The beginning of school is an exciting time for everyone – and it comes with many challenges. For one thing, students have to get used to being in school again – lining up, writing with a pencil, listening more than talking, etc. This applies to all students.
In Kindergarten, everything is magnified. While older students might have forgotten how to line up, Kindergarten students never knew how to line up. They’re unfamiliar with how to get their lunch in the school cafeteria and haven’t used the playground equipment. We’re lucky if they know how to tie their shoes.
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Back-to-school time for Kindergarten teachers is no joke.
What they lack in skills and abilities, though, they make up for in enthusiasm! Kindergarten students are infinitely curious and excited about school. They are ready to learn!
While Kindergarteners come armed with motivation and excitement, they also arrive with a wide variety of experiences, knowledge, and skills. Some students may walk in knowing many sight words, while others may not even know the letters of the alphabet.
Fear not, though, because Kindergarten teachers know a thing or two about working with these young learners. Reading instruction begins right away, though perhaps not the way a ‘civilian’ might think. Kindergarten students aren’t sitting there, book in hand, rapidly turning pages. There are many steps involved in teaching a child to read.
One step to becoming a competent and confident reader is phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds in words. Learning to read is much easier for children who have good phonemic awareness, so this should be standard practice.
How can we address phonemic awareness in the Kindergarten classroom as we take children down the road of reading? It’s important to note that the easiest and best way to instill phonemic awareness in students is to read aloud. Not only does listening to stories help with phonemic awareness, it supports every other aspect of reading, as well, including decoding and comprehension.
Picture Book Suggestions
Here are some wonderful books to share with the students in your class.
Many Marvelous Monsters, by Ed Heck, is terrific for focusing on initial sounds.
Nancy Shaw’s Sheep in a Jeep presents a fun, messy story with a bevy of rhymes.
Miss Mary Mack (Cole & Calmenson) has several active songs that will get your children singing and clapping along in no time.
Phonemic Awareness Games
Additionally, there are many fun games and activities that are great for working on phonemic awareness. As with everything in Kindergarten, it’s important to make learning engaging and interesting – otherwise, students will not bother paying attention. So be sure to show that you’re having a great time alongside your students!
•What’s That Sound?
-Children must listen for isolated sounds
-Simply ‘listening’ is a prerequisite for this activity
-Have the child wear a blindfold while you make a sound (knock, ring a bell, etc.)
•Time to Rhyme!
-Say, “I am thinking of an animal that rhymes with MAT. Any guesses?” (cat is a good answer)
-Then, say, “Can you think of other words that rhyme with MAT?” (bat, rat, sat, etc.)
-When you’re out and about, give a clue to your child. Say, “I spy something that is round and starts with the ‘B’ (buh) sound. Do you see it?” (ball)
-This is a fun game when focusing on a specific sound.
“Ben bounces on the bed.”
“David dumps the dominoes down in the dungeon.”
The ability to read opens doors at every turn, and learning to read shouldn’t be a chore. Have fun as you guide your students towards reading competence!