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Starting the Year the "Write" Way!

In previous years, I have used word and picture sorts to help students distinguish letters/sounds...but, this wasn't getting them "within word" and was limiting their creativity.  So, I decided to change things up...a lot.  We have spent the past few weeks reviewing letters/sounds by collectively brainstorming lists, making books (Matt Glover's bookmaking workshops have changed everything about the way I teach - his ideas are brilliant!), and using our slinky to "stretchhhhhh" our words.  As you know, students are somewhat hesitant to begin writing on their own because they do not know how to spell the words...and this is where persistence pays.  It takes them a few weeks to get out of this habit (frequently asking you to spell a word and getting frustrated because they don't know if it's spelled correctly, etc.) if you continue encouraging them to use the sounds they do know to "stretch" the word. I will admit, this is difficult at first, but with persistence and encouragement, they will begin doing this on their own...and you will see them taking more and more "risks" in their writing as they are not hesitant to write simply because they can't spell the word(s).

The picture below is an example of one of the many exercises we do in class when reviewing letters/sounds at the beginning of the year (we have dedicated each day to a certain letter this year).  First, we collectively brainstorm words that start with the given letter (I like to use Lakeshore's alphabet tubs to get the conversation started).  Next, I model stretching words "using the letters/sounds I know" and each time, I use my slinky and "stretch" the word while simultaneously stretching the slinky.  I then model writing/recording the letters/sounds I hear.  After I have done this several times, I invite students to come up to the SMART Board and practice doing the same thing.  I praise them and make a big deal out of the fact that they stretched the word(s) on their own!  They then get their own chart to complete.  I encourage them to first draw a picture of the word and then do their "stretching."  As you can see by looking at the picture, they are becoming more confident and really beginning to take "risks!"  I have had several parents tell me that their child is wanting to create lists at home and teach brother/sister how to "stretch" words...love it!


(iguana, injured (wow!), imagination, icicle, and Isaiah - a student in our class)

I have made a chart for each letter and you can download them (one for each letter) from my TPT store.

I am also introducing two sight words each week to increase my students' reading fluency and writing vocabulary.  I like to introduce each word with a collection of music videos I purchased from Curricu-la-la-la!  Please be sure to check our their website...my kinders L-O-V-E the songs and animations...and most importantly, the catchy music videos really help them begin to recognize and spell the sight words on their own!


In our "making words" literacy work station, they can build their sight words using snap cubes, pipe cleaners and "sparklers," play dough, and the list goes on!  These activities are also a great way to build their fine motor skills.


My students also love to "race" their sight words.  I learned this from one of my Language and Literacy instructors at Texas Tech...you can use magnetic letters for the "races," dry erase boards, or your interactive whiteboard.  The new multi-user IWBs make this possible!  Below, you will see two of my students "racing" the by dragging the letters with their hands.



So, peeps...how are you getting your students "within word?" What kinds of fluency exercises are you doing with your kinders?  I would love to hear your ideas!

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