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Chapter 8 Reading for Fun and Learning
 
 

Preschool

Kindergarten contributes a great deal to building the skills and experiences that help children become ready to read.
 

First Grade ETime to Read!

Students arrive in a first-grade class with a wide range of reading abilities. Some children may be reading at third grade level, while others may not yet know all the letters of the alphabet. One of the greatest challenges for first-grade teachers is to see that every child makes progress in literacy development, no matter what his or her starting point.

Regardless of their entry skills, children expect to work at their reading more independently in first grade than in kindergarten. Families, teachers, administrators, and community members all have questions about this important year in children's literacy development.
 

Literacy in the Second and Third Grades

During the summer between first and second grade, many children continue to work toward reading independently. Other students forget (or have never learned) some of the skills taught the year before. The same is true to a lesser degree of the time between second and third grade. At the start of each school year, teachers give a brief review of what was taught last year before starting instruction in more complex patterns and words.

 - What is the focus of a typical second-grade and third-grade literacy curriculum?
 - What do outstanding teachers do to promote literacy in second- and third-grade classrooms?
 - What can families, teachers, and administrators do to promote literacy with second- and third-graders?
 

Teaching Young Children To Read

Teaching young children to read can be easy as long as you make it fun. Most of these projects can be used when the child has already been exposed to and knows the basic sounds of the alphabet.

Flash cards:

Buy or make a series of flash cards.  A pack of multicolored flash cards and permanent markers will do the trick. Divide the cards up and make each color a different topic. For example, green cards can represent family member names like mom, dad, sister or aunt, while yellow cards can be clothes like shirt, skirt or pants.

To get ideas for the flash cards open up your children’s books and look at those words. The library carries a series of Easy Reader, or First Reader books that occasionally have the vocabulary words printed on the front page or two. This can be very helpful. After your students learn the vocabulary from the front of the book then they can get excited about being able to read the book all by themselves.

Help the learners by pointing out the letters on the card and helping with the sounds. Once they have mastered the word without your aid give the flash cards to the students. This helps them to see their progress.

With words like to and for try using them in a sentence so the children learn the difference.

Memory game:

Once the children have mastered a series of flash cards you can then play this game. Use one color of flash cards and cut them in half. Write the word on two of the cut cards. For each of these games use only ten words maximum, otherwise you will have to many cards on the table.

When the children turn over a card they have to say the name of the word and pick another card doing the same. If the cards match and the child can say the word give him/her the set and a reward such as a gummi bear or jelly bean.

Then it is your turn, or another child’s turn. Continue until all the cards have been matched. The winner should receive an extra two gummies.

Flashcard Games and Activities

Note:  It is important to keep in mind that these activities don’t teach reading as such, but do provide sight word practice, and are excellent motivators for giving students an immediate incentive to WANT to learn the words.  They should be carefully balanced with activities which teach the actual skills, and with more meaningful, contextual reading opportunities.

Find Your Partner
This is an excellent, rowdy game which gets even the quiet kids motivated, and gives practice in reading recognition, vocab recall, speaking and listening all at once.  It’s also very effective for encouraging children to help to teach each other.

Make pairs of playing flashcards for your target words.  One card should be the written word, and its pair will be a picture or symbol.  (These could be as simple as words handwritten on pieces of paper, and  some hastily drawn or photocopied pictures.   Numbers and colours are very easy.)  There should be one card for each student in the class.  Start the game by getting all the students to put one hand on the wall and closing their eyes while you chant a rhyme and lay the cards face down on the floor in the middle of the room.  On “GO,Eeach child picks up one card , and begins calling out the word while racing around the room trying to find their partner who will be calling the same word.  When they meet they must hold hands and line up in front of the teacher to have their cards checked and claim their reward.

Keep the cards for the next game which is good for review.

Shopping
Use a few sets of the above pairs cards.  Set up tables at one end of the class. and spread out the picture cards, face up.  Lay the word cards face down  in the middle of the room.  Children playwith a partner, one standing behind the tables as a “shopkeeperE and the other waiting at the other end of the classroom to be the “shopperE  When you say “GOE the shoppers run to the middle, pick up a word, read it, then go to their shopkeeper to ask for the corresponding picture.  They can show the word if they need help to work it out, but are not allowed to pick up the picture card themselves.  When they have a pair, (teacher should be on hand to check) they return to the other end of the room to put the cards in their own pile, then run to pick up another word card.  Play continues until all the cards are collected.  The winner is the team with the most pairs.

Stepping Stones
Make up a couple of sets of words cards using pemanent markers on stone shaped pieces of durable poster-board.  Add to the sets as the children learn new reading words.  These can be used for many activities, such as;

Crocodile Crossing
Using a mat to represent a river, place two lines of stepping stone paths across it, and a “crocodileEsleeping under a chair in the middle.  Sit the children down in two teams on one side of the mat, and tell them a story to set the scene...... “One day, sixteen brave and adventurous little children went for a walk in the jungle.......etc etc..  They came to a river, and living in that river was an enormous, HUNGRY crocodile. “Oh no, how will we get across?Esaid one.  “I know, let’s feed him a ......Esaid another.  So they fed him all their bananas, but he was still hungry.  ELets feed him some.....E said  another...etc etc, until the crocodile was finally full, and went to sleep, with one eye open and one eye closed (because that is how crocodiles always sleep).  Now the children could creep across the river, one by one, on the magic stepping stones.  But, if they accidentally stepped in the water, or didn’t say the right magic words, the crocodile would wake and EAT THEM UP!Elt;/FONT>
The first player from each team steps across the stones, reading the words as they go(with help from a teacher and assistant on either side as neccessary).  When they reach the other side,  they wave and call “Come on!Eto the next player and sit down to wait for the rest of their team.

Children between the ages of four and seven love this kind of imagination game, and will want to play again and again.  You may have to start with a very simple story the first time, to keep their attention and match their language ability. But children love retellings of a familiar story, and with each retelling, the story can grow, and vocabulary expand, as the children know what to expect.  Add in their own names, let them suggest ideas for the story.  The story itself can become a fantastic language teaching tool if their imaginations are captured.  And the interactive part at the end provides the climax.

Bowling
Lay the stones in lines across the floor.  Let the children take turns to “bowl and sayEwith a beanbag “bowling ball.Elt;/FONT>

Musical Stones
Spread the stones on the floor around the class. Play music and when the music stops, the children race to jump on a stone, but must read it to keep their place.

Obstacle Course
Another step and read activity.

Sleeping Giant
Similar to crocodile crossing,and also suitable for developing as a “story-gameEamp;nbsp; The Giant teacher sleeps on the mat in the middle of the class, surrounded by the stepping stone words that the children must steal.  The giant calls a childs name, and tells them one or more words, depending on their level.  The child must run in and take the words before the giant counts down from five and wakes up.

Childrens power of imagination is so great, that this game will be too frightening for some.

Effective games for the very young.

(Yes, we know they don’t need to learn to read at age 2, but unfortunately that is what some of us are contracted to teach...)

Remember that flash cards should be just that; flash!  Used to “flashEa small piece of information.  Little, often, fun.

Hammer Word
Stick four to six flashcards (simple word with picture cards are best), on the wall.  Give the child a plastic squeaky hammer and let them run and bang it on the word you say.  Play it as a train game, an obstacle course, with music etc, to add variation.

Nursery Rhyme and Party Games
Many nursery rhymes and games can be adapted for flashcard practice.  Examples are “London BridgeEand “Musical ChairsE  Discover inventive ways to work the flashcard drills into the game, so the little ones see it as part of the fun rather than a chore.
 

Colour game:

For this you should take a package of markers and color in a box for each color on the left hand side of a plain piece of paper. On the right hand side of the paper write the words of colors but not in the same order as the colors appear on the left. Let the child draw lines to match the color word with the color.

You can also do this for words like rat, cat, bat, if you can draw halfway decent.

Numbers & Counting:

If your students do not know what the numbers look like in written form do this project. Take your index cards and on one side write out the number for example: three. On the opposite side draw three Circles, dots or stars. If the children cannot remember the word simply turn the card over and let them to count out the dots.

Reading:

If you have started using index cards to teach your students and they know some words then do this while you are reading. As you read, stop at any words the children know and point to it. If one of them remember and say the word, tell that child how wonderful it is that he/she is helping YOU to read. If no one recalls the word then sound it out with the class.

If a word is used several times, such as a color or name, you can teach that word and tell the class to memorize it. Every time you run across that word point to it. This works well with one to two new words each time you read a book.

NOTE:
If your young students have a problem keeping their attention on your reading or on the flash cards, it is possible that they are not yet ready to read. Children mature at different rates and until they are ready do not force reading (or any other activity) on them. You may want to 'ease them into it' by selecting more interesting or shorter things to read.
 

Reading Ability

Reading ability doesn't grow in a steady, predictable sort of way. Some young grade-schoolers, including those who are dyslexic, get hung up on phonics, or sounding out words. Although some educators believe that phonics is sufficiently important to be taught by itself, reading can be extremely frustrating if a child becomes preoccupied just with letters and sounds and loses sight of the story. Teachers of slow readers can help by encouraging parents to have their children read aloud and by working with the teacher on specific ways to encourage reading skills.

For example, reading patterned-language books, such as The Napping House (Harcourt Brace) by Audrey Wood and Don Wood, is an effective way to cope with this problem, since their distinctive rhythms, rhymes, and refrains draw young readers into the narrative. Themes and subjects that are close to your child's experiences can also help channel his attention to the overall story rather than only to the sounds of individual words. You might even write down a story he made up and have him read that.

The more a child connects to what he reads, the stronger his understanding of the content. So after reading together you might say, "This book reminds me of when we had that big snowstorm. Does it remind you of something?" Ask at key points in the story, "What do you think is going to happen next?" Another way your child might be drawn into a book is through an audiocassette, video, or movie version.

Reading problems will be compounded in ESL readers as they are reading in a second language.  Similarly, books that are appropriate to native English-speaking children may be too difficult for ESL students of the same age.  AS these ESL learners progress, most of them will catch up.

By about age 9 native speaking children begin to read short novels that tell longer and more complex stories than those in picture books. Series books are especially popular at this age, and that's fine. But you'll also want to read challenging, discussion-generating individual novels to your child, such as Shiloh (Yearling Books) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor or Hatchet (Simon & Schuster) by Gary Paulsen. Children who bond with their parents through books grow to view reading as one of life's great pleasures, to be shared with those they love all their lives.
 

Reading Aloud - The Single Most Important Activity

In the landmark 1986 review Becoming a Nation of Readers, the U. S. Commission on Reading, called reading aloud to children "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading."

The best time to begin reading books with children is when they are infants—babies as young as six weeks old enjoy being read to and looking at pictures. By age two or three, children begin to develop an awareness of printed letters and words. They see adults around them reading, writing, and using printed words for many purposes. Toddlers and preschoolers are especially ready to learn from adults reading to and with them.

Reading aloud to young children is important because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need to succeed in school and life, such as:

 - Knowledge of printed letters and words and the relationship between sound and print.
 - The meaning of many words.
 - How books work and a variety of writing styles.
 - The world in which they live.
 - The difference between written language and everyday conversation.
 - The pleasure of reading.
 - Helps to model reading strategies.
 - Models the enjoyment and practical use of printed material.
 

Suggestions for reading aloud to children

 - Make reading books an enjoyable experience.
 - Choose a comfortable place where the children can sit near you.
 - Help them feel safe and secure.
 - Be enthusiastic about reading.
 - Show the children that reading is an interesting and rewarding activity.
 - When children enjoy being read to, they will grow to love books and be eager to learn to read.
 - Read to children frequently. Read to the children in your care several times a day.  - Establish regular times for reading during the day, and find other opportunities to read:
o Start or end the day with a book.
o Read to children after a morning play period which also helps settle them down.
o Read to them during snack time or before nap time.
 - Help children to learn as you read. Offer explanations, make observations, and help the children to notice new information. Explain words that they may not know.
 - Point out how the pictures in a book relate to the story. If the story takes place in an historic era or in an unfamiliar place, give children some background information so that they will better understand and enjoy the story.
 - Talk about the characters' actions and feelings.
 - Find ways to compare the book that you are reading with what the children have been doing in the classroom.
 - Ask children questions as you read. Ask questions that help children connect the story with their own lives or that help them to compare the book with other books that they have read. Ask questions that help the children to notice what is in the book and ask them to predict what happens next.
 

Teaching ideas:

 - This story is about Gregory, a little goat that didn't like to eat what his parents thought he should. Do you feel this way sometimes?
 - Does this book remind you of any other books we've read? Yes, we’ve read other books about Clifford, the big red dog. Do you remember Clifford? What do you remember about him?
 - What is similar about Gregory and Clifford? What is different?

Encourage children to talk about the book

Have a conversation with the children about the book you are reading. Answer their questions. Welcome their observations, and add to what they say. Continue to talk about the book after you have read it. Invite the children to comment on the story. Ask them to talk about their favorite parts and encourage them to tell the story in their own words.

Teaching ideas:

 - Why do you think Max asked his grandmother if he could play outside? Could it be because he wanted to throw a ball? Sometimes it is better to throw balls outside because things could be broken inside. What are some other games that are better to play outside?
 - Yes, that bird in the picture does have a seed in its mouth. It's probably going to eat it.

Read many kinds of books

Children need to be read different kinds of books. Storybooks can help children to learn about times, cultures, and peoples other than their own; stories can help them understand how others think, act, and feel. Informational books can help children learn facts about the world around them. These books also introduce children to important concepts and vocabulary that they will need for success in school.

Read books that relate to the children's backgrounds: their experiences, cultures, languages and interests. Read books with characters and situations both similar and dissimilar to those in the children's lives so they can learn about the world.

Choose books to help you teach

Use alphabet books to help you teach the names of the letters and the sounds that each letter represents and use counting books to teach children how to count and to recognize numbers. Use poetry or rhyming books to support your teaching of phonological awareness. Use big books (oversized books that your children can easily see) to point out letters, words, and other features of print and to teach book handling.

Choose stories that help children learn about social behavior, for example books about friendship to help children learn to share and cooperate. Also choose stories that show children how the world around them works for example, what is happening with the eggs that are hatching in your science area.

Reread favorite books

Children love to hear their favorite books over and over again. Hearing books read several times helps children understand and notice new things. For example, they may figure out what an unfamiliar word means when they have heard the story several times. They may notice repeated sound patterns. If you point out some letters and words as you read the book repeatedly, children also may pick up specific words that are easily recognized and specific letter-sound relationships.
 

Types of Books for Reading Aloud

Alphabet books
Alphabet books usually feature the capital and lowercase forms of a letter on each page and one or more pictures of something that begins with the most common sound that the letter represents.

Counting (or number) books
In these books, each page usually presents one number and shows a corresponding number of items (two monkeys, five dinosaurs, and so forth).

Concept books
These books are designed to teach particular concepts that children need to know in order to succeed in school. Concept books may teach about colors, shapes, sizes (big, little), or opposites (up, down). They may focus on concepts (farm or zoo animals, families around the world, trucks, or places to live).

Nursery rhymes
These books often contain rhymes and repeated verses, which is why they are easy to remember and recite and why they appeal to children.
Repetitious stories and pattern books. In these predictable books, a word or phrase is repeated throughout the story, forming a pattern. After the first few pages, your children may be able to "read along" because they know the pattern. This ability will let them experience the pleasure of reading.

Traditional literature
Traditional literature includes fairy tales, folktales, fables, myths, and legends from around the world and across the ages of time. Through these beloved stories, children become familiar with many different times, cultures, and traditions. Some stories, such as Cinderella, vary slightly from culture to culture and it is interesting to compare their differences.

Wordless picture books
These books tell stories through pictures, without using words. Wordless picture books give children the opportunity to tell stories themselves as they "read," an activity that most children enjoy. In telling their stories, children develop language skills; they also get a sense of the sequence of events in stories.
 

Reading aloud to young English language learners

Reading aloud to young beginners is a particularly important, but potentially difficult task.  Do they have sufficient vocabulary to understand a story?  Will a book that is simple enough for their level of English be sufficiently interesting for their maturity level.  Have they learned to sit and listen to a story?  Do they have a positive expectation?  It may take some time to tune your students in to your story telling, but persevere: the results will be worth it.

Choose picture books with illustrations that closely match the text and help to tell the story.  This will greatly aid your studentsEunderstanding and enjoyment.

Look for simple text, great pictures.  Pictures which contain animals, an element of humour, or something scary are generally favourites.  The pictures should be large, bright, and clear enough for your audience to easily see.

For young children or those with beginner vocabularies, the teacher may have to adapt and simplify the text even further to keep their students attention.  These students may fully understand only selected words in the text.  Try to hunt out and emphasize these likely words when reading.   Substitute difficult words with simpler ones, and look for opportunities to insert relevant words from their vocabularies.

Hunt out books with themes that match your current topics and vocab. Reading a few books with similar themes will help to consolidate new language as it is repeated in each book.  Consider preteaching some of the important vocabulary before you start reading, so that you don’t have to interrupt the flow.  Put some quick sketches on the whiteboard which you can point to as neccessary.

Patterned language books are particularly valuable for young ESL students.  Look for simple, repeating frameworks, (“One day in the jungle, there was little sneeze....The next day in the jungle there was a not-so-little sneeze...The next day in the jungle there was a big sneeze......E , or books with repeated speech, ( “Bless me,Esaid the Lizard...”Bless me,Esaid the parrot....) or rhymes, (Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man).

Rhyming and rythmic texts are great for keeping childrens attention, and helping them to retain new vocabulary, and “chunkE language patterns. Those old favourites, the Dr Seuss series, and “The Berenstein BearsEare perfect, and incorporate many useful  language features, such as prepositions of place.  Look out for “Inside Outside Upside DownE “Bears in the Night,Eamp;nbsp; “The Pale Green Pants,Eand (my all time favourite,) “Green Eggs and Ham.Elt;/FONT>
 
While their vocabulary is still limited , choose  books which closely match your students own experience of the world,  rather than ones which introduce new and unfamiliar concepts.  If you show a Malaysian child a picture of sand and say “beach,Ethe word is far more likely to be understood and remembered than the word “snowEif you show that same child a mountain.   This isn’t to suggest that ESL children won’t benefit from being introduced to new concepts, but rather a caution to introduce new things gradually after a basic vocabulary has been constructed,and the students are “tuned inEto the joys of story readings.

Holding your young ESL students attention while you train them to tune in  may be a challenging task.  You may need to hone your story telling skills, and use all the devices you have at you disposal.  Look at the chapter on story telling for further suggestions.
 

Chapter 9
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