CLAMDIGGERS’ Summer Literacy Enrichment Collection is a HUGE combination of my Product Units, Resources from my Resource Library, and Freebies guaranteed to engage your youngster(s) with lots of entertaining activities and projects ~ involving LOTS of too-busy-to-be-bored time….
But, before I begin & you read on, let me share some things my many Summers with Kids of various ages taught me:
a DAILY routine is a SANITY ~ SAVER for you & the kids
Outdoor time EVERY DAY is a MUST, especially if it’s water-related
Multiple opportunities for arts, crafts & projects is a NECESSITY
Click on this link for some wonderful website helpers:
If you need something more organized and day-to-day, I’ve created Celebration Calendars for June, July & August. This project-unit consists of a monthly-themed activity list and a daily celebration list with over 65 specific activities. Recipes & Activity Sheets are , also, included. Here’s the TpT link:
Read on for Social Studies, Geography & History Resources & Activities are coming up next….
Studying Our World
If you’re not barefoot, then, you’re overdressed. ~Unknown
Studying Our World ~ to me, anyway ~ is ABSOLUTELY fascinating. If your youngster (or three) loves finding out how the civilizations of Our World have affected us today, I have a few drops in that bucket to hold his/her (their) interest.
The categories I’ve listed, of course, have cross-over elements and events.
If your youngster(s) need a little boost in Reading & Writing this Summer, keep reading for LOTS of Resources, Product Units & Freebies. Your Home-School efforts just got a little easier !
Your Home-School Summer School
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it in summer school. ~ Josh Stern
My son, a smart as he is, was NOT an avid reader `like his mom, the school teacher. However, during the Summer Vacation months, a 30 minute DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time was NOT an option. He chose when to spend those reading minutes during the daylight hours. Hottest time, preferably….
So, if you need some Home-Summer-School action and need some additional assistance, I’ve got some support for you & yours.
Hope these tips, ideas & resources help to make your Home Summer School a success!
And make sure you take some “do nothing” time ~ it’s important….
Taking Some “Do Nothing” Time
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~ Sam Keen
On August 11, 2017, Parent Co. published an article on their site entitled, “Why the Lazy Days of Summer Are Actually the Most Memorable for Kids”.
Podcast host/writer Shauna Niequist & writer Tish Oxenreider traveled extensively with their children. When they asked them to cite the most memorable events of the vacations, the extraordinary was not expressed. What was shared were the ordinary things like “swimming in the hotel pool, wandering through fields, playing with new friends, and eating”.
Consequently, both moms came to the same conclusion ~”When everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.” Their children remembered everyday, ordinary events when they had their parents’ undivided attention.
“Uh huh”….. I mused. So, I created a little 18-page Freebie with Lots of Together activities and a Scrapbook template for capturing, recording, and keeping those Summer Memory Makers.
Hopefully, this CLAMDiggers Summer Literacy Enrichment Collection of Resources , Product Units & Freebies will keep you & yours engaged all Summer long with its new ideas for your Family Literacy Circle.
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If you become a bird and fly away from me, I will be a tree that you come home to. ~ from The Runaway Bunnyby Margaret Wise Brown
I’m sure you’re noticing A LOT of changes in your 8~11 year-old child….oops..I mean, young girl/boy…
In my experience with this age group, I discovered these children to be immersed in what I call “The Golden Age of Learning”.
Their Literacy independence is inspiring them to explore a plethora of adventures in an imaginative and creative way. They are able to locate the answers to SO MANY of the questions they continually ask every day. And are SO VERY delighted to be able to do so!
Their Problem Solving skills as well as Task Completion rate are increasing with accuracy….most of the time.
If you haven’t done so already, dear Reader, NOW is the time to UP YOUR GAME for your Upper Elementary child’s Literacy!!!
Your Upper Elementary Child’s Literacy
I’m sure you’re SO over hearing “I’m NOT a CHILD anymore!” (note the correction in the Intro….), especially when supervision is a must.
Family Time is becoming…..rare, unless, of course, a few of “my friends” can be included…. Just how many extracurricular activities can one person participate in !?!?
I will tell you, though, those clubs, classes and sports will be a GOOD thing in the coming years….Seriously~keep the meter running.
Oh, and Hobbies & Collections are DEFINITELY a MUST for elevating your Upper Elementary child’s Literacy. Here are a few categories:
Visual Arts, like painting, sculpting, drawing
Crafts (several), like scrap-booking, sewing, cooking, etc.
Performing Arts, like acting, singing, dancing, etc.
Musical Instruments, like piano, guitar, trumpet, etc.
Sports: Team & Solo, like soccer, baseball, tennis, track, skating, martial arts, etc.
Camping Excursions, like scouting, nature hikes, etc.
Gardening, like veggies, fruits, herbs, flowers, landscaping, etc.
Building Sets, like Legos, Lincoln logs, etc.
Model Kits, like ships, airplanes, cars, rockets, etc.
Board Games, especially ones that involve mystery & strategy.
Need more ideas ? BLB’s Library has a few Resources for you. Just click on these links:
Not only is your 8~11 year-old digging deep into how things work, they are, also, developing quite a passion for the world beyond their family and surrounding community.
WOW! It’s A Great Big World Out There!
Your child’s interest in reading about exciting adventure, fantasies, and science fiction’s future feeds his/her daydreams. Seeking other places, cultures, and, yes, even worlds influences daily thoughts and ideas.
Having the tools of independent research allows her/him to travel into the far-reaching realms of imagination and creativity.
Don’t be surprised if s/he wants to learn a few more languages along the way….
Language’s listening and talking are taking on a whole new perspective within your 8~11 year-old’s communication skills.
Well, You Won’t Believe What Happened Next….
You may have to “listen in” to conversations between your youngster and her/his friends to hear the substantial amount of new vocabulary being included in the day-to-day dialogues.
And they’re not just everyday words either….
S/he is learning how to say exactly what s/he wants/means to say. Communication, especially between peers, is becoming more and more important.
The phone, if you are permitting one, is a new “appendage”…
You’ll, also, notice a keener sense of humor is emerging. There is, also, an appreciation for solving riddles and a more sophisticated involvement in word play. S/he is very entertained/ing with his/her clever, sly Language skills.
BLB’s Library has a Resource for encouraging your child’s “funny bones”:
So, “Where is all this ‘sophistication’ coming from?” you wonder….
Common Core’s Ongoing Language Expectations
Beginning in Third Grade and continuing throughout each grade level, s/he is expected to “demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking”.
Here’s a general list of the sentence structures s/he is expected to understand, form and utilize with accuracy:
Explain what a noun, verb, adjective and adverb is and how they are used in a sentence
Form sentences with accurate subject-verb agreement
Can form & speak simple, compound & complex sentences
Specifically, there are expectations for forming & using the different parts of speech as well:
regular & irregular plural nouns
regular & irregular verbs
simple verb tenses
comparative & superlative adjectives and adverbs
Many of these expectations are modeled and taught during reading instruction. Remember~ your child’s independent level of Reading is not only contributing to the amount s/he chooses to read, but, also, the escalating amount of fiction and nonfiction texts s/he is experiencing in the classroom.
I Am Reading to Learn
Today a Reader, tomorrow a Leader.~Margaret Fuller
Even though your upper elementary child’s literacy level may enable her/him to read independently, you can continue to ensure her/his comprehension of the text by listening to him/her read aloud and using the following strategies:
Ensure the content is not only appropriate for his/her maturity level, but, also, her/his actual reading level.
Encourage a Pre-Read for background knowledge, vocabulary understanding & interest level.
Confirm the content of fictional reads has a predictable Beginning, Middle & Ending structure with one Main Problem/Conflict.
Make sure the content of nonfictional reads has a predictable & supported Main topic.
Periodically, ask questions about the read and/or have her/him retell what was just read.
If you want to wait until after s/he has finished reading the chapter or slim book, here are some comprehensions questions to ask:
What happened in the Beginning of the story? (listen for Important Details)
Middle? Ending? (again, listen for Important Details to be included during the Retell)
Did the story remind you of anything or anyone? (his/her response should be a “Yes, it made me think about….”)
What is the Setting of the story? (characters, place & time)
What was the Main Problem, or Conflict in the story & how did it get Solved? (several solution attempts may be made before the actual success of one)
Using these comprehension strategies verbally or in a Reading Response Journal will continue to strengthen your Upper Elementary child’s Literacy.
Is your child a “Good” Reader?
“Good” Reader Strategies
Yes, reading for pleasure is VERY important. However, Your Independent Reader needs to read for accuracy so s/he is learning as s/he reads.
Look at the Book Cover & Title
Do a Picture Walk & scan some of the Text
Ask Who did What, When, Where, Why & How.
Ask if the text is making sense & supporting the Main Idea.
Wonder about what you think will happen in the story.
Make some predictions and, then, read to find out how accurate your predictions were.
Think about how some of the Important Details are meaningful to the story.
Use those Details to help you define the Author’s Purpose for telling the story.
Relate the story to your thoughts, feelings and what you know.
Compare/Contrast the story to other stories you’ve read or heard as well as the world around you.
Organize/Sequence the Main Details of the story.
Draw Conclusions about those Important Details.
Once you have finished reading the story, decide what you learned from the text.
Then, decide if what you read was important to you & if you enjoyed reading it.
And, what is your Independent Reader reading?
Your Child’s Reading Interest Levels
You can continue elevating your upper elementary child’s Literacy by making sure s/he has access to a wide ~ and I mean WIDE~ variety of fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, newspapers & how-to project books.
Books about historic, modern, and futuristic adventures with humor, excitement, mystery and the “unexpected” are definitely reads to pique his/her interests.
Here’s a great link with Book Ideas for your Independent, Upper Elementary Reader:
This is Part 4 of the Family Literacy Circle’s Five ~ Part Kindergarten Series
This post’s main focus is on developing & engaging the Reading Skills of your 5-year-old, Part One of this Series ~ Your Kindergartner’s Language Skills ~ offers key content regarding the growth & development of your child’s Phonological Awareness Skills, which is a major component for pre-reading skills. You can read the Language post by clicking on the link below:
ACT FOUR : Encouraging Your Kindergartner’s Reading Skills
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~ Richard Steele
As I stated in the first few sentences, your child’s oral language skills in both understanding, or receptive, and speaking, or expressive, is beginning to extend into the written language of reading. Rhyming words play a big part in this progression. I put together a 50-word rhyming list for you & yours. Click on the PDF link below:
Understanding a variety of letters in words represent a variety of sounds helps your child comprehend the purpose of the written language in stories & books.
Environmental print has given her/him clues for several years now. Still working on matching uppercase letters to lowercase letters? Here’s a PDF Literacy Game for learning that skill. Click on the link below:
This specific understanding is how s/he learns how to “sound out” letters and “smush” them into printed words ~ READING!!!!! It is such an exciting accomplishment for your child and kudos to you, their First teacher, who has been the springboard of this New World!!
WOW ! How Did I Do That?!?
Reading with your child since the beginning of his/her life ~ maybe in utero? ~ has provided a great many stepping-stones onto the path of learning how to be an independent reader. Here are just a few of the lessons taught by example that your child has learned through your patient, gentle, fun & interactive persistence:
Books have a title, author & illustrator.
Books are read from left to right & top to bottom.
Stories have a beginning, middle & ending.
Some stories are make-believe, or fiction & some stories are real-life, or non-fiction.
Words in stories are made up of letters & sounds, some of which your child may be able to identify.
S/he loves to retell some favorite stories.
S/he wants to “read” picture books from memory.
S/he might be able to recognize some words by sight.
However, learning to read is not a natural skill. Our five senses can help, but the brain does not have a “reading area”.
Reading & The Brain
Jan Bernard@dragonsdencurriculum.blogspot.com has some suggestions for brain-based reading instruction in her blog post: “Seven Ways to Use the Brain to Make Reading Easier”.
National Reading Panel
Research supports that good phonics development is critical to effective reading. Playing with words, knowing the sounds of letters, and manipulating these sounds are the foundation skills of understanding print.
Using memories and personal life experiences to relate with the text increases the comprehension of the text being read.
Engaging your reader in hands-on activities centered around the read gives him/her time to process the content and discover meaning within it.
Teaching several points instead of many will ensure your reader is understanding the content s/he is reading.
Fun & Movement
Making the lesson entertaining and providing opportunities for physical change, such as group work, partner activities and/or games helps the brain retain information.
Turn & Talk, group discussions, and student-teaches are all effective ways to engage readers when learning the content.
These ideas, also, promote Critical Thinking skills.
What Are Critical Thinking Skills?
Asking “what if” & “why” questions are great ways to encourage and inspire expansive, creative thinking. For example, what if you found a dragon’s egg? What if you found a genie in a lamp? What if a neighbor of the 3 Bears knocked on the door while Goldilocks was there?
You may already ask “big thinking” questions during a read with your child. Heidi Butkus @ heidisongs does a nice job of presenting how to engage critical thinking in young children.
Some of the beginning interactive questions are:
Connecting Text to Self : Has anything like _________ ever happened to you or someone you know?
Compare & Contrast: How are _______&_______the same? How are they different?
Form an Opinion: How did you feel when________?
Evaluate: Do you think __________was a good or bad idea?
Prediction: What do you think will happen next?
The next set of questions are a bit more “thought-provoking”.
Cause & Effect: Because ________began, ___________is what happened next.
Hypothesize: Since__________is always happening, __________is probably why it happens.
Develop a Logical Argument: I think___________is true/not true, because_____________and____________.
Infer: What is happening and why?
Draw a Conclusion: What do you think about the WHOLE story?
How about using these questions with a story you’ve read to your child a few hundred times, like…….?
Critically Thinking About Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
This author & illustrator of numerous award-winning books has created many well-loved picture books as well as a “cast” of mice characters for his mouse stories collection. I’m sure you’ve heard of Owen, Julius, Chrysanthemum & Sheila Rae. Chester & Wilson, two of the main mice in Chester’s Way, like to do things a certain way everyday, until Lily moves into the neighborhood with her own way of doing things every day…..
Connecting Text to Self : Do you like to do some things the same way every time you do it?
Compare & Contrast: How are Chester / Wilson & Lily the same? How are they different?
Form an Opinion: How did you feel when the older mouse boys circled Chester & Wilson ?
Evaluate: Do you think Lily squirting those boys away was a good or bad idea?
Prediction: What do you think will happen when Victor moves into the neighborhood?
Cause & Effect: Because Lily “squirted” those big boy mice way, ___________is what happened next.
Hypothesize: Since Chester & Wilson are always playing together, __________is probably why it happens.
Develop a Logical Argument: I think Victor will/will not become friends with them because_____________and____________.
Infer: Although Chester & Wilson enjoy doing things differently from Lily, they still enjoy her differences because____________? Will they feel the same way about Victor?
Draw a Conclusion: What do you think about the WHOLE story?
Are you and/or your child Visual Learners/Teachers? Check out your “Style” in the FLC post: Choosing A School for Your Kindergartner: Learning & Teaching Stylesby clicking on the link below:
Certain common concepts can be woven throughout a story. Does your 5-year-old understand near/far, same/different, through/over/under? Here’s a PDF checklist to help review positional & directional words.
Understanding, using, and applying Time concepts continues to be developmental since the “language of time” is such an abstract idea. Emphasizing words such as soon, later, early, yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week, morning, noon and evening when doing concrete activities will help to give meaning to these ideas. Even my Third Graders struggled with defining “when” in the Setting story element.
BLB Shop has a Calendar Kit you can use as a daily activity lesson at home. You can view it by clicking on the link below:
The expectations for Kindergartners has changed A LOT within the last 15 years. Previously, objectives revolved around interactive, hands-on learning centers, like blocks, kitchen, painting, etc. Currently, those are preK objectives with Kindergartners expected to be emerging readers, writers & math problem solvers. Here’s a list of pre-reading skills your 5-year-old needs to know when ENTERING Kindergarten.
Beginnings : A Book Tells A Story
If you & yours are a family of readers, these book skills are already in place:
Books have parts: front & back covers with a title page.
Books are held safely & pages are turned from left to right.
Books’ words are read from left to right & top to bottom.
Groups of letters can make words.
There are spaces in between complete words.
A sentence is a group of words “strung” together with different ending marks that are not letters.
Letters & words on a book’s page are spoken with meaning & messages.
You have taught these skills by:
Making read-alouds a routine part of each day
Promoting the above skills & concepts each time a book is read
Finger-pointing the words as you read.
Helping your child become aware of environmental print, such as building & road signs, food labels, billboards, etc
Reading interactively with your child by asking questions, making connections, explaining unknown words, & having her/him retell the story
Identifying story elements, such as beginning, middle & end; characters & setting; main idea & details; problems & solutions
During your child’s Kindergarten year, s/he will learn many more specifics about books being read.
Kindergarten & Book Growth
Your child’s “book knowledge” will include several new aspects as well as preferences.
As non-fiction books become a more important tool when teaching curriculum objectives, s/he will learn about the Table of Contents, a glossary & an index. Engaging in longer discussions as content is being shared will, also, be part of your child’s growing knowledge within books.
Having extensive libraries in the classroom & as a media center available to your 5-year-old will provide opportunities for growing interests in specific authors, fiction verses non-fiction, and entertainment independence.
The attention span of your young listener will expand into chapter books, more in-depth discussions & responses, and greater comprehension of specific content details.
You will notice your child pointing to words as s/he “reads”. This strong characteristic shows a progression from his/her Phonological Awareness to Phonemic Awareness ~ yes, READING!!!!
What Are Phonemic Awareness Skills ?
S0, is your child ready to master the Phonemic Awareness Skills? This set of skills includes your child’s ability to hear, identify & manipulate the sounds letters make.
BLB Shop has two games ready to help your child learn these powerful reading skills. S Says SSSSSS has Beginning Letter & Sound Games. M Says MMMM has games for learning the Ending Letter & its Sound.Just click on the links below to access a view:
Let us read and let us dance ~ two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. ~ Voltaire
Throughout the years you have read countless books countless times. Your little pupil wants to read how you have been reading to him/her for the past 5 years. You have probably noticed how dear this time is with your loved one, even if s/he is squirmy. Benefits of read-alouds are: sharing quality time, especially at night; being a book resource for sharing different stories; thinking together; and getting an insider view into your child’s interests, humor & comprehension.
There are a few Read-Aloud Tips, courtesy of readingeggs.com, heatherhaupt.com & I to further your modeling/teaching tools when reading aloud to your young listener.
Make time to read interactively every day without distractions.
Choose well-written & beautifully illustrated books (not too easy/difficult) with your child’s interests in mind without a lot of dialogue.
Be ready to read favorite books again & again & again because your child is learning sounds and words through repetition.
Try to read using lots of expression & animation without imposing your own thoughts onto your child.
Opt for books related to your child’s current learning experiences.
Finish a book once you have started it unless you discover your child is not engaged in the story/subject.
The Complex Worth of Simple Wordless Picture Books
Their amazing, detailed illustrations offer numerous opportunities for imaginative & creative thinking. Not only do they emphasize the power of illustration, but they, also, encourage verbal & vocabulary skills, promote point of view recognition, and develop your child’s confidence as s/he “tells” the story.
Spend some time asking comprehension questions about the Story Elements:
Setting – place, time, unusual/familiar, things to do
Characters – thinking, feelings, desires/needs
Plot – problems/solutions
Predictions – next, opinions, choices
Lessons – themes, if/then, symbols
As a Family Literacy Circle activity, have each family member and/or friend , choose a page to tell the story and, then, pass the book to the next person.
Need some Wordless Picture Book ideas for your older “reader”? Check out More Wonderful Wordless Picture Books for Readers, Ages 5-8 in BLB’s Resource Library. Just click on the link below:
The greatest good you can do for another is not to share your riches, but to reveal to him/her his/her own. ~ Disraeli
Your 5-year-old is becoming aware of book type diversity. S/he knows the difference between real & make-believe stories. S/he realizes some made-up stories that could really happen, or realistic fiction. Some books are all about facts, or nonfiction. Some are ABC books & some are song books.
Making sure your child has immediate access to books -everywhere at home- s/he enjoys will encourage lots of reading. Bring books on car trips, the store & visits. Hand him/her a book instead of a device. Ask teachers, librarians & other parents for book suggestions.
Create an “I Am A Reader” poster together to hang up in his/her room. Or use the one I created for you to make with your budding reader. Just click, download & print on the link below:
Before beginning to teach someone to read, it is important to administer a Reading Inventory. Throughout my decades as an educator, I have given a wide variety of assessments. Click on the Reading Rockets link below for an example:
My successful tried & true method of teaching a child -who wants to learn how to read- how to read consists of 5 major elements:
a solid Sight Words, or High Frequency Words base
a strong, developmental phonics program
an ongoing receptive & expressive vocabulary list
a reliable group of comprehension strategies for fiction & nonfiction reads
a daily opportunity for reading aloud to improve fluency
You can work with your child’s teacher to assist in your child’s reading progression. S/he will know specifically in which of these 5 areas your beginning reader needs more practice.
Otherwise, continue reading interactively with your child every day.
HELP!!!! My Child Is A NON-Reader!
If a child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in a way the child learns. ~ Rita Dunn
Your bright, energetic 5-year-old has waited all summer to enter the exciting new world of Kindergarten with all of his/her friends. New clothes, shoes & a cheerful lunchbox have been carefully selected. Lots of colorful school supplies have been purchased & tucked away into his/her new, hand-picked backpack. The first few weeks of school, s/he comes home happy & exhausted. By week 3, s/he is not as thrilled with Kindergarten. S/he is becoming more confused & almost reluctant to go to school…..
During Meet the Teacher night, her/his teacher gently pulls you to the side and quietly urges you to schedule a conference as soon as possible. You swallow back some tears, replying, “Of course…” as the teacher reassures you, “We can work this out together.”
Do I Have a Resource for you!!!!
Just click on this link below for Guiding Your NonReader Into The Reader’s World:
Greetings! You have arrived at Part Four of The FLC First Grader’s Series: Enriching the FLC with Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
Depending on the expectations of your First Grader’s campus, s/he may or may not be reading grade level text.
Most public school systems want their Kindergartners reading at a certain level before going into First Grade. Some private schools feel the same way.
Other schools offer a different approach entirely when preparing a child to read. There are MANY different methods you can try, especially if your child is a reluctant reader.
Reading Rockets cited Understood.org’s article, which listed 11 Methods for teaching reading, especially if your child is struggling with this all-important skill. You can check them out by clicking on the link below:
As a trained Special Education teacher, I used a variety of methods, even when I was teaching in the Gen Ed classroom.
PART FOUR: Enriching Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well:They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. ~ William James
I was, and am, a book eater, I mean reader. I have been devouring books since I was 5 or 6 years old. Not that I didn’t enjoy other recreations as most children do, but reading is a Passion for me. It is one I love to share, especially with children. Teaching a child how to read is one of the most exhilarating things in the world that I can share…..
And like Mr. James says, it’s not just about the actual reading & understanding of the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs & pages. It’s more about the participation in and the inspiration of thoughts, imaginations, inventions, and, yes, “worlds”.
As a child, and now, as an adult, my inquiring nose can usually be found in one of many genres of books.
How I Learned to Read
The other day I read an interesting & nostalgic memory shared by Theresa, a teacher & fellow-lover of reading. She has a site called Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits. While introducing her great nephew’s reading progressions, she, also, offered her ” Becoming A Reader” experiences as a child. Here’s the link to her post:
It sparked some recollections in me as well. My parents were both avid readers. My mother, especially, loved reading to us ~ we, who could sit still long enough, loved it, too. She read patiently, deliberately, interactively, and always with lots of expression. Lots of books, both novels & informative as well as STACKS of comic books were always in our home. Saturday trips to the library (a favorite of mine) were a frequent part of our errands.
And let me be clear……this reader-nurturing environment does NOT guarantee you’ll raise a Book-Lover. Several of my siblings (and my child), bright as they are, had “better things to do than sit around and read a book!”
However, college & life influenced changes in that opinion…….
Reading at my school was taught with the Dick, Jane, Puff & Spot primers (yes, I’m that old) in small reading groups named Bluebirds, Red Robins, etc. ; spelling lists with sentences & book reports~written with oral presentation (YIKES!).
My parents’ expectations & participation with teachers ensured all of their children were reading on or above grade level. No foolishness allowed!
Teaching methods have changes A LOT since then (more on that later), except, of course, within the setting of your child’s First Classroom ~ at home.
My Child Can Read……When S/He HAS TO DO IT
Feel fortunate s/he can read. Promoting ENJOYMENT during the read, especially with a very, physically-active child & the instant gratification of tech EVERYWHERE can be a challenge….
To quote Dr. Frank Serafini, a professor of Literacy Education & Children’s Literature~
There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who haven’t found the right book.
In addition to reading with your child since in utero, having lots of different types of reading material (yes, magazines & comic books count) lying around, visiting the library, and reading yourself (WHEW!!), there are a few other things you can do (as if that’s not enough…). Dr. Tiffani Chen, the author of School Sense & creator of the site edboost.org has some other suggestions (with a few of my ideas thrown in). Just click on the PDF link below:
You know you can always ask your child’s classroom teacher and/or your school’s media specialist for some assistance as well.
well….I Don’t Always Understand What the Teacher’s Reading Terms Mean…
As teachers we get very comfortable with our “environmental language.” Met with the blanks stares of our students usually gives us the visual clues we need to re-state and/or define some of the vocabulary words we educators use constantly all day long.
Do NOT hesitate to ask your child’s teacher to do the same for you. There are quite a few of them, like Fluency, Tracking, High Frequency Words, etc. So, instead of being shy and/or confused during a parent-teacher conference regarding his/he reading progress…..
I created a PDF list of the Literacy terms educators use to define reading elements with explanations for you, written in the sequence I use in my Reading Program. Click on the link below:
Your First Grader has a long, on-going list of Reading Goals to achieve by the end of the year…….
TARGET: Your Child As An Independent Reader
If your child attends a school, public or private, that has adopted the Common Core, you’re probably familiar with the academic objectives & expectations his/her teacher uses to guide instruction.
Although your BIG First Grader continues to enjoy being read to, s/he is becoming more interested in the actual skill of how-to read. Soon, you will be read to by her/him!
His/her listening & speaking language skills are growing at an almost accelerated pace. S/he understands opposite concepts & how things are the same & different. S/he uses adjectives, adverbs & prepositions when expressing thoughts.
LinguiSystems, Inc. compiled a Communication Milestones Guide as a general growth & developmental reference for reading & writing during your child’s year in First Grade.
Beginning of First Grade
Identifies more & more sight words with accuracy
Begins to decode new words with more independence
Uses a variety of reading strategies to increase comprehension
Reads aloud & retells familiar stories easily
End of First Grade
Recognizes 100 sight words
Understands words make up sentences
Reads & comprehends grade level material fluently
Common Core basics for Reading is divided into 3 areas:
Understanding & locating Key Ideas & Details when reading grade level Literature (Fiction) & Informational Text (Nonfiction)
Identifying & explaining the content structure of Literature & Informational Text
Knowing & applying the reading skills of phonological awareness, phonics (spelling), word recognition & fluency
The National PTA has written a downloadable PDF Parents’ Guide to Student Success, which you can access by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for how~my~students~learn~to~read “skeleton” formula……
My “Skeleton” Reading Skills Formula Sequence
Reading a book is like looking through a window. ~ Zetta Hupf
Or the “bare bones”……. in baseball lingo:
The Warm-Up/On Deck
Sight Words & Phrases
The Pitch/In the Box
Silent Read with Vocabulary Search
At Bat/The Swing
In Scoring Position
Student Retell/Key Elements included?
Comprehension Q & A if any missed on the retell
Independent, Hands-on project
Sound like a lot???? Actually it depends on the levels of each reader. After assessment, I use the areas of strength to support & promote the areas that need more stability.
A Quick Beginning
Prepare your emergent reader’s brain with his/her current, leveled Sight Word review. Whether you’re pointing to the word(s) or s/he is handing you known Sight Word cards, this “warm up” activity is a effective way to begin the Reading Circle. Each word should be recognized in seconds without needing to be decoded. I use Dolch’s Sight Words & Phrases. This PDF link includes Sentences as well.
The Curriculum Corner offers reading-leveled Fluency sentences choices, using Fry’s 500 High Frequency Words list as a downloadable PDF. An assessment tracker is included. Here’s the link to this very helpful resource:
The accuracy of words being read is built on your child’s ability to use these 2 skills: decoding & context clues.
What Are Decoding Skills & How Are They Used?
Your child’s Decoding Skills rely heavily on her/his PhonologicalAwarenessSkills. How s/he tries to figure out a new, unknown word during reading depends on what s/he has mastered regarding the letters & their sounds.
Need to know what your child knows in the phonological realm?
An educational site, Heggerty, has created a group of serious, Phonemic Awareness Assessments, complete with how-to-administer instructions. It has downloads for grade levels PreK and above. Just click on the link below to select a downloadable PDF:
I know this sounds like A LOT of prep before getting to the book, but all this groundwork is building confidence in your young reader.
Once you form a “getting ’round to reading” routine, this predictable~prep pattern will become a successful stepping stone your beginning reader expects. S/he, even, looks forward to its repetition & will remind you if you forget something.
Okay…….time for a Picture Walk. This is a confidence & comprehension builder. Your child will actually delight in his/her ability to predict & understand a new story just by carefully studying the pictures. Here’s downloadable PDF guide for Going on A Picture Walk with Your Child: A Pre-Reading Tool :
Onto understanding & defining the Vocabulary element……
Solving the Mystery of Those New Vocabulary Words
A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese Proverb
Many new vocabulary words can be understood using context clues, that is, reading the understood words before & after the unknown word to solve its meaning.
I have found that after the Picture Walk, some readers enjoy reading silently to see if the predictions they made are true.
As another pre-reading strategy for understanding, I make a list of vocabulary words I think may be new & challenging. Of course, a new word in isolation can be difficult to define, but you’d be surprised to learn what your First Grader knows.
A vocabulary word can be heard & correctly understood, spoken with accuracy, and, even, read exactly. Applying, or using the word during writing or as an answer to comprehension questions is another skill altogether.
Organizing words into groups can be an effective way to understand vocabulary words. BLB Shop has a game for learning this Critical Thinking skill. Check it out by clicking on the link below:
Reading a new story is a very exciting activity. Using picture clues & context clues gives your beginning reader the tools s/he need to recognize words accurately, fluently & with understanding.
Decoding Skills play a huge part in the flow and comprehension of the text. Like a mystery, a new, unknown word can be daunting (YIKES!) or challenging (WAIT~I GOT THIS!). There are several ways your young (and older) reader can “attack” and succeed.
And, YES, I created a downloadable PDF Parent Guide for Helping Your Child Use Decoding Skills:
Does your child want to reread the story? How about taking turns, page by page? This activity will reinforce the understanding of the text as well as give you the opportunity to model fluency & expression.
Was S/he Thinking About What S/he Was Reading?
Understanding the question is half the answer. ~ Socrates
WOW! What a beautiful read!
Most emergent readers take great pride in the ability to “read” & decode all the words in a story. However……
Some readers struggle with Thinking While Reading….
Is your child asking questions before, during & after reading the story? If so, YAY! That means s/he is Thinking While Reading.
If s/he has been thinking & understanding what s/he is reading, his/her re-tell of the story should be fairly accurate.
Re-telling the story in a sequence might be a little difficult, so, listen, first. Jumping into the plot, or actions of the story may be where s/he begins.
You can use prompting questions, such as: What happened at the beginning of the story? Then, what happened? Why did that happen? and so on.
Need a little guidance? Here’s a downloadable PDF you can use to help your child understand what s/he is reading:
If you’ve read to the end of this post ~ Thank You! I hope you found some information that was helpful. Your First Grader deserves every opportunity to continue his/her education in the excited way s/he has approached learning this year. Reading is a MAJOR key to his/her success ! Let me know if I can help!
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Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
You may have noticed a BIG difference in your soon-to-become-a-Second-Grader’s speaking, listening & reading skills over the summer.
Not only is s/he listening for the meaning of discussions & conversations, s/he is, also, participating with his/her ideas clearly expressed in complete sentences AND is following multi-step directions with accuracy.
These are some of the “perks” her/his progress with reading comprehension skills : Main Ideas, Details, Sequence.
S/he is very excited about his/her ability to read some text independently.
And, although, s/he wants to transition from an Emergent/Beginning Reader into an Independent Reader, s/he still LOVES your time together reading together, especially those wonderful Chapter Books.
This is Part Four :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Reading Skills
Your Second Grade Reader
The more that you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss
Here’s a brief checklist of other Reading Skills your child is preparing to use in Second Grade. S/he can:
Recognize & understand new words by using phonics & context clues
Use a basic sight & high frequency words vocabulary with accuracy
Speak the beginning, middle & end sounds within a word
Add, omit or change sounds in a word to make a different word
Read & make words in word families
Read some compound words & contractions
Understand & interpret stories or short passages
Answer the 5 Ws & How questions accurately
Retell the Main Idea, Characters, Setting & the Sequence of Events with accuracy
Use a story’s elements to make a plausible prediction
Follow simple, written directions correctly
Your child will continue to develop and extend these skills during Second Grade as well as adding just a “few” more….
How’s your Literacy ~ Rich Home Environment coming along?
From Playroom to Study Nook
Is there a place in your home, near the “library ” bookcase for bean bags & large floor pillows?
If your child has a bookcase in his/her nook, make sure to include other reading materials besides fiction & nonfiction books, like pamphlets, catalogs, comic books, magazines.
You may want to set up a special “display” area for current study materials as well as a calendar/schedule on a cork board.
Include infographics, labeled/captioned posters, and/or maybe an “anchor chart” regarding specific skills ~ your child’s teacher may help with that resource.
Here’s an I AM A READER Poster you can make with your soon-to-be-an-Independent-Reader : I Am A Reader poster
Oh, and a dry erase board with multi-colored dry erase markers is a great tool for planning, vocabulary word of the day, graphic organizers, and, of course, a brain-break doodling session.
Your Home is your child’s first classroom and can continue to provide an on-going Literacy Space. It will encourage and build her/his academic success with Reading accuracy as its foundation.
Second Grade’s Reading Expectations
Reading becomes more complex in its vocabulary within much longer content. The words have more syllables, common prefixes & suffixes, irregular spellings & complex phonetic rules. Synonyms, antonyms, compound words & adjectives are part of word definitions.
The variety of fiction & nonfiction genres as well as poetry types expands into:
Story Structure (beginning, middle & end) with its Elements (Main Idea, Character, Setting, Problem/Solution, Lesson) are explored in greater detail. Emphasis of comprehension can be done by comparing & contrasting similar stories, characters’ response, and cultural definitions. Why the author wrote the story is, also, part of the comprehension discussion.
Nonfictional reading is used for Research Projects with attention given to text features such as labels, caption, diagrams, glossaries, indexes, etc. Click on my previous post for A LOT more info:
So ~ reading at grade-level includes word recognition accuracy at a steady pace with expression. Using Comprehension strategies to locate evidence and self-correction skills are benchmarks for your Second Grade reader.
Here’s a List of the Reading Literacy Terms such as Decoding Skills & Fluency Rate, your child’s teacher will be using during The Conference : Literacy Terms
Let’s Begin At The Beginning
You and your child have been “working” on Word Attack Skills since, really, s/he was in-utero. Letters, sounds & their combos are the building blocks of beginning to read ~ think the hearing & speaking skills of Phonological Awareness to Phonemic Awareness and, now, Phonics ~ the written version.
Second Grade currently introduces more of those Phonetic structures to increase your child’s ability to Decode all those BIG, unknown vocabulary words s/he is experiencing while reading more complex content.
Along with blending 2 or more consonant sounds together at the beginning and/or ending of a word, here are some other graphemes (written letters) & phonemes (spoken sounds), your child will be learning this year:
Consonants Digraphs: ch, sh, th, wh, qu, ng
Hard & Soft c & g
Silent Consonants: wr, kn, lk, mb
Long Vowels: silent e & teams
Vowel Patterns: igh, y
Diphthongs: ou, ow, oo, aw, au, oi, oy
Inflectional Endings: s, es, ies, ves, ed, ing
BLB Shop has TONS of games for teaching some of these specific skills:
Malia Hollowell from Playdough to Plato created & shared several Reading Roadmap “Sheets” for meeting some of readers’ challenges. Among her suggestions are:
Does that sound in the word: Make sense, sound right, look right?
Skip the word & come back to it during the re-read
Stretch out the word slowly; then saying it again fast (kids love this one & it can be very effective)
Make a good guess
Decoding Skills go hand-in-hand with the speed & flow of your child’s reading.
The Ebb & Flow of Fluency
Fluency, or Fluent Reading is the ability to read without stopping to decode words. Decoding occurs in a quick, mental, self-check way.
Speed, Word Recognition Accuracy, Comma Pauses, End Punctuation Inflections, and Expression are all components of Reading Fluency.
Getting stuck can be disruptive to his/her thought process & comprehension, although, it doesn’t always affect understanding.
For example, a child may read the words accurately without stopping in an even pace, but NOT understand anything s/he read. Just as another child may read and decode more slowly, but understands exactly what s/he read.
Finally, I organized my Reading Strategies into a Mini-Poster & Flip Cards Sequence Guide ~ Ready To Read ~ for your Second Grade Reader when solving the “I’m STUCK on this word!” dilemma : Reading Success Sequence
The Vocabulary in the MANY different books s/he is reading this year is GINORMOUS!!!
So, What Books Are on My Second Grader’s Level?
A book is a dream you hold in your hand. ~ Neil Gaiman
Before I get into actual Reading Comprehension Strategies, I thought I’d go on a bit more about the “newer” book genres your child will be sharing with you from the classroom (according to the Second Grade Core Expectations).
Within the Fiction Genre, there is an emphasis on stories created that could happen in real-life, have a historical basis, contain mysteries to be solved as well as inventive futuristic stories and imaginary fantasies. Books & stories about the Creative Arts can be very engaging to your aspiring artists.
Comprehension Skills can be mastered by using a variety of Reading Strategies.
You have been teaching your child many of these during your read-alouds with him/her throughout the years. You did this by:
pointing out specific details & key ideas/facts in the illustrations on the Picture Walk and throughout the story (click on this link for the Parent Guide to the Picture Walk :Going on A Picture Walk)
asking & answering the 5 Ws
defining time & place regarding present, past ,future & fantasy vs reality
retelling the story by including important details, such as the characters, setting & plot (click on this link for the Parent Guide to Tell Me A Story : Tell Me A Story Abt the Story Read)
using descriptive language & lots of expression
explaining new vocabulary words
making personal connections to the story
discussing lessons & morals of the stories
sharing both fiction & nonfiction books
Your child’s teacher uses similar strategies during read-alouds to encourage comprehension.
Guided reading promotes an effective way to teach how-to-understand-the-read strategies during one-on-one time.
Guided Reading Comprehension Strategies
In Second Grade many of the following Story Elements Comprehension Questions are discussed orally with maybe a short prompt or two for written responses.
However, as the year progresses, written responses to these questions begin to occur more frequently. This Comprehension Q & A can help your child understand & answer those questions with accuracy: Primary Rdr’s Comp Q & A
Filling in Graphic Organizers (Click on this Reading Graphic Organizers link: K Rdg Comp GOrgs ) are easy ways to engage your child’s understanding of texts read. Here’s a Comprehension Freebie example using Aesop’s fable ~ “The Crow and the Pitcher” : I Understand the Story
Take a breath ~
Although your Second Grader may feel overwhelmed at certain times, s/he is totally capable of learning all these things AND MORE!!! You and yours have got this!!!
OMG!!!! How Can I Help!?!?!
Now that you’ve taken a deep breath…or several….
Remember, there are several ways you can help your child read and listen to stories with a purpose in mind, which you have probably been doing for years.
Dr. Michael Gurian, a brain scientist, family therapist & author of the book, Nurture the Nature, offers these suggestions:
Engage discovery in nature
Encourage imagination with physical & mental play
Include morals & values in family discussions
Foster positive relationships with peers
Show support of the school environment
There are many DIY Comprehension games you can make together & play with your child to keep learning fun. Here are a few links:
Keep reading anything everywhere with your child everyday and encourage her/him to read to other children. Listen to books on tape while driving. Record your child reading a story. Act out stories.
And… if your child struggles with reading…….
Teaching Your Child to Read WITHOUT Words
For some children Reading is a challenge…..for a number of reasons.
Does your child “freeze” at the sight of words on a page you are not reading?
Wordless Picture Books are not just created for “babies”. They are, also, “written” for older children ~ like me ~ and may be the way to actually engage your child into reading. Really….
They can inspire your child’s creativity & imagination while building reading comprehension skills, vocabulary AND critical thinking.
Nicole Clevenger@playfullearning.net and I have some suggestions for fun activities with Wordless Picture Books:
Use Post It notes to write down thoughts or dialogue of the characters & place them directly on the book pages beside them.
Use Post It notes to write down observations, questions, predictions, and/or inferences about what’s happening in the illustrations.
Ask your child to write a book review that includes the story elements: Main Idea, Characters, Setting, Problem/Solution.
Encourage your child to create a Wordless Picture Book and narrate it as it is being read. Write down those thoughts & attach them to the backs of the illustrations. Hopefully, your child will want to read those words.
I, also, compiled a Wordless Picture Books list for older children:
One more VERY effective Reading Strategy for engaging a Reluctant Reader is Partner, or Paired, Reading ~ usually with a peer, friend or slightly older “mentor”.
I used this reading strategy every year with my struggling readers and found this approach to be highly effective for building confidence, improving reading skills, and encouraging a love for reading ~ for pleasure. A definite Win ~ Win ~ Win !!!
Click on this Reading Rockets link below for more information: