Are your students ready to start reading on their own? With more than half the school year over, this isn’t a surprise! After several months of early literacy activities, children are ready to move beyond reciting the alphabet. Teachers can broaden their students’ early literacy skills by introducing writing activities and reading games to the classroom curriculum. Simple activities that focus on stringing letters together to form words encourage children to begin reading on their own and will build their confidence as they begin to read and write independently.
Jean Feldman and Holly Karapetkova’s book I Love Letters is one of many excellent reading resources for teachers. Covering every stage of literacy development from first marks to early writing, this book contains countless activities that provide children with the skills they need to move forward with reading. Here are a few exercises that can support your students’ desire to start reading independently.
Mystery Classmate Game
Often, the first word children learn how to spell is their name. This activity utilizes that pattern to encourage children to read other children’s names.
What to Do
- Write each child’s name on a note card.
- Explain to the children that they are going to play a game where they have to say what classmate is on the card you show them. Emphasize that if the child recognizes their name, they have to stay very quiet.
- See if the children are able to read the name before giving them any hints. If they struggle, throw out details like “This person has curly hair. This person has brown eyes”.
- Once the children name the correct classmate, make sure to read the name clearly before switching to the next card. This will help the children associate the sound of the name with how it looks on paper.
Children like to have choice in their learning process. This exercise lets them choose what words they get to spell and gives them a special memento they can take with them when they leave the classroom.
- Pipe cleaners
- Beads with letters on them
What to Do
- Lay out the pipe cleaners and beads at the children’s activity station and explain that they will be making bracelets with special words on them. Demonstrate how to put the beads on the pipe cleaners.
- Go around and help the children. Have them start by spelling out their names.
- Once each child has their name on the bracelet, encourage them to think of other words or things they like. When they decide on a new word, see if they can use its sound to figure out which letters they need.
- When the children are done listing words, twist the ends of the pipe cleaners together to create a bracelet.
Just because children are learning to read doesn’t mean you have to stop doing alphabet activities! With this activity, children build upon what they have already studied by writing about letters they see.
What to Do
- Make the children alphabet journals by stapling several sheets of lined paper together within a construction paper binding.
- Set up (or continue to do) class-wide activities that focus on a single letter. These could include books about that letter, songs that use that letter, etc.
- After each letter activity, have the children write in their journals. They could write about the activity itself, or write about something the letter makes them think of (i.e. birthdays with the letter B).
- Once the children have written their entry, encourage them to read it aloud to the class.