Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pesky Verbs: Make Them Fun!

Do you have children who say, “runned?’ Do others say, “jump – ted?” These are common verb issues for all children but can be especially difficult for our English Language Learners (ELLs). This week in our Maggie’s Earth Adventures Weekly Pack, we discuss ways you can help your emergent readers identify correct verb tenses. If you aren't receiving these activities, please sign up (FREE!) in the box to the right. 

We know that issues with verb tenses start before reading begins. Two concerns can cause difficulty for preschoolers: irregular verbs and the use of correct syllabication for past tense verbs formed with –ed.

When we are helping our children to understand the use of irregular past tense verbs like ran, came, swam, drove, etc., we can heighten awareness of their use by playing games. For example, ask children to run in place. You can have them chant phrases/sentences like, “We are running; we are running.” When you stop, then you can all say, “We ran; we ran.” 

Be sure they understand they are to watch you carefully, and when you stop the action, they are to stop immediately. This can be played like “Simon Says.” Then have different children take turns at leading the group.

You can add a new irregular verb every few days. Keep track of the verbs that are a part of your “game” so you can return to them for review. This makes a fun and meaningful brain break for your young learners.

If you hear children incorrectly saying a verb you have used in the game, you can gently remind them of your game. Of course, do not hold children accountable for any irregular verbs you have not used as a class.

The other common verb problem for preschoolers, especially for ELLs, is the question of how to add –ed to action words. Words like jump, stop, and walk simply add the –ed and the verb remains as a single syllable word, with the –ed pronounced as /t/ or /d/.  But when we have verbs like act, lift, wait, or shout, the –ed forms a new syllable and is sounded: /ed/.

This can be highlighted by adding verbs like this to the brain break game suggested above. By emphasizing this, the “rule” for base verbs with a t or d becomes a more natural part of speech of everyone.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.D.
Head Start - IX. A.,B.,& C.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Position Words for Preschoolers

In, over, under, around, through...these are the types of words that can easily confuse preschoolers, especially those children who are learning to speak English. How can we help all of these children learn these key words that can often be confusing?

One of the best ideas is to use high leverage practices to model the meaning of the words for children. When we model, we are clear and concise in our choice of vocabulary. More importantly, we demonstrate the meaning of vocabulary using hand gestures or by moving our bodies. It is important to remember that we should ask children to quietly sit and watch us before having them engage in jumping over a book or walking around a chair. This is because often children get excited when moving around. By asking them to watch you first, this helps children to process the meaning of position words. 

In addition, there are several books that help children not only hear these words used in authentic texts but you can emphasize these as you read.  Two of our favorite books for this purpose are Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins and Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan Berenstain. Using high leverage practices, modeling, read a book the first time through using hand gestures to demonstrate the meaning of position words. Then read a second time for children to act out the key words. 

As children walk and play outside, encourage them to use this vocabulary in context. 

If your class goes for a walk, have them chant sentences like, "Walking over the bridge."

Intentionally ask children to practice position words. Make it a game by playing, "Teacher Says." This child has responded to, "Teacher says point UP." Either this variation of "Simon Says or a fun version of "Mother May I" are appropriate ways to engage young children with position words. 

Finally, you can assess the ability of children to use and understand position words by giving them a cup and plastic toy.  Have them tell you a story about how the toy is above the cup, under the cup, on the cup, etc. 

ELL Connection:
As you can see, this is a helpful strategy for our English Language Learners. 

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.B.01 & 2.D.04
Head Start - VI.A. & IX.A.