Teaching Children to Say Thank You

Friday, 16 November 2018

In the very basic sense, helping young children understand gratitude, begins with teaching them to say thank you.

Unfortunately, these two little words don't show up as often as I would like.

Each year, I'm made aware, when this happens...

I'm handing out papers and the first 15 kiddos take the paper without saying anything in return.  Student 16, says, "thank you."  I acknowledge their good manners and then the next 7 children also offer a, "thank you."

Sound familiar?

So how do we build those "thank you muscles" in our kiddos?  Here are a few ideas for you to try:

1) Check Yourself

Notice how often you are using these words in your language with children.  I discovered, that while I always respond to the children, I don't always tack on a "thank you." So now I try to make an effort to remember these important words whenever they bring me the little "bits and bobs" they find on the floor, draw me sweet pictures, or pass on a parent note.

2) What Does it Really Mean?

Children often think that saying thank you means you like what someone has given or done for you. It's important for them to understand that this won't always be the case and that this phrase really means, I notice and appreciate what you have done/given.

Help them understand the difference by role playing using puppets.  Have fun with it by incorporating unusual and outrageous gifts that they might not be too crazy about receiving.

3) Sign It

Teach children how to say thank you in sign language.  Challenge them to use the sign at least once each day for a week to say thank you to someone.

4) Around the World

Help children understand that people of all languages express gratitude by teaching them how to say thank you in other languages.  Each morning, choose a new language, teach them the word, and invite them to use it throughout the day to show their appreciation for one another.

Also, check out Mahalo, by Laurie Berkner for a great Hawaiian thank you song!

5) Thank You Notes

Keep a supply of thank you notes on hand in your classroom and invite children to use them to show gratitude for their everyday heroes such as the school nurse, gym teacher, parent volunteers or custodian.  

6) Thankful Thursday

Set aside one morning meeting share for children to consider who they might need to thank that week. Create a special thank you rock to pass around as they share their thankful thoughts.

7) Sharing Time

I once watched a Debbie Miller video (author of Reading With Meaning) and was so moved by how her children responded each time it was their turn to speak.  They always began with "thank you" and then proceeded to say whatever it was they wanted to share. 

I was inspired to try this in my classroom.  I began during our morning meeting circle share and as they receive the sharing ball, they say "thank you," and the child's name. They've needed lots of reminders for it to stick, but are finally starting to remember to do it on their own. 

8)  Thank You Anyway

In the story, I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen, the bear asks the other animals if they have seen his hat.  When the answer is no, he politely responds, "Thank you anyway."  Great book to introduce this phrase and its meaning to children.

Hope you found something you can use!

Please know that I'm thankful for your time as well as your ongoing dedication to the wellbeing of children.

Thanks for stopping by!

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October Full Moon Freebie

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Talk of Halloween costumes usually begins as soon as the October calendar goes up!  I always tell the children not to spill the beans on their costume as I looooove to be surprised! (aka: let's not go there quite yet!)

But here we are a week before the big day, so it's time to open the door on some Halloween fun!

This month's full moon freebie is a Tap and Write Reader that you can use to help your kiddos practice spelling simple CVC words.

What Will I Be For Halloween? follows a predictable pattern and also offers practice with tracking and sight words. The last page invites your excited little "ghosts and goblins" to reveal their own costume by drawing a picture and tapping out the word(s).

Enjoy this forever freebie and look for the next full moon to appear on November 23rd!

Happy Halloween and thanks for stopping by!

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Teaching Children to Write Words

Monday, 8 October 2018

When it comes to reading, sounding out is not the only strategy we teach children to use when figuring out an unknown word.  There are several others that work in combination with each other to help young readers be successful.

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

It is the same with writing! While using sound spelling to write words is an important strategy for emerging writers, there are others that children can use to help them communicate their ideas on paper.

Here are the four strategies I teach my Kinders to use when writing words:

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Snap Words

These are the words children already know how to spell and can do so quickly (in a snap!). I explain to children, "These are words that you have a picture of in your head."

Examples for beginning-of-the-year Kinders might include sight words they have learned, names of family members, or words like "mom," "dad," "dog," "cat," or "love."

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

The strategy here is to teach them to be conscious of the growing word bank in their heads and to always use this strategy first over others, as we don't want them sounding out words they already know how to spell.

Wall Words

There are some words children can write using resources in the classroom.  These are called, "Wall Words," because many are on signs, posters, labels or word walls in your classroom and children can easily copy them when they want to spell them.  

With this strategy, you will want to think ahead about which categories of words your children will use most and create charts (with children if possible) for them to use while writing.  Hang in spots where they can be easily seen and accessed by children. 

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Look-Alike Words

Look-alike words are those that follow the same spelling pattern.  This is a great strategy to teach while introducing rhyming and/or word families.  

You might say, "If you can spell cat, then you can spell hat."  "If you can spell look, then you can spell book."  

As you support children in writing, you will ask, "Is there a word you know that looks like this word that will help you to spell it?"

As you teach new sight words, use them as jumping off points for finding other look-alike words.

Sound Spelling Words

This is the strategy children should use if they are unable to use the first three. It involves saying the word slowly, stretching or tapping out the individual sounds and writing the letters for the sounds that are heard.  

This multi-step strategy requires a LOT of modeling and practice before children are able to use it efficiently. 

Phonemic awareness tasks such as segmenting support children in being able to do this well.   

I've created a few Tap and Write resources for my own children to use to provide for this ongoing practice.

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Write Aloud 

With all of the above strategies, you will want to model each as you write aloud in front of children.

You might say:

"Is it a snap word? Yes, it is! I have a picture of this word in my head and can write it quickly."


"That is a color word. I can find that word on the wall in the art center."


"It's not a snap word, wall word, or look-alike word. I'll have to use my sound spelling to write it.  Watch me tap and write this word by saying each sound slowly."

Guiding Writers

This summer I added a Word Writing resource to the Guiding Writers series to support my kiddos during those beginning stages of writing.

This ten-day plan includes teaching the above strategies as well as lessons on concepts of print such as directionality and spacing associated with writing words.

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Next up is a sentence writing resource that will be ready to share very soon!  Follow my TPT store to know when it becomes available.

Thanks for stopping by,

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