Sunday, March 3, 2013

Alphabet Soup {Carmine: A Little More Red}

I read somewhere that children's book authors are sent a list of words (mostly sight-words) that they are 'allowed' to use in their books.  I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it makes me sad. That's why I'm always excited to discover a new book that will expand my children's vocabulary.  I absolutely love the book Carmine: A Little More Red by Melissa Sweet which has taught my 3-year-olds some wonderful new words.  The story starts out by explaining that Carmine's grandmother taught her how to read by making alphabet soup.  It then proceeds to retell the story of Little Red Riding Hood where each paragraph highlights one word that starts with each letter of the alphabet.   For our activity today we made our own version of alphabet soup...

Foam letter stickers would be perfect for this activity, but since we didn't have any, I used a permanent marker to write letters onto craft foam and cut them out.  I used red for vowels and blue for consonants to fit in with the All About Reading 1 lessons we're doing (the magnets have the same color combination, so it's easy for me to ask the girl to pick one vowel and two consonants to make a CVC word).

Using a slotted spoon, the girls took turns stirring the soup and then scooping out one vowel and a consonant and placing the three letters into small bowls.

Then while her sister was scooping out her letter, the girl who was waiting had to use her letters to form words (I came up with the words and they had to put the letters together to spell them out).

The kids had so much fun with this activity that it occupied them for a good part of the the morning.  When we read Carmine a second time and the first page talked about how Grandma taught Carmine to read using alphabet soup, they were excited:  "Just like the alphabet soup we made!" they exclaimed.

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  1. Unless you are talking about a learn to read phonics series, I do not think books should use a restricted vocabulary.

    I just reviewed Julia Dweck's new book BEEWITCHED and I think it is a good one for vocabulary. Ages 6+

  2. Authors are not restricted to certain vocabulary words. I taught for 30+ years before I became a children's author. I know the importance of introducing new vocabulary. Children are so bright they can often get the meaning from the context clues. I always add a few more challenging words to the books I write. Expect more from students and you'll get more!

  3. Carol is correct. :) Children's picture book authors often use many words that are unfamiliar to young kids...this is a fantastic way to expand their vocabulary. If, on the other hand, you are writing a beginning reader, then yes, you are expected to use mainly words that the children will either recognize or be learning in order to reduce frustration and increase the feeling of success at being able to read the book.

    Just reviewed 'Slowly, Slowly, Slowly', said the Sloth by Eric Carle...and I can tell you that he uses over a dozen amazing words like lethargic, lackadaisical,tranquil and placid...what fun! I also just did a post about how reading with young children increases their who aren't read to on a daily basis will probably enter kindergarten deficient in words they understand...and many never make up that gap. I love that you say, 'expect more from students and you'll get more.'

  4. We are now in the "Moving up" section in our library. Mom does the Moving up read aloud books like William Steig or Patricia Polacco. I also follow some of the recommended reading lists that the libraries have and try and read a grade above. Also Audio Books is an amazing way to introduce vocabulary that is much advanced.

  5. I love this activity. The colored cvc is a good idea (esp for this activity) so they have more control over spelling real words. My son will love it!

  6. I love this activity.

  7. What a fun activity, and that book's a favorite of mine, too. Thanks for sharing at The Children's Bookshelf.

  8. This is such a sweet idea and fun learning activity! Perfectly playful!

    I am featuring this at TGIF today here - Thanks for linking up and sharing your creativity with the rest of us! Feel free to grab a NEW featured button.

    Have a GREAT weekend,
    Beth =-)


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