We’ve been getting questions about Letter land: What is it? Is it phonics? What if my child already knows the alphabet?
Letter land is a phonics program that begins with teaching children the alphabet through story. Each letter becomes a character and through songs and stories the children learn the sounds of the alphabet. The focus of Letter land is not the name of the letter, but rather the sound it makes. Many children will refer to an “a” as Annie Apple. Don’t worry, your child will not use the Letter land character names forever. These characters give the sounds and letters context in the minds of young readers. You should expect to see papers coming home about the characters and handwriting review.
During the time your child spends in their Letter land group they will review the letters/sounds and then continue to hone their skills by learning spelling patterns through putting sounds/letters together to create blends, digraphs and word families.
Every week we will introduce a new sight word. A sight word is a word that must be identified by its’ shape, rather than by sounding out or recognizing a spelling pattern. You will notice paper books coming home weekly. Within a whole group, and individually your child will have practiced the book. It may seem like your child has memorized the book, and they probably have. Memorization is an early and important step to literacy. Children become comfortable with words and patterns of known books and it is then the goal for them to connect the words to new books.
In addition to the phonics element of the Letter land group, we will share books by well known children’s book authors and then base a variety of literacy activities around those books. Activities may include: rhyming games, imitation class books,sequencing activities and literacy based art projects. I hope to collect many titles by one author and have “author studies” throughout the year.
Most importantly, your child will get their hands on books. Early in the year they will have the opportunity to browse through the tubs. Later, we will introduce “just-right” book bags so each child will have 2-3 books to practice daily.
I will send homework sheets if your child needs a little extra practice on particular letter, whether it be identification or handwriting. Other than that, the only homework is for you… please read nightly with your child. Eventually, they will read to you, and maybe they do know, consistent sharing of books is best way to get your child excited for reading.
It is our goal in the Trillium room and in the Corbett School District to give children a well rounded early literacy experience. Phonics, whole language, shared reading and access to real books are all ways in which your child will become a reader.
Please never hesitate to ask questions, or schedule a time to come in and see Letter land in action!
Written by: Megan Shaw
Guided Reading may look a bit different than some parents picture reading instruction time. First of all, there are no textbooks. The class never sits in a circle, with each child taking a turn reading a paragraph. The purpose of Guided Reading is to coach kids in the strategies they need so they can pick up a new book for the first time and navigate their way through it.
In our class (and it may look slightly different in different classes), each child has a large zip-lock baggie with books at their “just right” level. We try to select books for children that they can read with 90% accuracy. We want them to have to work, but not get frustrated and give up. Every day, the children have time to practice these books on their own and time to read them with a classmate. Children are also pulled for “Guided Reading Groups.” This is when an adult meets with 4-6 children who are at a similar reading level and introduces a new book to them. The adult points out features that may make the book challenging and suggests strategies to try.
Our goal is that children will use many strategies to make their way through a book. “Sound it out,” is not our go-to strategy. We teach children to check the picture for clues, consider the semantics and syntax of the sentence (although we use more kid-friendly language) and to verify with phonics clues. We don’t want children to simply say the words correctly, we want them to get meaning from the book.
So, how can you support your child’s reading growth? You absolutely MUST read to them every night. Impossible? Aim for 5 nights a week. Children who are regularly read to by an adult have a much more sophisticated understanding of sentence structure and broader vocabularies. They are better equipped to use their knowledge of how English works to make their way through a text. This is the best way you can help your child become a fluent reader.