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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.

A simple times tables confidence boosting game

How to play noughts and crosses and teach your child their times tables at the same time

A game that takes two seconds to prepare, just requires a piece of paper and a pen and can help your child boost their times tables knowledge.

Sounds perfect!

That’s why I love noughts and crosses (tick tack toe) so much.

To create the game draw two horizontal lines approximately the same length.
Next draw to vertical lines, approximately the same length crossing the first two lines.

In each gap created write a number from 1 to 12.

 

That’s the game pretty much ready to play.

noughts and crosses

All you need to do now is decide which times table you are going to be focusing on. Who is going to be noughts and who is going to be crosses.

Like in the traditional version of the game the aim is to get 3 in a row: diagonally, vertically or horizontally.

noughts and crosses completed game
However, in this version of the game, before claiming your square you need to multiply the number in it by your chosen times table.

For example, if we are practising the 6x table and I want to take the top left square I would have to calculate what 6×7 is. The answer being 42.
Having stated the answer correctly, you can claim the square and the next person has a go.
This is the sort of game you can play anywhere at any time: waiting for the dinner to cook, on the back of a napkin in a café, stuck in a (stationary) traffic jam…

Have a go and let me know what you think.

Enjoy

 

I have recently compiled the 1 Million Times Tables Challenge. My goal is to support 1 million children gain confidence with their times tables.

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To find out more about it click here
The course is advertised at just £12. Not because I question its value but because I want to make it as accessible to as many people as possible.
If you believe that the £12 is still too much for you, let me know because for every one course that is sold, I will be giving another one away for free to a family on a low income, with a special needs child, a child in care or a young carer. If this is you and your interested, email me and let me know.
Speak soon

The 1 million times tables challenge

Supporting your child with maths for the 11+

As the summer holidays begin the 11+ will be forefront of many people’s minds.

How can they support their child and help them to pass the 11+?

You will know that the 11+ is broken in verbal and non-verbal reasoning, English and maths.

Supporting your child with maths for the 11+ blog banner

 

The benefit of additional support in maths is that regardless of which school the child goes to in year 7, this additional support will stand your child in good stead.

There are many worksheets that can be downloaded for free or text books that you can buy to support your child. These are great as they will prepare your child for the type of question and content they will encounter in the exam.

However, you may decide (and I would encourage you to consider) alternative revision techniques than just worksheets and text books. If you want to read more on the benefits of using varied learning styles you can download a section of the e-book I have written in supporting children with their times tables.

Download the chapter of the e-book here

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Teachit maths is a fantastic website for presenting mathematical resources in alternative formats it traditional worksheets.

They use codes to break (also very valuable in the 11+), dominoes, etc. Many of the resources can be accessed on the free plan. All that is necessary is submitting your name and email address to register. (I’m not an affiliate, it’s just a website I’ve found that has some amazing resources and is well worth checking out).

Here are 3 of my favourite alternative games for supporting your child’s maths and helping them to pass the 11+

noughts and crosses

Noughts and crosses can be adapted in so many ways.

This game is so quick and easy to create.

Draw 2 lines vertically. Then draw another 2 lines crossing them horizontally.

In each square (where I have drawn a number in the illustration) write an example question. Before you can claim your square and head towards your row/ column of 3 you need to answer the question.

This is a very brief description but I hope it makes sense.

I will go into more ways of how to adapt it in future blogs.

Rummikub

I love this game. It is fantastic for encouraging your child to look for patterns and sequences.

Even beyond the 11+ I am confident you will receive hours of fun from it.

For the benefit of the 11+ I normally allow pairs and odd numbers to form a sequence as well as just as straight run of numbers.

Pairs

This is another fairly simple game to produce. Create a grid on a piece of paper which is approximately 6 squares by 4. (Leaving you with 24 squares).

On 12 of these squares write a maths problem/ question.

On the other 12 squares write the corresponding answers.

Now place all 12 squares face down on the table between you.

Take it in turns to turn over 2 squares. If you pick up a question and corresponding answer you win the pair and get another go.

If they don’t match place them back down and the other person gets a go.

The person with the most pairs at the end is the winner.

Regardless of how you choose to support your child with their maths for the 11+ I highly recommend that you ensure your child is confident with their times tables.

A thorough knowledge of the times tables is like providing a strong foundation when building a house.

It’s obligatory to progress on to higher more difficult levels.

I have recently put together the 11+ million times tables challenge.

I explain it in more detail in the following page if you are interested:

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The 1 Million Times Tables Challenge

Any trouble downloading the extract or if you are looking for a tutor this summer to help your child stand a better chance with the 11+, please do get in touch.

Speak soon