Teaching reading is a complicated process. Children learn to read in many different ways. Many children learn to read by reading the same story over and over again, by memorizing it, and by learning to pick out the words in a story. All of the stories on this website are appropriate to teach young children to read, and all children will benefit from hearing the stories aloud, from discussing the stories, and from answering questions about the stories. (All of the stories may be printed.)
Young children particularly enjoy stories that have the three R’s—repetition, rhyme and rhythm. Stories that repeat lines, such as the Gilbert the Goat stories on this website, are fun for children. Repetitive stories are particularly easy for children to memorize, especially if they rhyme. The two stories about Gilbert the Goat have repetitive lines which invite young children to join in the story by repeating the line. Rhyming stories also appeal to children. Rhyming stories develop children’s awareness of sounds, which is a fundamental step to early literacy. Many rhyming stories also contain rhythm, which allows children to relate to the story in a different way. Rhyming develops children’s sense of language. It also allows children to participate, as they chime in with the rhyme.
How to Use the Listen-Along Feature to Teach Reading:
Our new listen-along feature is ideal for helping young children learn to read through repetition. Read the story with your child, and discuss any new concepts or vocabulary. Then read the story with the listen-along feature, pointing to the words as the narrator says them. This shows young children that print goes from left to right, and that words–along with the pictures–tell a story. These are important literacy skills. Your child can listen to the story as many times as he or she wants after you introduce it.
How to use the Gilbert the Goat stories:
Read either Gilbert Goes Visiting and Learns to be Respectful or Gilbert the Goat Learns Respect in its entirety. After you have discussed the story, read it again. Invite the children to ‘read’ the repetitive line with you when you come to it in the story, and point to the line as you read it aloud. Do this over several days until the children have memorized the story and the line. Eventually, the children can ‘read’ the story by themselves becausethey have it memorized. When you point out the words as they ‘read’ or follow along, they will learn to recognize the words individually—all while they are enjoying themselves.
How to use Repetitive Stories:
I’m a Big Kid. I Can Help, Silly Lilly Remembers her Manners, and Sharing with Friends are rhyming stories which appeal to children’s sense of language. Read each story with the children repeatedly, and they will memorize it. Point to the words as you read the story aloud. Eventually the children will be able to ‘read’ the story by themselves, and point to the words. Repeat the two lines with the rhyme in it, and ask the children which words rhyme, or sound the same. Rhyming is an important reading skill, which teaches children to listen to words and their sounds.
Developing Literacy in Preschool Children: Some Tips for Educators
Create a Print Rich Environment
- Label items in the classroom so that children will become familiar with words.
- Create a “Word Wall” in the classroom; include words that children use each day.
- Point out print to children wherever it appears—on signs when you go for a walk, the exit over the doorway, lists, on the calendar. Explain that these words give us information.
- Show children that print can be seen in many different places: in books, on computers, our drawings, cel phones, billboards, signs, etc. This reinforces the idea that print provides information.
- Develop a writing center in the classroom and include a variety of writing instruments, types of paper, and documents or items used in daily life.
Speaking and Listening
- Encourage language development in your classroom. Provide opportunities for new vocabulary development, such as story reading, field trips, reading factual information, etc.
- Foster conversations with your students on a one-to-one basis. This will give you an accurate picture of each student’s language development.
- Plan authentic activities to develop oral language, such as sharing time.
- Expand on what children say so you can model vocabulary and proper sentences structure.
- Use music and movement to develop language.
- Encourage children to ‘tell’ their own stories, act out their stories and read them in the class.
- Pick a wide selection of books that will interest most readers, such as predictable books, books that substitute words, picture-matching books, response books, repetitive books, and rhyming books. Children also enjoy nonfiction or factual books, especially if they have lots of pictures or illustrations.
- Stick to a routine in your Read-Alouds. Show children how to hold a book, and point out the title and the author. Ask them to make predictions based on the cover of the book. Some teachers do a ‘picture walk’ where they ask children to look at the pictures in the book and guess what the story will be about.
- Engage the children by getting their attention before you read the book: ask them to relate experiences similar to what the story is about.
- Explain new vocabulary before beginning to read the book; use pictures and everyday associations when possible.
- Read the book. Track the print with your finger as you read.
- Discuss the story. Check for comprehension by asking children what happened in the story. Ask them what happened in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the story.
- Ask children to tell you why they believe specific things happened in the story.
- Ask children to relate their experiences to the story after you have read it.
- Reread the same story often. Children love repetition.
- Develop phonemic awareness by reading rhyming books and then discussing which words rhyme.
- Make charts or word families to show children how similar the words are and how changing the first letter makes a new word.
- Set up a library corner where children can look at books, or listen to them on tape. This area should be comfortable and in a quiet place within the classroom.
Developing Alphabet Awareness
- When children are ready, teach them the alphabet (approximately age 4). Use songs, books or other fun ways to teach the alphabet.
- Have lots of alphabet books and toys in your classroom, such as magnets, stencils, etc.
- Show children the letters in their names and encourage them to attempt to write them.
- Show children that the letters have sounds. You can use their names or objects around you to demonstrate the sound/letter correspondence. Another popular approach is to make alphabet letter books. Make sure what you do is appropriate for the age of the child.
- Prepare or purchase letter matching, upper and lower case matching, and sound and letter matching lotto and memory games.
- Many teachers use the Language Experience Approach to support early literacy development in older preschool or kindergarten children. In this approach, teachers write down what students say during circle time when they discuss a shared experience. Children’s background knowledge, vocabulary and concept of print are developed through this approach. The teacher then reads aloud the sentences the class has created, and the students can repeat after the teacher what they have written together.
- Encourage using crayons, magic markers, large pencils, paint brushes and scissors to develop fine motor skills.
- Allow children to ‘scribble’ words.
- Use journals daily. Begin with scribbling and drawings and move forward to short sentences.
- Show children how to write their names, using capital and lower case letters.
- Ask children to sign in each day by finding their name on the sign-in sheet and writing their name next to their printed name.
- Provide story writing software for classroom computers.
- Write stories dictated by the children.
- Assist children in acting out their dictated stories or stories read to them in class.