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Around the Campfire: Slide of Imagination

The phrase “summer slide” is one of my pet peeves. This phrase (used for as long as I remember) describes the essential skills that are supposedly lost over the summer when children are out of school.

Summer is the time for hands in the sand, hikes on the mountains, digging into a city garden, swimming in the community pool, trips to the library. Summer is an extended time of experiential learning. And these experiences will provide fodder for learning all year long. These experiences will pay richly into your child’s fund of knowledge, the knowledge that sparks ideas. Think of summer as an opportunity to mostly unplug from electronics, to engage with nature, family, friends, community, and books!

Let’s talk learning loss. Being deprived of something is loss. When it comes to language arts, I’ve sadly crossed paths with scores of children struggling to write who have simply been deprived of the opportunity to imagine their ideas. Is summer the culprit? I think not!

Review Tip Number 2.

What is your BIG idea?

When it comes to writing: Form always follows function.

When learning an art form—and writing is an art form—the rule to follow is: form follows function. This means that language arts should not be approached or taught the same way that we teach math. We can not simply give our children a mountain of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization rules and expect them to compose their ideas eloquently. In this case we are giving children “form” (building blocks) without any concept of “function” (purpose). Function is key to using form effectively.

Without ideas, writing becomes a meaningless chore.

Before the pandemic, literacy levels were in decline. But global shutdowns  pushed close to 1.5 billion students out of school. And these disruptions gave us all an opportunity to see that perhaps our approach to teaching language arts is broken. It gave us an opportunity to make a change. Truth is, on average nationwide, 66% of 4th grade children in the U.S. could not read proficiently in 2013, seven years before the pandemic! And children who do not read proficiently, do not write effectively!

Lacking basic reading and writing skills is a tremendous disadvantage. But lacking the ability to value ideas, well, that is tragic.

Literacy not only enriches an individual’s life, it creates opportunities for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves, their families, and humanity at large. Literacy is the ability to read, write, and think in ways that enable us humans to communicate effectively and authentically. Literacy helps us make sense of the world.

Tip Number 3.

Slide of Imagination

If we are to use an education phrase, let it NOT be the “summer slide” or the COVID slide”.

Please let it be the: Slide of Imagination!

When children engage with ongoing spelling lists, endless grammar exercises, and cookie-cutter writing exercises, they will become exhausted and disheartened climbing an endless ladder.

When it comes to writing an idea, at first, children (even adults!) might see the blank page and feel a little frightened, like getting on a two-wheeler for the first time. But with a bit of encouragement: “You can do this!” the pencil in hand will begin to fill the page. The climb up will always be UP, but the slide of imagination will never disappoint.

Try this writing exercise (yes, you):

Look at the photo above. What did the little girl think climbing the ladder to the top of the slide? What did she think when she reached the top and looked down? What was going through her head when the photo was snapped?

You are seeing blank lined-paper, right?  It’s not easy to begin, right? Is your imagination holding its breath?

  1. Sometimes, in this moment, I give my students permission to pretend!
  2. If I were in the room, teaching you, I might encourage you to dictate your idea so that your first draft would simply involve copy work. For reluctant writers, dictation is akin to training wheels.
  3. When students are really intimidated by the page,  I might offer a few “hooks” and let them choose how to begin. Here are some examples: At the top of the slide, she was so delighted by her favorite color that she burst into laughter.  Arms up, feet down, head back, big smile, you go girl!  She’s committed now! 
  4. Sometimes all it takes is getting a first sentence on board for the idea to flow.

Now it’s your turn. Write your idea. Write through all the stages: Idea brainstorming, first drafting, re-reading, editing, polished copy. And once you’ve completed this exercise, teach someone to write through the prompt. You can do it! You be a writing coach!

Encouraging your students to write their ideas is inviting them to climb the ladder into their imagination and slide into the art of writing joyfully.

Instead of worrying about catching up this winter, think about gathering around-the-campfire.  Around the campfire we warm up, roast marshmallows, make s’mores, sing songs, and best of all, we share stories.




Enter to win an easy light up fire pit built for the backyard and beyond from our friends at Solo Stove – plus, a Blackbird & Company Yeti Thermos (2 total)!


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Campfire Season: Writing an IDEA is genius!

For those of you who are new to Blackbird & Company, and those who are seasoned users, pull up a log, and gather round the campfire!

During the month of January we’ll share stories and offer ideas to ignite curiosity and motivate enthusiasm as you and your students move into the long stretch of this coming school year.

Tip Number 2.

Begin 2023 by making the most important question the centerpiece of your approach to language arts:

“What’s your big idea?”

Valuing ideas is key to authentic writing . If your  student does not care, then the pencil will reflect this fact. The act of writing will be boring. The simple truth is that, once a student develops the confidence to write an idea, the work of writing becomes an intrinsically valuable exercise.  Our CORE Literature and Writing Discovery Guides challenge students to journal their ideas week after week.

Learning to Write Well! is simply-one-step-in-front-of the-other, I promise! If you partner with us and encourage your students to journal their way through six stories per year, you’ll be amazed by robust growth in your child’s ability to take an idea from a tiny seedling of imagination to a carefully crafted sentence, paragraph, poem, essay, and more.

There is NO substitute for consistently encouraging your children to write their ideas. No matter the level, kindergarten through high school, the long stretch of the school year is looming. We urge you to courageously press into coaching your child in the daily art of writing! Don’t give up! Come June, your students will have brought shape to significant original ideas as they moved through the CORE of our program!!! And, more importantly, they will have gained confidence in their ability to communicate. Writing an idea is genius.


Enter to win an easy light up fire pit built for the backyard and beyond from our friends at Solo Stove – plus, a Blackbird & Company Yeti Thermos (2 total)!



Each student’s work is important work!

Read well! Write Well! Think well!



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Welcome 2023! It’s campfire time…!

We want our students to read and write well. We want them to think creatively and to value their ideas.

Learning, no matter the subject, can be an awesome journey. The path can be filled with wondrous sights to delight the intellect and warm the heart .

But the opposite can also be true.

The opposite of an awesome journey would be an arduous one. The opposite of a path with wondrous sights to delight the intellect and warm the heart is one filled with brambles and thorns that discourage and weaken. On this journey, this path, learning is thwarted, the heart is discouraged, and some form of illiteracy is a common outcome.

Here are some literacy facts to ponder, some fact’s that we desire to change:

21% of adults in the US are illiterate in 2022

54% of adults have a literacy below 6th grade level

The state with the lowest adult literacy rate is California

In autumn 2020, research carried out by the Department for Education (DfE), the Education Policy Institute and Renaissance Learning found a learning loss of up to 2 months in reading in both primary and secondary pupils, based on STAR assessments of more than 400,000 pupils (DfE, 2021).

In October of 2020, an assessment of 112,000 children’s writing skills by No More Marking suggested that year-7 students were 22 months behind where they should be. (Christodolou, 2020).

Together we can do better! Right?

Learning to read and write and think is a lifelong journey.

We are creatures with an enormous capacity to enjoy and enact language.

Tip Number 1.

Enjoy the journey!


Join us ’round the campfire this month as we share tips to inspire happy learning and literacy.

As we look back on 2022, we Blackbirds are considering what is happening at large in the realm of literacy with a heart to help—one student at a time. Looking forward to 2023, the happiest news will be hearing stories of your students—your dear children—pressing happily into their important work, the work of becoming literate.

Read well! Write well! Think well!  =   Happy New Year!*



Enter to win an easy light up fire pit built for the backyard and beyond from our friends at Solo Stove – plus, a Blackbird & Company Yeti Thermos (2 total)!




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Snowballs + Leonardo for all!

One winter, long ago, we Blackbirds made a box full of snowball catapults to giveaway at a conference. When I came across a few remaining stragglers, I smiled to myself. “Just in time for December!”

So, I have have been a busy little elf recreating ONE HUNDRED catapult kits! ENTER TO WIN HERE & you might be the happy recipient of one of the 100 kits we have ready to mail off!

Of course, when I think “catapult” I think Leonardo DaVinci, polymath extraordinaire!  What a persona to consider as we stand at the dawn of a new year. A bit of history:

You, of course know, Leonardo Da Vinci was a man who wore many hats: painter, sculptor, musician, engineer, father of flight, medical entrepreneur.  But did you know that he was known to sketch mechanized throwing devices just for fun?

The catapult design, conceived and put to use many, many years before Leonardo, intrigued him.  And so he went to the drawing board to do some tweaking.

Da Vinci recognized a simple fact that was likely overlooked by most: Gun powder was not 100% dependable! It just needed a bit of tweaking. And so he set out to refine the tool.

Da Vinci concocted two ideas: the single arm and the double arm catapult. The mechanisms he imagined would enable an increase in the throwing arm speed with ease. Like many of his notebook ideas, there is no historical record of the single or double arm catapult being employed but there are small scale and large scale models that have proved efficacy. More importantly, Loenardo’s tenacity to put his ideas to paper continues to inspire innovation. And this is worth celebrating!

For this reason, we will giving away one  Leonardo DaVinci catapult kit in addition to the 100 Snowball catapult kits.


And may you be inspired.


~Kimberly ❄️❄️❄️

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So much gratutide!

Fall is a cozy season. It’s the season of turning leaves 🍂🍁, of imaginary forests and fairy stories, of bundling up with mugs simmering cider for long meandering walks, of collecting pinecones and spying animals readying for the long winter nap. Most of all, fall is the season of gratitude! And this means GIVEAWAYS!

TWO, to be exact…


Recently we stumbled upon an amazing trilogy of board books created by artist and speech pathologist, Tabitha Paige, CCC-SLP designed to help little ones celebrate one of our very favorite things—words! These delightful stories will jump start the young child’s vocabulary and introduce them to early language concepts! 

Lessons include:

  • Spatial Words: Follow along with Little Fox as he plans a surprise picnic for his friend Owl in A Trip to the Farmers Market.
  • Quantity Words: Follow along with Little Hedgehog as he helps his friend Squirrel search for missing acorns in A Trip to the Forest.
  • Colors and Counting: Follow along with Little Rabbit as she gathers wildflowers to cheer up her friend Mouse in A Trip to the Wildflower Meadow.

We love that this little set that captures the magic of language and offers practical tips for this most important pre-reading stage. Mostly we love that these books do this the beautiful way! These stories are a perfect opportunity for older siblings to read aloud to younger siblings.


Puzzles are a perfect way to snuggle in to the coziness of fall. When we stumbled upon this puzzle, we thought: “HOW PERFECT!” Celebrating two of our favorite things, words plus the best technology when it comes to writing—the humble pencil. This promises to be an activity the whole family (and extended family too) will enjoy.


Click here to check out our December Giveaway!


~From all of us at Blackbird & Company to all of you: So very thankful 🍂🍁🧡

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On Fairy Stories and Fear

“If you want your children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

                                                                                                ~Albert Einstein

I recently came across some of my daughter’s old writing. I believe she wrote it when she was 12 or 13. She is now 15 and a sophomore in high school. She was answering the prompt: “Why is writing important?” She learned that writing is more than just words on a page, it’s how people express how they are feeling. She believes for writers it’s like painting a blank canvas.

Words help us learn and feel or maybe better said, to learn how to feel.

The other night I read to my son Grady before bed. We read one of Grimm’s fairytales, “Rapunzel”. Grady lay fully cocooned in his blanket, over his head, listening. As you probably know Rapunzel was taken from her family as a punishment for stealing the green, leafy, vegetable, rapunzel, from their neighbor’s garden. The garden belonged to a very powerful and wicked witch. The girl, Rapunzel was raised by the witch and was sent away from all people to live in a tower she could not escape, all alone. A prince heard her singing from the tower. He watched the witch visit her and saw her let down her long hair for her to climb. He did the same and soon after many months got to know Rapunzel and they fell in love. The witch discovered that the prince was visiting. She cut Rapunzel’s hair and then sent her far away, alone in a desert. The witch hung Rapunzel’s hair at the tower and let the prince climb up, but once he did, she was there to greet him. She scared the prince from the tower into a thorn patch far below, where the prince’s eyes were torn out. He wandered for years blind and alone until he wandered far enough. He found Rapunzel at last, drawn by her beautiful singing. This fairy tale ends well with the prince being reunited with his love, Rapunzel’s tears healing his eyes and them living happily-ever-after back in his kingdom.

Whenever I read Grimm Fairy tales to my children as they were going up, I always wanted to change what happened. I would naturally edit—the prince losing his eyes and wandering alone, the wolf eating Grandma. What I started to realize over time is that children, like being scared. But there is a difference being scared by books versus movies or television. With books readers can take it as it comes, with language aimed at a child’s imagination, suspense and simple elements building the world of the story. What if it’s actually important to hear that bad things can happen? We can feel pain. We can get hurt.  We can become resilient human beings.

Sometimes in life, in many ways, we wander blind for a period before we find the good, before we can see.

I want stories to end well. I want to eliminate the scary in the world because I don’t want to acknowledge the fear, I feel for my children in the world we live in today. As my daughter wrote so eloquently, these stories have taught me how to feel.

I recently read an article about the importance of being scared. Einstein was quoted: “If you want your children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” The intelligence that Einstein is referring to is existential intelligence.

Existential intelligence is defined as the sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die and how do we get there. The skills are reflective, deep thinking and design of abstract theories.

I saw an interview with President Obama years ago who discussed his great fear for young people losing this ability to be deep, reflective thinkers. In our fast-paced world we are encouraging more and more people to skim through reading material on electronic devices and not to sit and contemplate deeper meaning in what they are reading. In retelling Hansel and Gretel, nearly a century later, author Neil Gaiman asserts:

“If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

The great polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska, wrote a reflection on the first edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales which revolutionized storytelling:

“Children like being frightened by fairy tales. They have an inborn need to experience powerful emotions.”

Andersen took children seriously. He speaks not only about life’s joyous adventures, but about its woes, its miseries, its often-undeserved defeats. Andersen had the courage to write stories with unhappy endings. He didn’t believe that you should try to be good because it pays, but because evil stems from intellectual and emotional stuntedness and is the one form of poverty that should be shunned.

I have realized that throughout my life I have gone to great lengths to not feel or face fear. It’s not just the evil in the world but the great unknown. The what ifs. What if I am not smart enough, strong enough, talented enough, liked, or loved enough? What if I am not good enough?

Children’s author-illustrator Jon Klassen was asked how he comes up with ideas for his books? He says, “It’s just born of fear—of creating. It’s been a way of avoiding something I don’t want to do. And the solution to that avoidance lends itself to a story.”

My daughter went on to say that one of her favorite words she learned more about is the word, dumb. She learned it can mean temporarily unable or unwilling to speak. My daughter has a learning difference. She did not learn to read and write at the same developmental stages as her peers. She often felt dumb, as in stupid or foolish. My biggest fear was her feeling this way. So motivated to protect her and put her in her own tower far away, I kept her out of school and chose the path of homeschooling.

My fears came to reality as I realized I did not make her tower high enough.

The beauty in it all, like in our fairy tales that can be scary, is that we see resilience being born, we see paths that can have obstacles, we see hurts and feel fears. My daughter has been hurt, afraid to try, plagued by words. But she has also grown strong, wise, mature, forgiving and compassionate.  Fear comes with gifts.  Fear ear can bring us closer to faith. Faith brings hope, in the good, in mankind, in our individual skill sets. Fear and faith seem to go hand in hand and to be sheltered from one keeps us separate from the other. Today, I read to my kids the whole fear filled story of “Rapunzel”. I don’t have to fix stories for them, and I don’t have to fix life. Life is, we are in it right now, and I wouldn’t change a thing, because if I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I happen to like me. Keep reading fairy tales and all stories that end in tragedy. Let your faith be bigger than your fear and enjoy the journey.


~Clare Bonn

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What we don’t know or have to name to understand……

“Mom, I sat by myself today at the park. Nobody was playing anything I was interested in. I tried to talk to Luis but he never listens; the game always has to go his way. Mom, Tommy says he has been playing football for 10 years, but he just had his 8th birthday. I don’t understand why he won’t just pass the ball. Gabby kept taking Carlos’s hat. She said it was a game but Carlos didn’t seem to like it.”

When Grady is driving in the car with me or sitting at the dinner table or when his head hits the pillow at night this is the usual conversation or maybe I should say download. I realized during this time how much I just needed to listen. Grady needed time to process these different situations and relationships that came across his path during his day.

How confusing, mystifying, uncomfortable human relationships can be—whether we are 8 or 80.

I was recently introduced to an author named Jon Klassen. The words and the pictures are very simple yet carry a lot of wisdom concerning human relationships.

Three books I read Grady over the course of nights were:

1 ) I want my Hat Back

 2) This is not my Hat

 3) We found my Hat

Grady would smile and laugh out loud. In I want my Hat Back, the main character, a bear, is running around asking other animals if they have seen his hat. He asks another character, a rabbit, (who, by the way, is wearing the bear’s hat) and the rabbit, in a suspicious way, says he hasn’t seen the hat. The bear continues his search until he realizes he has seen the hat… that rabbit was wearing it! He goes back to confront the rabbit, “You stole my hat!” There is a long look between the two. Then comes a picture of bear sitting down, saying he loves his hat, wearing it on his head. Then a squirrel comes passing by asking if he has seen rabbit. Bear answers in a suspicious way, “Who me?” “Why are you asking me? I wouldn’t eat a rabbit, don’t ask me anymore questions.” This story ends with no clear ending. Could the bear have sat on the rabbit? Ate the rabbit? Could the rabbit have run off? Really anything is possible.

I read an interview with Jon Klassen and he discussed these micro-dramas from childhood. He used the example of Frog and Toad books. How these two characters had unresolved, uneven relationships, where one of them needed one of them more than the other. The underlying thoughts, “I have friends who could leave me or I have friends I could leave. I don’t like them as much as they like me or vice versa.” I researched the author of Frog and Toad after reading Jon Klassen’s interview. Frog and Toad happened to be my childhood favorite as well. It was interesting to find that Arnold Lobel wrote Frog and Toad based on his experiences from second grade. Lobel was sick and out of school for most of that school year and kept himself busy by drawing. He used his animal drawings as a way of coping with the insecurity of his return and making friends. He used these experiences to write Frog and Toad.

Kids don’t want to analyze these relationships. In stories, like in life at this young age, they want to watch them play out—Jon Klassen reminds: validate that they exist.

Isn’t this part of human nature, to want to feel we are not alone in our experiences?

Jon Klassen goes on to explain that children don’t need to know the motivations of characters and can understand questionable behavior in an unexamined way. Kids don’t ask “why did he do that”, like us adults who like to analyze and pull out the meaning or morality.

How would an author answer the why?

Isn’t that for the reader to get too or not get too?

Is there really only one answer to what motivates human behavior?

Children don’t have to ask all of the whys to understand it can happen. Grady didn’t need to ask why the bunny took the bear’s hat or how the bear got the hat back. He related in the human experience, of having something taken and wanting it back, of finding it and getting it back. This is Not my Hat, shows a small fish taking a hat from a big fish and all his internal thinking about it why he does it. What a beautiful example of what we do as humans when we want something and dance into our internal justification. We laugh while reading because we all relate on some level. No story needs to be added to why stealing is wrong. We can all understand the higher moral value but also total relate with the very human behavior.

We Found a Hat, beautifully demonstrates the inner conflict when two friends find something they both want but there is only one. Our desire for something for ourselves mixed with our feelings of wanting to share and be honest is, again, common human nature. It is rarely just a clean action of what’s right.  It’s a pull and push to serve ourselves and someone we care about.

And then there is Jon Klassen’s book, The Rock from the Sky, that pushes us adults right off the ledge! The book is about what we cannot control.

Where a rock will land. What could happen in our day. What the future might bring. How things we can imagine will change and all the things we can’t imagine and all the questions that go with it, the what, why, how, when and where! There is SO much we can look up for children now, so much on-the-spot-access to information. We can know a lot of interesting facts. But in the case of our lives, the unknown is our future and the daily things that can happen that are out of our control. This book is addressing the fact we don’t know everything and we are not supposed to know. Part of life happenings are luck, timing, paying attention, listening, trusting, asking for help, admitting we don’t know!

So when I sit down to read Grady a book, especially a Jon Klassen book, I remember that Grady has had a full day with really big experiences. When Grady talks I listen. When we read I let the story be felt. I don’t have to pull the moral or give him instruction on who he should be. I watch him smile and laugh and I let the moment be. I give up my adult longing to know why and I sit on the ledge with the unknown. I become friends with the right now and that is enough.

-Clare Bonn

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It’s Section 5 Season!

It thrills us this time of year to know that many students have completed (or are close to completing) the first of their six CORE Blackbird & Company ELA units and are brainstorming ideas for the Section 5 culminating project.

To celebrate this season, click through here to download a FREEbie Section 5 Planning Worksheet.

Section 5 is the week when students get to step outside of the rhythm of reading, contemplating, and journaling and create a project to celebrate the story’s wonder! This project is a throwback to a Blackbird and Company limited edition “Section 5 Kit” tied to City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. We provided the box, a lightbulb shaped jar, black paint, glow-in-the-dark paint, paintbrush, Sharpie, and left the rest to the student’s imagination.

Earth is, of course, being ravaged by a series of apocalyptic events known as the Disaster. Light is one of Ember’s most important resources. Without light, the city will cower in complete darkness. Around the clock darkness. Not good. It is this terror of darkness that drives the story. So when the great lamps that light the city begin to flicker, Lina and Doon have a quest set before them. With blackouts and shortages someone needs to take action! Why not our twelve-year-old protagonists?

But we stop here because the purpose of creating a culminating project is NOT to retell the story, but rather to advertise. That’s right, advertise. The culminating project should share JOYbites from the book that will inspire others to pick the book up and fearlessly enter the world of the story.

For this Section 5 project, the student decorated the outside of the box with juicy words and quotes from the story, painted the inside of the box black represent the problem facing the people of Ember, and poured the glow-in-the-dark paint into the light bulb. Ultimately the little project is an amazing advert!

Now its your turn.

Download the FREE Section 5 Planning Worksheet and get started on your build week.

It’s Section 5 Season!

So never, never  e v e r  skip Section 5!

Section 5 is a gift…


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Phonics for Reading AND Writing

Let’s talk phonics for reading AND writing?

Yes. That’s what I said.

In the August issue of National Review’s Special Issue on Education, there is an interesting article about the science of reading. In “Casualties of The Reading Wars” by Dale Chu, asserts a profound truth in the midst of the phonics vs. whole language argument: learning to read is work.

Being the mother of 4 children (now thriving adults), I possess all sorts of memorabilia. A personal favorite is a scrappy little book where I collected words and phrases my little ones used as they were in the midst of learning to speak. The invented word yesternight is a personal favorite, “Mommy, remember the story we read yesternight?”

Children learn to speak because they are surrounded by spoken language. Children are able to create meaning from all sorts of spoken fodder, as is the case here. Using the yester of yesterday and replacing day with night to create a sophisticated descriptor with apt specificity, came to my 3 year old with no lesson at all! Genius!

But contrary to the proponents of whole language, “easy” is not how children learn to read. This article points this out articulately: “To crack the code of how the spoken word connects to the word on the printed page, children need explicit, systematic phonics instruction.”

I will go one step further. This code cracking that demands explicit, systematic phonics instruction applies to BOTH learning to read AND learning to write.

Every word we speak is made up of bits sound sound bites called phonemes. There are only 44 phonemes that enable us to read and write every single word you can imagine! When words are in print, these 44 sound bites are called graphemes. Systematically introducing children to these phonemes and giving them ample practice reading and writing graphemes is the road to literacy. What saddened me about this article is the fact that learning to write was not mentioned once! I read articles about literacy often—I’m kind of nerdy that way! Rarely do these articles address the interconnectedness of phonics instruction for reading and writing.

When a child reads, text is being decoded—basically translated into sounds that carry meaning. When a child writes, sounds that carry meaning, again the very same graphemes, are being encoded to the page. Reading enables the child to gather knowledge. Writing enables the child to craft and share ideas.

This said, I agree, we need to provide explicit, systematic phonics. But there is nuance involved in explicit, systematic phonics instruction. The 44 phonemes that are the building blocks of the English language need to be introduced in a wonderfully playful way. Think of it like this, every word you can imagine is made of some combination of one or two or three of the 44 pieces! Think “rooster” and “lemon” and “shelter” and “croon” and on and on and on. This should be awe inspiring. Should land you in the realm of wonder! When you are teaching your students to read and to write, the goal is to guide them on a journey to this realm, NOT the realm of rote, where memorization masks wonder!

Here are some Tips and Tricks to pack in your knapsack:

1.  Tap into the cognitive ability of your students and give them tools (metacognitive skills) to have at the ready, not material to memorize. For example: bl makes a sound that is part of the word blue, blackberry, blunder (write these for your students to read). Can we think of others together? Let’s write a list. Have students copy the list. As you introduce phonemes, provide opportunity for students to read AND write. If your student is in kindergarten or 1st grade and using our Hatchling curriculum, this approach is built in! If your child is older, and needs remediation with phonics for writing, check back this spring because we have something new in store!

2. Use a pencil. Always use a pencil. Through the 12th grade use a pencil! This technology is the best tool to establish literacy.

3. Establish the tradition of “work is GOOD”! Over the years I’ve had the privilege to encourage parents and teachers alike who have students weary and discouraged with the work of reading and writing. What I say to them is this: Pack an imaginary knapsack with all the books you enjoyed as a child, and use these stories to remind you that language is full of wonder, is wonderful! Pack the knapsack with hope, and happy, and hurrah! Pack it with a reminder to self that reading and writing is not an easy task, but is is a GOOD pursuit. Pack it with this phrase: Yes! Yes YOU can!



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Back-to-School with Pages!

Our live online sessions meet once a week for five weeks to dive deep into great stories. Each week our exceptional instructors will lead discussion of the reading and offer insight to inspire students to think deeply about the story’s action. Conversing and thinking about books is a terrific spark for original ideas, and original ideas motivate students to write! After the video gathering, your student will submit weekly writing and receive individualized written feedback from the teacher.

Space is limited to 10 students per group. Price includes curriculum.

Enrollment is OPEN click through here!