At-Home Activities That Support Your Elementary Student's Learning

At-Home Activities That Support Your Elementary Student's Learning

Reading specialist, Jordan Boyce, shares practical, easy and fun ideas that parents can do at home to support their elementary-aged child’s (ages 5-9) learning. Throughout the episode, Jordan provides hands-on, engaging activities to support a child’s developing reading and math skills using materials most families already have on-hand, like Legos, Magnatiles and dixie cups. She also provides book recommendations for early readers that hold children’s attention while still easily read independently.  

About Jordan Boyce

Jordan Boyce, MEd, LDT, CALT, is a licensed dyslexia therapist (LDT) and certified academic language therapist (CALT) based in Houston, with a passion for working with students who have reading and learning difficulties and their families. She received a bachelor's degree in education and a master’s degree in special education from Texas Christian University. Jordan has over ten years of experience working with children who have learning challenges. She has previously worked at both The Parish School in Houston and at Rawson Saunders School in Austin. Jordan has a private practice, Boyce Literacy Services, where she provides academic language therapy, consultations, evaluations, and a variety of parent support services.

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Stephanie (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to Unbabbled. A podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays, and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech-language pathologists who spend our days at The Parish School in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. In this episode, we chat with reading specialists, Jordan Boyce, to get practical, easy and fun ideas parents can do at home to support their early elementary-age children's academic skills. Jordan is a licensed dyslexia therapist and certified academic language therapist based in Houston, Texas, with a passion for working with students who have reading and learning difficulties and their families. She has over 10 years of experience working with children with learning challenges, and previously worked here at The Parish School. Jordan has a private practice, voice literacy services. Where she provides academic language therapy, consultations evaluations, and a variety of parent support services. Throughout the episode, she provides hands-on and engaging activities to support reading and math skills. Using materials most families have at home, like Legos, Dixie cups and my own children's personal favorite Magna-Tiles. Jordan also provides book recommendations for early readers that holds their attention while still being read independently, Meredith and I both walked away from this conversation excited to try some of Jordan's ideas at home, and we hope you enjoy them as well. We're so excited to have Jordan Boyce here talking to us about tips for parents at home. So welcome Jordan. Thank you for coming.

Jordan Boyce (01:46):

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Stephanie (01:46):

So in the intro we told everybody all about all your wonderful professional experience, but you're also a mom of two.

Jordan Boyce (01:52):

Yes. I have two little boys, um, almost four and this month and then a 2-year-old. So it's very active at my house.

Stephanie (02:02):

So you are well aware of the fun job of juggling bringing in educational activities at home and all the parenting side of it.

Jordan Boyce (02:10):

Yes, it is definitely a juggle and do the best I can, but you know, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.

Stephanie (02:18):

So for those parents listening, they have limited time. What is their biggest bang for their buck when trying to bring in educational activities home?

Jordan Boyce (02:28):

Um, I would say, I mean, in terms of literacy, the biggest and most important thing you can work on is just reading with your child. You know, of course it's said over and over again, but all of the tips that I have can come from just the natural reading experience that you have with your kids that you're doing already. So a lot of the things that I tell my students, parents to work on at home, come from the reading they're already going to be doing with their kids. And I just like to give, um, ways to kind of extend and expand on the reading they're already doing to help kind of solidify the foundational concepts and make that reading a little bit stronger.

Stephanie (03:13):

So if I'm sitting down and reading with my newly 6-year-old, what are some things that you would have me do to help introduce some of the early reading concepts?

Jordan Boyce (03:21):

If you're talking about just kind of reading with your kids, y'all are sitting down reading a book together. A lot of things y'all can do is work on like the phonological awareness piece. Phonological awareness is really just focusing on sounds in words and not necessarily letters or spelling or anything like that. It's just what you hear. Um, it's all auditory. And so that's a great thing to work on with your child because you can do the reading, it can take the pressure off of them, and then you can focus on just what they hear. So that would include things like, you know, rhyming identifying the first or last sound in a word, breaking words, into syllables, things like that. So if you're reading a book with your child and you come across a word that is kind of common in that book. So if you're reading a book about a dog and we hear the dog's name over and over, you can pull out a lot of phonological awareness activities with just the dog's name. If the dog's name starts with a B, they can identify what sound that that is. And then stop reading for a second and say, "can you tell me, you know, four other words that start with the same sound that start with the b sound?", Or, you know, if it's a two-syllable word, the dog's name, then you can stop for a second and have them tell you, you know, four words that have the same number of syllables or clap out the syllables, just things you're doing. You know, as you're reading the book, you can kind of take a second to stop and focus on some of those phonological awareness activities. And then of course, you know, you want to work on comprehension as well, and that's maybe a little bit easier and, um, a little bit more common for parents to work on with their kids. As you're reading, you can ask your child, Oh, look at their, if it's a picture book, "Oh look at the, um, you know, look at this character's face and the book, what do you think they're, they're feeling about what happened? Why do you think they're feeling that way, predicting what might happen next? Why do you think that character did that?", and then at the end of the book, of course you can have them retell the story in their own words. All of those things, um, are really important for kind of building those, those foundational skills so that, um, they're, they're really solid, you know, as they get a little bit older and they're kind of doing more, um, you know, complex literacy tasks.

Meredith (05:46):

Do you have any book recommendations that you really like that make these activities fun or that lend themselves well to these types of activities?

Jordan Boyce (05:54):

Yeah. So sematic books are so great for kids this age. So, you know, um, we're recording this in December. So of course we're reading lots of Christmas books or Hanukkah books, um, winter books. And it's, it's really good to be reading those thematic books because your kid is already going to be, um, exposed to that language and that vocabulary a lot in school and in the community, in their environment. And so, you know, repetition is one of the most important things that kids need to learn and retain information. And so, um, since they're being exposed to those, those words and that vocabulary so much already reading those books will just help build that background knowledge, give them that repetition. They need to, um, you know, retain that information. Um, so yeah, I mean, any like holidays are such a great time to read thematic books. I love in February and March living in Texas, the rodeo books, those are always so much fun. Um, and then of course, you know, following the seasons, um, books about that season. So I think thematic books are really great. And then I always liked to encourage parents too, to read decodable readers with their children because, um, they're reading some of those at school, but a lot of times at school, they're reading leveled readers, which have a lot of words that are not decodable in them and decodable readers have mostly words that the child should be able to sound out. And one of my favorite, um, series of decodable readers, it's called high noon books. And those are like graphic novels and, but they're decodable and so kids really love them because they're very high interest, but, you know, they give the kids lots of confidence because they can, um, decode most of the words with independence. So, um, if you're looking for them to be able to read more independently for younger readers, that's a great series to invest in.

Stephanie (07:54):

You mentioned decodable readers and leveled readers. Can you explain a little bit more about what decodable reader is versus a leveled reader?

Jordan Boyce (08:02):

Sure. So, um, most schools are going to, at the beginning of the year, we'll assess, um, children on, um, you know, their reading levels. So they'll give a reading assessment and that will give their child or reading level. And then typically teachers will group their reading groups based on the levels that the children are assessed on. So, um, that's where you might hear your child's reading on a level C or D and you can Google what that level, that level means and get, you know, um, book ideas for, for those levels and, um, which is great because it gives parents ideas of what kinds of books they can buy for their kids. And so that's what a lot of the schools are using for their, you know, reading group system. It's important for, for schools to have an assessment, um, you know, a way to assess children and track data and track progress and all that. And like I said, it helps parents know, kind of, um, have an idea of what level or what kinds of books to get their kids. But level of readers are a little bit tricky because they do have quite a few they're kind of filled with words that, um, kids aren't necessarily able to sound out lots of those, um, you know, irregular words that the letters don't match the sounds in the word. And so, um, you know, a lot of kids kind of end up getting frustrated with those cause, um, you know, we want to tell them to use their strategies and sound out these words, but then, um, they can't because they're reading words that they can't sound out. I think it's really important to give, um, you know, give your children a variety of books to read, you know, give them some leveled readers and then you can help them out with the words that are not decodable and then be sure to have them reading some of those decodable readers, like the high noon books, those Bob books, you can find others online. Those books are filled with words that, um, you know, the letters do match the sounds in the word. So kids are able to sound them out and use their strategies. Um, and they have some sight words in them too, but, um, they're typically the most common ones that the kids for the most part will know. Um, so I just think it's really good to, you know, have a variety, get both just so your kid is, you know, exposed to some of those leveled readers. They might be reading in class, but they're also practicing using their decoding strategies and building confidence by being able to actually use their strategies successfully.

Stephanie (10:33):

Yeah. My daughter is starting out emerging as the reader and she, even when we get books that we think are on her level, it seems when you're getting from the library, it is sometimes next to impossible to figure out, especially now that libraries are closed, I'm looking on Amazon, everything seems to have a different leveling system. So even if I've Googled it and been like, "Oh, you know, she's on this reading level, the book here says like reading level one. And we're like, well, there's no one cause she's on a D." I like look through. And then as she was reading them, she'd get so frustrated. So we started seeking out a lot more of the decodable readers and looking through those and her confidence grew so much more and she started enjoying being able to read on her own into us instead of getting really frustrated and giving up if she didn't know a few words. And then just being like, "I don't know, you just read it to me", but it's hard to find some decodable readers that were also of high interest.

Jordan Boyce (11:34):

Yeah. And that's why I think a lot of my students love those High Noon books. Cause they look like the leveled readers. Some of the decodable readers can look a little babyish to them. Um, in the High Noon books look, you know, they're graphic novels. So they're cool. I do tell my students to, um, like I'll have them practice reading those, maybe babyish-looking decodable readers. Um, and I'll say, you know, this is a great book for you to practice your fluency. So there, they can read those to practice. You know, um, like I said, using their decoding strategies, practice their fluency. So practice, you know, reading at a good rate with good expression and all of that, this decodable reader for you to practice your fluency. And then we can read these chapter books or these leveled readers or whatever it is your child has more high interest in. Um, you know, the parent can read those and then, or y'all can, you know, take turns, reading words out of those more challenging books. And that usually helps the child get a little bit more, um, I guess maybe a little bit less hesitant to read those, you know, to them or babyish decodable readers. Cause it kind of explains, well, we'll read both and this is why we're reading both. And so it kind of gives them more buy-in I guess

Meredith (12:55):

You mentioned the graphic novels being of higher interest. Do you have any other ideas or ways that we can increase interest level or use tips and tricks to get our kids more interested in reading or practicing sight words? That's something that's kind of a struggle in our house. We're supposed to practice sight words every night and my son really does not enjoy that. You have any tips or tricks around that?

Jordan Boyce (13:19):

Yeah. I think anything you can do to make it a game, um, you know, we'll give them a little bit more buy-in um, you know, I love to write out words that they're practicing on, you know, post-it notes or index cards and, um, there are different things, things you can do with that. You can lay them on the floor and have them throw, you know, a bean bag or even like their favorite stuffed animal can, um, you know, go around on the floor to each index card and, you know, whichever one it lands on the child can read and then you can remove it. I love to play stacking cups with my students. Um, I get little Dixie cups. You can use any kind of cup, maybe red solo cups at your house. We have that, um, and you know, write those sight words or whatever kind of word, whatever concept, um, your child is working on that week on a few of those and they can read them and then, you know, stack them and kind of build the tower or build a pyramid or something. So anything to make it a game. I also love, um, Magna-Tiles are really fun way to practice reading, um, because you can use dry erase markers on them. And so you can do all kinds of things with Magna-Tiles. If you're working on CVC words, so like a consonant, vowel, consonant word, like the word cat, um, you know, you can get like two blue Magna-Tiles for the continent and yellow Magna-Tiles for the vowel and, you know, write one letter on each magnet tile and then, um, you know, that kind of gives them like a color cue for the vowel and consonant sounds. Um, so, you know, really anything to make it just fun and more playful I think is, is, um, a good way to get by in. And also I love to do like reading bingo. Um, a lot of times I'll do that for my students over the summer and I'll make a bingo board and, um, write just different things. They can different places, they can read different ways they can read, um, on a little bingo board, like, you know, reading in the bathtub, reading on the hammock, outside, um, reading under the table, um, anything to make it kind of different and unique and they can color in a square as they complete each of those activities. So anything to make it fun and make it feel like a game I think helps.

Meredith (15:36):

I love the idea of the Magna-Tiles my, my kids, both of my children love to build with Magna-Tiles and love building in general. So the stacking, the cups and the Magna-Tiles, I felt like it was a great way to get by in because sitting there and drilling, obviously doesn't work with my 5-year-old, which I don't think it works with really any 5-year-old. Um, and you know, we do the typical stuff like memory, but you know, a memory game can only get you so far. So I really appreciate some of those other tips. I think those will be a lot more fun and interactive.

Stephanie (16:03):

What age do you start bringing in some of the sight words?

Jordan Boyce (16:07):

That's a good question. You know, I, in a perfect world, I wouldn't bring any sight words until at least kindergarten, but these days, a lot of times kids are starting to work on sight words in pre-K um, so, you know, if your child is working on those in school, then you're probably going to want to work at it, work on it at home as well. Um, just to help them feel successful. But, um, what a lot of parents and teachers really don't know is that, um, you know, we think of sight words as those words that you have to memorize. And a lot of really the technical definition of sight words is that it's any word that you can recognize by sight. So that's, you know, an irregular regularly spelled word or a regularly spelled word. Um, and so we have, you know, a lot of times we'll get high-frequency word lists from school and we're told those are the words we're supposed to practice with our kids. And, um, so if you'll look at that list, a lot of times you can go through and find words that are actually decodable. So they're not, they don't have to be memorized. Um, of course, you eventually want your child to recognize them automatically. Um, but if they're struggling with their sight words, I would start by practicing the ones that they're able to decode start with those first, um, that will help your child feel successful. And you can tell them, I think the word, um, you know, up is a sight word. Don't have to memorize the word up. Um, like I said, eventually you want them to recognize that word automatically without having to sound it out. But if they're struggling with their sight words, you might start with one like that, that they're able to sound out. And that way they're at least able to read that word, using their strategies, if they know the sounds of U and P, um, and there's, you don't have lists in front of me, but there's a lot of the sight words are actually, um, they're able to sound them out. So start with those and help them feel successful by, you know, being able to use their strategies. Once they get a little bit more confident with those, then you can move into the ones that they really do have to memorize. Um, and like I said, I think it really helps to, to, to narrow it down, um, you know, just pick like four and just focus on those four. Um, and then once they've gotten those four down, then you can move on to another group. Um, and then of course you're gonna want to constantly review the ones that they've already learned. But, um, yeah, I mean, a lot of schools really are starting sight words in preschool. Um, and thankfully the sight word lists are grouped by age level or grade level. So you can stick with those. But, um, but yeah, a lot of them are starting in preschool. I wish they would wait until a little bit later, but, um, you know, that's the way it is.

Stephanie (19:00):

Yeah, me too Meredith and I were talking on a different day about how we firmly believe in the power of play-based learning and developing their social-emotional skills when they're young and doing a lot of those phonemic awareness tasks that you were talking about. And I just like poured a lot of that onto my daughter. And then she got to kindergarten and she was like, "Mom, I'm supposed to know all these sight words and hadn't it practice anyway. So I'm like, "I want you to have this solid base of language." Now I'm like, gosh, we'd get to the end of the site where it's at. We like made it there for kindergarten, but then for first grade, it, like, I know it jumps up to like 75, but they have to have to pass the school year. And I'm like, okay, you have to throw all of that out the window. And I still strongly believe that we still now have to bring in some sight words. So we're going to at least try and make it fun.

Meredith (19:57):

I believe we did the right thing. I do. I think in the long run it will benefit them. But you're right. If we started kindergarten this year and the same thing was just, I felt like we were somewhat behind and what's been happening in our house a lot is I will show him a word like up that is one of his sight words and we'll work on, let's sound it out. And he'll, he just spells it. He wants to give me the letter names. There was so much focus on letter names. Right. I feel like in his preschool and that gives you nothing. You can't read the letter names. Right.

Jordan Boyce (20:32):

I totally think y'all are doing the right thing. I mean, my oldest is almost 4 and you know, he learned, he actually learned letter names from a game that we have. I've never even really taught. I mean, I'll say let her names as we're like, as they, you know, come in everyday play or books or whatever, but I've never sat down and like taught him his letter names. Um, and yeah, I mean, it's just the most important thing in preschool to me is phonological awareness and anything literacy-related that you can do that brings out language, you know, like, like y'all, I mean, y'all are SLPs. So you'll know, you'll know the importance of that with the language piece. Um, because when it comes to reading, everything starts at the oral level. And so, um, you know, any time I'm working with a child who struggles with writing difficulties, we always go back and, you know, we'll say things orally before we move into the actual writing part of it. When you're starting out with, you know, a young child, you want to start with the oral piece, the auditory piece, the language piece, um, that's going to build, you know, the strongest foundation for reading. And then, um, you know, eventually, you know, with the sight words, they'll, they'll get it, they'll catch up and they will have had the most important, you know, piece of literacy that y'all worked on within the language and the play-based stuff that, um, that they have to have. It's essential.

Stephanie (22:05):

It's so much conflicting information out there for parents because things like sight, words, and letter naming are concrete. And there are things that are easy to not easy, but most commonly recognized as like these are academic things that you're supposed to work on with your kids. And those are the things that they see their kids getting tested on. And then there's the other information of saying like, Oh, you need the phonemic awareness, which most parents are like"what?" . Right. And once they sit down, they're like, Oh yeah, I know what writing is. Okay. I understand that. But those things are less concrete and harder to like check off a box to know like, yes, I've done this. And then we come in and we're like, Oh, we don't need that until later, or really work on play. And I feel like if I got kind of like, oops, did I do it wrong? And I know that I'm like reading the research and doing development for it, then I'm just like, Oh my gosh. That these other parents have to be having the same feelings of it could make me be like, could I do something that would put my child behind, then I can see why parents are so quick to be like, I don't want to do something that's going to put my child behind. So we're going to sit and drill this and drill that, and, you know, do the flashcards and everything to get them to be quote-unquote, "where they should be."

Jordan Boyce (23:21):

Yeah, I know it is so hard and there is so much information and it's hard to know, you know, what to, who to listen to and what to listen to and all that. There is a lot of research that's come out, um, especially in the past few years about phonological awareness and the importance of it. And a lot of the kids, you know, who don't get identified with dyslexia or other reading disorders until a little bit later, like in, you know, fourth or fifth grade, they find that those kids, you know, learn their letters, um, early on, um, they've got that good, you know, kind of visual, um, you know, orthographic memory for letter patterns. Um, but they just completely fall apart in the funnel logical awareness piece. And you don't see that when they're reading, especially if they're really good compensators. And so, um, it's just so important to have that skill early on.

Meredith (24:12):

We've been talking a lot about reading. Uh, I wanted to kind of switch over to maybe some math and, uh, other side of, of academic work for our young learners. Do you have any advice or tips or tricks for people to support their children with math at home?

Jordan Boyce (24:29):

Yeah. Um, I mean anything to make it visual, I think math can feel so abstract. Um, so anything to make it visual and make it feel more concrete, I think is really helpful. Um, you know, again with like, you know, with the Magna-Tiles, I mean, that's a great, um, just simple example of a toy that a lot of people have at home that you can use for strengthening the, you know, more visual side of math, um, any, you know, even drawing it out, acting it out, um, anything to make it more visual can make it more concrete for kids and less abstract. It's such an abstract, um, you know, skill.

Meredith (25:12):

I felt like a commercial for Magna-Tiles, but really every house should have them. In fact, I buy everyone who doesn't have them. That's their birthday gift from me, my 2-year-old or she's three now, but she was two when she started playing with them and my 5-year-old both will play with them, love them. And, um, I, my son loves math. So reading is the harder area in our, in our home, but math is, he loves it. So if he's patterning with the Magna-Tiles, he's counting them, he's grouping them and doing all these different things with him, because he's just interested in that. Um, but I feel like now that I know we can use it for reading, we're just like we're entering a whole new world.

Jordan Boyce (25:51):

Possibilities are endless. I know when I, when I discover that you can use, you know, dry erase markers on them, don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. But, um, I learned that in the last couple of years and was like, okay, this is going to be good. I can use this a lot.

Stephanie (26:06):

I think back to the math and making things hands-on, I think that's another great way to bring in like manipulative and play. And I think that a lot of people think of manipulatives and hands-on learning as simply a preschool thing, but I see so much benefit out of kids like kinder first, even second, getting their hands on, even if it's mini erasers or the Magna-Tiles or the blocks, and being able to like visually manipulate groups of things, just counting for, adding, for multiplying, seeing more and less like early concepts. And I feel like some of that piece gets pushed to the side when they're older and it's like, okay, well it's math time, and now you have to have just a pencil and paper, but it makes it so much more concrete when they can take those big thoughts and maneuver them around.

Jordan Boyce (26:57):

I agree. And I think too, you know, um, it's kind of similar to the idea of like funnel, article awareness and how, um, you know, with math, like you said, do you think it has to be pencil and paper? And with reading, like we were saying, it's, it's all about memorizing those letter names and sight words and, um, really to build the good strong foundation. I think that's where the hands-on, um, you know, play-based learning is so important and that's, what's ultimately going to build the, you know, for both math and reading the foundation that the kids are going to need to actually understand and retain the concepts that they're working on.

Stephanie (27:37):

One other area I was thinking about is introducing handwriting with the early years. Um, do you have any tips of making it fun? Because it can be so much of same thing just like workbooks and tracing and their little hands get so tired.

Jordan Boyce (27:55):

Yes, I know it is. And it's hard. Um, cause a lot of times the kids are just really resistant to the handwriting when they're really young, like preschool and even kindergarten, um, you know, handwriting and written expression is really any way to express something on paper. So to make it fun, they can even practice painting, whether it's finger painting or painting with a paintbrush. They're still working on that, you know, motor coordination, um, of making the plan in her head for what they're going to put on paper and then making the movement, the appropriate movement to put it on to the paper, to kind of execute that, that idea, fun, things like that. Like playing with Play-Doh writing with their finger and sand or shaving cream. I do that with my second and third-grade students. Um, and they love it and it just helps with the letter formation they're at school, they're gonna get the fine motor work that they, that they need. And so, um, if they are still having to work on their handwriting and there they have, you know, handwriting tasks that they're supposed to complete, then at home, I would make it fun because they're still working on the letter formation, um, with if they're painting or writing in sand or writing with Play-Doh, um, you know, it just might not be on paper. Um, but there are different kinds of paper you can get that kids like to, um, you know, the, the lined paper there's paper with like raised lines that you can get that I use with my kids all the time that makes it kinda more multisensory and helps with the height and the spacing of the letters. Um, highlighted, lined papers. Good too. Um, and then even playing around with like different textures. So writing with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk outside, or, you know, writing, you can put a piece of paper on top of the piece of like sandpaper that you can buy it, the dollar store, um, anything to make it feel different. That's going to help with kind of that sensory piece. And it's also more fun cause it's different. Um, so yeah, those are, those are some things that I do with my kids to help with the handwriting, even though they resist it quite a bit as well.

Stephanie (30:15):

Yeah. My daughter doesn't want to do her spelling words. I'm like, she's just done by the end of it, writing all of her spelling words. So we try and do it in betray with shaving cream or even just dumped some like a bunch of salt, small plate and she'll spell it there.

Jordan Boyce (30:30):

It there. That's a great idea. Yeah.

Stephanie (30:32):

I'm just trying to get not to be a meltdown at home.

Jordan Boyce (30:35):

Anything that's going to work. I also like to buy, you know, I mean, they don't really like to do this at school obviously, but, um, it might not be okay on their homework. Um, but just even like fun pens, like you can buy those gel pens or, um, paint pens or whatever, you know, just anything to make it fun and unique. I think, you know, is helpful too.

Meredith Krimmel (30:55):

Shaving cream is such a great suggestion.

Stephanie (30:59):

So previously living in Houston, we spent a lot of time in the car, stuck in traffic, driving from place to place. Hopefully one day we'll get back to being able to drive places and go places. I find that when kids are stuck in the car with you is a great time to get them to work on things, but in a fun way, do you have any tips of ways that we can bring in some sneaky academic things while we're all stuck in the car?

Jordan Boyce (31:28):

Yeah. I think the car is such a great time to pull out some of those, you know, language skills that, um, we were talking about earlier. So, um, you know, use the environment you're stuck in the car. There's a lot to look at. One thing they can do is, is look at the, um, you know, environmental print. So a lot of the, the store signs and street signs, that's a great way, especially for the younger kids to start, um, you know, reading or kind of, those are kind of your first sight words that they learn really. Um, for example, my almost 4-year-old already knows the target sign as we were discussing. So, um, and Chick-fil-A. Have them point those out and cause that really is, um, you know, those are their first sight words that they're learning. And so that's a great thing to work on is that environmental print. Um, and then again, that's where you can pull out, like when they see the target sign, they, they say, "Oh, there's the target sign" And then there's so much that you can expand on with just that one sign, you know, ask them, "Oh, what's the first sound in Target?" And they can identify that first sound and then have them name, you know, several other words that start with the same, then talk about how many syllables are in Target. Um, you know, talk about the symbol, how it's a circle, what are other, you know, names, some other things that you know of that are shaped like a circle or other things around. So work on that cat, um, categorizing, which is such an important early written expression skill, um, other things that are red, um, you know, so many things that you can just, you know, go off of with language and literacy, just with the word target and talk about, um, the stoplights again, talk about the colors. So name other things that are red and some other things that are green, um, you know, green means go, then you can talk about the sounds and go. So really just anything, um, that pulls out language I think is so important in a car is a really great time to do that. And since they're not looking at a worksheet and you're not saying, okay, let's sit down and work on this. They don't think of it as working. They think it's fun. I think it's a game. Um, so you know, I, I definitely use the car as a time, especially, you know, like y'all, you know, we're working moms. So, I come home and I don't really feel like I want to sit down and work on these things with my child. I just kind of want to play and relax. Um, so I do use the car as a really, I mean, that's kind of the main time I work on some of this stuff with my children. Um, cause there's sometimes not much else to do.

Stephanie (34:06):

Yeah. I think about how we were tricked into playing these language games as kids with like ispy and like 20 questions when we got in long car rides and we're bored. And so I try and bring up some of those games with my kids too. And it's amazing to see as they age, how much better that they get. Ispy instead of being like buy a car, let's think about like, what category does that mean? What does that, like, what does it do? Let's start with those clues and then I'll guess car. And as they get older and more language, then they start giving better hints. And even just 20 questions. If I start with my younger one, he's always like, is it a dinosaur is said a dog, no, you have to ask that question.

Jordan Boyce (34:53):

You need more information first.

Meredith (34:56):

We play a game. Um, the first one to find a whatever wins and then that person gets to pick the next thing. Uh, so I'm Oh, we could totally turn that into a little bit more of a literacy activity. Uh, but it's funny to watch my five-year-old, my three-year-old and how differently they approach the game. And one time my son was like the first one to find something yellow wins. And my 3-year-old out of the middle of nowhere was like, there's one to assign. She didn't send anything for like 20 minutes. All of a sudden she just came out with it. It was like colors worked for her. But I'm now thinking I could probably pull a lot of, um, a lot of sounds and literacy into it for sure. And of course the language that, I mean, I'm a speech-language pathologist. So the majority of the activities We focus on are so language-driven.

Jordan Boyce (35:39):

A lot of people forget that reading is a language-based skill. So that's, again, going back to, you have to build that language, um, you know, in order for the reading to be there.

Stephanie (35:51):

It's amazing that if kids, even if they can decode, they might not comprehend the word if they don't have like personal experience with it. I mean, thinking of you talking about like a winter books now that I live down in Houston, instead of up North, like reading these winter books to my Texan children, they're like, "I don't know what that is." It's like "oh ok".

Meredith (36:18):

The leaves don't change here.

Jordan Boyce (36:20):

I know, I know they're like snow and like the grass turns yellow. What, like, yeah, it just stays green here. It's green, it's green year-round.

Meredith (36:29):

Do you mean when it cold rains or when it hot rains?

Jordan Boyce (36:32):

Yeah, exactly.

Stephanie (36:36):

Well, thank you so much. I think we all gained a lot of information.

Jordan Boyce (36:41):

Thank you all for having me appreciate it.

Stephanie (36:43):

Well you're not off the hook yet? At the end of the podcast, we ask all of our guests one question and it can be related to the topic that we talked about or totally unrelated. But if you had one piece of advice to give the listeners, what would it be?

Jordan Boyce (36:57):

Oh gosh, um well I mean, I have to, I think it kind of goes back to the very first thing I said, um, is just read with your child. There's so much that can, um, you know, come from just sitting and reading with your child. And I know that parents hear that all the time, but like I said, pretty much any activity I can't, or, you know, or tip that I can recommend, can be done just by sitting and reading a book with your kid. Um, so yeah, just read, read, read is the most important thing I can say.

Stephanie (37:37):

All right. Well thank you so much.

Jordan Boyce (37:39):

Thanks. Appreciate it.

Meredith Krimmel (37:44):

Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on The Parish School, visit If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbabbeled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review. A special thank you to Stig Daniels, Amanda Arnold and Stella Limuel for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.