The Reading Specialist, in consultation with the educational team, provides direct reading instruction to identified students.
What is it?
Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds, which are called phonemes. A child who is phonemically aware is able to isolate sounds, manipulate the sounds, blend and segment the sounds into spoken and written words.
Activities to do at home:
Say two words and have the child give thumbs up if they hear a rhyme, or give the child a word and try to have them come up with a rhyming word.
Say a word and have the child identify the beginning sound.
Final and Medial Sounds:
Say a word and have the child identify the ending sound (we are not working on medial sounds yet).
Blending (putting words together)
Say the word parts, child repeats the word parts and then says the whole word. Increase difficulty as the child demonstrates understanding.
bath- tub = bathtub (begin with compound words).
c-ab= cab (continue with onsets and rimes).
r-u-n = run (finally work with individual phonemes).
Segmenting (breaking words apart)
Say the whole word, child repeats the whole word and then breaks it into parts. Increase difficulty as the child demonstrates understanding.
football = foot-ball (begin with compound words).
mud = m- ud (continue with onsets and rimes).
fun= f-u-n (finally work with individual phonemes).
Count the number of words is a spoken sentence. Say the first line of a nursery rhyme (for example, Mary had a little lamb.) Then, using your fingers, count the words together. (Phonological awareness activity)
Phonics is the system of relationships between letters and sounds in a language.
- Using index cards, encourage your child to help you write the following letters or letter groups, one per card: at, an, ap, et, en, ell, it, in, ick, ot, op, ock, un, ut, ub, b, c, d, f, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w. Show your child one letter-pair card, such as the "at" card. Then have her use the single-letter cards to make words with "at." Invite her to choose a card, place it in front of the "at," then try to sound out the word.Help your child, as needed, by blending, or singing, the sounds together. If it is a real word, encourage your child to write the word on a sheet of paper. You can use the word lists you and your child create for reading practice.
- From a collection of items, play I spy with the phonic starting sound of the items. For example, gather objects or pictures of a cat, a ball and an apple. I would choose a letter, in this case “c” and say “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with “c”.” (phonic sound) and place the letter card in front of me. Your child would then pick up the letter card and place it next to the item that started with that sound. It would then be her turn to choose an item to spy. Again how many items you would play with would depend on the stage of the child.
- Writing is a great way to practice phonics skills. Have your child engage in writing activities whenever possible. Have them send letters and cards to friends and relatives. They can send emails and help create shopping lists.
- Building Words - Using magnetic letters, make a three letter word on the refrigerator (cat). Have your child read the word and use it in a sentence. Every day, change one letter to make a new word. Start by changing only the beginning letter (cat, bat, hat, sat, mat, rat, pat). Then change only the ending letter (pat, pal, pad, pan). Finally, change only the middle letter (pan, pen, pin, pun).
- Making Words - For this game, you will need magnetic letters and three bags. Put half of the consonants into the first bag. Put the vowels into the middle bag, and put the remaining consonants into the last bag. Have your child pull one letter from the first bag. That will be the first letter of their word. Then have him pull from the vowel bag for the second letter of the word and from the other consonant bag for the third letter of the word. Next, the child will read the word and decide if it is a real word or a nonsense word. Take turns, replacing the vowels as needed until there are no more consonants left.
- Hunting Words- Choose a letter and have your child hunt for five items beginning with that letter sound. As each object is found, help your child write the word on a list. For example, if the target sound is "m", the child might find and write mop, mat, Mom, money, and microwave.
Hints For Helping Your Child Decode Unknown Words:
1. High Frequency Words - If the word is a high frequency word (such as, is, of, or could), say the word and explain that it doesn't follow the rules. It just needs to be memorized.
2. First Sound - Have your child say the first sound in the word and make a guess based on the picture or surrounding words. Double-check the printed word to see if it matches the child's guess.
3. Sound and Blend - Have your child say each sound separately (sss aaa t). This is called "sounding it out", and then say the sounds together (sat). This is "blending".
4. Familiar Parts - When your child starts reading longer words, have him notice the parts of the word that he already knows. For example, in a word such as presenting, your child may already know the prefix (pre), the word (sent), and the word ending (ing).
With a solid vocabulary, a child understands and uses spoken and written words to communicate effectively. A broad vocabulary helps a child in all subject areas. The more words a child has been exposed to, the easier it is for him to figure them out when he sees them for the first time in print, and the easier it is for him to understand new concepts in class.
- Preview Words:
Choose 1-2 words from the book you are reading that may be interesting or unfamiliar to your child. Discuss the meaning of the word in the context in which it was used. Talk about variations of that word (e.g. direct, directions,director, redirect, misdirect) and how the meaning changes.
- Read aloud:
Continue to read aloud to your child even after he is able to read independently. Choose books above your child's level because they are likely to contain broader vocabulary. This way, you are actually teaching him new words and how they are used in context.
- Hot Potato:
Choose a word, your child has to think of another word that means the same thing (a synonym). Continue taking turns until someone is stumped (cold, freezing, chilly, etc). Variations: antonyms (big, small, giant, etc.), prefixes (preview, pretest, prepay, etc.), suffixes (careless, useless, helpless, etc.), categories (food, pets, movies, capitals, etc.).
Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and effortlessly, using appropriate expression and phrasing.
Choose a poem, play, or passage that will be easy for your child to read. Read the passage aloud to your child. Then, read it together. Continue to practice the passage, focusing on phrasing and expression. The goal is to sound smooth and natural. For a variation, you can try using different voices (mouse, monster), or use different emotions (sad, angry).
Try recording your child’s voice on the first reading, and again after several practices. Listen to both recordings to hear the differences!
Comprehension is the reader’s ability to understand, engage with, and think about the text.
Activities to Support Comprehension
Before, During, and After Reading Questions:
Questions to ask your child to develop his/her comprehension skills
Whenever appropriate ask your child to provide evidence from the text to support their thinking.
Before the Reading of a New Book:
- Look at the cover: What do you predict will happen in this story?
- Is this story fiction or nonfiction? How do you know?
- Look at the pictures throughout the book; what are you thinking?
- What do you know about (insert topic) from your own experience?
- Ex: What do you know about going to a new school?
During the Reading of a New Book:
- Stop at a certain point and talk about what has happened so far in the text, and what you are thinking.
- After reading the beginning of the book, predict what will happen in the end of the story.
- How has your prediction from the beginning of the story changed?
- Be sure to have your child go back and reread if they are unclear of a part of the text.
- Describe the characters in the book.
- What is the setting of this story?
- Compare the main characters to one another or to yourself.
After the Reading of a New Book:
- Talk about the characters, the setting, the problem and solution.
- Talk about the episodes leading up to the solution.
- Is that how you would have solved the story? Why/why not?
- Create a new ending for the story.
- Summarize or retell what happened.
- Why do you think the author wrote this story?
- What message was the author trying to send with this book?
- How would you change the story?
- Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
After reading, tell...
- 3 facts that you learned or discovered.
- 2 facts that you found interesting.
- 1 question that you still have about the topic.
Read, Cover, Remember, Retell
Read a page of text, cover the page with your hand, retell what you remember in your own words.
Reading Comprehension Strategies:
Comprehension strategies are tools that good readers use to make sense of text. Comprehension strategy instruction allows students to become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension. The following strategies are used to help improve reading comprehension:
Connecting is a strategy that involves making personal connections with texts and connections between texts. Connections can occur before, during, and after reading.
Ask your child: What feelings or experiences have you had that are like those of the characters in this book? How does connecting help you understand what you read? How is this book like another book you have read? How does collecting information from more than one text help you build your understandings?
This strategy is helpful in teaching students to use background knowledge and textual clues to make predictions before and during their reading.
Ask your child: Can you predict what will happen next in this text? What do you think this will be about? What will you learn? Why?
This strategy is helpful for teaching students to ask and answer questions before, during, and after reading.
Ask your child: What questions do you have before you begin reading? What questions did you have while you were reading? Where can the answers to these questions be found? Was there anything you wondered or were confused about?
An inference is an assumption, or a supplying of information that is not explicitly stated in the text.
Ask your child: What did the author mean by ---- ? What in the text helped you know that? What did you already know that helped you figure that out?
Summarizing is the process of determining important events or information and compiling them into a central theme. Summarizing as they read helps readers form memory structures that they can use to select and store details. In nonfiction text, students find key points and determine what is important in text.
Ask your child: What did you learn from the text? What was the theme of the story? What was the problem and what episodes led to the solution?
Evaluating involves critiquing, establishing opinions, considering author intents and viewpoints, and preparing to use and apply new information gained from reading.
Ask your child: What do you think about this book? Why? Do you agree with this author's views? How do the illustrations help you understand the text? Could this really happen?
Visualization helps readers connect with text as they consider the sensory images evoked by the characters, settings, and events. Images can be created during and after reading and enhance comprehension by helping the reader draw conclusions, interpret text, and retain information.
Ask your child: In your mind, what do the characters look like? What does the setting look like?