1ST-2ND GRADE READING LESSONS
By Max Millard
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  1. Classify grade-appropriate categories of words (e.g., concrete collections of animals, foods, toys)
  2. Describe common objects and events in both general and specific language
  3. Recognize simple prefixes and suffixes when they are attached to known vocabulary
  4. Recognize simple synonyms
  5. Identify simple multiple-meaning words. This can mean either
  6. Use knowledge of individual words in unknown compound words to predict their meaning
  7. Read common, irregular sight words
  8. Read inflectional forms (e.g., -s, -ed, -ing) and root words (e.g., look, looked, looking)
  9. Respond orally to stories read aloud, giving short responses to factual comprehension questions
  10. While reading aloud in a group, point out basic text features such as the title, table of contents, and chapter headings
  11. Materials for in 1st grade reading lessons

1. Classify grade-appropriate categories of words (e.g., concrete collections of animals, foods, toys).

a. Play word bingo, in which each child has a board containing nine squares, with a word in each square. You read a word aloud and show it visually on a card, and the children put a token on the appropriate square. The first child to fill all nine squares is the winner. If you can get some simple prizes, the kids will be more motivated to pay attention. This is a good exercise in reading, listening and spelling.

b. Get an illustrated story book of animals and teach the names and spellings of the ones they don't know. Here are some good ones:

Dear Zoo
Who Hoots?
But No Elephants
The Mitten

c. Make three columns on the board, titled Animals, Foods, Toys. Ask the children to come up to the board and take turns writing a word in one of the three columns. See how many words they can write and spell correctly, and who is able to come up with the last word. You might want to finish one column before starting another one. When the children run out of ideas, write some words they haven't thought of, and call on children so that they can practice reading them.


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2. Describe common objects and events in both general and specific language.

a. Ask for a volunteer to tell a true story about themselves or their family. They might want to say how many people are in their family, their names, the ages of their brothers and sisters, their pets, their favorite hobbies or TV shows. Write down each different topic that a child brings up, and ask the next child to cover those topics too. Point out what is meant by general and specific. If they say that they have a big family, that's general. If they say they have four brothers and three sisters, that's specific.

b. Talk about some other things that are general or specific. Write a list of food items, then try to think of descriptive words about them. Discuss which ones are general words (good, hot, sweet, delicious) and which ones are specific (mooncake, fried rice, chocolate milk).


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3. Recognize simple prefixes and suffixes when they are attached to known vocabulary (e.g., remove, jumping).

a. Explain about prefixes and suffixes. Write a list of examples. See if the students can think of any.

Some prefixes: re, un, over, under, sub, inter, after.

Some suffixes: ing, ed, er, ence, ful, ly, ment, ive, ship, able, less

Write down some words that have a prefix or suffix and ask the students to identify these parts of the word.

Here are some words with prefixes:

Rebuild, recall, reheat, remodel, rename, renew, rope. Unbeatable, unbroken, unchanged, uncomfortable, unfair, unpopular, untrue, unnecessary.

Here are some with suffixes: Reading, reader, readable, membership, mouthful, breathless

b. See how many suffixes they can think of for these words: Live, mail, mess, miss, near


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4. Recognize simple synonyms (e.g., blend and mix) and antonyms (e.g., good and bad), in stories or games.

a. Read a story aloud, and when you come to a word that has a common synonym or antonym, ask the class if they can name one. If you have time, review the book in advance and underline those words in pencil.

b. For a game, write down some simple words on 3x5 cards, and on the other side write the word's synonym and antonym. Divide the class into two teams, such as boys and girls, or children whose names begin with certain letters of the alphabet. Then have each one pick a 3x5 card from a bag so they can't see it, read one side, and try to guess at least the word or words on the other side. If this is too difficult, pull out a word for them, let them read the single word aloud, then read to them the synonym and the antonym and ask them to identify which one is which.

c. Ask the children to make some cards for you. This will give them practice in writing and copying, and they might pick up some information along the way. Make a list of words and phrases and their synonyms and antonyms, but keep it informal so that they can follow the technique. Examples:

Good = wonderful. Antonym: lousy
Bad = terrible. Antonym: great
Pretty = beautiful. Antonym: ugly


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5. Identify simple multiple-meaning words. This can mean either:

A word that is always pronounced the same way but has two meanings, such as kind.

A homograph, or a word with two pronunciations, such as wind. The word homograph literally means "same writing."

a. Write some words on the board that have two meanings but the same pronunciation. Some examples are: right, left, down, can, will, May. Ask the students to read them aloud, define them and use them in a sentence.

b. Write some homographs and do the same exercise. Examples: bow, close, excuse, live, read, row.

c. Tell the class that a dictionary includes both definitions and sentences that demonstrate a word's use. Bring in a children's picture dictionary, show it to the class and look up some words. Read some of the definitions and sentences, and ask the students to try to repeat the information.


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6. Use knowledge of individual words in unknown compound words to predict their meaning.

a. Here are some compound words. See if the students can tell what they mean: absentminded, artwork, bagman, barstool, bestseller, boombox, doorstop, eyestrain, footrest, freshwater, handcart, handhold, hothead, lockstep, newsreel, overdone.

b. Tell the students the definitions of some compound words and let them practice breaking them.


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7. Read common, irregular sight words.

a. Make flash cards with 3x5 cards and let the students practice reading them out loud as a group.

Here are some that are taken from a list of the 100 most common words in the English language:

You, was, all, one, they, have, from, what, when, were, your, said, which, their, these, would, two, could, people, water, been, come, who, other, use,

b. Ask the students to name some words that rhyme with the common words. Some of them are spelled similarly (would, should, could) while others have different types of spelling (which, itch).

c. Find some homonyms for the common words. Homonyms are words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently. Examples: all and awl, your and you're, been and bin, who and Hu (Chinese name), their and there.

Project: have the children make a bingo game with the common sight words. First find out which words they need to practice the most. Then make a list of them and put them on blank bingo cards. (Max can help with this.)


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8. Read inflectional forms (e.g., -s, -ed, -ing) and root words (e.g., look, looked, looking).

a. Write a list of words that come from the same root, and let the students practice reading them aloud.

Examples: live, lives, living, livable, lively, liver

b. Write down some root words and a list of possible word endings, and see how many words the students can make out of them. Examples:

Root words: eat, drink, go, live, run, short

Endings: s, ed, ing, ly, er, able, ive, ment, ful, ance, ence, ward, ship, tion


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9. Respond orally to stories read aloud, giving short responses to factual comprehension questions.

a. Use rhyming story books and ask the class to try to guess the missing rhyme. Dr. Seuss' books are especially good because most of them rhyme, and they are at several levels from the very simplest ("Green Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat" to fairly complex ones ("Horton Hatches the Egg" and "Horton Hears a Who."

b. Read or tell a story with a moral lesson, such as one by Hans Christian Andersen, and ask the class what lesson they get out of the story. With a little practice, they may come up with some very creative answers.

Some of Andersen's most famous stories are:

The Ugly Duckling
The Nightingale
The Emperor's New Clothes
The Steadfast Tin Soldier

c. Read a book with a Chinese or Asian theme, such as "The Story About Ping" or "The Banana Child." Do some kids like them better because they have Chinese characters? Do they remember the stories better? Do they identify more with the problems that the characters encounter?


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10. While reading aloud in a group, point out basic text features such as the title, table of contents, and chapter headings.

a. Open a children's book that has the above features. Larger books are better so that everyone can see. Identify the title, author, illustrator, publisher, printer, publishing date, copyright, dedication, price, and other features. Almost any book will have these. Chapter books usually have a table of contents and chapter headings besides.

b. Discuss the importance of all these things. Why does a book need a title? Why do some have an illustrator and others don't? (Because many children's authors are illustrators also.) What's the purpose of the copyright? (It protects authors' rights to own their own work for at least 70 years after their death, so that no one except themselves and their heirs can profit from it.) What does a publisher do? How is a publisher different from a printer?

c. Show some other books and ask the children to identify as many features as they can. Make a list of things to look for.


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Materials for in 1st grade reading lessons

Word bingo game & tokens

blank bingo cards

List of 1000 most common English words

Rhyming books:
Road Hog
Time for a Rhyme
The Cat in the Hat
Count the Puppies

Animal books:
Dear Zoo
Who Hoots?
But No Elephants
The Mitten

Children's picture dictionary

Chinese story books:
The Story About Ping
The Banana Child


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