Super Simple has just released the first three episodes of Captain Seasalt and the ABC Pirates and parents and teachers everywhere are loving it! ABC Pirates episodes are short, 7-9 minute shows that focus on learning one letter per video. This makes them perfect to introduce a new letter to a child or classroom, with endless opportunities to continue learning after viewing. These videos are language rich for learning new vocabulary and offer many phonics and phonological awareness teaching moments throughout each episode.
Language is an important skill for almost everything we do. Knowledge of language is needed not only to communicate with others, but also to be able to understand what other people say and the meaning of words and sentences that we read. Phonics refers to how written letters relate to sounds, such as knowing the letter C can make a hard ‘k’ sound as in ‘cat’, or can make a ‘s’ sound as in ‘circle’. Phonological awareness is the ability to listen to, manipulate, and play with sounds, such as counting syllables or rhyming words. All of these skills are critical when learning to read, and generally begin to develop before children begin reading independently.
Most parents have a general understanding of phonics and often work on this skill at home- which is awesome! However, phonological awareness and language activities tend to not come as easily, even though they are just as, if not more important when learning to read. This is where ABC pirates and this article come into play!
As a Speech Language Pathologist and mother, I always recommend using the pause button when watching videos. Videos have so many language opportunities and there are numerous conversations and magical learning moments to be had- but these are often missed because everyone is still watching and listening to the video. For short videos and songs, I like to watch the whole video once in full and then in subsequent viewings, push pause to talk and learn more through engaging with others. If you aren’t sure how to use ABC Pirates to help your child or classroom engage in learning, here are some ideas:
Activities to teach phonics:
- Matching sounds and letters- Use pictures and ask, “What sound does B make?”, “What letter says ‘buh”?, “Find the letter that says ‘kuh’”.
- See how many words you can name that start with the letter. You can go around a classroom with this taking turns, or going back and forth between adult and child.
- See how many words you hear that start with the target letter in the ABC Pirates video (or write them down for older kids).
- Super Simple has several free flashcards and worksheets to work on phonics at home.
Activities to promote phonological awareness:
- Sound and Word Discrimination- Say words or sounds that are similar and see if your child can identify if they are the same or different (‘b’ vs ‘p’, Aye vs pie, Ahoy vs boy, apple vs alpaca).
- Rhyming- You can say two words and ask your child if they rhyme, “Do ants and pants rhyme? What about ant and apple?”. For older kids, you can ask “What rhymes with bee?” or take turns rhyming back and forth, the last person to name a correct rhyme is the winner!
- Blending and Segmenting sounds- Isolate sounds of a word separately and see if your child can blend them together, “What word is a–n–t? Ant!”, or ask “What are the sounds in the word Bee?” and see if they can segment B–ee.
- Syllables- Teach how many syllables are in a word by clapping them out! Ant- eat- er has 3 but a-pple has 2!
- The Apples and Bananas song is a fun way to play with sounds and promote early phonemic awareness skills.
Activities to teach language skills:
- Vocabulary- ABC Pirates incorporates tons of new vocabulary words that are great for children of a wide age range. From learning about ‘anteaters’, to words such as ‘unappetizing’, these videos have endless opportunities to grow one’s vocabulary!
- Categories- See if your child can name the category or group a new vocabulary word belongs to. For example, alligator goes to animals and apples goes to fruit. You can also name a category and see how many items your child can name that belongs to that category, or make it even more difficult by naming items that belong to a category that start with a certain letter. “How many animals can you think of that start with A?” or “Name as many food items you can think of that start with B”. You can even set a time limit and make it a competition!
- Conversations- Talk about what you saw in the video. “Do you like camels?”, “What was your favorite part?”, or “My favorite was the crab because I love ocean animals!”, etc.
- Homonyms and jokes- I love that the writers snuck in some higher level language skills into these videos. For example, in the B episode, they find a bee. They talk about the letter B, ask “Would ye BE of assistance?”, and say “let’s make a bee-line”. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about multiple meaning words and the true meaning of jokes!
- ABC pirates also teaches background knowledge about a variety of topics (such as learning about alpacas and what their fur is used for, bees eating nectar to make honey, and coral reefs and what creatures live there). Having background knowledge about many topics is important for applying previous knowledge into everyday activities such as reading and conversations.
Play: Creative and dramatic play are essential for developing peer relationships as well as future academic success. Engaging in play with your students or kids is an excellent way to help children learn and build lasting connections and positive memories. This type of play comes naturally to most children, but some children need to be explicitly taught- and that’s ok!
- Pretend to be pirates and use/learn pirate lingo- “Land ho!”, “Shiver me timbers!”, “Ahoy shipmates!” You can “walk the plank” and sword fight. Create problems and see if your child can help solve them “We are lost!”, “The captain hid the treasure and we can’t find it”, “there’s a hole in the pirate ship”, or “the boat is sinking” are fun places to start!
- Combine all of the skills listed above and go on a treasure hunt. Take turns spying items and giving hints to others- “I spy something that starts with C! It’s made with the sounds ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’. It rhymes with bat. It’s a pet, and it meows.”
Over the Deep Blue Sea is a cute pirate song to sing while you learn about pirates, and my absolute favorite Halloween song, Knock Knock Trick or Treat has a great scene to give children a visual for how to pretend to be a pirate- and other characters! You can also talk about pirates (a good way to learn some pirate vocabulary like cutlass and peg leg!) while working on fine motor skills and coloring this free pirate picture.
Always remember, kids learn best when they are engaged and having fun, so don’t be afraid to weigh anchor, hoist your jolly roger, sing some shanties, and search for hidden treasure!
Andi Putt is a mommy, pediatric Speech Language Pathologist, and chocolate lover. She specializes in language development and autism spectrum disorders, and has deep love for helping children with special needs. Andi is passionate about teaching parents how to support speech and language development at home, and does this on her blog at www.mrsspeechiep.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram for quick tips to improve your child’s communication skills.
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