New WordWorld Library

The new library from WordWorld has five great, fun, and educational stories for children.  Linda Labbo, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, has great things to say about these books.  She says, “Words come to life on screens in unique ways that invite children to interact with stories, characters, and language. The interactivity scaffolds children’s attention and provides age appropriate prompts that ensure an entertaining and educational experience.”   Scaffolding is very important in the learning process, and WordWorld utilizes that specialized teaching strategy.

In my opinion as an educator, I think Word World is one of the best children’s educational programming available. The literacy lessons presented in the WordWorld television series are extended in these books.  Kids can either read them on their own, have someone read to them, or have the stories read to them by the narrator.  A Guide providing strategies is also available to maximize learning.

These are the five books:

  • A Smile for Crocodile
  • Duck’s First Sleepover
  • Snug as a Bug
  • The Big Race
  • Totally Terrific Duck

Sources of Free Printable Worksheets

Here are some great sites with free printable worksheets:

Here are more sites with free printable word webs:

Five Little Monkeys Book with Sign Language DVD

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed is a classic children’s book. Our children were raised with this story and finger play, as well as the first grade classes I taught in public school. This book also comes with a DVD featuring an adult telling the story in sign language. There is voice narration as the illustrations from the book are also shown. This book and DVD set is available on the Scholastic site as well as Amazon.



There are nine stories on the DVD, ending with There’s Something in My Attic” by Mercer Mayer. The DVD also has vocabulary for each story, ASL demonstration of the signs for some of the nouns and verbs, mini-quizzes for comprehension, and a presentation of the American Sign Language alphabet.
Here’s where to order the book with sign language DVD: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed… and More Favorite Children’s Stories (Scholastic Storybook Treasures)

New Samsung WordWorld Apps

WordWorld has three new WordWorld mobile applications for Samsung’s new bada platform.  They are available in most international countries, however, not in the United States.  Hopefully, these apps will extend literacy lessons which are seen on the WordWorld television series by using children-friendly media.  These are the new apps available:

  • BEAR’s Skateboard Park Game
  • DOG’s Letter Pit Game
  • Snug as a BUG eBook

Alphabet Letter Party

Celebrate when a child learns a letter of the alphabet that has been hard for them to learn.  Make a cookie cake either from scratch or buy a roll of the child’s favorite refrigerated cookie dough and spread it out on a pizza pan to bake.  If the child enjoys decorating, then let them decorate the cookie cake, or if they really enjoy being surprised then surprise them with it.  The main thing is to celebrate the learning that has taken place and encourage them to learn more things that might be difficult for them.

WordWorld “Build a Word” App for iPhone

The immensely popular WordWorld “Build a Word” app is now even better! In response to feedback, they installed the following upgrades:

· Re-programming the app to be compatible with the 4.0 iPhone operating system.

· Randomizing the presentation of the WordFriends for more WordBuilding fun!

· Decreasing the price. You can now purchase the app for the low, low cost of only $0.99.

“The “Build a Word” app is based on the WordWorld television show. Children will shake up this “WordBuilder” to watch letters float across the screen. They can then place letters in the outline provided to build words one letter at a time. By pushing the letters of each word together, words will magically “morph” into WordFriends! DOG, DUCK, PIG, ANT, FROG, SHEEP, BUG, COW, CAT and BEE come to life and help children build early literacy skills.”

You can download the WordWorld “Build a Word” app from iTunes.

FREE Site: Starfall – A Fun Way to Help Teach Reading

Many of you already know about Starfall.  For those who don’t, it’s an excellent free site to encourage children to learn to read while having fun.  This site is great for children learning their alphabet letters, learning the sounds of letters, and learning how to read words or short stories.

How to Teach Main Idea to First Graders

With any skill I teach in the classroom, I model the skill, have the students work on the skill with guided practice, and then observe them as they work on the skill independently.   Using these steps, this is how I would teach “main idea.”

First, write a short paragraph on the board or overhead such as this one: Michael had fun at the school carnival with his friends.  They ate pizza and then played a lot of games.  They had their faces painted.  They ate popcorn.  Then it was time to go home.

Explain that main idea tells what the whole story is about.  Explain how the first sentence tells the main idea in this story, Michael had fun at the carnival.  Then proceed with the following sentences to show how they support the main idea.

  • “Is eating pizza and playing a lot of games fun?”  “Yes.”
  • “Do most kids think getting their faces painted is fun?”  “Yes.”
  • “Is it fun to eat popcorn?”  “Yes.”

Now show how the supporting sentences would not be the main idea:

  • “Is the main idea (the whole story) about eating pizza?”  “No, because they played games, had their faces painted, and ate popcorn, too.”
  • “Is the main idea about playing games?”  “No, because they ate pizza and popcorn, and they had their faces painted, too.”
  • “Is the main idea about having their faces painted?”  “No, because they played games, and they ate pizza and popcorn, too.”
  • Reinforce how the main idea, the whole story, is about Michael having fun at the school carnival with his friends.  And all of these things (eating pizza, playing games, having faces painted, and eating popcorn) are ways to have fun.

Next, give the students a worksheet with no more than four short stories on it.  Make sure the stories are separated with lines so it will not cause any student to be confused.  Make sure the stories are numbered so you can easily refer to a certain story.

  • Read the first story together orally with the class and also all of the choices for main idea.  Work through the process in the same way as the above story.  Have the students underline the main idea in the story with a crayon or colored marker.  Then have them mark the answer.
  • Read the second story and answers orally with the class, but this time have them choose the answer by themselves.  After they have marked their answers, talk about the correct answer and why it is correct.  Allow students to change their answer, if necessary.  Make sure they underline the main idea in the story.
  • Have students complete the third story independently.  Again, after they have marked their answer, talk about the correct answer and why it is correct.  Let them correct their answer.  Make sure they underline the main idea in the story.
  • Complete the fourth story in the same manner as the third one.

Give students a similar worksheet in the same format and have them complete the worksheet independently.  Then you can assess how well each student understood the concept of main idea.

Teaching Phonemic Awareness to First Graders

There are several components to teaching phonemic awareness to children.

  • Isolating phonemes – Student can identify the individual sounds of letters.  Example: Teacher says, “What is the first sound in man?” or “What sound do you hear at the end of man?”  Student answers, “/m/” or “/n/” accordingly.
  • Matching phonemes – Student identifies the words with the same beginning sound in a short list of words.   Example: Teacher says, “Listen to these words and tell me which ones begin with the same sound: ball, bell, cat, book.”  Student answers, “ball, bell, book.”
  • Blending phonemes – Student listens to individual sounds and blends them together to form a word.  Example:  Teacher says, “Listen to these sounds and tell me the word, /m/-/a-/-/n/.”  Student answers, “Man.”
  • Segmenting phonemes – Student hears a word and makes the individual sounds for that word.  Example:  Teacher says, “Tell me the sounds you hear in man.”  Student answers, “/m/-/a/-/n/.”
  • Deleting phonemes – Teacher removes the beginning phoneme and student tells the new word.  Example:  Teacher says, “Listen to ‘grow,’ then take away the /g/ sound at the beginning.  What is the new word?”  Student answers, “Row.”
  • Adding phonemes – Teacher adds a phoneme to a word.  Example:  Teacher says, ” Listen to ‘row.’   Now add /g/ to the beginning of row.  What is the new word?”  Student answers, “Grow.”

“Word World” – Excellent Children’s TV Program

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I highly recommend the TV Program called “World World.”  Our grandson just turned two years old, and he knows his alphabet and is making sounds of the letters on his own.  He has watched World Word for the past year, and for a long time that was the only thing on TV that kept his attention.  He loved it!  And he was absorbing reading skills effortlessly.  (By the way, our daughter and s-i-l did not let him watch much TV, especially when younger.  Word World was the only show he watched.)

ABOVE, you will notice our grandson’s World World toys that you can buy at Target and other places.  These toys reinforce the skills learned on the program.

Teaching Kids: Getting Kids Ready to Read

Tips for helping a child get ready to read:

  • Hopefully, the child will have been read to on a several-times-a-week basis starting during their baby years.  If not, parents should begin now reading to their child every day.
  • Help develop a love for reading in the child.  Make story time special and in a special place.  It should be fun, with books that interest the child.
  • Visit the library every week during children’s story time.  While at the library, let the child choose a couple of books to check out and take home.
  • Play alphabet games with the child.
  • Play games of what happened  “first, next and last.”  (Ex:  First, you brush your teeth.  Next, you put on your pajamas.  Last, you go to bed.)  You can do this with any activity the child does.
  • Have the child watch “Word World” on TV.  It teaches alphabet letters and words in a cute, colorful format.  Our grandson absolutely loves that program and started watching it when he was a baby.  He’s 19 months old now, and it is the only show that will keep his attention the entire time.  He already knows most of his uppercase letters.  If you’ve never watched Word World, I highly recommend it.  It’s one of the best children’s shows on television.

When reading a book to the child:

(You will have to adjust the questions according to the age of the child.)

  • Talk about the picture on each page first before reading the page.
  • Run your finger under words as you read them.
  • Play a guessing game of “What do you think will happen next?” as you are reading the story to the child.
  • Ask, “Why do you think this happened?” when appropriate.  Accept their answer as valid and never put down a child’s answer.  If they don’t know why, suggest a possibility.
  • Share what you like and what you don’t like about a story.
  • Ask child what they liked and what they didn’t like about the story.
  • Talk about what happened first, next, and last.
  • Talk about what the story is mainly about.
  • Have child draw pictures about the story.

Make Simple Flashcard Games


This game was made very quickly as you can probably tell, but children don’t usually notice that.  (I try to make the games neat.)  The student decorated the game with Batman stickers.  I wrote the words on index cards.  If the word was read correctly then the student got to advance to the next space.

These easy gameboards can be decorated by the student so they take ownership of the game and enjoy playing it.   If several students will be playing the game, take a whole sheet of poster board and draw the basic path with “Start” and “End.”  Let the students decorate it.

Bottle caps make good playing pieces to move along the path.

Fry’s Instant Words List: First 100 Words

The first 10 words below make up about 24% of all written material, according to Dr. Edward Fry.  The first 100 words make up about 50% according to him.

Copy the words on index cards and have students practice them, starting with the first 10 or 20 words.  Then add 10 or 20 more, depending on the child’s level.  The goal is to work on all 100 words.

There are 300 words in Fry’s total list.

First group of 20 words:

  • the, of, and, a , to , in, is, you, that, it
  • he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I

Second group of 20 words:

  • at, be, this, have, from, or, one, had, by, word
  • but, not, what, all, were, we, when, your, can, said

Third group of 20 words:

  • there, use, an, each, which, she, do, how, their, if
  • will, up, other, about, out, many, then, them, these, so

Fourth group of 20 words:

  • some, her, would, make, like, him, into, time, has, look
  • two, more, write, go, see, number, no, way, could, people

Fifth group of 20 words:

  • my, than, first, water, been, call, who, oil, now, find
  • long, down, day, did, get, come, made, may, part, over

Example of a Simple Book: I Want to Travel

Here is an example of a simple book (see explanation) I made with a four year old tutoring student who knew all his letter sounds.  He really enjoyed this activity.  With this book, we worked on additional skills such as learning the sight word “want.”   (This student was reading when he started kindergarten.)

Simple Book:  I WANT TO TRAVEL



Teaching Kids to Brainstorm

Brainstorming stretches children’s minds. This skill is useful in something as simple as writing a sentence all the way to creative writing. It’s also useful in reading skills, math skills, social studies and science skills, and also in higher level thinking skills.  It is used in problem solving and the creation of solutions.  Creative people brainstorm, and this will be a skill children will use throughout their life.


The first step in teaching children how to brainstorm is for the teacher to model brainstorming, show them how you yourself brainstorm. Think out loud to demonstrate this. Take something they can see such as one of their classmates.   Think out loud and write on the board everything about that student.  For example:

  • Her name is Sally.
  • She’s in first grade.
  • She has blonde hair.
  • She has long hair.
  • She’s wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
  • She wears glasses.
  • She has a big smile.
  • She has a picture of a dog on her T-shirt.

Another example would be to take a book, preferably a big book so all students can see easily.   If I had the book about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, then this is what I would write on the board from what we could see in the picture on the front of the book:

  • There are three bears.
  • One bear is really big.
  • One bear is little.
  • One bear is in-between size.
  • The bears are brown.
  • There is a girl.
  • She is little.
  • She has blonde hair.
  • She is wearing a dress.
  • Here dress is blue and red.
  • There is a house.
  • It has a door and two windows.
  • There are lots and lots of trees (a forest).
  • There are flowers beside the house.

After you have modeled for the students, then brainstorm together with the students.  After that, have the students practice brainstorming with a partner, then by themselves.


The second step is to brainstorm about something known that they can’t see. Again, it’s important for the teacher to model brainstorming and think out loud. Show them how you yourself brainstorm. Choose something to brainstorm about that’s well known to them.  Maybe it’s the school playground, the car in the garage, or grandma and grandpa’s house. After modeling this, then have the students brainstorm together with you on another topic. Ask them for their input and suggestions. Then let them try it by themselves or with their partner.


This last part is valuable in creative writing. Follow the same steps in parts one and three, except this time it will be brainstorming something they don’t really know much about. Discuss ideas with them and try to pick something that interests them. Ask “what if” questions and stir their imaginations. Examples would be “what if you went to the moon” or “what would it be like if you could fly,” etc.

Example of a Simple Book: I Like Trucks and Cars

Here is another example of a simple book I made with a four year old tutoring student using pictures out of the Sunday paper.  We worked on color words, sight words, and adding “s” to the end of the word “car” to make it mean “more than one.”  He caught on real quick to that.  (This student was reading when he started kindergarten.)







Example of a Simple Book: Spider-Man

Here is another example of a simple book I made with a four year old tutoring student, a big fan of Spider-Man, who knew all his alphabet sounds.  We were working on learning to spell the word “man,” so this book reinforced what we were working on and motivated him to want to read. He really enjoyed this activity.



Bloom’s Taxomony – Higher Level Thinking Skills

These six levels start with the simplest and progress to the most complex level of higher level thinking.  As teachers, we need to make sure we cover all six areas.


  • Recalling of information such as places, dates, and events (who, what, when, where, how)
  • Knowledge of subject matter, main ideas, basic concepts and principles
  • Memorizing


  • Understanding meaning
  • Applying knowledge in a different context
  • Simple comparing and contrasting
  • Making inferences
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Describing in one’s own words
  • Making interpretations
  • Making summarizations


  • Problem solving
  • Applying what has been learned through exhibits, demonstrations, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Using information, concepts, and methods in different situations
  • Using facts to answer questions such as “How is ___ related to ___?”


  • Dividing a whole into its component parts
  • Outlining and diagramming
  • Identifying literary elements and breaking the story down into different parts
  • Distinguishing between inferences and actual facts
  • Analyzing components of an event in history
  • Identifying motives and hidden meanings
  • Separating the components of the scientific process
  • Seeing patterns
  • Teacher asks questions such as “What is the order of steps in ___?”  or “What are the functions of ___?”  or “How does ___ compare/contrast with —?”


  • Using already existing concepts to create new concepts or ideas
  • Creating and designing something new and original.  This could be a short story, poem, music, plan for an experiment, new way of classifying ideas, etc.
  • Combining information from several sources
  • Finding solutions
  • Teacher asks questions such as “How would you create a new ___?”  or “What ideas can you add?”


  • Comparing ideas
  • Developing opinions and judgments
  • Judging the value of something for a given purpose, based on definite criteria
  • Resolving differences of opinion
  • Making value decisions about issues
  • Teacher asks questions such as “Do you agree?”  or “What do you think is most important?”

Examples of Word Webs

Word webs are great to use with kids.  I have used them in the regular classroom, with ESL students, and with Gifted & Talented students.  Here are some examples of different word webs that you can print.  Just click on the highlighted words:

Making Simple Books to Teach Skills

Making simple books to teach skills is so simple and easy.  These little books can be used to teach so many skills and used on different levels from pre-reading to independent reader.  Most children enjoy making a book on something they are really interested in, and they want to read it.  They enjoy gluing on pictures or drawing pictures to illustrate their story.


  • Interest in looking at books because the child is interested in the subject matter
  • How to hold a book and turn the pages
  • Learning the parts of a book such as the cover, the title, the author
  • Learning that the spoken word can be written down and then read over and over again in book form
  • Learning that we read starting with the top line and read in a left-to-right manner
  • Learning that the first word in a sentence always starts with a big, capital letter and the sentence ends with a dot/a period  (Later you can proceed to question marks and exclamation marks.)
  • Learning that the pictures on a page go along with the story and can provide clues about the story
  • Learning that anybody can make a book and put their ideas down on paper
  • Learning various phonetic skills depending on the words used
  • Learning sight words


  • Computer paper or any blank, unlined paper
  • Colored markers
  • Pictures from magazines, newspapers, brochures about the zoo or tourist destinations, children’s stickers (whatever interests them such as Batman, Spiderman, Hello Kitty, holiday stickers, etc.)
  • Stapler


  • Brainstorm with the child and decide on the topic for the book.
  • Make the cover page and write the title and write the child’s name as the author.
  • If the child is a pre-reader, have them dictate one sentence for each page.
  • Let the child watch you write the sentence so they visualize the process of writing the spoken word on paper.
  • Let the child illustrate the sentence either by drawing a picture, gluing on a picture from a magazine or brochure, or choosing stickers for their illustration.
  • Complete the book, maybe 3-5 pages for a beginner.
  • When the book is finished, start with the cover and read the title and the author, running your finger under each word as you read.
  • After you have read the book, encourage the child to read it or read it again with you.  Help the child to run their finger under the words as they are being read.
  • Older children will not require as much guidance when making books.  Depending on their skills, help them when necessary.


Leap Frog Learning Products

Leap Frog learning products are great products for teaching reading, math, and other skills.  From what I have seen and read, they are exceptionally good products.   Someone I know said that her child loved the music in Leap Frog Math Circus and didn’t even realize that she was learning because she was having so much fun.  And that is a big key to teaching children, making it fun!

Personalized Books for Kids

What could be more exciting to a child than to read a story where they were the main character.  That would definitely peak their interest in reading if it needed to be.  There are companies that offer personalized books for children in a variety of topics.  A book could be chosen that would best match the child’s interests.   That would be fun to read and create interest in reading at the same time.

How to Teach Phonics Using Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbooks

Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbooks have been one of the best, inexpensive ways that I have taught phonics through the years.  As you can probably guess, I am a strong believer in phonics.

Being the #1 choice for teaching phonics for over 40 years, these workbooks are easy to use.  Over 50 million children have learned to read with the help of these phonics workbooks.

When I was teaching first grade in an ESL (English as a Second Language) school, new reading curriculum was adopted one year that utilized the “Whole Language” approach to teaching reading.  The other first grade teachers and I quickly realized that this approach was not working for our ESL students or for students with learning disabilities.  Children who learned to read effortlessly would learn no matter what approach was used, but most of our students needed the structure and stability of a good phonics program.   We told our principal and the PTA president  our beliefs, and the PTA purchased a Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbook for each child in first grade.  They did this  faithfully every year, and we were able to teach our students how to read by supplementing the Whole Language approach with phonics.