Helping Your First Grader in Language Arts


    Here's an idea for parents who wish to assist their first grade child at home with a basic first grade skills. Often students with learning difficulties need lots more repetition, practice, and experience with concepts in order to master them.  Simple and fun activities that parents can enjoy doing can provide the extra practice that can make a difference.

    In first grade, students are expected to learn to recognize for reading the first 100 high frequency words. ( In second grade they will be expected to spell these words.) Students that I work with come home with new high frequency words to practice 2 -3 times a week. We play a game with these words at the end of the week that generates a lot of excitement. Students love being able to name the words confidently.

    A favorite game that parents can play at home in the classic "Memory" or "Concentration" game. I recommend that in a game of 10 pairs of words that three pairs are relatively new to your child. These are the words that are new this week or still need practice.


    Here's how to play.

    Number of players: 2

    Materials: Several pairs of matching word cards. Parents can use the flashcards that come home daily and then make a second set with half size 3x5 index cards on which each word is written. (The second set of words made at home could be written with a capital letter at the beginning so both versions of the word become familiar.)

    Preparation: Flash word cards for your child to name. If some are tricky, review those several times to be sure they are known before the game starts. (This is where your child is really getting that extra practice that makes the difference.)

    Next: Lay cards face down in a grid form. One set of the cards could be laid in the first two columns and the other cards in the third and fourth column, leaving a generous space between the two sets of cards. When playing one card would be selected from each set. This makes the memory part a little less challenging.

    Play: Player turns over one word card and names word. (Leave card up turned.) Same player turns over a second card and names word. If words match, player collects cards and makes a pair. The same player has another turn. If no match is made, cards are turned back face down in the same place. The other player now has his/her turn. The winner is the person who has the most pairs at the end of the game.


    • The pregame word flashing is important. Your child should feel confident about knowing the words before the game starts.
    • Play with fewer cards at first (for example just 5 pairs of words) and then gradually work up to more in a game.
    • Be sure your child names the word when he/she turns a card over. This is what will reinforce learning the word.

    Enjoy your time together and have fun.

Last Modified on September 13, 2011