My Grade One Reading Corner

Do you remember learning to read? I don’t really! I remember being three and a half and reading little words to my sister from picture books. My mom confirms this, so I am not crazy. To say it out loud sounds too young, but there I was, reading small words. I am sure that is quite common.

I distinctly remember my grade one reading corner. Grade one seemed so daunting to me. A whole day around ‘strangers’. The reading nook was so comfortable and such a safe place for me to hang out. I felt at home there. When you walked in to the classroom the teacher’s desk at beside the door, facing you as you filed in. (I believe the desk moved around a bit but at the start of the year, this is what I remember). You would file past that and hang up your bag on the wall opposite of the desk. Behind the desk was a carpeted area. In the back and right hand corner of the carpeted area were book shelves. On the left there was a shelf that held school supplies such as markers, puzzles, learning games, and that kind of thing. The school supplies shelf was shorter than the carpeted area so you could walk over to your desk from either side of it. On the other side were all the desks facing the blackboard. (We still used blackboards with chalk back then. I remember smacking the brushes together to clean them out and replacing the pieces of chalk as one of our classroom jobs). On the other side of the desks were windows.

The only place of love I found was in the reading corner, but soon I was out of things to read. Halfway through grade one I was reading small books without pictures- novellas I guess they’re called. Words just made sense to me. Math and numbers didn’t but biology and reading did. Grammar made sense to me too. In this world of words a whole other universe opened up to me. I have always loved reading.

I just don’t remember the jump from reading one or two words to reading novellas and books.

This makes it a little harder to teach my six year old daughter to read. I have a feeling numbers will always make more sense to her than words. I am sure that there must be people out there that are equally at ease with math and English but I have yet to meet one. Isabella seems to be more inclined to love science and math and is struggling with learning to read a little bit. She is also a sensitive perfectionist, so it terrifies her to guess or shout out an answer and have it be wrong. We are working on her being more comfortable with giving it her best try and learning from her mistake.

I do remember reading slightly above my level and breaking down the word in parts to sound it out. I have used this tactic with Izzy. It seems to work okay. Isabella talks about her school day quite freely so I have made sure to listen carefully to what caught her attention. The predictability of numbers and the flow of patterns make her happy. She loves finding a pattern in things. I use this to my advantage. We will do one of two things. I ask her if she wants to go through the whole book or if she wants to go page by page.

If she chooses the whole book I quickly flip through and find a simple sound that is repeated. For example, “an”. Izzy and I sound that part out. Then we look for any word with “an” in it on other pages and add in the beginning and end sounds. c+an. p+an. (Super Why stylin’. Thanks educational TV!)

She loves it if I write words on a card and make her sound them out and then find that item in the room. It makes it more like a game and gives it more of a purpose. Isabella won’t do anything, even go for a walk, unless there is an end game or point to it. There must be a goal, otherwise what is the point? That is a challenge for us, but one I think we are rising to meet successfully.

She LOVES to draw. If I let her, this is all Isabella would do. So to motivate her I asked her if she wanted to draw her own story. She chose to do her own version of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?” by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Eric Carle. She started with a pink bat and went from there. With a little help from me, we sounded out each word and she painstakingly printed it out. A craft that doubles as a sort of homework project is win-win.

Also, stickers. She will read and try harder for stickers. If she doesn’t get frustrated or wiggle around and really tries to sound out every word by herself she will get one. If she does exceptionally well sometimes I will give her two. I have washi taped a piece of paper to her bed where she keeps them. Her “reward board”. Works like a charm!

I am thinking of doing a scavenger hunt where she will have to read the clues to get to a goodie bag. Soon she will see how useful reading is and we will make great strides!


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