Adventures in Literacy Land: Early Reading Skills

Showing posts with label Early Reading Skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Early Reading Skills. Show all posts

I Resolve To Teach Fluency!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  No matter how well we teach reading some students still struggle with fluency!  Wouldn't you like to have fluency goals in your room that engage the students in a fun and exciting way?   I have personally researched many ways of implementing fluency in a primary classroom and this one is awesome!  Enjoy this post and then go out and buy yourself that well-deserved teacher gift for fluency!  Happy holidays you wonderful teachers of reading!
No matter how well we teach reading some students still struggle with fluency!  Wouldn't you like to have fluency goals in your room that engage the students in a fun and exciting way?   I have personally researched many ways of implementing fluency in a primary classroom and this one is awesome!
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Sound Boxes: Listening for Sounds

Sound boxes help students attend to sounds in words to help them read and write them.


One of the things I love to do with students is to help them manipulate phonemes in words.  This helps them to think about the sounds they hear in the words and gain a better understanding of words. As they work with the sounds, they can actually attend to the sounds and make words.

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ABC Fun


In Kindergarten, the first few weeks are all about our ABC's!!

Each day, we introduced a new letter and it went a little something like this:

We start our morning with a letter review. We introduce the letter and its sound. Then we practice stretching some words with that sound.  I find it helpful to have the kids applying their sounds as they are learning them.  It gives them a purpose rather than just rote memorization.  After we blend a few words, we sing some songs.  My kiddos LOVE Heidisongs and we sing them every day. 

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Fine Motor 101

Fine motor is a skill that is very important but also very much overlooked.  In the younger grades, children need fine motor skills in order to write, cut, glue, and much more.

As a primary teacher, I am seeing more and more children coming in lacking in fine motor skills.  They have difficulty holding and manipulating a pencil or crayons.  They don't have the hand strength for something as simple as playing with playdoh.  We may have advanced our children more with technology, but at what price?  They can operate an Ipad or a smart phone, but they can't roll playdoh into a snake.  Really?

So often, when I child has poor fine motor the first suggestion is "just give them a pencil grip."  Pencil grips are great, don't get me wrong.  They are especially helpful for teaching kids the right grip.  But they do not help kids with muscle control. They don't help with small strokes.  They don't make kids use their wrist.  So how can you fix this?  Let me tell you.

Some of the first things that I do in the classroom is work to build my students' hand muscles.  You will have to blame my mom (the OT with Hand Therapy Certification) for this but it is so important!  Without strengthening their hands, they will not be able to use a pencil or even a crayon well.  You often see these kids are the ones that can't make the small strokes with a crayon, that they need in order to stay inside the lines.  These children will move their entire arm while coloring and writing.  They need to be retrained to only move their wrist. So how do you do that?  I am going to give you some ideas today that you can incorporate into the things that you already do so that it is not ONE MORE THING!  We want to blend it into our everyday lessons and hopefully just make you, as the teacher, more aware of developing these skills in your primary classroom.


 Welcome to Fine Motor 101!







Switch to golf pencils!  Little hands need little pencils.  Can you imagine writing with one of these bad boys?

No? That's because it is too big for your hand!  Your pencils should match the size of your hand.  Do you ever wonder why it is easier for a kid to color with a crayon than to write with a pencil?  Or why kids will try to sneak around and write in crayon rather than a pencil?  It is because it is more comfortable for them.  Crayons fit into their hands easier and they are able to control it by moving their wrist.  With fat pencils, kids are more likely to move their entire arm to write because it takes all of their hand muscles just to hold the thing.  To me, it just makes logical sense, but if you need research to back it up, check out Handwriting Without Tears.  They have so much great research on this subject.  They also sell little pencils if you want ones with erasers but I have found that golf pencils work just as well and are cheaper!

Don't always force them to sit, back straight, elbows up, feet on the floor.  When you write, do you sit like that?  Sometimes, I am not even sitting!  Not every kid is the same and not every writer is the same.  Some kids need to be standing to be good writers.  It gives them the ability to lean into the table and plant their elbow down so that they can manipulate just their wrist.  I teach these kids to slide their paper up as they write or to slide their elbow down.... whichever works for them.

Some kids do better as belly writers!  Babies do not get nearly enough belly time these days and when they come to Kindergarten it is evident!  Some kids do better with writing when they can support their core by laying on the floor.  It also forces them to keep their elbow still while manipulating their wrist.  This is perfect for a kid that likes to move their whole arm while writing.  Laying on their belly makes it impossible for them to move their whole arm.  They need to be able to support themselves up with that arm, while using their wrist to write!  Some of my kids with the best handwriting are belly writers!

Incorporate find motor skills into your learning centers.

I have some great centers that you can add to your literacy (or even math!) that will build fine motor while also building their early literacy skills!

These are some free resources that I found that I love! Click on the image to go to the link and pick up your copy.

http://www.themeasuredmom.com/dot-sticker-pages/

http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.com/AllABCs.html

 (scroll down)

http://www.dltk-teach.com/alphabuddies/daubers/

I have these laminated on card stock. I have the students place pom poms on the circles.  The trick is, they have to use clothespins!  Each student gets a clothespin.  They use their forefinger and their thumb to squeeze the clothespin for picking up the pom pom and placing it on the circle.  This is great for building hand muscle and it reviews letters at the same time! 



Kids that do not have a lot of muscle strength or coordination will complain about this activity at first.  But they will get better at it!

Again, this is another great freebie!
http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/2013/05/q-tip-painting-alphabet-printables/

Students can use a q-tip for dotting the letters with paint.  Make sure that they don't try to draw lines, because they like to cheat!!  haha

I have also used a dotted font to spell out the student's names and sight words for this activity.  I use the Hello Zipper font from Hello Literacy.  If you make it very large, it works perfectly!  You can get it for free too!


Pokey pinning is a great exercise in fine motor.  My kids each get a push pin and use it to poke through each dot on the page.  We attach our paper to a piece of construction paper. Have students lay on their belly on a carpeted area to do this activity.  When it is finished, we hang our construction paper in the window so we can see the sunlight shine through.

You can find a bunch of these on TPT!

Playdoh is great for building hand muscles!  So many kids don't know how to play with Playdoh these days!  Use playdoh mats to have  students create letters, numbers, sight words, and more!  Just rolling out the playdogh builds muscle and coordination. 



Having students string letter beads onto pipe cleaners builds motor coordination.  You can have them create their name, CVC words, sight words, and more!

Combine Letter Beads and Playdoh!

Mix some letter beads into your playdoh tub.  Have students work through the playdoh to pick out all of the letter beads. You can have them place the beads on a mat.  You can get some free mats that I made by clicking on the pages below.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2JG_UEUmfSqUXJHVlNrUWI3Ykk/view?usp=sharing  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2JG_UEUmfSqUXJHVlNrUWI3Ykk/view?usp=sharing

I hope you have found some great ideas and resources for incorporating fine motor in your classroom!


By the way, I am now at The Primary Treehouse instead of Hanging Out in First!
www.theprimarytreehouse.com 




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Already Ready

Years ago a friend of mine would host soup nights. She would make a few pots of soup (her mom’s beef stew was my favorite), the kids would run around and the adults would visit. Flash forward a few years and we were all too busy with our growing kids to have soup nights, but one of my soup night friends wrote a book about Preschool and Kindergarten writers. In 2008, Matt Glover published his first book with Katie Wood Ray. This book, Already Ready Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten changed my teaching and classroom writing environment forever. Ray and Glover believe that children do not need to “get ready” to be readers and writers, but that they are already readers and writers. They believe that writing may be a better way to lead children’s literacy development than reading. I have found this to be true in my classroom. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Ways that writing has made my Kindergarten students 
become better readers…

Kindergarteners will write books about topics that interest them. When you present children with mentor texts that they can make connections to, they will write about their own experiences or knowledge and want to have that book in their book box.
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
The writing workshop model builds stamina for writing and reading for long periods of time. The more they practice writing and reading the better they become at writing and reading.
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Using invented spellings transfers to confidence and phonetic skills that students use to stretch out words when reading. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
It is difficult to make something if you don’t know anything about what it is you are trying to make. Developing an understanding about texts gets students excited about literature and gives them a deeper understanding of stories and how to write them. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
Sharing the books children have made with others builds fluency skills and allows children to express their intended meaning…and they are reading. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.
When children buy into literacy activities it makes others want to join the club even before they know much about reading and writing.  Our littlest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. It is our job as teachers to inspire, support and lead them in the right direction. 
Read how writing workshop activities improve reading skills in Kindergarten. Writing workshop is a must in a Kindergarten classroom. Read how our youngest learners are already ready to be writers and readers. There is also a link to a great professional resource.


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Getting a Head Start on Comprehension


Hello, everyone!  It's Andrea again from Reading Toward the Stars to give you some tips on helping your child become better at comprehension.

I have a spunky four-year-old who is full of life and wonder.  Many days she keeps me on my toes and reminds me so much of my 11-year-old son at the same age.  At that age, children are in awe of the world and are ready to learn so much.  They are sponges and take it all in!  So it is the perfect time to get them ready to read through background knowledge!

Here are three easy ways you can help build background knowledge early, so children will be ready to comprehend when reading.

Questions

As much as I get perturbed by answering the same questions sometimes, I know that my own children are learning from my answers.  My 4-year-old daughter is constantly asking me questions about the world around her.  Questions like "Where does the rainbow come from?" and "Are unicorns real?" make her think about what she wants to find out.  Though I could go into a lot of crazy thoughts for answers, I know that my answer just needs to be short and simple.  Otherwise, I lose her.  If I give her an answer to her question, I know that she will take that little tidbit of information and use it later in life.

Experiences

What do cooking, playing a sport, visiting places, and creating art projects all have to do with reading?  They all give your child experiences they need to build background knowledge?  As children experience the world, they learn more and remember those experiences.  These help to build background knowledge by giving them a base to enhance comprehension when they begin to read.

Reading Aloud

I can't stress this enough!  Reading aloud to young children is the easiest and best way to build background knowledge!  We can't always have those experiences, but we can read about them. We can't always go to those faraway places, but we can read about them.  We can't always play sports, but we can read about them.  

We can always spend time together and read.

So, the bottom line is to find little ways to build background knowledge in even the youngest children!  They will thank you later!

And if you are interested in finding out how you can help little ones be ready for decoding, head over to this {blog post} on my blog to find out more!

And a huge shout out to the book, Raising Kids Who Read by Daniel T. Willingham, PhD, for the inspiration for this post!






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Kindergarten Word Building...the Foundation That Never Fails!



Hello, this is Cathy from The W.I.S.E Owl.  As you know from my previous posts, I love Kindergarten.  It's the best!  There has been some request for some Kindergarten Word Building Ideas.  I have 3 for you today.


I'm not trying to start an argument, but I believe Kindergarten is the MOST IMPORTANT GRADE!  Tools provided to the student in Kindergarten are invaluable.  They are truly the foundation for all other skills to be built on.  With this in mind, each lesson is important.  Word Building is the culmination of letters and sounds and their relationship.  Here are 3 ideas for word building that can be done in whole group, small group, and even independent learning centers.
Vowel Posters


We use vowel posters in classroom with yellow backgrounds.  Not only is this visually easy for children to see, it will help with a future activity for word building (you'l see in number 3).

The first, and most supported activity is word building with CVC mats.  These mats are designed to help the earliest learner. These seasonal cards have the CVC picture with the letters at the top of the card.  Students need to rearrange the letters to spell the CVC words with magnet letters, letter tiles, or dry erase markers.  The emphasis is practicing the order of the sounds:  beginning, middle, and end.

Another idea for word building, is practice with CVC word puzzles. This CVC activity supports the student with choice.  The students are still asked to stretch the word and color the beginning, the middle, and the ending sounds.  The colored boxes spell the picture.  To create a clear connection to the classroom vowel posters, students are asked to color the vowel yellow.

Finally, the last activity includes a stoplight.  Students know about a stoplight.  Ask any kindergartner, "What does a red light mean?"  They will confidently tell you "STOP!"  Using that background knowledge, teach them to build words.  When stretching words, make sure you allow them to hear the beginning, middle, and end of the word.  When writing the sound representations, they will write the beginning, middle, and end.  BUT, the true value in Stoplight Writing is the yellow light. Just like we "slow down" for a yellow light, we need to "go slow" with our vowels.  "We have to go slow...they can really trick us."  Once we practice this in a whole group situation, it is put in a CVC center for independent practice.  Stoplight Cards can be laminated or put in pockets to be used with dry erase markers or magnet letters for mastery.

If you are interested in a FREEBIE of all 3 Word Building Activities, Click Here!

If you would like FREE Vowel Poster Set, CLICK HERE!








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Cross Checking: What it is and why your kids need it



Learning to read can be such a difficult task.  There are so many skills that are necessary, for a child to go from a non-reader to a reader.  Many children are fortunate enough to be read to at a young age.  These children are given the opportunity to experience books and enjoy them as a story.  Through this simple act, children learn that books tell a story and there are beautiful pictures to match.  Eventually, those same children will begin to pick up books on their own.  They will tell their own story according to the pictures that they see.  They are doing exactly what we, as adults, have modeled for them.  But they are still non-readers….

So how does a child go from reading the pictures of a story, to reading the words?  There are so many skills involved in this process that we could discuss it all day long.  Children need letter recognition, letter sounds, decoding, rhyming, phonemic awareness, concept of word, and the list goes on and on.   

Today, though, I am going to discuss one skill that many people often forget about.  It is one of those skills that seems to come naturally for some children and is very difficult for others.  It is one that we, as teachers, often forget to explicitly teach.  It is cross checking.

In my classroom, I use the Beanie Baby Decoding strategies to help many of my students remember these strategies they need for reading.  The first two strategies that I always teach to my non-readers are Lips the Fish and Eagle Eye.  These are the very basic beginnings of reading.  Lips the Fish reminds my students to get our lips ready to say the first sound in the word.  It gives them a starting point when reading the word.  Eagle Eye reminds students to look at the pictures to help them with unknown words.  I teach each of these skills explicitly and separate in my classroom.  Then, I go back and teach them together.  THAT is cross checking.

Cross checking is the ability of a student to use BOTH the picture on the page (or the meaning in the story for higher level readers) and the letters that create the word to determine the unknown word.  This means that child has to use both meaning AND visual cues while reading.  Most students have no problem doing one or the other, but combining them is a difficult task.

To teach this skill, I give my students several prompt cards that I designed specifically for teaching this strategy.  Each set has identical pictures, but with two different words that could describe that picture.  Often times, students will look at the picture and choose an obvious word for it without realizing that it could be something entirely different.

For example, this card has a fairly obvious word in it.  Students will look at this card and know that it is a picture of a horse and they will read “This is a horse.”

However, some stories may not use the word “horse.”  Some may use the word “pony.”  Students without the ability to cross check will look at this second card and read “This is a horse.”  They may not even notice that the word begins with the letter P rather than an H.


You will notice that I added our symbol for Lips the Fish and Eagle Eye to remind students that they need to use both strategies to determine what the sentence says!  

Here is another example:


 There are so many instances in stories in which this is such a necessary skill.  After I have taught this skill using these cards, it is time to try it in a book.  I then purposely choose a story or two in which they will have to use this skill to read the book accurately.  In a book, the picture cues are no longer there, so they may need to be reminded when they come across it the first couple of times.

As students become stronger readers, the pictures in the stories become fewer and fewer.  They also become more vague.  Students will no longer be able to use picture cues as often.  Instead, they will have to cross check by using meaning.  They will have to decide what word would not only match those letters, but would also make sense in the story.

If you would like a copy of the example cards that I have made, click here and check them out!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2JG_UEUmfSqeFVQVTFYNVlGT3c/view?usp=sharing




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