Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Benefits of Books on CD

Wow! Things have been so busy around here that I have hardly had time to post.  So sorry, there is more to come so keep posted.  Today's reading tip is about the benefits of listening to books on CD.
Recently the kids got two new CDs on tape and I thought about how much listening to these helps build their phonemic awareness which in turns build their reading skills.  Books on tape are great to listen to anywhere and do not have to accompany the book to be beneficial to children.  Most people listen to them at home along with using the book, and this is a great way to teach your child good fluency as they listen to the reader speak, as well as show the visual connection of the word to the spoken word.
One way we like to listen to our books on CD is in the car.  For example, right now we have Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in the car.

The children know that it is a book, but they do not realize that by listening to the story they are building their phonemic awareness skills.  The CD helps to promote good reading skills by giving an example of good fluency (speed/accuracy of the reader), rhyming, pronunciation, tone of voice, and in the case of this story-repetition.  Then at night when we read the book, the children are able to put all of these skills to use.  They don't even realize that they know all the words on the page until I point to them as they read to me!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Work Those Word Families

Once your preschooler has mastered his letter sounds it might be time to consider teaching word families. 

Word families are groupings of 2-3 letters that are commonly found in many words throughout the English language, such as:

There are too many to list, but try these great lists on Enchanted Learning

Once your child has learned his word families well he will begin to recognize them as one set of sounds and will not have to sound out every letter individually.  Even some of my older students who read letter-by-letter benefit from re-learning their word families to aid in better fluency (rate and accuracy of reading.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Must Have Book-Making Words

If you were to go into any teacher's classroom at my school, you would likely find the Making Words Book by Patricia Cunning.  I first discovered this book while in my credential program at San Diego State University, though I did not realize it's full potential until I became a Reading Specialist.

This book gives you activities to use with students in grades (K-3, though I have used it up to 6th with struggling readers) to help build their phonics and spelling skills.  There are no other additional products you need to buy, you simply create them yourself.  If your child is an early reader or a fluent reader with some difficulty spelling or deciphering new words, then this is the book for you.  It helps your child learn to build words by pieces and helps them to see the connection between short base words and words with prefixes and suffixes.

This series also comes in Making Big Words for students who are more advanced (3rd and up):

As well as Making More Words which is an additional supplement to Making Words:

Disclosure: None.

Today's Reading Tip: Use Proper Reading/Writing Terminology

I never understand why some teachers and parents use simpler words for academic language.  Some examples I can think of are:
  • Big and little letters for upper and lowercase
  • Excited mark for exclamation point
  • Writer for author
  • Artist for illustrator
I truly feel that children can grasp the concept of academic language if they are exposed to it at a very young age.  The use of simpler words (such as big and little letters) in place of an academic term (upper and lowercase) must be very confusing, when in a higher grade level they are expected to know the proper terms!
My advice-don't dumb it down.  Use the proper term from the onset, and your student or child will learn what it means through example and repeat exposure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: KWL Chart

If you are a teacher, you probably know that a KWL chart stands for "Know, Want To Know, and Learned."  If you are a parent, you might not be aware of the benefits of having your child keep a KWL chart for books that they are currently reading.  Here is an example of what a KWL Chart could look like:
Teachers like to use this chart to help students learn critical thinking skills which aid in reading comprehension.  I use these charts with any of my students who are reading chapter books.  It is difficult for students to stop and take the time to analyze the text, therefore, the use of a KWL Chart makes them formulate and organize the information they have read, what they feel will happen next, and what they still want to know.  KWL Charts work best for non-fiction books, but can also be used for fiction texts.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Showing Sight Words Everywhere

Right now I am working a lot with teaching LoLo (age 4) his sight words.  I start by teaching the words through chants, for example: T-H-E spells the, T-H-E spells the, high-ho the dairy-oh T-H-E spells the.
As we sing this chant, we often have an index card in front of us with the word written on it.  I point to the letters as we chant, then we look for the word everywhere.

When I read stories at night, I have LoLo point to all the words the on the page.  Or sometimes I will stop reading and ask him what the word is.  I show him examples in my books, magazines, and mail.  He gets really excited that he can recognize this word so quickly all over the place. I make sure that as we learn new sight words that we always review the previous ones.

Quick Fact: Here in the state of California, kindergarten students should be able to recognize (and at some schools spell) the top 100 sight words!  That is quite a task for a 6 year old.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Posts Coming Soon!

Hi Y'All! Sorry there have been no posts this week.  Hubby and I were house-hunting out of state, but I will be back up and running Monday.
Please stay tuned!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Don't Correct Every Error

If you have a beginner reader you know what a joy it is to listen to them sound out words and recognize sight words...but you also know that these tasks are tedious and mind-numbingly annoying to listen to! Yes, I said it.  I am a Reading Specialist and I often find myself wanting to speed along my beginning readers and offer suggestions for every word just to make it easier for me to listen to.  With that said, I know I must bite my tongue and left them apply all the skills I have taught them.

I am not by any means suggesting you do not correct errors, instead I am suggesting you correct errors on occasion so as not to completely discourage a child to read.

Here is what I usually do with my students:
  • If the child stops on every word (or every other word) to sound it out then the book is too hard to encourage independent reading, and you may have to help him so he doesn't get discouraged.
  • If the child makes an error on a word by leaving off a suffix (such as -ing, -ed, -es) and the story still makes sense, just let it go.  If it is a consistent error then mention the corrections after the reading.
  • If a student makes an error on a sight word-tell the sight word to him.
  • If the child says a name wrong-don't correct until after the story.
  • If the child makes errors every few words, but is reading at a smooth pace, just let him continue.  Then after the passage, have him go back to the words he missed and sound them out with you. 
These are just a few of the corrections I use.  Of course every child is different and you must use your own judgement before anything else, especially with your own child.

Disclosure: These are the tips I use-not necessarily the tips that you MUST follow. Please use with your own background knowledge of the reader.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Onomatopoeia

First off, so sorry I did not post yesterday! Blogger decided to shut down for the entire day, so I took a mandatory break :) After a nice cocktail and an early bedtime, I am back rearing to go!
Today's post is about onomatopoeia (pronounced "on-O-mot-O-pee-uh").

Wikipedia defines this term as:
  • "a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes."
  • For example, a cat says "meow," and a horn says "toot" (my kids seem to think that particular one is hilarious!).
Not only is the word onomatopoeia fun for kids to learn to say, but also what the term means is fun to say too! Preschoolers take a particular liking to making silly noises, and reading books with silly sounds, such as:

What I suggest is that next time you read a book similar to these ones, teach your child about the term onomatopoeia and what it means.  They will love the fact that they know many words that fall into this category, and also will love telling their friends and family the new "big word" they can say!

Disclosure: None.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Must Have Book-Making Words

If you were to go into any teacher's classroom at my school, you would likely find the Making Words Book by Patricia Cunning.  I first discovered this book while in my credential program at San Diego State University, though I did not realize it's full potential until I became a Reading Specialist.

This book gives you activites to use with students in grades (K-3, though I have used it up to 6th with struggling readers) to help build their phonics and spelling skills.  There are no other additional products you need to buy, you simply create them yourself.  If your child is an early reader or a fluent reader with some difficulty spelling or deciphering new words, then this is the book for you.  It helps your child learn to build words by pieces and helps them to see the connection between short base words and words with prefixes and suffixes.  This book also comes in

Disclosure: None.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Use Flashcards A New Way

When you hear the words "Flash Cards," you probably groan out loud.  I know I still do.  That is most likely because you grew up putting all types of things on flash cards and studied them with the "drill and kill method" (emphasis on the 'kill' part)!  Well, I like to use flash cards with my students in different ways:
  • Play the Memory Game: make 2 cards for everything you are focusing on (ie: sight words).  Lay them face down in a random order and play the memory game. Winner is the person to get the most matches.
  • Play "Smack It!"  I made this one up, and my students just love it.  Put your flash cards face up on the floor and give each player a fly swatter.  Shout out a word on a card and the first person to smack it gets a point (or you can remove the card to make it easier).
  • Play Word Detective.  Assign each student a word card (or a few if older players).  This game works best with sight words (aka: high frequency words).  Have each detective find the word somewhere in the room.  This game works great in a classroom or written word enriched environment.  If you are playing at home you can open up books and lay them on the floor and have the detectives find them that way.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Sing BINGO To Remember Names

In our house I help my kids learn how to remember names by singing the song B-I-N-G-O.  Of course this works best with 5 letter words, but can be adapted to work with others as well.  My son and daughter both have 5 letters in their names and we used this song to teach them at an early age (2.5) how to spell their names.  My youngest son has 4 letters in his name and we just sang the song by spelling his name and then adding in his name for the 5th letter (which works well since it is one syllable).

Other names that worked well for us:
  • Nonna (the kid's grandmother)
  • Poppa (kid's grandfather)
  • Daddy
  • Mommy
  • Brody (our dog)
  • Happy
  • Silly
  • Crazy
  • Clock
  • Dance
You can sing this song by using just the chorus, or for more fun add in your child's name:
  • "There was a Peter who had a word and Nonna was the word-o. N-O-N-N-A, N-O-N-N-A, N-O-N-N-A, and that's how you spell Nonna!"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Constant Exposure To Print

The more your child is exposed to print the more she will take it in.  I suggest doing a room make over and placing print all over the walls.  One great way is to get some wall decals for your child's room.

I love these ones on ETSY:
-For Preschoolers who are just learning letters:
  • This alphabet tree from Decalsmurals on ETSY is really cute and would help with letter recognition.

-For more advanced readers who can build their own words:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Writing Practice For Preschoolers

One of the best ways to help your preschooler learn to write his name is to practice, practice, practice! Yes, it might be the best way, but you can make it more interesting.

I like to have LoLo (4) draw a picture and below it I write a story that he tells me about his picture.  I write the words in print on the lines in a yellow highlighter, then his job is to go back and trace over each of the letters.  Since he is still new to writing, I keep it to 2 sentences maximum.  I hang his artwork in our dining room so everyone who comes over for dinner can see it.

TIP: Make sure you are using the same font that your child is used to seeing in the classroom (or will be seeing). Some schools use ball-and-stick (letters made up of balls, sticks, and hooks), and some use D'Nealian (such as a fancy "a" and "t"-as shown in the font I am using now).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Incorporate Cloze Activities Everywhere

Cloze activities are defined by Wikipedia as:
  • "A cloze test (also cloze deletion test) is an exercise, test, or assessment consisting of a portion of text with certain words removed (cloze text), where the participant is asked to replace the missing words. Cloze tests require the ability to understand context and vocabulary in order to identify the correct words or type of words that belong in the deleted passages of a text. This exercise is commonly administered for the assessment of native and second language learning and instruction."
I suggest that you implement the strategies of a Cloze test within various activities you do with your child throughout the day to promote their ability to build context and vocabulary while reading. 

Here are some suggestions on how and when to do this:
  • As you read a book out loud at night, leave out a word and have the child fill it in.  I love to do this with Dr. Seuss books in which I leave out a rhyming word and have my kids guess it based on the pictures (make sure you choose a word that is obvious).
  • Sing a familiar song in the car and leave out a word.  Have your child shout the word that is missing.
  • Say a nursery rhyme and leave off a rhyming word.  Have your child say the missing word.
  • Take a familiar picture book and cover up a word with a post-it note.  Have your child say the missing word and check his answer by removing the post-it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Correct Way To Write Your Name

The title of this post may sound a little odd to you.  After all, you know that a name should be written with a capital first letter and lowercase for all of the following letters-but does your preschooler?

As your child begins to show an interest in writing her name, it is very important to have her learn that it should start with a capital letter only.  Many preschoolers like to write all of their letters in capitals; however, as a reading specialist I strongly discourage this.  When your child begins to develop an understanding that written symbols are words, and that words have meanings, they will come across many words that have capitals at the beginning-but NOT those that have all capitals!  Furthermore, your child probably already recognizes their name in print, and it does not have all capitals either (at least it should not).

Reading and writing are very much so inter-related, and thus should mirror each other.  I always suggest to teachers that they help to teach their students how to correctly write their names with only one capital at the beginning followed by lowercase letters.

HINT: If you have a preschooler who does write her name all in capitals, now is the time to work on correcting this behavior before she starts reading.  Have her find the letters in her name in magazines and cut them out and paste them in order (but the trick is to only find the first letter as a capital).  I often find many different L's for my son and have him choose the correct one to use for his name (only one is capital).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Today's Reading Tip: Benefits Of Using Your Finger While Reading Aloud

Today's reading tip comes from a question I received regarding using your finger while reading aloud to your child. 

You all probably already know many of the benefits that come from reading aloud to your child (phonemic awareness development, fluency development, etc), but did you know that using your finger to point to words as you read also has big benefits? 

When you read to your child at night, do you show him the pictures? Of course you do! One reason to do that is so he can tell what the story is about even if he does not understand all of the words you are reading.  Now that your child is beginning to understand that words on a page mean something as well, you should be pointing them out too-and I do mean that literally.  By pointing to the words on the page as you read them, you are teaching your child one-to-one correspondence.  This skill will help him develop an understanding that each word has a meaning, and that every word is made up of a series of sounds (or phonemes).  This understanding is an important concept to master in order to begin reading independently.

HINT: DO NOT point to each word with a sharp movement under the word.  Instead, slide your finger along under the words as you read.  Children who adopt this movement themselves when reading are more likely to read faster and more fluently!

New Series: Today's Reading Tip!

Today I will be launching my new series "Today's Reading Tips!"  This series will send a new tip everyday (M-F) to help you teach your child how to read.

From tips on how to teach sight words, to tips on segmenting and blending, I will cover it all. 

Please make sure you follow me via email so you will get all the latest tips straight to your inbox when they are posted!

Let me know if there is something specific you would like covered.