What are some of the first things we watch for when children are learning how to read? Some people may think “learning the alphabet” or “learning letter sounds”. Yes, teachers put a lot of emphasis here; however, various other skills are mastered prior to alphabetic knowledge. This reading pointer craft will help encourage and motivate early readers to follow along as you read as well as practice reading themselves! And it is fun for any age!
What are pre-reading skills?
There are so many things we as adults do in our day to day routines that support children’s pre-reading skills. From nursery rhymes and songs, to reading bedtime stories, describing objects they point to, labeling toy bins, and exposing them to books, magazines, and newspapers. It is all important, beneficial and creating what we call a print-rich environment.
Just the other day a friend of mine mentioned that she was unaware that teachers and daycare employees label objects and toys all around classrooms as a form of pre-reading support. Children learn that symbols refer to their correlating objects (i.e.: this picture of blocks in front of the blocks, means blocks because they look the same), and eventually that print is used to communicate (i.e.: this picture of blocks is placed in this spot on the shelf to tell me this is where the blocks go).
As we read to children we model how to hold the book, turn the page, look at the pictures, and follow the words with our finger, read left to right, and that the pictures help tell the story. Noticing and understanding street signs, labels, magazines, newspapers etc. are all beneficial to young children learning to read. We are teaching them pre-reading skills. Skills that are needed prior to learning the letters and their sounds. First they learn the function and actions of reading, then they learn how.
Now there aren’t many things we can do to “jazz up” the development of pre-reading skills. I have not found a fun way to teach a child “this is how you hold a book – right-side-up”. But there is a way to make following along a bit more fun.
Simple DIY Reading Pointer
Below you will find quick and easy steps to create these fun little reading pointers (I made these in about 30 minutes).
You can use any decorating supplies you’d like and let your imagination run wild. Make a few model reading pointers and then provide the supplies and instructions to your students so they can take pride in their reading/pre-reading by using their very own masterpiece reading pointer.
- Craft sticks– (I got the little ones for my pre-kers, however I’ve seen teachers use all sizes) – also you can get the colored ones or paint/color them yourself like We did.
- Paint/Markers– I used paint, markers, glitter glue, and washi tape to decorate the sticks.
- Focal/”Pointer Piece”– I had some old buttons, stickers,and animal beads to use. I also picked up some more foam and bubble stickers from the Target Dollar Spot. I have seen a lot of people use googley eyes as well.
- Glue: I used a hot glue gun and my students used Elmer’s Glue.
- Paint/color your crafts sticks.
- Glue a sticker, bead, jewel, or googley eye, etc. to end of the stick.
***IMPORTANT TIP: the foam stickers and self adhesive jewels and googley eyes should have their paper backing still on if possible. Leave the backing on and glue it to the stick instead of sticking it. This way the parts that are not stuck the stick will remain covered. Otherwise they stick to things… can you say distracting?!
- Storage: find a cute cup, jar or pencil holder to hold them and display in an easily accessible place in your house or classroom. Ours are in the reading center to use for independent reading and small group reading. I used a washed out almond butter container that I covered in washi tape! (Easily contained and mobile for my itinerant classrooms!)
And Ta-Da! You now have some example pointers, materials and instructions to provide your class or child. And If they love it as much as my students do then you’re in luck! I use my example reading pointers when I read stories and anchor charts to my class. They are always excited to see which pointer I use. (Sometimes I select a student to choose the reading pointer during and activity as an incentive!)
These are great for all ages- I know even as an adult I sometimes lose my place and use my finger to track- but these are so much more fun! And can serve as an adorable bookmark as well!!