I love the holidays!!! Halloween is no exception. As a teacher, I find the holidays even more exciting because they allow us the opportunity to share in the excitement with our students. I usually go all out for Halloween…art projects, contests, and the biggest class party of the year. (More to come on that! Look for a future post.)
The trick is to find ways to keep the Halloween spirit alive without missing out on core instruction. I know! How about Halloween literacy centers? I know what you’re thinking…this is not a new idea. I know, but it is a good one.
In today’s post, I am going to show you how you can take these no-prep differentiated fluency passages and use them to teach both phonics and fluency in your small group lessons. Follow me on Instagram to learn more!
Teach the Target Phonics Skill
When teaching phonics, it is important to not just teach the skill in isolation, but rather, to practice applying that skill to multiple situations. For instance, I often see multi-syllable words placed on the back burner and taught once ALL the other phonics skills have been taught. I believe that we will get “more bang for our buck” if we teach multi-syllable words simultaneously as single-syllable words. See the table below for some example words.
I also wholeheartedly believe that we should practice reading these phonics skills within passages. I have noticed that sometimes there is a disconnect between reading words in isolation and reading words in text. It can at times feel overwhelming for new readers to decode words within a large passage. Therfore, it is helpful to identify the words that readers already know how to decode.
Highlight Target Words
After teaching the target phonics skill, it is time to highlight words with that skill in the passage. This is a visual reminder to readers that they are able to decode those words. I would have readers read the passage slowly and stop every time they find a word with the skill they just learned. They would then highlight the word and read it to themselves.
NOTE: Emerging readers must read out loud. They should not “read in their heads” until they are fluent. It is critical for them to hear them selves read. It is also important for you as their teacher to hear them decode and apply new phonics skills.
For multi-syllable words, students need to practice breaking apart a word before blending it. Look at the image below. In this example, the student digitally split the word up into two parts, read each part separately, and then blended it together. Hvae students practice breaking apart the multi-syllable words in the passage before reading. It helps to actually have them draw the scoop lines on the passage itself. If you are looking for no-prep digital resources where students can practice this skill, click here.
Practice Reading Fluently
Fleuncy can and should be explicitely taught. There has been so much research that identifies its importance to a child’s ability to become a literate adult. Last month, we focused on the Science of Reading, and we learned the importance of its 5 components. Fluency is one of those components, and it absolutely needs to be included in most literacy lessons.
I have found that although teachers often practice fluency in their classrooms, not many teach specific strategies. For me, my 3 go-to strategies are Scoop Lines, Color-Coding, and Mix-and-Match. Take a look at the image below for some examples, and make sure to read this post to learn how to fit these strategies into a warm-up for any lesson.
Out of these three fleuncy stragies, I use the Scoop Lines most often during my Halloween literacy centers. Since the passages are printables, students can actually draw the scoop lines on the passages themselves. This is a way they can decide which words to group together to avoid reading one word at a time.
Color-coding is another option. Students can use different color highlighters to highlight different sections of each sentence. This way, they know which words to group together when they are reading. If you go with this strategy, perhaps you can work on fluency seprately from the target phonics skill. Having students highlight the phonics skill and color-coding their passages may lead to some confusion.
Teacher Tip: The passages are available in both color and back-and-white. (Both are included in the resource!) If you would like to print the passages in color, you may want to consider either putting each passage in a sheet protctor or laminating it. This way, students can use dry erase markers without you having to print the passages for every lesson.
Change up your literacy centers with some seasonal fun! I have both digital and printable literacy acivities for every month and season throughout the year!!! As always, if you have any questions or would like to brainstorm your small group lessons, don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com.
In the next post, I am going to show you how you can implement a fun, Halloween party in either the primary grades or the upper grades. In both cases, we will learn how to throw in just a splash of literacy instruction to these fun-filled events. Until next time, keep learning!