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Monday, May 25, 2020

The Game Show that Made me a Better Reader

Yes! Wheel of Fortune was the game show that made me a better reader growing up in the 80s and 90s. My parents were not educated but my mom always knew what was best for us to watch.  We were a family of nine and watching Wheel of Fortune was a time where we all gathered in front of the television. We weren't fascinated by the prizes but we anticipated who among the 9 of us would solve the puzzle first.  Later on my mother actually bought us the Wheel of Fortune board game. It was great! There was a spinning wheel, play money, and the game board. Someone had to be Pat, Vanna and of course the contestants. Among the fun and cash, we were perfecting our reading and math skills as well.

Here are 5 ways Wheel of Fortune impacted my learning:

1. Letter Recognition
So I'm watching Wheel of Fortune literally as I write this blog post. The first most obvious way this show helped me was with letter recognition. Of course Vanna only reveals capital letters but it's still a great start for a young learner. I come from parents who were not educated so every opportunity to learn something counted. The contestants call out the letters and Vanna taps them. Guys it doesn't get any easier than this.

2. Reading fluency
This show helped me with fluency. Although, most of the puzzles are phrases, that's ok because, it still develops language. Fluency develops speed and lends to comprehension.

3. Spelling
When I was in elementary school I was very good at spelling and I believe this show not only helped me but extended my learning. We didn't have many books in the house nor did my parents have a budget for literature. I loved words and loved breaking down multi-syllable words. Understanding parts of words and there meaning is what helped me to thrive in other subject areas besides reading. We would go to the library as often as we could but besides going to school, Wheel of Fortune was a very consistent force in my daily routine.

4. Comprehension
The phrases on the show gave me understanding of the world, things I normally didn't see in my environment. It definitely broadened my curiosity of what else was out there growing up in a small town.  It made think about what the words meant and I would go searching in my dictionary when I wanted to learn more. The language used on the show by the host and the contestants helped to structure my writing as well. By my 12th grade year, I could remember helping my peers over the phone with their writing assignments.
5. Recognizing and mentally adding larger numbers
When that wheel spends the contestants have to choose a letter. If they fell on 200 and the letter they selected occurred 3 times in the puzzle, the host would say you now have 600 dollars. From there the value would increase by hundreds or even thousands unless they hit bankrupt.  I wasn't that great with math but my siblings were. It was fascinating seeing them spit out the value before Pat would because, they could add larger numbers mentally. Even though they already knew how to do it, the show gave them practice which built math fluency. Even still to this day, my sister can add large sums mentally. Both she and my brother work in business related fields because, math is what they loved.

So there you have it the show that helped me read and my siblings add; Wheel of Fortune. Also, then and now it's always been a clean family show. The whole family can watch and learn together.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Do a Scavenger Hunt with your Child!!!

    While we are on lock down in our homes; it does not mean we cannot be active.  A fun, safe way to be active with your children is with a scavenger hunt.  Scavenger hunts can be indoor or outdoor.  There are so many ways to have a scavenger hunt.  You can go on a color hunt or a five senses hunt.  It doesn't matter if you have children that are young or teens.  You can create or find scavenger hunts that address different age levels or interest levels.  There are also free printables of scavenger hunts and ideas at BuggyandBuddy

Benefits of Scavenger Hunts

1. Hands-on Learning: It's all hands-on because, your child will be actively engaged in problem-solving.  They must figure out where to look and think about what is associated with the items on the page. Make it challenging but practical as well. You know what your child has or has not been exposed to. Start with what is familiar to them.

2. Movement: This the way to do playful learning that requires your child to get out and move. Whether your inside or outside a good scavenger hunt will always get your children searching, looking and moving. They're exercising unconsciously and so are you.  You will be moving all over as well especially if you have little ones. So mom and dad put on your sneakers.

3. Social Skills:  I don't know about you but my son and daughter have a huge age gap.  Sometimes they do interact but not always. My son may not play dolly or have teatime with her and she may not go on a 5k run with my son. This activity works because, he can be the one out there with her while she's searching. They can work together to locate the things on the list. So it will cultivate much communication between the two of them.

4. Individualized:  I hear this word constantly in education because, I'm constantly figuring out ways to reach all of my children's level of ability with the same concept.  So scavenger hunts have the flexibility to be individualized specifically by age, interest, and level of complexity.  You don't want to give a kindergartener a hunt that's too hard because, they will hate it and want to give up. You don't want to give your preteen something too easy because, it will bore them.


     My daughter and I went on a Nature Scavenger Hunt. I decided to go with her interest because, one of her favorite cartoons is Nature Cat. Also, science is one of her favorite subject areas in school. We even had to take a walk in our neighborhood to find some of the things on the list. She was so excited of course because, it was little change in our normal schedule.  The best thing is that we spent some genuine quality time together.

Grow a Rainbow!!!

    Here in the South where I live it rains quite a bit. But what is so beautiful are some of the rainbows I see after a good rain. So I thought why don't we grow a rainbow inside since we can't do a whole lot outside right now. This activity will brighten your little one's day. Now you may have to go out to get some of the things you need.  Here's what you will need:

Washable Markers:

Paper towels:  Shade in the ends of your strips of paper towels with the colors in this order
I know that these strips are long. You can also cut these in half.
Then get two cups of water and place both ends of your paper towels that you colored in the water.
Then watch your rainbow grow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dealing with Quarantine using Riddles!!!

    We all know that  COVID-19 has presented some challenges for the family. Families all over the world have to stay inside and have had to adjust to a new kind of normal. It's difficult trying to juggle working at home, homeschooling, and rearrange schedules. This new normal can be a strain on relationships and very frustrating for children. I don't have all the answers but I have been observing how my family is learning to cope. Currently, I have a 5 year old, a college student and an elderly parent all in the same home. This was very challenging for me but my son has come up with a way to bring us together in a positive way, repair our relationships, entertain all of us at the same time and get this without electronics. Now, I am not knocking social media because, we do use Zoom and Facebook to keep constant contact with family that live out of town.
   Riddles, Yes riddles, sounds boring but let me show you how it's helping my family overcome the whole COVID-19 quarantine.  Riddles have several mental health benefits and relationship building all in one.  First, riddles allows creativity and critical thinking that is beneficial for young children, adults, and the elderly. Next, riddles forces quality time with family but not in a coercive manner. Finally, riddles help relieve stress and brings us in the hear and now.
Creativity and Critical Thinking
    My son has been creating riddles and asking us to solve them.  Then we all get a chance to create one for everyone else to solve.  My daughter, who is only five years old, says it makes her think like she's in school.  Riddles make you think critically.  Thinking critically makes you happier and improves relationships.
Quality Time
        Riddles create quality time with the entire family.  Everyone can participate.  My son is 20, My daughter is 5. I am 40 and my mother is 71. We can all participate together.  It's hilarious hearing my 5 year old come up with a riddle that none of us can solve.
 Relieves Stress
    Riddle relieve the stress of being inside all day especially when everyone is on a different age level. It brings us to a common ground. We always end up laughing when we finally hear the silly or practical answers to riddles that seem impossible.  Laughing releases the feel good endorphins in the brain which relieve pain and gives feelings of pleasure.
     Finally, you can make up your own riddles or you can visit GetRiddles .  Get Riddles has 1000s of riddles for every age level or topic. It also has riddles by subject area. So really riddles can be entertaining or educational without your family even noticing. You can also print the riddles out, place in a hat and everyone can take turns pulling out a riddle. Here's  a quick quide about using riddles during COVID-19 Using Riddles during Quarantine

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Teacher's Appreciation!!!!

          I am a teacher and have been teaching 18 years now. It is a very rewarding profession but also demanding. I am a teacher because of other teachers. As children, teachers are who we spend a great deal of time with. I can remember when I was 8 years old. My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. This was definitely a very traumatic and confusing time for me. After my father's passing, we didn't go right back to school. So I missed many days of school because, the passing of my father was very tragic. I was in 3rd grade and I had a teacher named Mrs. Allen. She was such a patient, kind and caring teacher. She made me feel special and smart at a time when I felt stuck and unmotivated. I fell behind in my school work and I became very complacent because, my father had been the one who encouraged me to do well in school.  There were countless teachers throughout my education journey in elementary school, middle school, high school and college who have invested greatness in my life. 
     I am thankful for the teachers that showed me tough love, consistent discipline, and resilience as well. My second grade teacher Mrs. Dupre enforced table manners at lunch, perfected my cursive hand writing, and held me accountable when I didn't want to eat healthy. She would not let me save my lunch plate unless I ate my veggies. My P.E. teacher Mrs. Fisher taught me confidence when she allowed me to run her concession stand in elementary school. My middle school algebra teacher showed  patience when we struggled with equations. She was so persistent that eventually, she allowed me to grade test papers. That really showed me responsibility and boosted my confidence. At the end of the year, I had the 3rd highest average in her class. That was the largest trophy I had ever received.
   I am most grateful for all of my writing teachers who made me see my gift of writing. My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Hamilton entered me in local writing contests and constantly had to redirect me when I daydreamed out the window in deep thought. My high school writing teachers Mrs. White and Dr. Johnson pushed me to be a more detailed writer. My college professor Dr. Pinkett would edit and return my writing over and over only to get me to see that I had a talent. 
  To the countless teachers all over my community who didn't have a college degree but served in the church or any capacity; thankyou.