As a parent what can you do to help your child through the 11+?

As this year 6 parents breathe a sigh of relief as the 11+ comes to an end, the year 5 parents take in a sharp intake of breath as they realise what is dawning!

As a parent what can you do to help your child through the 11+?

These are some of the activities that we do at Starr Tutoring. I hope they offer you some inspiration.

Obviously encouraging your child to read is going to support them in all areas of their lives. It will boost their abilities in spellings, grammar and punctuation.

 


Confidence with the times tables will also help your child through life and help with the fundamentals of maths. I won’t go into the games we play here as I have talked about them previously in many other blogs, the most recently being:

learning-the-9-times-table

 

There is a long list of words (100+) that I have downloaded from the net

11-plus-important-word-list

What I have done is split this list into smaller lists. I have then split these into groups of about 12 words. Each sub set I have then made into pairs games. I have used definitions from the Oxford English dictionary to achieve this. The aim of the game is to create a fun way of expanding the child’s vocabulary. Many of these words are quite obscure and not used often in modern day English.

Children are normally more receptive to doing something more than once when it is fun. This repetition will help reinforce the child’s knowledge of these words.

 

Spot the difference is a great way to help your child easily spot the difference in patterns and sequences.Sudoku is another brilliant way to help your child spot number patters,
The brilliant thing about these is that they can be purchased for very little money or downloaded for free.
Taking a leap back in time Rubix cubes are also great at helping children solve problems and master the skills needed in non-verbal reasoning.

 

Rummikub

Rummikub was introduced to me a couple of years ago and along with being a truly addictive game, it is also a great way to practice simple number sequences.
There is a word version which is equally fun and a really a good way of looking at spellings and vocabulary. Bananagrams and scrabble are also great games for playing to assist in these areas.

To support spellings, I often take the list of words we are practising. We then choose one of the words from the list, take the letters needed to spell the words and mix them up. You then pass them to the other person who has to rearrange the letters and work out what the words is.

 

5 Minute Challenge.

 

I have also created a selection of 5 Minute Challenges (challenges NOT tests). It is simply a sheet of A4 split into 4 columns and approx.12 rows. In the first column on the left-hand side I will write a category:

Synonyms for xxx
Antonyms for xxx
Places beginning with xxx
Words ending with xxx
Things you would find in xxx

You then have 5 minutes to think of 3 words for each category. The aim here is to get the child used to working in timed conditions. If you both do it together you can compare answers at the end making it more enjoyable.

 

I hope these ideas get you started and offer some inspiration.

There is also a huge range of books that can be purchased and worksheets that can be downloaded on line.

Good luck and if you have any questions, please do comment below and I will do my best to answer. If you think these ideas would help someone else, please do share the link.

Best wishes

Learning the 9 times table

The 9 times table is one of my favourite times tables because there are so many tricks to help you to learn it.

The most commonly known one is that, when written down the units decrease by one each time and the tens increase by one.

When you write out the 9x table the tens will increase by 1 and the units will decrease by 1 each time.png
But there is also the fact that if a number is devisable by 9 the digits that make it up will add together to make 9.

3x9 = 272+7 = 9 shocking fact

Examples of this are:

10 x 9= 90
9+0 =9

2×9= 18
1+8 = 9

12×9 = 108
1+0+8= 9

Then there’s this one and I think this is the cleverest trick of all:

 

Hold your 2 hands out in front of you, palms down.

Imagine you want to work out what 3 times 9 is.

Put down the middle finger of your right hand.
Imagine all the fingers of the left of that middle finger are worth 10. All the fingers to the right are worth 1 (they’re your units).

That means to the left of my middle finger I have 20. To the right I have 7.
3 x9 = 27
It works for each of the questions in the 9 times table from 1 to 10.

 

Imagine I want to work out what 7×9 is.

Put the finger next to the thumb on your right hand down. (This is your 7th finger)
Everything to the left is once again worth 10. Everything to the right is worth 1 (a unit).

This time I have 6 tens and 3 units.
7×9=63.

I can check this is right because 6+3 =9

I’ve found one of the best ways to teach the times tables is through the use of games. At Starr Tutoring we use pairs games, snakes and ladders, fishing games (probably my favourite) bingo etc.

The repetition of playing the games helps to reinforce the times tables facts.

Games are also a great way to make learning fun and to help a child relax. Everyone will learn better when they relax and are enjoying themselves as that is when the brain is more susceptible to learning.

Twitter heading
I have set myself the challenge that in my life time I will help 1 million children find confidence in their times tables through the use of games.

To help me to achieve this you can download all the templates that we use at Starr Tutoring to create these games so that you can play them yourself at home.
You will also gain the link to my e-book: Teach your child their times tables – the fun way!

This e-book goes into more detail explaining how we learn and the importance of using a wide range of resources.

cover

I can have kept the price down to just £12. Not because I question the value you will receive from it, because I think you will receive great value from it if you play the games with your child, but so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
If £12 is too much for you though, or you have a child with special needs, your child is a young carer, a foster child, etc. let me know. For every course that is paid for another person will receive it for FREE.

For more information on the 1 Million Times Tables Challenge, click here

If you have found this post interesting or you think someone else may benefit from it, please do like and share it.

Any questions, do ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading

Dawn

5 activities to make comprehension more enjoyable

 

5 activities to make comprehension more enjoyable pinterest

Following on from the blog I wrote the other day about the board game you can when doing comprehension with your child, here are 5 activities you can carry out to establish your child’s understanding.

Illustrate the information

Very often a child will be asked to describe the character or the scene they have just read about. Instead of doing this as a written piece of work, why not ask the child to draw what they have learn. Why not draw a picture of the setting and label it with quotes/ words from the extract? A character can also be drawn and annotated rather than just written and talked about.
In “Skellig” (Marc Almond) there is a description of a derelict garage. A description like this is perfect for drawing/ annotating.
The other advantage of interpreting what you have learned like this is that you are creating a visual image. Visual images are not only great for finding the information at a glance at a later date, they also provide an alternative learning technique. The more learning techniques we use the more likely we are to (a) be able to retrieve the information from our memories when needed. (b) Find a learning style that is appropriate your child.

Unscramble the letters

In “The Twits” (Roald Dahl) it explains the different food that Mr Twit has stuck in his beard. Instead of asking the child to recall what Mr Twit had in his beard, why not list the items but scramble the letters.
Scrambled eggs becomes: Smadbrcel gegs

 

Rewrite the scene

Why not ask the child to rewrite the scene from someone else’s perspective? An example could be to write an extract as a diary entry. Ask them to write about their feelings alongside what happened.

 

Word search

Make a word search
Many chapters within a book will focus on a theme: someone’s feelings, an event, an atmosphere, etc. Pick something of relevance from the chapter and ask the other person to create a word search using relevant words from the chapter (or synonyms for those used in the chapter). You can also create a word search for the child to solve. Then once both are prepared, swap and solve the other person’s. You can also use verbs, adjectives, etc. found in the chapter as your theme.

A to Z

A to Z icon
In David Walliams’ book “Billionaire Boy” he describes all the amazing things Jo has in his mansion.
Why not create an A to Z of all the things you can think of that you would have in your billionaires’ mansion?
Examples might be:
A: Aeroplane landing strip
B: Butler
C: Chef
And so on…

To make it slightly harder you can state you need to state an adjective (describing word) before each noun (object) that also starts with that letter.
Examples now might be:
A: Alien’s Aeroplane landing strip
B: Bald butler
C: Caring chef
And so on….

Click here to download the PDF that I use for this game

I hope you like the ideas. No doubt you will think of many more of your own and I would love to hear them. I you have found the ideas here useful or you think someone else would find them useful, please do like and share below.

 

Enjoy

 

Many thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please do ask.

 

The Comprehension Board Game

Comprehension isn’t an activity that most people relish.
Reading out loud isn’t something that many people enjoy.
Yet as a school child this is often a task that is inflicted regardless of the “pain” it puts them through.

 

The comprehension game blog

 

I can remember as a child having to read out loud in class (or in any other scenario) and it would terrify me.
I have always loved reading, and as nerdy as this may seem; as a child one of the highlights of my week was to walk down to the village library on a Friday after school and choose the books I wanted to read over the weekend. For pleasure or for homework, it didn’t matter. This was a routine I still look back on with fond memories.
Yet reading out loud terrified me. I would, and still do, stumble over my words making myself feel stupid. Whilst the people before me were reading their parts, I would work out what I would be told to read. That way I could practice. The flaw with this meant I had no idea of what was happening in the book so if I was asked anything, I had no idea because I’d been so absorbed in my fear of what was to come!

Over the past 6+ years I have worked with many children focusing on comprehension. Whether it is my personal dread of reading aloud that has influenced this game or that of the people I wok with; I am no longer sure.

The game:

I design a board either focusing around the book we are reading the child’s interests (or if I have a lot to carry a generic one). On the board are 18 pictures of three designs.
Example: 6 pictures of the BFG, 6 pictures of Sophie and 6 plain circles.
We will decide in advance who is the BFG and who is Sophie.
For the purpose of this explanation I will be the BFG and you can be Sophie.
Each time you roll the dice you move the number of spaces dictated by the dice. You can go: left, right or up / down the middle but you can’t change direction half way through ago.

If anyone lands on the BFG I have to read a paragraph, page or chapter (depending what is suitable). If anyone lands on Sophie you will have to read.
The other spaces are forfeits such as read another page, have another go, miss a turn, other person reads, etc.

By incorporating a game into the task, it takes the pressure of the person who has to read.
It also means that one person doesn’t have the daunting task of reading long extracts from the book/ article.
At the end of each few pages or chapter there will be a task to complete such as:
Draw and illustrate a picture of (something that was described in the page).
Why do you think the author used this word?
What does he mean by that phrase?
Create a word search using verbs that have been used in this chapter.

If you want me to email you a copy of the generic board I use, please do ask or if you are a parent that would like some help with thinking of questions you could use with your own child, please do get in touch.

Have a great afternoon and if you found this post helpful or think other people would, please do share it.

 

Make Spelling Fun!

Learning needs to be an enjoyable past time because it is something that we will inevitably do through out our entire lives!

3 varied games to help your child learn to spell

For some people an ability to spell correctly seems to be instinctive. For others spelling seems to be an uphill struggle.

We can all try and encourage our children to find a love for books and reading but for some parents you might as well just bang your head against a brick wall!

There are other ways to help your child’s confidence boost when it comes to spelling and that’s through playing spelling games with them.
In the following lines / video I will show you 3 of my favourite games that I use as a tutor to help children improve their spellings.

 

Before we get onto that though, I’d like to quickly explain how games can be so important when it comes to helping your child learn.

Firstly, when we need to retain some information there will inevitably be a certain amount of repetition involved. This can be boring and a lot of children will lose interest at this point.
However, if you are able to make the learning activities enjoyable the child will be less resistant. The less resistant the child is the more susceptible they will be to taking and retaining new information.

 

The other benefit of playing games is that through playing a range of games we create a wider variety of memories. That means that when we need to recall the information, our brain has more places to find it. This makes it more likely that we will get the spelling that we need correct.

These 3 games range from taking no preparation, from costing nothing more than a piece of paper and a pen/ pencil to purchasing a truly addictive word game.

I hope they inspire you, I’d love to hear your comments below or for you to share it with a friend if you think they would benefit from the ideas.

Pairs:

make learning fun
This can be played in a few ways depending on the age/ability of your child and the words that you are focusing on.

The first method is to create two sets of cards.
The first set of cards will clearly have the word displayed. For this version it will probably be a noun (person, place or thing).
The second set of cards will have images of the words used in set one.
Lay all the cards face down on the table.
Then take it in turns to pick up two cards. If they are a corresponding picture and word, keep the pair and have another go.
If they don’t match, place them back down and the other person has a turn.
It is the person with the most pairs at the end of the game that is considered the winner.

The other version of the game involves writing the words out in fairly big text. Then cut each word in half.
These will be your playing cards.
Place each of these “cards” face down on the table.
The first person will turn over 2 cards. If they choose a corresponding beginning and end to a word, they win the pair. They then have another go.
If the 2 parts of the word don’t belong together, lay them back on the table and the other person has a go.

Once again, the person with the most pairs at the end is the winner.

 

Rummikub Word

This game is addictive. I was first introduced to Rummikub by my daughter a couple of years ago as a suggestion to take on holiday. By the time we came home I was 100% hooked.
I then discovered the game “Rummikub Word” which is equally addictive!
I can’t show you a picture of the one I own personally as it is so bashed and battered from the amount of use it gets.
The purpose of the game is to create words out of the 14 letters you choose at random. The winner is the first person to use all of their counters. You can manipulate the other persons words by adding or subtracting letters from it to create new words.
This game also seems to be seriously enjoyed by dyslexic learners. The ability to physically move the letters around to create new words seems to make the creation of words considerably easier than when they are fixed to a piece of paper. (I have found many times over the years with various games the ability to move the letters makes spelling words significantly easier).
If you have the ability to buy a game that will support your child with both spelling and vocabulary, I strongly suggest you make it this one.

Funny Pictures

Funny pictures mini

I’ve saved my best to last. I love this game!
Fortunately, the ability to draw well is not a priority. Nothing more than a stick person is really necessary though if you can go slightly beyond that it will help.
In the video I will explain to you how to make the game.

 


The purpose behind Funny Pictures
Once you have drawn your image and stuck it on to a piece of paper you need to think of as many words as you can to describe him.
So, for example for the image above I might state:
Long neck,
Round body,
Stick arms
Knobbly knees, etc
Spiky hair, etc

For older children or more capable children you may make it more challenging. You can do this by writing the letters A to Z down the side of the picture.
The aim is then to think of a word starting with each letter of the alphabet to describe the funny picture.
In this instance you might go:
Angular nose
Big feet
Curved body
Delightfully big eyes

In order to achieve all the letters, the level of the vocabulary you use, really has to go up a level. It will stretch your abilities to think of various adjectives and stretch your vocabulary.

I’ve put together a great course demonstrating 6 more of my favourite games that support spellings including which witch, lily pads and my own take on battleships. You will be able to download an updated version of the book I had published a couple of years ago. The e-book goes into far more depth of the importance of using a range of learning styles, the need to reinforce your child’s learning with praise and how we all learn differently.

If you want more details when they are available, fill in the box below and I’ll keep you posted:

 

 

 

Please don’t forget to share and comment on this blog if you have found the ideas beneficial to you and you think someone else might benefit from them as well.

 

Enjoy

3 simple games to help your child with spelling

A lot of people struggle with spelling for many reasons.

 

3 simple games to help your child with spelling linked in
As a person who struggles to spell, it can be frustrating. As a poor speller it can be even more frustrating….

Below are 3 games which I often play at Starr Tutoring to help children/ adults become more confident with:
Words they regularly spell wrongly
Their weekly spellings
High frequency words
Terminology

I’ve played these games with children who are as young as 5 or 6 right up to 16-year olds sitting their GCSE’s. I’ve also played them with adults. Providing you are willing to accept that learning can be fun, these games will work.

The 3 games I chosen to show you here I’ve chosen because they’re so easy to make and fun to play.

The first game I will share with you to support spellings is:

Battleships

battleships mini
I love this game. I can take about half an hour to play but if your child is learning fairly short words you could make the grid smaller and the game will finish more quickly.
I think every person I have ever played the game with has also found it to be a firm favourite!
To play the game you will need to draw (print) out 2 grids on 2 pieces of paper.
The grids need to be 10 squares by 10 squares.
Miss the first square on the left of the bottom row. On the following squares write the numbers from 1 to 9.
Then in the left-hand column miss the bottom left square. In the squares above it write the letters from A to I.

Watch the following video to learn how to play the game.

 

Make a word search

Make a word search

This game is great.

It not only helps with spellings but can also help with hand writing.
When I first started attending courses on dyslexia it was suggested not to do word searches with dyslexic children. However, over the past six years since I started Starr Tutoring I have used them a lot. I generally find that as long as you keep them appropriate to the age and the ability of the child they will be enjoyed.
In fact, very often the dyslexic children I work with are far better at word searches than non-dyslexics! Coincidence? I don’t know….
There are 2 ways to do this activity.

One:

You create a word search containing the words you are working on and the child endeavours to find them.
If you make the grid approximately 10 squares by 10.
List the hidden words underneath
Write in lower case as these are the symbols your child will be more familiar with when reading.

 

Two:

The second method (and my preferred method) is to print out 2 grids which are 10 squares each.

On a separate sheet have the words that you are focusing on correctly spelt and available for the child to copy from.
Choose between 6 and 10 of these words each and put them into the word search.
One letter per square.
The words can go: forwards, backwards, up, down or diagonally but they must go in a straight line.
As before list the hidden words underneath and fill in all the remaining squares with random letters.
The benefit of this method is that the child must present each letter so that it is possible for the other person to recognise what it says.
They get to focus on each letter and its position in the word as they create the word search and then again as they try to solve it.
For children who do struggle more, you may choose to use a smaller grid and larger squares.

Anagrams

anagrams
This final game will involve a small investment.
I use bananagrams but scrabble letters are pretty much the same thing.
Again, you will need the list of words that you are focusing on to hand.
Both players choose a word but doesn’t tell the other person what that word is.
Find the letters you will need to create that word and give them a shake to muddle them up.
Pass the letters to the other player.
The goal now is to try and work out the word that those letters form. You can either keep the list face up to make the task easier; or cover it to make the game more of a challenge.
This game was suggested to me by a boy I used to work with. It’s been played many times since and everyone seems to enjoy it.

Enjoy

Enjoy the games and I hope you see a difference in your child’s confidence and ability to spell.
As with everything a certain amount of repetition is required. When the repetition comes in the form of a game, most people are generally fairly obliging to participate.

In the coming couple of weeks, I will be putting together a course to help children become more confident at spelling. If you would like more details when it is completed, just drop me a message below.

Enjoy the summer holidays and have fun spending time with your children.