Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
Is your refrigerator covered in colorful magnetic letters? If so, put those letters to work! Magnetic letters are a great tool to help your young reader practice sight words, spelling, and reading.
In my classroom we have an activity called “Build and Write.” We use sets of magnetic lowercase letters and small cookie sheets to “build” spelling words before writing them. Building the word first, with magnetic letters, helps a child see the word in its entirety before writing it down on paper.
Here are 4 fun yet simple ways to help your child learn spelling and reading skills with these versatile tools:
1. Practice spelling or sight words by having your child “build” them on a cookie sheet, refrigerator, or other metal surface.
2. Start with a “base” word to help your child recognize word families For example, put an “an” on the sheet and have your child say the word “an.” Then put a “c” in front of the “an” to make a new word, “can.” Continue with other beginning letter substitutions (Dan, fan, man, ran, etc.)
3. Use the letters to leave a short note or message for your child on the refrigerator. Let them “answer” you with their own short message.
4. Use a simple word from your child’s spelling list. Put the letters of the word in random order on the cookie sheet, or other metal surface. Then ask your child to “unscramble” the letters to correctly spell the word.
Magnetic letters can be especially beneficial to encourage literacy in young children who are not quite ready to write with pencil and paper. Don’t have magnetic letters yet for your child? Inexpensive sets can be found at most discount or dollar stores, or ordered online.