For children who have mastered the phonic code, reading with fluency and expression is usually the next major hurdle in their reading journey. Luckily, it’s a skill that feeds itself because as their fluency improves, children understand more of what they are reading and the whole process becomes more enjoyable and rewarding. As it becomes easier and more enjoyable, they want to read more which then improves their fluency further.

I read, we read, you read

This is one strategy that you can use to help your child build fluency and provides a good model to teach reading with expression. I use this strategy with my daughter and have recorded our reading together so that you can hear how it works and what you should expect in terms of impact. Although she is in Year 1, I read, we read, you read can be used with any early reader wanting to build fluency and expression, as long as the reading text is well matched. It is worth noting, that this shouldn’t be the only strategy that you use with your child for reading but one of a range of activities for supporting your child’s reading (more blogs to follow..!).

Step 1: Choosing a text

For this particular activity, choose a text that is pitched a little higher than your child’s independent reading ability. For the example below, I chose Squishy McFluff, The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones which is a fun, entertaining read that my daughter happened to receive for her birthday. However, it is a challenging independent read for her, especially as it has a rhythm and rhyme to it. You can hear the level of challenge in the following recording as she reads a page for the first time:

 

If you’re able to, I’d recommend checking out Oxford Owls free eBooks for this as you can pitch texts fairly easily by choosing a book band above your child’s current book band.

Step 2: I read

Time to channel your inner Jack-a-nory! You read one page or paragraph to your child first, modelling lots of lovely expression and reading fluently (keeping a reasonably steady pace though). Importantly, you should also model enjoyment of the text as your child will take their cue from you – if you’re loving it, they almost certainly will too.

Step 3: We read

This time, you both read the text together. You’ll need to slow your pace a little to give them time for the extra processing they have to do. Lead them through the text and continue to put expression into your reading for them to emulate.

Step 4: You read

On the third read through, your child reads by themselves. Help them if they stumble over a word as you want to keep the pace of the read going. You should see a reasonable level of fluency on this third read and some imitated expression. If they are still finding the reading too hard, try a lower level text next time. Conversely, if they’re acing it at Step 3, you’ve pitched the text too low.

What does it sound like in practice?

I’ll leave you with a recording of my daughter and I reading a few pages of Squishy McFluff the other night. If you compare it with the ‘cold’ read above, you can hear the impact of this reading strategy.

 

As mentioned previously, this should be one of the tools in your reading toolbox and not the only way that you read together. You don’t want your child to get too dependent on your decoding, they will still need practise with this too. It is a lovely reading activity to do together that I hope you will both enjoy.

Grab a book, get cosy and have a go – happy reading!

Katharine Simkins

 

There are so many times that I am so grateful for a good book to read.  An opportunity to float away to a different world, or to feel like I am in an adventure or to feel amused by the humour in a book.  During this time away from school, books seem even more important.  Sometimes I will be reading a book on screen and sometimes taking time to read books away from a screen.  I hope that our children are also taking as much time as they like to absorb themselves in good books.  Below are some useful links and ideas that you may find useful when selecting books and sharing books as a family.

 

Firstly, there are some really useful blogs to help you select books.  Bronnie and Bill at Bookwagon are still working from their home and books ordered from them can be delivered to your homes.  I confess that I do have a big collection on its way!  Their most recent blog picks out some great new books and their website is full of other ideas.  If you are still unsure what to select, you can email Bronnie and let her know you have an SBS keen reader wanting more books to read.

Helpful links for selecting books:

Follow this link to Bookwagon:

https://bookwagon.co.uk/book-home-latest/spring-books-and-spring-bundles/

There is also the Book Trust.  This has lots and lots of good recommendations and links.  It is worth a browse of this website for activities as well as links to various different story times.

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/

This is a useful site too – Love Reading 4 Kids.  Again, it is full of recommendations, extracts of texts and activities for children.

https://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/

Which books are SBS children reading or listening to?

It would also be good to get recommendations from the children.  So if anyone reads a good book, please email class teachers or the school admin office to tell us all about it.  We will compile a list of recommendations for our website.

There are many authors sharing their books in daily podcasts.  Perhaps if you find an author you enjoy listening to you could let us know so that we can share it with the SBS community.  In addition, we have started to record stories ourselves and we are using these for some of our lessons.

To do this we use free apps, such as Easy Voice Recorder.  Once downloaded onto a device such as a phone, it is easy to record extracts of text and the upload the clip straight to learner’s pool.  Perhaps children would like to read a story aloud for their friends to listen to?  If they would like to do this, let us know and we can talk you through how to do it.

Inspiring writing through reading

It is also nice to research different authors.  I have been enjoying watching the ‘authors and illustrators’ clips on the CLPE website.  Here you can find authors reading their books, talking us through their illustrations and then sharing something about them with the audience.  I think children of all ages would be really inspired to see how the artwork in texts comes together and like finding out more about popular children’s authors.

https://clpe.org.uk/powerofpictures/authors-and-illustrators

On the theme of books, words and writing, there are some really useful online dictionaries that your child can use when they are writing.  I quite like the Collins Dictionary: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/urban

Plus, if all of your reading inspires you to do some more writing, why not make your own book.  There are so many creative books that you can make.  A quick google search took me to this page, https://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/bookmaking-crafts-make-books.html, with lots of ideas for making books and most do not require large amounts of craft resources.  It can be motivating to draft a story or information book and then publish it in your own book.  Perhaps your children will write something about what life is currently like for us; this may well become a piece of historic evidence for future generations.

You can be really creative with any writing you do.  Your writing may also help others.  Here is a piece of writing I found this week when out on my exercise break.

It says, ‘Be happy. Be kind.  Be helpful. Be you.’

Another idea, is to take pictures of landmarks on your exercise breaks.  When you get home, your children can try to draw a map of your route, labelling all of the landmarks and for older children adding a key.  This is hopefully another type of reading and writing that might be fun for your children AND also covers national Curriculum objectives for Geography – so it’s a win, win!

So, don’t forget reading doesn’t need to be story books – there are endless poetry books, information books, magazines and children’s newspapers that our children can enjoy reading.  However, you do it, please prioritise reading whilst we are away from school and really enjoy delving into books as much as you can!

Good luck and enjoy!

From Mrs Moir

 

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