Friday, April 25, 2014

Learning to Read

Sophie likes to look at books almost as much as her big sister. She often asks me or Delaney to read to her. Sometimes I am in the middle of something and tell her "later". Delaney is usually stuck in her own book and declines. It's not surprising that Sophie's motivation to read by herself has been increasing lately.
I began teaching her sight words at the beginning of the year. She loves games like Memory and Slap the Word (slapping the word I call out with a fly swatter), and Speed Read (I flip our sight word cards as fast as I can and she reads them as fast as she can until she reads them all). Sight words are so important; they give children a solid foundation of words that they just know, and build confidence in their reading skills. About 50% of the words used in children's books come from the first 100 Dolch sight words. Knowing these words by sight gives more time to decode (sound out) the rest of the words, and eventually improve reading comprehension once decoding becomes more fluent.

A few more sight word games here .

Sophie and I have been playing lot of word games and making up a lot of silly words while she gets ready to learn how to read. Phonemic awareness (awareness that words are made of a series of distinct sounds) is crucial to learning how to read. Skills like rhyming, alliteration, awareness of syllables, phonemic blending/segmentation/manipulation all share a part of the reading process.

We often play our reading games in the car. She and I make up silly rhymes, or say tongue twisters. We play "guess the word", which consists of me segmenting a word, and she has to put it back together and tell me what it is... /c/ -/a/-/t/..."that's 'cat'!" She and I clap out syllables, or use various foods to show how many syllables are in a word during snacks.

She is beginning to play the segmenting game all by herself, and write down the letters she hears.
Keeping herself busy while I make dinner.
She is totally obsessed with knowing what every single street sign says, and "reads" most of the signs on our way to familiar destinations. (More information on environmental print here. Lots of good information on early literacy, too!)

This intersection keeps us busy...
I still have my old, reliable bumblebee game from Scholastic, that is still in good shape after a little over 10 years. I got it out on a whim one day, not sure if Sophie was quite ready for it, but sure enough, she surprised me and played it like a pro.

I adapted it a bit...she rolls the dice, and spins for her letter, then writes out the word it makes. I try to avoid really weird words (although nonsense words are important when learning to decode, too!), so I rig the spinner a little bit. Instead of using the "buzzy bee" cards, landing on a bee just gives her an extra turn.


We aren't on a "reading activity schedule". She inevitably asks to do one of the many activities daily, and I make sure to stop whatever I am doing when possible and have some fun with her.

 All of this, but I think especially the word segmentation activities, are making decoding words come together for her. She is beginning to read our beloved Starfall books and is so proud of herself.


  1. Way to go Sophie. In a couple of days you can read to me!

  2. I am so looking forward to having the girls read to me during my next visit!


I'd love to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas!


Blog Template by