How to Build Up “The Big 5” Ideas of Reading

How to Build Up “The Big 5” Ideas of Reading through Read-Alouds

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Being a former teacher and a mommy-to-be, I have heard over and over again parents express to me, “How can I help my child learn to read?”… “Where do I start?” …“Am I teaching them well?” Research done by The National Reading Panel has determined 5 specific reading areas that are vital components in teaching children to read: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. These reading areas are referred to as “The Big 5 Ideas.” You can help foster The Big 5 Ideas,” in your child by understanding what the areas are and building them up during read alouds!

 big 5

1- Phonemic Awareness:

  • What is it? The ability to notice, think about, and work with individual sounds in words to make letter-sound connections *
  • How to Build it!
    • If your child’s name begins with the letter M and the main character in a book you are reading is a mouse, stress the beginning sound of mouse: “mmmmmouse, mouse begins with the same sound as your name: MMMMMadison!
    • Mention words that rhyme as you read, “hill, jill…both of these words end in the same sounds! They rhyme!”
    • Discuss if the book is a rhyming book or not

2- Phonics/Alphabetic Principle:

  • What is it? The ability to associate sounds with letters and use these sounds to read and spell words using decoding strategies *
  • How to Build it!
    • Model sounding out words: “ /c/ /a/   /t/… c-at… cat!”
    • Point to a compound word and break it apart word by word, “pop-corn… popcorn! Wow, when pop and corn are put together, it makes popcorn!”
    • Explain that some words cannot be decoded or sounded out- we refer to those as sight words! The cat is on the rug…. Hummmm, I can not sound out the word the, my eyes and brain just have to memorize it! I need to learn that word by sight… tell me if your eyes see the word the on the next page!”

3- Fluency:

  • What is it? The ability to read quickly, knowing what the words are and what they mean with proper expression +
  • How to Build it!
    • Model reading books aloud
    • Monitor your pace… not too fast! Not too slow!
    • Use appropriate expression when reading a sentence that ends in a period . , question mark ?, or exclamation point !
    • If a character is sad, scared, happy, or excited, match your voice to that emotion- even pout your lip or shine a large smile!
    • If a character is said to be whispering in the book, read the sentence(s) in a whisper voice

4- Vocabulary:

  • What is it? Understanding word meanings in order to communicate effectively
  • How to Build it!
    • Explain to your child what the word means, point it out in the illustrations, or give a hands-on example
    • The act of reading aloud to your child exposes them to words they would not hear in their daily language; for example: “enraged” “buoyant.”
    • Relate a new word to a they already understand- “enraged, enraged means really, really mad”
    • Use the new vocabulary word in their daily life (example: buoyant- “Luke! Your bath toy is buoyant… it floats! Remember from our story- the word buoyant? Your toy is buoyant!”

5- Comprehension:

  • What is it? Understanding and interpreting information from a text
  • How to Build it!
    • Retell and summarize important events that have occurred during the read aloud “oh, Goldilocks went in a house while the bear family was gone. She tried their food and sat in their chairs… I don’t know if she is doing the right thing!”
    • Make predictions along the way “What do you think Goldilocks is going to do if the bears come home right now?”
    • Ask questions, such as, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? What if?”
    • Ask open-ended questions, “How would you describe Goldilocks?”
    • Ask questions where your child can use illustrations to help them answer, “Look at this picture! How do you know it is going to rain?”
    • Have your child close their eyes and visualize the characters or setting of the story, “ok, close your eyes! I’m going to paint the picture of the Bears home… it has a triangle roof, 3 windows, a staircase inside….hummm what else am I missing?” Let your child respond!

So next time your child wants you to read a 5th book before bedtime or that one book you have read over and over again… be joyful; because you ARE making a difference and helping them build up their reading foundation. So… tell me, which one of “The Big 5 Ideas,” do you feel you is the hardest to build in your child?

Thanks to: *   ^   +

Joanna Meredith


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