Teaching & Learning Moment - Identifying Vegetables or Fruits

~ Posted on Friday, November 13, 2015 at 7:33 AM ~

As a parent concerned with our kiddos' educational and learning progress, I would often scout for worksheets, printables and games that I can print out for our kiddos, and yet at the same time be an educational tools for them as well. When I source for these materials, I always look for the following criterias:

- Cute and yet realistic illustrations
- Has teaching and learning potential
- Has potential to be reused for younger children (I have 3 kiddos so I want to make sure all 3 kiddos will be able to use it again and again)

For today's post, I am sharing this fun and cute printables I got online. In this printable, the child will need to determine if that item is a fruit or a vegetable and place it into the correct basket.

What I did was:

1. Print out the pages with the baskets (1 for Fruit and 1 for Vegetables) and also the related fruits and vegetables images.
2. Laminate the printed pages and cut out the fruits and vegetables images accordingly.
3. Cut out some recycled plastic pouch to the size of the baskets and placed double sided tape at the sides and bottom of the baskets, leaving the top side untape (so that child can insert the fruits and vegetables according to the correct baskets).

** You may find that what I did differs from the actual instructions stated in the worksheet/printable but that is mainly because I love to reuse things so I will laminate the materials we used for our kiddos.

Teaching & Learning Moment

How we use this printable:

- I asked our kiddos what is the name of the fruits and vegetables or I asked them to find the fruits or vegetables 
- I then asked kiddos to tell me whether it is fruits or vegetables
- I get kiddos to put in the fruits or vegetables into the correct basket
- Other teaching ideas: Can also use this to teach colors, shapes, sizes and counting.


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Sharing - Why Some Kids Can’t Spell And Why Spelling Tests Won’t Help

~ Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 12:03 AM ~

I came across this article which I must definitely share with you guys as I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this. For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

Spelling remains the most relentlessly tested of all the literacy skills, but it is the least taught. Sending a list of words home on Monday to be tested on Friday is not teaching. Nor is getting children to write their spelling words out 10 times, even if they have to do it in rainbow colours.

Looking, covering, writing and checking does not teach spelling. Looking for little words inside other words, and doing word searches are just time fillers. And writing your “spelling” words in spirals or backwards is just plain stupid. And yet, this is a good summary of most of the current spelling programs in schools today. So, what should spelling teaching look like?

Finding meaning

Children should know the meanings of the words they spell, and as logical as that sounds - ask a child in your life what this week’s spelling words mean, and you might be surprised by their answers. If spelling words are simply strings of letters to be learnt by heart with no meaning attached and no investigation of how those words are constructed, then we are simply assigning our children a task equivalent to learning ten random seven-digit PINs each week. That is not only very very hard, it’s pointless.

More than sounds

 English is an alphabetic language; we use letters to write words. But it is not a phonetic language: there is no simple match between sounds and letters. We have 26 letters, but we have around 44 sounds (it’s not easy to be precise as different accents produce different sounds) and several hundred ways to write those sounds. So, while sounds - or phonics - are important in learning to spell, they are insufficient. When the only tool we give young children for spelling is to “sound it out”, we are making a phonological promise to them that English simply cannot keep.

 How words make their meanings

Sounds are important in learning to spell, but just as important are the morphemes in words. Morphemes are the meaningful parts of words. For example, “jumped” has two morphemes - “jump” and “ed”. “Jump” is easily recognised as meaningful, but “ed” is also meaningful because it tells us that the jump happened in the past.

Young spellers who are relying on the phonological promise given to them in their early years of schooling typically spell “jumped” as “jumt”. When attempting to spell a word, the first question we should teach children to ask is not “what sounds can I hear?” but “what does this word mean?”. This gives important information, which helps enormously with the spelling of the word.

In the example of “jumt” it brings us back to the base word “jump”; where the sound of “p” can now be heard, and the past marker “ed” , rather than the sound “t” which we hear when we say the word. Consider the author of the emergency text message at the beginning of this article as they pondered which of the many plausible letters they could use for the sound they could hear in “res - uh - dent”.

If they had asked themselves first, “What does this word mean?” the answer would have been people who “reside”, and then they would have heard the answer to their phonological dilemma.

Where words come from

English has a fascinating and constantly evolving history. Our words, and their spellings, come from many languages. Often we have kept the spellings from the original languages, while applying our own pronunciation.

As a result, only about 12% of words in English are spelt the way they sound. But that doesn’t mean that spelling is inexplicable, and therefore only learned by rote - it means that teaching spelling becomes a fascinating exploration of the remarkable history of the language - etymology. Some may think that etymology is the sole province of older and experienced learners, but it’s not.

Young children are incredibly responsive to stories about words, and these understandings about words are key to building their spelling skills, but also building their vocabulary. Yet poor spellers and young spellers are rarely given these additional tools to understand how words work and too often poor spellers are relegated to simply doing more phonics work.

Teaching - not testing

The only people who benefit from spelling tests are those who do well on them - and the benefit is to their self-esteem rather than their spelling ability. They were already good spellers. The people who don’t benefit from spelling tests are those who are poor at spelling. They struggled with spelling before the test, and they still struggle after the test. Testing is not teaching. Parents and teachers should consider these questions as they reflect on the ways in which spelling is approached in their school.

Are all children learning to love words from their very first years at school? Are they being fascinated by stories about where words come from and what those stories tell us about the spelling of those words?

Are they being excited by breaking the code, figuring how words are making their meanings and thrilled to find that what they’ve learned about one word helps them solve another word?

Put simply - is spelling your child’s favourite subject?

If the answer is no, then something needs to be done about the teaching.


What do you think?


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Sharing - What Looks Like Play May Really Be a Science Experiment

~ Posted on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 11:37 AM ~

I came across this article which I must definitely share with you guys as I'm very interested to know your thoughts on this. For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

You may think your toddler is just playing in the sand box, but she may really be conducting a sophisticated scientific experiment and learning something new every time she pours out another scoop of sand, new research suggests.

"Children have the same brains we do. Everyone can learn from data and know if a hypothesis is good or not," explained Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. "Even babies and very young children learn about the world in many of the ways that scientists do. Only when children do experiments, we say 'they're getting into everything!'"

Gopnik is the author of a report in the Sept. 28 issue of Science that reviews previous studies on how children learn. She said that in the past people thought preschoolers were irrational and illogical. However, during the 1980s and 1990s, researchers realized that young children actually had coherent, structured thoughts and could make causal inferences about the world around them. They might not yet be able to verbalize all of those thoughts and inferences, but they're learning from them, said Gopnik.

One experiment reviewed by Gopnik illustrated how even babies can act like mini-scientists and use a probability model. In this experiment, a researcher showed babies a box full of red and white balls. Then the researcher closed her eyes and randomly removed some balls from the box and placed them in another small bin. If the sample was truly random, the distribution of the balls should be close to that of the original container. For example if the original container held mostly red balls, the smaller bin should also have mostly red balls. But, sometimes the researchers switched the samples, giving the babies an unexpected result. When the sample of balls didn't match the expected distribution of balls, the babies stared at the non-matching sample longer.

Another experiment, this one conducted by Gopnik and her colleagues, asked 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds to make a machine play music or to stop the music. To do so, they needed to place a block on the machine. But, not all of the blocks would turn on the machine.

The preschoolers were shown that block A alone turned the machine on, block B did not turn the machine on, but A and B together turned the machine on. She said the children were able to figure out the correct patterns to either make the machine go or stop. And, that was true even for the youngest children in the experiment, who were only 24 months old.

Gopnik said that children seem to learn best when they can "explore and discover the world through spontaneous play," and that some of the current pressure to make preschools more academic might end up being counterproductive.

"Explicit teaching can also narrow the range of hypotheses that children are willing to consider. Activities, such as encouraging play, presenting anomalies and asking for explanations prompt scientific thinking more effectively than direct instruction," Gopnik wrote.

One expert praised the elegance of the review. "This is an interesting, but simple idea, presented in a rather sophisticated way," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.

Adesman said that he wasn't, however, particularly concerned about changes in preschool education. He noted that most preschool programs are usually only a couple of hours a day, which leaves children plenty of time to engage in spontaneous play. Plus, he said, "kids can learn from many difference experiences and exposures. They can learn in many different ways."

So, while they may be little scientists for a few hours of the day, they can also likely learn the alphabet in a more rote way, he suggested. But parents can nurture their child's natural inquisitiveness by providing spontaneous play opportunities whenever possible, he added.

Gopnik echoed that sentiment. "Look at what your children are interested in. They can learn a lot about the world by putting mixing bowls together, or playing with sand, or through pretend play," she said. "Join in with them when you can. And, answer children's questions and provide explanations, but also ask children why they think something happened. That's a good way to trigger their scientific minds."


** Note: I have disabled the commenting feature on my blog engine thanks to all the spammers who happily spam my blog every day. If you wish to ask me any questions, you can find me at my Facebook page (I'm there almost everyday) or just drop me an email if you wish to maintain some anonymity.