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Many preschoolers are right on the cusp of learning to read fluently. The experiences and activities preschoolers participate in now will build a foundation for their reading and writing comprehension and abilities. Because of their limited fluency, it can be a challenge to find books with appropriate text.
To begin the process of teaching preschoolers to be independent readers, it may be necessary for you to create some simple sentences for them to practice with. Preschoolers enjoy manipulating words, creating rhymes and playing with language. Encouraging these activities will also encourage a lifelong love of reading and words.
Academically, teaching children to read and comprehend the written word is one of the most important jobs a preschool teacher has.
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Dolch Sight Words
The Dolch high frequency word list was created by Edward Dolch in 1948. The list is comprised of 220 words that occur most frequently in children's literature and cannot be "read", rather just recognized by sight. The Dolch list is often separated into several sections, categorized by the age or grade the child should be able to master the words. The very first list is called the pre-primer list. The pre-primer list consists of words such as I, as, and, is, said, come and for as well as several number and color words. The complete list of pre-primer words can be found with an online search engine.
When preschoolers are learning to read, try introducing a few of the Dolch pre-primer words. Create word cards with these words written on them and allow children to explore them at their own pace. As a small group activity, manipulate some of the word cards into very simple sentences. Some examples of simple sentences for preschooler learning are "It is red" or "I can go". Allow the children to create sentences of their own by manipulating the word cards for you to read.
Several publishing companies have their own line of easy reader books that are comprised of nothing but Dolch sight words. The easiest levels of these books often contain only pre-primer words. Consider purchasing a few of these paperback books or borrowing several from the library and displaying them around your preschool classroom or reading center. They may quickly become class favorites as children learn to read independently.
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Other Simple Ideas
Picture Word Cards: Take pictures of several familiar things around your classroom, including individual shots of the students in your class. Print and glue these pictures onto large index cards with the word written underneath the picture. Consider using colored index cards for different parts of speech, such as red for verbs and yellow for nouns. Allow children to play with the cards on their own. Combine the cards with the Dolch pre-primer words and show your class how to use the cards to form simple sentences such as "Lauren is reading" or "I can jump". As a one-on-one activity, give a child a sentence and ask him to form the sentence using the cards.
Add A Word Game: Once children understand basic sentence structure, play this large group game. Let the teacher begin by telling a short story, such as "I went to the pool on a hot day. I put down my towel and..." The teacher will then point to a child to provide the next word in the story. Each child will have a turn to add to the story, one word at a time. Ask another teacher to write down the story on a large piece of chart or butcher paper, so the children can see their words and the sentences they formed in print.
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Give children a strong foundation to foster a love of reading and language for years to come.
- Dolch Sight Words: http://www.dolchsightwords.org/
- Photo Credit: phaewilk - http://morguefile.com/archive/display/131959
- "More Than the ABCs: The Early Stages of Reading and Writing"; Judith A. Schickedanz; 1994