(This post contains affiliate links ~ see our full disclosure…and thank you for your support)
We’re gradually getting into our school year routine. Our family has taken up a new project (which I hope to share about soon) so the past couple of weeks have been much busier than we anticipated when I planned out our fall semester.
Even with our busy schedule we have already made some good progress for this school year. Today I’m going to share a little about our plan for Reading for Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade.
With five children from infant to six years old, we’re covering all aspects of pre-reading and beginning reading in our home. With a toddler and preschooler we’re still in the thick of book handling, letter recognition and letter sounds. Our Kindergartner and First Grader are sounding out short words, practicing with word families, learning the sounds of blends and digraphs, memorizing sight words and gaining confidence with early reader books.
The most important aspect of teaching our children to read is still reading aloud to them. Thankfully, all of our children love being read to. We try to keep a balance between reading picture books and longer chapter books, although personally I love reading chapter books.
Here’s a list of the chapter books we’ve read so far this year. This list really needs to be updated, but it can give you an idea of the types of chapter books we read to our children. We read these books to all of our children, even our toddler. I’m sure she doesn’t understand everything, but from the questions she asks, I know she understands a lot of it. Here are some of our favorite chapter book read alouds for very young children (our older children still like these as well).
For letter recognition and letter sounds we rely mostly on natural play. We read lots of alphabet books, we point out letters on signs, posters, and buildings, we play with alphabet puzzles, we listen to and repeat letter sounds with a set of LeapFrog Phonics Fridge Magnets. (We have this older version. The newer set is similar but not magnetic.) Overall, we keep learning fun and natural.
We have also been going though the Phonics Reading and Early Reader Books that come with the Blue Manor Academy Christian Preschool Curriculum. These are simple, but effective ebooks that help parents teach their own children to read.
All of our kids love them. As a busy parent, I love that I can teach my children using these ebooks with zero preparation time. The complete preschool curriculum also covers much more than just reading (check out all the ebooks below).
Eliya and Amelia also enjoy the Starfall.com ABC section. It only took Eliya one visit to figure out how to navigate through the website, so it’s very easy for the littler ones to practice letter sounds while I work with the older kids.
Emahry and Jonathan are using the same basic materials with a little modification for both Reading and Math. So far they seem to have the same level of knowledge, but Emahry is further along with handwriting, so typically Jonathan completes the same work orally with a little handwriting to help him get comfortable without frustrating him. The fact that he wants to do everything Emahry can do is a huge motivator
We work on phonics through the Funnix computer reading program. This program builds from a basic letter recognition level to about a third grade reading level. We take it slowly and complete about 4 lessons each week. Right now Emahry does the workbook page that goes with each lesson, but since Jonathan would be frustrated by that much writing, he just completes the oral part of each lesson. Eliya can decide each day if she wants to join in or simply play, complete another activity, or look at books on the floor nearby. About 50% of the time, she’ll pull up a chair to join in the lesson.
Most of the time our kids really enjoy Funnix. Each lesson builds on the previous lessons and the way they teach certain concepts (like the silent e) are really neat. Sometimes the program moves a little too fast and the computer says the answer before Emahry and Jonathan can get it out. When that happens, we simply pause the lesson and review the information on our own, then continue the lesson with a little extra preparation.
For someone who is a little nervous about teaching little ones to read (totally me!) Funnix is a nice way to know I’m covering the basics in an order that helps my kids understand the reading process. Maybe as my confidence grows I’ll feel comfortable doing all the teaching on my own, but for now Funnix is a good fit for our family.
We’re also focusing more on high frequency or sight words to help improve Emahry and Jonathan’s fluency with reading. We’re using the printables in the Ultimate Sight Word Pack to expose them to the sight words in a variety of ways. We also play several games with the sight words to keep the words they’ve learned fresh in their minds. (We’ll be sharing these more throughout the next few months.)
Along with phonics and sight words, we practice reading through words families and do some simple reading with Bob Books. We’ve also found several free printable sight word/early reader books online that Emarhy and Jonathan can read with complete accuracy…a real confident booster for early readers! We even found these super-simple beginning readers that Eliya can “read.”
We also play a few alphabet related games. Spot It! Alphabet is definitely one of our favorites. We also make and play a few adaptations of the BANG! game with letter recognition, letter sounds, and word recognition. We’ll be sharing some free BANG! printable next week.
Our kids also enjoy the LeapFrog learning DVDs. LeapFrog: Letter Factory introduces letters and letter sounds. My only complaint is that it focuses on capital letters only while we really try to focus on lowercase letters first. LeapFrog: Talking Word Factory is a great way to practice sounding out CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.