Developmental Literacy: 5 Minilessons for The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Selecting the proper books to instruct students and to develop their literacy skills is very tricky. We as teachers are very creative in developing lessons.  Sometime we need to refer back to the basics!  Here you will find a list of 5 minilessons that can be done for early language learners utilizing the fun and comical book ‘The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss.  These can be used as centers or as a series of lessons which can be further built upon.  This is obviously not all that can be done, but its something to consider as we all have different perspectives when reading books.  We all share different experiences and have diverse insights that help us create our lessons.  I hope you find these lessons useful.  Let us know what you think and what has worked for you.

Mini lesson  #1

Objective: Onset and rimes

Demonstration: Read the story as a read aloud. As a group, discuss and explain the rhyming words on page 1.

For this page have chart paper with the words play and day written.  Then have students take turns figuring out other words that rhyme with these two words. (Eg. say, clay, bay, way) Hi light the onset and the rime.

Practice:

Split children up into groups of 2. Give students a piece of construction paper, fold in half.  On one side of the paper have a photocopy of one page of the story stressing one word from that page.  The other side is blank where the students are to identify the rhyming words on that story page book and write them down.

Students are then to create further rhyming words based on the ones from the page.

Respond and Share:

Regroup after 10 minutes and have students show what they have put together by placing construction paper for the class to see and determine if the words are correct.

Mini Lesson #2

Objective: To be able to recognize and distinguish between short and long vowels sounds

Demonstration:

Read the story as a read aloud.  On a chart select and write down one short “a” and one long “a” vowel sounds from page 1 of the story and write the corresponding word under the proper heading.  Then do short “e” and long “e” from page 1 as well and write the words on the chart.  One column for short and the other for long sounds for each letter.

Practice:

Have children split up into groups of 2 and have some groups find the different sounds for the letter “a” and have some find the sounds for “e”.

Provide a few pages of the story and a piece of paper so students can write what they have found in the correct column.

Respond and Share:

Then have students return to full group class mode and create a large chart for long and short vowel sounds.  As a group review the words found and post them on the chart.  Students read the words aloud in unison with teacher direction to hear the differences between sounds.

Mini Lesson #3

Objective: Phonemic Awareness/Phonics

Demonstration:

Read the story as a read aloud.   Have a few pictures from the book posted on a chart or the board and present via laminated cards (a few words from the book) and have children identify which picture it belongs under.

Practice:

Break up students into groups of 2.  Have pictures from the book provided to them on paper and also words from the book (all laminated).  The students are to sort according to the first letter of the word. The words can be stuck (with quick stick in order to be moved around if incorrect) under the pictures.

Respond and Share:

Re-group and display, discuss and correct (if any errors).  Have students repeat words out loud together.

Mini Lesson #4

Objective: Letter Recognition

Demonstration:

After reading the book to the group, have an enlarged copy of a page of the book displayed for the whole class to see.  Color in all the ‘b’ letters in blue and all the ‘r’ letters in red from that page. (Upper case and Lower case)

Practice:

Have activity sheets prepared for the students (all the same) with different excerpts from the book and choose two colors (green and yellow) and ask to color code specific letters (c and t).

Respond and Share:

Regroup and discuss the activity sheet.  Then create a chart for the letter c and the letter t (2 columns) and write down the words from their sheets that have those letters as beginning letters.  Have children read aloud the words in unison emphasizing the sound of the beginning letter.

Mini Lesson #5

Objective: Letter Recognition

Demonstration:

Have students sit in two rows facing each other.  Give the team leader a paper hat.  Hold up letters from the alphabet (upper case and lower case) and if a team guesses the letters correctly, the letter is placed in their hat.

Practice:

Separate the teams and have them recall and list what items from the book start with that letter that they have won in the initial activity and write them down. (eg. the items the cat balances)

Respond and Share:

Regroup. Create a chart to record the words.  The team with the most words that relate to the story wins.

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The Daily 5, a complete Language Arts Program

The Daily 5 is a series of literacy tasks that a group of students complete daily while the teacher meets with small groups or confers with individuals. This book not only explains the philosophy behind the structure, but also shows us how to carefully and systematically train students to participate in each of the five components.  Explicit modeling, practice, reflecting and refining takes place during the launching phase, preparing the foundation for a year of meaningful content and instruction tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. “The Daily 5 is more than a management system or a curriculum framework – it is a structure that will help students develop the daily habits of reading, writing and working with peers that will lead to a lifetime of independent literacy.” (http://www.the2sisters.com/the_daily_5.html)

As the title expresses, it is a combination of five different tasks throughout the two-hour literacy block. Each essential task is a foundational element in literacy for the K-5 grade levels. This program allows for a change to the atmosphere in the classroom and the role for us teachers. It is a change from trying to manage students, from rushing around the room, from putting out fires, to creating routines and procedures that creates independent literacy behaviours to the point of becoming habits. Read to Self is the best way to become a better reader by practicing every day. Children are allowed to choose books that interest them at their appropriate reading level. During the implementation and training stages, children are taught how to select books at their correct reading level. Read to Someone allows for more time to practice reading strategies. This essential task helps students work on fluency, expression, to check for understanding, to hear their own voice, and to share with their partner. Work on Writing works the same way as reading, the only way students can be better writers is to write each day. Listen to Reading is a task that allows students to listen to examples of good literature and fluent reading. This task allows students to expand their vocabulary and become better readers. The last of the essential tasks is Spelling Word Work.This task allows for consistent practice in spelling which aids in fluent writing and the ability to quickly write thoughts down on paper. These tasks are to be done daily and students are given a half-hour within each task. They rotate between the tasks, but what the most important factor of this system is the choice that students have. Eventually, when all is implemented, students will have the ability to select which task they wish to start with and which one he/she goes to next (as long as all five tasks are done within the day). In order for this system to work smoothly there are six core foundations to make it successful. Trusting students is the first. This is not a blind trust but a method to build behaviors gradually through lessons and guided practice. Providing choice is the second core foundation. Choice is extremely motivating and allows the student to be in charge of his or her own learning. Third is a nurturing community. This foundation will create a sense of community thus providing members (the students) with ownership to hold others accountable for behaviors of effort, learning order and kindness. Next is the core foundation of creating a sense of urgency. This foundation will empower kids by allowing them the opportunity to understand why we teach a certain idea or concept. A purpose along with a choice will give the student the motivation to keep persevering and keep on task. The next very important core foundation is the building of stamina. This correlates to the constructivist theory. For the program to be successful, children must commence slowly, a minute at a time thus providing them with a teacher who will lay the foundation for success, support them, cheer them on, and help them succeed. Should this not be done, students will become frustrated and failure is imminent. Last but not least is that the teacher must stay out of the way. This is extremely important because the teacher must display trust and must allow students the opportunity to make their own decisions and monitor him or herself.

I feel that the concept of the Daily 5 is greatly beneficial as students are really capable and if we work with them, we can truly empower them to be active participants in their learning process. The task is a great one, and there is a lot of preparatory work. The Daily 5 does allow for more control overall, and it does dissuade behavioural issues within a classroom. The program fosters a comfortable environment where desks are the furthest requirements. A couch and lounge chairs are more appropriate. This is a complete detachment from the current state of classrooms. It is a fresh approach which requires a 2 hour block of literacy. The five essential tasks are an excellent foundation to literacy. I must stress that this is a complete change in mindset but a successful one. Some school boards have begun to adopt the Daily 5, providing teachers the support and the resources to implement the program. Should you choose to take on this system there are many websites that support your implementation. I hope you find the Daily 5 useful and the following websites to help you start.

http://www.the2sisters.com/

http://www.thedailycafe.com/

http://k-5literacyconnections.weebly.com/daily-5.html

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