Preschool—Learning ABC’s

When you are ready to teach letter names and sounds to your preschool/kinder students, it is nice if you can post large size letters on the wall so your child can look at them frequently.  Just as when teaching colors and shapes, to make it easier for your child, you should post and teach only one letter-name and letter-sound at a time.  It is very important that you teach the sound of the letter as well as the letter name. This will be very useful when you begin to teach your child to read a bit later on.

SnipBlog105bOne or two letters a week is about the right amount for this age group.  Do not post a new letter until your child knows the previous one, even if it takes more time.  If a young child is not able to learn one letter a week, he is probably not ready for this task.file contains black outline letters that you can print onto colored paper or colored cardstock if you so desire.  To alternate colors, print page one on red, page two on orange, page three on yellow, page four on green, page five on blue; then repeat for the next five pages—and so forth. Cut out the letters so the shape of each one is distinct when placed on a white background.

SnipBlog105a

Have fun teaching the alphabet and the letter-sounds, and take it nice and slow with your preschoolers!

You can get your FREE printable large size black outline ABC’s here.

Posted in How to Learn, Learning to Read, Phonics Instruction, Pre-Reading Skills, Pre-Schoolers, Teaching reading | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Beginning Preschool—Learning Numbers

SnipBlog104b

This week I have a FREE chart for you to help you teach number-symbols 1-10.  You should start with the chart for numbers 1-5 first, and add the chart for numbers 6-10 when your child knows the first five numbers very well. Your child can begin to learn to match number symbols to the correct number of objects.

SnipBlog104a

A page is included with just the number symbol and a blank space for your child to enter the correct number of objects.  You can copy the same blank page many times and use it in various ways.  If you have a do-a-dot marker, your child can use it to put the correct number of dots beside the number symbol.

We are loving using stickers right now, so we used those colored round spot stickers that are often used as price stickers. You could also use smiley stickers or stars or whatever you have around the house. Your child could also draw the correct number of circles, triangles, or squares in the open space.

Get your FREE Numbers chart right here.

SnipBlog104c

Posted in How to Learn, Pre-Reading Skills, Pre-Schoolers | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Beginning Preschool—Learning Shapes

You may want to teach some basic shapes to your younger preschoolers as well as teaching them color names. As I mentioned in the previous blog, it is better to teach one at a time than all of them at once, to avoid confusion. You might like to post them on the refrigerator. Ask your child several times a day to tell you what the name of the shape is.  If she cannot remember it, just tell her what it is and ask her to repeat the word after you. Keep your teaching informal and just do it for fun.

SnipBlog103a

Don’t miss out on these FREE Learning Shapes Flashcards! You can get them here.

SnipBlog103b

If you missed the previous offer for the FREE Learning Colors Flashcards, you can get it here.

Posted in How to Learn, Pre-Reading Skills, Pre-Schoolers | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Beginning Preschool—Learning Colors

SnipBlog102cIf you have preschool students, you are probably teaching them some basic things they need to learn before kindergarten.  If your young student does not know names of colors yet, we are providing a free printable set of flashcards to teach colors.

SnipBlog102b

Some young children mix up the names of colors when they are learning them.  You can minimize the difficulty they have by teaching only one color at a time. When the child remembers the name of one color, teach another one. You can teach colors in any order. Start with your child’s favorite color.

Print the cards onto heavy cardstock.  You may want to “laminate” the cards so they will last longer.  You can this inexpensively by covering them with slightly overlapping strips of heavy duty packaging tape, front and back, before you cut the cards apart.

Get your FREE Color Name Flashcards here.

Posted in How to Learn, Pre-Reading Skills, Pre-Schoolers | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Back to School – Make Your Own ABC Book!

It’s nearly fall and children are going back to school.  Whether you homeschool or your children attend public or private school, you may enjoy doing this activity with your preschool or kindergarten student.

SnipBlog101c

At ages 4 and 5, children should still be playing a lot of the time, so learning should be casual and informal. If your child shows an interest in learning the alphabet, you can teach the letters in many different ways. You might post a large letter on the wall or refrigerator (one at a time) and talk about its name and sound at random times during the day. You can read ABC books together.  You can point out words for objects that begin with a specific letter.

Your child might also enjoy making his/her own ABC book. This is a fun activity for your preschool or kindergarten students that can help them begin to recognize letters and learn letter names. Teach just one letter at a time.  It really does not matter at this age whether you teach a letter every couple of days or one a week. Let your child’s interest be your guide.

SnipBlog101bb              SnipBlog101cc

Your child will need to be able to cut reasonably straight lines with scissors first.  Then he/she will be able to do this activity with just a little guidance from you. Use plain white cardstock or typing paper for each page and bind it when you complete the project—or purchase an inexpensive spiral notebook to paste the letters and pictures into. Give your child the pictures for just one letter.  Ask her to cut out each picture for the letter she is learning. Show her how to paste the letters and pictures onto the paper. It doesn’t need to look perfect. Use a glue stick rather than liquid glue. Young children may find it easier to use a glue stick that looks purple when applied, but dries clear, so they can see where they have put the glue.

Here’s where you can get your FREE Cut & Paste ABC Book from Sound Bytes Reading:

ABC Cut & Paste Book

 

Posted in Art, Beginning Readers, Learning to Read, Pre-Reading Skills, Pre-Schoolers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Can Your Students Comprehend Texts That They Cannot Read?

Absolutely! Students do understand texts that are read aloud to them that are above their independent reading level. But if they are struggling to read text on their own that is too difficult for them to decode, they will not have good comprehension.  SnipBlog100Struggling students in the upper grades are increasingly expected to read texts that are above their level of reading ability, because they need to learn complex subjects. This presents a problem. Does it make sense to require students to read texts that are above their independent reading level?

Some teachers understand the futility of requiring reading at a level that is above a student’s ability, so they look for and assign books at the students’ actual reading level.  These teachers sometimes endure criticism for doing what they believe is best for their students.

With so many struggling readers in our schools, we ought to be looking at why we have this problem. We first fail when teaching our children basic reading instruction. There are many reasons why children fail to learn to read, including bad reading programs and inconsistent attendance. But we continue to pass children who have not learned basic decoding skills on to the next grade level. Then we blame the teachers in the upper grades when their struggling students fail to progress.

Students need to learn to read well by the end of first grade!  If a student is not progressing, change the program.  Students who are not reading well by early to mid-first grade should be given a phonics reading program that includes all of the Orton-Gillingham phonograms, and that uses those phonograms in decodable stories. Nearly all struggling readers who are taught to read this way can learn to read.

Students can comprehend texts that they cannot read on their own. The short term fix may include reading grade level texts aloud to students who are struggling. But to be successful, students need to be able to read on their own. When students read texts independently, they will only comprehend what they can quickly and easily decode. We may provide accommodations for struggling readers, but we owe it to them to teach them how to read for themselves.

 

Posted in Beginning Readers, Decodable Stories, Learning to Read, Reading Aloud, Reading Comprehension, Reading Program, Struggling Readers, Teaching reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Common Core and Reading Assignments—What Are We Missing Here?

SnipBlog99What a concept! Some teachers assign books to their students that they can actually read instead of assigning them to read books that are far above their reading ability! Is this surprising? Is it a bad thing? Are policy-makers suggesting that students should be assigned to read books at an instructional level that they cannot read because those students are in a grade based on their age?

The Thomas B Fordham Institute published a report on October 22, 2013 titled, “Common Core in the Schools: A First Look at Reading Assignments.” Here is a quote from the press release:

The CCSS emphasize the centrality of texts in the English language arts curriculum. Yet the majority of teachers still report that their lessons are dominated by skills and are more likely to try to fit texts to skills…Indeed, an astonishing 73 percent of elementary school teachers and 56 percent of middle school teachers place greater emphasis on reading skills than the text…

The Common Core asks teachers to assign texts that provide language complexity appropriate to the grade level, but significant proportions of teachers—particularly in the elementary grades—are still assigning texts based on students’ present reading prowess. Specifically, the majority of elementary teachers (64 percent) make substantial efforts to match students with books that presumably align with their instructional reading levels…This means that many youngsters are not yet working with appropriately complex language in their schoolbooks.

It appears that because students need to be learning complex language, they had better be reading complex words. That is all fine and good if the student is a strong reader and can actually read those complex words. But many students are not strong readers due to poor instruction and through no fault of their own.  What are we to do?  Start where the student is, not where you want him to be.

Let’s say you go out to the mountains and you are just learning how to ski, so you can barely stay standing up on your skis. Your instructor takes you out to the bunny slope and gives you some tips on how to fall safely (because you are going to fall!) and how to point your ski tips and whatever else they teach a beginner. But the resort owner comes out and tells the instructor that you need to be practicing the giant slalom because that is what skiers should be doing at your age.  Wonder how well that’s going to work?

What are we to do? Start where the student is, not where you want him to be. You cannot start where you want them to be if they have not learned the skills needed to function at that skill level and expect them to be successful. That is a recipe for creating dropouts.

If students are reading at a first grade level, then they need to begin at that level and be taught the skills that will allow them to quickly improve their ability.  We have programs available that will do exactly that—but we aren’t using them nearly enough and our students are paying a high price.

We can teach students the complex language in higher level books—but we can’t expect them to read those texts on their own until we have taught the reading skills that they need to do so. We should not discourage struggling readers—we must start where the student is. We know that students learn much of their extensive vocabulary from reading a lot of books—but students who cannot read well have been left behind.

Instead of insisting that we force difficult or impossible reading assignments on our struggling readers, we need to put a much greater effort into first teaching students to read well. We need to think in terms of teaching students to read well by the end of first grade rather than by the end of third grade. But if that is not where they are—what are we to do? Start where the student is, not where you want him to be!

 

 

See the Thomas B Fordham Institute report  “Common Core in the Schools: A First Look at Reading Assignments” here:                         http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/common-core-in-the-schools#

Sound Bytes Reading helps struggling readers learn the basic skills they need to become strong and independent readers.    www.SoundBytesReading.com

Posted in Beginning Readers, Learning to Read, Reading Comprehension, Struggling Readers, Teaching reading, Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Learning to Talk and Learning to Read – Part 2

Learning to read is a process that involves both visual and auditory input.  Children must learn to match symbols to sounds and then connect those symbols to make words.  Some children have difficulty remembering the symbols if too many are taught at once.  Reading can be made easier by teaching only a few sound-symbols at a time and then using them to practice decoding simple words.  Students should practice reading short stories using the same words they are learning to decode.

SnipBlog98

Posted in Beginning Readers, Decodable Stories, Learning to Read, Phonemic Awareness, Phonics Instruction, Reading Comprehension, Reading Fluency, Struggling Readers, Teaching reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Learning to Talk & Learning to Read – Part 1

Some educators in the past have postulated that learning to read happens easily and naturally and is just like learning to talk. But is this theory true?  If so, why is virtually everyone who can hear able to speak, but not everyone can read easily and with little effort?  Why is reading so difficult for many children?

Children learn to talk by listening to speech. The process of learning to read is actually quite different than the process of learning to talk. Reading involves visually matching written symbols to speech sounds and then learning to decode those symbols. This is the first of two charts that show you the steps involved in each process.  Part 2 will be posted next week.

SnipBlog97

 

Posted in Beginning Readers, Learning to Read, Struggling Readers, Teaching reading | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Teaching Children to Share

SnipBlog96aRecently I watched some younger parents teaching their young children to share their toys and cooperate in activities.  Threes and fours sometimes find it a little bit difficult to share because they now know the difference between what is “mine” and what is “yours.”  They even may be a little concerned that sharing something means losing it.

It is easier to share when there are two of something and you can have one and I can have one. It is a little harder when we have to share one of something. Most of us can remember having to divide a cookie or other treat and wanting to be sure the dividing was fair so our sibling wouldn’t get the bigger piece.

Sharing does not mean that one child always gives up something for the other child. It means that both children get something in turn. “First, you can play with this; then I can play with it.  Next time, I can play with it first, and then you can have it after me.”

My sister and I used to “play house” when we were little and she was always the mom (she was older so she made the rules) and I had to be the dad.  Eventually I wanted to be the mom, but she did not want to be the dad.  So we both pretended to be moms and the dads were gone to work.  We both got what we wanted. Win—win.

The children I was observing needed a little pep talk because there was only one toy that they both wanted to play with.  It was a simple puzzle and might have been constructed together except that one child had not had much practice with putting puzzles together.  They were encouraged to share by letting one child put the puzzle together, then take it apart, and let the other child take a turn putting it together. Eventually one child helped the other child begin to learn how to match up and connect the pieces. Win—win.

Why is it important to teach children to share?  What difference does it make if they learn to share or not?

Not only does learning to share benefit young children immediately by building happy and cooperative relationships with their peers, it will also benefit them for the rest of their lives. In order to share, you have to put the other person first at least half of the time.  You have to understand that their desire to have or play with something you want is very much like yours.

SnipBlog96b

A child who does not learn to share becomes selfish and will not make a good mate in the future.  The negotiating and communication skills that children learn from their parents and the give and take that enables them to share their toys as children, will help them listen to and strive to understand another person as an adult.

Sharing is a very important skill to teach our children when we look at the long term benefit. Learning to negotiate and share during play helps children overcome their initial self-centered thinking, so that their relationships as adults can have the goal of “I win and you win,” rather than “I win and you lose.”  Teach your children to share. It’s a win—win.

Posted in How to Learn, Pre-Schoolers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off