June 19, 2007

First Stories

About a month ago T had an assignment to fill in the missing vowels in a story I wrote. It was standard drivel about a dog chasing a cat. T did the work well. Today he blew my mind by writing his own "book" while he was waiting for Tomomi and me to come out of a meeting. All the pages are stapled together. The cover has a picture of a dog chasing a cat up a tree and is titled "Dog cachis cat: bifrent storea" [Dog chases cat: different story]. Next comes a table of contents:
  1. Dog and cat
  2. The cat and fish and frog
  3. The dog and the bird
  4. The chikin
Here are the stories:

Dog and cat [An improvement on my story]

A cat wus in a Tree a dog wus borking at the cat skracht the Dog the Dog wus angree the dog chast the cat the cat ran and ran The Dog ran and ran the Dog got the cat The Dog took the cat to Dog's hows the cat is skerd the Dog Let the cat run in the Dog's hows The Dog made a hows for The cat

The cat and fish and frog [A T original]

A cat wus drining water The cat fawnd a fish to eat The cat didint wunt to go into the water beakus cats dont like water The cat sed to a frog go jumq into the water and get the fish but wen the frog trid karea the fish the fish wus to heve beacus the fish is big so the cat is angrea

The Dog and the Bird [Inspired by The Mitten?]

a Dog fawnd a hat But a Bird livd in it so the Dog look for anather place to liv the Dog fawnd cote But a goat wus eating it so the Dog look for a hows the Dog fawnd a skorf ther wus nobuddy living in it ther so the Dog wus lucky Is winter it wus code and worm

The chikin [Inspired by Chicken Little; work in progress?]

a chikin felt sumting fel on the chikin ced its raneing I beder fin the King

I'm really impressed with the initiative T took and with his creativity. I like how the dog in the first story began as an angry cat chaser but then was moved by the cat's fear to let the cat run in his house and even to make a house for the poor cat. I also like the persistence of the dog in the third story who didn't give up on living in an article of clothing even though the first two didn't work out.

T did well spelling the words he already knows phonics rules for and he took educated guesses with other words. I need to teach him how to end sentences with periods. Overall I'm very pleased with his efforts. He just started first grade two and a half months ago.

June 6, 2007

Learn-to-Read Web Site

I teach a "Graduates Class" at my preschool. It's a weekly, one-hour lesson for our preschool graduates and other high level English readers and writers. The past couple of weeks I've been asking the students to go to starfall.com and just play around. Starfall is a online reading course that kids have so much fun on that they learn effortlessly. There are songs, flash movies, games, activities, and stories to read and write.

Starfall is designed for first graders, but can be used as a challenge for kindergarteners or as a review for second graders. There are four levels ranging from the alphabet all the way to folk tales and simple versions of Greek myths and Chinese fables. The web site is free and although there are products for sale, I didn't see any of the annoying pushiness that sometimes turns up on other free sites.

I am not associated with starfall in any way but if you have a child learning to read I suggest that you try turning him loose on the site.

June 5, 2007


Tomomi had been saying she wished we could go to the beach before the baby comes next month. Lo and behold, some friends from church invited us to go with them last Saturday (Thanks David and Shinobu!). R talked about nothing else for the week before we went. "Tomorrow's tomorrow's tomorrow's tomorrow we're going to the beach, right Dad!" The day finally came, the weather was perfect.

There weren't any crowds but that guy needs to work out before his next beach trip.

The water was brisk but not too cold.

R was ready for action.

We dug clams.

And ate them.

It was a wonderful day.