Tag Archives: reading comprehension

Wondering Wednesday: Summer Reading Help for Young Students

Summer Reading Help for Young StudentsDonna Reish, curriculum author and parenting/homeschool speaker, answers readers’ questions about bringing an elementary student up to grade level in reading during the summer. In this episode, Donna helps parents learn what to focus on in bringing their child to reading fluency, including terminology, phonics programs, reader selections, and steps in helping children learn to read during the summer school break. She has many links to help parents find the phonics program, readers, and methods that will work best for them and their children.


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Wordy Wednesday: Homo (same); phone (sound)

We tell our students all the time that you know more than you think you know! And that if you take what you already know and apply it to what you do not know, you will soon know even more!

Take the word homophone, for instance.
Homo—means same
Phone—means sound
Thus, homophones sound the same what you hear them. Homophones are words like their, they’re, and there and to, too, and two—words that sound the same when they are spoken but only look different when written. 

I tell my students that homophones “sound” the “same” when you are talking on the phone (and all you can do is hear–you can’t see the words written–either how they are spelled or in context).

We will do a lot of “word dissecting” on LL 365! That is something we begin teaching early in our curricula as it can unlock the meanings of so many words—and helps everybody learn to take what they already know and add it to what they are trying to learn.

Strengthlessnesses—Longest Word With One Vowel

Wordy Wednesday!

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday! Did you know that strengthlessnesses is the longest word containing only one (albeit very repeating) vowel? Neither did I. And I don’t really care for it. I mean, it is cumbersome to say–and that is a whole lot of e’s and s’s to remember to spell the crazy word.

But I love unique and unusual–and strengthlessnesses is definitely both of those! Here are some vitals about this “longest word containing only one (albeit very repeating) vowel”:

1. It is a noun–did you know that when a word ends in ness, it is almost always a noun? This helps with standardized testing greatly. Ness words are nearly always nouns, so in a “fill in the blank” type of assignment, if the word in question ends in ness, it has to go in a spot where a noun fits.

Tricky Trick to Help It Stick: We have students learn key words to remember things. For instance, to remember that ness words are nearly always nouns, memorize a key word or two that you know is a noun and that ends in ness.

Other ness nouns: happiness, hopefulness, craziness, gratefulness, joyfulness, smartness

2. It has to do with having strength–we teach our students to think about what you already know–anytime–but especially when approaching a new word. Is there anything about the word strengthlessnesses that you already know?
     a. You know what its base means. You already what strength means!
     b. You know that less means less or not having that quality. (We do a lot of root and affix studies here!)
Because of those two “things you already know,” you can know that strengthlessnesses has something to do with not having strength (i.e. less strength).

Note: You know more than you think you know! Repeat this over and over to yourself: “I know more than I think I know. I know more than I think I know.” Use what you know to learn more!

3. It can be spelled syllable-by-syllable (if you are a biphonic man or biphonic woman!): strength-less-ness-es.

4. You can also make up a trick to remember how to spell it, such as “It contains four e’s and six s’s. Or that it has four syllables–which tells you that it will have at least four vowels in it (or y’s acting like vowels)–because a syllable always contains at least one vowel. A vowel is what makes a syllable!

5. You can learn the variations of this word–because you can remember from your vocabulary studies with Language Lady that suffixes (affixes added to the ends of words) might change the SPELLING of the base word (pity is changed to piti in pitiful) but does not change the MEANING of the base word. Even with three suffixes added (less, ness, and es), the base word of strength still means strength.
             a.  stengthless–adjective meaning without strength (less words are often adjectives!)
             b. strengthlessly–adverb meaning without strength (ly words are often adverbs)
             c. strengthelessness–a noun describing someone or something that is without strength (ness words are often nouns)
            d. strengthlessnesses–a noun that means more than one someone or something that is without strength (es makes the word plural).

So there you have it–the longest word with only one repeating vowel. Did you know that you could learn so much from one word? You know a lot more than you think you know! Smile…


Know How You Learn

Recently, my son and I were meeting about our novel. Joshua started to describe the changes he thought we should make to a particular scene and told me I could just jot down whatever I thought I needed to. I told him to hold on for a minute while I got a blank sheet of paper, then I promptly did the following:

1. Numbered each note as he spoke
2. Put sub notes under the note with the character’s initial and the motivational changes that Joshua thought we needed (M: Needs to begin this scene….)
3. Drew arrows to and from things as he spoke

Then when I was ready to rewrite that scene, guess what I did? I typed those notes all up–complete with the numbering and sub-numbering, etc.

Why am I telling you this? If you are a student, pay close attention to HOW you learn. I could not have written from paragraph notes. I could not have written with a word or two for each point. I could not have written from my handwritten notes–I needed to type it up in order to further understand it.

Whatever you do as a student to learn tells you a lot about how you learn! Utilize this information for test preparation, writing projects, and more. And like I always tell my students: “You know more than you realize you know!”

Day 126: Wordy Wednesday—root TEN

I missed Wordy Wednesday, and it’s nearly time for another one! Keeping with our root word theme, today we are going to look at TEN and variations of it.
Definition: STRETCH or THIN
What words do we already know with this root? What can we know about each word—even if we do not know it before?
  1. tension
  2. extend
  3. tendency
  4. tendon
  5. tent
  6. distend
  7. intent
  8. tenable
  9. attention
  10. detention
  11. extent
  12. retention
  13. ostentatious
  14. malcontent
  15. potent

day 118: wording Wednesday—root/prefix dict

Many of my full time language arts students (those who come to class each week during the academic year to help us test our complete language arts curriculum) use the root/prefix “dict” each week—as they take “dictation” over the passage of material in our book. They label their papers Dict then the unit we are in and the date. They even call it “dict” time—which is so appropriate since the root “dict” literally means “word”—and they are writing down many words when they take dictation!
We will look at the root/prefix “dict” today!
DICT, DIT, DIC—means to tell, to say, or word
Like we always tell our students—focus on something you already know in order to understand the unknown. In my students’ case, they take “dictation” (writing down words) every week—so they can remember that dict has something to do with words. If you are of my generation, you might remember television programs in which secretaries use a Dictaphone to take dictation from their boss.
Consider what you already know to unlock the unknown! If you have kids, repeat this to them over and over again to help them in their learning and to encourage them about their vast store of knowledge.
Take a look at some words containing dic/dict/dit—and see how they can mean what they do—with to tell, to say, or word :
  1. Dictate—to speak words to someone (for that person to write)
  2. Verdict—a word/determination that was spoken at the end of a trial
  3. Edict—words that are authority or law/rule
  4. Contradict—contra means opposite; dict means word—opposite of the words that someone spoke
  5. Predict—pre means before; dict means word—speak words before they happen
  6. Diction—the pattern of someone’s speech
What other dit/dict/dic words do you know? When you see dic/dit/dict in a word—even if you do not know any other part of the word—use what you do know and the words within the sentence to unlock the meaning.

day 77: homework help–reading and writing connection part i of ii

One of the best ways you can help a child become good in language arts (which carries over to all of his school work–since all school work involves reading, comprehending, etc.) is to help him become a good reader. Yesterday I posted some links for laying a foundation for strong readers. Today I will give you some thoughts on early reading for those who are helping young readers practice their reading skills–then I will give some ideas on the reading/writing connection.

If you have a new reader in your home that you are trying to help with reading at home, try these “homework helps”:
1. Be sure he reads from a book every day. So much reading instruction nowadays is workbook oriented. This is like taking piano lessons while only doing theory books–with no actual playing time. If his school does not have oral reading time each day (or even if it does–sometimes it is only a sentence or two read by each student), be sure to practice reading with him at home. (I will put links below for readability information.)

2. Try the “you read, I’ll read” approach. Have him read a page or paragraph then you read a page or paragraph.

3. If he gets stuck on a word that you think he knows, remind him of what he knows about it:
a. Remember, this rhymes with light and bright. You had this word before.
   b. Do you remember what the e at the end of the word makes the first vowel say?
   c. How do you think Rabbit feels? Would that word be sad or silly based on how he probably feels?

4. If he is stuck too long or you do not think he knows a word, tell him what it is (and anything about it that might help him in the future) and move on. Do not get bogged down on each word.

5. Ask your librarian for help getting a reader that is truly at his level (or check out the links below for vocabulary controlled readers). Do not believe those readers that say K level in the corner but contain two syllable words!

6. Read aloud to him from a chapter book or other book that he enjoys to make the reading experience pleasant for him.

7. Reward him for practicing reading at home–stickers, coins, candy–it’s worth bribing for!

Tomorrow–more on the reading/writing connection in the early reader’s life! Check out our links below for more reading help for your young student.

Readability Levels of Materials: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/06/day-176-summertime-beginning-reading.html

Choosing Readers (starts with this day then moves on for several more): http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/06/day-173-summertime-beginning-reading.html

day 76: creating a reading environment

I don’t want to re-invent the wheel–and I also want to be sure to keep LL 365 short….or I might lose my privileges (or so my family says!)…so while I am going to spend a little time on helping  your struggling reader in this month’s Homework Help, I am not going to spend too much time on reading in general.

So…I will direct you to our sister blog, Positive Parenting, a weekday parenting blog for Christian families. The link below will lead you to the first of three entries about creating a reading environment in your home for new readers. There are so many things that parents can do to create a learning environment–and build a love for reading, whether your children go to school or homeschool.

Blessings to your family as you seek to help your children in the areas of language arts, reading, and writing!


day 16: it was just an “illusion” (or was it an “allusion”?)

Adding to the alluded/eluded and allusive/elusive quandary is the illusion/allusion Wacky Word pair! Again, looking at roots and affixes can be a great help.
Let’s start with allusion—since we had alluded yesterday. (Yes, you read that right—the roots are the same!)
1. Allusion (allude)
a.      Related to ludicrous: Hint—“What he alluded to was ludicrous!”
b.     Related to allusion—“He made an allusion to our previous conversation.”
c.      If you remember the allude/ludicrous (What he alluded to was ludicrous!), you will also remember allusion—allusion is something you allude to.
                                                                        i.     Allude is the verb—“What did he allude to?”
                                                                      ii.     Allusion* is the noun—The thing—“What was his allusion to your situation?”
2. Illusion
      a. Related to illustrate—See that root?
              i. Illustration is a picture
             ii. Illusion is an abstract picture
b.     Used to mean a facsimile or something that appears different than it is
i. “The ride gives you the illusion that you are on a mountain.”
ii. “They used Kleenexes to give you the illusion of fabric.”
iii. “Her success is just an illusion.”
c.  Illusion is also related to hallucination—seeing things that are not really there!
*Note: A more advanced vocabulary technique that you will learn this year on LL 365 is “illustrated” in suffixes—tion and sion generally signify a word is a noun.

day 12: roots and affixes

“….help kids (and adults!) to tap into what we already know in order to unlock the unknown.”
Back to the idea that students (all of us, really) know a lot more than we think we know. And helping kids (and adults!) to tap into what we already know in order to unlock the unknown.
One of the best tips I can offer for this is to encourage kids constantly to look at any part of anything that they already know. In the case of vocabulary and comprehension, I encourage students to look at what they do know. The beginning of this, of course, is root words and affixes—or even parts of words.
Root words, and sometimes even syllables, have meaning. And we often already know meanings of bits and pieces that we can put together to gain more knowledge. (If you know a foreign language, you will have even more success unlocking unknown words or parts of words since much of our language is taken from other languages.)
How can you use this concept to help you or your students? When you come to an unfamiliar word, don’t assume that you do not know it. Look more closely at the word. (And help your kids to do the same—question them all the time: “What do you know about the ‘aqua’ part of aquamarine?” [Or even, “What do you know about the ‘marine’ part?”)
Discussing words (roots, affixes, etc.) should be a part of our daily discussion with our kids. Even if our kids go to school, we have to look at ourselves as our children’s first teachers. There are so many things that we can teach them casually—homeschoolers or not.
Last week in literature class, our son (Joshua, one of our TFT teachers) asked the students what words they knew that contained the prefix “pro,” meaning “for.” He got the usual answers—pro-life; prolific; pro-football, etc. And then his clever “little brother,” Josiah, said, “’Propane’—means that we are ‘for pain’!” Have fun with vocabulary building—and your kids will not forget it, for sure!
Tomorrow I will give you a list of roots affixes that we use in our language arts books that you can print off for yourself or your students. Happy reading—and comprehending! Smile…