Using “Super Hammy” to Teach Reading – Made Easy

 

I’ve developed lesson plans for all 15 of my Super Hammy books!  The plans are available free at DC Canada Education Publishing. 

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I’ve designed the lesson plans for teachers to use but parents can use them at home, too.
Super Hammy – My First Reading Series is a set of 15 books I’ve written that can be used by parents and teachers for children who are just beginning to read, or parents can read them to children who are not yet readers. The books can be purchased individually or as a set through DC Canada Education Publishing.

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Teach Reading With the “Does it Sound Right?” Prompt

Does it sound right?  

Your child is reading along and gets one of the words wrong. It doesn’t fit. It’s the wrong part of speech. Do you ask him to try again and sound it out?  No. You can teach him something more useful.  You can ask: Does that sound right?  Do we talk that way?

Super Hammy Makes a Snowman - cover

This is the reading strategy I discussed in a previous post.  Your child will be using her knowledge of her oral language, of how language “works” to figure out a word while reading a story.
The word she ultimately choses has to, not only make sense given what the story is about, but it also must sound right.  As adults, we do this without thinking when we’re reading, but when a child is learning to read, it must be taught.
How do you do that? Basically, you’ll be asking your child if her choice of word sounds right? Is that how we talk?  Can we say it like that?

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What is the “Does it sound right?” Reading Prompt?

Does it sound right?  This is another very important reading strategy that piggy-backs on a child’s knowledge of oral language – of how language works.

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For example, when a child is reading a sentence and comes to a word he or she doesn’t know, the brain is searching for suitable possibilities.  We ask not only what word would make sense here, as discussed in my previous post, but also what word would fit here? What word would sound right?

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Let’s look at how this works.

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Teach Reading With the “Does it Make Sense?” Prompt

Does it make sense?

Reading has to make sense to your child. When choosing books to use as you begin to teach reading, make sure there are complete sentences – one simple sentence per page.  And that there is a very simple story line. This helps make the reading meaningful.
There isn’t much meaning in a bunch of letters and sounds so if you’re teaching your child to read only through phonics, that is, by sounding out the letters, the reading will not be meaningful. And you’ll be severely limiting your child’s reading tool box.

Mother and Daughter Reading Together --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Phonics is just one of the tools, but the “mega-power tool” is the meaning strategy. Reading for meaning is the most powerful reading strategy that we use. When your child is attempting to read a sentence and comes to a word she doesn’t know, the most powerful thing you can ask is: What word would make sense here?  You can also add: Look at the picture.
If your child says a word that doesn’t fit, you can say: You said________. That doesn’t make sense. You could add: What would make sense? Look at the picture.  Or, think about the story.
With all of these prompts, you’re appealing to meaning. You’re teaching your child to think for herself. You’re not asking your child to “sound it out”. When a child tries to only say the sounds, meaning is lost.
So, how do you teach your child to use this strategy while reading a book? It’s really quite simple and flows naturally.

The Pictures

One of the most obvious ways to teach the meaning strategy is through the use of pictures.
To demonstrate, I’ll be using one of the books from the Super Hammy – My First Reading Series which I just happen to have written.

Super Hammy's Hallowe'en cover -sshot

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What is the “Does it Make Sense?” Reading Prompt?

So, your child is reading along and comes to a word she doesn’t know. What do you do?  

Do you tell her to sound it out? Say the sounds?  No. You ask her what word would make sense here.
Children use basically three reading strategies when learning to read:
Does it make sense?
Does is sound right?
Does it look right?
The most POWERFUL  of these is the first one – Does it make sense?  Reading for meaning.

Mother and Daughter Reading Together --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

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Sight Word Flashcards…there’s a place for them!

It’s a good idea to use flashcards to help your child learn sight words which are the building blocks of reading (and writing).  However – 

  • Use flashcards in addition to teaching sight words by using books you’re already reading with your child. Why?
  • We want the words to be meaningful to your child. When you point out a sight word such as “I” in a story you’re reading, your child sees how the word is used. It’s part of a story and has more meaning than if it’s isolated on a card.

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  • When your child is about 4 years old, you can start introducing sight words, but it really depends on the child. Some children might be ready at 3 years, some at 5.

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Here Comes Super Hammy…

The official book launch for Super Hammy – My First Reading Series…is Thursday, February 23rd, 2017.

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I’ll be attending the Reading for the Love of It Conference which runs February 23 and 24 at the Sheraton in Toronto. If you’ll be attending the conference, stop by booth 702 and I’ll sign some books for you! The official launch is Thursday, Feb. 23rd from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The books can be purchased individually or as a set.

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“The Super Hammy reading series is a collection of 15 books about a mighty little hero Super Hammy who goes on big adventures with his friend Little Mouse. His simple and funny stories are told in small sentences – just right for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grade one.
The stories are carefully written with controlled vocabulary and simple sentence structures. The characters and humorous story lines and illustrations will appeal to children and make learning to read fun. The books are designed to facilitate the teaching of reading for classroom teachers, Reading Recovery teachers, teachers of English Language Learners and students with special needs, and for parents. An audio CD is included in the box set.”  DC Canada Education Publishing
Hope to see you there!