Reading Problem?

from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

Reading problem - or not - each reading activity explained here can help YOU help your child learn some of the “harder” vocabulary words.

First grade reading vocabulary consists of two types of words: Concrete and Abstract.

Let’s look at each group …

Concrete Words

Examples of concrete words: bat, ball, shoes, tree, girl, boy, pencil, hat, house, barn, popcorn, apple

CONCRETE WORDS ARE EASIER for a student to learn for two reasons: You can point to the person, place, or thing that represents each concrete word ... Or you can draw or show pictures of concrete words.

So if your child has no visual problems or learning disabilities, he or she will practice the concrete vocabulary words and likely learn them with no reading problem.

Abstract Words

Examples of abstract words: the, for, am, must, so, with, love, happy, honest, brave, grief, hope

In general, ABSTRACT WORDS ARE MORE DIFFICULT to teach a child because their meanings are more complex.

While you’re unable to paint a picture of the abstract vocabulary word, you CAN HELP your child. Start by helping him or her understand the meaning or concept of the abstract word.

For example, if the abstract words are honest and brave, give examples of people from history - or in real life now - being honest and brave.

If the words are about suffering loss and finding hope, tell stories about people who have lost their pet, but still have hope of finding it.

Reading Activity

Here’s an example of how to teach an abstract word …

Let’s say the word is the.

First, YOU write the word on a flashcard for your child.

Say, “We’re going to learn the word, the."

Tell her to trace the word on the flashcard a few times with her finger ... to "get the feel" of the word.

Now, have her SKYWRITE the word.

Here’s how …

The child pretends she’s holding a pencil in the hand she normally writes with. Now, she lifts that hand above her head and – making large strokes - writes the word in the air.

    Now that you know how to Skywrite, here’s how the reading activity works:

  • First, the child SAYS the word: “the”
  • Next, she writes – not spells - the word in the air.
  • Last, she says the name of the word again: “the”
To see how to make flashcards – the correct way – be sure to visit Motor Skills.

Another Reading Activity

Materials needed:

White paper plates, Kool-aid, Cool Whip, cake icing, etc.

Use large lettering – not capital – to write the abstract word on one of the plates.

With your child's finger covered in one of the tasty treats listed above, he will trace over the abstract word repeatedly while pronouncing the word aloud.

Every time your child traces the word correctly - as well as pronounces it correctly - allow him to lick his finger! This is messy, but effective - and fun.

You are rewarding him immediately for each correct response. After all, everyone LOVES knowing he has done a good job. And the sooner your child knows this, the better.

Remember, when you’re teaching reading, your child does not spell sight words ...

What am I talking about? MANY of the abstract words are sight words. So he simply traces the abstract word and pronounces it.

For more information on sight words, visit Sight Words Dolch.

Read Tips

For the child who is having a reading problem – namely – learning to read abstract words, these reading activities are tools you can use to assist him or her.

It’s recommended that you give your child only one abstract word at a time. After that word is mastered, then introduce another.

Finally, please don’t rush the child. And if either one of you is becoming frustrated, please stop.

Try the reading activities another day ... You want to always make learning an enjoyable experience.

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