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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Teaching Sight Words is Important…

What are sight words?

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Sight words are the building blocks of beginning reading. They are words such as it, is, am, and, the, you, I, he, she and here. It’s important to build up a word bank. These are words that your child will be able to recognize on sight, quickly, without actually having to read them. This will speed up the reading process and make things easier for your child. Sight words will be important for beginning writing, too. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand.

Use the books you’re reading to your child to teach sight words…

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How to read a book to your child…

1. Do what comes naturally.

Use your common sense and take your cues from your child. Trust your instincts.

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2. Read with expression! 

Ham it up! Use different voices for different characters. I love doing the voice of the Big, Bad Wolf in The Three Little Pigs -“I’LL HUFF AND I’LL PUFF, 8319124_origAND I’LL BLOOOWWW YOUR HOUSE DOWN!”

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Top 5 Pre-Reading Tips

1. Rich oral language makes learning to read easier.

The better your child’s oral language is, the more language your child has heard, the easier it will be for your child to learn to read. It’s important to expose your baby and toddler to as much oral language as possible. You want your child to learn lots of new words and sentence structures before formal school even begins. And, how do you do that?

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When to start reading to your child…

 

The earlier, the better!

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1. It’s never too early to start reading to your child.

Babies enjoy touching and looking at books and their wonderful, colourful illustrations. Chewing on them is fun, too! Make it a bedtime routine. At our home, after bath time, we’d cuddle on the bed in our pyjamas and read several beloved books over and over again. Children want to hear the same story many times over and that’s great! As long as your child wants to hear it, keep reading it. He or she is still getting something out of it.

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So, you’d like to teach your child to read…

You’ve come to the right place. 

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Hi, I’m Oksanna.

2880oksannacrawley-croppedI’m a retired, certified early literacy teacher with over 25 years teaching experience in Canadian schools. As a Reading Recovery teacher, I taught grade one children who were having the most difficult time learning to read. I also taught kindergarten for many years and loved it!
I have a passion for teaching children how to read. You’re here because you want to help your child become a reader (and a writer), and I applaud you for that.
Here, you’ll find advice on how to instil a love of reading, how to pick the right books to teach reading, how to teach reading strategies, and how to teach letters and their sounds.
The information on this blog is aimed at children who are not yet reading or are just starting to.

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