1. Students will isolate and identify how many words are found within two lines of a poem.
2. Students will use snap cubes to represent correct number of words on a given card.
Type and print out two lines from familiar nursery rhymes on small cards (two lines per card). Have students read the two lines and identify how many words are in the lines. Utilize snap cubes (or any other manipulatives in your class that can link together) to represent how many words per card. For example, a card that has 12 words on it would be represented by a tower of twelve linking cubes.
Students can check to see if they are correct by using the tower of cubes to tap out the words when they reread the cards to check their work. (ie: if the students put together a tower of twelve cubes, then they should be able to tap twelve words on the card).
Extension: This activity could be altered and used to show students patterns in poetry by identifying how many words (or syllables) are found per line of a poem.
The Sense and Nonsense of Seuss
In my first few years of teaching I utilized and referenced Dr. Seuss books on special occasions, conducted an author study to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss and always had them available for independent reading in the classroom library. What I have come to realize is that Dr. Seuss books can be a magical teaching tool to utilize throughout the year in the classroom. For the purposes of this unit, I will focus on utilizing Dr. Seuss books that rhyme and can be decoded by early level readers. Lee Bennett Hopkins notes that, as adults, "We must do all we can to preserve and nurture the love of rhyme and rhythm, and the feeling for words, that young children have in them" (Hopkins 1998, 23). I firmly believe that sharing and utilizing texts authored by Dr. Seuss is a great way to connect with children and their natural love of rhyme and rhythm.
Robin Heald addresses how "… children have become readers hearing and then looking at Dr. Seuss books. Children who have stored memories for the sound and rhythm of language are better able to make predictions about words and phrases, as they emerge as readers" (Heald 2007, 230). The best part about Dr. Seuss books is that they essentially use nonsense to make sense in reading. By having fun with real and nonsense vocabulary in a predictable manner, the books are able to aid in the acquisition of beginning reading skills in the primary grades.
The words within the text certainly don't have to make sense to make learning fun. I have seen many of my students become more interested in reading and decoding words when they don't make sense. Once students are able to decode a CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) word, part of our reading instruction in the primary grades includes having students be able to decide if a word is a real word (one that makes sense) or a nonsense word. Dr. Seuss provides ample opportunity for class wide discussion about words. While deciding if a word is a real or nonsense word, the more important focus for my students is to first be able to read the words – whether they make sense or not. Most of the books written by Dr. Seuss are entertaining and easily read by early level readers. They make a great addition to any classroom library not only for student use, but for instruction as well.
Dr. Seuss books are a good tool to utilize if you implement buddy reading (two students reading together) in your classroom. Students are able to help each other decode words if an individual is stuck. Buddy Reading also allows time for students to discuss the words they come across.
Rhyming is an obvious quality of many books authored by Dr. Seuss. Rhyming activities can be facilitated utilizing a Dr. Seuss book in small group instruction or in a whole group read aloud. After having students listen and identify rhyming pairs of words, they love to come up with another word that rhymes with the pair. This could be used with only real words, or also by having students create their own 'nonsense' words to rhyme.
Hop on Pop
A good book to utilize with low level readers is
Hop on Pop
. Before sharing the book with the class, or small group, have the students brainstorm a list of rhyming words (if necessary, review what it means to rhyme). Introduce the title and cover page of the book to students and ask what students think the book is about.
As you read, have students identify the rhyming pairs you are reading. If you are working with a small group, you may be able to have students help you read as you share with the group.
Stop and ask students if particular pages make sense (ie: one page describes a house on a mouse – ask students if this could be possible). Have students explain why or why not.
After you read, have students compare both lists of rhyming pairs (the list from brainstorming and the list from reading) to see if any words were on both pages.
Next, choose two rhyming words (not in the book) to make your own sentence (to model for students). For example, you may use mail and snail as a rhyming pair. To facilitate sentence writing, make sure that students have access to appropriate sight words (ie: in, on, the, under, over, etc.). Your sentences may look like this: "The snail ate the mail."
Have students work independently or with a partner to create their own sentences using rhyming pairs and appropriate sight words. Students may also be provided the opportunity to illustrate their rhyming sentence. The finished product may be compiled into a classroom rhyming book!
Extension Activity :
Depending on student ability level, some students that may complete the activity quickly can create a different sentence using the same words. They could also use a different set of rhyming words to create a new sentence.
Author's Purpose for Writing Hop on Pop
In another shared reading of the story you can have students decide what the author's purpose was when he wrote
Hop on Pop
. Have students listen and look at pictures carefully to decide what the author's purpose in writing the book was (for this book, it appears to be to entertain the reader).