Teaching Literacy in Preschool
I have a multi-age classroom and my students range in ages from 3-5. This means that my Preschool and Pre-K students are in the same class, and I have four classes this year. The younger students learn from the older ones, which is great. I have students at all skill levels so I'm always trying to differentiate the curriculum to meet them at their skill level, while still challenging them to improve their skill level.
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When we are focusing on literacy activities in the classroom we are working on letter identification/recognition, recognizing sight words, pronouncing letter sounds, and learning to write our names (to name a few). My goal is that when children graduate Pre-K they are moving onto kindergarten with a solid foundation in early literacy skills.
This month in our Orchard Harvest unit one of the letters we are learning is L. Every month we make a Little Letter Book for each of the letters we are learning. These books combine art and literacy and the children always enjoy making them. They practice tracing the letter, both uppercase and lowercase, learn three words that start with that letter, practice their names on the cover and get to color the fun pictures. After coloring they practice their scissor skills by cutting out the pages, working to follow the black dotted lines. They then stack their book up making sure the cover page is in the front and we staple them together.
They practice several important skills with these books. For students that can't yet write their name I write it in highlighter for them to practice tracing. For my students that aren't sure how to use scissors we work on remembering "Thumb on top," how to hold our scissors correctly and how we can hold the paper with the other hand as we cut. Drawing a smiley face on their thumb helps them remember to keep their thumb facing upwards. We will also say "Move your thumb up and down, up and down" as they work to get across their page with the scissors. Sometimes they'll repeat that as they cut, saying "Up, down, up down" as they work to cut out the pages. Some students need assistance when it comes to cutting, so we spend more time on how to use scissors safely and correctly, and focus on just getting comfortable with how they feel in their hand.
Every month we get a new 'I Can Read' book in our curriculum box. These books always tie into our current theme. This month our book was Big Pig. These books are simple and fun and perfect for teaching early reading skills to your preschoolers. Along with these books we get sight word pointers and learn to recognize three sight words. This month during this story my preschoolers worked on identifying and recognizing 'I,' 'have,' and 'a.' The first page had three words with pictures beside them. I asked them what they thought the word said based on the picture that was beside it.
Having pictures beside the word is a great way for preschoolers to make the connection of what they are reading and helps increase their comprehension. By recognizing the picture they were able to identity the word.
As I read the story they worked on following along, circling the three sight words.
During this activity some of my students tried circling the individual letters in the sight words, so we worked on circling the whole word. With 'I' and 'a' some were circling the letters they recognized inside of the word, so we spent time working on our understanding of 'I' and 'a' as separate words on their own.
I wanted to challenge some of my older students, so I grabbed two books off of our bookshelf. After we finished reading Big Pig I asked them to pick a sight word pointer and look for the same word in one of the books.
Extending this activity to different books was a great way to differentiate this activity for the older students. I also had them work on building sentences and then reading them.
We also work on our understanding of reading left to right, and not skipping pages. For my younger students as they are following along in the story I'll ask them to turn to "Page 4" etc., as we move onto the next page. This helps them with recognizing numbers, but also learning how to follow along in a book from left to right. Some of my kiddos wanted to go directly to the page on the right, skipping the page on the left each time we turned the page.
For the Big Pig literacy lesson, from our Developmental Continuum of Skills chart, they worked on:
LLD 5 - Concepts of Print
SED 3 - Attention and Persistence
For the Little Letter Book: Ll lesson, from the Developmental Continuum of Skills chart, they worked on:
LLD 7 - Writing
PD 2 - Fine Motor
LLD 3 - Phonological Awareness
I want my preschoolers to grow a love for reading and these literacy activities are great for their early reading skills!