Monday, January 18, 2016

Learning to read through play

As many of you know, we are a bilingual family. Even before we had kids I used to read a lot about bilingualism and one of the things that stroke me the most was that very young children are capable of learning many languages and speak them fluently. However there will always be a dominant language, in our case it is English because we live in the US. Children tend to forget the second language unless there is enough exposure to it. Having kept that in mind, ever since they were born I made it a point to I always speak to them in Portuguese. Now the boys are 2 and 4, both of them are able to understand and speak English as well as Portuguese pretty well.   

As Toby approaches school age I am again having to read and research how to introduce him to the letters that sound differently in English and Portuguese. That was how I came up with a little game to help him recognize the sounds of the letters in Portuguese.  

I chose a few easy words and split them in half. For example: "snake" in Portuguese is "cobra". So I divided the word in "co" and "bra". I added a picture of what the word meant to the second half of the word.

I designed everything in Silhouette Studio using the "text" tool and copy/pasting black and white images from the internet. I only used the outline of the text (to save up some ink) and cut up the letters in my Cameo out of cardstock. 

The boys had a lot of fun gluing the letters to the outline and in doing so we practiced saying the names of the letters and what sound they made. They also had to work on fine motor skills as they used glue to the back of each letter then had to flip them over in order to glue them in place. 

Since I knew these would be heavily tackled I adhered some adhesive felt to the back of each card, and covered with Silhouette's Transparent Sticker paper. That way the kids can't pull out the letters, it kind of works like lamination. 

At this point we were ready to play the game. I asked Toby to choose a picture that he liked and say the word out loud very slowly. Then we looked at the bundle of cards containing only first half of each word. And he was able to pick out the correct one! 

We did a few of these and then he decided to play a silly game. He would pick out an ending and try out all of the possible combinations spelling out a lot of nonsense words. Of course I had to help him in doing this. He would chose a combination and ask me to read it to him then he would laugh hysterically at the nonsense word that was created. This was very interesting because sometimes in some of the random combinations, we would actually spell out a word (that made sense) but was not the one in the picture. He found that to be very "silly". I found out that he was really able to read the words when he would purposefully hide the "correct" beginning, just because he wanted to laugh at the strange nonsense words he was creating!

This was an awesome game and I am sure it can be adapted to other languages or even to ESL students, if you make a pile of words to be matched to pictures.

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