Kindergarten Activities for Teachers that Increase Kindergarten Readiness
Your students love gathering for storytime and helping you sound out the words to their favorite stories. You’ve noticed many are improving their grasp on sounds and letters from practicing with Sight Word Bingo and Flash Cards at home, but you think your students, especially your English Language Learners, might need more to increase their kindergarten readiness. You’re in need of more kindergarten activities that will get your students ready.
How can I offer engaging practice that furthers concept development in my classroom?
This sometimes seems like even more of a challenge when you’re trying to engage not only students who are new to reading, but also just beginning to learn English. Look no further. We have some great ways to engage your students and increase concept development inside and outside your classroom year after year.
Focus on Phonics
The research is clear: exposure to a variety of words and sounds makes for more advanced vocabulary skills (Victoria State Government, 2019). As a result, focusing on phonics, or studying sounds (phonemes) and how they are linked together helps preschoolers develop stronger academic and social skills. Some strategies to add to your classroom include:
Introducing simple rhymes or creating your own rhymes with your students. Rhyming helps your students increase phonemic awareness and can be introduced during class and then practiced at home. For your ELL students, rhyming can be an effective way for them to become comfortable with producing sounds in English and linking sounds they already know from their home language with new vocabulary (Ford, 2019).
Use phonics apps such as Phonics Island or Teach Your Monster to Read during class as station activities, or as a fun way for students to practice more from their smart devices at home. As a bonus, many app-based learning games offer free trials and play options when accessed from a computer.
In addition to phonics, letter recognition and connecting letter sounds with spoken language is a key step to preparing preschoolers for kindergarten and improving literacy. Once you’ve focused on phonics, include new letter-recognition activities such as:
Taking Show and Tell up a notch by introducing Sound Cups. Not only does it make for an engaging activity, but it allows students to practice sorting by sound and allows them to connect sounds to specific letters while reinforcing recognition. Students can also create their own set of sound cups at home and continue to practice with family and friends.
Share weekly Letter Tile Maps with students to take home for additional practice. For increased scaffolding for ELLs, include words that have cognates in your students’ first languages.
Read Together Often
All of the research shows the most classic of strategies is the most effective: read with your students. Allow them time to pause and process what they’ve heard, and give them time to respond. This can be accomplished by:
Engaging your students with interactive story times and read alouds in class. You and your students’ parents have direct access to a curation of read aloud stories through Osceola Reads as well as numerous video options for read alouds that are only a mouse click away. SplashLearn is another great online resource that gamifies reading along, and it’s free for parents and teachers.
Encouraging parents to read to and with their students at home; for ELL students, reading in their first language should also be encouraged so students can begin to make connections between sounds and letters they’re already familiar with as they explore the similarities between their native language and English (Ford, 2019).
The importance of expanding literacy to prepare for kindergarten readiness is obvious. It’s one of the driving forces behind Osceola Reads, as Osceola County strives to provide teachers with engaging strategies and technology to continue improving their classroom concept development and helping students develop an early love for reading and literacy. By incorporating any of these simple activities into your classroom routine, you’ll start your students on a path to kindergarten readiness and beyond.