“Does it look right?” is another important prompt or reading strategy that you can use to teach your child how to read.
What does it mean? Your child is reading a new sentence and comes to a word she doesn’t know. She makes an attempt and says a word that’s not quite right. With this prompt, what you’re asking is does the word on the page look like the word she just said or read? You’re teaching your child to check the word. Are all the letters there to make the sounds that just came out of her mouth?
Let’s look at this sentence:
“Mother baked a tart for Grandma.”
What if your child sayspie instead of tart because she looked at the picture for help which is a good thing to do?
You can say, yes, it could bepie, but what letter would you have to see at the beginning of the word if it were pie? (Make the ‘p’ sound.) It would have to be a ‘p’ but there’s a ‘t’ instead. (Point to the first letter of the word and make the ‘t’ sound.) What could it be instead ofpie? Could it be tart? Let’s check to see if the letters are there for the word tart. Say the sounds slowly, t-a-r-t, while checking by running your finger slowly under the word.
We do this all the time when reading. We check to see that all the sounds we’re saying are on the page. We’re checking if the word looks right. Your brain does this so quickly you don’t even know it’s happening. We have to show children how do this. Some children pick it up naturally, others don’t and we need to teach it.
You can buy all kinds of hi-tech alphabet toys and computer games to teach your child the alphabet…
But often it’s the simple, homemade things that work best. My kids learned their abc’s with the good, old alphabet fishing game. Nothing hi-tech about it, but it works!
Make some fish. Print the fish-template I’ve provided on card stock. Make 5 copies. You’ll need 52 fish. Or you can cut them out of foam. Print one letter on each fish: a capital ‘A’ on one fish, a small ‘a’ on another fish, and so on. Attach a paper clip to each fish.
Make a fishing rod using a small stick (a chopstick, a paint brush, a dowel). Attach a string with a magnet on the end. It will pick up the fish by the paper clip.
Make it easy. Put only 3 fish on the floor face down so you can’t see the letter. Your child will “catch” a fish, turn it over, and tell you the name of it. Always include letters your child already knows and add one new one at a time. If your child doesn’t know any letters yet, start with 3 fish, but when your child catches one and turns it over, you name the letter.
Variation: Once a few fish have been collected, have your child match the upper case letter with the lower case letter.
Variation: Lay out 5 different fish face up. Ask your child to catch a specific letter. Praise your child.
Your child can watch any number of wonderful children’s television programs and play educational games on the computer. But, here, I’ll show you some simple things you can do at home with one of my favourite teaching tools – magnetic letters.
So, do you teach the upper case or capital letters first?
I’d start with the lower case or small letters – a, b, c and so on. Then, add the upper case letters. Why? Take a look at a page of print in a book. What do you see more of? Upper or lower case letters? Right! Your child will need to know both to begin to read most efficiently.
Read alphabet books.
Say the name of the letter and say the sound it makes.
Ask the children’s librarian at your public library for some ABC books.