Reading instead of Writing


Right now, this is what my kitchen table looks like, completely covered in books. Fiction, mostly, with some poems and horses thrown in for good measure. You may notice many sequels, and a few new series’ starters…

Someone recently asked me what it’s like to have finished writing my book. The answer is that it’s a bit anti-climactic. I gathered all my energy and effort and focus pouring into a gigantic goal. And now it is done. So I’m taking a break from writing for a bit, both from books and blogging.

Instead, I’m pouring myself into curating a child’s reading experience.

LauriReading instead of Writing

Early Reading Part 2

Reading Bob-1

This is a continuation of my Early Reading Basics entry. After working on phonemic awareness and letter learning, here’s a look at very beginning decoding (reading). WORDS Once your child knows their letters and sounds, then what?  Then we start figuring out words! I love a multi sensory approach, so here are some tools that get kids’ hands moving with their brains: TAPPING: one tool that is quite helpful for brand-new readers is “tapping”, where each finger gets a sound and is tapped on the thumb. Example: cat. Tap Index first /k/, then middle /a/, then ring finger /t/. Then tap all three and say the whole word/syllable “cat”. We tap one syllable at a time, so there are never more than 5 sounds, and even as they begin to decode longer words, we can still tap a syllable as needed. MAGNETS: Any set of letter magnets is helpful, but I do love Wilson’s color-coded Magnetic Journal LINK. All the vowels are orange, and the consonants are yellow. Also, they’re lowercase and square to make them easy to manipulate and keep straight. Memorize High Frequency words (as Sight Words): the, a, (remember to teach “the /thu/” and “a /u/” for fluency) and, to, was, is, on… Depending on the child, flash cards can work great for this. Make it a game! Some game ideas: Sometimes I’ll work the sight word cards as a drill and ask what each word is. If they get it right, they get to keep the card. …

[email protected]Early Reading Part 2

Pre-Reading Basics: Letter Learning

Little Letters

This is part two of Pre-Reading Basics.  See the first post here.

As your child is learning their letters, it is tempting to go straight through the alphabet (typical phonics instruction often does, classroom Kindergarten included). However, I often find it helpful to teach high-frequency letters first. 

So which letters are good to learn first?  Every kid loves their very own letter

LauriPre-Reading Basics: Letter Learning

Pre-Reading Basics: Phonemic Awareness

Quilt & Hand

Reading readiness can be cultivated simply and naturally. We teach our preschoolers their colors and numbers. They love to point out what they know, love songs and games.  But how do we get from singing the ABC’s to reading words? This is the first in a series of posts with tools that I use, both with students and my own children. Let’s start with Phonemic Awareness.  

Phonemic Awareness is a term teachers use to describe a student’s ability to differentiate sounds.

LauriPre-Reading Basics: Phonemic Awareness

Braving an Art Gallery with Little Ones

Colored Pencil tips

​The other day, the Frist Center for the Arts, an amazing local art gallery, had a free day!  I’m so glad a friend invited us to join them.  It is a bit daunting taking three children under 5 to an art gallery, but it was great.

[email protected]Braving an Art Gallery with Little Ones

Beginning piano lessons from a professional piano player, part 2

Simple Piano

We finally got a full sized keyboard for our home, so in addition to watching my children get piano lessons from their professional-keyboard-player-daddy, last night I sat down to tickle the ivories myself.  It’s been a long time!

My fingers vaguely remembered the scales I learned as a kid, and then I began to put into practice what Elise has been learning

LauriBeginning piano lessons from a professional piano player, part 2

Downtown Story Time, our favorite!

Downtown puppets

Libraries are wonderful.  In particular, the Nashville Public Library system is fantastic.  If you ever come to Nashville, come visit our downtown library: grand architecture, vast volumes, serene study rooms and cozy reading corners.  And perhaps best of all: a delightful children’s section, complete with a puppet theater, craft rooms, and the best story hour I’ve ever seen.  

Most story-hours are a sweet children’s librarian singing a few songs and reading several stories.  This story time includes these elements, but incorporates them into an amazing, interactive show.

LauriDowntown Story Time, our favorite!

Beginning Piano Lessons from a Professional Piano Player

Piano Kid

I’ve been spying on the piano lessons that my professional musician husband gives our four-year-old. At that age, it’s tricky to know what to teach them that will enable musical exploration and not the wretched plunking out of “Hot Cross Buns” over and over! So he taught her about thirds, how, using only white notes, if you play two notes together, skipping the one between them, that is a Third. Then by stacking thirds, you build chords!  She doesn’t quite understand what chords she’s playing yet, but pleasant sounds emanate from her miniature piano as she experiments. He is simultaneously teaching her the Nashville Number system. What is the Nashville Number system?  It’s the method of charting and reading music that studio musicians in Music City use.  When you show up at a session to track a record, or to a gig playing live music, you must be prepared to change keys at a moment’s notice.  So musicians here call chords by their number, rather than their letter name.  [That way they don’t have to re-write their music to reflect a change, they just jot a note at the top. They don’t have to officially transpose music, they just play those chord numbers in the new key!] Let’s say we’re playing only the white notes on the piano, which puts us in the key of C. There are 7 different notes in a major scale and then you land back at the first (an octave higher).  So if you start …

LauriBeginning Piano Lessons from a Professional Piano Player

Early Reading Basics Part 1

reading girl

It can be tricky working with a beginning reader, especially considering that you probably don’t remember learning to read, and even if you do, it was a long time ago! So how are you supposed to know how to coach your kindergartener with their reading? (much less to teach them to read before kindergarten!) Encouraging them to “sound it out, honey” only feels so helpful.

Talking with another mom recently I saw a gap: unless you were a teacher, it can feel quite daunting to teach your child to read. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips.

LauriEarly Reading Basics Part 1