Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homeschool Essentials: Letter Tiles

I've already mentioned that every family should have a few particular items that are essential tools for supporting their child's education. Last month, we mentioned how a good globe is surprisingly versatile and can be used in many ways.

Also near the top of my Homeschooling Essentials list is a good set of letter tiles. You can find many different sets (upper case, lower case, number, etc.)  in la Librería, but don't feel pressured to buy "official" tiles created just for the student. You can often find a used Scrabble game at a garage sale for pennies that will work just as well. Or you can do what I did and head to your local Target and buy a Bananagrams game on sale.

(If you want to get really fancy, you can even buy a Spanish Scrabble game. Or you can just take a sharpie to your English letter tiles and add accents here and there.)

Anyhow, I bought my bananagrams right before school started because I was determined to provide my daughter with more manipulatives this year. And I am so glad I did. She is predominantly a hands-on learner so any kind of games or manipulatives really grab and hold her attention. The best thing about these tiles is that I can dump them on the table in front of her and let her spell until her little corazoncito is content. It is win-win because I don't have to give her much direction, yet she is still learning... and happily.

Here are some ideas for ways you can use your alphabet tiles:

• Make a list of words and call them out for your child to spell. Remember to scatter more challenging words in the list so that your child can build up his confidence on the easy ones, yet still work hard to correctly spell the harder ones. If your child becomes frustrated, scale back immediately and concentrate on easier words until she is ready.

Play a game of scrabble or bananagrams. Believe it or not, playing a game with your parent is much more fun than playing alone.

• Have your child spell words in Spanish...or another foreign language!

Tumble the Tower. Have your child spell one word, then ask them to change it into another word simply by placing one tile on top of another. Keep this up until the pile tips and their "tower" falls to the ground.

• Ask your child to spell backwards! (As challenging as this seems for young kids, they love it! Just be sure to keep it simple.)

• Have your child write a sentence (either one you give her, or one she makes up on her own).

• With younger kids, play a game of "I spy" (or "Veo, veo") and have them find the letters.  For example, you might say, "I spy, with my little eye, the letter "L"" or you could say, "I spy a letter that makes the sound "buh". This is an excellent game for pre-readers to learn letter recognition.

• Ask your child to arrange the tiles alphabetically.

• Ask your child to spell his name.

Play memory match with a handful of pairs. Slowly add more pairs to make the game more challenging.

Con mucho cariño...