Father’s Day 2012

Like most celebrations in our house, Father’s Day traditionally starts in Mum and Dad’s bed with gift giving. The children can’t wait to give their home-made cards and presents.

We have a loose family policy that for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day we will get the kids to make gifts, rather than spend a lot of money buying something. So in light of the fact that Father’s Day is this Sunday, I had a bit of a search for Father’s Day gifts for the children to make this week and found some great ideas. I can’t show you a photo of mine because said Father would see it, but here are some of the other cheap and relatively easy ideas that all the children in the family can participate in.

  • The poster in the photo above has all the children’s footprints on it. I cut them out because we find it very difficult to get a good print right away and usually end up doing several prints per person to get a good set. In the centre is a photo compilation of all the children. My husband likes to have something to put up at work so our gifts are usually photo based.
  • Children are photographed holding large cardboard letters to spell out “Dad” here
  • The wall hanging above is my own idea. We made this a couple of years ago with the older two (7 and 5) doing the sewing which was their own design. The calico style fabric is sewn around dowel sticks using blanket stitch so that Daddy can hang it in his office at work. They also wound wool around cardboard frames to make the mini photo frames and we put photos of all the children in them.
  • Children are photographed in the shape of letters here to make a “We love you” message. You could also do Daddy, Grandad or Grandpa the same way if you have lots of children.
  • There are a number of nice ideas for the kids to make here. I like the handprint tree and the fingerprint tree. We are going to use one of these to make Father’s Day cards and add Psalm 128:3 to the bottom; Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

  • Another of my own ideas in previous years were these screwdriver flowers. We wound strips of green crepe paper around the screwdriver to make the flower stems. The flower heads are made by cutting a two-inch wide strip off the end of a crepe paper roll (still rolled up) and making tiny slices into it all the way across, without cutting through the strip. When the rolled up strip is unrolled, you end up with a very long fringed ribbon of crepe which is then wound round and round the tip of the screwdriver and taped in place.
  • kidspot has a nice handprint flower scroll to make that would be quick and easy. A large family could fill a garden with everyone’s handprint on their own flower.
  • Another cute card idea here. Make footprints inside a larger print from Dad’s shoe with the caption “Walking in our daddy’s footsteps.” Don’t forget to clean the paint off Dad’s good work shoes though!
  • We make cards every year with the degree of difficulty dependent on the age range of the children and the time and patience available from Mum. These were very simple collage photo cards. I just set out the cardboard frames already cut and a bunch of materials and let the little ones glue on whatever they wished. A picture of themselves was added once the frames were dry.
  • To add to the family traditions that we like to keep going, I thought it would be nice to give Dad a themed breakfast or lunch. Cupcakes with Daddy on top, pancakes or sandwiches cut into letters to spell his name, pizza with a letter D on top… I’m sure with some thought this could be good.

Whatever your choice, spend some time to show Dad just how special and important to the family he is. I couldn’t do it without my wonderful husband and he deserves to be spoilt!


Teaching Children To Read: Where to begin?

Teaching children to read is one of the most rewarding and challenging things a home educator can do. Watching the love of reading turn into hours of pleasure and learning while curled up with a good book is such a joy, not to mention the importance of being able to read God’s word. So where do we start?

Reading good literature to children is an excellent beginning. Spend a good amount of time every day reading to your children from a young age and they will reap the benefits later.

Apart from being exposed to the written word through books, there are many different stepping-stones along the path to reading – phonetic awareness skills that build on top of each other until competent reading is achieved. We tend to head straight for learning the letter names and sounds, but what many parents don’t realise is that there are several pre-reading skills that need to be in place before a child has that light-bulb moment as they realise they are making sense from the written word.

There is a great article by Diana Rigg here that identifies the sequential steps on what has come to be known as the phonological awareness ladder. She cites research that identifies a direct correlation between children’s grasp of each of these steps and later reading success. Spending some time with your child in the early years ensuring that their ears have been trained to hear sounds in words and have mastered each of the steps on the phonological ladder will set them up for success later.

If you are an educator (and all parents are), the small amount of time spent familiarizing yourself with these concepts will be well worth it. You may be able to skim through them with a child who easily picks them up along the way. However you just may save another child from years of frustration and difficulty in their reading journey by plugging those holes now. It’s worth the effort.

Take a moment to read through Diana’s article first, then with the couple of ideas below and your own methods, you can easily cover these skills with your child. Why not use some of the time spent travelling in the car to play some word games? Be careful to use the sounds that letters make, not their alphabet names. The letter B is called “Bee” but it’s sounds is “b” as in bat.

Level 1 – Participation in rhymes

  • Listen to nursery rhyme CD’s and books
  • Sing rhyming songs and recite fun poetry
  • Read books with obvious rhyming patterns

Level 2 – Words in sentences

  • Ask the child to put up a finger, clap each word or set out a small object for every word they hear

Level 3 – Identifying and Producing Rhyme

  • Use rhyming picture cards and find pairs of objects that rhyme
  • Say 2 words and have children tell you whether or not they rhyme
  • While reading a rhyming story, leave off the rhyming word on the end of a sentence and have the child guess what it could be
  • Make up strings of nonsense words that rhyme
  • Say rhyming words around the circle until no one can think of another rhyme
  • Play rhyming “I spy” (I spy with my little eye, something that rhymes with… )

Level 4 – Syllabification

  • Break words up into syllables or parts. Clap each syllable in words and say how many parts there are. For example, “el-e-phant” has 3 syllables, “app-le” has two, “ant” has one.
  • Sort picture cards or little toys and objects into groups according to the number of syllables
  • Put out coloured chips for each syllable in a word

Level 5 – Recognition of initial sounds in simple words

  • Aurally identify the first sound in words. Ask children to listen for the first sound that comes out when they start to say a word. Find as many things around the house as you can that start with the given sound
  • Find the odd one out within a group that all start with the same sound
  • Sort pictures or objects into their initial sound groups, focussing on 2 obviously different sounds to begin with.
  • Play “I spy.”
  • Remember, this is about training the ear to identify the sounds, not matching sounds to letters at this stage.

Level 6 – Recognition of final sounds in simple words

  • Use the same ideas that the child is already familiar with for initial sounds, focussing on the last sound in the word instead.

Level 7 – Blending

  • Say two or three sounds that make up a word for children to join together. Stretch out the sounds to make them very obvious. For example; d-ooooo-g The child blends the sound together to identify the word.
  • Play the blending game. I do use letter cards for this, but the focus is still on the sounds, not the letters. Hold 2 letters as far apart as you can. The child uses a pointer or fancy stick of some kind (just to make it fun!) and points to each letter in turn. Say the sound each time she points to the letter, moving the letters sightly closer together each time until the letters are touching and the word is blended.

Level 8 – Phonemic segmentation

  • Give lots of practice in segmenting words into sounds. For example, you say dog and the child segments it into d-oooo-g
  • Have a bag or decorated container of pictures or objects that have three obvious sounds. The child takes a lucky dip and segments the word.