One of the best ways to initiate conversation about words is to actually read about them. I can't help but teach with picture books when noticing words, thinking about words and beginning conversation about words. After spending a week getting to know my students, I feel like I have a better feel for where we need to begin with word study. Here are a few of my favorite books I will be pulling for word study this month:
the alphabet tree by Leo Leo
This story reinforces the understandings of letters, words and sentences. Leo's characters explain that the little leaves of the alphabet tree each have a special letter. The wind comes to blow and the leaves begin to stick together (making words) and soon the words begin to learn (from a friendly caterpillar) that they have the job of coming together to express important things like...peace on earth and goodwill towards men. This book invites kids to think about the words they already can spell. I am thinking I will talk with the students about how we might create an alphabet tree in our classroom. I will be looking for what words my students can spell quickly and easily on their own leaves. I anticipate moving forward and exploring the kinds of words the kids created (names, high frequency, colors, familiar places, numbers, etc.)
The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian, Ann Seidler and Richard Martin
I remember reading about this oldie but goodie in The Reading Teacher. I was lucky enough to buy it at a second hand kid's clothing store in their used book section. What a find! I love this book as much as the kids do. The story, about a town trying to feed a hungry monster who they can't understand, invites kids to solve rhyming riddles throughout the book. The invented rhymes and repetition allow the students to truly take part in this humorous story. It is filled with opportunities to solve and read rhyming words together. I think this book begins our journey with rhyme because I don't want to forget to really ask my students what rhyming words look like and sound like. This thinking will help us gather rhyming words from many texts so that we can brainstorm our findings about rhyme.
Q is for Duck by Michael Folsom
This alphabet book challenges my students to make simple inferences about how a letter and word are related. Can you guess why Q is for duck? Ok, think about what you know about a duck (kids say..."a duck is white, it waddles, swims in a pond, says quack"). Now think about how the text tells us Q should connect some way with what we know about a duck. Quack begins with q. Maybe q is for duck because ducks quack? I love to read this book aloud and begin to experiment with inferences.