Showing posts with label guided reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guided reading. Show all posts

I get questions and DMs all the time about lesson plans for small groups.   For teachers (like me), that "grew up" teaching small groups, it's part of our DNA.  Yet, we know now that guided reading is not the way. 

Over the last several years, I've dedicated this space to sharing why I said goodbye to guided reading.  And then, sharing how I set up small groups that aligned with the science of reading.  If you haven't read those posts, and want more background, go read those now and then come back!  We will wait for ya! :)

Today, let's talk about what makes a good, research based reading group lesson plan.  From start to finish.  We will talk about lesson planning a decoding-focused small group, choosing materials for the lesson, and what the actual lesson looks like!  And most importantly, it will be familiar enough for us small group loving teachers, but still aligned to the science of reading.

Assessing and Placing Kids In Small Groups

I'm not going to go into lots of detail about how I assess kids since I spill ALLLLLL the details on that in this blog post, but I will say that for decoding focused groups, I use these decoding screeners to help me decide who needs to work on what decoding skill! 

When I'm finished assessing decoding levels at the beginning of the year, I keep this record to update throughout the year.

Our decodable reader sets have checkups at the end of each set that I use as formative assessments in between our benchmark assessments at the beginnning, middle and end of the year. As kids master a decoding skill, I update our record sheet.

The record sheet is how I group my kids.  I write down the lowest decoding level for each kid and group them in this folder accordingly.

(The teams I've taught with in the past have worked together to combine groups as needed so that none of us has more than 4-5 groups.  For example, if I only have 2 CVC kids, and my partner teacher has 4, I will give her my 2 CVC kids and that frees up a group for me to take some extra CVCe kids or whatever.  Maybe I'll blog about that process in the future.... let me know if you'd be more interested in hearing about all of this!)

Focused Lesson Planning for Small Groups

Once we have our groups organized, we are ready to plan the lessons.  

The first thing I do is write down the focus sound we need to work on and the title of the book or passage I will be using.  In case it's not clear yet, I do NOT used leveled readers.  Period.  I only use decodable texts.  These decodable readers to be specific.  

Warning: Some texts are labeled "decodable" and far from it.  In order to be a true decodable, the majority of words should be words that are currently or previously have been taught.  The scope and sequence of the decodables should align with the science of reading.  And the books should actually be interesting!  That's exactly why I created these K-2 decodables.

Once I have my decodable text planned, I start honing in on each of the 4 parts of a decoding small group reading lesson plan: Activate, Preview, Read, and Retell.

Let's take a closer look at each one of them.

Decodable Small Group Lesson Plan: Activate

The first part of a decoding small group lesson is activate.  The purpose is to review or teach the focus sound of the text.  In this kindergarten reading lesson plan example, we are focusing on the short o sound in CVC words.  I chose some words to practice blending.  These will be 3-5 words that come straight from the text we will read.  For this example, I chose the words pin, cop, top, pot, and pops

Pin should be a review word because these kids have already mastered short i.  They have already learned the letter sounds for the consonants p, n, c, t, and s, so the only new sound should be /o/.

There are all kinds of ways to blend the words, so I will write how I plan to blend them as well.  A few blending practice ideas that I use are...

  • Use magnetic letters to build and blend each word.  
  • Have students write each word on dry erase boards and blend.
  • Write the word on your dry erase board and have students use their arm to tap and blend the sounds.
  • Use pencil boxes with sand in them to let kids write the word in sand and blend.

There are obviously more ways, but these are my favorite and go to ideas.  For this lesson, we will build and blend each word because it will be one of their first exposures to this new sound.  I love using these word building mats to help us.

The last part of activating is scanning the text for vocabulary words.  I will list out any words I think we need to talk about their meaning.  My kindergarten reading lesson plan example does not have any vocab words so we will skip this part, but for this 2nd grade decodable reader, I wrote down the words fetch and hutch.  We will quickly go over what these mean and I will have a photo of a hutch to help teach that word!

The activate section should take about 5-10 minutes depending on the number of words and how use choose to activate!

Decodable Small Group Lesson Plan: Preview

Back in our guided reading days, this part was called the "Picture Walk."  But previewing is slightly different.  In a guided reading picture walk you are basically giving away the story so that the kids know how to guess and read based on the pictures.

A preview is not about guessing.  It's about building some background knowledge to support comprehension of the text. 

In our kindergarten reading lesson plan example, I will show kids the cover and say, this book is called, Pop! Pop!  It is about things that make a popping sound.  What kinds of things do you know about that can pop?  

We will list out things that can pop.  Then, I will say, "Let's read to find out what pops in this book."  In this way, we have given them a preview of what's to come in the book without giving it away AND given them a purpose to read the book.

This preview and purpose section is VERY short.  Like 2-3 minutes. Max.  Don't spend too much time here so that you can get to the real meat of the lesson...

Decodable Small Group Lesson Plan: Read

Now that we have activated their decoding skills, previewed the book and given kids a purpose for reading, we are ready to READ!

This part of the lesson depends on your kids.  If it is a review, you may want them to just read independently and listen in to individual kids to record how they are reading the decodable book. 

If it is a brand new skill, you may want to read together!  However you choose to read, I like to give us time to read it at least 3 times to give them rereading practice.  

For my kindergarten reading lesson plan example, we will choral read together one time and then I will let them read independently the next 2 times.  For my 2nd grade reading lesson plan example, they will read it twice independently and then we will read it together to review.

As they are reading independently, I like to listen in and record how kids are reading and decoding.  This is just an informal way to check in with kids, track our interventions for RTI purposes, and share with parents or other colleagues on how a kid is doing.

The reading part of the lesson can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the length of the book.

Decodable Small Group Lesson Plan: Retell

Once we have read the book 3 times, we are ready to focus on comprehension.  Full disclosure, most of the time we stop here for the day and come back to this part the next day.  It just depends on how long it takes to get through the lesson.  I like to keep small group lessons 20 minutes or less.  If we are under 20 minutes and I really just want to quickly do the retelling, we will just orally go through the steps and be done.

But, if we've already been working for 20 minutes, I save the retell part for the next meeting time.  At that point, I will have kids jump in and start independently reading the decodable text right away for 5 minutes or so as a review and then we will move into retelling.

I start by planning a language or comprehension goal.  For this 2nd grade reading lesson plan example, we will be practicing retelling using key details. 

Our focus question is, "What key detail is most important from the beginning/middle/end of the story?"

We will use one of the retelling graphic organizers from this small group planning resource and fill this out together!

Retelling orally can take 3-5 minutes.  But if we work on writing the retelling with a graphic organizer and go more in depth, it will take 15-20 minutes and need to be done as a follow up lesson.

A Few Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use this same reading lesson plan format for whole group reading lessons?

Yes!  This lesson structure works great for whole group when teaching on grade level decoding skills and texts.  It may take a little longer, and could actually be stretched out across several days, but I have used this very successfully in kindergarten and first grade.  You can read more about my whole group decodable routines for the week here.

Where do you store the materials and plans to stay organized?

The decodable books are stored in tubs with labels for each skill set.

I also keep a binder that has the current weeks lesson(s) for each group.  I use these color-coded tabs to correlate with the color group they are in on my groups folder. In each tab pocket, I keep the lesson plan and book for that group.

How do you have time to write multiple lesson plans each week for multiple groups?

I don't! Ha!  It's more work in the beginning, but as you go, you will reuse the lessons over and over.  The key is to keep the lesson plan copy after you write it and put it in a small group lesson plan folder.  Use tabs to organize them by the skill.  

The next time you are needing to use that same book or skill, you will already have a lesson plan ready to go!  And if you are blessed like I have been to work with a great team, you can have a grade level binder of lesson plans that everyone is filling up and you will be shocked how fast you can get dozens of small group lessons ready to pull and teach!

Where can I find the resources used in these lessons?

All of the lesson plan templates, teacher organization tools and graphic organizers are in this small group planning resource.

You can shop all of the decodable texts here.  You can find a decodable reader that focuses on any phonics skill from kinder to second grade--from letter sounds to greek and latin roots!

Do you have kids that are struggling decoding CVC words?  Do they know their letters and sounds, but they just can't seem to put it all together to read words with short vowels?  

Kids must have multiple exposures to words in multiple contexts to map words and read them with automaticity.  So, it's helpful to have multiple interventions in our toolkit to help kids decode.

Today, we're chatting about my favorite--Science of Reading aligned--ways to help your kids learn to decode simple CVC short vowel words.

The Blending Slide

Phonemic awareness is the foundation of decoding.  Without being able to blend and segment sounds kids hear, it is next to impossible to blend and segment even the simplest words.

Let's start with one of my favorites: The Blending Slide.  I start this routine whole group from week 1.

I chant, 

Slide, slide, slippety slide.

I say the sounds.

YOU make it glide!

/c/ /a/ /t/

I touch my shoulder, elbow, and hand as I say each sound.  Then, without saying anything else, I slide my hand down my arm from shoulder to hand and the kids blend the sound.

As I'm touching each sound on my arm and blending, they are touching their arms in the same way at the same time.  This Total Physical Response is crucial to helping kids solidify their learning.

The sliding arm is MAGIC!  We use it for just phonemic awareness (sounds only).  And we use it as we begin reading.  And I see those little arms pop out all the time while they are practicing reading.  Especially for my tactile learners.  It is a HUGE built-in manipulative and support for them.  And when they reach automaticity, that arm no longer is needed!

Segmenting on Arms

At the same time we are working on blending, we are also working on segmenting with a chant called, "Break It Down."

I start this routine whole group from week 1 also.  I snap to the beat and chant,

Break it down (snap)

Break it down (snap)

Break. It. (snap) Down. (snap)

I say the word,

YOU say the sounds.


Then, we all stick our arm out in front of us.  We use our other arm to touch our shoulder, elbow, and hand while saying each of the sounds we hear in the word CAT.

/c/ /a/ /t/, CAT!

When we say the word at the end, we slide our hand all the way down our arm as we blend our word. You can read more about how I use the Break It Down and Slide Chants for reading intervention here.

Don't skip this practice, y'all.

Let me say it louder for the teachers in the back:  DON'T SKIP PHONEMIC AWARENESS.

Especially for intervention, the Science of Reading tells us it's super important that kids have opportunities to blend sounds together without having to think about the letter-sound correlation.  Don't worry, we are about to talk about connecting it to letters.... that's the end goal after all, right?

Connect It To Letters

In addition to manipulating sounds, we know from the science of reading research that kids should also be connecting their blending and segmenting skills to letters--and as soon as possible!  Sometimes, that comes immediately after manipulating sounds by asking, "And what letter makes that sound?"  

And sometimes it's a stand-alone phonics lesson.

This can be as simple as writing a CVC word on the board and having kids hold out their arms to say and blend the sounds.  

Another way I like to do this is by using magnetiles.  I love this intervention because I can use it for decoding CVC words all the way up to multisyllabic words (read those details here).

No matter how we connect it to letters, I have found that continuing to use the arm as a manipulative to blend the sounds helps kids tremendously!

Making Words

Decoding one word at a time using dry erase boards or magnetiles is perfect for kids starting to decode.

Once kids' decoding skills are increasing and they are in need of LOTS of decoding repetition, we move to making words.  Making words gives us the chance to manipulate and decode more words in a short amount of time so the focus is on automaticity and fluency!

If we do this whole group, I use dry erase markers to speed up the gathering materials process!

But for intervention groups, I still love using magnetic letters and the tactile learning it adds.

Making words is a word building game that makes phonics practice more like a puzzle so the kids are hooked from the first word!  You can read more about how I use this intervention in this post.

And you can find the premade lessons and mats that I use here.

Decodable Texts

Once kids are getting faster and more automatic with making words, they are ready to read in context.  For these kiddos, decodable texts are the ONLY way to go!

I LOVE giving kids authentic ways to practice decoding as soon as they are ready!  These decodable texts give kids passages and booklets to practice CVC short vowel words, but with silly stories that will entertain your kids!

Find decodable word lists, passages, booklets, and checkups for CVC words here!

Setting Reading Goals is vital to reading success for our kids.  And it's not just about using the district grade level benchmarks as a guide and praying your kids can be "on grade level" by the end of the year.

When I first started teaching, I knew all the quarterly benchmarks and expectations for my first graders.  I studied them.  I could spout them off to anyone who would listen.  But I never even mentioned it to the kids I was teaching.

Why?  Because I didn't think they needed to be bothered with all of that.  

Instead, I kept teaching and doing small group interventions as my first graders worked to meet the (secret) goals I had set for them.

And somewhere during that first year, I decided that was for the birds.  It was time to get some help on reading goal setting...

...from the 6 and 7 year olds in my class!

Yep.  I was actually going to let my first graders be active participants in setting reading goals.

And the change was POWERFUL!

Knowledge Is Power

Knowing is the first step.

Knowledge is power.

Know better. Do better.

It was this idea that propelled me into letting my first graders in on the reading goal setting process.

And what I found was POWERFUL.  Kids THRIVE on knowing expectations.  

Like most humans, working aimlessly is not motivating.  But just the simple shift of having a goal in mind gives us internal motivation--something to work for!

We start setting reading goals by telling kids what the end of quarter expectation is.  We do this as a whole class.  We talk about our plans for meeting those expectations.  We will do our best work during independent time.  Mrs. Shaddock will do her best to plan lessons and small group interventions to help them grow.  They will listen and give their best attitude and effort during intervention time.

And we talk about how many kids are below that expectation now because it's not the end of the quarter yet.  That's okay... it just means we have work to do.  

We also talk about how some kids are already at or above that expectation, but that is not a reason to not work.  We will also set reasonable goals for them to continue working towards.

When it's time for me to individually assess each kid, I discuss how well they did after I assess them.  We color in their thermometer to where they are at and identify the end of quarter goal OR what their individual goal should be and star or circle that goal.

When we made the switch from guided reading to Science of Reading aligned skill groups, these thermometers got a makeover and became even more a part of the goal setting process.  Because now our goals were backed by science! :)

Student Ownership Is Key

Knowledge is power, but that's not all of it.  Students have to buy in and own their own learning. 

It's not enough for me to just tell them what their goal should be.  It's important for me to ask the kids.  And put it on them.  

So, after assessing and coloring in their current level, I look at the kid and say, "You are reading words with blends really well!  By the end of the quarter, you should at least be reading CVCe words well too.  What do you think your goal should be for the first quarter?"

Most kids answer with the quarterly goal.  Some kids go a little higher... and that's okay!  A few kids will just point to the top of the thermometer and say that's their goal.  And so we have to talk about what "reasonable goals" are and I may need to guide them a little more.

But the idea is the same.  Help them feel a part of it.  And like this is their goal and their reading progress.  The more they feel in charge, the more pride they will feel in their work and the effort they will give.  And that helps everybody! :)

Once we agree on our goal, we fill out the goal sheet together.  (We will color in the correct face when I assess them the next time before moving on to our new goals!)

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

Once the goals are set, we are ready to get to work!  It's as cheesy as can be... but it's also true.  Teamwork really does make the dreamwork!

Your kids need you and your best interventions.  And you need their buy in and effort.  Setting reading goals TOGETHER helps encourage all of these things and puts the focus on teamwork.

As one of my friends says a lot, "Everything is better in teams."

So, if you haven't given your kids a chance to set their own reading goals and be active participants in goal setting, this can be the year!  You can find all of these goal setting sheets and thermometers that I use for K-2 here if you need an easy way to get started!

Decodable is the new buzz word of literacy thanks to the Science of Reading.  Decodable texts are any kind of text (lists, passages, books...) where at least 90% of the words are decodable with the focus sound or sounds previously learned.

I first fell back in love with decodable texts 4 years ago when I was doing a maternity leave in kindergarten.  Kids were using their decoding skills to read, making connections to new phonics skills they learned, and searching for heart words in their texts.  But most importantly, they were GROWING readers.  By leaps and bounds.  In 12 weeks, I saw growth like I'd never seen in 10 years of teaching first grade because it was so widespread with so many kids making amazing progress.

But decodable isn't just a buzz word.  It's a must have in your primary classroom.  If you want your reading instruction to be aligned to the Science of Reading, then you better invest in decodable texts.  And once you get started, you'll find there are SO many ways to use them in your classroom.  Let's talk about just 5 ways to use decodable texts in your primary classroom.

Whole Group Reading

This is how I first started using them during my 12 week job in Kinder!  At the end of our phonics lesson on Wednesday, I pulled out one of our decodable books that focused on the sound we were learning.  I read the book aloud to the kids on the carpet using our ELMO projector.  

Then, we reviewed the expectations.  They were to read their book one time.  Then, go back and highlight the focus sound and circle the sight words listed on the front of the book.  Then, they were to read the book two more times.  

When they finished this routine (read, highlight, circle, read, read), then they could illustrate their pictures. 

While the kids were working, I circled around to each table and listened in on as many kids as I could read the text.  I had a class list with the title of the book and I recorded how the kids were reading that I had listened to on this recording sheet

TEACHER TIP:  If I was listening to a kid who was just copying how the friend beside her was reading, I would ask her to start back at the beginning or a previous page for me. :)

When our time was finished (this took about 15-20 total minutes), the kids would put the booklets in their book boxes to read when they finished other work early.  

Targeted Reading Groups

The nice thing about doing the on grade level decodable book as a whole group is I could quickly see who was thriving or struggling with the on grade level text.   At the end of our reading time, I quickly analyzed the running records and wrote notes for who needed what.

I used our Wednesday small group time to pull kids that were struggling.  Sometimes, we did some extra word work using making words with the focus sound.  

Sometimes, we practice our heart words.  

Depending on what my running record showed they were struggling with.  Depending on the amount of strugglers and the reasons the struggled, I might have 1-3 groups of kids to meet with.

We start with some skill practice (making words or sight words) for 5 minutes or less.  Then, we get our same booklet and reread together.  Then, I let them independently read by stagger starting them and listen in as they each read.  

For kids that read the decodable reader with at least 95% accuracy, but maybe weren't fluent, I would note that during our whole group time and pull them to reread and practice fluency.  For kids who were fluent, I might try the matching passage that is the same text as the book, but in a passage form without pictures!

Each reading group would be 10-15 minutes.  Short and targeted so that I could meet with as many kids as possible.  I was almost always able to meet with all of my kids to reinforce our focus skill, or work on fluency or even comprehension for higher kids.

RTI/Intervention Time

You might be thinking.... isn't that what you just described for small groups?  

And, yes, it is!

But that was just for the on grade level focus sound for that week.

Other days of the week, my small group time is spent filling decoding gaps or extending kids as needed.  I pull kids that maybe are still struggling on last week's skill....or the first week of school's skill.... IYKYK... :)  I keep all of our decodable books close to our reading group area so I can get to the book I need quickly and with little prep!

So how did I keep up with who needed what and how often and who I met with and didn't meet with and, and, and...???  That's all in detail in this nuts and bolts blog post.  

How do I figure all of the groups and their focuses out?   By ASSESSING!!  And that's the next way I use decodable texts in the classroom!

Assessing Decoding and Phonics Skills

Assessing is key to getting the most out of your small group or intervention time.  And if we want to know the decoding holes or gaps students have, then we have to use decoding assessments.

My favorite decoding assessments are these screeners.  I love that they are quick and easy to see the exact phonics skills kids are doing well, and the holes we need to fill.

I also assess our current focus skill on Fridays during small group time using these decodable checkups that come with each set of decodable readers.

Take Home Reading

The last way (I'm chatting about in this post anyway!) to use decodable readers in the classroom is to send them out of the classroom....HOME!

I've sent books home for parents to read after reading with them in class or in a group so that parents can stay involved.  

And I've also heard from many teachers who love sending the books or passages or wordlists home to parents who are asking for extra work!

So where can you find a TON of targeted decodable readers for kindergarten through second grade?  Shop all of the individual sets here!

Do you play "making words" during word work in your primary classroom?  It's one of my favorite ways to practice spelling and decoding skills with kinders and firsties!  But what I DON'T love about making words are all of the letter cards to pass out and keep up with.  It always took me more time to pass out cards than to do the actual lesson!  So when we finally started doing making words digitally, it was SO much better!

Today we'll be talking about our routines for making words, how to use DIGITAL making words mats, and I'll walk you through an entire sample lesson!

Types of Making Words Mats

After I gave up on passing out letter cards, I used two different kinds of mats: dry erase boards and digital.  I love both types for different reasons!

Let's talk about the dry erase mats first!  I've used just plain dry erase boards had kids spell words with me as I give the clues.  But just a blank dry erase board isn't quite structured enough for the little kids.  It's hard for them to easily see where the new letters go. 

Laminated dry erase mats are a much better option!  Just pass out the laminated mats and dry erase markers and they use these just like a dry erase board.  I like to use the mats with the Elkonin boxes to help give the kids structure for where to write their words.  This resource has 4 options of mats though with and without letters and Elkonin boxes.

If you're ready to go all digital with your making words, or want to continue making words with distance learning or Google classroom, digital mats are perfect!

You can manipulate the letters by clicking and dragging so it makes a great alternative to the traditional letter cards.  Digital mats can also be used on iPads or in Google classroom.  They can also be used on your interactive white board if you just want to do the activity all together!

Making Words Routines

This routine is quick and predictable in our classroom.  Just like my Super Phonics lessons, each lesson is basically the same with different content or word.  So the kids pick up the routine quickly and it just gets smoother and quicker as the year goes on!

There is at least one making words lesson for each of my first grade Super Phonics units.  I try to work these in as a whole group lesson a couple times a week at the beginning of the year when we need more whole group activities and then as the year goes on, we do less of this as a whole class, and more of it in small group interventions.

Here is the basic routine (and it's outlined in detail in the video below):

  • Go over the letter names and sounds of each letter in the lesson
  • Build a starting word
  • You give them the new word and the kids have to figure out the letter or letters to substitute to build that word
  • You give them the letters to substitute and the kids have to figure out what the word is
  • Guess my word: You give students clues about a longer (usually 2-syllable) word to spell with the feature sound
You can watch my full explanation and model of a blends and digraphs lesson in this video.

You can find a free sample of these lessons here and the bundle for an entire year of these lessons here.

As we are all navigating how to homeschool our own children at home thanks to CoVid-19, I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to practice essential K-1 literacy skills at home--with no technology needed!

Even after this pandemic is over, these are great activities and routines to keep in mind for the summer time or any time you are at home with your littles to reinforce what they are learning at school.  I've already blogged about my math suggestions, so let's talk about reading and writing today!


WHO? kinder and 1st graders or any kiddos with illegible handwriting :)

WHAT? A pencil and handwriting pages or paper

HOW?  Write a sentence in marker on handwriting paper and have your child trace it with pencil and then write it underneath.  If you want to make it even more fun, let them You can find ready made handwriting pages here.  If your child is in PreK or Kinder or really struggles with handwriting, you can get the phrases I say with kids as we write letters for free here.  This really helps their letter formation.

WHY?  Handwriting is great fine motor practice.  Also, research shows that practicing letter formation helps kids become better readers.  The act of handwriting while learning letters increases letter naming fluency, which is an indicator for reading success.

You can get more ideas for handwriting and letter formation practice here.

Sight Word Practice

WHO? Any kids who are reading or beginning to read words in a book

WHAT? sight word cards (make your own on index cards or use these premade ones), play doh, yarn, or other around the house items

HOW?  There are a ton of sight word games and practice options out there.  I've blogged about my favorite at home sight word games here including the fly swatting game, and this independent activity.

If you're looking for even more independent practice for your first or second graders, you can find tons of sight word printables here.

WHY?  While sight words should not be the only thing you use for reading practice--not even most of your reading time, it is important for kids to quickly read some words that we see a lot in books!  Having several high frequency words that kids don't have to sound out leads to reading fluency.

One Sentence Journaling

WHO? Any age!

WHAT? a notebook or download this free journaling paper here, pencil and crayons

(This is the cover we are using during the CoVid-19 Quarantine, but there are other generic cover options if you want to use this during the summer.)

HOW?  At the end of each day, write one sentence that tells about your day.  It can be a sentence about something you did, how you are feeling, or what you think about this whole quarantine situation!  Illustrate your sentence too.  Only ONE sentence.  That's the fun part (and makes it easier to get kids to do).  Just pick one important thing to remember and write and short and sweet, one sentence memory about it!

WHY?  I have been doing my own one sentence journaling for over a year now and absolutely love it!  It's a great way to look back and see what has happened over the last year and a half or so.  Quarantining to protect our community from CoVid-19 is an unusual time in our history.  Years from now, it will be special to look back and see what we were thinking about and doing during this time!

Letting kids write about what they want to write about (journaling) is great, authentic writing.  It gives them practice with sentence mechanics like capitals, spacing, punctuation and spelling.  And it's way more motivational to write about something you choose than something mom tells you to write about! :)

Pen Pals

WHO? Any age!

WHAT? pencil, paper, envelopes and stamps

HOW?  Find a friend or family member (or several) that will write to you!  Just like we did years ago, write a letter to a friend and write a letter back to someone who writes to you.  Tell them anything you'd like!  My sister-in-law had this idea and started a Facebook group for those interested to exchange addresses.

WHY?  Once again, letting kids write about what they want to write about is great, authentic writing.  It gives them practice with sentence mechanics like capitals, spacing, punctuation and spelling.  And it's super fun to write to friends and family members and get out and check the mailbox everyday while we are all practicing social distancing.
Mail, Newsletter, Home, Mailbox, Hiring

Digital Phonics

WHO? Kinders, 1st graders, and 2nd graders

WHAT? A week of digital phonics lessons.  Just click on the grade level below to get a free lesson.  Want a whole week for free?  Sign up for my email newsletter and choose the grade you need to get any entire week of phonics lessons for free.
 Kindergarten Digital Phonics Curriculum, Letter ID FREEBIE   Phonics Interactive Powerpoint: FREEBIE   2nd Grade Phonics Digital Curriculum FREEBIE

HOW?  These lessons require powerpoint and a computer.  They are intended for a teacher or parent to guide the kid(s) through them.  There are notes at the bottom of each slide that tell you exactly what to do.  It's as simple as click and learn.  No prep needed!

WHY?  Phonics or decoding skills are essential for young readers.  Primary teachers are highly trained for teaching these skills, but it can be scary for parents to understand the skills, much less teach them.  But if our schools are closed for any length of time, we must be able to continue phonics instruction for our children so they don't have decoding "gaps" in their reading when they return to school.

Decodable Readers

WHO? Kinders & 1st graders

WHAT? decodable readers... these are books where at least 90% of the words can be sounded out based on the phonics sounds your child knows.  You can use any books you may already have as long as they fit that criteria.  You can find a free set of decodables here to get you started!
HOW?  Just print the free decodables I linked above or grab your own decodables and have your child read to you.  Can't sit and listen to them read right now?  Have them record themselves reading and then they can play it later for you or an older sibling to listen to.  I have blogged about specific routines and ways to use decodables to help your kiddos.  Read the post here.

WHY?  AGAIN....decoding skills are essential for young readers.  Primary teachers are highly trained for teaching these skills, but it can be scary for parents to understand the skills, much less teach them.  But if our schools are closed for any length of time, we must be able to continue phonics instruction for our children so they don't have decoding "gaps" in their reading when they return to school.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS?  If your child gets to a tricky word that he/she can't decode, try saying... "Say the sounds" or "Blend the sounds" or "Get your mouth ready for the first sound and read all the way through the word."  If it is still super tricky, cover up all but the first sound and ask, "What does this sound say?" and then continue to reveal the next sound until they have decoded the whole word.

More Free Resources

Looking for more free printables and resources to help your K-2 kids with reading and writing with little to no prep?  Check out these FREE resources by clicking on each picture to download them.
Seusstastic Rhyme Time Matchup FREEBIE  Poetry Folder FREEBIE  Sight Word Morning Work FREEBIE
Reading Comprehension Passages and Questions FREEBIE  Homeschool Preschool Reading FREEBIE  Halloween Grammar Worksheets: FREEBIE
Language Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten  Phonics Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten  Writing Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten
Pocket Chart Center FREEBIE for Kindergarten
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