Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Preschool Reading - Opposites Day

This week in preschool we're introducing the letter "a", which gives us the first unique opportunity to teach blending letter sounds to read words.  This is a HUGE concept for any reader and is so important for kids to master with just the 3 letters we've now learned (M, T, A).  I utilize the Amazing Action Alphabet materials, and specifically their Beginning Reader set.  These materials are fantastic in helping kids understand what reading is, a very difficult concept of making the sounds of the letters blend together into words, but very simply developed through these beginning readers.  
 We've already learned letters M and T.  Today we spend some time working on letter A.  It's important for children to be responsible for their own learning and utilize what they've learned.  We spend time being detectives with mini magnifying glasses finding the letter of the week around the room.  We look all around on the walls and the floor for the letter.  Then we mark the letter with highlighter tape.  All of the letter A's that we found are now marked with blue tape throughout the room and will stay that way for the duration of the school year.  At home, encourage your little one to find the letter of the week everywhere you go: on signs, in books, even on cereal boxes!
 I love Starfall.com for all of their variety of activities.  The alphabet activities include fun digital books with interactive pages such as this page where we sorted capital and lowercase letter A apples into their correct basket.
 Here is where we get into the most important concept of the day: blending letters.  This is HUGE and shouldn't be skipped over.  In fact, it should be practiced every day until they understand the concept.  We write the letters "a" and "m" on separate dot stickers.  Then we put the stickers on the left hand.  The "a" goes on the left pointer finger, the "m" goes on the left middle finger.  We call this strategy "tapping".  Tap the left thumb to the left pointer finger (where the letter a is) and make the sound /a/.  Then tap the left thumb to the left middle finger (where the m is) and make the sound /m/.  We are reading the word "am".  We do it slowly at first "/a/ /m/, /a/ /m/" over and over.  Then we speed it up and repeat.  Eventually you make the sounds so quickly together that you blend the sounds into the word.  Your thumb moves from pointer finger to middle finger in more of a slide fashion than a tap.

This is where the "What Good Readers Do" page (in the School Tools preschool pack) comes in.  Good readers do 4 things.  They LOOK at the letters, POINT at the letters, MAKE THE SOUND with their mouths, and LISTEN to the sounds to determine the word.  We're looking, pointing and making the sounds.  Now we have to listen to the word we're saying.  What word are you reading?  What sounds are coming out of your mouth?  When you put those sounds together they make the word "am".  We use the word "am" in sentences like "I am happy."
 Practice tapping the sounds of the word 'am' until your preschooler(s) understands the concept.  Then move onto the word 'at' as the second word to practice tapping.
Today also happens to be themed "Opposites".  We do a number of fun opposites activities such as identifying what opposites are and playing with opposites like wet and dry chalk during art time!

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