Monday, 3 September 2012

The Writing's on the Wall

We're trying lots of different ways to encourage Eleanor's reading and writing.
The most obvious of these is just reading: we read to her and she reads to us.
Unfortunately for the latter endeavour Eleanor has an astonishingly good memory.
This is obviously an excellent thing in many ways: it helped her to learn the alphabet for example, but it makes learning to read from books awfully expensive.
The problem is that once she has read a book once she remembers it so well that any future attempts at reading are more in the nature of a recitation.
We are lucky, of course, in that we have a library just down the road from our house, so books are rarely in short supply, however we have found it necessary to find other ways to help her to read.

Looking For Directions

This is an easy one: when we're out and about we ask Eleanor to help us find our way around.
She looks for signs to tell us where we are, and signs that tell us how to get to where we want to be.
It's cheap, straightforward and compensates wonderfully for my complete lack of anything that could be described as a sense of direction.
Besides which her simple joy at being the first to find the way to the Pond Dipping Platform, or to spot the sign for Pontefract is beautiful to behold.

Decorative Words

Eleanor chooses a word and helps me to spell it.
I write the word out in big bubble writing and fill the inside of the letters with glue.
Next we choose lots of decorative bits and pieces, we try to find things that suit the words: glittery reds for the word Fire, tattered bits and pieces for Scarecrow.
Once we have these Eleanor decorates the word.
Lastly I stick the word on the wall.
It sounds simple but this helps her to spell and to learn to read by instinct, looking not just at the letters that make up each word we choose, but at the shapes of those words as well.
The words stay on the walls, where she can admire -and read- them as much as she likes until the wall fills up and we have to start again.


She has a blackboard, she writes, she rubs it out, she writes some more.
The nice thing about this one is that it's done entirely on Eleanor's own whim: I don't tell her what or when to write, she simply picks up the chalk whenever she feels the urge.
Lately most of her words have been related to the film Brave, but that's a whole different blog-post.


There are some great games out there to get children reading.
The obvious one of course is Scrabble*, and then there are all manner of educational games, like Eleanor's favourite: Shopping List by Orchard Games, or the various children's versions of Cranium, but almost any game is good: there are instructions to read, headings on cards, spaces labelled Miss A Turn or Go To Jail, all of which encourage reading without over-emphasising the work involved.
 We've even made our own board game, inspired by a suggestion in "Games For Reading" by Peggy Kaye, a book full of, well, games.
For reading.
Games are good.

Reading To Phoebe

Ok, this is just Eleanor reading out loud in a different guise, but Phoebe loves it, Eleanor feels ridiculously grown up and pleased with herself, and it's encouraging two children to love books.
What more could we want?**

Bath Tub Words

This one started because we noticed that Eleanor tends not to read as well when she's tired.
We thought it would be a good idea to give her a little practice doing just that so, at bedtime, I started writing a word on the bathroom wall using her plastic letters.
She read the words, she played with the letters, sometimes she made new words.
It worked so well that now I have to write whole sentences just to keep it interesting.

Everything Else.

The world is full of words, we talk about them***, we look at them, we trace their shapes and feel the tastes of them in our mouths.
Whatever we're doing words are bound to creep in, whether we're cooking from a recipe, sending a quick message to Daddy, fetching the post, running to the bus stop, singing a song.
The words are there, all we have to do is use them.

Do you have any ideas for fun with words?
Let me know in the comments below.

*We have this and Junior Scrabble.
It might be obvious but it's still fun.

**Answer: better books.
Seriously, babies these days have no discrimination.

***And, obviously, with them.

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