I’m a huge supporter of phonics-based instruction when it comes to assisting children on their path to literacy, and for the most part we have followed the Scope & Sequence that Maria Montessori put forth (read more here) and then was later adapted by Muriel Dwyer specifically for the English language.
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Recently, though, my kindergartener has been writing notes and letters to her friends and family members and becoming somewhat frustrated at their inability to decipher her inventive spelling and has expressed a strong desire to learn the correct spelling of words.
Since English is peculiar (and that’s putting it very nicely) and my daughter is a kinesthetic learner, I decided to try a ‘Read, Build, Write’ mat where she is able to practice reading the word, then building the word using our moveable alphabet, and then practice neatly writing the word using the penmanship lines.
I should note that we haven’t formally studied sight words at this point — the ones she knows are either phonetically spelled or, for the ones that are not phonetic, she’s learned them through reading the Dick & Jane books, which, in my opinion, are great for working on reading fluency with children.
So, using the Dolch word list, I made some cards she can use to practice reading and writing them as she wishes.
After spending a little time with the work, she quickly discovered it’s much more fun and challenging to read the card, flip it over, and then try to build and write the word from memory!
Of course the ‘Read, Build, Write’ mat can easily be used with any other word cards, including our free CVC cards that are available in the Resource Library. I hope to release the cards for blend sounds and digraphs soon!
If you would like to present the ‘Read, Build, Write’ mat to your child, I would suggest the following:
- The child should be an emergent reader and show an interest in handwriting.
- Pair the mat alongside a manipulative so your child is able to build the words, thereby capitalizing on their kinesthetic memory. A manipulative could be a moveable alphabet, magnetic or foam letters, WikkiStix, or even Play-Doh.
- Provide either a dry-erase marker or crayon or a Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencil alongside a cloth wipe so your child can practice writing each word and then easily wiping the mat clean.
If you’re already a subscriber to the Free + Unfettered newsletter, simply head to the Resource Library to grab your free copy of the ‘Read, Build, Write’ mat with the first 98 Dolch sight word cards. Both cursive and print options are available.
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If you’re using any of our freebies, I’d love to see! Feel free to tag me @freeandunfettered on Instagram.