Setting Up A Reading Nook - 5 inspiring ideas

reading quoteChildren need to be encouraged to develop a love of reading and what better way than setting up a cosy area in your home or classroom as a reading nook.

In this last blog of the “reading series” we share 5 inspiring ideas that will have children wanting to curl up with a book in no time. All these ideas are simple, inexpensive and easy to recreate in the home or classroom.

If you have missed the first two blogs of the “reading series” please click on the links below to catch up on what you have missed.

Reading Strategies to teach children 4- 9 year olds

Concepts about Print – 22 concepts that all parents and teachers need to know

Use a tent

tentA tent inspires children to be transported into an imaginary world that is separate from their daily routine. You can decorate it how you wish and it is easy to set up in any space. There are many tents for sale in shops at the moment or some creative people might find a pattern online and create their own. Fill the tent with cushions and blankets and have the children’s reading books close by.

 




Using book shelves

book shelvesUsing book display shelves is a great way of storing even the largest of book collections. It is easy for a child to see which book they want and an effective way of keeping all the books in a neat way on the wall. Rotate the books continually so children have new books to select from. Book display shelves are inexpensive and can be bought from many shops including IKEA. This would work really well in a child’s bedroom, a play room or on a wall inside the classroom.




Create a space within a space

own spaceChildren love to feel like they have found a secret room so why not create one at home or in the classroom. A secret room can be made with curtains, bunting or any other material lying around. Display books in the secret space with comfortable seating that children really want to sit in. Involve the child in putting the room together and have books on a rotating system.

 




Reading bench

readingbenchUsing an old bookshelf, turn it on the side and buy some foam to go on top of it. Buy some material to go over the foam and put some cushions on it. You may also have an old mattress (like a cot mattress) that you could use instead. If you prefer the reading bench to be off the floor screw in some legs at the bottom of the shelf. Put the collection of books on the shelves underneath. If you attach wheels to the bottom it will become a movable reading bench.

 

Choose a theme

themed areaUse your child’s interest to create a unique spot for them to read. There are so many free printable templates online that you can use to create a great reading nook with any theme. This would also work well in a classroom as it can relate to the theme that the class is studying. You can incorporate reading tubs or reading shelves nearby to hold the book collection.

 

This concludes our reading series blogs. Hopefully you have been inspired to create your own reading nook in your home or classroom. We will be starting a new Mathematics series of blogs soon so stay tuned.

If you would like to read some more blogs from this author please click on the links below.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words

Literacy in the Primary classroom: Lower Case Letter formation

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Reading strategies to teach children 4 - 9 years old

imgresWhen we start teaching children to read, it is essential that we give them the “tools” to be successful. The main purpose when teaching a child to read is that they develop their level of comprehension. There are many elements that affect comprehension such as fluency, level of vocabulary, field knowledge (Are they familiar with the concepts that the text presents eg Antarctica or a circus?), reading strategies and their critical thinking skills.

This blog is the first article in our new series about the little details every parent and teacher needs to know about reading. In the blog today, we are focusing on 12 strategies that children must be taught to be able to work out unknown words.




Successful readers are confident at using many of these strategies and are able to select the correct one to use when faced with an unknown word. Many children plateau on a reading level because they have insufficient strategies. Their strategies may work at lower level texts but as the text gets more complicated they need to develop other strategies.

Below is a list of the 12 strategies with a brief description about each. How many of these does your child use?





imgres1. Look at the Picture

The child needs to do a “picture walk” through the book before reading it. Ensure that they understand what could be happening. Get the child to look for clues in the picture to help them decode an unknown word.

imgres2. What sounds are in the word?

Try not to use the words “sound it out”. Encourage your child to look for all the familiar sounds they know and put them together. eg ing, sh, er, br, ough




imgres-13. Look for smaller words within the word

Encourage your child to find smaller words in the unknown word that may help them. Eg homework

imgres-24. Break word into syllables

Breaking the word up will help the task of working out the word seem more achievable for your child. eg unbelievable    -un be liev a ble

imgres-35. Use the punctuation to help

Get your child to look all around the word to see if there are any punctuation clues. A question mark at the end of the sentence could help your child work out what type of word it may start with. Speech marks or quotation marks helps the child realise that it is what the character is saying. This may give them another clue.

imgres-46. Go back and read it again

When your child solves an unknown words, especially if it took them a little while always encourage them to go back to the beginning of the sentence and read it fluently to ensure they are reading for meaning.

imgres-17. Read on

Children can skip a word and read on until the end of the sentence. This strategy is like a cloze passage and checks to see if they are reading for meaning.

imgres-28. Listen to your voice

Many children do not listen to themselves while they read. This is essential at the beginning stages and children need to hear how they sound to check they are saying the correct word. You can even record them reading and play it back to them.

imgres-39. Does the word look like another word you know?

Ask your child if they know any other words that look similar and could help them work out the word. eg trough for an animal is like cough. Same sound ending with the same spelling.

imgres-510. Imagine what is happening

Get the child to visualise what is happening in the text. This will really help them to connect with what they are reading and work out possible words that may come up. eg Reading about putting out a fire usually would include the words fireman, hose, ladder etc

imgres-611. Ask a question

The child can think about a question that might help them work out the unknown word if they are reading for meaning. Eg What is the name of a car that has no roof? = convertible

imgres-412. Does it make sense?

Get the child to ask themselves, does their reading make sense?. If it did not then they have to go back and read it again.

Below is a table with all the twelve strategies for you to share with your child and help them to remember what tools they have in their reading tool belt to help them solve unknown words.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 4.44.59 pm(Copyright) Creating A Learning Environment

How to use the table?

  • Put colour counters on a strategy each time they use one
  • Use it as a memory card that can fit into their home reader. (like a bookmark)
  • Talk about two strategies the child is going to focus on by pointing to them.
  • When a child gets “stuck” on a word, give them the table and they can choose a strategy to try.

It is important that children can name their strategy that they are using. This helps with their metacognition - deep understanding about the concept of reading. The strategies increase in difficulty but it is important for children to use all strategies to be a successful reader. It can be tempting to just give the answers to a child but they learn nothing from that experience. They need to try and use some strategies themselves to work out the unknown word to experience real learning. As adults, these strategies are built in from years of reading. For a beginning reader (4-9 years old) they need to be explicitly taught.

Next week, part 2 of this blog series will be online. In the meantime if you want to read more articles from this author click on the links below.

20 ways to help your child learn their sight words

20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

20 ways to help your child learn their sounds

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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What every parent should know: The three reading levels

Term 2 is in full swing as children have settled into their new classroom and have developed their relationship with their new teacher. It is usually at this point that many parents want to know how they can help their child by supporting what is happening in the classroom. However, many parents feel quite anxious as their child moves up a grade as they find it difficult to understand what support their child needs. In this blog I am going to share a strategy that all parents can use with their child no matter what their child’s age.

imgresThis strategy is focusing on developing a child’s comprehension of a text and how they engage with the text. A text is any visual or written stimulus that a child is required to make sense of. It is important that they are given a variety of texts such as factual, fiction, and visual (eg advertising brochures) in order to have a deep understanding of how texts work and what they can learn from each.

I have named this strategy : THE THREE LEVELS OF READING

To see if a child truly understands what they have read they need to be able to answer questions about the text. These questions can be divided up into three categories.




Level 1 - Reading ON the line

on the lineThe answers to Level 1 questions are found ON the line of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 1 question the child needs to go back to the text, find the answer and say it. This is a very literal level and requires simple comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Remembering and Understanding

Question starters for this level: Who, what, where, when

Types of activities for this level: List, define, cite, define, retell, explain, describe




Level 2 - Reading BETWEEN the lines

betweenThe answers to Level 2 questions are found BETWEEN the lines of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 2 question the child needs to go back to the text, look for clues that might help them answer it and form their answer with supporting evidence. This is an inferential level and requires good comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Applying and Analysing

Question starters for this level: How and why

Types of activities for this level: Categorise, examine, demonstrate, dissect, implement, compare, contrast




Level 3 - Reading BEYOND the lines

beyondThe answers to Level 3 questions are found BEYOND the lines of the text. This means that in order for the child to answer a level 3 question the child needs to use the information from the text, their own knowledge and understanding of how the world works and apply it to form an answer. This is thematic level and requires high comprehension skills.

Skills for this level: Evaluating and Creating

Question starters for this level: What would it be like if …? What is another possible title for this text?, What would you do if…? How does this text connect with your life?

Types of activities for this level: Create, develop, generate, produce, imagine, justify, assess, conclude

It is important that children are asked questions from all levels no matter what their age. Many parents tend to stick with Level 1 questioning because it is simple but it does not give your child enough opportunity to develop their comprehension skills. Asking questions does not have to be a formal task that is done at the end when they are finished reading the text. Ask questions throughout to gauge their understanding and help clarify if needed. Get them to point out what they used to help them answer the question. Encourage your child to return to the text as many times as they want as it is not a memory test. Teaching comprehension skills will give them a solid foundation for reading and as a result help them in all subject areas.

If you remember nothing else from this blog, please remember this “Comprehension floats on a conversation”. Talk with your child about what you or they have read and ensure they really understand the purpose and ideas that are trying to be conveyed by the author.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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If you want to read more articles from this author please click on the links below:

10 ways to help your child to read

How to help your child form their letters correctly

What K-2 teachers want parents to know - Reading levels

 

10 Ways To Help Your Child Learn To Read

Reading is a skill that is developed over time. As parents and educators we are always looking for simple ways to help children learn this important skill while doing everyday activities.

The first thing I want to inform all parents is “TO PUT DOWN THOSE FLASH CARDS” Flash cards have no context. This means that the words are just said with no meaning behind it. Reading is about understanding language and knowing how language is put together. Flash cards do not teach either of these.

That said, it is important for children to learn simple sight words to help them read. These words are learnt best in a context (ie in a text). You can play many games with sight words to make it more interesting and engaging for your child.

If you want your child to have a deep understanding about learning to read, follow my 10 easy steps and your child will be well on their way.




1. Let your child see you reading

imgresChildren at a young age learn more through actions than words. Seeing an adult read is very powerful as children will realise the importance of reading to survive in our world.

 

2. Visit your library

imgres-1Let your child choose a book and read it together. Show them that reading is a wonderful skill to have that can open up many worlds to them. Show them books that you liked as a child and tell them why you liked them.

 




3. Enjoy reading with your child.

imgres-2Reading is part of many bedtime routines in households everywhere. Often due to this routine, reading is only viewed as an activity before bed by many children. It is important to grab a book at any time of the day and have fun reading it with your child. Laugh at humorous moments or change your voice for different characters.

4. Find rhyming words together

imgres-4Rhyming is very important when learning to read. It helps a child hear different sounds and consequently be able to write different words. Point out rhyming words when you have a conversation if any come up. Find rhyming words in texts you read together.

5. Play appropriate word and reading games with technology

imgres-5Children love using technology so why not find some educational games to play with your child that will help them learn about reading at the same time.

 




6. Set aside a place for reading

imgres-3It is lovely to have a comfortable spot in your house allocated to reading stories. It might be in a corner or on a big armchair. This makes the experience of reading more special for your child.

 

7. Pointing out words that begin with a certain letter

imgres-6Playing “I spy” or asking your child to point out pictures in a text that begin with a certain sound will help focus your child’s knowledge about phonics.

 

8. Ask children questions about the text they read

imgres-7Asking questions before, during and after reading a text is very important for children to build their knowledge about comprehension strategies. Asking questions like “What do you think will happen next?”, “What was your favourite part of the story and why was it your favourite?” and “Why did the character make that choice” will deepen their understanding about the text.

9. Read out loud to your child

imgres-8Children need to hear good phrasing and fluency when reading. All children under 12 years old benefit from hearing adults read.

 

10. Finding common words

imagesWhen you have finished reading a text, turn back to a few pages and ask them to point out some words for you.

 

If you endeavour to do some or all of these ideas, it will significantly increase your child’s success at learning to read. Children need to understand the importance and purpose of reading in our world before they can begin to do it themselves.

I hope you were able to take something away with you from this blog. Maybe you have a small child at home or a child who is about to start school next year that would benefit from some of these ideas.

Stay tuned to Creating A Learning Environment for the weekly blogs. Next week the blog will be dedicated to 10 ways to help your child with Math.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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The Celebration Of Books: Book Week Nominations

Book week is nearly here!! Each year, schools and public libraries across Australia spend a week celebrating books and Australian authors and illustrators. Classroom teachers, teacher librarians and public librarians develop activities, offer competitions and tell stories relating to a theme to highlight the importance of reading.

small BW promo logoThis year Book Week is being celebrated between  Saturday 22nd August - Friday 28th August 2015. Each year the Australian Book Council of Australia chooses a theme that will inspire children and adults to share their love of reading. This year the theme is “Books light up our world”. Book week this year is extra special as it will be celebrating 70 years since it all began.

 

In the lead up to book week, 6 books are nominated for the honourary title of book of the year from the Australian Book Council of Australia in their category. The categories are older readers book of the year, younger readers book of the year, early childhood book of the year, picture book of the year and the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. Books were shortlisted on April the 14th and the winner will be announce on Friday the 21st August at 12pm.

In this blog I will look at one book in each category that you may want to read with your child or children in your classroom.

Category: Nominated for Older Readers Book of the Year

Nona & Me by Claire Atkins

Nona and MeRosie and Nona are sisters. Yapas.

They are also best friends. It doesn’t matter that Rosie is white and Nona is Aboriginal: their family connections tie them together for life.

Born just five days apart in a remote corner of the Northern Territory, the girls are inseperable, until Nona moves away at the age of nine. By the time she returns, they’re in Year 10 and things have changed. Rosie has lost interest in the community, preferring to hang out in the nearby mining town, where she goes to school with the glamorous Selena, and Selena’s
gorgeous older brother Nick.

When a political announcement highlights divisions between the Aboriginal community and the mining town, Rosie is put in a difficult position: will she be forced to choose between her first love and her oldest friend?

‘A fascinating book, beautifully told, with rich insight into a deeply Australian but little known community.’ – Jackie French

Category: Nominated for Younger Readers Book of the Year

Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks

Two WolvesAn old man tells his grandson that there is a battle raging inside him, inside all of us. A terrible battle between two wolves. One wolf is bad – pride, jealousy, greed. The other wolf is good – kindness, hope, truth. The child asks, ‘Who will win?’ The grandfather answers simply, ‘The one you feed.’

One afternoon, police officers show up at Ben Silver’s front door. Minutes after they leave, his parents arrive home. Ben and his little sister Olive are bundled into the car and told they’re going on a holiday. But are they?

It doesn’t take long for Ben to realise that his parents are in trouble. Ben’s always dreamt of becoming a detective – his dad even calls him ‘Cop’. Now Ben gathers evidence and tries to uncover what his parents have done.

The problem is, if he figures it out, what does he do? Tell someone? Or keep the secret and live life on the run?

‘Gripping and unpredictable, with a hero you won’t forget.’ - John Boyne, author of The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas

Category: Nominated for Early Childhood Book of the Year

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

pigcoverThis is a story about a Pug named Pig who finds it very difficult to share. A small dog is on hand to teach him all about sharing but it is not in the way that you would expect. Aaron Blabey has created many hilarious moments that can be appreciated by young children and adults.

“I defy anyone to read this picture book and not laugh. Hilarious.” - Sydney Morning Herald
“Pig the Pug had us chuckling from the title…(and) the final page had us in stitches. A book to return to often.” - The Weekend Australian

Category: Nominated for Picture Book of the Year

Rivertime by Trace Balla

RivertimeA gentle and beautiful book about slowing down and growing up, set on Australia’s Glenelg River and featuring a ten-year-old boy and his uncle. Trace Balla is often found sketching in nature, riding her bike with her son, dancing, and growing vegies in her garden in central Victoria. She works as an illustrator, community artist, art therapist, animator, and writer of songs and stories.

Category: Nominated for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Mary’s Australia: How Mary Mackillop changed Australia by Pamela Freeman

Mary's AustraliaMary MacKillop changed the course of Australia’s history.

Mary MacKillop watched Australia grow from a collection of small colonies into a nation - and she was proud of the country she had a part in creating. How did Australia change in her lifetime? And how much influence did Mary MacKillop have in shaping Australia?

  • Mary MacKillop is one of the most influential people in Australia’s history.
  • Mary MacKillop is well-known for being Australia’s first and so far only saint.

I hope you have found some inspiration in this blog to start reading one of these quality books with your child or class. Reading is a gift and should be treasured.

Next week I will focus on another 5 books that have also been nominated for the Australian Council Books of the year.

Happy reading everyone.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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