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By:  Lori B. Jones





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Reading Readiness Intro

Reading Readiness. Sounds pretty simple, right? Not necessarily. Reading Readiness is a “new term” used to describe teaching children how to read.

That is simple part of it. It gets pretty technical. I am going to break the “Reading Readiness” thing down into small “chunks”. This makes it easier for you because you can choose which parts you want to use, and which parts you feel are not for you.

Observe the children around you. Are they exposed to words and print everyday? Do they know that letters have sounds and that combined letters make words? If so, they are ready to move on to the next level. If not, then saturate them with words, letters, songs about words, pencils, paper, etc.

They need to see that everything has a word to go with it. To move on to the next level, they do not need to know all of the letter sounds. They just need to know what letters are and that they have sounds.

First, is everything in the classroom labeled? At one time I hated the labels in my Pre-K classroom. Then as I saw children actually pointing to labels and telling me what they said, I changed my mind. I was so excited by the progress my class made, I even labeled everything in my daughter’s bedroom (She was in Pre-K also). This is a good strategy because children begin to recognize beginning sounds and put the word with the object. They began to make connections about print on their own. For example, they will start telling you what things start with or that something starts with the same letter as their name. One child in my class searched the room for objects that started with “A” because his name started with that letter.

Another student put her puzzle on the correct labeled shelf because the label had a word that started with “p” and she heard “z” when she said puzzle.

Next, create a Word Wall in your class. Start with the very basics. On a bulletin board, start with the letter “A” and of course, end with the letter “Z”. Put the student’s names under the appropriate letter. This is the very first stage of creating a meaningful word wall. Now that your word wall is up, add two or three basic sight words every week. I have a list of Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary Words that I like to use. This is a list of 220 words that comprise approximately 50 to 75% of all words used in textbooks, newspapers, library books, and magazines. Because these words cannot be learned by associating them with pictures, the child must be able to recognize them at a glance before he/she can read with confidence. You are probably wondering why I say to add two words a week if there are 220 words on the list. Well, the words range from “the” to “together”. You may have a group of students that could easily learn two or three new words each day.

If so, go with it. If not, then keep it simple and introduce a couple of words each week. When they do get to Kindergarten, they will still have been introduced to many sight words. For a complete list of Dolch Sight Words, go to the link below.

Finally, remember to keep age/level appropriate books and magazines in the classroom. Allow children to explore the books without fear. Let the students tell you what is happening in the pictures and let them make their own books to take home. It is also fun to make a big book to keep in the classroom. Use photos from fieldtrips, special visitors, or make theme related books. Books are so easy to make and it does not cost a lot to do.

Take five or six pieces of paper, fold them in half, and staple. You can also get reproducible books at school supply stores.

Remember, tell them often that they can read. Recently I worked with a little boy who told me he was too little to read. I told him to tell me the letters on a card I was holding. He said, “R-E-D”. I praised him and said that if he could say the letters, he was reading. Then I told him the letter sounds for R and E. Before I could say the sound for D, he excitedly said, “OH! I know that word, it’s red. We talked about that at school.” After that he has blossomed. He loves to point to different words and letters telling me what they say. There are so many teachable moments in the day. Look for them and use them. You and your student will be blessed.

Dolch Sight Word List:

Next week: Classroom photos

Letter-number recognition

Learning centers



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