Building Literacy (and Gardens!)

Few things exemplify and anticipate the joy of the upcoming summer as much as a beautiful garden.  Flowers lift our senses in countless wonderful ways.

My little friends and I are having a lovely time this week as we create a Little House garden.  We have been examining the root systems of the flowers we have planted, spending time discussing what plants need to survive and enjoying the marvels of plant life. The Little Learners and I read the story “I Am a Leaf,” by Jean Marzollo, and learned about how leaves make plant food both for trees and flowers.  They were really engaged by the story which is narrated by a leaf. I loved the astonished and joyful expressions as they realized: “Wait! The leaf is telling the story?! Whoaaa!”

The garden is truly a lot of fun, but it is still business as usual for our Little Learners and our main focus is always on building literacy confidence and skill. This post will share one of the literacy practices that our Little Learners engage in on a daily basis–sight word recognition–and offer ways that this learning can be continued at home. Recognizing sight words is a critical step in the reading process. Sight words can be thought of as the Rosetta Stone of reading, offering a strong clue into the not immediately visible connection between text and the spoken word. I assure you that if you passed me something written in Mandarin I wouldn’t know where to begin looking, let alone connecting the characters to sounds. Our Little Learners are worlds ahead of me in this regard and have been doing so well with connecting sounds with letters through phonics practice.

Sight words bridge the gap between blending sounds together to form words and recognizing a specific group of letters as a word. At Little House, we use rhymes and pictures to build a story around sight words, making the words easy and fun for the Little Learners to learn and remember. We build upon sight word recognition and move into sight word spelling as the kids gain confidence with their reading. In the gallery, you can see photos of the books and posters our Little Learners use for their reading, ideas which you can replicate to practice at home.


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The 5 Senses & Happy Mother’s Day!

Seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and hearing: these are the ways we experience the world around us.

For adults, it is easy to be mindful of the unique experience that each of our 5 senses brings to us. For kids, it is exciting to become aware of the each sense on its own. The Little Learners had so much fun exploring the different sensory stations–but it was really difficult to resist mixing senses! That was part of the fun. Children are so curious and as subconscious masters of the senses they want not only to hear, but to taste, see, touch and smell all at once!

The perfect illustration of this point occurred at the tasting station where my little friends sat expectantly with paper blindfolds over their eyes. “Okay, keep your blindfolds on! Don’t peek!” I said.  Of course, this was an invitation to peek and the moment I turned around with my cucumbers, I saw many little sets of eyes peeking out from beneath the blindfolds and several faces without blindfolds at all!  🙂 Note: The blindfolds were actually Maya’s idea. I hadn’t thought of blindfolds, so some students were faced with the very high expectations of having to keep their eyes closed the whole time! (Guess what: they peeked, too!)

It was really neat to watch them and hear them make a discovery using their senses.  “What is in this container?” *sniff sniff–eyes light up* “It smells like grass!!!” or *sniff sniff-face scrunches up* “Ew! Ground up coffee!”

Enjoy the photo gallery to see what we experienced.


For Mother’s Day we enjoyed reading Franklin in the Dark, the classic story from Paulette Bourgeois’ beloved Franklin series. We also made sweet little cards. There are some lovely story excerpts and a preview of Sunday’s gift in the gallery!

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Spring into Learning

For the Little Learners, Spring has been all about celebrating the Earth and learning about the wonderful and interesting plants, creatures and features that make our planet so special.

We kicked off our Earth Week celebrations by making gorgeous “stained glass windows” of Planet Earth, while sharing the things we do to help take care of our world.

Focussing on the natural environment that surrounds us in Vancouver, we have learned about forests and oceans along with many of our amazing friends and neighbors who live in those places. You can see the ten-legged crabs and spray-blowing whales in our gallery.

In the coming week we will be exploring our five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling. It is through these senses that we encounter the richness of the world around us and each sense offers a unique perspective. Stay tuned for photos of this exciting week to come!