I used the word "squinch" today, and the kids started laughing. It IS a funny word, but then I wondered out loud, "You know, I'm not sure that's a real word."
"Really?" the kids said, "But you know English."
"Yeah, really! I'll look it up in the Dictionary."
That was my head slap moment. How can MY children not know what a Dictionary is? I mean, really! I Looooooooooooooooooooove the Dictionary. Love with a capital L.
So I brought it out and looked up "squinch," which is indeed a word. I showed the kids how to use it, and realized I need a children's Dictionary now that they are semi-literate. They looked up "fish" (Habtamu) and "cat" (Yordanos) with some help from me. Habtamu guessed there were 450 words in the book. I laughed and said I thought it was a bit MORE, but couldn't find a count. He suggested we count them one by one. I assured him that that is not possible.
I'd like to share with you our new spelling program at School of Gardner. I like it and the kids like it, although you wouldn't think that they would.
I found some lists of the 220 most used words, and we do 10 words a day. (I also have lists with more words for later.)
1. I have them WRITE the words 5 times as they're saying the word.
2. I have them READ the words to me.
3. Then they spell them OUT LOUD for me (without looking if possible, with if it's a harder word) until they can spell them confidently.
4. Then I have them use the words in SENTENCE, to make sure they know what the words mean.
5. Finally, they take the TEST. They usually get all the words correct at that point. If they miss one, I have them write it another few times and spell it out loud to me again.
My Dad commented that that sounded a lot tougher than he remembers school. Me too, but I want to give them every opportunity to gain literacy. The bonus is that they like it. :)