One of my very favorite things in the world is teaching children to read (I even wrote a book about it…just a little subtle plug, haha). As far as my own children are concerned, all of them have learned to read (or are currently learning) at different ages and stages of their development. I never want learning to read to become a chore or something they dread. Rather, I want it to be fun and meaningful! That’s why I decided to do this 30 Days of Reading Fun for Beginning Readers series. I want to show parents (and teachers) that learning to read can be fun and interactive while simultaneously embodying multiple modalities!
(And yes…I have made a habit out of month-long series here on the blog. I love the challenge of doing an activity every day for a consecutive month. I have done 31 Days of Indoor Activities for Toddlers, 31 Days of Outdoor Activities for Toddlers, and 31 Days of Pumpkin Activities. Unfortunately September only has 30 days, so we are making due with a 30-day series.)
My 5-year old daughter recently started kindergarten. She is currently going half-day so I have most of the afternoon to spend with her playing, eating lunch together, and practicing reading and math skills. My daughter is just beginning to learn to read. Although she has mastered all the letter names and sounds, we are now working on putting those sounds together! Because I am tailoring these activities to her current abilities, most of the activities below will already require some knowledge of letters and sounds.
The National Reading Panel (2000) has identified five main components of a balanced approach to teaching reading: comprehension, vocabulary, phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, and fluency. Each of these components are fundamental to helping a child learn to read and each will be a focus for each day of the week in the coming month (Saturdays and Sundays will be “wacky” days as you will see below).
Here is how our 30 Days of Reading Fun for Beginning Readers will be structured…
Mondays: Comprehension Activities
The entire goal of teaching a child to read is ultimately for him/her to comprehend what was read. It does little good for a child to be able to “sound out” words if she can’t remember or connect to what she has read. On Mondays we will focus on comprehension strategies to use after reading picture books.
Tuesdays: Phonemic Awareness Activities
“Phonemes” are the smallest units of sound in the English language. “Phonemic Awareness” consists of hearing the individual sounds, recognizing them, and learning how to manipulate the sounds within a word. Phonemic awareness does not include any written symbols (i.e. letters)…it is solely about the sounds. Our Tuesdays will mainly include simple games or activities to do while driving in the car or waiting at a doctor’s office.
Wednesdays: Vocabulary and Sight Words
Your child’s vocabulary will be expanded exponentially as you read together. The more books you read to him/her, the more language and vocabulary he/she is exposed to. Because of this, most of our “vocabulary” instruction will come in the form of sight words for beginning readers. Sight words, also known as high-frequency words, are the most common words in our written language and are often difficult to decode phonetically because they do not follow the words of phonics. Students must memorize these specific words to improve their reading fluency.
Thursdays: Phonics Fun
Phonemic awareness and phonics go hand in hand. Where phonemic awareness focuses on the sounds only, phonics includes on associating sounds with their written symbols (letters).
Fluency is just a fancy word for the speed, accuracy, ease, and inflection with which one reads. We will explore a few different methods for improving reading fluency, but mostly we will focus on reading aloud during this day as most beginning readers are still decoding most of the time. Your child will become more fluent as a reader the more you read aloud to him/her.
The weekends in this series will include random literacy activities that are simple and don’t necessarily fit one of the above categories. Some activities will include capital and lowercase letter matching and others will involve writing (as reading and writing go hand-in-hand). With three children all involved in soccer this fall and Sunday filled with church activities, our weekend activities will be short and sweet!
Day 1: Pushpin Letters
Day 4: Sight Word Fishing
Day 5: Beginning Sound Match
Day 6: Choral Reading (reading aloud in unison)
Day 7: “What’s Gnu?” ThinkFun Game
11. Sight Word Spray
18. SightWord Zingo
20. Partner Reading
26. Roll & Write