A language-rich environment requires intentionality and planning. One very important way we can do this is to make our classrooms into a “No Shhh Zone’’. This is an environment where children have opportunities all day long to hear and use spoken language without being silenced. A “No Shhhh Zone” creates the space to push-in and pull-out rich language all day long- from the moment of arrival until they leave to go home.

Video: Pete’s Chair START Read 1

This week’s book is Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats. This first read focuses on explaining the key events of the story and pushing in target vocabulary.

Video: Pete’s Chair, START Read 2

This second read focuses on the character’s thoughts and feelings about the key events of the story and continues to push in target vocabulary.

Tying it Together

Throughout the week, engage in meaningful conversations around these words. Soon, you will notice them becoming a part of your students’ vocabulary!  

Target VocabularyConversation Starters
Attention-spending a lot of time with someone and helping take care of themRemember how Peter feels left out because his new baby sister, Susie, is getting so much attention. Everyone is spending a lot of time with Susie and doing things for her. Ask your students, “Why did Peter take all his special things outside on the sidewalk?”
Outgrown-to grow too big for somethingRemember how Peter’s dad is painting all Peter’s furniture pink for baby Susie. Ask your students why he was painting all the baby furniture?  Support them in understanding that Peter had outgrown this furniture. He was too big for it. He didn’t fit in it anymore.
Jealous-when you wish you had something someone else hasRemember how Peter had to play quietly and how everyone was giving Susie so much attention? He was feeling jealous of Susie. He wished his parents were giving him all the attention Susie was getting.

Paving the Way to Reading

Path Pointer: The No Shhh Zone

Watch this powerful video that shows the promise you make when you become a teacher – the promise to engage each and every child as your conversational partner and give them the language and literacy skills they need to decide their own future. Whether you are meeting in-person, online, or a combination of both you can always strive to create a language rich environment where every child’s voice is honored and heard.

Phonological Awareness: Syllable Awareness –Segmenting Syllables

We will continue to work on helping your students understand that words are made up of separate beats, called syllables. This week we will work on segmenting syllables in words. You can use any of the segmenting activities we used with word awareness, (clapping, stomping, jumping) adapted to syllables. Here is a fun chant you can use during transitions to practice segmenting syllables in the children’s names!

Teach children to sing or chant the following: “Higgledy, Piggledy, Bumble Bee Will you say your name for me? Jonathan- Clap it out: Jon-a-than (one clap for each syllable) Stomp it out: Jon-a-than (one stomp for each syllable) Now count it out: 1-2-3 “

Say the name of each child when it is his or her turn to line up or transition to another part of the classroom. All the children can clap, stomp, or jump for each syllable in children’s names during the transition to wash hands, line up, etc.

Alphabet Knowledge: Letter Recognition

Last week we gave you tools to assess where your students are with their alphabet knowledge.  We started with the letters in their names because these are important to children and a great way to get them interested in letters. We know that teaching a letter a week does not help children to distinguish among the 26 letters of the alphabet, especially for letters that are similar. Children need to be learning a small set of 2-4 letters per week- initially upper-case and starting with simple lines and curves. Use our Alphabet Knowledge Teaching Aid and your favorite alphabet knowledge activities from this resource to introduce the letters below this week! Have fun! 

This week’s letter group: D, T and S

Monitoring Your Students’ Progress

After watching the first two reads, it is your students’ turn to share the story of Peter’s Chair and show what they’ve learned! Be intentional in the questions you ask your students to try and pull out target vocabulary and rich, complex language. When a student answers you, try to pull out target words. Always acknowledge their answer and expand on it by using complex, grammatical sentences with tier 2 vocabulary.

As your students talk about the story, ask them open-ended questions about what happened and how the character felt. This is your opportunity to have a conversation about the story. Prompt your class with open-ended questions to discuss the story:    

Why did Peter bring his special things outside?

If your students respond to this question saying, “He was mad.” You could try and “pull-out” the word, jealous by using an either-or question: “Do you think Peter felt jealous or did he feel happy about all the attention everyone was giving Susie?”, a fill in the blank by giving them the first sound of the word: “I wonder if maybe Peter felt /J/……”, or even a yes or no question: “Do you think Peter felt jealous?” Follow up by restating their answer in a complex sentence. “I agree. I think Peter was feeling jealous of Susie. She was getting all the attention and he felt left out.” Remember, these scaffolds will also help with children who are having trouble expressing themselves.

Be intentional in the questions you ask your students to try and pull out target vocabulary and rich, complex language. When your students answer you, try to pull out target words. Always acknowledge their answer and expand on it by using complex grammatical sentences with tier 2 vocabulary.

Syllable Awareness

For the last several weeks you have been working with your students to help them understand that words are made of separate syllables. Next week we will move to onset-rime. First, use our Blending and Segmenting Syllables Assessment to gauge where your students are with their syllable awareness.

Were your students able to blend and segment the syllables in the words? Use this information to continue supporting your class in the needed area(s). Even if all your students haven’t mastered this skill yet, you can still move forward with us next week. Remember to loop back occasionally and review these skills, even if your class has mastered them. Repetition is key to deeper understanding.

The Cox Campus is committed to ensuring literacy and justice for all. Through impactful strategies and learning experiences, families, educators, and anyone who works with children can make a difference by bringing the science of reading within reach for each child.