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Make Words, Sentences, and Books

 

Dolch Words and
Reading Readiness (Similarities-Differences Instruction)
Make Words,  Sentences,  and  Books

Copyright 2000 Betsy B. Lee

These projects can be done at home, in a classroom setting, or
in small groups with school volunteers or teachers' assistants.

Reading Readiness: Similarities-differences Instruction

For my master's degree in counseling at NCSU in Raleigh, NC, I researched a four week similarities - differences concept formation training program for culturally deprived pre-school children who were in Project Head Start. Upon post testing, my experimental group showed greater improvements than the control group who only had the regular Head Start Program. Reading readiness was measured by the Metropolitan Readiness Test and by other measures. Children recognized differences more easily than similarities.

It is important to be sure the child focuses on the correct question as you teach similarities - differences. If the child gives an accurate difference when asked for a similarity, say, "Yes, that is how one is different, but how are all of them alike?" If the child gives an accurate similarity when asked for a difference, say, "Yes, that is how they are alike, but how is one of them different?"

Make cards with similar lower case letters. Each card has one letter repeated three times and it has one different letter. Be sure there are only four letters on a card. You are asking for only one which is different. Vary the position of the letter which is different.

Examples:
n
n
m
n
t
t
t
i
c
o
o
o
e
e
c
e
h
n
h
h
w
m
m
m

Ask, "How are all of these alike?"
Acceptable answers include these.
They are letters.
They are lower case letters.
All are short (if this is accurate).

Then ask, "Which one is different?"
"How is it different?"
Encourage children to name and describe the letters. For example, n has two lines coming down and m has three lines coming down; n has one curve (or hump) at the top and m has two curves (or humps) at the top.

You might prefer to use plastic letters instead of cards. I suggest getting more than one pack of capital and lower case letters. Most packs have one complete set of the alphabet with just a few extra letters.

Numbers from 0-20 Puzzle || ABC Puzzle: Upper & Lower Case || Container of Upper Case and Lower Case Magnetic Letters || See Educational Toys for more suggestions.

Use the similarities and differences of shape. Color is of minor importance but this comparison should be recognized as a valid answer. Going beyond the shape and color of the letters, compare the capital and lower case letters. Call them by name.

Examples:
n
n
N
n
t
t
t
T
A
a
a
a
b
b
B
b
D
d
D
D
r
R
R
R

Use free Dolch Flash Cards.

Make a row with one word repeated three times and one different word. Be sure to make only four words at a time. Vary the position of the word which is different.

Examples with pre-primer word list:
in
in
it
in
where
here
where
where
see
me
me
me
to
to
to
go
come
down
come
come
we
me
me
me

When you create cards using the primer list, include these.
was
was
saw
was
on
no
on
on

Ask, "How are all of these alike?"
Acceptable answers include these.
They have letters.
These (point) are the same words. They have the same letters.
This letter (name) is in all of them.
Each word has the same number of letters (if this is accurate).
All of them are words.

Then ask, "Which one is different?"
"How is it different?"
Acceptable answers include these.
It has different letters.
The same letters are in different places.
Each word starts with the same letter.
This word is ___ . The other words are ___ .
This word begins with ___ . The other words begin with ___ .

Use this same procedure to help children who have difficulty associating verb endings with their root words. Use a computer or index cards to create root words and their endings. When students are not yet very familiar with the root word, repeat it on three cards using the card with a different ending only once. For example:

jumpjumpedjumpjump

After they are more familiar with the root word, use it only once and repeat the one with the different ending three times. For example:

jumpedjumpedjumpjumped

Create Words

After children have practiced word recognition, encourage them to create words. Help them arrange plastic letters on metalic surfaces. Print words for them to copy using plastic letters. Actual writing is a more complicated set of skills than arranging letters or words. They can write words in the sand pile with a stick, use paper and finger paint, large pencils, crayons, etc.

When they begin printing, get tablets which have arrows showing the direction to use for forming letters. At very young ages, staying in the lines is not so important but learning the correct direction makes it much easier to transfer from printing to cursive writing. Children who do not follow the correct directions in forming letters can produce letters which look fair. Yet, they have to un-learn this when they learn cursive writing. This can be a difficult and unnecessary process. It is easier to learn correctly initially.

Create Sentences

Create sentences using words in each list. Use free Flash Cards. This exercise is likely to result in early success because it only involves reading and not writing which is a more complicated skill.

Starting with the pre-primer words, think of simple sentences of two to four words. Give children cards which form one sentence. Tell them the sentence and have them arrange the cards without help if possible. The pre-primer subgroups are too small for many sentences.

Here are some sentences made from the whole list of pre-primer words. After they have had success with a few words, let them have a larger selection of words from the same list.

You can go. You can play. We can run.
It is big. It is yellow. It is blue.
Come and find me. Look for me. See me?
Run and jump. Look down. Look in here.
I jump away. Go and find it.
See me play. We can play.

After some success with this, give them about five to ten words which you know can form sentences. Have them create their own sentences.

It is limiting to create sentences without words such as with which is on the first grade list. If a child wants to create a sentence using a word which is not on the lists, include it in the group of cards. Decisions about this depend on the child's needs and progress. Occasionally, include a few names of people if the child wants to do this.

Next, do the same with pre-primer words and primer words combined. Eventually you can extend this exercise to the whole list of 220 Dolch words and 95 Dolch nouns. However, pull out only a few words at a time. Make sure that YOU can make a few sentences with this selection of words. Then give the cards to the student. After your students are successful with this exercise, you might want to follow the same procedure but ask students to write sentences which they have formed with the cards. They can copy the words from the cards as a transition to writing independently which they will discover is the quicker way.

An enjoyable exercise for parents is to use the cards as a special treat. You can have one or two short sentences spread out on a table waiting for the child upon return from school or after school activities. The special messages can be sentences such as: "I love you. I thought about you. I hope you had fun. We can have milk and cookies. I want to read a book to you."

Create Books

Help children create books using their own writing. They can make a few illustrations. Some of the sample sentences given on this site lend themselves to simple pictures.

Use free directions for making a novelty book such as Cuckoo.

Many resources for making very attractive books are found at Literacy and Making Books.

Simple books can be created by folding sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper in half and using scraps of wall paper for the covers.

They can be bound by different methods.
1. Staple the pages and cover together.
2. Fold the paper in half. Cut 1/2 inch slits at the top and bottom of the fold. Then use string, ribbon, or yarn to tie the pages and cover together with a bow or knot on the outside.
3. Punch holes in the pages and cover. Tie them together with string, ribbon, or yarn.

Open this new window to see Dolch books by Edward W. Dolch, Betsy B. Lee, and Carol Marinovich who offer different approaches for teaching Dolch words. Close that window to return to this page. Subscribe to Children's Magazines at Amazon.com for additional creative ideas.


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