3-5 Resources: Reading like a Pro


Basic Skills

Reading begins by connecting printed symbols with sounds. Next, the reader applies the rules of letters and sounds to identify words. Older readers use these same skills to break down complicated vocabulary into understandable units or syllables. All these important skills help to “crack the code” of reading and writing for understanding. And it all begins with 26 letters and about 44 sounds. Amazing!

General Resources

Have you heard your child’s teacher mention “phonics” before and wondered what they were really talking about? Phonics is the relationship between the letters of written language and the individual sounds those letters make. Your child is learning how to put the letters and sounds together to create more complex words. In addition to using basic phonics skills, your child is now learning additional strategies to identify unknown words. Below you will find some information on phonics and word recognition strategies as well as some great activities you can use at home to reinforce the basic reading skills your child is learning at school.

Memorize Common Words That Can’t Be Sounded Out!

What is a sight word? Sight words are words that are instantly recognized without having to “figure it out.” They rarely follow the rules and just have to be memorized. However, you and your child can have a grand time learning and practicing sight words.

Memorizing Words That Are Used A LOT!

These are called high-frequency words and these are words that are used often in speaking, reading and writing. Use the High Frequency Word Lists to play games. See how many words you can read in a minute. Keep track and watch the number grow over time. See if you can use a word in a sentence. Or use words from the list to make sentences. Once again, start small if your child is struggling. Make certain to begin with the same 3-5 words to practice until they are automatic. Have a Victory Box for any words read automatically several times. But always revisit them many times.

Word Builders

“What is a MORPHEME,” I hear you ask! It is the smallest collection of sounds or letters that has meaning. So as children start to read long words, we can usually make the words understandable by breaking them into parts…or morphemes! If I read the word understandable, I can break it down into digestible parts: under-stand-able. Get it? Use the morpheme cards to see how many words you can build. Then write a sweet definition for each.

Word Builders

Many words are created in the English language by taking a simple (root) word and adding letters at the beginning (PREfixes) and/or letters at the end (SUFfixes). What we call them is not important. How they change the meaning of a word is extremely important. For example, FRIEND may become UNFRIENDLY. PORT may become IMPORT, PORTER or IMPORTANTLY. Port means to carry and you can see how the meaning is enhanced with affixes. Conduct a Word Search using the newspaper or a magazine. See how many words with affixes each member of the family can circle in a minute. Use the Master List of Morphemes to help define those words.

Reading Fluently: The Right Speed, Accuracy and Expression

Fluency--what is it? It is the ability to read quickly, accurately and with expression. It is the ability to make reading FLOW! We want our children to read fluently so that they understand what they read. How does one improve fluency? By reading! There are many things we can do to develop fluent readers.

General Resources

Looking for some general information on reading fluency? How about some great tips for building fluency at home? Look no further. You have come to the right spot!

Fluency Station

Choose a favorite book, a library book or a text book. Model fluent reading by reading aloud—with expression—to your child. Now it’s their turn! Repeated reading of the same book is quite all right. In fact, we LOVE repeated readings.

Track the number of words read, number of mistakes and evaluate how expressive the reader was with a Graphing Oral Reading teacher tool.

Reader’s Theatre/Poetry

Poetry and plays are a wonderful way to practice reading with expression. Here are some poems to get you started.

Additional Activities

If you’re still looking for some fluency ideas, here is another resource to expand your activities and develop students who read like a PRO!

Building a Strong Vocabulary

Why is vocabulary important? Creating a home environment that is rich in both print and the spoken word is critical to your child’s language development. Help your child build a rich vocabulary to become an effective reader and writer.

Websites Worth Visiting

Save these great sites on your computer to help your child develop a strong vocabulary.

At Home Ideas

Looking for some great tips for building vocabulary at home? Look no further. You have come to the right spot!

Refrigerator Word Banks

The “fridge” is a great place to save words and phrases for developing stronger vocabulary. Develop One-Week Word Banks based on a theme. For example, try capturing metaphors—“as quiet as a mouse,” “as strong as an ox.” See how long your list can grow! Why not collect similes, prepositional phrases, action verbs or proper nouns? Why not capture beautiful words, big words, happy words or scary words?

Sensational Words

Use television news or commercials, newspapers or magazines to collect words that persuade you. Keep a journal of SENSATIONAL words that are used to influence you. Discuss the purpose of those sensational words and consider their effect. Words like “breaking news!,” “Gluten free” or “powerful,” just to name a few. Will they get your attention or improve your looks? Will those words influence your vote or cause you to make a purchase? Sensational words are SENSATIONAL!

Connecting Real-World Experiences to What Your Child Is Reading

For children to truly understand what they read, they must have some experience with the topic to connect the new information to their understanding of the world. We can read a how-to manual on replacing a carburetor, but unless we have some basic understanding of car engines, we will never understand it. Likewise, children need many real-world experiences in order to understand what they are reading. Those experiences can be either real (trip to the zoo) or virtual (read a book about orangutans). It is essential that children build vast knowledge of the world around them in order to become great readers and writers.

Ways to Build Knowledge

Helping your child call to memory what he or she already knows about a topic before reading a text really helps your child connect the new learning to what is already known. Teachers call this activating prior knowledge.

Connect lessons from texts with experiences from your life:

  • Fables teach values and morals
  • Cultural history and storytelling
  • Scientific process as applied to recycling or space exploration
  • Use the Internet to dig deeper

Field Trips

Of course a trip to a museum or the zoo is an obvious way to build a child’s understanding of the world, but there are many ways to develop understanding right in your backyard! Share your hobby; use public transportation and explain how it works, take apart an old electronic device (anyone using telephones?), prepare a favorite recipe, listen to a genre of music—the sky is the limit. Just remember to ask questions, give explanations, write a review when the activity is complete or create a photo compilation of the event.

Brainstorming Sessions

What is brainstorming? It is bringing up a real-world problem (problems that are meaningful to younger children may include littering, messy bedroom, chores, forgetting to brush teeth, etc.) and trying to find solutions. However, there are some very important rules regarding the sharing of ideas and solutions. Most importantly, there is no such thing as a dumb idea! All ideas are welcome and encouraged. Out of someone’s zany idea might come a perfect solution to a problem. Take a look at the Rules for Brainstorming Sessions and try it at your next family dinner.

Understanding What Is Read

Reading the words and sentences in a text is only half the job. The other half requires understanding what is read. The purpose of reading is to get meaning from the written passage. Sometimes children learn to read the words of a text, without understanding the information within it. Comprehension is the ability to understand what is read and it is important to becoming an accomplished reader.

Probing Questions

Hold a conversation and discuss what your child has read. Ask your child probing questions about the book. For example, say, "I wonder why that girl did that?" or "How do you think he felt? Why?" and "So, what lesson can we learn here?"

Making Connections

Encourage your child to make connections while reading. By making connections to things he or she already knows, the child’s comprehension will increase.

Think Aloud

Children learn when they make connections between what they read and what they know. One method parents can use to help make these connections is called a think aloud, where you talk through your thoughts as you read. Use the think aloud method with anything you read, but you can apply it to a television show, a play or even a movie. Ask questions that encourage your child to draw conclusions, predict what happens next or determine motivations.