Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

The Importance of Reading Like a Writer [K–2]

By Dr. Geraldine Haggard, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Guest Blogger

At the beginning of the school year, there may be some students who think they are writers but may not see themselves as strong readers. In today's blog post, I'll share teaching ideas to engage kindergartners, first-graders, and second-graders in literacy activities that develop writing and reading skills.

The earliest concepts of print from Marie Clay are based on the understanding that print carries a message to be read, which is typical for students to grasp by the time they reach five years of age. Those concepts include understanding the role of pictures, the knowledge that letters represent sounds, recognition of some letters, and writing the beginning sound of some words. Understanding print also requires kids to know where to begin reading a text and the ability to understand first and last as students approach letters in words. These are pre-communicative strategies that help children as beginning readers to read as writers.

Guiding Kindergartners to Become Readers and Writers

Kid Writing suggests several types of activities to help early learners improve reading and writing. One activity requires five minutes during two week periods to sit with some of these young ones to work with a concept of print needed to understand reading. The wordless book from the My Pets Set within the Oral Language Development Series shares information in the artwork about different foods used to feed the main character's pets.

You can talk to kids about why there is nothing below the picture to read. You can also point to the name of the animal found on the food bag to help kids understand how to find the name of the animal shown on each page. Then you can ask the children to say the names of the animal as you point to the animal’s name on each bag.

Using five minutes twice a day for read alouds with an entire group of early learners is another suggestion from Kid Writing . You can provide time for the children to discuss the picture on the cover or the first page of a leveled guided reading book. These five minutes could also include singing nursery rhymes and involve you pointing and move through the words of the rhyme as they are sung. The idea of moving from left to right could also be discussed.

Helping First- and Second-Graders Read Like Writers

Sam's Birthday is a big book that can be used with an entire class of first graders for shared reading. This narrative text comes from a collection of narrative and informational texts that showcase diversity through illustrations and photographs. You can introduce the book by asking the following questions: Who just had a birthday. What happens when someone has a birthday? Has someone here had a party? Do you remember what you did? Did you have a surprise?

As you read the fiction book for kids, you could invite one of the students to use a pointer as you read. Be sure to read with expression in your voice as you share the book. Stop reading before the ending and ask the students to discuss the way Sam is feeling.

Discuss the quotation marks, commas, periods, and question marks on the page, which are other important parts of print that children need to understand. You can explain that when they see quotation marks, they can use their reading skills to know that the author is using words to show how the characters feel.

On the next day, reread Sam's Birthday with the children and discuss how they knew when someone was speaking. Then use an ELMO to project a comic strip frame to show children how the artist used a bubble above the characters to show who is speaking. Give each child a sheet of drawing paper and ask them to draw a picture of what happened on their birthday. Have kids write a sentence that would explain what they might say about that day and draw bubbles around their written comments.

Alphabet strips on desks, word walls, stretching words, and more ideas to help kids improve writing skills are discussed in helpful detail within Kid Writing . You can also use a weekly mini-conference with each child to reinforce important concepts and to praise your young writers for new strategies being used independently. Celebrate growth among all of your students because writing can be a source of pride for each student.

Remember that there may be students who need concepts of print retaught at lower levels more than others. Don't forget to visit our blog soon for more helpful ideas to use in your classroom!

Dr. Geraldine Haggard is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent thirty-seven years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children. If you like what you read here, you can enjoy more from Dr. Haggard elsewhere on our blog .