This past week I incorporated activities that built phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, math, and art. The thing that I love about education is that so often a lesson can incorporate and overlap with other content areas. It is fun to see how many skills can be taught in one little lesson!!
A key component of learning to read is building phonemic awareness. What this means is that a child has the ability to recognize that language contains a sequence of phonemes (the smallest unit of sound that is used to create meaningful words. For example the phoneme /k/ that can be heard in the words kit and skill). Students gain phonemic awareness through differentiating the separate sounds in words. Once a child is phonemically aware they are able to hear, identify, and manipulate the sounds into words (Cowen, 2006). Students who achieve phonemic awareness are able to recognize and create rhymes; they are able to break words down into their syllables (Yopp & Yopp, 2000). It is important that children are provided with instruction that is explicit and authentic. To become familiar with phonemes it is imperative that children learn the alphabet first, and then start to put the sounds to those letters. Especially since in English there are 44 different sounds, which means kids aren't JUST learning 26 letters!!!! To build these skills Amelia and Gavin played:
Alphabetic Knowledge Activities
- Alphabet Bingo
- Practice writing name
- Saying the alphabet while pointing to the letters. So often Mia and Gavin lump LMNOP together, and having them point out the individual letters allows them the time to slow down and get those letters out!
Phonemic Awareness Activities
- Rhyme detectives: Listen to “Way up High in the apple tree” with rhymes. The kids guessed the rhyme pairs To aide in recognizing rhymes. I made a tree with felt leaves and five little apples. Each time they would take off an apple they would pretend to eat the apple.
- Alpha bags. I originally had it planned that there would be three toys with the same letter and than one toy that was different. I could already tell that today was a rough one so I simplified the activity. I pulled out the toy that didn't belong and had Chase identify the letter each toy started with. He did great. I then had both of them find the letter T on the alphabet chart.
- For the first time ever I had Chase sit by himself and play starfall.com. I was super surprised. I told him to move the mouse until the arrow disappeared and he saw a hand. I then told him to click. He went through the entire letter A on his own with no help from me. He did awesome sorting the Big A from Little a. After it was his turn I sat Emma on my lap and we did it together. She also did awesome sorting the letters. Can I just say I love startall.com.
Vocabulary both determines how well a student will comprehend what they tread, but also how well as facilitate their verbal language. Chase has a receptive and expressive language disorder. His ability to articulate is often hampered, as well as his understanding. One of his goals at school has been to increase his vocabulary. This has been crucial to improving his language. One of the main things they focused on was improving his vocabulary!
- I used a PowePoint presentation to introduce the words over, under, through, around, across and back from Rosie's Walk. I used pictures of the kids so that they could use their personal experiences to activate prior knowledge. It was great. When I asked her what she was doing in this picture she immediately said "I'm going over the rocks." Such a smart little girl!!!
- We went for a walk to the library. As we walked we went through a tunnel (it was an open ended storage facility), over a bridge, over railroad tracks, across the street, around a puddle, under a tree, and back to a car we had passed. Chase made me so proud when he said 'Mommy, you came back to the stroller." The kids LOVED this activity. I know I will be finding other opportunities to have vocabulary walks in the future!!!
Comprehension occurs as children start to put everything together. As parents and teachers our job is to aide our children in this process through building comprehension skills: predicting or prior knowledge, answering and forming questions, thinking aloud about reading, visualizing, using graphic organizers to create visual representations, and summarizing. You begin to teach these skills to children the moment you read them their first story book.
- After reading Rosie's Walk I asked the children who, what, when, where, why questions. This helps with recall, and allowed me to assess their comprehension of the story. I was surprised how Emma struggled answering these questions. This will definitely be a skill we will continue to work on.
- Use picture cues to retell the story. I love how I was able to turn the page and the kids would tell me the story in their own words.
Cowen, J.E. (2003). A Balanced Approach to Beginning Reading Instruction. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association, Inc.
Yopp, H.K., and Yopp, R.H. (2000). Supporting phonemic awareness development in the classroom. The Reading Teacher.