Alpine Academy: Language Arts
Did you know English has 70 sounds? For example, there are three Aa sounds (map, make, & mama) and there are two Gg sounds (go & George). We use the Spalding program to practice the sounds. First, we do the simple sounds. Then, we move to the harder sounds. All along, we work on sounding out words such as Ca Aa Tt. Each child moves through this process at his own pace. For example, one child may be working on “hop” and "mop" (changing the initial consonant) while another child is working on “hop” and "hip" (changing the vowel in the middle of a word). We do not hurry the children along. We simply expose them to the sounds and letters as much as we can so when their minds are ready, the opportunities are right there.
Sight words are the words the children just know because they see them so often, such as “l,” “love” and “Mom.” Children love to point out their sight words. For example, if the class is baking cookies, the children will be sure to point out all the words they know in the recipe. The teacher often posts the growing sight word list on the wall. As the children mature, they develop their own lists. Eventually, they have so many sight words they no longer keep track of them.
Writing New Words
In the beginning, the children trace and copy straight and curvy lines. As time goes on, they form individual letters, they write their names, and they write their sight words. Eventually, they write new words, such as dg (dog). We give the children many chances to write. One favorite activity is the mini-dry erase boards on which they answer questions such as "Can you write a Bb?" or "What letter can you write in front of Aa Tt to form a new word?"
At the end of preschool, most students can read many entire words. At the end of Young Fives, most students can glean meaning from simple text. Exactly when a child starts reading depends on how much small-group language arts time he spends with his teacher; on how often he practices with his parents; and on when he is ready.
We also work on comprehension and critical thinking. For example, children practice remembering details, recalling events in sequence, and predicting how a story will end.
We use the Zaner Bloser handwriting program. When the children are one and two years old, they work on small motor control and holding the pencil correctly. When the children are three years old, they begin using the official strokes. By the end of preschool, most children can form the upper and lower case letters and the digits.
We put labels around the room, leave pencils and paper in the playhouse, and set up reading and writing areas of the classroom. We practice reading the morning message, the daily schedule, and weekly job list. We read books, sing songs, recite poems, and make up our own stories. The students love having all these opportunities to practice reading and writing.
Click on the above video to
hear little Chloe spell her name!
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3100 W. Gunn Rd., Oakland, MI 48363