Chunks, syllables, and sounds…what’s the difference?

There are soooo many things that I will share about teaching your child to read, but I have to start with the basic pre-reading info to give you a well-rounded understanding of how reading skills are acquired.

So for now, I am going to introduce a new aspect of reading development which also has to do with hearing chunks (word parts) within words….

The more you play with words the more children will get the idea that a word is made up of sounds, the more they will be listening for those sounds.  This gives children experience putting sounds together to make a word.  So, eventually you will be able to say the sounds /c//a//t/ and they will finally hear the word “cat”.  But there are several things we have to establish first, and one of them is parts of a word.

A beginner reader needs to know that some words have chunks in them where they could hear a word (or words) inside of a word.  For example, “cupcake” has the word “cup” and “cake” in it and “bedroom” has “bed” and “room” in it.  As adults, we just label these words compound words, but to children this can open their eyes to what a word can be made up of.

A syllable on the other hand is a way for a child to count how many groups of sounds are in their name or other words.  One way you might teach your child they have syllables (or parts) in their name is by clapping while simultaneously saying the sound “jess (clap)- i (clap) – ca (clap)” and let your child hold up a finger every time you clap and then ask “How many parts are there?”

Then of course there are sounds…every spoken consonant, vowel, or blend like “sh”, “ch”, etc.

I will post more on all of this soon, but for now, here is an activity to help your child start hearing words within words:

compound pictures

Why Rhyme?

Little Miss Muffet would be glad to know that her legend lives on. We all grew up reading, singing, and memorizing a variety of nursery rhymes, but would you know that children are still expected to know nursery rhymes? Yep…it is a GLE (Grade Level Expectation) for pre-k and k kiddos. There are a few reasons behind this seemingly dated benchmark. 1) Children are expected to be able to recognize familiar songs and rhymes for extended learning in classrooms, 2) Children are expected to utilize their memory, 3) Hearing and making up rhymes is a reading indicator!
I understand if you tuned me out for the first two reasons but did you hear what I said? Yes, rhyming is a tier on the reading ladder. If a child can hear and make up rhymes then that means that they can manipulate sounds in words, and manipulating sounds is a big chunk of what reading consists of in early readers. Rhyming is a definite pre-reading activity. 🙂
So, go crazy around your house speaking in rhyme: “Are you ready Freddy?” “See you later gator!” “After a while, crocodile” “That’s easy cheesy!”
Explain to your child that rhymes sound the same at the end of the word. So you can say two rhyming words in a sing-song way and it sounds almost the same, but if you say two non-rhyming words in a sing-song way then it just sounds awkward.
So, check out some mother goose books from the library and read some nursery rhymes to your kids and, of course, here is a hands-on activity.

Open the Rhyming activity attachment.  Print it, see if your child can identify all the pictures (name them), and ask your child to color all the words that rhyme with “sat” red (-at word family) and then color all the other pictures whatever other color they would like.

rhyming activity -heart

Note: The first rhyming activity you do should focus on seeing if they can hear a rhyme or not.  So, if you take out this sheet and say the names of everything on the paper, dont just ask them to find the rhyming words.  Ask “Does cat rhyme with sat?”  Then, “What about bear? Does bear rhyme with cat?” Say them right next to eat other and wait for a “yes” or “no” from your child. For example, “Cat, sat?” “Bear, Sat?”  Give guidance for the activity.  If your child says “yes” to cat, say “Good listening! Color it red because cat rhymes with sat!”  If your child isn’t getting any right, put the activity sheet away and work on just making up silly rhymes and give this a lot of practice before continuing or moving on.

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