A Laptop Naptime Mama

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Flash Card Genius...Perhaps Not.

Benny is learning to read.

Okay, no, that’s overstating it a little. What I should say it that Benny is learning to recognize and spell some basic words. STOP is his current favorite. Every stop sign he sees, he shouts out “S-T-O-P- Stop!” He also knows his name, Brad and my name, and a growing list of little words like cat, cow, dog, hat, and (strangely) gas.

He’s not exactly a reader yet, but he’s on his way.

To encourage this interest in words, I decided to make some flash cards (how crafty, of me!). You can buy packs of pre-made flashcards, but I figured if I made some myself not only would it be a whole lot cheaper but also I could tailor make them for Benny – in other words, make cards for the words he’s learning and words that mean something to him.

So, I cut up some card, found a felt tip pen, and …voila…an hour or so later, I’d created a nice stack of Benny-centered flash cards. They’re not quite as sleek as the shop bought kind, but Benny likes them and I had a lot of fun making them.

Last night, Brad, Benny and I had the cards out and for a while it looked like they were proving even more successful than I’d anticipated.

As we held up each card, Benny - after some thought and a little sounding out of the letters – got over ten words right. Some of the words he knew already, of course, but well over half he didn’t. Brad and I were pretty flabbergasted that our nearly four year old had got the hang of the reading thing so fast. Like goofy, proud parents, we mounted lots of praise and high-fives upon him.

A little later, however, I held up a new flashcard I’d made. On one side was the word “shack” and on the other, my rendition of our little cabin upstate (which we lovingly call “the shack”). I held up the word side to Benny who hadn’t seen the card before and said, “What does that say?” He pondered and stared for a few seconds and sounded out the letters: “Ssss” “Huh” “Aaah”… Then he clapped his hands and shouted, “House.”

At first, I was floored. How did he come up with the word “house” from the letters in “shack”?
But then I realized what had been going on. I held up the flashcard of the shack and saw it for myself.
Benny, it turns out, isn’t quite the genius we thought he was. Even though he looked like he was reading the words – and his little act of sounding out the letters seemed to confirm this – he was actually just looking through the flimsy cardboard I’d used to make the flashcard and seeing the pictures I’d drawn on the other side!

Ah well, he’s not the reading prodigy that, for a second, we thought he might be. But he’s a damn good actor. Perhaps the Oscars await, rather than the Pulitzer.

(Tip for crafty mamas and papas: use thick cardboard for flashcards and not-so thick felt tip pens for the pictures). For more of Joanne Rendell's musings, Click Here to visit her blog.


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