The younger the reading student, the more activities a teacher needs to keep the student engaged during a lesson. For four- and five-year-olds, I come prepared with a bagful of reading activities such as
- A stack of pictures showing CVC words (flag, map, dog, cat, and pen) which the student sorts into two piles: those that have the desired vowel or consonant sound, and those that don’t.
- Letter tiles which I use to form words, phrases and sentences for the student to read. Sentences using the student’s own name attract the youngest readers. Letting the student create some of the words. also keeps the student engaged.
- Stories written with the simplest CVC vocabulary which the student and I read together, and then which she reads independently.
- Twelve pictures of rhyming words on index cards .
Another kind of reading assignment that my youngest reading students like is reading and answering silly questions like the following:
- Can an ant wink to a cat? Yes No
- Can a bug land on a lip? Yes No
- Will a duck swim in a mug? Yes No
- Can a big cat fit in a bag? Yes No
- Will a dog dig with a pen? Yes No
The questions consist of whatever examples of the reading concept we are studying at the time such as CVC words, blends, or two-syllable short-vowel words. Almost all the questions are ridiculous and the more ridiculous the better. Having colored pencils or markers to use intensifies the fun.
I find that the more hands-on the activity, the better. Early readers sometimes cannot print letters, but they can make ovals around words or draw matching lines. They can hold a small stack of pictures and sort them into piles. They can move around letter tiles.
The more busy their bodies are, the more likely they are to stay engaged.