Decoding Strategies to Try at Home

I really like using the ‘beanie baby reading strategies’ in class.  I find that most of the students are familiar with beanie babies and they immediately get the connection between the name of the beanie and the strategy.  Using these strategies as a school also give us all (teachers and students) a common language.  So, when a student comes to me in grade 2 and I ask, “Did you use ‘stretchy snake’ or ‘chunky monkey’?” they know what I mean. 

As a parent, it is really helpful to know what types of strategies (reading, math and otherwise) your child is using at school as well.  We all want to support our children, but when you don’t know what they are working on, it can be tough.  And sometimes it is like pulling teeth to find out from them!  It is with my daughter!

A typical conversation at our house:

Me:  What did you do today?

Lily:  Nothing.

Me:  When you were in school all day what did you do?

Lily:  Crafts

Me:  What was your favourite part of the day?

Lily:  The school bus

I do believe she is doing more than crafts, but she just isn’t going to give it up!  So, in case you have a little one who would like to convince you that he or she does crafts all day and rides the school bus,  I’m including a poster that we use at school for reading/decoding strategies.

It’s important to let your child take their time and try, but after a moment you can point to or suggest a strategy that may help them to decode a word.  The aim is always to keep reading and learning fun.  So, if you are experiencing a lot of frustration it’s important to let the teacher know.

I did not create this poster, but it’s pretty difficult to find the original source so I will give credit to where I found this version.


What We Write Here (and at home)



We practice a version of the ‘Writer’s Workshop’ in our class.  Everyone has at least 20 minutes of independent writing time each day.  They have access to a variety of tools and they can write what they want.

This year I am setting up a ‘What We Write’ board in the classroom.  Most students will come to grade two ready to write their own stories.  So, we begin the year with stories.  But last week, I also introduced ‘lists’ as a form of writing.  Everyone had lots of ideas to share!  We talked about shopping lists, lists of names, favourites, descriptions, etc.

Our first practiced list was an adjectives list for our pumpkin study.  Everyone did a fantastic job! 

Lists are great for practicing writing.  Sometimes writing a story can feel overwhelming.  A list is shorter and, often, a less intimidating task.  Lists also teach focus which can lead to more organized writing.

At home, you can ask your child to write your grocery lists for you!

Here are some fantastic documents that I found from 

Thanks to for the great example of a ‘What We Write’ board.  We don’t have quite as much space in our classroom, but we are using this picture as our inspiration.

*As we learn and practice more types of writing, I will share some more ideas and work!