5 Effective Activities To Develop Reading Skills In The Classroom

Play way method proposes that play, which includes activities, need to be the focal point in learning and teaching. The facilitator (teacher) therefore plays a vital role in facilitating activities to develop reading skills in the classroom, as it can encourage, motivate and stimulate children to learn through play.

In this article:

  1. Role of a facilitator in developing reading skills in children.
  2. 3 key points facilitator should remember while facilitating reading skills.
  3. Importance of play way method in supporting reading skills.
  4. 5 activities to encourage reading skills in children.

Role of Facilitator in Developing Reading Skills in Children

During preschool years, there is an increase in vocabulary of children, and it further increases when they interact with peers and adults. In play way method, the adult (facilitator) is responsible to facilitate to children the joy of learning in a playful manner.

Adopting the play way method, facilitators should support children’s learning by:

  • Motivating
  • Building curiosity
  • Questioning
  • Exploring and experimenting various possibilities

Language development is crucial during the early childhood years, and reading skills are always coined with pre-reading skills. The adults in the environment can effectively facilitate pre-reading skills by engaging children in conversations, asking questions, introducing new and unfamiliar words, etc.

Facilitating the learning needs through play not only creates an environment where the natural drive of children to learn new skills are amplified, it also creates an ambience which can align with the interests of the child.

Addressing the needs for reading skills are crucial, as children should be readers across their entire life, and not just during their school days or for a particular period in their life.

Some of the habits that can be developed in a child can be:

  • Being a strong reader
  • Reading daily
  • Discussing about books and the materials that they have read
  • Attempting to read different books available in their environment

3 Key Points to Remember While Facilitating Reading Skills in Children

One of the best ways a facilitator can promote reading skills in children is by asking questions, especially open-ended questions, as they can make them think.

a) Asking Open-Ended Questions

The following are examples of some open-ended questions facilitators can ask while narrating a story, which can trigger and develop various skills in children:

Which character was your favourite one in the story and why?” | Encourages Observing and Reporting

Wonder what’s happening?” | Encourages Curiosity

How do you think she might he be feeling?” | Encourages to Explore Feelings and Being Empathetic

What is he going to do next?” | Encourages Predicting

Can you think of a different story with the same or similar characters?” | Encourages Creativity

Can you retell the story?” | Encourages Summarising

b) Responding Appropriately

Asking children good open-ended questions is only one part of facilitation, and would not add value if their answers are not responded appropriately.

That’s why it is important to appreciate their thinking and respond to them with praise and encouragement, as it will motivate them to express their ideas better and more openly.

You can respond appropriately using phrases like:

“Your story is wonderful! I like it a lot.”

“You know a lot about so many plants and animals. That’s great!”

 “You are getting better and better at reading. Keep it up! And you’re also paying very good attention to the punctuations.”

c) Helping them Complete Their Conversation

Learning a new language is always challenging. When children are learning to master the language, it is natural that they tend to make errors. Facilitators can help them by giving them cues to correct their errors and at the same time encourage them.

For example:

“Yes you are right. It is a cow, and it is called calf when it is young.”

Importance of Play Way Method in Supporting Reading Skills

Play way method is all about providing adequate independence for children to learn at their own pace, convenience and by their own liking. The independence provided to them are nothing but Windows of Opportunity, windows through which they can enter and master their overall literary skills – which includes reading.

Play is a natural drive and is essential for development, as it contributes to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being.

a) Contributes to Development

Play also contributes to the other aspects of development, such as:

  • Vocabulary
  • Imagination
  • Creativity

It also enhances the development of self. These developments can be exhibited only if the opportunities for play are provided adequately for them.

b) Helps in School Readiness

The term School Readiness consists of five dimensions of development, namely:

  • Cognition
  • Physical Development and Well-being
  • Language
  • Social Well-being
  • Emotional Well-being

For children to be successful independent readers, they should be exposed to an array of pre-reading activities which will help them be proficient at skills. These pre-reading activities can be designed to fit the needs, patterns and development of children.

c) Helps Learn Life Skills

In the play way method where children are doing things by themselves, and in the process they are learning to:

  • Problem-solve
  • Develop resilience
  • Become resourceful at helping themselves and others facing similar problems.

For reading skills, children should be exposed to an environment which is rich in both talk (conversations) and print (books), which will help them achieve pre-reading as well as reading skills.

d) Develops Reading Skills

(through Pre-reading Activities)

Pre-reading activities are the skills required for literacy. In play way method, though it may look like a child is playing, he or she is basically organising their thought processes and vocabulary, to work together for a skill called Reading.

5 Activities to Encourage Reading Skills in Children

Play way method is a child-centered approach, where the child acquires knowledge and experiences of the world – through play. It is fundamentally a child-directed learning process.

1. Shared Reading

Shared reading is an interactive reading experience that occurs between an adult and a child. In shared reading, children closely observe how the reader read the book and then explore the joy of reading by themselves. Reading aloud help children to develop literacy skills, namely reading, writing and speaking.

Though the adult reads the book, children are involved in the reading experience by developing a sense of:

  • Excitement
  • Commitment
  • Encouragement
  • Confidence
  • Satisfaction

Reading as an activity not only enables them to become a good listener, it also helps them learn explicit reading skills, and the strategies to enhance and deepen their vocabulary. Most of all, it helps them to get introduced to varied genres of books.

2. Story Time

Narrating a story is the best way to grab the attention of children, through which adults can teach exactly what they intend to teach, which children need to learn.

Using new words in the story and stressing upon words a couple of times not only helps them to master a word, it will teach them the use of the word as well.

Stories with repetitive phrases can be used to teach a phrase and their use of it in everyday conversations. Few examples of the books with repetitive phrases are:

The Cat in The Hat.  – Dr. Seus

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Bear on a Bike. – Stella Blackstone

Are You My Mother? – P D Eastman

3. Phonics

Phonics basically refers to associating a letter or a group of letters, to the sound that they represent. There are 42 letter sounds in English language, and these sounds connect the letters to form a word.

Phonics improves children’s capability to recognise words and phrases, which in turn helps them read. To learn to use phonics, children need to listen to sounds and comprehend them. An effective way to teach children phonics is through rhymes, songs, and stories.

Once the letter sounds are taught to children, the next important step is to reinforce the learning of sounds in them, which can be done by conducting activities and games related to phonics.

4. Singing Songs & Rhymes

Songs and rhymes are vital for development of vocabulary, because they allow children to listen to them (vocabulary) in a fun way. Songs and rhymes grab the attention of children, as it (a) rhymes and (b) has a catchy tune.

While teaching a rhyme or a song, children can be taught to do actions along with the rhyme. This can further enhance their interest and will motivate them to actively participate and recite the rhyme or song.

5. Acting Out Characters

Facilitator can narrate a story to children and ask them to act out their favourite character/s. They should also be told to deliver dialogues of the character that we have chosen to act.