Top Tips: Transitioning Students From Letters, To Words, To Books!

Hello Everyone! I often hear, "My students know most of their letters and sounds, now what?" Here are some of my top tips for moving students from reading letters, to words, to books!

To make reading books a successful and enjoyable experience for new readers I like to start at the end, and work my way backwards!  That is to say, I teach the children to "pretend read" little books that are very motivational and easy for them to follow along with, and then start teaching them the words that are inside the books! This gives them a real purpose to read and that they can usually relate to.  And it is even more motivational when they make the books themselves!  Read on and I'll fill you in.

Step 1: Find the right book.
I look for  predictable pattern books. These use the same sentence structures over and over, so the kids get lots of practice on certain words. You can find these books all over the internet to download; sometimes you have to pay for the download, and sometimes you don't. If I find a book that would work with my theme but does not have the words I need in it, I print out different words and glue them on top of the old ones, and then xerox that.

The Hen's Walk is a great book for this project.  It is a retelling of Rosie's Walk, by Pat Hutchins.  This is a book for children to make, read, and practice retelling through the use of stick puppets and acting out the story, etc.  It is also available for purchase on my TPT Store!  You'll find lots more books for kids to make and read here.

I have also found to have some great resources.  You can  also check my Pinterest board for Emergent Readers, where you will find tons of free printable emergent readers!

Step 2: Prep Students By Teaching Some Common Sight Words.
When my students seem to know most of their letters and sounds, I start them on sight words, and then some very simple books for guided reading. I look in the book that I want to start with, and see which sight words they would need to read it. Then teach them those, and have them read the book.

I love teaching the sight words with music and movement, so I always use my Sing and Spell the Sight Words CD's to help teach the words in an engaging way.

Every time we sing the song, I hold the word card in my hand, and ask them immediately, "What word is this?" and hope that they answer correctly! We do this during transitions a lot, to help "sponge" up some of that extra time in a solid, academic way.

Words covered are: ask, ate, day, does, every, give, going, her, him, just, many, must, no, off, only, our, ran, show, soon, take, them, think, walk, well, went, yes, Bonus Track - Opposite Song

Time permitting, I have them say the spelling of the word after the song plays as well, (without singing.) When a child comes to a word that he doesn't know, I start singing the song for that word, and he usually joins in and eventually says the word.

Here is a clip from one of our six different Sing and Spell DVD's that are available now.

Top Teacher Tip:
After the child reads the book, have him look for words he knows in the story. I have my kids search for certain words, such as "the" or "is," and then have him color each word a certain color. For example, find all of the words "is" and color those words yellow. I show them how to circle the word first with a crayon, and then color in the circle. I think that this helps them find the word boundaries. Then I have them point to and track the words as they read the book.

Sight Word Book

To make coloring the words easier in a small group situation, I usually take some index cards and write the target words on them with a thin point black marker. Then I color that word yellow, etc. I do this on several index cards, and scatter them on the table where the kids are working; that way, they don't have to always ask me what color a certain word should be; that info is on the index cards. Then I file the cards with the masters for the printable books and same them for next year.

Step 3: Increase the Difficultly Slowly
When choosing printable books I like to make two different versions of the same book- one with harder words, and one with simpler words. I do this by printing out different words and glueing them on top of the old ones, and then xerox that. The great thing about this is that the kids rarely know that there are multiple versions of the same book, because the pictures are the same in all of the books.  I LOVE this!

This does a few things. First, it allows lower and higher readers to work on a book that appears the same at a distance. Since the books have the same storyline and pictures, having an easier and harder version readers to gain their confidence on the easier book and then transition to the more difficult one that has only a few different, but more challenging words, at a time.

I hope this helps you and your students achieve reading success. It works for me!

Looking for more reading resources? Check out these resources and more at our site!


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