A Card Game to Work on Language

Make a Sentence

Number of Players

  • 2 to 4


Equipment Needed

  • 1 deck of playing cards.
  • Remove Kings, Queens and Jacks.
  • A word list (if required).


Object of the Game

  • To win the most cards. Cards are won by the first player to make a sentence from their cards.


Setting up the Game

Choose the level based on the child’s vocabulary. For example if your child knows five letter words then you would use the ace, twos, threes ,fours, fives and jokers. However if your child knows 10 letter words then you can use aces to tens and the jokers.

Before starting explain the following:

That the card represents the number of letters that will be used in the word.

          Ace                     four                         joker-card

1 letter word: a, I             4 letter word: book, dial          free word: six, lamp


How to play

  • Shuffle the cards and deal four cards to each player.
  • Each player makes a sentence based on their cards. The cards may be arranged in any order. For example if you have a three, ace, four and two. You can make the sentence, “I like my cat.”

Ace          four        2     3

    I                                like                              my                             cat


  • All players make a sentence and decide on which is grammatically correct.
  • The player who makes a sentence that is grammatically correct keeps his cards while the other players place their cards back into the pile.
  • Continue until all the cards in the pile have been played or till four cards cannot be distributed evenly between the players.
  • The player who has the most cards at the end of the game wins.

10 Things Parents Need to Know to Help a Struggling Reader

By Joshua Jenkins

As a special education teacher who teaches struggling readers with different disabilities, I’m often crafting mental lists of things I wish parents knew about their struggling readers and students with learning disabilities, not out of frustration or defense, but out of an earnest desire to see increased confidence and results from my students. Most important, I am eager for the parents of my students to understand that their children can and will learn to read, that their children have strengths, not just weaknesses. I want parents to know how preparing their children to learn to deal with their disability can inspire confidence and enable them to look forward to a proud future where they understand their disability as well as their strengths, self-advocating for their unique learning style. This is my manifesto for the struggling reader.

1. Notice Your Child’s Success

“My baby can’t read!” a mother shouts in front of her child and her teachers. Your child has strengths. Maybe he can draw beautifully or has an amazing vocabulary. Maybe she has great listening skills.

Often, I feel like my students’ parents are so consumed by their kids’ deficits in reading that they forget the things their children can do well. (Teachers are guilty of this, too.) If your child is artistic, use that talent at home as a way for your child to show understanding of a story you read aloud; draw a picture of the problem in the story, or draw the main character. Just because your child can’t physically decode the words and/or write a response to a reading comprehension question doesn’t mean you can’t push for higher oral comprehension, or neglect one of your child’s strengths. Letting your children use their strengths will boost their confidence, and it has the benefit of letting them see that you know they are excelling at something.

2. Celebrate Every Success

“Mom, can we get ice cream?” “NO! Not with those grades on that report card,” says a disappointed parent.

Celebrate every success with a good job or a high five. Every single one. Don’t rely on report card grades to be the judge of your student’s progress. Celebrate his or her reading a singular word correctly. Meet your child on his/her reading level and celebrate the successes at that level. If your child is a beginning or practically a non-reader, celebrate decoding the word “at” or using a picture to solve an unknown word. If your child is beginning to read more fluently, celebrate when they self-correct an error. In my daily small group reading class, I find myself giving praise constantly—and it’s because I want them to know that I notice their progress and the things they do well. If what we’re reading is challenging, a smile and a “good job” can turn the whole lesson around. When I hear parents of my kids fussing at them about grades, I immediately find myself telling the parent about a small—but wonderful—success his/her child had reading or writing that school day. Harassing the students over report card grades isn’t going to boost their confidence. Struggling readers need to know what they’re doing right, not just their mistakes.

3. Be Honest with Yourself: Set Realistic Goals

“I want my baby to get on-level.”

Saying you want your baby to read on-grade level will not happen overnight. I’m sorry to say it so bluntly, but you need to be honest with yourself and your student about your child’s progress.

Set goals. An easy way to make the very, very long road (did I mention it’s long?) to becoming an on-level reader is to set some very short-term concrete goals. As a teacher who uses a reading-assessment system and leveled books, my goals for students are often their successfully moving up a single reading level. At home, you might set a goal even to just practice reading every day. For example, you might suggest that your child read a certain number of leveled, independent books in a month (leveled books are books that your child can read independently or with only a little help), or you might set a goal of reading an interesting chapter book with your child. Make a countdown and cross out each book or chapter, respectively, until you reach your goal. Remember: you’re setting a goal that is achievable for you and your student that will positively affect his/her reading. (Reading those independent, leveled books at home or hearing that chapter book is a lot of great reading and listening practice that I wish more of my students did at home.) What the goal really does is allow them to see that they’re capable of reaching a goal, that they can be successful. You’re giving them a chance to develop another strength.

4. Don’t Let Poor Spelling Stop Your Child

“He fails every spelling test. He can’t spell anything!”

I hear this from nearly every parent of my students with learning disabilities. If your child has a learning disability, there is a real possibility that he may really struggle with spelling and remembering even very basic word patterns. Here’s the secret: that’s okay. Teach your child to cope. Even if your children can’t spell, they still have ideas that they need to express. Don’t let poor spelling make your child mute. Use a dictionary, spell check, or text-prediction software. Have your child start their very own personal word dictionary as a tool to use while they write. Talk to your student’s teacher. See what technology or other strategies there might be to help your child become more successful. There’s a lot out there—but you won’t find much if you’re too busy pointing out that your kid can’t spell.

5. Share Your Own Difficulties with Your Kids

“My child doesn’t want to read at home.”

Here’s why your child does not want to read at home: when something is difficult and doesn’t come easy, you generally just flat out don’t want to do it! What makes struggling readers even more anxious about reading is the pressure they’re getting both at school and at home to learn to read. (This is yet another reason why setting goals and celebrating every small success are so important.) Tell your child the things you’re not great at. Admitting that you also have things you struggle with can provide support and help your struggling reader understand that people have different strengths and weaknesses. An anecdote I often share with my frustrated readers is how I have always had terrible hand-to-eye coordination. And as an adult, I even maintain a joke with the people I interact with regularly: “do not throw anything to me or expect me to throw something to you.” That’s right; I am terrible at nearly every sport. However, I’ll always give it a shot, and I try. When I’m on family vacation and it’s time for some beach volleyball, you’ll find me flailing beside the net or nose-diving into the sand. (This is the moral, the part where you’re supposed to understand why I’m rambling about my lack of athleticism. Kids should try things they’re not great at, and they should know you have weaknesses, too.)

6. Read Aloud to Your Child–It’s Fun and Helpful

“My kid doesn’t understand what he reads!”

Your struggling reader can do more—if you help. Struggling readers should be read to every single day. Hearing someone else read not only helps your students hear the language they speak, it also has the amazing possibility of sparking creativity and interest and a chance to work on comprehension without the battle of decoding the text. A struggling reader may only read short, short books with little interest or depth, or because, if reading is a challenge, they may not fully understand the content of the text. When you read aloud (or have a program such as an iPad app that reads books aloud—call it old-fashioned, but a real human reading to children is better), they have the opportunity to focus on the meaning of the words. They develop background knowledge, culture, and it allows them to use their imagination.

7. Kids Feel Supported When They See Parents and Teachers Working Together to Help Them

“Honey, Mom and Dad are talking to the teacher right now. Go play with that puzzle over there.”

I cringe at any parent-teacher meeting where I hear those words. Your child’s education is not a private matter that excludes your child. It’s the child’s education! He or she needs to know what’s going on, and it hurts your child’s confidence when you tell him to go somewhere else while you and the teacher tell each other secrets. Do your kids a favor and tell them where they stand academically, what their talents are, what they need help with, and the plan for helping them learn. Remember: you, the parents, will have a plan and a goal in mind! Also remember that your child’s teacher will have a plan as well. Kids feel supported when they see parents and teachers working together to help them, but not when they are shuffled off into a corner to do the proverbial puzzle.

8. Small Steps Can Bring Big Improvements

“What can I do at night with my daughter (or son)”

This list could go on and on, but there is one more important thing to remember.   It doesn’t need to be complicated. If your child is just beginning to read or is a very slow reader, go over the alphabet and letter sounds. Break apart short CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words (sit, hat, log, and so on), and blend these sounds together (/j/ /o/ /b/; job). If your child is a little more independent, sit with her, help her with hard words as she reads, maybe read aloud a chapter of a fun book to her every night before bed. Talk about what happened in the story, the characters, and the setting; what’s the problem in the story? Read a nonfiction book and talk about what you all learned from the text.

If your struggling child is older, let her be the teacher and read her books to siblings. Or, in our tech-obsessed culture, teach your child to grab a camera or recorder and record videos or audio notes of herself reading and then follow along with them, checking errors in reading.

9. It’s Okay to Read Slowly

“My kid reads so slowly.”

This is all right. Struggling readers and students with learning disabilities may read slowly. They might read faster as they grow in their reading ability or, like nearly all dyslexics, they may be a slow reader for life. If your child is reading below a mid-second grade level, don’t worry about fluency or speed. Focus on accuracy, or reading the words correctly. And if your child is diagnosed with dyslexia, don’t pressure him to read faster. Instead, give him strategies to help him remember what he read, such as writing a sentence or two or drawing a picture of what happened on each page (or in each chapter). Your kid is going to live with a learning disability as an adult. Teach him how to deal with it now, so he’ll be better able to navigate the world later.

10. Teach Them How to Help Themselves

“Will my child grow out of this?”

If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, no. But that doesn’t mean your child won’t learn how to read or be a complete failure. If you teach your child how to cope and deal with his/her disability now, you’re doing your child an incredible favor. Teach your children to advocate for themselves. Teach them how to ask for help. Teach them how to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Teach them about resources they can go to for help and how to ensure they receive the accommodations they need for success. If you teach your children to do this at school, they’re going to go into the world feeling confident and set up for success; they’ll know how they fit in and what they need to do to keep up. And that’s worth more than being able to read 180 words per minute.


Why this journalist sees autism as a natural, common and culturally enhancing phenomenon

Partway through his research for a new book on autism, journalist Steve Silberman made a mind-blowing discovery. Some of our biggest misconceptions about autism – that it is a modern disorder and an aberration to be cured – are due to a prominent American psychiatrist’s role in burying early research, he says.

Leo Kanner took credit in 1943 for discovering a “unique” and “heretofore unreported” disorder, which he later called autism. In fact, nearly a decade earlier, Viennese clinician Hans Asperger was the first to identify the distinctive cluster of disabilities, which were often combined with innate gifts.

As Silberman details in Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently, Asperger developed individual education plans for autistic children starting in the mid-1930s. The Viennese researcher described the characteristics of autism as “not at all rare,” and suggested that autistic people may have played a vital role in the evolution of science and the arts.

Silberman presents striking evidence that Kanner knew about Asperger’s work all along. For decades, however, Kanner insisted that autism was an exceptionally rare set of mental deficiencies, caused by “refrigerator mothers” who had deprived their children of maternal warmth.

On the phone from Berkeley, Calif., Silberman explains how Kanner’s definition of autism led to a fruitless search for causes and cures. The time has come, he argues, to reclaim Asperger’s understanding of autism as a natural, common and even culturally enhancing phenomenon.

Why did you coin the word “neurotribe” and what does it mean?

For so long, we have considered conditions like autism, dyslexia and ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] only as medical diagnoses and expressions of brain development gone awry. Because each of those conditions can also convey advantages, I wanted to invent a word that would allow us to [describe] those very large groups of people without automatically pathologizing them – and also talk about the strengths they have.

Many of the people you describe in your book have astonishing abilities in math, engineering and computer science. Should we think of autistic people as real-life X-Men – genetic atypicals with special gifts?

A profound truth that is embedded in the concept of neurodiversity is that the genius of humanity comes from some of the same sources in our genome as some of the most daunting and challenging conditions come from. So we would be well advised to not try to eliminate autism from the gene pool, as the Nazis did.

How has the legacy of Nazi eugenics – selective breeding to create a “supreme race” – contributed to the notion that autism is a defect to be eradicated?

A lot of the rhetoric that was used by the Nazi eugenicists was about the burden that the disabled of all types, physical and mental, put on society. That kind of demeaning rhetoric is still being used, even by organizations that claim to be advocating for autism awareness. They often talk about the multibillion-dollar burden of autism on society. That’s not the best way to think about people.

True. But not everyone with autism grows up to be a computer genius. What about those who are too impaired to live on their own, or go to college?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from studying 80 years of autism history is: Don’t underestimate kids on the spectrum when they’re young. People point to [animal behaviour expert] Temple Grandin, who is perhaps the most famous autistic person in the world, and say, ‘My kid is not like Temple Grandin.’ Well, if you’d seen her when she [was] a preschooler who was very destructive and thrown out of all these schools, you might not have thought she was Grandin herself.

Autism organizations have a reputation for infighting over how to spend resources. Where do you think funding should go?

Towards helping autistic people live as independently as possible, and for the families of those who cannot live independently, helping them with services. The National Autistic Society in England devotes something like two-thirds of its funding to services for autistic adults. In America, Autism Speaks devotes 2 per cent.

Well-meaning parents have tried autism cures ranging from raw camel milk to megadoses of vitamins. What will it take to put the autism snake-oil industry out of business?

A lot of the autism quackery is premised on the notion that autism is new and that you have to chelate mercury out of the child’s body, or put them through other dangerous treatments. One of the things I’ve tried to accomplish with this book is to show that autistic people have always been here, and that it’s not a unique disorder of our uniquely disordered modern world.

The current estimate is that one in 68 school-aged children is on the autism spectrum. Is this category now so broad as to be meaningless?

People often ask me if quirky kids are being [diagnosed] as autistic. I don’t think so. Autism is a very distinctive condition at every level on the spectrum. Every person I know who has gotten an official diagnosis does need support and help in meeting the challenges of daily life.

Are we as a society becoming more autistic, and is this a good thing?

People with autistic traits have definitely influenced pop culture and autistic people in the past made scientific discoveries that helped create the Internet. So yes, in a sense, the world is becoming more autistic in ways that benefit everyone, including people not on the spectrum. Now, we can all communicate remotely, and not in real time, using devices that autistic people helped to create.

Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today

By Valerie Strauss

The Centers for Disease Control tells us that in recent years there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 and to 11 percent in 2011. The reasons for the rise are multiple, and include changes in diagnostic criteria, medication treatment and more awareness of the condition. In the following post, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England, suggests yet another reason more children are being diagnosed with ADHD, whether or not they really have it: the amount of time kids are forced to sit while they are in school. This appeared on the TimberNook blog.

By Angela Hanscom

A perfect stranger pours her heart out to me over the phone. She complains that her 6-year-old son is unable to sit still in the classroom. The school wants to test him for ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder). This sounds familiar, I think to myself. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’ve noticed that this is a fairly common problem today.

The mother goes on to explain how her son comes home every day with a yellow smiley face. The rest of his class goes home with green smiley faces for good behavior. Every day this child is reminded that his behavior is unacceptable, simply because he can’t sit still for long periods of time.

The mother starts crying. “He is starting to say things like, ‘I hate myself’ and ‘I’m no good at anything.’” This young boy’s self-esteem is plummeting all because he needs to move more often.

Over the past decade, more and more children are being coded as having attention issues and possibly ADHD. A local elementary teacher tells me that at least eight of her twenty-two students have trouble paying attention on agood day. At the same time, children are expected to sit for longer periods of time. In fact, even kindergarteners are being asked to sit for thirty minutes during circle time at some schools.

The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun. Merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters are a thing of the past. Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues, and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Lets face it: Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.

I recently observed a fifth grade classroom as a favor to a teacher. I quietly went in and took a seat towards the back of the classroom. The teacher was reading a book to the children and it was towards the end of the day. I’ve never seen anything like it. Kids were tilting back their chairs back at extreme angles, others were rocking their bodies back and forth, a few were chewing on the ends of their pencils, and one child was hitting a water bottle against her forehead in a rhythmic pattern.

This was not a special-needs classroom, but a typical classroom at a popular art-integrated charter school. My first thought was that the children might have been fidgeting because it was the end of the day and they were simply tired. Even though this may have been part of the problem, there was certainly another underlying reason.

We quickly learned after further testing, that most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance. In fact, we tested a few other classrooms and found that when compared to children from the early 1980s, only one out of twelve children had normal strength and balance. Only one!Oh my goodness, I thought to myself. These children need to move!

Ironically, many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system today–due to restricted movement. In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their body in all directions, for hours at a time. Just like with exercising, they need to do this more than just once-a-week in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system.

Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”

Fidgeting is a real problem. It is a strong indicator that children are not getting enough movement throughout the day. We need to fix the underlying issue. Recess times need to be extended and kids should be playing outside as soon as they get home from school. Twenty minutes of movement a day is not enough! They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.

In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.


Here’s a follow-up piece from the same author, titled,The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class


This article was originally published by The Washington Post

A Card Game to Work on Memory

Tri Memory


Number of Players

  • 2 to 4


Equipment Needed

  • 1 deck of cards for 2 players; 2 decks of cards for 3 to 4 players
  • Remove Jokers


Object of the Game

  • To be the first player to collect the same card combination as the 3 cards “hidden” in the middle of the table.


Setting up the Game

The dealer places 3 random cards (do not use/repeat the same cards) in the middle, face up. All players look at the cards and try to remember the number (or picture if it is a King, Queen or Jack) of each of the cards. Turn the cards face down and keep them in the middle.


How to play

  1. Deal 3 cards to each player.


  1. Place remaining deck of cards (face down) in the centre next to the 3 random cards (this will be the ‘draw’ pile).


  1. Players look at their cards.


  1. Players to discard one of their cards that does not match the 3 cards in the centre and draw a new card from the draw pile (they have to discard their card before drawing a new card)


  1. The game stops when a player holds the same cards (by number not suit) as the 3 random cards “hidden” in the middle.


  1. When the draw pile runs out, shuffle the cards in the discard pile and use it as the new draw pile.

The Neuroscience Behind Stress and Learning

By Judy Willis MD

July 18, 2014


The realities of standardized tests and increasingly structured, if not synchronized, curriculum continue to build classroom stress levels. Neuroimaging research reveals the disturbances in the brain’s learning circuits and neurotransmitters that accompany stressful learning environments. The neuroscientific research about learning has revealed the negative impact of stress and anxiety and the qualitative improvement of the brain circuitry involved in memory and executive function that accompanies positive motivation and engagement.

The Proven Effects of Positive Motivation

Thankfully, this information has led to the development of brain-compatible strategies to help students through the bleak terrain created by some of the current trends imposed by the Common Core State Standards and similar mandates. With brain-based teaching strategies that reduce classroom anxiety and increase student connection to their lessons, educators can help students learn more effectively.

In the past two decades, neuroimaging and brain-mapping research have provided objective support to the student-centered educational model. This brain research demonstrates that superior learning takes place when classroom experiences are relevant to students’ lives, interests, and experiences. Lessons can be stimulating and challenging without being intimidating, and the increasing curriculum requirements can be achieved without stress, anxiety, boredom, and alienation as the pervasive emotions of the school day.

During my 15 years of practicing adult and child neurology with neuroimaging and brain mapping as part of my diagnostic tool kit, I worked with children and adults with brain function disorders, including learning differences. When I then returned to university to obtain my credential and Masters of Education degree, these familiar neuroimaging tools had become available to education researchers. Their widespread use in schools and classrooms globally has yet to occur.

This brain research demonstrates that superior learning takes place when classroom experiences are motivating and engaging. Positive motivation impacts brain metabolism, conduction of nerve impulses through the memory areas, and the release of neurotransmitters that increase executive function and attention. Relevant lessons help students feel that they are partners in their education, and they are engaged and motivated.

We live in a stressful world and troubled times, and that is not supposed to be the way for children to grow up. Schools can be the safe haven where academic practices and classroom strategies provide children with emotional comfort and pleasure as well as knowledge. When teachers use strategies to reduce stress and build a positive emotional environment, students gain emotional resilience and learn more efficiently and at higher levels of cognition.

Neuroimaging and EEG Studies

Studies of electrical activity (EEG or brain waves) and metabolic activity (from specialized brain scans measuring glucose or oxygen use and blood flow) show the synchronization of brain activity as information passes from the sensory input processing areas of the somatosensory cortex to the reticular activating and limbic systems. For example, bursts of brain activity from the somatosensory cortex are followed milliseconds later by bursts of electrical activity in the hippocampus, amygdala, and then the other parts of the limbic system. This data from one of the most exciting areas of brain-based learning research gives us a way to see which techniques and strategies stimulate or impede communication between the parts of the brain when information is processed and stored. In other words, properly applied, we can identify and remove barriers to student understanding!

The amygdala is part of limbic system in the temporal lobe. It was first believed to function as a brain center for responding primarily to anxiety and fear. Indeed, when the amygdala senses threat, it becomes over-activated. In students, these neuroimaging findings in the amygdala are seen with feelings of helplessness and anxiety. When the amygdala is in this state of stress-induced over-activation, new sensory information cannot pass through it to access the memory and association circuits.

This is the actual neuroimaging visualization of what has been called the affective filter by Stephen Krashen and others. This term describes an emotional state of stress in students during which they are not responsive to learning and storing new information. What is now evident on brain scans during times of stress is objective physical evidence of this affective filter. With such evidence-based research, the affective filter theories cannot be disparaged as “feel-good education” or an “excuse to coddle students” — if students are stressed out, the information cannot get in. This is a matter of science.

This affective state occurs when students feel alienated from their academic experience and anxious about their lack of understanding. Consider the example of the decodable “books” used in phonics-heavy reading instruction. These are not engaging and motivating. They are usually not relevant to the students’ lives because their goal is to include words that can be decoded based on the lesson. Decodability is often at the expense of authentic meaning to the child. Reading becomes tedious and, for some children, confusing and anxiety-provoking. In this state, there is reduced passage of information through the neural pathways from the amygdala to higher cognitive centers of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, where information is processed, associated, and stored for later retrieval and executive functioning.

Additional neuroimaging studies of the amygdala, hippocampus, and the rest of the limbic system, along with measurement of dopamine and other brain chemical transmitters during the learning process, reveal that students’ comfort level has critical impact on information transmission and storage in the brain. The factors that have been found to affect this comfort level such as self-confidence, trust and positive feelings for teachers, and supportive classroom and school communities are directly related to the state of mind compatible with the most successful learning, remembering, and higher-order thinking.

The Power of Joyful Learning

The highest-level executive thinking, making connections, and “aha” moments of insight and creative innovation are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of what Alfie Kohn calls exuberant discovery, where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning. With current research and data in the field of neuroscience, we see growing opportunities to coordinate the design of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in ways that will reflect these incredible discoveries.

Joy and enthusiasm are absolutely essential for learning to happen — literally, scientifically, as a matter of fact and research. Shouldn’t it be our challenge and opportunity to design learning that embraces these ingredients?

A card game for Memory, Language, Math and Attention.

A + B

Number of Players

  • 2 to 4

Equipment Needed

  • 2 decks of cards
  • Remove Kings, Queens, Jacks and Jokers.
  • Pen and paper for scoring and recording which card corresponds to which alphabet.


Object of the Game

To spell words using the cards in your hand to get points. The player who earns the most points wins.


Setting up the Game

Cards Ace to 5 are vowels. Ace is ‘a’, 2 is ‘e’, 3 is ‘i’, 4 is ‘o’, 5 is ‘u’. Try practice game “Vowels” to help (Pg. 47). Cards 6 to 10 are consonants of your choice. All players agree on which consonants are represented by which number.


6-clubsseven38       9       playing_card_diamond_10-svg

s                       r                      t                         c                        d


How to play

  1. Deal 6 cards to each player. The rest of the cards are turned face down in the middle.
  2. Player 1 makes a word using the cards in their hand. Once they have spelled a word, they replace the cards they have used from the deck in the middle. Player 1 scores their word and writes it down e.g.


Ace Ace playing_card_diamond_10-svg 8 5 2

Letters in this hand:

                                              a, a, d, t, u, e        


playing_card_diamond_10-svg Ace 8 2

                  Word made from these letters:          


Player 1 scores their word: “date” scores 10 + 1 + 8 + 2 = 21


  1. If a player spells a word using all 6 cards, they get a bonus 10 points.
  2. Players take it in turns to make words, score and then replace their cards from the deck. Each player must always have 6 cards in their hand.
  3. If a player can’t make a word, they may discard 1 card in the center and pick up a new card from the deck. If a player can’t go for 2 turns running, they may swap all their 6 cards for replacement cards ending their turn.
  4. Once a word has been spelled, it cannot be used again in the same game.
  5. If a word is in doubt, use the Oxford English Dictionary to judge.
  6. The game finishes when a player no longer has 6 cards in their hand or when a pre-arranged target score is reached.



Players take it in turns to see how many words they can make within a specified time, for example 10 minutes.

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

A book with no pictures?

What could be fun about that?

Hey, what kind of book is this, anyway?

the-book-with-no-pictures-480x480 The book with no pictures- inside1 The book with no pictures- inside2


This is a very funny book that asks the reader to say all sorts of silly things to prove that a book with only words can be fun and entertaining. It’s a fantastic choice as a read-aloud. This book will make everybody laugh and laugh!

Another article found in The Malaysian Insider

Empty schools, crowded jails

by Cheryl Ann Fernando

Just before the school holidays, I made a few dreaded phone calls. I had to ask my student’s parents if their child still wanted to continue school.

These students have been absent for long and despite the school’s attempt to call or visit them, many still refused to come to school.

One parent, in resignation, told me that he’d come to school to sign the letter so we can remove his child from our school list. I asked if there was anything else we could do, or if I could speak to him one more time.

“Thank you, teacher, for your effort. We both tried but if he doesn’t want to continue school, then we’ll let him be,” was the only answer I got.

I couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for these dropouts. I didn’t have it in me to support them and at least see them through their final year in school.

The school didn’t have the capacity to support them. In the community they lived in, many students dropped out before completing their formal education. These students needed the extra help but there was nothing present to help them. As a result, the child makes his own decision which often leads to leaving school.

Countless research has been done on why a child decides to drop out. From socioeconomic reasons to learning difficulties, we are all aware of the causes.

Perhaps, the most evident reason a child chooses to leave school is because he does not fit into the traditional classroom and school mould.  As a teacher, I’ve come to realise that our education system is perfect for average students.

We have what it takes to push them to be better and maybe even to reach the above-average standards. We can cater to any student, as long as he or she fits into a predetermined mould.

We cannot deal with the students who fall behind. As our education system is continuously progressing and adopting new policies and strategies, we keep forgetting our struggling students.

While we talk about including information technology into our syllabus, more subjects and a rigorous curriculum, we forget that somewhere in a class, there is a student struggling to read at 17 years old.

If you ask me what my students need the most, I will tell you that they just need basic literacy and numeracy skills. They need to know that being literate is empowering and above it all, they need a system that will help them be the best they can be, in their own capacity.

As long as our children are ignored, our greatest problem will soon be the large number of students who are illiterate and involved in social ills.

I remember asking a student once why he isn’t coming to school and his simple answer was that he was hungry. He would rather go out to look for scrap metal than to sit in school. How do you tell a 13-year-old who is hungry that coming to school is more important than working for some food?

I know, for a fact, that many schools work hard to keep students in school. From visiting them at home to buying groceries and giving them food during recess, we try to help these students.

But, we need more than Band-Aid solutions. In the midst of revamping our curriculum and trying to achieve world-class standards, we must be mindful of the large number of our students who are failing to meet the basic literacy requirements and thus leaving school because they struggle financially and do not see the need for education.

Above all, we must remember that the same students who leave school will be the ones who are most likely to commit crime or get involved in drugs.

I believe, as long as we keep allowing our students to leave school, we will soon be left with empty schools and crowded jails. – June 18, 2015.

How Math Should Be Taught

How Students Should be Taught Mathematics:

Reflections from Research and Practice

Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, Stanford University

Mathematics classrooms should be places where students:

Develop an inquiry relationship with mathematics, approaching math with curiosity, courage, confidence & intuition.

Talk to each other and the teachers about ideas – Why did I choose this method?  Does it work with other cases?  How is the method similar or different to methods other people used?

Work on mathematics tasks that can be solved in different ways and/or with different solutions.

Work on mathematics tasks with a low entry point but a very high ceiling – so that students are constantly challenged and working at the highest and most appropriate level for them.

Work on mathematics tasks that are complex, involve more than one method or area of mathematics, and that often, but not always, represent real world problems and applications.

Are given growth mindset messages at all times, through the ways they are grouped together, the tasks they work on, the messages they hear, and the assessment and grading.

Are assessed formatively – to inform learning – not summatively to give a rank with their peers.  Students should regularly receive diagnostic feedback on their work, instead of grades or scores.  Summative assessments are best used at the end of courses.

Mathematics classrooms should be places where students believe:

Everyone can do well in math.

Mathematics problems can be solved with many different insights and methods.

Mistakes are valuable, they encourage brain growth and learning.

Mathematics will help them in their lives, not because they will see the same types of problems in the real world but because they are learning to think quantitatively and abstractly and developing in inquiry relationship with math.