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Teach Word Recognition to Kindergarteners

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/17/2012

When teaching early readers to learn words, the teacher can write each word in a different color to help the students to distinguish between words. This strategy will help teachers to teach concepts of print.

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    Using Colors to Teach Word Recognition

    This reading strategy is simple yet successful for Kindergarteners. When writing anything for the children, use a different colored marker or chalk for each word. It helps the student to recognize the difference between words, where a word begins and where it ends and spacing between words (concepts of print). Write the words of your shared reading text in a different color for each word. Have the class find a special new word in the text.

    Usually students would be curious as to why the words were written in different colors. This starts a great conversation about all they will be learning in reading this school year. I explain to the students that each word was written in a different color on purpose. Explain that the words are written in different colors to help them see that letters together make words and that words together make sentences. When one color ends, that marks the end of the word and then there is white space after it. Circle one of the words and show finger spacing after the word as an example. Also, always make the period at the end of the sentence in black.

    After several readings, I would always ask the students, what our special new word was, where it began and ended, the number of letters in the word and how they knew this information. Students would know that it was "the purple word." One year a student thanked me for writing the words in different colors because she said that it really helped her. It also provides a visually appealing poster for the students and doesn't take much more time to prepare the piece.

    When I first began using this reading strategy in my classroom, I thought that it may inhibit the children from learning to differentiate between words written in "black and white" in books, but it did not. It increased the student's confidence and made teaching sight words much easier of a task.

    I would still continue to play word games, such as "guess the covered word" (show the students the first letter of the word and they take a logical guess as to what the word is based upon the context of the reading), find and circle the word, find sight words, cut up a sentence and put it back together and other reading strategies. Again, the colored words helped students to restructure the sentence independently. This reading strategy worked well on posters, the chalkboard or on cut-up sentence strips.

    Depending on the students, I would use it less, if at all, by the end of the school year, but I usually found that the Special Education students benefited from it until the end of Kindergarten, which made it a great reading strategy for differentiating instruction. For an end of the year assessment, rewrite a piece at the end of the school year in black ink and compare it to the colored copy. See if it makes a difference in their reading. I would suggest trying this strategy to any PreKindergarten or Kindergarten Teachers and to any First or Second Grade teachers who have students facing difficulty in reading.

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    I found this reading strategy in the book, The New Kindergarten: Teaching Reading, Writing & More by, Constance J. Leuenberger (Scholastic, 2003).