ELA Archives – Della Larsen's Class

Using Boom Cards to Increase Phonemic Awareness

March 2, 2021

What is phonemic awareness and how can we teach it? Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, manipulate, and substitute phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound that can differentiate meaning in spoken words. The goal of every kindergarten teacher is to teach our students to read. It’s the single most important academic skill that we teach. It’s also the most rewarding as a teacher. Watching a child see themselves through the lens of a reader is one of the best parts of being a kindergarten and first-grade teacher. In the rush to push our students to district reading benchmarks it’s common to jump over a crucial first step. Before we begin to teach our students to read we need to make sure our students are fluent with phonemic awareness.  So often teachers ask why their students are not reading with the same success and their peers. We often need to back up and ensure that our struggling students have developed phonemic awareness fluency.  Grab a free Phoneme Awareness Checklist here.   So how do we teach phonemic awareness? One of the greatest ways to have our students practice phonemic awareness skills and assess our students’ understanding...

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What is Phonemic Awareness?

February 23, 2021

Teaching young children to read is one of the greatest enjoyments of being a kindergarten teacher. To take a child from knowing just a few letters of the alphabet to a student who can read a book from start to finish is one of the greatest joys of a teaching career. When that kindergarten student looks up at you after they finish reading a book from cover to cover for the first time your heart can’t help but fill with joy. Helping a child see themselves through the lens of a reader is humbling and powerful.  How do we get young children to become fluent readers? Becoming a reader is much more than knowing your alphabet and the sounds of letters. Researchers have identified five key concepts at the core of every effective reading instruction program. Often these concepts are referred to as the pillars of reading. The 5 pillars of reading  Phonemic Awareness Phonics Fluency Vocabulary Comprehension Phonemic Awareness Let’s start with the first pillar of reading – Phonemic Awareness So what exactly is phonemic awareness and why is it so important to kindergarten students? Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, manipulate, and substitute phonemes.   It...

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How do you make writing more than just narrative?

September 5, 2016

I never met a kindergartener that didn’t want to tell you about themselves. Ask them what they like and they are out of the gate with a whole list. But when it comes to writing we need them to write more than just  “I like my family, my mom is a good cook”. Of course there will always be a place for narrative writing but if your district uses the common core they will not be meeting the standards if they only write narratives. We need to move on to opinion and informational writing  right from the start. Not to mention the first grade teachers will love you if your kids have more practice with this type of writing.                                              So how do we get them to show higher level writing in kindergarten?  It’s all in the prompt. If we take some time and really look at what we are asking we can see if we change a few words we’ll push them to think a little more and not just remember. Our goal is not for them...

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How do I start reading groups in Kindergarten??

July 31, 2016

Whether your new to kindergarten this year, or you’re a veteran. The question remains, where do you begin reading groups when the kids can’t read??  Kindergarten reading groups often don���t involve any ���reading��� in the way parents typically think. They may not actually read ���I see the fat cat.��� until the end of the year. But don���t be fooled, the ground work that is laid in the first half of kindergarten is crucial to being a successful reader.              But where do we start? The answer is simple…letter naming.  I don’t just mean they can memorize the letters. That’s just not enough. Kindergarten students need to identify the letters out of order, in both upper and lower case and in different fonts. A child���s ability to quickly name letters is an indicator of whether they will be a successful reader or one that struggles. Don���t race through this critical step!!!  This is where we start. The very first step in learning to read is knowing how to recognize the characteristics that make a letter different from other letters. Our youngest learners need experience noticing these small differences. Don���t skip over this step or rush through...

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4 tips to actually having reading groups the first week of kindergarten

July 10, 2016

 There will be those who tell you don’t have reading groups before Halloween unless you have an assistant, 4 parent volunteers, and a death wish. Not true. There will be those who tell you, you won’t smile until Christmas. Not true. I honestly believe the longer you put off starting groups the harder it will be. So rollup your sleeves and let’s figure this out.                                                So last week we talked about my biggest secret to successful reading groups in kindergarten if you missed it, check it out here. The kids are at fun centers; blocks, water table, dramatic play. You’ve  just called 4  kids to the table for our very first “reading group”. But as soon as the 4 little sweeties sit down. There is a problem at the water table. Billy stole Emily’s teapot. Jason knocked down Sarah’s castle. Caitlyn needs to go to the bathroom. Yikes, you can’t even begin with the 4 in front of you because the class is falling apart. You abandon the group and just try to “police” the larger group.  You go home...

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What’s The Secret To Sucessful Reading Groups In Kindergarten?

June 27, 2016

                                         They say that teaching kindergarten is a lot like herding cats. It is! But it doesn’t have to be. Getting behavioral control of a class is the first step to a successful year.   Who doesn’t love a new beginning. One of the best things about teaching is the clean slate every fall. Sharpened pencils, crayons that have never been used. Caps on EVERY glue stick. It’s also a time to look at what has worked and what hasn’t. The first few weeks are when I spend that extra time estabishing routines. The routines that will make my life and the kids’ learning so much easier. I honestly think the most important part of a guided reading group has nothing to do with reading. It has everyting to do with structure and routine.                                              The best teachers can get their class to run like a well oiled machine. It all starts on the first day. Lots of people will tell you...

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Don’t forget to write! Avoid the summer slide.

June 1, 2016

                                            So, a well deserved summer vacation is almost here. Thank goodness! Adults and children both need a break from the hustle and bustle that is a school year. But that doesn’t mean learning has to stop. I know I plan on catching up on some reading while sitting on a beach. My favorite thing for kids to do over the summer is read and write.                                         If we can keep up with these skills during our break, we can avoid the “summer slide”.  I love having kids read for pleasure over the summer.  Reading what you want or what interests you is a great way to build a  life-long love of reading.                                          But what about writing???   My own kids struggled with writing in the summer. They usually left it to the last week then made a mad scramble to...

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Writing in Kindergarten

March 22, 2016

I love teaching kindergarten because the kids go from barely knowing their letters in the fall to full on writers by the end of the year. However the journey is not always easy.  I’ve seen my kids be really excited during group, ready to get to writing then they get to their seats and….. nothing. They get stuck; they forget what they want to write about. They feel a little intimidated. I honestly believe the first step in writing is not only having a topic that you know about, but believing you can do it. One of my effective strategies is ���.. Visual writing prompts. I love using visual writing prompts because it���s very user friendly. Of course I want to hear their stories, their voice, but for some kids they just have a hard time getting their ideas down. This is what I use with those kids to build their confidence. I give them an engaging picture, something they know a lot about recess, sports, friends, then I ask them to color the picture and write a sentence.   “I see the girl cleaning the table.” The coloring aspect really helps  the reluctant writer. They can sit down next...

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Text Dependent Writing in Kindergarten.

February 20, 2016

Text dependent wrtiting in kindergarten, is that even a thing???Yes, Your kids can become text dependent writers when you use non-fiction topics. I find even my youngest learners respond well to non-fiction text. In my district it’s all about text dependent writing. We want to the kids to not only write about what they’re learning, but integrated that knowledge. Seems daunting, I know, but it CAN happen. If your district uses the  common core you’ll have to figure this out for your kids. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.2Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. I’ve spent some time trying to figure out how this works with kids who are just learning to write.  I think the key here is the kids “use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts.” My kids really respond to visuals so I’ve created a tabletop writing rubric.  They respond well to the “directions”. I have kids who want to write about their ideas, which is great for “writers workshop” but this is different. They need to respond to specific information. Remember, this can...

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February 14, 2016

For the last couple of weeks we have been learning all about OWLS. I am always amazed at how well even my youngest learners respond to non-fiction. The kids have been obsessed with sharp talons catching mice!First comes research! Owls in the Block area. The kids are filling in an outline of an owl, then counting the types and number of blocks used. I love the ear tuffs on top! Owl ten frames in the math center. Creating a “wood” to go owling.   Everyone’s favorite- Paper Mache! What a great unit! If you would like to see some of the products used, please visit my store  Next, we’re on to...

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