Important Skills for Beginning of Kindergarten or PreK
Training my students to hear beginning sounds in a fun and effective way can be a challenge. I begin each year focusing on this skill as many of my students arrive lacking the ability to discriminate sounds heard within words.
Research has proven that phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and phonics plays a crucial role in children learning to read but the terms can be confusing. The video below is an excellent source of information in explaining the differences.
Pre-Reading Skills Video
In this blog post I wanted to address a few mini-lessons that I have implemented that have helped my students to hear beginning sounds and apply this to the corresponding letter.
One of the learning outcomes in many Pre-K programs is for students to print letters they hear at the beginning of words. However, many of my students arrive not being able to distinguish the difference in hearing these sounds. Many do not understand the concept of what a beginning sound is. During the first weeks of school, I focus on phonemic awareness activities that will assist them in hearing sounds within words prior to introducing any alphabet letters representing these sounds. I focus on the initial sound first.
1) I have a puppet that I named “Slow Speaking Sam”. Sam says the sounds within words (usually one syllable words) very slowly and the students must guess the word said. If they can’t guess the word, it is said faster.
2) I have three students come forward and assign each of them a phoneme sound they are to represent. We blend the sounds together to say the word that represents these sounds. We clap or stretch the sounds using an elastic band. We also discuss the first, middle and last sound heard. This activity has been invaluable in terms of my students understanding the concept of what a beginning sound is. When the majority of my students are able to hear beginning sounds; I begin introducing the letters of the alphabet that represent these sounds (phonics). We extend this activity to deleting and adding sounds. Using the students to represent sounds assists visual learners with this skill devleopment.
Integrating Use of the Smart Board
Smart Board Sorting Activities
As a group instructional activity, we sort pictures according to what inital sounds are heard.
Use of Paddle Boards
Dry Erase Boards
After the students have an understanding of hearing initial sounds in words, the phonics component is integrated. I was fortunate to have a class set of dry erase paddle boards. I use these contstantly in my “Literacy Centers” and class activities. I dictate words that begin with the focus initial letter sounds and the students must print the letter that represents the initial sound heard in the word. This helps me evaluate each child’s understanding. This has proven to be an invaluable activity but my only complaint is that I seem to be having to replace the markers frequently. I haven’t found a solution to this problem yet.
Use of Shared and Guided Reading and Literacy Centers
Connection to Literature
Many of the emergent readers are a simple retelling of a literature selection. The focus literature selection for the upcoming week will be “Rainbow Fish”. This is a great book to use to address the concept of sharing and to introduce the related emergent reader.
Shared Reading – Rainbow Fish Retelling
I project the color version of the emergent reader on my Smart Board. First we do a picture walk and predict what the story might be about. I read the book to them and after we circle and read the words together, reinforcing the use of pictures to give us clues as to what the text reads.
The reader is not only meant to introduce the reading process but also key learning concepts. The following concepts will be introduced during shared reading time: what a word is, letters “r” and “f” and their related sounds, sight word “a”, colors and color words.
I don’t exceed six students during my guided reading group time. Since we have read the selection over several times during shared reading, many of my students are able to pretend read the majority of the book. During guided reading they circle the words and color the pictures according to the text. This not only adds a comprehension and fine-motor component but most students complete this task at varying times, allowing me to focus on one student at a time. They read the book to me (tracking the words they circled) and after read it to a friend and take it home to read to their parents.
Printing Book – Group 1
Complete printing book “r and f” and stamp pictures beginning with that sound. Printing book found in link below:
Object or Picture Sorting – Group 2
My students will be digging into the rice or soy bean tactile tubs for objects to determine if they begin with “Ll, Hh, Rr or Ff” sounds. If I do not have enough objects representing a sound, I use picture cards laminated on cardstock instead (found in the “All About Me” theme).
I recently purchased soy beans from the “Bulk Barn”. It was the cheapest I could find for creating another tactile tub. My students really enjoy this experience.
Spin and Print – Group 3
Students take turns spinning a top and printing the letters “r and f” depending on what picture the top lands on.
Alphabet Ordering and Matching – Group 4
I have all the alphabet letters in the correct order in pocket charts. The lower-case letters are printed on poker chips. The students must match the poker chips to the correct letter found within the pocket charts. I have three pocket charts (2 students working at each chart). They are encouraged to say the name of the letter, if they know it). Later in the year, I will have them put the alphabet letters in the correct order.
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