The Reading Tree: 1 to 1 Correspondence

Strengthen your Child’s 1-1 Correspondence for Reading Success

During my Pre-K and Kindergarten parent-teacher conferences, I had to demonstrate what “one-to-one correspondence” was instead of just explaining it since it is so difficult to define. Essentially, “one-to-one correspondence” is “the ability to match a number to an object or an object to an object*.” * scratches head * So…what does that mean, right!? “One to one correspondence” (1-1) is usually associated with developing math skills, but it is also very important in the development of strong reading skills.

IMG_0319When reading, children need to understand that for every one written word they read, they should only say one spoken word. Often, when I read with children who do not have a strong grasp of 1-1, they say more words than there are in the sentence or skip over words completely. This can have damaging effects when it comes to comprehension time!

You can strengthen your beginning reader’s understanding of 1-1 using any of the following simple strategies!


  • Choose books with few words and simple sentences on each page.
  • When you read to your child, point below each word as you read the word. (tip: pick up and move your finger for each word you read; do not just slide it under the whole sentence)
  • Slow down your reading so she can process the word you are saying and match it to the word on the page.
  • Count the words before or after you read them aloud. (example: “There are 6 words in this sentence… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6! I will read the first word now!”)
  • Have your child place his pointer finger on top of your pointer finger while you read or vice versa!
  • Echo it! You read one word and then let your child echo you… then go back and read the whole sentence out loud together.
  • If words in the text are represented in the illustration, point to the image and then point to its written word.
  • Have your child circle each word as they read it.
  • Clap as you and your child read each word.
  • Use a ‘pointer-friend’ to point to each word (example: a sparkly wand or a batman pencil… the dollar store has great tools you could use!)

Mush Mush Logo

As a teacher, working with emergent readers, I saw first hand how hard this concept is to grasp. It was one reason I recently published my set of 10 early-sight word books; Mush Mush Readers. They focus on sight words and picture words, but underneath each word is a ‘pointer’ paw print to help your child foster their 1-1 development!

Check out my published, confidence-boosting readers here:

Strengthening their reading 1-1 does not only need to happen with a book in hand…your child can learn it during imaginative playtime too! Encourage her to ‘role play’ these following activities to foster a strong understanding of 1-1avie books 1-1  avie cups 1-1

  1. Doctor: set up a doctor’s office using his favorite toys and give one (1) Band-Aid out to each toy.
  2. Librarian: count out her favorite stuffed animals and give each of them one book to ‘read’.
  3. Waiter: have an ice cream party with all of her farm animals and hand out one (1) spoon to each “farm friend” at the party!
  4. Mail carrier: write and mail his friends a letter! Stuff one letter per envelope
  5. Police: line up toy cars and stand one (1) action figure next to each car

Have any other fun ideas to teach 1-1? I would love to hear!!

Joanna Merideth

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