child-closed-eyes-6939178Another reading strategy that your children learn in the classroom is to visualize, or make a picture in their minds, as they are reading. This helps them to better understand what is happening. Often the teacher will read aloud a part of a book and ask the children to close their eyes and create pictures in their minds as she is reading. When she has finished, she asks the students to turn and talk to a partner and they each describe the mental pictures that they made. As well as helping them to remember what they heard, this strategy helps them to understand what the text / story meant as they search for the words to describe what they saw.

You could ask your child to use this strategy at home. One of you could read to the other. The one who is not reading is to tell the other one what was visualized, i.e. describe the picture that you could see in your mind.visualising

This YouTube video shows a teacher reading a poem to her Year One class. The students visualize the poem and then describe what they saw to a partner. Click on this picture of a girl to view it.

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Retelling is a reading strategy that students use in the classroom to help them to think about what they are reading.  As they retell a story (or a part of a story), they are asked to tell the important parts, in the right order.  This helps them to understand the story better (e.g. make sense of what is happening and is likely to happen next) and to remember it longer (e.g. to answer questions and remember facts).

retelling bmarkWe want our Reading Recovery students to be able to tell us who the characters are, e.g. the 3 little pigs and the wolf. We also want to know the setting, e.g. the forest. There is often a problem in the story, e.g. the wolf is trying to blow down houses. If the student understands the story he will be able to tell us, in his own words, what happens at the beginning, the middle, and the end, e.g.

  • At the beginning of the story the pigs left their mother to make their own houses.
  • The Big Bad Wolf blew down 2 houses and was trying to blow the brick house down.
  • At the end of the story the wolf went down the chimney and landed in the boiling water and that was the end of him.

If the student is able to retell all of these parts of the story she shows that she knows what she is reading. The more details she adds, the greater the understanding.

In a very easy book the characters might be Jack and Billy and Mum. The setting is their home. The problem is that Jack won’t get ready for bed. 3 parts of the story are:

  • Jack was playing with his carred car
  • Billy was in bed.
  • Jack went to bed to hear Mum read a story to them.

As you are listening to your child read at home you may like to have him or her tell you what has happened so far. You will then be able to sort out any misunderstandings along the way. At the end of the book you could ask for some of the information on the bookmark.

Later on, when the students become very familiar with retelling the characters, the setting and the main parts of the book, they will learn to make inferences to fill in missing information, (e.g. Billy was probably feeling tired so he went to bed on time.) and be asked to retell causes of actions or events and their effects, (e.g. Jack wanted to play with his new car so he pretended not to hear his Mum. This caused him to almost miss the bedtime story.)

Click on the picture of the bookmark if you would like to have your own copy.

There are 2 YouTube videos that you might like to view.eyes

Read, Cover, Remember, Retell shows how a teacher uses retelling for very easy books.

Retelling A Story shows how a teacher uses retelling for longer books.

Reading punctuation

What is punctuation for young readers?

Our students typically see capital letters (Anna, Toytown), full stops (. Also called periods.), question marks (?), commas (,), talking marks (“ ”)and exclamation marks (!) in their early books.

Why is punctuation important?

punct stratImage from:

Students need to learn how to read the punctuation as it affects how they sound as they read aloud, and it helps them to gain meaning.

I have had more than one student who has thought that reading the punctuation means saying: ‘I can run fullstop’.

A student who correctly reads the punctuation knows to:

  • stop to take a breath at the full-stop at the end of the sentence,
  • pause (little stop) at a comma, (Good hit, Jack.),
  • change the voice for a question, (usually the voice is higher at the end of a question- Where is it?),
  • change the voice for a character when reading the words between talking marks, (Billy said, “I can hit the ball like Jack.”),
  • and add excitement to the voice when there is an exclamation mark. (Stop!)

Students also learn to read words that are bold or in italics louder than the surrounding words. (This is my car.)

To learn more about reading the punctuation click on the pictures to take you to some YouTube videos from LearnZillion.

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 Stopping at end punctuation marks while reading Lesson 1 of 5



 Change voice to match end punctuation marksLesson 2 of 5  punctuation2




 Pause for in-sentence punctuation marksLesson 3 of 5



 Notice all punctuation while reading. Lesson 4 of 5 punctuation4



punctuation5 Read fluently by monitoring reading progress. Lesson 5 of 5   

Cross Checking

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As we are reading, we always need to be checking that what we read makes sense. If it does not sound right, we usually go back and look at the words again to try to fix the problem. For this second reading we will probably look more carefully at the letters within the words, and change the words for ones that would look right AND make sense.

From the beginning of Reading Recovery, we want the students to  cross check what they are reading which requires them to constantly think and check.

Do the words look right?

E.g. If l read the word cat but the word is dog then the word will not LOOK right.

Does it sound right?

E.g. If l read Have is a dog instead of Here is a dog then it will not SOUND right because that is not the way we would say it.

Does it make sense?

E.g. If l read The duck is eating a bone instead of The dog is eating a bone then it will not MAKE SENSE, especially if the picture has a dog and no duck.

Students need to be able to ask themselves if their reading looks right, sounds right and makes sense in order for them to know when it is necessary to pause and fix up the errors, instead of just continuing to read. It is also a way of working out a tricky word, e.g. What could look like that word, sound right and make sense in that sentence? The ____ is eating a bone?

 You can help your child at home by prompting him / her to check if the reading makes sense, sounds right and looks right, and then ask ‘What else could it be?’.

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What is Visualizing?

Visualizing is the movie you make in your mind or the pictures you see in your mind as you are reading. This helps you to understand the story or the information better.

Tasks to support visualizing might be:

  • Draw a part in the story that made a detailed picture in your mind. (E.g. I’m drawing the dinosaurs running from the fire. There is a lot black smoke and fire on the trees and some burnt dinosaurs.)
  • What word choices or sentences did the author use that helped your visualizations? (Examples: ‘fat furry caterpillar’, ‘in the dark, dark woods’, ‘roaring fire’, lightning flashed across the sky’, ‘scary’, ‘enormous’)

Your children are asked to describe what they can see in their minds as they are reading in the classroom. Occasionally you might  like to try this at home. It helps you to check that the children are understanding what the author is telling them.

Warming up the book

Meaning is vital and is the purpose for reading.Understanding the book, before and during reading, allows the reader to make informed guesses of unfamiliar words.

Before reading:

  • Discuss the title and cover of the book with your child.
  • Discuss the pictures of the whole book, or most of the book.
  • Ask your child to look for anything interesting in the pictures and talk about what might be happening at that point in the story. Ask-what do you think is going to happen in the story?
  • Relate the experience in the book to your child. Has this ever happened to you? Remember when ……What do you already know about…..?
  • Introduce new or difficult words and phrases to the discussion, e.g. ….. is another word for ….. , Do you know ………….? , It means ……………, ‘Day after day’ is the same as ‘every day’.
  • NOW your child is ready to read.

Cover the pictures?

Some parents ask“Is it OK for my child to look at the pictures as he is reading? Should I cover the pictures so he is only looking at the words?”

We know that very young children enjoy using the pictures to create their own stories. They are not yet ready to understand the ‘squiggles’ (writing) on a page.

As the children become ready to learn to read, they use the pictures to check what is happening in the story to support word solving. That is why the teacher encourages your child to use the pictures for help, e.g. what is in the picture that could begin with those letters?

Children need to become flexible by using a variety of ways to solve words within text. Looking at the picture to gain meaning is just one of those ways.

When the child has the meaning already in his head, he is able to use his time and energy to use the look of the word, e.g. br-an-ch, and ask himself if that word would make sense and sound right within the sentence.

Covering the pictures would make the search for the correct word or phrase more difficult for these readers. Remember that we want them to experience success in order to be enthusiastic about trying new learning.