Saturday, February 26, 2011

Teaching your child how to read.

I've heard the question, "How do you teach a child how to read?" quite a few times.  It's good to think about that and want to support your preschool child.   My answer is often, there are many steps and it goes way beyond singing the ABC song.  :-)  Singing the ABC song is very similar to rote's all about memorization. 

Phonological Awareness:
I consider phonological awareness the foundation for reading.  It's what we focus the most on with our preschool students.  Many students can learn this awareness informally through songs and games done throughout the day.  For the most part, there really is no need for a formal instruction period.  But we do want to keep in mind that every child has different needs.  Phonological awareness activities can be turned into a game to help your transitions go more smoothly and they are great for car rides!

Here are some of the skills I work with my students on, with regards to phonological awareness.
* recognizing words as separate units 
* rhyming
* matching sounds (starting with beginning sounds)
* blending and segmenting sounds of simple words
* breaking words into syllables. (I call them "word chunks" with my students.)

There is a natural progression of skills within this category (as with any category).
First, I work with the children in recognizing rhymes when they hear them such as cat/bat, house/mouse, spoon, moon.  Nursery rhymes are great for this type of learning.

Then I'm looking to see if they can discriminate between the words that rhyme and those that don't.  So I may verbally give them a set of 4 words and see if they can pick out the word that doesn't rhyme such as boat, coat, hat, goat.  Or I might give them a few picture cards and ask which of these cards rhyme with the word cat.  

And the final thing I check for is if they can begin to list words that rhyme.  This seems to be the most difficult skill.  Remember that nonsense words work for this type of work too and it makes the activity more humorous for children and adult.

One thing I do want to remember to mention is that rhyming activities help improve listening skills and we do want that for our children! 

A few ideas for you:

Using familiar tunes is a great way to incorporate rhyming activities throughout the day.
Tune: Wheels on the Bus
Can you say a word that rhymes with (cat)?
Rhymes with (cat), rhymes with (cat)?
Can you say a word that rhymes with (cat)?
Yes, (cat) and (rat) rhyme!

Another familiar and well-loved rhyming song is "Down By the Bay".
Down by the bay.  Where the watermelons grow.
Back to my home.  I dare not go.
For if I do, my mother will say...
Have you ever seen a (cow taking a bow)?  Down by the Bay.
   Bear combing his hair.
   Bee with a band aid on his knee.
   Fly wearing a tie.
   Whale with a polka dotted tail and etc

Another familiar rhyming "funny" is the "Did You Ever, Ever, Ever?" activity.
Did you ever, ever, ever (clap your hands to the beat)
Did you ever, ever, ever
See a "cow take a bow".
Oh no!  (put hands up in the air and then bring them down as you pretend to laugh).
   a dog kiss a frog?
   a pig dance a jig?
   a goat where a coat?
   a snake in the cake?
   a moose dance with a goose?

Books are another great way to help increase awareness for rhyming.  Don't forget about the library!  They have a lot of books available to us! Our favorite around here are Dr. Seuss books.  (Aaron just reminded me that March 2nd is coming up.  They wanted green eggs and ham for lunch!)

Word families are a fun way to introduce "reading" and rhymes to preschool children.  Once we created a "house" cut out of construction paper and then we glued on pictures and sounded out the words as I wrote them onto the house.  So, with a simple rectangle building/triangle roof shape I'd write -at on the roof.  Then we'd sort pictures of which had -at sound.  cat, rat, bat, sat, hat, mat, etc.  I always put a few that don't belong the family to see if they catch them.  Then after they were glued on we'd go back and write the word next to it.  Always use pictures with the preschoolers!

Here's a little activity that my students enjoyed.  Not sure where I got it from though so I can't give the credit to the person who deserves it.  I used a dry erase board but you can use a chalk board or washable markers on a window/sliding glass door.
   The Disappearing House. 

Draw a picture of a house being sure to draw a door, two windows, a chimney.  Also draw at least 2 flowers, a tree and a sun.    When you say the rhyme encourage your child to guess the rhyming word (remind them that it's a word in your works well to draw the picture in front of them talking about the name of each time) and then they say the word and erase that picture.
   Day is done, erase the (sun).
   Count to three, erase the (tree).
   I count to four, erase the (door).
   Find your key and erase the chim(ney).
   If you can do so, erase the win(dow).
   Here comes showers, erase the (flowers).
   There's a mouse! Erase the (house)!

You can create a simple rhyming word match by cutting out small squares of cardstock and adding corresponding stickers.  I find that using Print Shop or a program similar makes it really easy to create games for the children!  I almost always laminate to preserve the game.

There are lots of ideas out there.  These should get you started.  I'm sure I'll be sharing more as time allows.  Have fun!

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