The Difference Between Speech and Language Development

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The Difference Between Speech and Language Development

I once taught a child who was a ‘selective mute’.  I had only been a teacher for about five years and had never come across a child who did not speak.  She would refrain from speaking all day and would not answer us.  She would just stare at us and allow other children to speak for her.  As soon as her mother arrived to pick her up in the afternoon, she would begin talking. It astounded me.  I referred her to the school Speech Therapist who told me that she was not a priority.  What the?

Let me explain.

There are two aspects of oral language development.  The first aspect is speech (expressive language) and can be defined as the ability to articulate sound and speak to be understood.  The second aspect is language (receptive language) which is the ability to understand what is being spoken by another person.

Pinterest Graphic - The Difference between speech and language development


The Raising Children Network is a fantastic place to find out more about speech and language development from professionals in this field.

Speech is how a child makes a sound to make a word.  There are many factors that affect a child’s speech.  These can be simple age-related, physical issues (for example being tongue tied) and hearing impairments.

As a parent, you know your child the best.  If you feel that they are having difficulty with their speech development there are plenty of places to go for advice and support.  Your local GP or child health nurse is the best place to start.


Language is another aspect of Oral Language and is often seen in most situations as more important. The child I spoke about earlier who was a selective mute was not a major concern to the Speech Therapist because her ability to understand language (what is being spoken by another person) was good.  She could understand what I was saying to her at school, could follow instructions and could listen to her peers.  This meant that although she was having some difficulty with her speech, her ability to understand language still made it possible for her to communicate with others.

Student working

A checklist is a good place to start and might be able to give you an indication of where your child is up to with their language development.  Remember that these are just indicators so don’t stress if your child is exactly at the same developmental level as what is stated. Use this as a guideline and trust your own judgement as a parent.

As a parent, you know your child the best.  If you feel that they are having difficulty with their language development there are plenty of places to go for advice and support.  Your local GP or child health nurse is the best place to start.

What Can You Do?

There are so many things that you can do at home from when your child is young.  We have some ideas here that might be a good start.  As an educator and parent, my best advice would be to trust your instinct on how you believe your child is developing.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about their speech and language development (or any part of their development), speak to someone.  There is your local GP, free health services (child health nurse), your local dentist (oral health has a part to play) and educators (your childcare teacher) who may be able to advise you further if you have any concerns.

It is better to get on top of these things early to ensure your child has the best start to their education and learning.

What Do Teachers Do?

Teacher sitting at laptop

What Do Teachers Do?

It is a good question. “What do teachers do?”

I once mentored an intern who told me that he honestly wanted to become a teacher because it would work best around before and after school surfing sessions.  He failed his internship.

The requirements for teaching are endless and the incredible aspect of the role is that the duties of a teacher really could be never-ending.  It isn’t just a job and it certainly isn’t just a 9 am to 3 pm job – it is a profession and often requires your heart, your soul, your blood, sweat and tears.

It isn’t about how much do teachers earn in a year – because honestly if we wanted to be rich we might have chosen something more lucrative – a lot more lucrative!

I am about to become a parent of a school student.  The other night I sat on the other side of the fence and listened at a Prep Parent Evening as the teachers discussed what would be happening for our little gems next year as they leave the nest and make the classroom part of their daily lives.

I looked at the teachers through parent eyes.  I listened to what they had to share through parent ears.  I asked myself many times if these were the people I wanted to educate my child.  I finally understood what it was like to be the parent and question – is this person good enough to teach my child?

Teacher writing on whiteboard


Why Do Teachers Teach?

The answer to this question is easy.  Teachers teach because they love it.  Yes, there may be the few minorities (like my surfing mate) who believe that it is an easy job to get the many weeks holidays a year – but trust me when I say, these teachers don’t last.  The teacher of your child loves what they do.  It is honestly such hard work that doing it otherwise would make no sense.

What Does a Teacher Do on a Daily Basis?

Teaching involves planning, preparing, working closely with teams, constant lifelong learning, curriculum insight, building resources, creatively facilitating and presenting on a daily basis.  It includes the joy of bus duties and walking around playgrounds with armfuls of Band-Aids when you would much rather be in the air-conditioning sipping a latte.

And these, my friends, are a mere smidge of what is completely involved.  When you receive that report card home at the end of the semester – the work, the writing, the assessment, the teaching, the late nights and the many mars bars eaten that have gone into the final production of that one report, is hard to fathom.

Teacher with bag


All About Teachers

So I guess the point of all this is to encourage you to uplift your child’s teacher.

In most cases, they are doing a more than a fine job and need your support and encouragement.  There is nothing more rewarding as a teacher to know that the students you teach and the parents of these students recognise your dedication and hard work.  It doesn’t take much – an email, a thank you card, a hello or a good morning (and a smile) is often enough.

The best way to get to know them and be part of their role in educating your child is to partner with them.  Keep lines of communication open and ensure that you give them the professional understanding that they work hard to obtain and deserve.

I hope that my little words of advocacy here have given you some insight into what a teacher does every day and perhaps opens your eyes to see them in a different light.

Fun Learning Activities For Preschoolers

Child drawing with crayons

Learning Without Worksheets

You know that saying – “Children minds are like sponges, they soak up the information and they are always hungry for more.”  Well, it is so true! Children do learn a lot, which makes them ideal students. While worksheets are great for teaching kids letters and numbers, kids sometimes just want to have fun! That’s where these fun learning activities come in handy. All of them are easy to set up and teach your kids important skills while having fun.

I put these activities together when I taught preschool. Children in my classroom loved every one of them and I hope your children will enjoy them too. You can go ahead and tweak the activities depending on your child’s level as well. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s go play and learn!

Learning Activities for Preschoolers

Chalk Letters

Buy colourful chalk and take the learning outside! You can write capital letters on the sidewalk and encourage your little one to write the lowercase letters next to it. If you are not that advanced yet, write the letters and, together with your child, draw pictures next to it! You can draw apples next to the letter Aa, or bananas next to the letter Bb. You can also ask your child to guess what letter you’re writing and to think of a picture that starts with that letter.

Chalk laying on the ground

Alphabet Maze

Write uppercase and lowercase letters on the paper and connect them with lines. Let your child follow the line from one letter to another to find a matching letter. This is great for practising uppercase and lowercase recognition! Once your child knows the alphabet, you can change it up and practice beginning letter sounds. Connect the letter with the correct picture. For example Gg – Ghost, Bb – Banana, Oo – Octopus. Look at these alphabet letters for more ideas!

Magnet Hunt and Sort

You’ll need a few items for this one but probably nothing you already don’t have at home – especially since you have a preschooler at home!

You’ll need a bigger magnet – hand-held magnet stick would be the best. You’ll also need some magnetic items and some sand. Put sand into a sensory bin – or any large bin. Hide various magnetic items into the sand and let your child find them! Paper clips and screws are great magnetic items and you can easily hide them in the sand. If you don’t have it you can use any other magnetic items you find in the house, like staples. The bigger the variety the better.

You can also put a sorting tray next to the sensory table. If you don’t have any, use ice-cube tray or muffin pan. Encourage your kids to find all magnetic items and sort them all out!

Time Puzzle

Learning to read the clock is always a challenging task. That is why you have to start slow and simple. Start with teaching your child reading what hour it is on the digital clock and analog clock.

One of the fun and easy way to teach is to make a “time puzzle”. Cut the paper into twelve longer rectangles. Write digital time on one side and draw a clock showing analog time on the other side. Do only whole hours – 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc. Cut the paper in the middle, scatter it around the table and have fun finding matches! If you prefer printing out already premade time puzzle, you can find the printable time puzzle for free here. 

Clock PrintableClock Printable


Number Chain

Save some toilet paper rolls. Save at least 10-20 rolls if you can. Paint each roll with different colour and write a number on it. You can also print the numbers, cut them out and glue them on the toilet paper rolls. Make holes in both sides of the rolls so that they are both against each other. Give your kids some string and make a number chain!


Bingo is a game you can adjust any way you chose. You could make number bingo, letter bingo or colour bingo. It’s a fun and easy game. Just grab some paper and draw it yourself!  

Number and Letter Scavenger Hunt

Does your child love games or a scavenger hunt?

Create a number and letter scavenger hunt! Write random numbers and letters on the piece of paper. Make it colourful, it’s more fun that way! You can include some other items as well. It’s up to you! Make a mix of letters, numbers and items that can be found around the house. This is a fun game that keeps your child occupied for a while!

Alphabet Sensory Art

Every child loves art and every child loves sensory play. Why not mix it all together, throw in some alphabet (or number) learning and have some fun along the way?

You’ll need glue, some sand, glitter or paper confetti and a paintbrush. If your child doesn’t know how to write letters by himself, write large letters on the colourful construction paper. Have your child trace the letters with a paintbrush dipped in glue and sprinkle some sand or glitter on top. You can make every letter different and display them in the room afterwards! This is a great learning activity to take outside if you don’t want the mess in the house.

Number towers

One of the most favourite activities in my classroom is the game we call “number towers”. You draw squares and write a number inside of each square. Kids will stack up cheerios or fruit snacks inside of each square! If the square says number 9, they will make a tower of 9 cheerios.
This activity is great not just for number recognition, but also for counting!

About the Author

Hey there! I’m Jana and I’m the mommy behind Mommy’s Little World. I’m a former preschool teacher who believes that teaching your children is the biggest gift you can give them. I create printables and lesson plans to help parents homeschool their preschoolers.

Happy learning!

Reading Skills – Literal and Inferential Comprehension

Stack of books

Reading Skills – Literal and Inferential Comprehension

Oh yes, I hear you say. Of course!  Literal and Inferential Comprehension – I absolutely know exactly what you are talking about.

Um.  Not really.

No, you wouldn’t because these are words used by teachers with our children in their classroom and often this ‘ educatory (yes educator is a made up word) terms’ are not relevant or comprehensible to the normal adult person.  Check out our post on Fluency and Expression for more teachery terms.

That is why you can thank me. I am here to explain.  I really should explain too because it might be something mentioned in a parent-teacher interview or a report card.  This way, you can know exactly what is being spoken about.

Let’s Keep It Simple

Comprehension is the ability to understand what you are reading.  You can find out more about this here.  When we comprehend a text we are looking at the words and images of a text to give us a good idea of what is going on.  For example, a text that is trying to convince you of something might use words like ‘must’, ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘certainly’.  The images in an advertisement for a great holiday location will have photos of beautiful people, beautiful beaches and yummy food. These words and images allow us to comprehend or understand a certain message.

Siblings reading together

Literal Comprehension

Literal comprehension is a type of comprehension.  It basically means that we can understand things from the text we are reading that we can take literally.  A simple one is this:

Sentence:  The black cat is waiting at the front door.

Literal Question:  What colour is the cat?

Answer: The cat is black and we can literally find the answer in the sentence.

Inferential Comprehension

Inferential comprehension is the ability to understand a text when things are not so obvious.  A reader must use their experiences to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening in the text.  Let’s look at the same sentence:

Sentence:  The black cat is waiting at the front door.

Inferential Question:  Why is the cat waiting at the front door?

Answer:  The cat might be waiting to be fed.

The answer to an inferential question may differ depending on the reader’s experience.  If the reader had a cat at home and their cat waits at the front door to be fed they might make an assumption based on this experience.

As adults, we infer things every day without even possibly being aware of it.  Children from a very young age would know that someone crying probably means they are sad without that person having to actually come and tell them they are sad.  We are constantly making inferences and the same happens when we read.

Reading Skills - Literal and Inferential Comprehension

Helping at Home

The best way to encourage this at home is to be aware of the literal and inferential meanings in the books that your child is reading.  It is not a secret that we at The Schooled Parent believe daily reading is as important as brushing your teeth. Whether your child is reading independently before bed or reading aloud while you are prepping dinner, send a few good questions their way to check their understanding.

Literal Questions

These questions have the answer directly and obviously in the text (words or images):

  • Who was driving the car?
  • What colour was the cat?
  • When did the bus arrive?

Inferential Questions

These questions require experience or thinking outside the box and not as obviously in the text (words or images):

  • Why do you think the car was stopped on the side of the road?
  • How was Sally feeling at the football game?
  • Where do you think they are going next?

Stack of books being held up high

There you have it. You can now nod along confidently when you next hear a teacher talk about the ‘wide variety of inferential and literal comprehension questions being used in reading groups’.

Good on you! A parent with knowledge of what happens in the classroom provides a stronger partnership in educating our children.

Reading Skills And Strategies – Fluency and Expression

Pile of books

Reading Skills And Strategies – Fluency and Expression

Like any profession, teachers have their very own language.  In fact, even as a teacher if you have been out of the game even for a short while it can seem that new words and acronyms pop up every day in the world of education.

As a parent, I can only imagine that this might seem quite daunting.  I believe it is important to educate parents on the language of education to make the partnership between home and school stronger.


I am going to introduce two new reading strategy terms to you. The first is Expression and the second is Fluency.  When a child is being assessed and taught to read, these are two important aspects that a teacher will look for.

What is Expression?

Expression is a child’s ability to read a story with rhythm, volume, tone and pitch.  I guess the best way to explain reading with expression is that a child is changing their voice when reading a text out loud.

Boy laughing while reading book

A child reading with expression indicates a number of things about their reading ability:

  1. An interest in the text.
  2.  An understanding of the author’s purpose (e.g. using rhythm in a poem).
  3. The ability to read ahead and know what is coming in the story (e.g. when the sentence says ‘The Giant is coming” shouted Jack and the reader changes the volume of their voice when reading aloud).
  4. An indicator that the same child would be reading (in their head) with expression when reading independently.
  5. An understanding of grammar (e.g. change of pitch for a question mark).

What is Fluency?

Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. Essentially, fluency and expression work hand in hand.  I guess the best way to explain fluency is that a child reads with pace instead of sounding like a robot.

Reading Skills and Strategies - Fluency and Expression


A child reading with fluency indicates a number of things about their reading ability:

  1. A good comprehension of the text.
  2. An ability to recognise a wide range of words and vocabulary (e.g. not needing to hesitate to sound out words).
  3. Great sight word recognition.
  4. An indicator that the same child would be reading (in their head) with fluency when reading independently.
  5. An enjoyment for reading.
  6. An understanding of grammar (e.g. pausing for commas, stopping for full stops).

How Can You Help at Home?

So what can you do at home to help your child improve their reading expression and fluency?

There are so many ideas but I believe the most significant one is to model it.  Read with expression and fluency when you read the fave bedtime story and they will start to model what you do with their favourite books.  I have seen my six-year-old nephew read a story to his little brother in the exact same way that his grandmother has read the book to him.  It is the cutest thing and the best way for them to learn.

Mother and Daughter reading outside

You can also:

  • Ensure the books they are reading are interesting to them, for some great recommendations for reading resources click here
  • Work on their sight word recognition.
  • Put things in place if your child is reluctant about reading (for tips on reluctant readers check our post out here).
  • Borrow audiobooks and books on CD from the library or online so they can hear how others read with expression and fluency.  I have recently come across this great resource called Storybox that is incredible for this very thing.
  • Re-read the same book and allow your child to re-read the same book to you if they want to. I know it can seem tedious but it is very helpful for fluency and reading confidence.


Craft Subscription Boxes – Crafts For Kids

Craft Subscription Boxes – Crafts For Kids

I am one week away from having a baby.  Of course, I am super calm, looking forward to it, the house is clean, ready to go….and I might be fibbing slightly too.

This is my second pregnancy and has been harder than the first.  I was sick with our first child for 17-20 weeks and lost about 8kg from morning sickness.  It was horrible, to say the least.

This time topped that. This time I was sick for close to 27 weeks and then still even now have the occasional ‘sickness moment’ even up to 38 weeks.  Fun times.

This is the embarrassing part of the story.  I am quite a loud ‘sick’ person if you get my drift and one day amidst the joys of early pregnancy I received a text message from my neighbour.  She is gorgeous and politely asked me if I was pregnant.

I was horrified. Horrified only because I knew, in that moment, that she had heard me being sick all the way from our bathroom to her house.  Oh my goodness!  I admitted that yes I am and apologised profusely.  Oh dear.

Guess what happened next? She arrived at my house with a craft box for our four-year-old to “keep him busy because I have been so sick”. Don’t you love when good people make good things happen?

Subscription Boxes for Kids – What are they?

It wasn’t any old craft box either.  It was a Castle and Kite Craft box.  Heard of them?  Well if you have you will know how fab they are and if you haven’t – then listen up.

Castle and Kite is the creative genius of mothers Alana and Liss who aim to provide educational and meaningful toys that encourage playtime and imagination.  In addition, they have created these incredible craft boxes that allow craft for kids to be easy, manageable and meaningful.

We were lucky enough to receive the ‘Under the Sea’ Craft Box and then when I looked on the website I noticed that there was also so much more available.  The Craft Box we received had INCLUDED every single thing you needed and was full of arts and craft activities for kids.  It is so well organised and seriously ready to go! Castle and Kite also have three monthly subscription boxes with a variety of easy crafts for kids as well as theme boxes (think dinosaurs, mini beasts, space) that can be purchased as a one-off.

We at The Schooled Parent love these ideas. Castle and Kite also have educational packs available, as well as story stones (such a fun way to tell stories) and resources for children to learn to write letters, numbers and their names. It really is right up our alley when we are so passionate about the significant partnership between play and learning for those early childhood years. Read here about how passionate we are about encouraging play and creativity.

Our four-year-old loves his Castle and Kite Craft box and is often something he will grab out when it is a rainy day or his poor pregnant Mama is just too tired to go to the local skate-park again.

Craft Subscription Boxes - Craft for kids

We seriously encourage you to check Castle and Kite out as they have the best subscription boxes.  The best ideas come from those living the reality of being home with small children and being passionate about the importance of learning and play from a very young age.

Castle and Kite’s resources are great as gift ideas (how awesome to give gift subscription boxes as a birthday present), fantastic for preparing your little one for school and kindergarten and my goodness – I HIGHLY recommend them when you have severe morning sickness and need to entertain a small person!

How To Encourage Oral Language Development

Mother reading with baby

How To Encourage Oral Language Development

I had a very random conversation with our four-year-old today.  In fact, we actually have wonderfully random conversations every day. Today as we were driving to school he asked me – “Where does a Judge work Mum?’

Firstly, I vaguely remember mentioning something to him once about a person who is called a Judge and decides if people go to jail.  It was an off-hand ‘something’ I mentioned once.

This is how our chat went down in the car.

Me: A judge works in a court.

Him: Oh like a tennis court?

Me: (I may have had a little giggle) Not a tennis court mate, a courthouse.  They sit in an important chair and decide what happens to people who have done the wrong thing.

Him: Like go to jail?

….and so the conversation continued as we discussed jail and paying fines and lawyers.

How to encourage oral language Development

I believe we should talk to our children, explain things and actually answer the questions they have. When they are young, the curiosity and wonder they have for the world are infectious.  As parents, we need to grab hold of that and make the most of it. Before we know it, we will be sitting at the traffic lights beside a 15-year-old who would rather be scrolling through his phone than talk to us at all.

What Can We Do To Help With Oral Language Development?

There are two aspects to the development of oral language.  The first is speech and the second is the understanding of language. You can read more about these here.

Oral language development is crucial and happens when we actually chat with our children, answer their many questions and explain things.  I don’t mean we need to give them every detail of the adult world.  I mean, use vocabulary that is not ‘dumbed down’ for them.  They can handle it.

The only way your child is going to learn how to speak is by modelling that from you.  I once heard a lady say to her two-year-old ‘We went to the toilet in the potty today didn’t we?’

It made me wonder.

Who went to the toilet in the potty?

Both of them?

We are all guilty of this, but at the end of the day, the way we speak is the way our children will learn to speak.

So, how can we do this so that benefits their development?

Talk to Your Baby

When I first had a newborn I found it a bit weird to talk to him.  I mean, he was tiny and I didn’t really know what to say.  Even from a very young age, chatting with our children is vital.  Explaining to your four-month-old that you are changing their nappy or that it is bath time is crucial to their oral development.

Mother laughing with baby

They are watching your mouth and lips, listening to the sounds you make and intonations of your voice.  They are looking at your facial expressions and taking in the volume and expressions in your voice.  This is all leading them to be able to speak and understand language.

Use Proper Vocabulary

When you are speaking with your child, try and use the appropriate vocabulary for a situation.

Why call it a digger when it is an excavator?

Why call it a baby cat when it is a kitten?

Using the appropriate word from the beginning actually prevents your child from having to relearn it at a later date.  It also gives them the confidence to be able to engage in conversations with people of all ages.

Explain the Details

If your child asks you a question about something, find the time to explore and explain the answers with them.  Today, with the answer to everything at hand, we can easily find a way to show them what they are curious about.  Use youtube, books, the library, documentaries, excursion, diagrams and good old Google to help you research together.

Laptop with google image

If your child is truly interested in a topic, they will take any information on board and contain it like a sponge.  Anyone who has met a dinosaur obsessed three-year-old can witness to that.

Repeat Correctly

We all have children who say the cutest things the wrong way.  My brother used to say ‘chopping trolley’ instead of shopping trolley and it still makes me smile to this day.  As cute as it is, allowing words to be spoken incorrectly could end up becoming a bad habit to break.  I am not suggesting ridiculing them and asking them to repeat the proper word three times.  The best thing to do in situations like this is to repeat the word correctly after them.

“Yes, we need a shopping trolley don’t we?”

Music and Singing

My husband is one of those guys who sings everything or can find a song in his head about anything. It is something that I have caught off him.  Music and singing are wonderful ways for children to learn about sound, speech, rhyme and rhythm.  If I am honest (and I can’t believe I am publishing this) I was actually asked to leave the school choir in grade two. I wonder where that dear teacher is these days? In saying that, my son thinks I am a fantastic singer so if I can do it – you can too!

Girl playing music

We honestly don’t realise that our everyday interactions, such as talking to our children are significant to their development.  Don’t see this as pressure, see this as a privilege that you are the first and best teacher they are ever going to have.  The honour you have of being there and making a difference to their development from the moment your child is born is a wonderful thing.

Basic Sight Words And What They Are.

Basic Sight Words

Basic Sight Words and What They Are

It is a huge deal sending your child to school for the first time (and learning about basic sight words).  2019 will see me embark on this very adventure.  The first time I have completed the ‘first day of school’ as a parent. It is daunting, overwhelming, emotional and yet I have to be the brave one.

My husband has kindly offered to take the day off work to ensure I don’t hold onto the school fence the entire day waiting for the 3 pm bell to ring.  I have already told him that I am sure there will be other mothers at the fence I can chat with for the day.

With my teacher hat on (the professional on and the emotional off), I can tell you that they settle in well, are busy all day and don’t even really notice that you have abandoned them (I mean, left them to be educated).  It really is true and before you know it they are working out the playground, asking for tuckshop on Fridays and bringing home sight words.

Hang on, what?  What are sight words?

One of those ‘educator’ terms that we bandy around, chat about, discuss and use so frequently in the profession that we often forget that the average parent has no idea what we are talking about when we say ‘practise your sight words every night’. I still remember as a young teacher talking about sight words at a parent-teacher interview only to have two parents looking at me with the blankest of faces.  To give them credit, they politely nodded in order to make me think they knew what I was even talking about.

Sight Word Activity

Sight words.

Let me clarify.

There are a number of words (quite a lot in fact) within our vocabulary that we should be able to read by sight.  Now before you roll your eyes, of course, we read every word by sight, but what I mean is, as opposed to sounding a word out.

Here is an example.

The word ‘and’ is a sight word.  We should know about it.  We see it and we don’t even have to think about the word we automatically know it says ‘and’.  The word ‘endangered’ on the other hand, is not a sight word for a seven-year-old but one that may need sounding out.

When children are learning to read, it helps them immensely to see many of the most frequently used words in our vocabulary (and, she, he, the, because, always, after, today etc.) and know them immediately.  It will depend on the sight word list of the school your child attends, but basically, the list is long and these words will need to be seen and practised and read and written – over and over again until they become automatic.

Girl Reading Book

In most schools, the learning of sight words becomes a project for both home and school.  There will be daily activities in a Preparatory to Year Two classroom that will provide opportunities for your child to learn their sight words.  You will also most likely see the lists coming home (not at all once – a little at a time) for your child to rehearse and write and read and practice at home for homework.  In many ways, sight words will invade your home and for a very good reason.

It is important for us as parents to understand that knowing all their sight words enables a child to read basic texts and then more challenging texts much quicker. This gives children more chance to focus on what they are reading instead of how they are reading.  Children who know their sight words are more fluent, expressive readers and comprehend texts at a higher level.

Using sight words to help teach struggling readers is a great example of how you can use sight words. You can also read my post on 12 ways to have fun with sight words. There are plenty of ideas that help everyone get through this important aspect of learning during the early primary years.

12 Ways To Have Fun With Sight Words

Sight word activites

12 Ways To Have Fun with Sight Words

We recently shared about SIGHT WORDS  – what they are, how they are helpful and how they will take over your child’s homework for at least the first three years of their primary schooling.  We thought it only fitting then that we would give you some cool and creative ideas on how you can have fun with sight words (even before your little darling enrols in their first day of prep).

There are so many great ideas, games and activities online, however, we thought we would provide some handy ways on how to teach sight words and learn with things you might already have at home and that won’t break the budget.

1. Display Them

Make or download (good old Pinterest is a great place to visit for this, I have done a quick search for you and here are some sight word printables you can use) some sight word flash cards and display them around the house.  Basic words like on, off, yes, no, in, out and stop can be used around the house in games and on light switches etc.  This makes learning the words meaningful and relevant.

If your child is older and is having trouble with specific basic sight words, display these in their bedroom (or even on the ceiling above their bed) so they can read them before they sleep at night.

2. Playdough

Make the words out of playdough or make playdough pancakes and write the words in the playdough. The same can be done with sand or mud or kinetic sand or shaving foam or….the possibilities are endless.  You could also do this with real dough and bake the words in the oven when you are done.  It might seem fun to a six-year-old to eat their sight words once they are cooked.

Fun with sight words

3. Painting

Grab a small bucket of water (even chuck a drop of food colouring in there) and a paintbrush and get your child to paint their sight words all over the back fence or the driveway or the front deck – wherever you wish.

4. Rainbow Writing

Head to your local two dollar shop and buy a pretty pack of gel pens, textas, glitter glue or even some cool crayons.  Have your child write their sight words in rainbow colours or funny writing (bubbles or squiggly) to make learning to write the more exciting.

Sight word activity

5. Hide and Seek

Hide the sight word flashcards somewhere (around the house or yard) and have your child go on a treasure hunt to find them.  To make it more fun, get dressed up and take some binoculars, a camera or a magnifying glass and a special bag or basket to put all of their found treasures in.

6. Key Rings

Make little sight word cards, grab a hole-punch and place them on a key ring (coloured key rings can be purchased really cheap at a two dollar shop).  These can be kept in the car for traffic jams or drives to school where your child can practise reading the words out or spelling them out loud to whoever wishes to listen.

7. Chalk It

Find yourself a handy bucket of sidewalk chalk and let your child go crazy with sight words all over a space outside – this could be the driveway (be safe) or a paved area.  A small chalkboard (or whiteboard) is always fun too.  You could call out the word and have your child write it – and a handy little activity that could be completed while you are prepping dinner or hanging a load of washing (fun).

8. Wash It Away

Write a sight word list on the fence and give your child a spray bottle.  Have them read the word and then spray it off until it is washed away.

9. Roll a Dice

Have your child choose a sight word and then roll the dice – if they land on a six they have to write the word six times.  An alternative for this is to give them six sight words in a table with each word assigned a number.  If they roll the word’s number they need to write it down once.  This is a fun little race to see which words can be written the most.

10. SNAP! and Concentration

Make (or download) two lists of sight word cards to play concentration or snap.  To play concentration: flip all cards face down and take turns trying to find the matching pairs.

11. Getting Fit

Draw a hopscotch outside (use that good old sidewalk chalk) and choose nine words to have a game of hopscotch.  Another fun thing to do is to give your child a word and have them jump or skip while they are spelling it.  You could also stick some sight word cards to the fence or even some trees in the backyard. Call out the word and have your child run to the word as fast as they can.  This can be done at home or even the local park for something different.

12. FlySwat

Buy a new fly swat (one that has not actually come in contact with a fly) and place the sight word cards on the floor.  As you call out the word, have your child swat the correct word with the fly swat. You can swap over so they can call the word out and you can have a turn swatting too.

Sight Word Kit

We recommend organising a sight word kit with some of the resources you may need. This allows you to grab an activity quickly so your child can practise their words every day and it does not become another crazy afternoon chore that you have to do.  The idea is that your child can work independently some afternoons or play one of the games with a sibling or friend to allow for those days when you have a million things to do.

The kit can be taken in the car too, so if you have after school sport with your older children, the words can be practised at the same time with your younger child while you wait.

Sight work kit contents

Here is a shopping list of some items you may use to start your own sight word kit:

  • Plastic container, box or basket with a lid is preferable
  • Sight word cards (homemade or download)
  • Playdough
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic cup (for water painting)
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • A packet of coloured pens
  • Scrapbook
  • Dice
  • Mini chalkboard or whiteboard and pen
  • Spray bottle

I have recently made a similar kit for a child that I tutor so she can have fun with sight words and it was cheap and very effective.  She loves it and once I taught her the activities she can now do some of them independently on the days that I am not tutoring her.

The ability to read and recognise sight words enables children to become more confident and fluent readers.  These activities will continue to expose your child to these words and will then support their learning and allow them to become masters of reading and writing.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Children books on book shelf

Reading Comprehension Strategies

When I was teaching Prep, there was a student who could literally read novels.

He was five.

He would bring a book (more appropriate for an adult scientist) into the playground and sit and read it out loud to anyone who would listen.  Teachers and children would stand by with their mouths agape at this small boy who could read and pronounce words that possibly even the school principal had not ever encountered.

It was astounding. The comments flying around the staffroom and playground included ‘child prodigy’ and ‘giftedness’ and yet were shockingly untrue.  You see, although he would and could read anything you put in front of him, he was not necessarily able to comprehend it.

Therefore, despite his tiny size and enormous vocabulary, this child was no more gifted at reading then his little classmate reading Dr Seuss (no offence to Dr Seuss, of course).

How to learn and apply reading comprehension strategies

Reading isn’t about the ability to read the words on the page.  Reading is about the ability to understand the words on a page.  This is called comprehension.

You see, there is no point in reading anything if you cannot comprehend or understand what it is you are reading.  Teachers in primary schools regularly assess and monitor your child’s reading ability. Each time your child is reading to a teacher either individually or in a small group (which in fact should happen daily in some capacity) they are being observed on a number of things.  Some of these are; the ability to read fluently, the ability to decode, the ability to read with expression and the ability to comprehend a text.  You can read more about reading with fluency and expression here.

So how do we partner with our child’s classroom teacher and ensure that our children can comprehend what they are reading?

Stack of books

Allow the Questions

From a young age, it is a beautiful thing to read to our children.  However, as a mother, I feel the frustration that can overcome you as you are rushing through the bedtime story only to be interrupted by a well-meaning three-year-old with a hundred questions.

“What does that word mean Mum?”

“Why is the bear climbing the tree?”

“Why don’t we live in a house like that?”

questions, who,when,where,how,why,what

We often just want to get that book done and move on to better things like – a shower, a cup of tea and some mind-numbing television.

These questions during this time are so important.  It allows you to help your young child comprehend the story, look beyond what they are hearing and make judgements about what you are reading.  Comprehension often begins with life experiences and recognising these in stories. This means that relating the story to your own lives can be really significant.

Look at the Pictures

When your older child brings home a book from the school library or a home-reader for homework, have them look at the pictures first.  Reading is much more than the words on the page.  The images and illustrations in a story are the best help in comprehending a story. This is especially the case for early readers and is also something fun and fairly easy for engaging those reluctant readers.

Picture Book

You can read here about some tips on how to motivate reluctant readers.

Ask good questions to encourage comprehension from the pictures:

“What do you think is happening in the story just by looking at the pictures?”

“What is this story about?”

“Can you tell me about the characters in the story?”

This will help get your child thinking about the text and what it is about before they even begin reading the actual words.

Retell the Story

Make use of time in the car or while you are cooking dinner to have your child read a book (or a chapter) to you.  When they have finished reading aloud, ask questions about what they have read.  You could also get them to show you what happened in the story by:

  • retell the story to you
  • paint or draw a picture
  • use puppets/figurines/lego/animation

These are all fun ways to make sure that your children can understand what they are reading.

Be the Teacher

This one takes a little more time but is great to really ensure that your child is reading relevant texts that are age and ability appropriate.  Ask simple questions and then perhaps some more challenging ones that make them think outside the box.  Teachers in classrooms use two types of questioning when assessing a student’s ability to comprehend a text.

Teacher writing on white board

These are called Literal and Inferential Questions.

In a nutshell, literal questions are questions that can be answered by simply reading the text and looking at the pictures.  For example, if a sentence says ‘Sally walked to school’ then the literal question may be ‘How did Sally get to school?’  Easy to answer as it is right there in the text.

An inferential question requires more thinking.  If the sentence was ‘Sally walked to school’ the inferential question might be ‘Do you think Sally lives far from school?  How do you know?’  This way the child has to use some prior experience to make links between what they already know and what they are reading.

Click here for more ideas on how to ask literal and inferential questions.

Comprehending a text is the most important aspect of reading.  Hopefully, some of the ideas given here are simple enough to put in place at home. This can be whether you are reading to your three-year-old or listening to your ten-year-old read aloud while you cook Tuesday night spaghetti.

Remember, speaking to your child’s classroom teacher is also a great place to get some ideas and strategies.  They are working closely with your child every day and will be able to give you more specific ideas for your individual child.

Plus, I reckon they will be mighty impressed when you start the conversation with …”I have just been wondering how to ask better literal and inferential questions to (insert child’s name here) when they do their daily reading…”

That will blow their socks off for sure!