Preschool and Homeschool Curriculum: The Word Bird

Word Bird copy.jpg

As a homeschool parent, preschool teacher, and early childhood education curriculum developer;  I found myself using flashcards AGAIN to practice sight words. I was bored, so I can only imagine howthe kids felt.  At the time, the kids and I were practicing the words “the”, “like”, “play”,and “you”. This flashcard practice had been going on for weeks, and we weren’t retaining the words.

One day, I wrote the words on index cards. I wrote each word on six (6) index cards because I had six (6) preschool students. I taped the words all over the wall. When the children came into the classroom, they noticed the words on the wall and asked what happened.  

I love to engage my preschool students by allowing them to teach me.  Instead of my asking questions, I act as if I do not know the answer and they, in turn, are delighted to educate me.  For example, instead of my saying “I am going to snatch the word /the/ from the word wall to use in my writing.” I say, “Huh? I know I’ve seen the word /the/ somewhere in my classroom. I really wish I knew where it was, so I could snatch it.” The students, in turn, laugh and reply, “Silly Ms. Karen! The word is on our word wall!” Not only do I encourage the students to educate me, but I make up stories. Connecting little stories to learning not only intrigues the students – but also, it helps them retain information.  In this example,  having the children locate and question the words on the wall provided the perfect introduction to circle time and to the story of The Word Bird.

I began with “I have NO clue how these words got on the wall, but let me tell you what I think happened. I came into the classroom early this morning. I hadn’t finished my coffee, so I was not fully awake. I went to turn on the lights, and Ah! I noticed there were words scattered all over our classroom. I was about to start cleaning them up before you got here, but I hadn’t finished my coffee, and you know Ms. Karen needs her coffee to think. So, I just sat down and waited. I figured maybe you could help me clean them up? But then,  guess what happened? When I finally drank my coffee and became alert, I noticed something…

As I was sitting there, I noticed the window was open just a teeny tiny bit. And then I remembered my teacher friend telling me about The Word Bird.” I explain The Word Bird in great detail. Preschool children love stories, and the use of imagery sparks their imagination and creates mental images that keep them engaged.  

I continued, “I heard of this little bird called The Word Bird. He’s kind of like the leprechaun. He loves to sneak into classrooms and leave a mess of words while having a bit of fun with kids.  The Word Bird is a tiny bird with sparkly, light blue feathers, and he has a little red backpack that is filled with words or letters or colors.  The Word Bird finds a tiny entrance into classrooms; flies in; grabs some words out of his red backpack; and slaps them all over the classroom as soon as he finds a new classroom of kids to trick  He stays the rest of the year.   I went over to the window, and guess what I found?” I pull out the tiny, sparkly blue feather, but preschool teachers and homeschool moms canimprovise, as long as they make sure to have some visuals to engage the students.

“Now!” I said, “I really need some help cleaning up all of these words. I notice The Word Bird left some of the words we’re learning. He left six (6) of each word.”  I then direct the children to find the first word. Instead of asking the children to find the word /the/, I mix it up a bit., “Kids – this is the word t/h/e says the.”

Another great engagement tool is to include songs or chants or cheers.  I shake my shoulders, and repeat, – “This is the word t/h/e says the. Repeat t/h/e says the, like I did.” Preschool children love that I ask them not only to find the word, but to mimic the chant when they find  their word.  My early education and homeschool students, parents and teachers have fallen  in love with The Word Bird and sight word chants. 

Listen to our sight word chants and watch our video, “Letter Sounds” at your home for early childhood, pre-K, kindergarten and homeschool curriculum that promotes school readiness and a lifelong love of learning in young children.

Lauren Kist