Let’s face it, learning how to read isn’t always the most exciting thing in the world, especially when you are practicing fluency with words that do not even exist (a common practice to gauge phonemic awareness and blending sounds).
James’ teacher sent home a new fluency folder that includes lists of non-sensical (made-up) CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant), sight and high-frequency words. Reading these lists can be absolutely BO-RING for both the reader (your child) and the listener (most often, you, Mommy Teacher). It’s also super easy to get overwhelmed by unfamiliar words in these early reading stages, so, how can we make reading fun and enjoyable???
Here are 5 inexpensive and cheap tools that you can use:
1. TRACKING FINGERS: My son’s fluency folder came equipped with a rubber witch’s finger to use to follow the words left-right, top-bottom. (I specifically wrote this post right before Halloween so that you can go pick some up at your local dollar store before the 31st! You’re welcome!) As soon as James hopped in the car from carpool he was pulling out his new fluency folder and showing us how to use his tracking finger… and now my 4-year old wants one too!
2. PUNCTUATION SWITCH: Take a popsicle stick and draw an exclamation point on one end, switch it around and draw a question mark on the other end. Read the story (or even just a list of words) by adding different emphases at the end of phrases. A simple change in intonation can make for an interesting read with even the most boring of texts – or it can make a silly book even sillier! (A twist on this is to sing the text… one of my son’s favorites that I catch him doing even when he doesn’t have an audience listening.)
3. CATERPILLAR CHART: When I was teaching, I used a caterpillar chart to keep track of how many books we read throughout the year. I wrote the title and author of each book we read on a different circular body segment of the caterpillar. By the end of the year, our caterpillar’s body went half way around the classroom!
You can use a similar, smaller version at home by using stickers. Start off by using a sticker for every word your child can read by him/herself, and then move up to simple books. With your younger child, you can just keep track of the number of books you read to him/her. Set a number goal of number of words or books you need to reach before your caterpillar can turn into a butterfly!
“To help my caterpillar grow and grow,
I must read at least 1 book (or new word) a day.
Once he gets to be 10 stickers long,
He will grow wings and fly away.”
4. WHISPER PHONES: I am pretty sure Jessica has written a post about these before, but it’s always a fun reminder for next time you are at your local home improvement store. Grab a PVC pipe and some 90 degree elbow fittings, cut it down to about 6 inches, and you have a great reading tool! Teachers use these in classrooms all the time for young readers to hear themselves read out loud without making a lot of noise. With these phones, even the quietest whisper is audible to only the reader.
5. MAGNIFYING GLASS/GLASSES: Grab some goofy glasses or a magnifying glass and all of a sudden reading became a game! Much like the tracking finger and whisper phones from above, this reading tool just makes reading a little more fun… well, to your pre-schooler or school-aged child… I, personally, don’t get it 😉 If you have some old sunglasses, punch out the lenses so your child can have some new, funky eyewear while being studious!
What tools do you use to make reading fun for your child? Share with us on Facebook or comment below!