Language Stations are perfect for kindergarten!  In these centers, kinders practice many of the language skills from the Common Core Standards.  What activities work best for this station?  And how do we set them up?

We're talking all things Kindergarten Language Stations today!

Setting Up The Language Station

I keep set up for this station super simple.  This station can easily be stored in a tub for students to grab & go to their desk or an assigned spot in the room.  I love mobile, grab & go stations because they are flexible in location... and let's face it: there's not a lot of room for extra "center tables" and such!

If you have a "stationary" spot for the center, just post the I Can signs there.  They are available in full color or black and white to print on colored paper.  If you are using a Grab & Go Station Tub, post them on the front of the tub.  

As far as what you'll need to keep in the Grab & Go station tub.  For the four activities, you'll need:
  • I Can Poster for each activity (I change it out with one activity each time)
  • Plastic folder with brads with clear page protectors
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • dry erase marker
  • activity printables, laminated
  • recording pages
For the language station tub below, I have the supplies for the handwriting activity and I printed the I can poster 1/4 it's size.  Watch this free video to see how to do it.

Handwriting Language Station

In this station, kinders practice letter formation while learning vocabulary words on a themed topic.

They use the dry erase marker to trace the words.  I just put the printed pages inside the page protectors in the folder with brads.  Don't forget to have the erase the page before turning to the next page! :)

Then, they will trace the words again and color the pictures.  This is a sample from the September station... during the second semester of kinder, the recording page has lines only and the kids copy the vocabulary word with the picture instead of tracing.

Opposites Language Station

In this station, kinders use the picture cards (with the words in small print) to match up opposite pairs.  Their are 10 antonym pairs.

First, they find a match.

Then, they record it on their recording page.

Have early finishers?  Have them turn over the opposite cards and play a memory game with their partner or alone...trying to find opposite pairs that match!

Things That Belong Station

During this activity, kinders match themed cards with things that go together.

First, the kids find a match of things that belong and tell their partner why they belong together.

Then, they record the pictures on the recording page.

During the 2nd semester, this activity becomes a noun and verb sort as the language skills increase for kindergarteners!

Have early finishers?  Have them turn over the puzzle cards and play a memory game with their partner or alone...trying to find pairs that belong together!

Category Puzzles

In this station, students put together puzzle pieces of things in the same category: school supplies, math tools, school lunch, etc...  Then, they record the items in the category boxes on the recording page.  There are 8 category puzzles!

Each month of language centers has one of each of these 4 activities and they progressively get harder throughout the year.  Try out one of the activities for FREE here.  And find the bundle of language centers here!

“There’s no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.” Those were the words we heard after round 7 of IVF.  Round 2 gave us our miracle son, Cooper, after 4 1/2 years of infertility treatments. And round 7 was the only other round of IVF that gave us another successful pregnancy after an additional 4 years of treatments. This baby, due on Valentine’s Day and forever known as our sweet Valentine, was our answer to the prayer to give Cooper a sibling and playmate.

After our miscarriage, we spent time grieving and praying about our next step. We still had one more embryo saved for a final transfer, but God knew better.  He began dealing with us about adoption.  We worked on researching and starting the adoption process while taking our final shot at carrying our own child again.  When our final embryo went on to Heaven with the other 10, we knew God was telling us it was time to adopt.

Fast forward a year and a half and we were approved for adoption! Not two weeks later after we were approved, our then six year old, Cooper, began telling us that God told him He was sending us TWO babies to adopt. We gently explained that wasn’t usually what happens. “God normally just sends one baby to a mommy’s belly,” we explained. But he was insistent and continued talking about it every day.

That was January 23rd of 2019.  Within a week of that day, our future birth mom found out she was pregnant.  With TWINS.  We wouldn't find out about her and the babies until June.  In early June, we were given a profile opportunity from our adoption agency with a birth mom having twins.  As soon as I read the words, " having twins..." my heart skipped a beat.  I knew almost instantly that these were our babies.  And most of that is because of a little 6 year old who heard from God and had been preparing our hearts for the past 6 months to receive two more babies.  

In July, we met with the birth mom.  I remember being a nervous wreck going to meet her.  

What was she like?  Did I really want to see her or talk to her about adopting her babies?  Would she accept us? Would she be willing to give up control after the birth of her babies?  

But God knew better.  The minute we walked in the door of the restaurant and saw her, my heart was at peace.  Justin and I both felt at ease from the very start of the conversation.  

We waited 3 weeks, but finally we heard that she had chosen our family to adopt her twins!  Excitement, gratefulness, and the anxiety of growing from a family of 3 to 5 began to sink in.  We told our family and friends, showers were planned, and we started decorating a nursery for two.

We had about 6 or 7 weeks to prepare ourselves for twins.  But God knew better.  The morning of August 12, 2019 (just 3 weeks later), we got a call from the agency that our birth mom was headed to the hospital and might possibly be in early labor.  "Just stay put," they told us. "The doctors are trying to stop her labor for now."  I was shaking after that phone call with all the premie thoughts and fears: 

It's too early.  Are the babies in danger? I'm not ready for this.  We only have one crib set up with the other one on back order.  Cooper goes to first grade in two days...can't they wait until after he starts so I don't miss out on my last few summer days with him??

I took a few (ok, a LOT of) deep breaths, said lots of prayers, and after talking to Justin, I was feeling better.  Right then, I told Cooper what was going on and told him we were going to make the best of his last two days before school and before babies.  A "Yes" day was in order.  We spent all day at home doing pretend play and planning out a Darth Vader costume for mommy made of black felt scraps I had left over.  I will treasure that memory forever!

Justin came home early from work that day and we decided to go out to eat at what we would later say was an ironic (and innocent) choice for our soon to be family of 5: FIVE GUYS.  :) We enjoyed our burgers and walked over to get some frozen yogurt when Justin got the call. "We can't stop her labor.  We are doing an emergency c-section shortly.  Come on over as soon as you can."

We ran home and packed.  And I left my house in a complete Star Wars disaster zone (did I mention leaving a messy house is one of my biggest nightmares??) to make the LONG 4 and a half hour hike across the state. 

Justin, Cooper and I arrived to the hospital at 11:30 pm.  On Cooper's second to last day before school started.  Remember how selfish I was in wanting the babies to wait until Cooper started school?  God knew better.  He knew it would be important for Cooper to come be with the babies that first night and next morning and knew we wouldn't have done that if he was already in school.  

The first night, Cooper only got to facetime the babies because of guardianship paperwork being finalized.  Justin and I got our first glimpse of the babies and I remember thinking how tiny and absolutely perfect they looked.  I told Justin, "They're like perfect tiny little baby dolls."

I looked at Knox William.  He weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces and was 16.75 inches long.  We were afraid they would both have problems breathing being 32 weekers.  But God knew better.  Knox only had minimal oxygen and would go off of it within 24 hours...they started taking him off of it sooner than later because he kept yanking his oxygen out of his nose! :)

Then, we went to Evelyn Joye.  She weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces and was 15.5 inches long. I remember being in disbelief that I actually had a daughter.  I remember wondering what this new experience would be like with a girl in the family.  And I remember her toes.

Evelyn's toes were puffy and her feet were both swollen.  I remember asking Justin if he thought they were swollen and why that was.  By the next morning, we would have an explanation.  The neonatologist came in and asked if we noticed her feet.  "Of course.  Do you know why they are that way?"  "Swollen feet are a common marker for kids with Turner's Syndrome..."  Everything after that just sounded like mush.  "Chromosomal issue....similar to down's syndrome....smaller stature...only in girls...." I remember thinking, "How is this happening to me? To my baby girl that was so perfect with only healthy ultrasounds?" But God knew better.  Her labs were sent off and it would take a week to find out the results.  A full week of praying for God to heal our baby.  I remember obsessing over her toes and whether I thought they had gone down just a little bit or not.  And they did go down some, but not much.

A week later, we had our answer.  No Turner's.  God knew better.  I remember feeling relieved and also, at that point, not surprised.  God had brought our family through so much already that I knew He had this step ordered matter what the step was.  The doctor told us the swelling was probably due to her position in the womb and should continue to go down over the next several days and week.

We never got a chance to see our birth mom on the day she delivered.  She was too tired by the time we got there which was completely understandable.  It was okay with us to not see her because we weren't sure exactly how we would handle that.  But God knew better.  The babies were born on Monday.  On Wednesday, the birth mom came to visit the babies and once again it was a peaceful time.  She held the babies and cried all while telling the babies how beautiful and perfect they were and that this was exactly what needed to happen.  I remember how incredibly brave I thought she was.  And heartbroken...all wrapped in one.  She told us her dad had come with her, but didn't want to see the babies because it was just too hard for him.  Her counselor stepped in with her and took some photos for her to keep.

That next day, Justin had stepped out of the NICU to get a snack and I was alone with the babies.  He would later tell me that he rode the elevator up with a man who looked exactly like our birth mom.  "You're (birth mom)'s dad, aren't you?" Justin asked him.  

"Yes, yes sir I am. You're the twins' father, aren't you?"  

Justin introduced himself and asked if he was headed up to see the babies.  He offered to take him back to see them.

As Justin walked back in the NICU, he had a calm, but unusual look on his face.  He looked straight at me and said, "Whitney, this is (name removed for privacy), (birth mom)'s dad."  And I was immediately nervous.  But God knew better.

I remember giving him the once over and thinking this man looked like a farmer version of my deceased grandfather: white hair, worn denim overalls, and the gentlest voice you've ever heard and softest eyes you've ever seen.  Justin introduced him to the babies.  And we stepped back to give him space.  We watched through our own teary eyes as the man we had just met walked back and forth between each isolette.  After seeing each of the babies a few times and asking their names, he looked at us with tears in his eyes, shook his head affirmatively and said solemnly, "Well, it's time for me to go."  He shook our hands and walked out.  Justin and I both looked at each other with tears streaming down our faces.  I will never forget that moment that God allowed us to share with him. Because as beautiful as adoption is, there is always loss and grief for some.  And that grandfather grieved heavily, but quietly that day.

I thought that was the end of the grandfather story, but the counselor would later tell us that he told her, "I still don't understand it, but those sure are mighty fine parents those babies got."  God knew better.

The trip across the state on the night the babies were born was exciting and stressful.  

How would we make this work? How could Cooper go back to school with us being so far away for so long?  And where would we stay and how much would THAT cost? 

But God knew better. We were so blessed with family that took care of Cooper and brought him back and forth to us each weekend.  Family on both sides did above and beyond what we expected or deserved and we are so grateful!

As for where we would stay... Justin and I had started to look at hotel costs, versus an Air B&B, versus a furnished apartment for a month. But God knew better.  This NICU offered us an empty hospital room to stay in for as long as we needed it.  Yes, I know many NICUs are "room in," but we had learned this one was we were not expecting rooming accommodations.  But the best part?  The room was COMPLIMENTARY.  It didn't cost us a penny!

Justin decided to work remotely from the hospital.  Praise the Lord for a great boss who was super flexible with him.  I was worried he would need to start his 6 week adoption leave early and use it all up in the NICU.  But God knew better.  He was able to work remotely the entire time we were away from home and only needed to drive over to go into work for 2 days!  His employer had recently upped the adoption benefits to allow dads up to 6 weeks to stay home with babies and now all of it would be used after the babies came home...another God miracle!

A few days after the babies were born, we began wondering about transferring to a hospital closer to home.  The small NICU we were in was great and the doctor and nursers were FABULOUS, but there is just no place like home.  I wanted to ask, but I'm also a people pleaser so I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by making them feel like we weren't happy there.  But God knew better.  The first weekend we were there, another doctor from a hospital back home came to round on the NICU babies to give the single neonatologist at the NICU a much needed break. I couldn't believe that of all the places she would be from, it would be our home hospital over four hours away!  As much as I wanted to ask her, I still didn't bring the transfer up. 

A week or so later our regular Neonatologist asked us what we thought about transferring hospitals.  "All of my beds are full, and I'm having to turn away babies.  I'm happy to keep you here, but I just feel like it's important for you to get closer to home if you can.  You see...God knew better.  He knew I might never ask.  And He knew of a way to make it necessary to transfer. 

We began the transfer process.  It wasn't easy.  Okay, it was impossibly difficult!!  The business people in the hospital back home didn't want to accept the babies' insurance at first. And we saw a dead end.  But God knew better.  He opened doors and made a stressful financial situation one that was eventually solved and even turned out better than we could've imagined.  The transfer to our home NICU was on!

We were scheduled to transfer Labor Day Monday in two separate ambulances.  Evelyn would go on Monday with me following behind her.  And Knox and Justin would come Tuesday in another ambulance.  But God knew better.  Monday morning, we got up and heard the transfer was a no-go.  We were frustrated.  Our Neonatologist was frustrated and our home NICU doctors were frustrated.  The hospital's ambulance company changed their tune and decided they wouldn't travel that far.  This dragged out over a couple of days and by Wednesday morning, we were told, "We are still working on it, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen now.  I'm so sorry." But God knew better.  Late Wednesday afternoon, they had found an ambulance company that would take the babies.  And get this...both could go in the SAME AMBULANCE! An answer to prayer! We waited a few extra days, but God's answer was way better than our own once again.

When we got to our hospital back home, we were overwhelmed by God's faithfulness.  We were given a PRIVATE room with just our babies.  Our first NICU was an open bay NICU with 12 beds crammed into a room not much bigger than our private NICU room they were showing us for JUST OUR FAMILY!  I remember Justin spinning circles with his arms open like Julie Andrews on The Sound of Music. :)  We just couldn't believe all the space we had after 3 and a half weeks of tight spaces!

Then, they took us to the Ronald McDonald house.  We knew about this option, but weren't sure if we would use it or stay at our house, or sleep in the NICU... But God knew better.  This brand new facility was TOP NOTCH! We knew immediately we would stay there.  There were only 6 rooms, but 2 were available because of the UNUSUALLY LOW number of babies the NICU had at the time... :) We were approved almost immediately and began moving in.

How much of a blessing was the Ronald McDonald House?  A HUGE one.  Cooper was able to sleep with us on his own air mattress in our very spacious room.  We had our own (not hospital grade) shower to use.  AND, there was a fully stocked kitchen with snacks.  Plus, people around the area provided home cooked meals cooked at the RMH for free every night.  I looked at Justin immediately when they told me that and said, "Jesus even gave me home cooked meals!"  That was one of the main things I missed about being far away from home and grew tired of constantly choosing which restaurant to eat at! And the meals were amazing too...not just pizza or take out.  But elaborate meals prepared just for our family and other just like us!

Being 32 weekers we expected a lot to go wrong in their world for a while.  And they had their share of "typical hurdles" like feeding, brady desats, and holding their temperature.  But with all the complications that can come out of being in the NICU for 45 days, would you believe that the "worst extra issue" that we dealt with was SALT? We discovered a couple of weeks in that both babies have a rare genetic mutation disorder that causes their body to get rid of salt faster than it should.  My vocabulary tripled over 48 hours of learning this and getting labs drawn, and all the things.  My mind raced all over the place of what this could mean.  But God knew better.  He knew that it just simply meant to add salt to their diet (I mean, how lucky are they, really??).  So they get their dose of "french fries" with their milk 4 times a day right now and big brother is super jealous! #saltlover

Part of the reason why their stay in the NICU was longer than it should've been was because of this disorder.  Their bodies took time to adjust to the salt and steroids needed to help their sodium levels balance out.  We were told they would be on hormones and salt for a good while before they most likely began to need less and less assistance as their bodies aged.  Probably at least 1-3 years.  Most likely longer.  But God knew better.  And two weeks before they were discharged their bodies started retaining fluid.  The neonatologists, endocrinologists and geneticist all agreed it was related to their sodium issue.  

Typically, we retain fluid when we have too much sodium in our bodies.  But this disorder meant they had too low of sodium and we needed to give them sodium and steroids to keep their levels up...

So they treated the fluid retention and backed off the hormone dose.  And they puffed up again.  And I got frustrated.  But God knew better.  

So they treated the fluid retention again and reduced the hormone dose again.  And they puffed up again.  And I got frustrated.  But God knew better.  

Finally, they were down to an unbelievably low dose of the hormone with their sodium levels remaining normal!  And while we don't have the final answer yet, I believe God is using this to show that he is sovereign over gene mutations, too.  That what was supposed to take 3+ years to adjust to, God is helping their bodies adjust to in just 3 weeks.  Once again, where we saw ashes, he saw beauty.  Once again, where we were frustrated, God knew better.

Do I wish they didn't have to deal with this salt issue?  Absolutely.  Do I pray every day for God to heal them completely of this disorder? 1000% yes.  But I know that God knows better.  What scientists see as a 1 and 80,000 chance of a gene mutation, God sees as two uniquely designed individuals that are fearfully and wonderfully made to love salt more than the rest of us! :)

Toward the end of our NICU journey, Justin was contacted about a new job position.  It would be with the same company, but a better opportunity.  But we worried about the timing of this and the babies.  He was getting ready to take 4-6 weeks off of leave with the babies...and nobody would want to hire someone about to go on leave.  But God knew better.  He interviewed in just a few days and told them what was going on with the twins and his plans for leave so there would be no surprises. Justin was offered the job just a few days later. All of this happening within a week.  His new boss brought him the offer letter and said, "I'll be flexible about a lot of things, but there's one thing I'm not budging on.  You're taking every bit of your 6 week leave. I have TWINS and I know exactly what that's like.  Take it and don't feel a single bit bad about it."  How faithful is our God in every single detail? God gave him a better job at a very unusual transition time and still allowed him to keep his adoption benefits.  

As the weeks passed by, Evelyn's toes and feet swelling went down and then back up, but never completely away.  The doctors puzzled over it, we asked questions about it, and no one yet has been able to put their finger on it as to why they are still swollen when she doesn't have Turner's and she's done all the treatments to relieve her fluid retention. The best the doctor's can come up with is that is just one "of her characteristics."  But God knows better.  I firmly believe that God left her chubby feet and chubby toes as a reminder.  A reminder that our little girl may have very well been born with Turner's and God chose to use her for a healing testimony.  We will never know why her toes and feet remain chubby to this day.  But I'll love them and cherish them as long as they are chubby.  And every time I look at them, it will be a reminder that...

" thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, " declares the Lord.  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8-9

God has been MORE than faithful to our family.  He changes not...despite the twists and turns of our story, He was our constant.  When we couldn't see a way through a diagnosis, a financial situation, a room and board situation, or an adoption story, he knew and he was faithful to take care of us.  God just knew better.

One of my favorite stations in Kinder and first is creation station.  Let's chat about what that station is, what our routine looks like AND, most importantly, how you can try it out for FREE! :)

What Is A Creation Station?

Creation Station is just what it sounds like... a station where kids get to create!  But the tie in to literacy is that they create and then write about it.

I do two types of creation stations: How to Draw and Craftivities.

The crafts are just that...crafts that kids make and then they write about what they made.

The How To Draw Stations give kids step by step drawings for them to recreate.  And then they can write about what they drew here too.  These are much like directed drawings or any how to draw kids book you can get.

What I love about both of these types of creation stations is that they teach kids to follow step-by-step directions independently.  And when they finish, they can visually check their products to see if they match the examples given!

Craftivity Creation Station Routines

At this version of creation station, I have a craft that students can make on their own.  Before the first station rotations, I quickly have my pieces ready to show kids how to glue and assemble.  I may verbally tell them what needs to be colored and cut.  But most of the coloring and cutting is done before hand to save time.

I do glue it with them though because I have found it really helps them see it better and understand what gets glued on top or bottom! :)

Once we've quickly gone over the craft, we go over the writing part.  Sometimes I give kids a sentence stem like, "My **** has a ________."  Other times I just leave it blank and tell them to free write about it.

Then, I post my creation on the wall by the station for them to refer to.  As the kids finish their creation, they bring them to me to check and then hang up!

How To Draw Station Routines

At the How To Draw station, I post the step by step pictures on how to draw the picture.

I go over this quickly just like the crafts.  I usually draw all or most of the steps, but after the first few weeks of school when they know my coloring expectations, I don't model how to color anymore.

Again for the writing part, sometimes I give them a sentence stem and other times I leave it blank and have the kids free write about their drawing.

I post my example on the wall by the station and I absolutely love posting them all on the wall around that station as a collage of their directed drawings.  It's the cutest!

Want to try this How to Draw Creation Station for FREE? Get the shark here for FREE or find the bundle of Creation Stations HERE!

Last week, we chatted about why decodable texts are essential in the primary classroom.  Missed it? Catch up here and come on back.  I'll wait for ya! :)

Now that we are clear on WHY we use decodables, let's talk about HOW to use them and what the routines look like in the classroom...and I'll share a big freebie, too! :)

Decodable Readers

Decodable readers are used at the end of the Super Phonics lessons in my classroom as an extension and independent practice time.

On Tuesdays, I show the digital reader and I model read the book.  Then, we go back and choral read together if we have time.

On Wednesdays, students get a paper reader and take it back to their desks.  The first thing they do is read the sight words on the title page...

...and then find them and highlight them in their book.

After they finish highlighting, they go back and read the text to self.

As they are reading, I walk around and listen to each child read at least two pages to me.  Yes, this takes time (about 7-10 minutes in the kindergarten class I did this in), but it is a wonderful way for me to see who I need to spend more time with during small groups.  During this time, I make notes of struggling readers and pull them back for additional support with this reader or other decoding skills during our small group time.

Once I have listened to them read, they continue reading, going back to reread if they finish early.  Once I've listened to everyone read, I give them a few minutes to color/illustrate the pictures if we have time.  Then, it goes in their browsing box to practice when they finish early. 

Thursdays, we buddy read the decodable readers by sitting, "Elbow to elbow, knee to knee, book in the middle so both can see."  Then, with each page they take turns with I read, You read, We read.  We model this a LOT in the beginning so they know what to do.

As they buddy read, I walk around and listen in again and make any new notes!

Decodable Passages

Decodable passages are for additional practice in small groups.  If I have noted that some students need extra practice decoding, we use the passages.  One of the passages in each resource is the same as the reader.  The other 2 are new texts with the same focus sound.  These are great for kids who just need to practice the fluency with decoding.

In our small groups, we start by reading the sight words together.

Then, they highlight the sight words...just like in the readers.

Then, they read the passage independently as I listen in.  After I've listened to each one in my small group read and taken notes or running records, we all choral read together.

Assessing Decoding

On Fridays during our small group time, I can use these checkups to see how kids are doing decoding with the skill we practice during the week.  I make one master copy of the checkup for the students to use.

And another one for me to make notes on...just like this sample below!  This is great to keep as additional data for RTI purposes or for parent conferences!

You can find these short a decodables FREE here and the bundle of decodables for 36 sounds HERE (this bundle is set to be completed by May 2020)!
When I started teaching first grade almost 15 years ago, I had a stack of decodable readers in my classroom that just collected dust.

Why?  Because they weren't meaningful texts.  They were boring to read.  There was little picture support.  And I was a teacher determined to emphasize reading comprehension, not robotic readers.

So the phonics readers just sat in the back of my cabinet because I would've gone to teacher jail if I'd thrown them away.

But I began to notice a shift in my own teaching about 2 years before I left the classroom for a mom-break.  That year, 2014, the district I was in purchased a phonics curriculum.  An actual phonics curriculum.  And I was reluctant at first because in my book.
Phonics = Boring

At least to 2014 Whitney.

But they asked us to teach it so I tried.  I really tried.  And by the end of the second year, I had found a rhythm with phonics.  I had taken what worked from the curriculum, with what I also had found to work in my own classroom, and developed a 20 minute phonics routine that was engaging to my firsties and....

Wait for it...


Fast forward 3 more years and I started doing some personal research while out of the classroom on my mom-break on the Science of Reading and the RISE initiative in my state, Arkansas.

And what I found between that research and my experience as a long-term resource sub and long-term kinder sub last year is that decodable texts have an important place in the primary classroom.

Why Decodable Texts?

The evidence based data that I found in my research of the science of reading showed that when we teach students strategies like "look at the picture," and "skip the word and come back" along with other MSV cues, we are teaching them to guess using skills that aren't actually reading skills.

Think about that for a minute.  If I ask my ELL kiddo to look at the picture for a clue to read the word, I'm asking him to use language skills that he may or may not have.  And even if she can guess the word from one picture clue, does not mean that she can guess it from the next all depends on his vocabulary.  Not his decoding skills.

Instead, if I front load my learners with decoding skills and teach them the 44 sounds in the English language, that is transferrable.  If I can crack the decoding skill, I can read any book....regardless of my language skills.

Decodable texts remove the language comprehension requirement and give kids an opportunity to just practice segmenting and blending to gain fluency and become automatic readers who can THEN focus on comprehension.

But What About Comprehension?

Do not.  I repeat DO NOT hear me say that comprehension is not important.  I'm a reader who struggles with reading comprehension.  Who can decode quickly and read 5 pages out of my favorite chapter book at night before realizing I have no idea what I just read.

So I understand the importance of the end goal in understand, learn from and enjoy what we are reading.

Comprehension is still very present in the primary classroom.  But it is done whole group through read alouds and VERBAL comprehension.  It's doing what we tell parents to do with their kids at and talk about the story.

And this is exactly what my 12 weeks in kindergarten last year as a long-term sub taught me.  Comprehension early on is VERBAL.  It's studying vocabulary words through read alouds and text talks.  It's reading stories together and asking questions and retelling together as a whole group.  And it's modeling thinking aloud about stories.  All of those things still exists in the primary classroom. And are ESSENTIAL.

But another essential part of reading in the primary grades is decoding.  After all, if I can't decode as an adult (or 3rd grader) you can just forget about comprehension anyway.

Independent reading in K & 1 is the time for kids to practice their decoding skills.  And what the evidence shows (both formally from the Science of Reading data and informally from my observations in the classroom) is that as our decoding skills and verbal/language comprehension skills grow, they meet together to form reading comprehension.

Let's Talk ELL Kiddos

Decoding + Verbal Comprehension = Reading Comprehension

Think about that for a second.

That was a lightbulb moment for me for my ELL kiddos when I began to see this in the classroom.

I spent so many years early on asking my ELL babies to use their English Language skills (which by the way were basically zero) to "read" or guess words.  What a HUGE disservice!

Instead, I should have spent my time building up their verbal language comprehension skills and teaching them decoding skills during their small group intervention times...knowing that formula would eventually produce reading comprehension.  I was trying to make them swallow the whole apple (decode and comprehend) instead of cutting it up into smaller pieces.

So now what?

As a result, I've created decodable texts that align with my first grade Super Phonics Curriculum.  And I'll be blogging soon about how I used these in the classroom!

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