How Is My First Grader Doing in School?

Excerpted from "How Is My First Grader Doing in School?" by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

From Reading Exercises

  • Make up zany sentences in which every word has the same beginning sound. For instance: "Little Laura Lilly liked licking lollipops." Ask your child to identify the beginning sound. Then invite her to make up another sentence with lots of the same sounds. (In third or fourth grade, she'll learn that this is called alliteration.)
  • Sing familiar nursery rhymes by changing the first consonants of the words. For instance you might sing: "Tonden Tridge is talling town," or "Bumpty Bumpty bat on a ball." Have your child identify the letter you used.
  • Surprise your child with frequent notes. Place a note under his cereal bowl, in his lunch box, or on his pillow. Your child will be motivated to read a note from you and will begin to see certain words repeated. In the following note there are eight frequently used words:

    Dear Kyle,

    Have a fun day at school. I can't wait to see you in the play tonight!



    To give your child some additional assistance, you might make a rebus note. In a rebus, some of the words appear as pictures. Here is the same note written in rebus form:

    rebus note

  • Create a simple scavenger hunt. Print single words on index cards or slips of paper and place them strategically around your house. For instance, you might hand your child a card that reads "bed." He reads the word and goes racing off to the beds to find the next word: "door." There are several possible places to look for these cards, but that adds fun and excitement to the game. Plant a treat or a card that reads, "You win!" to signal the end of the hunt.
  • Before reading a book, have your child look at the cover and predict what the story will be about. Ask your child to tell you how she made the prediction. Halfway through the story, give her the opportunity to extend or change her prediction.
  • Play Pass the Rhyme while you're waiting for the bus, the doctor, or the popcorn to finish popping. You say a short word such as "fin." Your child thinks of a rhyming word such as "tin." You say "win." Play back and forth until one of you cannot think of a rhyme. The one who is stumped thinks of a new word to pass.

    When your child has become familiar with this game, write the rhyming words on a sheet of paper and pass it back and forth between you. Do not be concerned if your child misspells a rhyming word. For instance she may write "hed" to rhyme with "bed." Show the correct spelling and praise her for hearing the correct sounds.

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