Help For The Home Front
It’s hard enough to have to memorize all the intricacies of spelling rules in English, let alone add to it the definition of a word. In this month’s homework help tip, we’re going to tackle the frustration of having to learn yet another vocabulary list by putting a spin on an old fan favorite (the flash card). The flash card is an invaluable tool but easily dulled by repetitive use. Without further ado, here are the two activities you can employ at home with the following tools: a set of flash cards (any color), a dictionary, a pencil, some lined paper, and insane amounts of creativity.
Activity #1: The Short Story
- Write one vocabulary word per flash card on the blank side. Look up the meaning of the word and write its meaning on the lined side.
- If there is still space on your card, write an example sentence using the word that will help you remember it’s meaning. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
- Now this is where you can get wildly creative. Pick a character or two (of your own making or from your favorite book/TV series) and write a short story using your vocabulary words! The only parameters are that you use at least one vocabulary word per sentence. The wilder the story, the more likely you are to remember it! You can shuffle your cards and simply craft the story randomly (on your sheet of lined paper) as each card pops up in the stack or you can spend some time before hand trying to outline when you would want to use a certain word.
- Get your family and friends involved! If you prefer to study in a group or with the help of older siblings/parents, you can build the story one person at a time. Simply shuffle the cards, set the stack in the middle, and pass a piece of paper back and forth, writing until the story is completed!
Activity #2: Memory (also known as Concentration, Match Match, or Pairs)
This one will require writing the vocabulary word on a separate flashcard from the one where you will write its meaning. Once you have all your cards prepped, simply shuffle and flip them over (meaning and word face down) in rows of four or five, depending on the number of vocabulary words on the word list. Each person has one chance to practice matching the word card to its meaning meaning card by flipping over two at a time. Those who find a match get an extra turn per correct match and those who don’t manage to find a pair. Practice trying to match word to meaning. Can be played alone or with family and friends!
Boosting your child’s vocabulary at home can be an easy and fun experience for everyone! Below are some simple tips for how to get started:
Talk to your child as though they are not a child
- While we want to make sure our children understand us, it’s okay to use “bigger” words in everyday conversations with them that they may not understand (yet!). Exposure to a new word can only increase the likelihood of a child learning what it means. So don’t shy away from using words as you would in an adult conversation while talking with your children. You can also encourage them to look up the meanings of words they hear (from you, school, friends, the television) if they do not know them.
Word of the Day
- When I was in middle school I went through a phase where, every day, I opened the dictionary to a random page, chose a random word, learned its meaning, and tried to use it in a sentence. Because of this, and to this day, “lackadaisical” is one of my favorite words, though I don’t use it nearly enough. This activity is a fun way to learn new and interesting words that, quite possibly, you may never know otherwise. If you don’t have a dictionary at home, both dictionary.com and merriam-webster.com have “word of the day” features on their websites.
Have them tell you a story
- We all know the benefits of reading like the back of our hand, so why not flip your next story time on its head? Rather than reading to your child, or having them read to you, ask your child to tell you a story. If needed, you can provide them with a setting, character, problem, or anything else they need to get started, and then let their imagination run wild! Story dice are another fun way to spark creativity in your children. While they are telling their story, be sure to ask them questions that will lead them to be more clear with their language. With the more details they add, they will begin to search for new, more specific words to get their point across.
Help them to relate to new words
- When your child encounters a new word, help them understand it by relating it to words they already know. If your child understands “calm” you can use that word to help explain a word such a “tranquil”. You can also help you child relate the word to a memory or belonging of theirs. If they are trying to understand “tranquil”, remind them of the time you took a family trip to the lake and help them to recall the calmness of the water, the quiet in the air. Alternatively, Google Images can be a great resource for images to help a child visual a new concept.
Math Tip for Multiplication Tables
- One very important concept to consider when helping young students learn their multiplication tables from 0’s – 12’s to be able to pass the timed tests, is to remember that skip counting should precede the actual multiplication of facts. By learning skip counting of a particular number before the multiplication of that series allows students to already have the information in their heads, also it gives them a way to figure the problem out if they can’t remember the correct answer.
Grocery Flyer Math
There is an ever-popular question almost every kid has asked at least one while working on math: “When will I ever use this in real life?”. For this month’s “Help on the Home Front,” we will share an easy, practical way of reviewing multiple math concepts using those very present grocery flyers. These flyers provide children and parents the opportunity to practice and discuss real world problem solving skills. The mathematical application possibilities are many!
Have your child choose several items, cut them out of the flyer, then glue it to an index card. From this point, there are several math concepts that can be practiced, below is a list of some of the applications:
- Order items from least to greatest then place them on a giant number line.
Fractions and Decimals
- Convert our decimals into fractions and vice versa.
- Round the price of each item to find an estimate of the total bill.
Adding and Subtracting Decimals
- This is even more fun when you find a flyer that has coupons, because it is more authentic practice!
- For when you need more than one of an item or for adding tax to a purchase.
Multi-Step Problem Solving
- Students create their own problems based on items and coupons then trade with a partner.
- Find a recipe and plan a meal. Then figure out the cost of the items.
Graphing and Data
- Use the prices or types of items as data to create tables, plots, or graphs.
Measurement Problem Solving
- Decide what unit of measurement would be used for each item. Make a list of how much of each unit you want to buy.
- Identify any 3D shapes you can find.