Do a listening game in which you have children blend your pronunciation of onset (the first part of a syllable) and rime (the ending part) into a meaningful one syllable target word.

  • Tell children that you are going to say a word broken into parts and that you need them to put the word back together. Begin by saying simple words aloud, pausing between the onset and the rime. At first, vary the onset and keep the same rime:

    r … an

    m … an

    f … an

    Then keep the onset and vary the rime. For example,

    m … an

    m … ice

    m … ix

  • Expand the activity by saying a word and asking children to provide another that ends with the same sound—i.e., rhymes.

Language, Comprehension, and Response to Text

Texts can give us great ideas, entertaining stories, knowledge, information, and countless other riches. But children who lack vocabulary and a useful repertoire of general knowledge can barely take the first step toward the most basic understanding of the texts they encounter. How can they understand a science book about volcanoes, a fairy tale about silkworms, or a short story about Inuits if they don’t understand the words “volcanoes,” “silkworms,” or “Inuits”? What if they know nothing of mountains, caterpillars, or snow and cold climates? Kindergartners need the chance to build their general background knowledge and language if they are to understand and profit from the texts they will encounter.

Another important factor in understanding text is interest. Children need to be interested in books and print, if they are going to read enough to get good at it. One important goal of kindergarten is to motivate children to relate to books and print as a meaningful and worthwhile part of their lives.

Rich classroom discussions, thoughtful question-and-answer periods, fun, engaging activities connected to texts, high-quality storybook readings—all these have an important place in helping children move, day by day, toward understanding what they read, enjoying it, and becoming real readers.

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