Mini books are a great tool for instruction to motivate and engage. They are bite-sized activities to use after explicit instruction or are perfect to send home to show parents what you are doing in the classroom. I leave daily activities with my students for repeated practice.
The activities in each little book are for revision and repeated practice.
The activities combine reading and spelling and help students develop phonemic awareness and phonics knowledge.
Build a word – segmenting sounds in words to spell
Read the word after building – blending sounds and to read the word.
Segmenting speech sounds– the ability to pull words apart into the smallest unit of sound.
Build vocabulary and comprehension through rich discussion about words, sentences, and picture-making. To draw the pictures, the student must reread the words or sentences. Students often need to read a text more than once but can sometimes be reluctant. Drawing together is a scaffold for conversation. A discussion with an adult can fuel vocabulary development and comprehension.
Single Sound/Grapheme Books
Discuss the words and pictures on the front cover. Show how to decode each word. Point out the target grapheme to link to the speech sound. I love to add pictures. The images help make the little books look engaging. We decode the print to read. Colour printing is lovely but optional if you have a printing budget.
Read It, Write It
Ask your student to sound out each word, then blend to read. In the beginning, linking speech sounds to letters or letter strings (graphemes) is crucial so children can decode and blend to read. Explicit instruction shows children how to do this.
The boxes help students link speech sounds to graphemes. Get your student to say the word and listen for the sounds to use the boxes.
If you have a student who struggles to hear sounds use counters before writing. Read the word, count the sounds, and place the correct number of counters in the boxes as you say the word. Next, replace the counters with letters. To read more about Elkonin boxes, go here.
Read and Draw
In the beginning, it is hard to read a whole sentence. The space for pictures is a scaffold for conversation. I recently noticed most students drawing a tap for the word dish in class when using the /sh/ mini book. When I asked them to read me the word — all read dish. So, I said, “I don’t see a picture of a dish. I see a tap. Tell me more about your picture.” As young children do, they looked at me perplexed, and the unanimous answer was — it is the tap for doing the dishes —because obviously, I should’ve known this! So we discussed the word dish and the plural dishes.
This was the perfect opportunity to discuss this misconception.
100% of the class, when asked, have a dishwasher. We discussed the types of things that go in the dishwasher. Why do we use a dishwasher? We discussed the word dishes — to mean plates, bowls, pots and pans etc., that we use to create a meal. It is a collective term. On the other hand, the word dish is any shallow concave container usually made of ceramic, wood, or metal that holds food.
We put the word in a couple of sentences to show meaning. We didn’t discuss that ‘dish’ can also refer to a prepared food item. This discussion is for older grades — not the first year of school.
Partner Reading and a Quiz
Fluency takes time to develop. Fluency is the ability to read the text at a good rate, accurately and with expression. List word reading and partner reading activities are wonderful resources to consolidate previously taught code and the skill of blending to read.
Check out my Partner Reading blog post here
A quiz is so much more fun than just reading a sentence, especially if the question is funny or silly. The yes/no quiz questions provide sentence-level reading practice in a playful way.
Reading connected text is the end goal. In the beginning, children tire easily, so sentences should be short. As children build up their literacy skills, we can give them longer decodable texts. The read-and-draw sentence pages are the perfect conversational starter.
Explicit Writing Instruction
Explicit writing instruction is crucial from the beginning. We can’t expect students to write at length if we don’t teach them the mechanics of writing.
Students in the first year of school don't need to write at length. (That's not to say that some won't, some will want to write lots)
It is more important that we teach how to write a sentence and put them on the right road to correct spelling by linking phonics instruction to writing instruction.
Use the picture cards from this resource to support sentence work.
We always start with a game of matching pairs.
Next, we did a quick write dictation of words to remind us of the target digraphs we have recently learned. Then the students picked two words to add to a sentence. We all had a go at saying our sentence before writing.
To extend this activity, you could use a conjunction die to expand our sentences verbally. This primes later learning as students will become comfortable with sentence writing and how to expand correctly instead of run on sentences.
The objective of this guided small group activity was to write one complete sentence that makes sense and has correct spelling for the digraphs previously taught.
The pack includes:
A set of 16 mini digraph activity books to develop phonic skills through explicit, playful repeated practice. These little books are perfect for guided literacy centre groups and repeated practice in the classroom and at home.
A5 little books. Print in colour or black and white. 4 pages in each book.
6 single digraph books ng, ck, ch, sh, th, tch to be used after whole class explicit phonics teaching
10 books that contain two sounds and spellings or 1 sound and two spellings for repeated practice.
Picture and word cards for playful learning
Ideas for explicit writing instruction
Resources to send home to share teaching and learning with carers
The books include the following activities:
Partner reading word chain lists
Word building activities
Read and draw single words
Read and draw sentences for reading practice. Plus, space to draw a picture to encourage talk about the words and sentences