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Help Your Emergent Readers Learn Sight Words with Clifford The Big Red Dog Books

written by: Donna Cosmato • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 8/2/2012

Clifford the Big Red Dog is learning to read, and kids learn along with him. Using Clifford books is a fun and easy way to teach sight words, and encourage emergent readers. You'll find lots of educational activities to do with kids, and a list of high frequency words. Let's read together!

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    Knowing the Dolch pre-primer sight words is a good building block in any child’s reading foundation. These words are called sight words because they cannot be sounded out – they must be learned by memorization and visual recognition. Using a fun character, like Clifford the dog, is an easy way to inspire kids, because as Clifford the Big Red Dog is learning, so are the kids.

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    Teaching Literacy with Clifford Books

    Parents and teachers encourage literacy and provide tools for emergent readers when they help them learn sight words. Try teaching these words using books about Clifford the Big Red Dog, and see how easy it is. The stories engage children’s interest, and they don't realize they are learning lessons. Here are some high frequency words found in Clifford books, along with tips on how to teach them.

    The following supplies are needed:

    Blank index cards - make flashcards by printing the words on them

    Clifford’s Christmas, Norman Bridwell, [Scholastic Inc., 1984]

    Clifford’s First Valentine Day, Norman Bridwell, [Scholastic Inc., 1997]

    Clifford’s Halloween, Norman Bridwell, [Scholastic Inc., 1986]

    Dolch sight words: a, and, is, me, my, big, red, for, the, up, little, help, I, away, to, we, see, find, down, said, one, play, help, blue, can, make, in, jump, where

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    Parent Teaching Activities for Literacy

    Here are some recommendations for using the flashcards and books to teach high frequency words:

    • Help your children put the flashcards in ABC order.
    • Let your child select a flash card and perform this sequence of tasks:
    1. Point to the word
    2. Say the word
    3. Trace the word with a finger
    • Have a sight word scavenger hunt and match the flashcards to the words in the book.
    • Play bingo or hangman with the flashcards.
    • Help your children make simple sentences with the flashcards.
    • Read the books together and look for sight words.

    Practicing the high frequency words helps emergent readers build fluency and vocabulary. Practicing the pre-primer Dolch sight words and showing children the words in print helps link spoken words with printed words. This builds reader motivation and confidence, and helps struggling readers keep up with others.

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    Parent Teaching Activities for Early Readers

    Here are some other suggestions for ways to teach literacy with Clifford the Big Red Dog books:

    • Map out stories together – look for the setting, the characters, the problem, and the solution.
    • Make a character chart and help your child chart, classify and list character attributes based on the author’s description.
    • Ask your child to retell the story to assess their comprehension.
    • Ask open-ended questions about the story. For instance, “What type of costume did Clifford wear on Halloween?"

    As Clifford the Big Red Dog is learning about math, reading, and other fun activities, look for ways to use those books to teach basic skills. Reading skills mature slowly; wise parents and teachers furnish different types of interactive activities to encourage readers of any level.

    While learning sight words and other reading skills is crucial, recognize it is a lifelong process. Spending a few minutes reviewing words or reading aloud every day is more profitable than trying to cram pages of facts into one short session.

    Remember to encourage and praise your child’s efforts, and enjoy teaching them. The relationships forged in childhood endure forever.

    For ways to encourage children's math skills, read "Teaching Math with Clifford the Big Red Dog."