Friday, June 17, 2011

"My! My!"

This week, I've started doing dictation with Zach. I know he is only 5 but he loves it! You should see the satisfaction in his eyes when he spells a word correctly. I have started with the words in the Dolch word list. I don't do any drills. I don't insist on him memorising the words. I'm sure the need for that will come in time but for now, he simply enjoys the ability to form the words both verbally and then translate it into letters. It is such a confidence booster for him.

This is his Dolch word list as at Wednesday night. Here's how it works. I separated the list of words into the appropriate levels as suggested by various different educational websites. Each level corresponds to a star below his name. When he gets an entire column (level) in red, he gets a gold star and a reward (to be negotiated). To get a word in red, there are two ways. The first way is rather incidental. If I find that he is reading a word on the list without hesitation or sounding out during our nightly story book reading session, the word goes red and I confirm it by asking him to write it. The second way is simply asking if he knows how to write a certain word during dictation and if he writes it correctly the first time, the word goes red.

How did I make the chart? It's rather simple to the point of almost embarrassing. I copied the list from a website. There are hundreds out there if you search "Dolch sight words". Printed it out on to A3 paper and then laminated it. I then printed the word list separately on red paper. I've been cutting each word out and using double sided tape to stick it onto the laminated chart. Simple but all so effective. Zach gets a kick out of seeing the words turn red and wants to work through the words quickly.

It's been really fun for him as he sets the pace and I simply follow his lead. He does get a little frustrated when he can't spell a certain word and I refuse to turn the word red if he didn't get it the first time around. I want to instill in him the need for attention to detail and perseverance. One thing he often says now is, "Practice makes perfect, mummy." But the dictation sessions are always fun and in true Zachary style, you never know what to expect. This is what I got on Wednesday night when I asked him if he could write the word, "my".

I got a drawing of a regular nightly scene at home when I am herding the kids into bed. I'm piggy-backing laughing Amelia whilst Zach is chasing us crying out, "my my!". Translation: He is being a seagull in Finding Nemo, calling out "mine mine". Ah, the joys of teaching my son to read and write.

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