Easter is a great time to shake off those winter blahs and breathe new life into reading with kids, especially those who have fallen into the monotony, robotic reading trap! Here are five fun ways to use rhythm and rhyme to liven things up!
1. Go back to familiar reading and do a Phrasing and Fluency Blitz!
When I taught Reading Recovery, there were times that a student would plateau at a a level for more than a week. We would be advised to take two or three lessons for a phrasing and fluency blitz – rereading some familiar, easier books to rebuild confidence, model and practice phrasing and pick up the pace. Sometimes, decreasing the reading level was in order.
Many of our students’ favorites were readers that rhymed, had a lively rhythm and made us both laugh!
While some children naturally read words like he said, said the girl, here it is, look at the, can see the, went to the, in phrases; and read quickly enough and with proper intonation and expression to understand (and demonstrate understanding of) what they are reading, many need a lot of encouragement, modeling and direction instruction to read fluently, with phrasing and expression.
2. Use poetry, music and movement!
Consider the Hokey-Pokey song. The last five words / two phrases: that’s what / it’s all about – everyone comes together in unison at that point in the song. I would argue that it’s because it simply makes sense, and it sounds right! Some phrases just work.
So why waste it?
Years ago I used The Bunny Hop Easter Song and Movement Activity in Kindergarten poetry books as a music and movement activity. It works particularly well if modeled and echoed first before showing earliest readers the text:
As I was saying – certain phrases just belong together. To add to the list from #1, all about the seems to be another such phrase, these days anyway.
When Meghan Trainor was singing I’m All About the Bass every time I turned on the radio in 2014, there was no getting it out of my head. This Fun, Fluency Reader version practically wrote itself as I drove in to school listening to Trainor’s voice, over and over again…
My students knew the tune instantly. I modeled the first read to them, and we practiced a few phrases in isolation before we all enjoyed singing it fluently from beginning to end (over, and over and over again.)
There is a twist on a familiar Fairy Tale in this book that the kids find hilarious (but humor and laughter are topics for other days…).
Limitation of liability: It’s all about the Eggs is not recommended for those who are prone to getting songs stuck in their head or with one last nerve.
4. Get silly. Get Seuss.
Need I say more? We all grew up with the good doctor, and decades later, the magic of his brand of rhythm and rhyme still captivates kids who are more challenging to engage than ever before. (Yeah, I know, besides Thump! with The Cat in the Hat, there are no real Dr. Seuss Easter books to speak of…but I couldn’t leave him out!)
5. Encourage oral language beyond one word.
Encourage kids to speak in sentences and phrases by asking questions and modeling answers. Kids mimic the adults in their lives (cringe – I’ve heard my own phrases from the mouths of babes a few too many times, have you?). When hunting for an Easter Egg, asking ‘Where is it?’ may elicit a reply of ‘there’ from a little one, but an adult can follow with “Oh, yes, it’s under the chair’ for a gentle teachable moment. While teaching special education to a student with prepositional language goals on an IEP, we did have Easter egg hunts right in my resource room, to practice for when the Easter bunny did come.
What are some of your favorite phrasing and fluency boosters?