacket.
10. A meringue covering.
July 2012 Holidays and Events
Bereaved Parents Awareness Month
Bioterrorism/Disaster Education and Awareness Month
Cell Phone Courtesy Month
Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month
International Blondie and Deborah Harry Month
International Women with Alopecia Month
International Zine Month
National "Doghouse Repairs" Month
National Black Family Month
National Blueberries Month
National Grilling Month
National Horseradish Month
National Hot Dog Month
National Ice Cream Month
National Make a Difference to Children Month
National Recreation and Parks Month
Sandwich Generation Month
Smart Irrigation Month
Social Wellness Month
Women's Motorcycle Month
1-7 Be Nice to New Jersey Week
8-14 National Farrier's Week
8-14 Sports Cliché Week
15-21 Captive Nations Week
18-25 Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Education and Awareness Week
1 Second Half of the New Year Day
2 I Forgot Day
2 Made in the USA Day
3 Compliment Your Mirror Day
3 Stay Out of the Sun Day
4 Independence Day (Fourth of July)
6 Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day
7 Father-Daughter Take a Walk Together Day
7 Tell the Truth Day
7 International Day of Cooperatives
9 International Town Criers Day
10 Don't Step on a Bee Day
13 Embrace your Geekness Day
13 Gruntled Workers Day
14 Grange Day
15 National Ice Cream Day
16 Global Hug Your Kids Day
16 National Get Out of the Doghouse Day
18 Nelson Mandela International Day
20 Moon Day
21 National Woodie Wagon Day
22 Parents Day
22 Rat-Catchers Day
23 Gorgeous Grandma Day
23 Hot Enough For Ya Day
24 Cousins Day
24 National Drive-Thru Day
24 National Tell an Old Joke Day
26 National Chili Dog Day
27 National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
27 Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day
27 Walk on Stilts Day
28 National Day of the Cowboy