Posts Tagged ‘Beginning to Read’

Learning Games for Beginning Readers

Posted on December 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Today we look at two popular learning games for beginning readers

I have used both spelling/reading games very successfully with four, five and six year olds. Neither is appropriate for younger children due to choking hazard caused by small parts.

image of learning games for beginning readers


We invite you to visit our page about beginning to read.


image of Melissa and Doug See and SpellMelissa and Doug See and Spell

I recently purchased a Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle set for my Let’s Read Together program. The set consists of 60 plus colorful wooden letters and eight, two-sided template bases. As shown in my photo (right), the sixteen words include long and short vowels as well as digraphs.

I selected the Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle set because it is self correcting and it lends itself well to a group setting. When not being used in the template bases, the letters could be used to spell other words, they could be sorted by attributes or they could be put into alphabetical order.

When one or more children play with See and Spell it is an opportunity to practice letter, object and word recognition, matching, fine motor skills and/or spelling.

Melissa & Doug See & Spell at Amazon.com

Melissa & Doug See & Spell at Amazon.ca

Image of Boggle JuniorBoggle Junior

I have used a Boggle Junior game in my Beginning to Read program for more than ten years. It is a great learning game for children who are learning to read and spell. The game consists of a series of illustrated three and four letter words. The words and illustrations are printed on durable cardstock. To play, a child selects a card and spells the word it illustrates using three or four letter cubes. The cubes fit into a sturdy base. The child has the option of seeing how the word is spelled (and simply matching the letters) or attempting to spell the word correctly and then checking to see if he is correct.

Boggle Junior can be enjoyed by one or more children. When one child plays with Boggle Junior it is an opportunity to practice letter, object and word recognition, fine motor skills, matching and/or spelling. When more than one child plays with Boggle Junior, playing the game becomes an opportunity to share and take turns. If two children are at different levels with respect to spelling and reading, one child could match the letters to correctly spell a word, another child could try to spell each word (without matching) and then flip a lever on the base to check the spelling.

The Boggle Junior word cards include short vowels, some long vowels and a few digraphs (i.e. fish).

Boggle Junior Game at Amazon.com

Boggle Junior Game at Amazon.ca

Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read, Week Three

Posted on October 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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In this week’s Getting Ready to Read class we talked about letter B and some of the words that begin with b – bumblebee, blue, black, brown, baby, big, bag, bread, book, balloon, basket. We played a guessing game, the answers were items in my brown bag (a basket, a banana, a balloon, etc.)

We also played a game about opposities using words that indicate position (high, low, in front, behind, over, under).

The story for this week was one of my favourites, Otis by Loren Long

Otis is the story of a small tractor who loves life on the farm. When a calf arrives in the stall next to Otis, he befriends the young cow. It is not long before they discover ways to play together in and around Mud Pond.

All is well until a shiny new tractor arrives to work on the farm. Sadly, Otis is parked behind the barn and the new, larger tractor goes to work.

When the little calf gets stuck in Mud Pond, the farmer frantically looks for some way to rescue her. Thankfully, Otis responds when everything else fails and, with hard work and determination, Otis rescues his friend.

Fans of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel will thoroughly enjoy this gentle story about friendship.

Otis at Amazon.com

Otis at Amazon.ca

In this week’s Beginning to Read class we played an alphabet recognition game, I call Boom. It is a fun way to review letter names quickly.

We also spent quite alot of time, talking about rhyming. Learning about rhyming and recognizing rhyming words enhances your child’s phonemic awareness. We played, making silly rhymes with our names and talking about rhyming words.

Our word family today was the “-all” family. We began with the /all/ sound and added different sounds to it, in order to make words. We made ball, call, fall, hall, mall, tall, wall. Once we had finished playing with sounds, we used letters (b, c, f, h, m, t, w) to change “all” into ball, call, fall, etc.

Having opportunities to blend sounds together and make words will assist your child. When you are in the car or waiting in a line up, ask your child to blend the /S/ sound with /AT/. Help your child, /S/…… /AT/. If your child can’t figure out the word, bring the sounds closer together /S/…./AT/, and closer… /S/ /AT/ – until your child realizes the word is “SAT.”

Our story today was Lois’ Ehlert’s beautiful tribute to fall leaves, Leaf Man. This is a wonderful story to share at this time of year. The beautiful die cut illustrations are a wonderful inspiration for young artists.

Leaf Man at Amazon.com

Leaf Man at Amazon.ca

Teach Preschool’s teaching ideas for The Leaf Man

Harcourt Book’s teacher guide for The Leaf Man


Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read, Week Two

Posted on September 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Week Two of Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read at Steveston Community Centre, Fall 2011

In Getting Ready to Read this week, we talked about letter “G”. As adults, we know that “G” can make two different sounds. The sound we hear in garden, gate, go, green, gloves, glue is referred to as the hard “G” sound. This is the “G” sound we talked about in class.

As the children move ahead with reading, they will learn that “G” also makes the sound we hear in gym, giraffe, gem, giant. This sound is referred to as the soft “G” sound. We are not going to confuse the children by introducing the soft “G” sound at this stage. When they are ready to learn about the soft “G” sound, you will want to know that “G” usually makes the hard sound when it is followed by “A” (gate), “O” (go), “U” (gum) or a consonant (great). It usually makes the soft “G” sound when followed by “E” (gem), “I” (giant) or “Y” (gym).

Our story this week was Honk! – The Story of a Prima Swanerina written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Henry Cole.

Honk!: The Story of a Prima Swanerina at Amazon.com

Honk!: The Story of a Prima Swanerina at Amazon.ca





In Beginning to Read this week we talked about the “et” word family (bet, get, jet, let, met, net, pet, set, wet). Our tricky word was “quiet.”

Our theme was Bathtime and we played a fishing game – fishing for rubber ducks (each had one of our word family words on it). Our story was Once Upon a Bathtime by Vi Hughes and illustrated by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin.

For more bathtime fun, check out our free downloads

image of PDF icon  Bathtime Chants

Add actions to these fun chants for bathtime

I love using word families with beginning readers. If you wish, you can download and print off more word family materials for your child here.

Once Upon A Bathtime at Amazon.com

Once Upon a Bathtime at Amazon.ca


Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read, Week One

Posted on September 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Welcome to Getting Ready to Read and Beginning to Read at Steveston Community Centre, Fall 2011

I am delighted to have your children in my programs.

In Getting Ready to Read (Tuesday at 4 p.m.), we began by talking about letter F, our theme was Down on the Farm.

The children knew some words that begin with the /f/ sound. I had some items for them to guess: frog, fire truck, flag, fish, fire

We enjoyed one of my favourite picture books – Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

I chose Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type because it is a fun story that does a great job of introducing print awareness. The story draws the reader’s attention to letters and words and one way of conveying messages. As well, Farmer Brown’s body language is great to watch. The illustrations in the story encourage children to “read between the lines.”

If your child would like to do some homework for our next session, please have him/her bring pictures of things that begin with letter F. He/she can draw the pictures or cut them out of an old magazine.

Please note, if your child enjoyed this story, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin have teamed up for more wonderful books about Farmer Brown and his animals. Look for Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type and other great books at the library.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type at Amazon.com

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type at Amazon.ca

Beginning to Read (Thursday at 4 p.m.), we began by talking about vowels (A,E,I,O,U,Y) and the ug word family, our theme was Down on the Farm.

The “ug” word family -

image of PDF icon  The "Ug" Word Family

Free -ug word family printable for young readers in kindergarten and grade one.

We also talked about rhyming words and played with the following rhymes:
name/game, red/head, yellow/fellow, blue/you, good/could, day/say, park/dark, brown/clown

Learning about rhyming is an important prereading skill. You may be interested to visit my page about phonemic awareness. If your child is interested to do homework over the course of the program, I would love to have him/her draw or find pictures of rhyming words.

This week’s story was Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer. Many of the children were familiar with Olivia’s show on television

Olivia has her own website, with lots of fun activities for youngsters.

Olivia Saves the Circus at Amazon.com

Olivia Saves the Circus at Amazon.ca


Printable Sight Words – also known as Dolch, high frequency or whole words

Posted on August 27th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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image of printable sight words

There are many, many ways to support young readers with these printable sight words

We want all readers to aquire the skills they need to decode unfamiliar words so that most words become sight words. This aspect of learning to read is also referred to as aquiring ‘Instant’, ‘Whole’, ‘Look & Say’, ‘Dolch’, &/or ‘High Frequency’ words.

We know readers with large sight word vocabularies read more rapidly and more fluently than readers whose sight word vocabularies are small. It is logical that a reader who is able to ‘instantly’ recognize and understand the words he reads, will be faster and more fluent than a reader who must often pause in order to decode unfamiliar words.

We also know that some English words are not appropriate for ‘sounding out’ – they occur much too often and are not necessarily phonetic (for example ‘there’ does not sound anything like /t/+/h/+/e/+/r/+/e/).

Our early literacy printables, including our sight word printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already have Adobe Reader, you will need to download it to access the printable sight words.


Please note: some of our early literacy printables are available to Storytime Standouts members only. To become a member of the website (without cost or obligation), please click on the “Members” tab and register as a user.

You will find our selection of free printable alphabets here and all of our early literacy printables here.

You may be interested in our Sight Word board on Pinterest

image of Storytime Standouts' Sight Word Board on Pinterest







If you appreciate our free early learning printables, including these free printable sight words, please support this site by visiting and purchasing from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.




On my “Printables” page you will find links to printable sight words, that is, lists of high frequency words. We also refer to these as whole words. I have organized the sight words in groups of ten (per page) and a total of sixty sight words per link. (#1-60, 61-120, 121-180 & 181-240). Here is a shortcut…

image of PDF icon  Sight Words 1-60

Sight Words 1-60

image of PDF icon  Sight Words 61-120

Sight Words 61-120

image of PDF icon  Sight Words 121-180

Sight Words 121-180

image of PDF icon  Sight Words 181-240

Sight Words 181-240

The printable lists can be used for flash cards (I don’t call them ‘flash cards’ with children. I prefer something a bit zippier) but the real fun is in finding creating ways to introduce these words and make them ‘instant.’

There are dozens of ways to make learning sight words fun – especially if you have access to colored paper, attractive stickers, cardstock and/or file folders. Adding authentic game pieces (like dice, markers, spinners, and penalties (for example “go back two”) will help to engage your child in the activities. In all likelihood, he or she will be glad to help you create board games, memory games, special tic tac toe squares or bingo cards.

Note, we also have sight word dominoes, practice sentences and special PDFs (i.e. seasonal, vehicles, and activity-related sight words) that include words and pictures.

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 1

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 2

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 3

Important Note: Please limit the number of sight words you introduce at any one time – five or ten at most.

Beginning to Read – Day 5

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Beginning to Read Day 5 included a delightful, rhyming picture book How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. The children enjoyed lots of laughs as they watched dinosaurs join a carpool, race through a school hallway, have fun at recess and try to behave properly in a classroom. This is a great book to read at this time of year. It provides gentle reminders about appropriate (and inappropriate) classroom behaviour. Children love to watch enormous dinosaurs struggle to manage their manners – just as some children struggle in a classroom/school setting.

Day 5 also introduced the “Ot” word family – cot, dot, got, hot, lot, not, pot, rot plus three “tricky words” spot, slot and knot. Our Bingo game today reviewed all of the word families we’ve looked at this week.

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School at Amazon.com

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? at Amazon.ca

Beginning to Read – Day 4

Posted on August 18th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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In today’s Beginning to Read class, we spent some time exploring rhyming. Some of the children have a good concept of rhyming while others are just beginning to understand. We began with eight pictures (king, ring, tree, bee, house, mouse, etc.). The children looked at the pictures and matched the rhymes. We later played an active game and they listened in order to determine whether two words rhymed.

image of rhyming wordsHearing rhyming and developing phonemic awareness is a key to reading success. If you would like to print some pictures of rhyming words, follow this link to Storytime Standouts’ free printable rhyming words. For additional information about rhyming and phonemic awareness, click here to check out our Phonemic Awareness page.

image of words in the at word familyWe also played a fun game that served as a review of this week’s word families. The children were given three or four cards, each a different colour (red, green, etc.). Then, each of the children with a red card stood at the front of the group. The children held the cards up and we ‘read’ the words. Occasionally the children positioned themselve correctly and the three letters formed a word. More often, the children had to rearrange themselves in order to spell a word. In some cases, the letters could be used to spell more than one word (tip, pit / rat, art). The children had lots of laughs with this activity because they ‘read’ silly words before finding the correct word. “TPA” became “PTA” and perhaps “APT” before “PAT” was revealed.

This activity was a review of each of the word families we studied this week. If you would like to print out some word family resources, follow this link to Storytime Standouts’ free word family printables .

Today’s story was The Gaggle Sisters’ River Tour written and illustrated by Chris Jackson. This was a challenging story for some of the children because it includes some relatively difficult vocabulary (hauled, sobbed) and there is a considerable amount of text. I am happy to say that all three groups remained engaged and interested throughout the story.

The Gaggle Sisters River Tour at Amazon.ca

The Gaggle Sisters River Tour at Amazon.com


Beginning to Read – Day 3

Posted on August 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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The children who attended Beginning to Read today thoroughly enjoyed today’s story by William Steig, Pete’s a Pizza

When a sudden rainstorm spoil’s Pete’s plans, he is grumpy and sad. His dad decides that he ought to be made into a pizza! He kneeds Pete and stretches him, covers him with oil and adds tomatoes and cheese. Before long, the pizza is hot and ready to be sliced.

During today’s Beginning to Read class we talked quite alot about opposites. We began with ‘easy’ opposites (hot/cold, wet/dry/ big/small, happy/sad, inside/outside), moved onto slightly more challenging opposites (push/pull, empty/full, night/day, tall/short, true/false) and, finally, tried some ‘difficult’ opposites (warm/cool, always/never, man/woman).

Today’s Word Family was “ed” (Ed, Bed, fed, led, red, Ted). The tricky words were fled, newlywed and shred. We have many word family printables on this website, follow the link for more information.

We also looked for some easy Sight Words. Sight Words are also known as “Instant Word” and sometimes referred to as “Dolch Words.” They are high frequency words that beginning readers are encouraged to memorize (we, my, see, go, and, etc.) For the children who are already reading sight words, this was a reading activity. For the children who are not yet reading sight words, it was a matching activity. If you are interested, you can download sight word lists from our download page.

We played a mixed up alphabet game . Each child had two, three or four cards. Each card read, “I have ___. Who has ___?” The child with “I have A. Who has L?” started us off. The child with “I have L. Who has U?” read his/her card next. Basically, the children were listening for the letter names, checking to see if they had the letter and reading aloud when it was their turn. Very good fun – many of the children would like to play the game again.

Finally, we used Elkonin boxes. The children listened to words and decided whether a letter sound was at the beginning, middle or end of a word. As an example, I asked the children to listen for the /S/ sound. When I said, “Snake,” they should have identified that the /S/ sound was at the beginning of the word. When I said, “Pigs,” they should have noticed that the /S/ sound was at the end of the word. When I said, “Icicle,” they should have noticed that the /S/ sound was in the middle of the word. Note: this is a listening activity – whether the /S/ is made by a “S” or a “C” is unimportant. Children will normally hear the beginning sounds most easily, the middle sounds are the most difficult to hear. Children who learn to hear the sounds and notice when they occur will use this skill when spelling, writing and reading. This is a skill you can work on anytime, anywhere.

Beginning to Read – Day 1

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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In our first Beginning to Read class for this week, our theme was ‘the beach.’ We read a story by Marie-Louise Gay titled, Stella Star of the Sea. We talked about Stella and her little brother, Sam. We noticed that Sam is afraid and that Stella is not. We also talked about the fact that Sam asks many, many questions. Sometimes Stella’s answers are correct and sometimes her answers are not. Most of the children were able to make connections between this story and experiences they have had. Many talked about going to the beach and seeing shells or sea stars, some talked about being on boats and seeing killer whales. I think Sam’s hesitance to dive into the water is something we can all relate to.

You might be interested to hear some of the children’s responses to my question, “Why might it be noisy at the beach?” I thought they would answer, “The sound of the waves is loud.” Actually, they mentioned that crabs make quite a bit of noise, sperm whales are also loud. Others mentioned sea gulls. With some prompting, some of the children thought that the waves (caused by boats) are loud.

By the way, we love it when children make connections with the books they read! Whenever possible, try to match books to your child’s experiences; starting school, travelling, going to the dentist, planting a garden, visiting a fire hall.

Also, just a gentle reminder, reading aloud to children continues to be important – even when they begin reading independently. When your child begins to read, make sure that you continue to read books that s/he is not yet able to manage. You will motivate your child to become a better reader!

In today’s class we talked about vowels (A, E, I, O, U, Y). The children learned a little song about vowels. We will use one vowel each day and today’s vowel was “a.” We combined “a” with “t” to make the work “at.” Once we had read “at,” we added b, c, f, h, m, p, r, and s to make words. We also tried some “tough” words: flat, that and splat.

In the 2:15 class and the 4:00 class, we played a game that reinforced today’s word family. The children threw ‘seaweed’ at ‘shark fins’ and then we read the words on the shark fins. The shark fin words were ‘at’, ‘bat’, ‘cat’, ‘fat’, ‘hat’, ‘mat’, ‘pat’, ‘rat’, and ‘sat.’

I will write again tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]

Also, just a quick note to say that none of our classes are full this week. There are places available at 12:30, 2:15 and 4:00. If you have a friend who is interested, please have them call the Registration Call Centre or stop by Steveston to register. It would be my pleasure to see the last few spaces filled.

Downloads from Marie-Louise Gay’s website
Click here for Stella and Sam stickers, colouring sheets, posters, bookmarks and more

Downloads from this Website

image of PDF icon  The "At" Word Family

Free -at word family printable for young readers in kindergarten and grade one.

image of PDF icon  Beach Picture Dictionary

Free printable picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Sandcastle

Beach theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.com

Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.ca

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