When little ones enter kindergarten, they often come with a range of skills. Some may be reading, and some may know only a few letters. We’ve even had a few still learning colors. So why should a kindergarten teacher spend time working on teaching concept of word? How does a concept of word lesson benefit those at the front end of the spectrum? In this post, I’m going to share with you ways you can use concept of word poetry sets to teach ALL students regardless of reading readiness.
WHAT DO I USE FOR TEACHING CONCEPT OF WORD?
The best way to work on COW is with a poem that has either two or four lines and 4-6 words per line. Poems longer than four lines are too difficult for students to memorize, and therefore, they should be avoided until your little ones are closer to the transitional stage. Your poems should follow either an ABCB or AABB rhyme scheme and MUST be taught ORALLY first using pictures for cuing. It is very important that students memorize the poem first for a true measure of COW development.
With my intervention students, there are a few ways to scaffold instruction. Adding touch points as a scaffold during the modeling phase and during the practice stage may assist those who are not ready for independent COW activities. Additionally, you can use hand over hand practice as another aide. This was especially helpful for one very inattentive child I taught since I worked with his group in the last 30 minutes of the day! Finally, limiting to just two lines for those who struggle memorizing four can make a big difference in student success. We need to set kids up for success, so keep this option in mind.
HOW DO YOU TEACH CONCEPT OF WORD?
The first step for teaching your poems is to post or project pictures tied to the text. Talk about the pictures and share the words. You can add hand motions or sing the words. You can clap along with the rhythm, and as students become familiar, you can begin modeling how YOU read and track the print. When I’m modeling, I really emphasize the beginning sounds of words and point out the white space between words. As I model tracking the poem, I provide a touchpoint grid for my kids to touch as we say it together. This helps them connect the voice to print match.
Once students have memorized the poem, the next step is to practice reciting it and tracking the print. Bring out your fancy pointers. Have your students use highlighters, stampers, and markers to mark beginning sounds and the white space between words. As I work with decodable texts, I also use these same techniques.
The last step with COW is to work on words in isolation. Students can match word cards to the poem’s text. With the poem memorized, you can also model how we can recite the poem and track to find the word in the poem in order to figure out the word.
WHAT SKILLS CAN I TEACH WITH COW LESSONS?
Letter Recognition and Sounds
Working on Rhyme
- Make it a game and play I Spy
- Match sightword cards to the sightwords in the poem
- Make the sightwords in playdough or with wikki sticks
- Use the sightwords in your stations-Read It, Write It, Stamp It, Build It (with magnetic letters or playdough)
- Highlighter Hunts
- Box the configuration
Reading the White Space
In addition to word play, teachers can also discuss the meaning of the poem with questioning. Who or what is the poem about? What happened in the poem? What do you think about ??? What might happen next? What happened after ?? For non-readers, illustrating the story or draw/label activities are a great way to get at comprehension without the added pressure of writing. Of course, for those able, adding a sentence or labels is great!
In the process of reading the poem, it’s a great time to introduce punctuation and what you do with your voice. Drawing attention to punctuation can be as simple as circling with red for a full stop, yellow for a slow down, an up arrow for questions, and a down arrow for periods. You can also read without punctuation and have students add what’s needed.
Of course, one of the primary skills with concept of word is tracking print accurately when we read. Once the poem is memorized, matching voice to print is demonstrated with accurate tracking. To work on tracking, as I mentioned earlier, you can pull out your favorite pointers. For small group practice, I love using the witch fingers or light rings. Finally, you can get flyswatters from the Dollar Tree and cut out the middle to frame words or small boxes to frame letters. When you ask kids to frame certain words, students must track to find them.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT CONCEPT OF WORD:
If COW is new to you, there are other blog posts on my site that you can check out. These three are ones that I’d recommend.
GIVING COW A TRY:
Sometimes I like to try a resource before I buy it, and I have several seasonal samples you can use for just that. THIS SET is great for the beginning of the year. It’s all about apple picking, a common fall activity. You can also download THIS SET which is great for now since it’s all about Thanksgiving. If you catch this post in the spring, never fear! THIS SET is about the Easter bunny.
CONCEPT OF WORD RESOURCES:
Below, you’ll find a link to the mega bundle in my store. It includes over 800 pages and about 80 poetry sets. This sounds like a lot I know, but you will find that some poems match your classroom themes better than others. Having a choice of poems helps. I have also found that for some students, I need more than one poem in a week because they’re reading and want to be challenged, and one thing the kids love is being able to revisit poems in their poetry books. As the year goes, your kids will build a great anthology for repeated reading in the classroom and for the summer.
As a bonus, you can use the code, BOGO for $5 off a purchase of $10 or more. If you prefer keeping all of your resources in one place on Teachers Pay Teacher or want to learn more, you can check out the listing and previews HERE in my store or HERE on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you use the BUY NOW widget above, the shopping bag is in the bottom right corner (Hard to see, but something I can't change.)
Teaching your students to read is so much easier when you use a consistent routine. I truly believe in COW combined with lots and lots of word building activities as THE way to help kids move through the emergent reader stage and on to beginning to read. If you have questions, please share them in the comments or email me through the contact form to the right. If you like this resource and want your team to use it too, please email me about site licenses. I'm glad to work with your school.