If you have a child struggling to grasp concept of word, you’ll love this free printable activity!
Have you seen my free Color Me Readers? They’re very basic books that I use to help my kids learn basic concepts of print and (if they’re ready) simple sight words.
But I’ve found that my Three often struggles with those. Unlike his older siblings, concepts of print haven’t come easily to him. When he pointed to one word and said a full sentence, it was clear that we needed more work on the “concept of word.”
What is “concept of word”?
It simply means that when you see one word on the paper, you say one word. Children who grasp this concept can match their voice to print. Concept of word is just one of many concepts of print that children need to understand before they’re ready to do things like sound out words.
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Here’s what I did. I took something of high interest to him (vehicles) and created a printable reading activity he could carry around.
I made a set of forty cards featuring ten types of transportation:
- police car
- fire truck
- school bus
- dump truck
For each type of transportation, I created four cards (using real images, because those are more fun!). Each card had a sentence that added one more word than the previous one. (Yes, I realize that some of these are not complete sentences. Hang with me here.) Under each word I put a black dot.
- A car.
- A big car.
- I see a big car.
I printed the cards on cardstock, laminated, cut them apart, and put them in order on a metal ring. He would read the first word of a set by identifying the picture and pointing to the dot. I told him he should only say a single word when pointing to a dot.
The second word in a set added the word “a.” I wanted this very simple, since he does not read words yet, beyond his name. The point was to understand voice to print matching, not to memorize words.
The next sentence had the word “big” inserted. (Sorry for the dark picture! It was a rainy day.)
Finally, the last card of each set included the word “see.”
By reading each card in a set, he was able to use the beginning letters to help him (s is for see; b is for big) and – most importantly – slow down to read the whole sentence.
How it went
How did it go, you ask?
Well, at first I wasn’t so sure. When I presented him with the activity he wanted to try it right away. However, we were heading out the door. So his first time “reading” it was from the backseat while I was driving him and his little sister to a check-up for baby #6.
I wasn’t able to sit with him and help, although he was determined to get through the whole stack.
He was quite confused, and it alarmed me a bit how much he forgot the pattern.
“What do you say when you have one dot? (Five minutes later) What do you say with one dot again? What do you say with two dots? (Two minutes later) What do you say with two dots again?”
I would say things like this:
- “Well, if it has one dot, say the name of the picture. What letter does it start with? (“B.”) So…/b/,/b/,/b/…. that’s right, boat!”
- Or “It has two dots? Look at the first letter. What word does that make? (“A.”) Good. Now keep going. “A….” (“A helicopter.”) Yes, good!”
- Or “If it has three dots, start with the first word. What is that? (“A.”) Okay, now add the middle word. /b/, /b/, big. Can you finish it?” (“A big truck.”) You got it!”
The third time we did the activity, it all started to come together. I even mixed the cards up in the ring so that he could not read them by pattern… he actually had to notice the words and the dots.
And he did great!
I plan to use this again and create similar activities in the future. We hope you can use it!
Nursery rhymes are one of the very best ways to teach concepts of print.
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