Building a concept of word in young readers is one of the most important components of becoming a reader. Kids love poetry, and with short COW poems, you can work on many emergent reader skills including phonemic awareness (orally) which helps when you are ready to move to print (phonics). In this post, I want to share a few ways you can use COW poems.
For kinders, a concept of word is developed through modeling and practice. The picture left shows how I place a touch point for the words. I often do this with the students as we read. Reading A-Z has wonderful stamps that you can put below the words to use as touch points. You can also use them as a way of locating sightwords, words beginning with a certain sound, or ending with a certain sound. Any stamp or symbol can be pasted within Word, Powerpoint, or Smart Notebook files. The buttons help the students match voice to print as COW develops. Accurate pointing (voice to print matching) is the sign that students are ready to learn to read. One very important point with COW poems is that they MUST be memorized orally first.
Marking Up the Poem
When teaching poems to my kinder groups, we work on sightword recognition and decoding skills as well. In the picture below, you can see how CVC words can be boxed with Elkonin boxes for students to tap as they blend the sounds. Students can also touch the “buttons” below each letter too. Projecting nursery rhymes up on a Smartboard works well for practicing Concept of Word.
Phrasing and Highlighter Hunts
Once students hit the beginning reader stage, I love to use these poems to address fluency through repeated readings, choral and echo reading, and phrasing to build prosody. Poems are great for working on sightword recognition too. Beginning readers love to read partner poems, and gradually more are being published. In the picture to the right, you can see how this student marked the words in a highlighter hunt after we practiced phrasing. Teachers can also use slash marks to show where each phrase ends or alternate with different colored highlighters. If you enjoy partner work, you can have students read alternating phrases when the phrases are color coded. When doing word hunts, another important point to consider is that not all words have to be sightwords. Poems with graphically similar words such as through, though, and thought provide opportunities to discuss visual differences and the importance of using meaning clues.
To practice a few of these skills, here is a collection of four-lined weather themed poems that K/1 teachers can use to work on fluency, word recognition and COW. I hope you’ll enjoy using them.
One final point I’d like to share is that all poetry is intended to be read out loud and enjoyed for the beauty of the words or sounds. Poetry is meant to be shared, so repeated reading provides a chance to discuss reader impressions, build fluency, deepen understanding, and to learn from each other.
For more information on Concept of Word, you can check out the posts below: