Tips for Practicing Ending Consonant Digraphs

The following information is from a series of parent tips by Knowledge Adventure. The tips are meant to be used as fun ways of bringing learning into the home and everyday life. We hope you enjoy them!

You can help your child practice identifying ending consonant digraphs at home. A consonant digraph is a combination of two consonants that together represent a new sound. Below are some words that end in digraphs. Use the following tips to help your child practice.

  • Pictures in a Bag: Look through magazines and find pictures that end with the digraphs above. Ask your child to cut out each picture and put it in a bag. Have your child pull out one picture at a time and identify the picture. Your child can then tell you which digraph he or she hears at the end of the word.
  • Cereal Bingo: Make a bingo card and have your child randomly write the words from the box above on the card. You can add your own words, too! Call out one word at a time, and have your child mark the word he or she hears. When your child gets a whole row, have him or her call out “Bingo!” For more fun, use your child’s favorite cereal to cover the words!
  • Be a Detective: Ask your child to search through books to find pictures and words that end with the digraphs above. Have your child pick ten words to write on index cards and circle the digraphs. On the back of each card, draw the word. Use them as flash cards to help practice the ending digraphs.

Tips for Practicing Rhyming Words

The following information is from a series of parent tips by Knowledge Adventure. The tips are meant to be used as fun ways of bringing learning into the home and everyday life. We hope you enjoy them!

Help your child practice identifying words that rhyme and listening to the sounds of the words. Here are some tips to help make learning fun! Focus on words that end with the letters below.

ack, ail, ain, air, ake, ame, an, and, ap, at, atch, ate, ave, ay, each, eat, ed, en, est, et, ib, ice, ick, ide, ine, ing, ip, ock, og, oke, op, ube, ug, ump, un
  • Family Rhymes: For this activity, you will need a small ball. Sit on the floor with your child. Say a word and toss the ball to your child. Explain to your child that he or she needs to say a word that rhymes and then toss the ball back to you. The rhyming words can be real, or if this becomes too challenging, encourage your child to make up the words.
  • Rhyming Puzzles: Have your child write two words that rhyme next to each other on index cards. Draw or cut and paste pictures of the two rhyming objects on each half of the card. Cut the index cards in half with different patterns so that your child can try to find rhyming pairs and put the puzzles together.
  • Use Names to Make Rhymes: Have your child write his or her name vertically on a sheet of paper. Encourage your child to come up with words that include each letter of his or her name. Then ask your child to think of words that rhyme with the words he or she wrote. Here is an example:

Ask a Teacher: Homework Tips


Homework is a chore at my house. Is there anyway to turn around the attitudes?


Here are some quick hints to help your child get the most out of homework.

  • Assume that your children will have studying to do every night.
  • Ask your children if they understand their homework. If they do not, work a few examples together.
  • Ask your children to show you their homework after the teacher returns it, to learn where they’re having trouble and where they’re doing well. See if your children did the work correctly.
  • Stay in touch with your children’s teachers. Ask about their classes ad what they are studying. Ask their teachers how you can support what they are studying (flashcards, spelling, etc.)
  • Remember, you and their teachers want the same thing – to help your children learn.
  • Don’t be afraid to get in touch with the teacher if you and your child don’t udnerstnad an assignment or if your child is having a great deal of trouble. Almost all parents run into these problems, and teachers are glad to help.
  • Don’t do your children’s work for them. Help them learn how to do it themselves.
  • Show your children that you think homework is important. If you are at working duing homework time, ask to see their work when you get home.
  • Praise your children for doing well. Make praise a habit.
  • Maintain a portfolio of “best pieces.”
  • Ask your school about tips or guides for helping your children develop good study habits.
  • Help older students organize their assignments by recording them on calenders or plannerse, aloong with due date, dates turned in, etc.

Tips for Learning Reading and Spelling

The following information is from a series of parent tips by Knowledge Adventure. The tips are meant to be used as fun ways of bringing learning into the home and everyday life. We hope you enjoy them!

Decoding and word recognition are the basis of learning how to read. Help your child practice reading and spelling short-vowel words. Use the tips below to help you practice.

  • Making Words: Write the following letter combinations on index cards: an, ap, at, ed, en, et, ib, ip, og, op, ug, un. Then, give your child five consonant letter cards—for example, b, c, r, d, l. Ask your child to choose a consonant card and add it to a combination card to make a word.
  • Sort the Cards: Write short-vowel words on note cards. Ask your child to sort the cards according to the vowel sounds.
  • Unscramble the Word: Give your child three letters, and ask him or her to unscramble the letters to make a word. Explain that sometimes you can make more than one word with the same three letters. For example, with the letters a, p, and n, your child can make the words pan and nap.
  • Rhyming Pictures: Make a list of rhyming words that end with an, ap, at, ed, en, et, ib, ip, og, op, ug, un. Ask your child to look in magazines and cut out a picture for a rhyming word. Encourage your child to find at least two rhyming words for each ending vowel-consonant combination.

Little Learnings: Bring Learning Home

This article is from our January 2009 issue of the JumpStart Times newsletter, also available here at!

Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. In fact, the most effective and enduring learning occurs during everyday living. Make learning an around the clock affair with these easy tips that will ensure learning becomes part of your kids’ daily routine.

This month, lett’er rip as your kids discover exciting new ways to learn their ABC’s.

  • Letter of the Day: Start your day with the Letter of the Day! Pick a lowercase letter and have your child open the newspaper and circle all of the lowercase letters of the day he or she can find. Keep a tally of how many letters your child can find each day. Which letter appears in the newspaper the most?
  • Alphabet Capture: On 16 letter cards, write 8 uppercase and 8 lowercase letters (you can also use small square sheets of paper). Place the cards face down. Explain that the purpose of the game is to try to match uppercase letters with lowercase letters. As your child turns over a letter, ask him or her to identify the letter and tell you if it is uppercase or lowercase. Once two letters are turned over, ask your child if they are a match. If so, your child can “capture” the letters that match and set them aside. (To adjust the level, use more or fewer cards.)
  • Macaroni Letters: Take 9 paper plates, and have your child write an uppercase letter on each plate. Give your child a bowl of a variety of pasta noodles. Have your child cover the outline of the letter with the pasta. For more fun, you can glue the noodles onto the plates.
  • Magnetic Spelling: Give your child magnetic letters and ask him or her to spell words. You can ask your child to spell specific words depending on their age. For example, a first or second grader might enjoy practicing their long vowel sounds by spelling words that end in silent e—for example, rake, kite, hope, mute. Set a timer and see how many words your child can put together in one minute.
  • Shaving Cream Letters: Spray some shaving cream onto a table or into a box (a shirt box would work best). Your child can write a letter with their fingers in the stack of shaving cream. He or she can announce the letter name and “erase” it to write another! Talk about the differences between lowercase and uppercase letters.
  • Shopping for Letters: Take your child with you to the mall. There are letters everywhere. Ask your child to search for specific letters. Look at signs, labels, clothes, etc. This is a great way to get your child excited about letters! Ask your child to tell you which letters are uppercase and which are lowercase.
  • My Side of the Road: Play this game while riding in the car. Name a letter and have your child look on the right side of the road for things that begin with that letter. You look on the left. For the letter ‘B’ players might find a billboard, barn, bird, and so on. After a few minutes (or a few miles), try a different letter.

Rockband Unplugged: Homemade Melodies

This article is from our January 2009 issue of the JumpStart Times newsletter, also available here at!

From the walls to the halls, harmonies will fill your home as your kids band together to create a sweet symphony of homemade sounds. Follow these simple steps to build instruments that will have your hallways sounding better than Carnegie Hall.

Balloon Jar Drums– March to the beat of your own drum by creating drums of all different sizes out of empty coffee cans, plastic ice cream pails, oatmeal boxes, and empty canned goods. Make the drum even more realistic by stretching a deflated balloon across the open end of the can or pail. Secure the balloon drum top with a rubber band. Chopsticks or unsharpened pencils make perfect drum sticks. Of course, drums always sound better with decorations! Kids can decorate the drums as they wish with paper, paint, markers, or crayons.

Balloon Jar

Water Bottle Maraca Shakers– Give recycling a whole new meaning when you reuse plastic water bottles to make music. Simply fill an empty water bottle with uncooked rice, pasta, or beans. The more you fill the bottle, the less noise your instrument will make. When the filling process is complete, secure the cap and get ready to be all shook up! Shake those stanzas and staccatos with your new homemade maraca shaker. Spice up your melodic maraca by covering it in colorful paper or coloring the outside of the bottle.


Paper Plate Tambourine– Achieve perfect pitch with a couple of paper plates! Two paper plates placed rim to rim creates a perfect tambourine shell. Between the plates, insert any type of metal hardware that will make a beautiful clinging sound (we used jingle bells and metal washers). Simply tape or staple the plate rims together and voila, you have a tambourine that will set a rockin’ rhythm for your band. Again, adding color and flair to the paper plate tambourine will definitely add to the sounds.


Pasta Box Guitar– Strum away the hours with a spare spaghetti, shell or spiral noodle box! Start with a pasta container that has a small see-through window on the front. Gently push the plastic window out and discard. Next, close the box top with tape. Select 3-4 rubber bands of different widths and pull them lengthwise across the box so that they pass over the window. Slide a small folded piece of cardboard under the rubber bands and just above the window so that the rubber bands are raised slightly above the surface of the box. With that, you are ready to pluck along to just about any tune!


Paper Towel Rain Stick– Enjoy the sounds of a storm, without the need for an umbrella or galoshes! To get started, grab an empty paper towel roll and approximately 20 nails or tacks. Push the nails through the paper towel roll in a spiral pattern (parents, please handle this part of the project). Next, secure a piece of paper over one end of the tube and pour in approximately 1.5 cups of dry rice. Secure a piece of paper over the empty end, then cover the entire tube with a layer of masking tape to ensure the nails won’t fall out. Let the kids decorate, then tip your rain stick slowly to enjoy the sound of cascading droplets.

Rain Stick

Paper Towel Kazoo– You’ll be tooting along to tunes in no time with this simple kazoo recipe. Secure a square of wax paper over the end of a paper towel roll with a rubber band. Poke 2-3 small holes with a pen in the wax paper to allow the air to move through. Decorate to your heart’s content, then place your lips near the open end of the tube and hum. A warning – the funny buzzing sound might leave you laughing too hard to sing along with the band!


Gather up the family and shake, toot, strum and tap your way along to just about any melody. For added fun, try jamming along to our favorite JumpStart harmony about a stinky rhino!

Test Taking Master

This article is from our January 2009 issue of the JumpStart Times newsletter, also available here at!

In recent years, standardized tests have taken on new meaning and value in schools across the country. Test scores are filed in permanent records and travel with kids for the rest of their schooling. Participation in specific classes and school programs often correspond to these scores. Chances are your kids will begin taking part in this testing craze before they even begin Kindergarten. It won’t take them long to realize the importance and magnitude of these tests and it won’t take long after that for the anxiety to set in. According to the American School Counselor Association, test anxiety affects almost everyone regardless of intelligence level, learning style, or natural ability.

However, there are few ways around the fearful feelings tests create. Help your kids stay focused on the end goal by teaching them to use the strengths of their own unique learning style. Finding your kids’ learning preferences is just an anxiety-free test and a click away!

Based on your child’s learning preferences, here are some helpful tips you can teach them to make test taking a trouble-free task.

Visual/Spatial Learners:

  • Before the test: Study for the test using flashcards and color coordination for categorizing.
  • During the test: Try to categorize test information into useful charts, tables, and maps that make sense. Draw or sketch out illustrations of what the question is asking. Highlight or underline important key words.

Bodily/Kinesthetic Learners:

  • Before the test: Study through actions and role plays. Write information down many times to commit it to memory. Read aloud. Track words on a page with a finger.
  • During the test: Highlight or underline important key words and information. Play with a non-distracting stress ball or toy in your hands while taking the test. If possible, take breaks and move around a few times during the test.

Interpersonal Learners:

  • Before the test: Create a study group for reciprocal teaching and learning. Talk to yourself or with others about what you’re learning. Recite important information aloud, perhaps recording it and playing it back. Try reading a book and listening to the audio version of it at the same time.
  • During the test: Read the questions aloud to yourself in your mind. Write information down and rationally discuss and consider the options in your head.

Intrapersonal Learners:

  • Before the test: Reflect on test material and personal anxieties through writing.
  • During the test: Focus on your strengths. Make sure you have enough personal space and quiet. Pace yourself through the test and try to ignore others.

Naturalistic Learners:

  • Before the test: Study outdoors if possible! Try to make connections between the material and processes in nature.
  • During the test: Take the test in a room with windows, or better yet, outdoors if possible!

Verbal/Linguistic Learners:

  • Before the test: Talk about the material. Read aloud. Write the content out and read it multiple times.
  • During the test: Use word associations to help trigger prior knowledge and predict the meaning of new vocabulary words. Reword questions in your own words so they made sense to you. Write thoughts and/or considerations down to help think through things.

Logical/Mathematical Learners:

  • Before the test: Analyze the material, create and play a strategy game based on the content.
  • During the test: Put information into charts, tables, and maps. Create patterns out of the questions. Devise a strategy and process that works. Analyze the questions and sequence or prioritize potential answers.

Musical Learners:

  • Before the test: Make up songs, raps, and rhymes to learn and remember the content. Play background music while studying. Set information to a tune and sing along to help remember it.
  • During the test: Play background music or wear headphones if permitted. Read questions to self in rhythm. Look for patterns within questions or the test.

For additional information, check out these sites:

How to Help Your Child Focus at School
What is Your Child’s Learning Style
Study Guides and Strategies