Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Name Is...Using Student Names For Word Study

One of the most important literacy milestones for a child is learning how to read and write his or her name. Think about how many times we ask our students to identify and write their names during the school day. For some children this is a very easy task, while for others, it may be a brand new concept!

So why do so many of us use our students' names for our word study lessons in the beginning of the year? Sure, there are a lot of fun activities and Pinterest is filled with cute displays and projects, but there is actually a specific reason to use a child's name to teach critical early literacy skills. According to Fountas and Pinnell, when using names, children learn that words contain letters and these letters always remain in the same order in the word. This is one of the most important lessons you will teach in your early childhood classroom because it will transfer to your work in both reading and writing workshop.

The Fountas and Pinnell Phonics book for kindergarten contains excellent lessons about this topic. It is also a fantastic resource for your word study curriculum. The lessons teach the relationships between letters and sounds and help support your work in both reading and writing workshop.

Currently, I am preparing my lessons for the beginning of the school year. I thought I would share how I plan to use one of the first lessons in the book:

Learning Your Name (Songs and Chants):

Although I plan on teaching this lesson during word study, I also plan to use the chant as a warm-up for Shared Reading. Multiple readings will increase fluency and provide additional opportunities to read and identify names.

One of the first lessons asks you to write students names on cards and place them in a chart. You can use the songs they provide or perhaps use one of your favorite chants to identify names. I plan on writing the names on large index cards. I write the words to the chant on sentence strips and place in a large pocket chart. We sing the many of the songs I posted a couple of years ago:

To supplement these lessons, I created a "Name Bag" to go home with families. Every student will have an opportunity to bring the name bag home. They will be able to match photos to names, sing the name song, and spell names with letter tiles. Click below for your own Name Bag:

Although the Name Bag does take time to prepare, it is well worth the extra time because it is a wonderful way to begin building a strong home-school connection. Parents love to see pictures of their children's classmates and see what we are doing in kindergarten. The bag also reinforces the important work we are doing!

Again, I really encourage you to look at Phonics Lessons by Fountas and Pinnell. It is one of the best resources I have found for foundational skills.

For my next post, I plan on talking about the first lesson from the new reading units of study by Lucy Calkins. I am so excited to use the reading units of study with my kindergarten class and look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.

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