Every morning I start my day by working with a group of kindergarten students who need extra support in understanding concepts of print. We want them to understand the difference between letters, words, and sentences, and know that reading is composed of recognizing the different sets of letters sitting next to each other make a word that match a word you can say verbally, and that this set of letters makes the exact same word every time. The is the is the. On every page. Some children pick up on this skill very quickly, and others need a bit more direct instruction. This group is focused working on pointing to words with correct one to one correspondence when they ready (correctly pointing to the words on the page and having it match what they say out loud.)
I love this group because it primarily means we get to really interact with books- read them, write them, illustrate them, and read them again- over and over- to practice the skill. And most importantly we have to absolutely LOVE the books so that we are inspired to pay attention and point to the words. Which means we have to do a lot of giggling while we read.
I just happened to pull the group for the first time when their classrooms were reading a Mrs. Wishy Washy book. I had come up with a fairly boring activity where they told me what they liked, I wrote it on a sentence strip, cut it up so each word was its own piece, and then had them glue the words in order on their paper. Every kid said they liked Mrs. Wishy Washy, or an animal from a Mrs. Wishy Washy book. Which basically gave me permission to run with it. (You may not know this, but I am a bit obsessed with that crazy washing woman.)
One of them began to giggle during the lesson- what if Mrs. Wishy Washy went to the beach?? Why not? I thought. This group of kids that needs extra practice to point to the words on the page can still create their own Mrs. Wishy Washy text.
So we did.
In our book that crazy woman went to the beach and tried to wash the sand, a shark, a whale, and a crab. (The children were convinced that she was then eaten by the shark but we left that out of our actual text. If you squint closely you may infer that element of the story from the pictures).
I wrote the words on sentence strips and then we cut it up and each child was able to glue the words down in\order to make a page of the book. The words on index cards make it clear where the words are on the page, which provides support for when the students are pointing to each word when they read. Then we read, and re-read our pages. There was lots of giggling (the sand? She tried to wash the sand?)
Now that they've all read it a few times and they are pointing to each word without me prompting them they are ready to point to words without the index cards. So yesterday I printed out the saying, "Wishy washy, wishy washy, splash, splash, splash" and each child could glue the words to the page and illustrate yet another picture of what Mrs. Wishy Washy was doing at the beach (more giggling).
Then we read, and re-read the words, pointing the whole time. I can see the difference in their ability now that I've taken away the support of the index cards. We'll use this as our mentor text for the next week, practicing reading the words on the page in our scaffolded book, and then taking that skill and applying it to other books we read.