Instead of using workbooks, textbooks and worksheets to learn how words work, I recommend games and as many real-world experiences as possible, because important concepts and skills can be learned more easily through activities that matter to a person.
I‘ve learned through experience that forcing kids to do things they aren’t ready to do is a big waste of time and energy, so I make sure my kids have all the time they need to learn in ways that work for them, when they are ready to learn it. I’ve noticed that by doing this, they are much more willing to challenge themselves and they tend to get to the next level quickly.
I used to use a very strict, formal approach to educate. Once I made the decision to lighten-up, I changed one subject, or subject area, a month until there was nothing left to switch out. The concept of making learning fun, and working with my kids’ readiness and needs, was so effective from the start, that it’s the only way my kids learn these days.
Every family needs to find their own learning path. I invite you to give these word building activities a try and fine tune them to your suit your needs.
Words within Words
Finding words within another word or phrase is a game you can never outgrow and it’s a lot of fun to play alone or as a family. If you need to learn how to play, click on the title above, you will be taken to the page that offers instructions and alternative ways to play. Here are some of the words we may decide to use this month. I encourage my kids to choose the words or phrases they want to play with, when they want to play.
All you need is a piece of paper and a pencil to play. Other items such as a dictionary or spell checker may be helpful, along with index cards with letters on them or letter tiles. The letters can be moved around more easily and a new perspective given to the letters.
This link will take you to one that you can print out.
The site Wordles can help you find all the words within your chosen word or phrase.
Design your own holiday or seasonal code from dingbats *downloaded from the web, or make your own icons by drawing them, using stamps or stickers. You will need one holiday/seasonal icon per letter of the alphabet and, if you want, add commas, periods, exclamation points and question marks.
Here is another site you can *download fonts from.
*Note: Use caution when downloading from the web.
Once your code has been made, create your message with your icons and give the key and the message to someone to solve. Ask them to give you one to solve as well!
Here is a winter themed Cryptogram that uses numbers and can be printed.
Seasonal Word List
Create a seasonal word list and turn it into puzzles!
What do you think about during the holiday season? What stands out the most for you? Is it: Snow, winter, presents, elves, reindeer, winter solstice, snowmen, Santa, cookies, snowflakes, icicles or something else? Come up with 20 or more words that come to mind when you think about the holidays or the season, write or draw them, then turn them into puzzles. The puzzles can be given away as gifts, solved by friends and family members, or by yourself. Allowing the puzzle to rest for a day or two after you create your own may make it more challenging.
Make your own puzzles by hand, or use this puzzlemaker that will allow you to use your own words to generate your own puzzles.
DLTK has a winter themed crossword puzzle, word search, and anagram that can be printed and solved.
Graph paper can be used to make criss-cross, crossword and word search puzzles, and lined paper can be used to make anagrams. The clues for a homemade crossword, criss-cross and word search puzzles can be made from pictures. Create a solution page too.
Once you have all of your puzzles created, make a book out of them, or put them in a pocket folder and give them as a gift to a puzzle enthusiast. Make multiple copies of each puzzle and save one for yourself in addition to giving them to other people. Consider decorating the front of the book or folder in a holiday or seasonal way.
Holiday or Seasonal Rebus Story
Create a holiday or seasonal story where pictures take the place of words!
A rebus story is a story made with pictures and words. The pictures can be made with stamps, stickers, hand drawn, clipped from a magazine or printed off a graphics program. Here is an example of a rebus story made from a the song: Twelve Days of Christmas, it may help offer an idea of how one can be made. More pictures than words can be used…it’s your story, make it your way. Words can be handwritten, cut from a magazine, junk mail, etc.
If the story is typed or dictated into a word processing program, graphics or dingbats can be used in place of words.
Make a Seasonal/Holiday Memory Book
My kids enjoy making a memory book of their own to remember what the holiday or season meant to them that year and to share it with others. The book can be made with colored construction paper that represents the season/holiday, cut into quarters, with holes popped in the side, and filled with drawings, pictures and clippings from magazines and written or cut-out words. Then when the pages dry and have been put in the desired order, they sew or tie the sides up with ribbon, yarn or something else.
Related holiday and season activities on Fran’s World of Discovery: