Promoting Reading

I feel like an educating super-genius!

I was reviewing the educational goals for 1st grade and stopped at the very first item on the list:

Kids should know the sounds of all the consonants and both long and short vowel sounds. They should also know the common digraphs – double-letter combinations that represent single sounds, such as th, ch, sh, qu, and why – and common consonant blends,such as bl and br, sp, st, and sw, and dr and tr. They should be familiar with these to substitute initial consonant sounds to create rhyming “word families,” such as dog, fog, log, hog, bog.

Since Emily learned to tie her shoes, she has been practicing whistling. Each time I think of it, I mention to her, “Wow, now that you have tying your shoes down, and whistling well on the way, learning to read must be next on the list, right? I think you are definitely ready to make the next step.”

At first she didn’t seem too jazzed at the idea, but on Tuesday she replied, “Yeah, I think you are right, Mama.”

Now she may have just been being agreeable. And I was quite proud of myself for not running for the nearest Hop on Pop or Fox in Socks: Dr. Seuss’s Book of Tongue Tanglers (Bright & Early Board Books(TM)) beginning reading book when she said that. Remember, I’m doing my best not to push this, just kind of ease her into it.

It is so hard…so very hard. I want to pull out an enormous book and just have her know how to read. And love it like I do.

Instead, I looked at that first Language Arts goal for the year and typed “learning digraphs” into my Google browser. And here was the perfect way to introduce said digraphs…through an easy game…

Digraph Phonics Bingo

If you go to Boggles World you will find many handy games and activities. I particularly liked Digraph Phonics Bingo. I printed out several of the bingo cards and a sheet of the consonant digraph words. As I cut them out, Emily’s attention zeroed in.

“What’s that?” she asked

“A game,” I answered. “Would you like to play?”

She bounced up and down. “Oh yes!” (I silently cheered)

We set up the bingo cards, and words and I grabbed a bag full of pennies out of Robot Sam (our change tin). “Now, what we have to do is figure out what the word is, say it out loud, and then see if we have it on our bingo card. It’s a lot like ThinkFun Zingo, only better.”

She was still game. As we began I pointed out word combinations, “The s and h together make a shhh sound,” I said, pointing to the word “ship.”

She sounded it out, “sh…i…p…ship!”

“Very good!”

We played a round and she won the first game.

Incorporating Mathematics

“I tell you what,” I said, “Let’s make it a little more interesting. Whoever wins a round gets all of the pennies on the bingo cards from both players. To keep for their own. What do you think?”

Her eyes widened and she bounced happily, “YesYesYes!”

And after two games she had a nice little pile of money, having won both rounds.

Reinforcing Counting by 2s and 5s

“I’m going to count up my money!” Emily crowed. She counted by 1s…”I’ve got 26 cents!”

“Now let’s count them again by 2s,” I said. We did, although she still has a hard time with it. And then we did it again, counting by 5s. She definitely needs the reinforcement.

Improvement Will Come With Time…and Repetition

I noticed a marked improvement from the beginning of the 1st game of bingo, to the end of the last. She was actually recognizing some digraphs and saying them before I asked her if she remembered them or not. I stayed patient, which is inevitably key to encouraging learning.

As I waited for her to scan over her bingo card, looking carefully (and agonizingly slowly) for the word she had just sounded out, I would point out similar words. “I don’t have ball, but I have doll,” or “I don’t have moth, but I have math.”

I’ve got my eye on the prize. Slowly but surely, my child will learn to read. I’m really excited about this!

And it goes without saying that I will be continuing to review counting by 2s, 5s, 10s and more. There will be no slacking on mathematics ’round here.

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