I have placed a big emphasis on literacy this month including lots of games, new reading books and the gradual release of responsibility with handwriting. As a result I have seen some major improvements in the children's reading skills in the past few weeks.
We have been playing some fun word games which has enabled the children to see the enjoyable side of reading. Every week we read a new book based on the theme from playtime. The children sequenced the stories, drew the cover of the book and sometimes they even recreated the story in the drama lessons.
Every time we started a new book we discussed vocab such as title, author, illustrator and blurb. I asked these questions every time we read a book that the children are fully familiar with all these words now.
On Tuesdays the children go to the school library to borrow a book. They each have their own library card which they bring with them. They use this card to borrow books from the library. They sit in the library for 20 browsing the books and before we go back to the classroom the children borrow the book from the library and I make a note of their book on the library record.
On Fridays we play word games on smaller groups. One of the games that the children really enjoy is making bracelets. They use beads with letters written on them to make bracelets. They thread pipe cleaners through the beads to make words. It's great, the children don't even realize they are working.
Some of the other games we are playing is making words using pegs, the children pick up a card with a picture on it and they use the pegs to form the word. Little picture jigsaws are a little bit tricky but some of the children have mastered them, we have only started using these games so I think by the end of the year we will have mastered them.
As we are coming to the end of the list of sounds in the Jolly Phonics program the sounds are getting more difficult such as ai and ee. Some of these sounds have two vowels together. A poem we have been reciting a lot is
"When two vowels go walking
The first one does the talking"
In the past few weeks the children have started handwriting. we have been focusing on making a finger space between each word and putting a full stop at the end of the sentence. To put an emphasis on these steps I introduced a writing checklist to my english notice board. It is a form of self-assessment that the children can use when they finish their work. It stops them running up to me as soon as they are finished.
Last month's theme for aistear/playtime was 'The Farm' so to link this nicely with English handwriting, the writing checklist and the jobs of a farmer, each child wrote a letter to a farmer asking him/her about the jobs that he/she does on the farm on farm outlined paper.
The children practiced in their handwriting copy what they were going to write to the farmer as a 'draft'. Once they wrote their letters they put them into an envelope with a stamp and they posted them in our class postbox to the farmer.
The children were so lucky, they got a special delivery of a letter back from the farmer. He said on his letter he made them a video of all the jobs that he/she does on a farm. We made a lovely poster with all the jobs that he/she said they do on a farm.