Editor's Note: This blog was previously published, we're re-sharing it today as educators prepare for the upcoming semester.
By Rhonda McDonald, Reading Specialist, Guest Blogger
When a beginning reader says, “I can read,” a smile inevitably shines on our faces. In some cases, a child has been read and reread a favorite story so much that they could have memorized the text. This is the spark that fosters a love of reading! In today's post, I'll share engaging kindergarten reading activities that can cause this love to blossom from the use of guided reading books that are on your students' levels. These are great hands-on ideas you can use if you're lesson planning for social studies and science themes.
Wordless books are a valuable catalyst for kindergarten reading. Animals in My Community, from the My World series, is one that I would like to highlight because while children look at photographs, you can engage them in rich conversations about their experiences with animals in their community. By encouraging kids to verbally share their ideas before they can read about them or write stories, you're helping with critical oral language development. Try the following steps to engage your students in a fun reading activity:
- Introduce Animals in My Community in a group setting. Encourage children to take turns sharing some of their experiences with animals in their community as you turn each page.
- Give each child several small squares of paper. Then send them back to their desks or use clipboards for a firm surface so they can draw on each square. Ask them to draw a picture of the animals they saw in the book that they've also seen in their community. Who has seen a squirrel? Draw a squirrel on your square. Who has seen a dog? Draw a dog on your square.
- Use the squares to make a collage for each child or make a large class collage on a bulletin board. Another option would be to create a picture graph with the squares.
- Use the following questions to lead a discussion that compares and contrasts the number of animals from the pictures that the children produced: Which animal has everyone seen the most? Which animal was seen the fewest times?
- Use the following questions to help kids make inferences about animals in Animals in My Community: What type of body coverings do the animals have? What types of foods do the animals eat? What noises do the animals make? Can you act out how each of the animals move?
- Invite a guest, such as a veterinarian, pet store employee, zoo-keeper, or science museum employee, to come talk to the class about animals.
- Plan a field trip to a pet store, veterinary office, or zoo to give students a hands-on experience of the animals.
If you ask most children about their favorite activity at school, a common response may include time for recess. The second activity I would like to share with you involves taking the class outside after reading Fun Outside, which is one of many level A books for kindergarten in the My World series. You could also collaborate with your P.E. teacher with this activity because kids learn best when they do an activity, rather than just reading or talking about it.
Take the class outside. Find a quiet place to read the story Fun Outside.
- Ask for volunteers to role-play the actions on each page of the book. Take turns with different children.
- Bring a device that plays music. Ask the children to do the activity they role-played while they hear the music, but explain when the music stops, they should freeze. Play and stop the music to engage the kids in this listening game.
- Activate prior knowledge by having a discussion with kids about other games they may play outside.
- Consider transitioning to a science concept of animal sounds and movements by reading the informational text Butterfly from the Kaleidoscope Collection. Then talk with kids about how animals are different from people, which can improve vocabulary and critical thinking.
- Take a walk around, using whisper voices, to see if there are any butterflies or other flying insects. If none are around, observe other animals that are nearby, such as ants, bees, spiders, or birds.
- Go back to the classroom, and ask kids to talk about their observations. Encourage them to use descriptive vocabulary words and record their word choices on large chart paper.
You can use the next activity to draw upon children's background knowledge of parties and activities they can do with friends. This will involve Parties, which is a level B book that has a simple sentence structure and engaging imagery.
As a pre-reading activity, ask the children to tell you what they think of when you say the word party. Some kids may talk about birthday parties, so ask questions that facilitate a discussion about what is needed to have a party. What do you do at a party. Who would you invite? What would you use to decorate for the party?
- Read Parties. Then compare the activities in this book to the activities they acted performed after reading Fun Outside. Practice reading Parties as a group a few times.
- Then read Friends Together!, which is another nonfiction leveled reader with a similar sentence structure. After reading, engage kids in a discussion about additional activities that friends can do together.
Kindergartners learn best when you plan reading activities that incorporate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities. Creating fun learning environments with hands-on activities is an effective way to hold children's short attention spans.
Keep checking the Hameray blog for more great ways to engaging kids in strengthening their literacy skills!
Rhonda was a Title 1 Reading Specialist in Botetourt County Public Schools, Virginia. She now substitutes and visits schools and libraries to lead writing workshops, story time, and parent workshops. She is also an author of children's books and several titles in our Kaleidoscope Collection and Zoozoo Animal World series. If you like what you read here, you can enjoy more by Rhonda on our blog.