Tools That Will Rocket Kids Into Reading

March is reading month and what better way to celebrate than by boosting children’s skills so they will enjoy reading!

Here are some specific helps for children who struggle to read:

Difficulty in reading has its roots in learning differences. Children who find reading hard have some needs in common around learning to read.

  1. They do much better starting with whole words than they do with learning little bits of words and then trying to blend the little pieces together.
  2. They need to see patterns in words and how they are structured.
  3. They need the relevance of being able to read meaningful text early in the process so they will understand what their work is all about.
  4. They need to understand from the beginning that reading isn’t a mechanical processing of symbols, nor is it sounding out words. Reading is a process that makes for mental pictures as the story unfolds.

Traditional approaches to teaching reading don’t meet these needs. This is why children who struggle … well … struggle.

Here are two engaging, colorful, kinesthetic, and visual tools that have proven to work together beautifully to rocket kids into reading. The tools do the work for you of answering the learning needs of children and letting them experience success rather quickly.

For whole word acquisition:

The first resource is SnapWords®. Even before focusing on sounding out words, introduce whole words in pictures with body motions and context, and watch the lights go on. SnapWords® address learning needs 1, 3, and 4 above. SnapWords® are designed to do the work for you. Along with each purchase, you will also receive teaching tools that are done for you … no need to prep.

Here are two SnapWords® examples: HEAD from List Nouns 1 and READY from List G. 

For patterns in spelling and for word structure:

Children also need to understand the mechanics of words (phonics, spelling, etc.) and for that, Sound Spelling Teaching Cards are the answer. Once your students have mastered some SnapWords®, use Sound Spelling Teaching Cards to teach all the ways each sound is spelled. Here is a Teaching Card for short E, spelled EA, just like you find in HEAD and READY.

How to teach:

  1. Talk about the SnapWords® first. Talk about what you see in the picture, and then use the backs of the cards for the body motion and the sentence that lends context to the word. When the children can recognize the picture words, it is time to introduce a word chunk (sound spelling).
  2. Show them the image for Short E, spelled EA (just above), and tell them that Short E isn’t always spelled “e”. Sometimes it has other letters that help it. (The other ways you spell Short E are AI, as in SAID, and IE, as in FRIEND).
  3. Finally, generate a list of words that all have Short E, spelled EA:
    1. Meant
    2. Bread
    3. Spread
    4. Breakfast
    5. Heavy
    6. Sweat
    7. Sweater
    8. Instead
  4. For longer lasting learning and remembering, use these images on a bulletin board for easy reference for a few days. You may add the other Sound Spelling Teaching Cards to the bulletin board as you introduce them. Here are IE, as in FRIEND, and AI, as in SAID.

For classwork,  homework, or homeschooling:

Here is another resource that you can use to give students hands-on activities to reinforce the structure of words. Use these pages for homework, classwork, or for teaching a child at home. The sample here goes perfectly with the discussion about Short E spellings. You will see that there are three levels of difficulty included in the sample, but all four ways to spell Short E are included.

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