As I mentioned in my first blog entry, I am helping my oldest son (age 8) to overcome the “Sight Word Dead End”. If you didn’t see that blog entry, I mistakenly used sight words and letter sounds to teach him to read. While he is an incredible reader despite my mistake, his spelling suffered as a result. I am now using Raising Robust Readers to teach my youngest to read and to help my oldest become better speller.
Today, I will show you our latest homeschool invention, Syllable Ninja. I chose to use a ninja because my oldest loves to pretend to be a ninja, and he loves to dress the part. (When we are studying, I usually try to find something that interests my children to use as a springboard.) Ninjas often used katanas, maybe sais, and my son loves to pretend to chop things with his hands.
I went to Wikipedia and printed some information about ninjas from feudal Japan because we will also use this as a history and social studies unit. I will present what information I feel is age appropriate (omitting the section about assassins). I also googled the ninja hierarchy and used it to build the Syllable Ninja levels you will see below.
We used an aluminum cookie sheet on which to place our RRR (Wordy Worm) magnetic phonogram tiles. At first I had my 2.5 year old helping me spell the words (he knows nearly all of the phonogram sounds and enjoys spelling). After my youngest lost interest (after the first level), I allowed my oldest to spell the words before he cut them into syllables.
This was a really neat activity and I was really surprised that my oldest helped me figure out a word! He helped me with the word ukidari. The ukidari were a type of footwear used for walking on water. As we discussed how to divide it (before I could separate it in my mind), my oldest figured out how to divide it by closing the syllable so the first “i” would have a short sound before I did! U-kid-ar-i
This game addresses Spelling, Reading, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary, Social Studies, Ancient World History, and Culture. I used more advanced words because my oldest loves to be challenged but you are not obligated to stick to my list. Please feel free to create your own word list and or change things to best suit your child(ren). I used 4 levels and increased the difficulty for each.
Note: You will need the RRR (Wordy Worm) magnetic letter tiles. If you do not have the tiles, you can download the pdf file here and make your own. You may use cardstock with individual letters and/or phonograms printed or written and cut into pieces.
For each level I had my son “cut the cake” and divide each word into syllables. When he completed each level I announced his new title. i.e. “You are now a Sapphire Syllable Ninja!”
Below is our word list. This list included new vocabulary that we defined casually as we talked about the history of the ninja. I was very pleased when my son pointed out that he knew the word shinobi was not an English word because it ends in “i”.
We also learned something offbeat playing Syllable Ninja. We play a lot of board games and card games on a regular basis. (We find that board and card games really offer a lot of educational benefits such as strategy, logic, math, and much more depending on which game you are playing.) We play a card game called Zipang (portable edition). In Zipang you are a samurai during the Sengoku period in feudal Japan (a time period we talked about today). Zipang involves ninjas, samurai, etc. The offbeat fact we learned today was why the ninja are listed with 0 honor points in this game. As we combed through the history of the ninja, we learned that ninja were considered to have no honor while the samurai lived by a code of honor,