Bingo Multiplications!

Bingo Multiplications!

Learning your multiplication table can be one of the most tedious things to do growing up. Especially at a young age when the concept of quantity is not yet cemented to the concept of numbers. It can be hard to understand that you are taking seven of one thing and multiplying it by eight of another thing and somehow getting 56 things in total! I remember as a kid I didn’t really care what these numbers meant, and I couldn’t understand why I had to memorize them instead of playing outside. I can see a similar resistance to such a monotonous task with the kids I tutor, so I brought in Multiplications Bingo. This task is an effective way of combining memorizing timetables with fun and a little friendly competition.


My current bingo board is five squares by eight, with one row of free squares in the center. The dimensions are adaptable to the competence level of the child, starting off with less squares and then working up to more. There is written in each square a product of a multiplication, varying between the one timetables to the twelve timetables. I read off a multiplication within the range and the student will look for the answer on the board. Not all multiplication questions have their answer on the board and there are some answers written down in more than one square. We vary what the student needs to win depending on the amount of time we are allocating to the game; sometimes we play for just four or five in a line, whereas other times we play for more exciting shapes such as a big plus sign or X. I change up my board so the numbers do not get repetitive and sequence the order of questions at random.

“Whenever I add a game element to my lessons I am always excited with the response I get. Learning can be fun and it’s important to remember that small added entertainment can go a long way.”


-Nicole Bailey


The Borel-Maisonny Phonetic and Gestural Method


Méthode de lecture phonétique et gestuelle Borel-Maisonny :

The Borel-Maisonny phonetic and gestural method teaches french reading in a multi-sensory approach. It focuses on connecting the auditive, visual, articulatory and kinesthetic memories. It was originally developed by one of the founders of speech therapy in France. The idea is to associate each sound with a specific gesture that will help memorizing, but also acts as a link between the sound and its graphic representation.

Let’s take an example : The sound “p” . The tutor will pronounce (auditive) the sound “p” while doing the gesture (visual). The student then repeats and imitates (kinesthetic). The gesture makes sense with the way you articulate the sound. Pronounce “p”, you can observe that first your lips get closer than burst into an explosion. That’s exactly what the gesture mimics as you can see on the picture. That calls for the articulatory memory. The graphic form is also presented to the student (visual). The sound is then practiced in visual and auditory drills. At Little House we have adapted this method. We aim to also address the spelling side and we added pictures to reinforce the visual component.

This is a great and complete method which is very effective teaching students with and without learning disabilities. Each student will or won’t use gestures or pictures, but all is offered for him to naturally pick which techniques provides the best result.


La méthode phonétique et gestuelle Borel-Maisonny permet d’apprendre à lire avec une approche multi-sensorielle. Elle repose sur l’utilisation des mémoires auditive, visuelle, articulatoire et kinesthésique. Elle a été développée par l’une des fondatrices de l’orthophonie en France et a la particularité d’associer chaque son avec un geste. Cela permet d’aider l’enfant à mémoriser et agit comme un intermédiaire entre le phonème et le graphème. Prenons l’exemple du son “p”. En même temps que le tuteur prononce (auditive) le son “p”, il fait le geste associé (visuelle). L’enfant répète et reproduit (kinesthésique). Le geste a été réfléchi pour être cohérent avec l’articulation du son. Prononcezle son “p”, vous pouvez observer que dans un premier temps vos lèvres se serrent puis forment comme une explosion. Ce sont ces étapes que le geste reprend, comme le montre la photo. Cela fait donc lien avec la mémoire articulatoire. La forme visuelle, le graphème, est bien entendu également présentée à l’élève. L’étude du son est ensuite renforcée avec une lecture centrée sur le nouveau son et une dictée. A Little House nous avons adapté cette méthode afin de travailler égalementsur le versant orthographique et nous avons ajouté des images pour renforcer l’utilisation de la mémoire visuelle. Il s’agit d’une méthode complète utile pour les enfants avec et sans troubles des apprentissages. Chaque élève va s’approprier ou non les gestes et les images, mais tous les moyens lui sont offerts et il pourra naturellement choisir celui qui convient le mieux à son style d’apprentissage.





In English, some letters start in the sky, some letters start on the grass, and some letters go into the ground. At Little House, we teach students to decipher the difference between the different types of letters to aide in the development of their writing skills.

Grass letters, like a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, and z, only touch the grass.

Grass to ground letters, like g, j, p, q, and y, start on the grass and go down into the ground.

Grass to sky letters, like b, d, f, h, k, l, and t, start on the grass and go up into the sky.

Use a sky-grass-ground lined sheet of paper to teach this method.



Studying the Cell… Phone



Although not your typical cell diagram or science project, consider constructing this “cell” phone when analyzing the functions of the parts of a cell. The student will need to justify the reasons for identifying the parts of the cellphone with the parts of the cell, and this helps him or her understand the different functions by analogy. It will never be a perfect match, but it is a fun exercise for the student. Below, I outline how the exercise played out for me and my tutee this week.

For this particular cellphone, the immediate choice for the nucleus was the home button. The reason: “Because it controls everything!” We considered the information stored by the DNA in the nucleus as all the info that the home button controls and opens for the viewer when needed. The nucleolus is a little arrow on the home button, since the nucleolus is “visible within the nucleus”; but we could not quite capture the nucleolus’s function of ribosome formation except by visualizing the physical connection between the home button and the other buttons (the ribosomes).

Our button ribosomes carry out their task seamlessly as agents of “protein synthesis,” since the combinations of numbers and letters make up different units of meaning. The ribosome buttons are of course located on phone’s base, or the endoplasmic reticulum, which is the intricate and mysterious network of connections between the buttons and the phone’s inner system that transports “material” (input) in the cellphone. We did not distinguish between the rough and the smooth endoplasmic reticulum; but of course part of this network functions as the smooth by storing the input in the Golgi apparatus (SD card).

Besides our Golgi apparatus SD card, we have our SIM card. Not every cellphone has a SIM card; but if it’s a plant cellphone, the SIM card is the “SUN” card where we decided photosynthesis takes place (the chloroplast). The inner hardware of the phone also has various different organelles or subunits with their own functions. We could also consider as organelles the different apps of our phone, located in the cytoplasm screen. “Cytoplasm” even became our cellphone’s brand name. One of the apps is our recycling bin / trash app, called a vacuole: it will need to store up input or waste until needed or finally rejected.

Finally, the mitochondrion charging port of the cellphone nicely fits its description as a spherical to rod-shaped organelle – with an inner membrane with multiple folds. The charging port converts the energy source into the cellphone’s “glucose”.


Sound Families

Sound Families


Sometimes we know how to say a word, and we know when it sounds wrong, but sounding it out as we try to spell it for the first time can be a minefield. So many sounds have multiple spellings! For example, air, arr can all make the same sound in a word. When we want to spell barrel, how do we know it isn’t supposed to be bare-l, or bair-le?

It can help to recognize patterns, and put words into ‘families’. Reading and writing words that are in the same category repetitively can help you recognize the pattern. We’ve been going one step further by discovering families ourselves! While reading our favorite stories out loud, my students and I have started creating sound families. We will have a sheet of paper with columns on top to identify the different spelling patterns of the same sound. As the student reads, they can pick out words that fit into one of the columns, and write it down. At the end, the student has a list of families and can practice spelling these words with a new recognition tool.


Sight Word Tic-Tac-Toe


Learning to spell sight words can be tricky for many students. They often do not follow a specific spelling rule and can’t be sounded out phonetically. To make memorizing these words more enjoyable, I like to turn them into a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. I draw a 3 x 3 grid, and fill in 9 sight words I want to teach. I put this in a plastic sleeve so we can use dry erase markers.

First, I ask my student to point to each of the sight words and read them out loud. Then we play the game. Each turn, the player marks an X or O, practices spelling the word at the bottom of the page, and reads it out loud. I usually play a few rounds with my student at the beginning of the lesson, and then have them practice spelling the words without looking at them on their Daily Page. This is a fun, multi-sensory method of teaching sight words.