A diagraph puzzle.

To strengthen my daughters reading skills I have been going back over concepts to make the reading process easier for her. She is currently in First Grade and although she knows the sounds letters makes she often gets tripped up when it comes to diagraphs.

A diagraph is when two letters are put together and make one sound. For example ch in the word cheese is a diagraph. C goes /k/ and h goes /h/ when on their own. When the two letters are combined they make one sound like in cheese, much, and chill for examples. C and h can also make the sound /k/ as in chaos, school, and chronic. C and h when combined can also make the sound sh as in chef, machine, and brochure.

My daughters enjoy puzzles often to make the learning process a little more enjoyable I make and use puzzles that correlate with what we are working on. For diagraphs I made two sets of similar puzzles that I laminated for durability.

Diagraph puzzle with pictures and words. For my youngest daughter (age 3) to be introduced to the concept letters put together make words. Also to allow her to match the letters.
Diagraph puzzle with pictures. I made a set without pictures that way my oldest daughter had to concentrate on the sound each picture made rather than look at the way it was written.

As a parent that homeschools I often find myself having to re-teach myself therefore I often make myself simple charts to reference to keep me on track when I explain concepts to my daughters. In which I made a quick reference poster to explain what a diagraph is. I also made a chart that goes along with the puzzles.

A diagraph is when…
Diagraph chart.

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Posters above are my Amazon picks for helpful posters when it comes to teaching phonics.

Learning through play: Mail theme.

Recently we’ve been adapting a play based approach during our summer break. That way my oldest doesn’t lose the knowledge she learned all awhile getting the summer break she desires. Trying to come up with ideas to keep both my daughters interested and learning at their correct levels can be exhausting. Lately I’ve been taking a day to day approach in which I ask what they want to play and I just go with it and on the spot I throw in as much learning as possible within the activity. My only catch when it comes to the oldest is I tell her it has to involve writing. She often rolls her eyes and runs away when I grab out her journal and ask her to write. Therefore I’ve been trying to make it more fun.

What I was able to cover in our mail time…
-Reading: My daughter read the notes I wrote.
-Writing: My daughter wrote out notes for me and her little sister to read.
-Shapes: I drew pictures of shapes for my youngest.
-Sight words: I placed sight word cards into the mail box for my oldest to read.
-Alphabet recognition: I placed colorful alphabet pieces in the box for my daughters to name the different letters.

We placed our mail within a bin I had on hand. You can get creative and add to the fun by making a mailbox out of an old shoe box or similar box you have on hand.

Inside the box we all placed our notes to each other. My oldest wrote out her notes giving her plenty of writing practice for the day. My youngest drew all over pieces of paper for her notes. I wrote out notes to my oldest to help practice her reading skills, and I drew shapes for my youngest as a way to work in shape recognition for the day. I even added in letters from an alphabet puzzle we have, and sight word cards I’ve made previously.

An envelope my daughter made out of stickers and paper.
Samples of the notes I made for my daughters.

I’ve been trying to do no print simple activities lately. To make the letters more fancy they could easily be printed from the computer. The possibilities are endless as far as what the notes can cover in the sense of learning. A focus I have with my youngest is currently shapes therefore I chose to do pictures of shapes with you. While working in basic number practice as well. My oldest is at a level in which reading is a main focus therefore I kept her notes reading oriented without pictures.

A purse made out of paper and yarn my daughter made to hold the letters when finished.

After she made hers I made my own version using staples instead of tape to keep it more sturdy. I also tied string to the bag rather than taped it on which was used as a handle for the purse.

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Items shown above are my Amazon picks.

Click image above to find the sight word cards to print out.
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Keeping it simple as we finish up the schoolyear.

With school coming to an end for the schoolyear, I have been keeping the last few days simple. Filling them with fun unstructured learning. Which seems to help keep my oldest daughter calm and more interested in the learning process when we keep our lessons relaxed.

We enjoyed nature, by looking around for animals.
We tried to keep our distance, eventually the bunny hopped away.
My youngest built a book fort as I read books to her.

My daughters aren’t always interested in sitting down and reading. Therefore it can be difficult to get them to sit through a book and in time I’ve learned it’s ok. I just have to work with their attention span and keep trying. Rather than getting stressed out about it I just stay at their pace. Which means we can read several books in a setting although none of them may be read to the very end. My youngest often turns the pages skipping pages on purpose and telling me she doesn’t want that page she wants the next. I’ve learned to go with it, and keep reading, the most important part of the process is continuing. It doesn’t have to be done perfectly to count. It’s really just about reading and exposing young children to as much reading as possible. If that means your reading a book as the child is making a book fort it’s ok because keeping it fun is an important tool for keeping kids interested.

My oldest daughter reading during Play-School-Time.

Most nights after my youngest goes to bed my oldest and I have a designated playtime in which she decides what we play and I go along with it. Since we have introduced this concept it has helped her mood improve slightly. She is someone that likes to be in control of many things, and it has helped to an extent allowing her time at night just the two of us in which she determines what we play. Tonight she chose to play pretend school. Which was perfect because it got her to sit down and read to me in a way that she felt in control. It kept her interest and she actually read to me without getting upset and telling me she didn’t feel like doing school because she was in control of the activity. I often have to check in with myself and remind myself it’s ok it doesn’t have to be so serious. Reading and learning in general is meant to be fun otherwise kids aren’t going to want to do it.

Play-School-Time chalk board art, and math my daughter did on our magnetic chalk wall.
Chalk art during Play-School-Time.
My oldest daughters finished chalk drawing.
Chalk art we did together.
Another chalk art piece we did together.

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The boxed sets pictured above are great for early readers. The joke books pictured above are great for kids such as my daughter that enjoy jokes and aren’t always interested in reading books. They keep her entertained and give her more jokes to share with others. Ten little lady bugs, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie are books my youngest daughter enjoys listening to.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and any qualifying purchases made through affiliate links I may earn a commission on at no additional cost to you.) The chalknetic wall adhesive is what I use for my daughters magnetic chalk board on our wall. The magnetism isn’t strong and it can’t hold up heavy magnets. Although it works for what we use it for. The chalk set pictured above is what we used during our chalk art time. The paper we used I had bought at our local dollar store.

Thanks for reading and I hope some of our ideas inspire a fun simple approach to learning that can carry on into the summer.

Click the image above for fun graph ideas with a nature inspiration.
Click the image above for fun play based reading fun.
Click the image above for a fun craft idea.
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Winter theme reading game.

My oldest daughter age six is often reluctant to do anything that feels like learning. Therefore I’m constantly looking for and trying to come up with games to incorporate reading throughout our day that doesn’t involve reading a book. I wanted an activity that would help my daughter sound out words faster and help her memorize sight words. I made a set of sight word cards, CVC cards for sounding out, and 12 picture cards with a Winter theme.

Winter theme picture cards
CVC cards
Pre-K sight words.

I placed orange dot stickers on the back of each Pre-K sight word card before laminating the cards for durability. I used the stickers as a way to easily identify which words belong to the Pre-K sight word list. As we play the game I take a note of what words she’s able to recognize. That way I can cross them off our sight word goal list.

Kindergarten sight word cards

I placed green dot stickers on the back of each Kindergarten sight word card before laminating them. The same as the Pre-K cards I wanted to be able to identify them easily that way I could quickly check them off the correct sight word list.

Cards placed in different piles.
Writing sentences using the cards drawn.
Sentences written on a dry erase board.

When we play the game we place the cards in three piles. Picture cards, CVC cards, sight word cards. We play with only 12 cards per pile. That way the game doesn’t become overwhelming. My daughter and I write out sentences using the cards we draw. When my daughter grows tired of writing out the sentences she’ll tell stories using the cards she chose from the piles. You can use the CVC cards, and sight word cards as standalone flash cards. I incorporate the picture cards because my oldest daughter is more likely to hold interest when she’s able to add her own twist to a game and create her own stories.

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Above books and games are my Amazon picks for teaching young children to read.

Click image above for more sight word learning ideas.
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Reading to kids isn’t always easy.

Before I had kids I always thought as long as kids are provided with books and their parents or caregivers sat down with them reading would just be simple. An automatic enjoyment in a child’s life. I was wrong at least when it comes to my children. I always imagined that we’d sit down and read books as my kids sit in my lap and point to the pages in excitement. In actuality it hasn’t been anything like that. When I do get them to read it tends to be a chaotic mess of books all over the place.

I leave books out in the living room, each of their bedrooms, and even a few in their upstairs playroom. However they do gravitate towards the books often although not in terms of actually reading them. My daughters tend to grab out books to play book store in which the book store owners (my daughters) inform the customer (me) that the books aren’t suppose to be read. Other times they make book forts. Which I can rationalize as a way to build their imaginations and logical reasoning skills.

My daughter’s book fort.

Today I asked my daughters to pick out books to read and set a 20 minute timer. We were able to finish several books to the end. As usual my youngest shut a few and exclaimed “no, no,” as she took the book from me. In which we then turned to other more appealing books that she found acceptable for me to read. Certain books she wants all to herself, to point out the pictures in which she isn’t willing to share with her sister. I was surprised that when the timer went off they were still eager to pick out books to read from their pile.

My youngest allowed me to read the entire book of “Ten Little Ladybugs.” She even allowed me to count each ladybug, which is a big win when it comes to reading in our family. My daughter’s favorite of the Sesame Beginnings series is the book “Eyes & Nose, Fingers & Toes.” she had me read it several times in a row and enjoys acting out each part.

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My oldest brought out two of her favorite books in which we incorporated within our arts and crafts time for the day. “Dog man Grime and Punishment.” “Curious George Learns to count from 1-100.”

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My oldest made a paper bag monster by following the steps provided in the book “Dog man Grime And Punishment.”

My daughter’s and I made paper airplanes by following the instructions provided in the book “Curious George Learns to Count From 1-100.” Getting my daughter to count to 100 was a struggle, she gets bored easily and lacks interest in learning. At first she was reluctant to sit down and read the book with me. Now she often asks for it as her bedtime book. Some pages she counts along. The book is neat because it allows the child to count along if they want while still being an actual story that makes sense as a cohesive whole in which if the child doesn’t want to count it works as well.

The point of this post is because I know as myself I need a reminder when I’m in the middle of the homeschool chaos struggling to keep my kids on track that it’s normal and nothing is perfect. Therefore I’m sharing my reading nightmare because sometimes what helps people the most is seeing the imperfection, and knowing that they are not alone. I don’t believe anyone has it all together and all figured out. We’re all just going at it one day at a time. Although I would like to be able to share with you the absolute best books to read with your child or children you teach I must be honest and admit with books as many parts of the educational process it is a child to child preference. However I hope some of the books I shared today may be worth utilizing with the children in your care. With anything stay patient and keep trying to incorporate reading within your day get creative have fun and try not to take it to heart if your child calls a book icky. Also if you don’t want to become a book hoarder check out your local library and explore their online collection.

Preschool toy store scene. I want to buy a ______ at the toy store.

I recently ran out of ink for the printer, my daughter kept asking if I had ink yet because she had a request. Naturally when my husband came home after work with ink my daughter immediately informed me of her request. She wanted a store, and people with masks, because of course masks are mandatory. She said the masks were the most important. This is what I made.

After my daughter and I colored, I laminated, and she cut out the pieces.

I chose a simple sentence “I want to buy a ________ at the toy store,” to fit in a little reading with play time. I’ve been trying to get my daughter to really focus in and learn to read number words. I decided to use this as an opportunity to casually throw that concept in. Originally the people each had a number one, two, three, and four. My daughter cut out all the pieces herself except for the person with the word two, which means my intentions fell short. She got in a short scissor practice so not a total loss.

I chose to refrain from using color because it saves on color ink and currently I’m still out of that because black and white was the only in stock. Also it gives us a chance to sit down together as we color and talk about the picture. I can ask her to read the sentence and look at the words with their corresponding images.

I’ve been making people with shapes recently because it gives me more opportunities to plug in shapes with my youngest daughter. Who will grab anything my oldest is playing with.

Besides the toy scene I made a printable to go along with it. A simple circle the correct number. It looks like this.

I apologize for the crumby state of the images, I had forgotten to take a picture before giving the sheets to my oldest, when my youngest was wide awake and ready to snatch anything. I could have reprinted, or taken a picture from my computer, I figure that’s real life though. I’m just a mom trying to educate my children all awhile dealing with the chaos that comes with it.

Printable isn’t in color, pictures taken after my daughter and I colored the pages.

I always laminate the scene and people to make it durable and last more than one use. (I am a participant in the Amazon affiliates program and any qualifying purchases purchased through links above I may earn a commission from.)

Farm scene from an earlier post. I see a __ on the farm.

Click here if you want to check out the “I see a _____ on the farm.” post.

Playground scene from an earlier post. I see a __ at the playground.

Click here if you want to check out the “I see _____ at the playground.” post.