Life’s Little Lessons

by Stefani on 15-April-2008

My littlest boy has gotten big.

No more pull ups at night… it’s all underpants all the time now.

No more sippy cups, because, “I can drink like a big man, Mama.”

And now, he insists that he have “school time” like his brothers.

So, we moved a new little desk in the school room for him, and put his name on it, just like the big guys. He got his own box of crayons, and we began working on recognizing the letters in his name.

He’s known how to spell it for some time now. He says, “I’m Rar-I-Dee-Eee-ARE, RYDER!!!”

He really had no idea though what he was saying. So, we thought it was a natural step, to put shapes with those names.

So, I wrote them down on big cards, explained what each of them were, and he learned to put them in order.

Learning "HIS" Letters

The best part of this though is watching his brothers hover over him, pulling for him, nodding their heads in the direction of the next letter, applauding when he picks the right one. They are like a little literacy pep squad!

And speaking of literacy, I thought I’d pass along this other little trick.

A couple of years ago the boys and I went through magazines and cut out pictures of things that we often buy at the grocery store. We glued them to big, oversized index cards and wrote out the name of each item. Then, we “laminated” them with clear contact paper.

I would give a few cards to each boy before we went to the store. Those cards where his own items. It was his job to be on the look out for them while we shopped.

It worked really well!

Plus, even my then pre-readers caught on pretty quickly that the photo of cheese was next to the word “cheese” which looked just like the word on the package of real life cheese. Beautiful!

These days, we still use the cards, but now they also serve as a word bank for my writers. My guys flip through the cards, reading them and asking me if we need that item. When they come to one that we need, they copy the word down on a list.

Making The Shopping List

It’s nice, for the reading and writing practice, and nice in the practical, everyday, learn how to meal plan, make a list and shop, sense, but also nice in that it means several people have a vested interest in the list itself.

Gone are the days when I made out a list and then left it on the kitchen counter as I headed off to the store, only to wander around trying to remember why I was there in the first place. Oh no, he who pours his hard fought handwriting skills into the grocery list will not leave home without it!

Sarah Jackson April 15, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Excellent idea! I continually leave my list at home. It’s so wonderful watching children discover the magic of letters and words.

brit April 15, 2008 at 9:23 pm

This is such a great idea. My four year old wants to write letters (but he hates actually writing) and carried the fridge magnets around with him till I made him a felt board. Now he drags movies, books, papers anything with a word he wants to ‘write’ to the felt board and proudly spells it out. I’ll have to make up these grocery lists though! love it.

Gwyn April 16, 2008 at 1:11 am

That kind of tip is exactly what I love about blogging – great idea – thank you!

Ellie April 16, 2008 at 4:43 am

I love these ideas. Currently Ari writes the shopping list – only he can read it, but I still love his lines for pasta or toothpaste.
We are considering homeschooling, and I am in desperate need of ideas like this – so, when you feel like writing that book…!
I know Ari will love having pictures and words to make into lists. It’s now on my list of things to do.
I so love that your bigger boys have the love of learning so much that they are passing the knowledge on – a credit to you!

kristin April 16, 2008 at 4:46 am

oh wow, i love the shopping cards! what a great idea. i think they would be a big hit around here. and how sweet to hear about your team of boys working together.

is someone there reading my antonia? (i see it on the sidebar) how’s that going? i remember reading that one in high school and loving it.

Eren April 16, 2008 at 4:51 am

He, he…love your literacy pep squad. When we were pottytraining the older boys were his cheering squad everytime he did his business in the appropriate place….Go Wyatt! Go Ryder!

Lisa Clarke April 16, 2008 at 5:42 am

I love how you tied a literacy lesson and a grocery shopping lesson together into one, and then modified it to suit their skills as they got older. Excellent!

And isn’t it wonderful to watch them learn to read? My youngest just turned 5, and he’s been self-motivated to read and write for the past year. Every day he learns to read new words and to spell other ones. It’s such fun to watch, and like you said, so special when the older brother(s) get in on the encouragement.

Sarah April 16, 2008 at 6:48 am

I was just thinking last night about making Jack some similar cards for the objects he is wanting spell everyday. It’s so exciting to watch them gain new skills, isn’t it?

happymamaof3 April 16, 2008 at 7:56 am

thanks for the awesome idea! i’m on it now! what a fantabulous blogger you are!! :0)

Kate April 16, 2008 at 8:24 am

Yep, that’s a great idea. Might have to do that myself.

Julie @ Letter9 April 16, 2008 at 8:28 am

What a great way to give the kiddos purpose at the store… I know lots of moms who won’t even take their kids to the grocery store but this is such a great idea.

And “literacy pep squad”? Hilarious.

erin April 16, 2008 at 8:47 am

Go Ryder!

We do something similar! My favorite is making packing lists for each of the kids when we go on vacation. We have a little form with drawn shirts, skirts, underwear, p.j.’s, socks, toothbrush, etc. with the word next to the picture. I then write the number needed next to each item and then off the go to make the pile of clothes for me. Of course, I sometimes have to help them make better choices (i.e. no tank tops in the winter!), but they love doing it and I don’t have to hear about how I didn’t bring such and such.

Crystal April 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

Yay Ryder!

Angela April 16, 2008 at 10:00 am

Thanks so much for sharing these ideas! Norah started spelling her name aloud recently and we’ve been encouraging her with learning letters. (A child’s mind as a sponge is an amazing thing!)

By the way…we had a fun nature discovery of our own that I think you might enjoy. I posted pictures on our blog—nothing like the gorgeous ones you take, but still a pretty exciting discovery, nevertheless.

Jody April 16, 2008 at 10:13 am

That is such a great idea! I love that they get to participate in the shopping experience.

Anna April 16, 2008 at 11:53 am

Such innovative teaching strategies. I wonder, sometimes, if I would ever be brave enough to forge the home-school road? We do teach at home, of course, all the time…but it’s amazing you do what you do. My little guy is on the verge of understanding that the letters have meaning…and beginning to see them all around. Vestiges of other times left in cement, the letters that begin all of his family, friends and teachers’ names. It certainly is amazing to watch! Having a cheering squad would be a definite bonus!

Kristy April 16, 2008 at 1:41 pm

My goodness, aren’t you just a wealth of AWESOME teaching ideas!

I’m so stealing the shopping cards thing. I may even take credit for it, when someone asks how I thought of something so genius. 😉

Mandi April 17, 2008 at 8:23 am

Love the shopping cards. I usually put them in charge of something on a list,each has their own notebook, but that is so much better. Thanks for the tip!

Brynn April 18, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I love this idea! What fun to make them. Visions of grocery store photo shoots abound. Thanks for sharing.

Katie Pedersen April 23, 2008 at 7:58 am

We’re on it! Great idea.

this little light June 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

What a wonderful idea! My daughter is a visual learner. We are thinking about dyslexia being a problem. She is actually getting tested soon for it. The cards with the word next to the picture would be perfect for her. She has a hard time with words that don’t have a picture to go with them (like all the sight words–the, and, of…). Thanks for this great advice!

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