[Excerpted from “You, Too, Can Teach Literacy!” (“A Child’s Garden,” May 13, 2012 — featured on the Carnival of Homeschooling)


Scrabble game

Working with Words
We love word play in our house. My husband can switch syllables and starting letters around in words so quickly that sometimes we have to pause and figure out what he just said. Jokes abound, and we try to outdo one another with what we call “refrigerator words” — the kind that you write down on a paper and hang on the refrigerator to remember later.
Working with words in homeschool is easy as can be. Here are some ideas that are fun for families, and reinforce how words work and are put together:
My sister-in-law taught my nieces how to read at a very young (pre-K) age, by labeling objects around the house. Everywhere the girls went, the objects were labeled: “table”, “refrigerator”, “chair”, “stove”… If you are wanting to work on sight words, this is a more natural way to teach them than sheer memorization. Sight-word bingo is another fun way to learn sight words. You can find many sites for printing out bingo boards.
If you want to work on particular phonics lessons, make them game-like. Write the chunk you are studying (“pl-” for example) on an index card, then use Scrabble tiles to build the rest of the word. Sort the words you make into sense and nonsense words.

When my eldest was a toddler, I used one of those photo albums with the clingy pages, and labeled each page with a letter of the alphabet, upper- and lowercase. We would cut out pictures from magazines of things that started with that letter, and add them to the album. We would start each day by reviewing our album, then add a few more things. He loved this alphabet book for years. You could make different pages for older students.