Storytelling and learning how to read.

The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the act of telling a story – any story. It can be through spoken word, through written word, through art and through acting.

How does storytelling help us and your child with reading?

It expands our vocabulary

By telling stories your child listens to new words being pronounced. Your child hears words in new and known contexts.

When your child tells a story they are practising using new vocabulary.

Instead of asking them to write another boring sentence using a spelling word or sight word – ask them to tell a story instead! These words will come into the story very easily

It is interactive

When we tell stories we are engaging in eye contact with the storyteller and the listeners. We are using body language and facial expressions to engage others or show our interest. We can see how others feel about the story and change where the story is heading if we see our original ending not working for the current audience.

Storytelling promotes visualisation, inferencing and problem solving. It helps us to think on our feet and engage each audience we tell the story to in a different way.

It tells us a story

We all love stories and storytelling through close friends and family can tell tales of the past – rather than just relying on photos and videos. Most cultures passed on advice through storytelling and many still do – telling stories make those rules much easier to follow!

It uses our imagination – both the storyteller and the listener. 

Children love being told stories. Some evenings make up a story together before going to bed rather than always only reading books. Borrow ideas from books you have read and make up your own! Your imagination can go wild being the listener or the storyteller and you can have so much fun doing both!

 “The power of storytelling is exactly thisto bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.” – Paulo Coelho

Why do we need poetry?

This week, on Tuesday 21st March, the world celebrated World Poetry Day!

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Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. (UNESCO, 2017)

So why do we need poetry?

  1. Poetry teaches rhythm, rhyme, beat and space. Many poems rhyme or have some sort of beat to them. By reading poetry to each other we incidentally learn how to speak to a beat with feeling.
  2. Poems are written to be read out loud. When we read out loud we learn to pronounce words with more feeling. When we listen to poetry being read out loud we can feel the words and the feelings that the poet has put into the prose.
  3. Poetry can bring about many different feelings in a short amount of reading or listening time. Poems can make us laugh, cry, move about, remember, cringe and even feel scared!
  4. Poetry is another form of literature that can allow reluctant readers or slower readers to feel a sense of achievement and enjoyment.
  5. Poetry incites creativity in many different forms. Many children struggle in the creative realm but through reading poems we are able to escape into a creative landscape and be inspired to create our own.

We all have  access to so many wonderful poetry books  some are picture books, pure anthologies, disgusting poems, laugh out loud poems and the classics. See what you can find and share it with someone!

Those things called sight words…

Perhaps you have been given a long list of sight words by your child’s teacher with simple instructions as to help your child to learn them.


Firstly, don’t try to learn lots of words at the same time. Try to break the list down into 3-4 words a week. This way the words can be focussed on and learnt properly.

Secondly – give meaning to the words. There is no point just learning a word if your child cannot comprehend the word. Comprehension is key when learning to read. Give your child a sentence with the sight word within that sentence. Help your child to make there own sentence with this word too. Read books that have the weekly sight words in them.

Thirdly – encourage sounding out. Your child isn’t going to sound out the word forever so by helping them to understand the sounds that are in that word you are giving them skills to read more words. Some ‘sight’ words do have different sounds but by allowing your child to attempt sounding out you can then teach them how some letters have a variety of sounds.

Fourth – Don’t rush learning sight words. You need your child to understand what they are reading. You need your child to understand how they are decoding. There is no point just learning a word as this will not help them to be able to read in the future.

Fifth – Find the whole sight word list and reorganise how you introduce them to your child. So you can: 

  • Rearrange the words into similar sounds (but, by, big etc.)
  • Words that rhyme (be/me/he/she/we)
  • Group words that are the same base word but with different suffixes (play, played, plays) If one of these words does not appear on the list there is no harm alerting your child to it.

If you have more time, check out some more ideas on this fantastic resource: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2015/08/reorganising-high-frequency-word-lists/ . It breaks down the sight word list into seven stages of learning words and also different ways you can group the new words.

Follow this blog for some more updates on how to make sure sight words make meaning to your child!

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I’m sure many new kindergarten children are very eager to learn to read but what if that eagerness fades with sight words?

Play snap. Talk about the word when a pair matches up. 

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Mix up the sounds in the words and put the words together. Do this for words that are decodable. (easily broken down into phonemes) 

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Find the words in a book! This makes links to what the word means in context. Read the sentence the words is in. 

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Find other words that rhyme with that word and use the same spelling.

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Play sight word soccer for those children that can’t sit still! 

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