Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.-Henry Ford
Learning to read begins with learning to talk. Children listen to their parents and mimic sounds. They eventually begin to associate these sounds with words that represent things and actions. From there, vocabulary increases as parents read stories, sing songs and rhymes. As children learn the alphabet and letter sounds, they soon learn that words are made of combinations of several letter sounds merged together.
While easy to write about, it’s not so easy to accomplish. It is also a complex task to meet each child where he/she is and personalize their learning. We immerse our students in a language-rich environment all throughout the day. Part of that immersion involves using iPads. One of the apps we like to use for associating letters and sounds is Montessori Crosswords. Montessori Crosswords helps kids develop their reading, writing, and spelling skills by building words from a set of 320 word-image-audio-phonics combinations using a phonics-enabled movable alphabet. Montessori Crosswords allows you to select words according to their difficulty or sound categories:
➜ Level 1 displays a three-letter word with no difficulty for beginning readers (CVC words)
➜ Levels 2 and 3 offer more complex words that contains more complex phonics (as long vowels sounds or blends), and also offer the option to automatically create multi-word crosswords in tens of thousands of different combinations
➜ Alternately, you can choose from 44 sound categories (i.e. choose words that contain a specific sound. This app costs $2.99 and is worth it!
As my students work on their emerging literacy skills through a variety of ways, I love that I have a tool that gives my students the ability to personalize their learning. We have to be willing to look at our students as individuals and give them what they need as they need it. Learning is not one size fits all. Just because our lesson plans say we are teaching a certain skill this week doesn’t mean all of our students will master it in that time frame. iPads give students the ability to practice just what they need.
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