Sunday, April 4, 2010

Learning About Syllables and Real Versus Make Believe

In one of the many Yahoo groups I belong to called Playschool6, a member asked about how to teach a child about syllables in a Montessori inspired homeschool setting.

I posted to the group and then decided that itwould be a good blog post as well...

To help children remember about syllables, I teach them this song called
What Can Make a Hippopotamus Smile?

First, we sing the song and they learn to take a big word like" hippopotamus" and break it into claps.

Once they see that they can take a big word like "hippopotamus" and break it into syllables, they start to see that it is easier to read and to spell if you take a big word and break it into syllables.

So, we slowly clap out hippopotamus.

Ends up as 5 claps so 5 syllables.

Then, they learn this song.

Please note:
Do not do a search for the song lyrics, as when I did, there were several sites that listed that they contained the song, but my virus software detected that the sites had been attacked...

The origin of the song is a scouting song...most likely brownies or girl scouts...I learned it from Sister Marilyn Burns when I was in first grade in music class...I have listed the lyrics she taught us below:

What can make a hippopotamus smile?

What can make her walk for more than a mile?

Not a party with paper hats or cake and candy that can make her fat...
that's not what hippos do...

they ooze and they gooze without any shoes...

they wade in the water 'til their lips turn blue...

that's what makes a hippopotamus smile...

you can make a hippopotamus smile!

As you sing the song, you can do movements to go with the song...but when you come to the word hippopotamus, you clap the word out to highlight the five claps for five syllables.

You say the word and have them clap one clap for each syllable.

Once you show them how to clap out the words, you can then make three different Montessori works:

1. For the first work, make up some three part cards.
Use mostly animal, food, and feeling cards for this...

Ties in with song if you use the following words, along with others for this work:

On the top card, you will have the picture of the item and then, on the bottom, you will have the word written regularly and then, have it written broken into syllables.

So, for example, you would have a photo of a cupcake on top, then on the bottom, have the word "cupcake" but then below that, you would have "cup - cake".

For the control of error card, use the same sort of card only also draw two clapping hands
symbols over  the bottom where it is broken into cup - cake.

2. For the second work, you have the child do a sorting work where they divide the cards into piles:

one syllable
(hat, mad, cat, lamb, man, bear, duck, dog, cake, fox, sad, book, frog)

two syllables
(party, cupcake, candy, happy, popcorn, angry, water, puppy, rabbit, kitten, basket)

three syllables
(umbrella, butterfly, dragonfly, underwear, excited, gingerbread, strawberry, pineapple)  

Then, could do four and five syllable piles too, when and if they are ready for that...maybe closer to approx. ages 6 1/2 or 7, but use your discretion when you think that they are ready for doing more syllable sorts.

3. For the third work, you can have them sort cards for animals into real and make you take some of your animal cards (including a hippo in the water)
and some from various picture books of wild animals doing things they do not do (make believe things (playing basketball, going to the library, going to parties, etc.)

It is a perfect time of year to do a presentation lesson on real vs. make believe if your child is at the age where they are ready to understand that difference because with Easter, there are so many books out this time of year with make-believe bunnies in the books. Also, a great way to bring the focus back to the real meaning of Easter versus the visit from the Easter Bunny...

Some book titles to introduce this idea of real vs. make believe:
For real books, I use several animal books featuring real animals such as:
DK Watch Me Grow Books:
Rabbit, Duckling, Bear, Butterfly, Frog, Penguin

Lodestar See How they Grow Books:
Kitten, Puppy, Duck, Frog, Rabbit, Chick, Mouse, Lamb

For make believe, you could use:
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
The Color Kittens
The Three Little Kittens who Lost Their Mittens
Five Minutes' Peace
Animals should Not Wear Clothing
The Eleventh Hour
City Mouse, Country Mouse
The Gingerbread Man
Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Happy Easter!

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