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Literacy Beginnings – Chapter 25: An end-of-prekindergarten checkup

Literacy BeginningsWe are wrapping up our review of how to assess literacy learning in young children as part of the Book Study Blog Party review of the book “Literacy Beginnings” (Fountas & Pinnell).

Today’s post is on chapter 25, which provides four simple systematic assessments you can use at the end of prekindergarten to help you record the growth of your students, and provide information to parents and kindergarten teachers. In addition to the formal assessments that we will talk about here – teachers should also collect drawing/writing samples and reading observation notes to be able to show families the progress their prekindergartener has made throughout the year. The quick optional assessments that the authors talk about are: letter recognition, phonological awareness, concepts of print and word writing.

Letter Recognition

To determine a child’s knowledge of letter names, you can make up or use a letter recognition sheet (samples shown on page 221 – and in Appendix L). These are fairly easy to make in a Word processing program – or you can download the letter recognition sheet that we made. By displaying the letters out of alphabetical order, the assessment is truly based on what the child recognizes (not memorizes). Go through the list and ask the child what each letter is, and if you keep getting no response, ask the child “Do you see any letters that you know?”. You can include the date on the sheet and make notes (such as how many letters were recognized).

You can also find letter assessment sheets and other downloadable assessments over at Pre-K pages.

Phonological Awareness

Helping children learn to say words slowly will help them to hear the individual letter sounds in words. Once they can identify the individual sounds, they can identify the individual letters within the words and begin to make that connection. For prekindergarteners, a good way to begin this process is to observe and record a child’s ability to hear the BEGINNING sound of a word. You can do this with initial picture sound cards (such as is shown on page 222 – and in Appendix M). For example, you have a picture of a CAT and say the name of the picture with the child. Then ask if they can tell what letter makes the first sound in “CAT”. The authors suggest showing pairs of pictures with the same beginning sound (ie. CAT / CAKE) to help the child hear the beginning sound (in this example, the letter “C”).

Phonological awareness can also be assessed by observing the child’s ability to hear RHYMES in words (the ENDING sounds). You can assess this similarly using picture cards and matching up pictures of objects that rhyme (ie. CAT / HAT). Rhyming card sheets are shown on page 223 and in Appendix N.

Concepts about Print Interview

Another assessment suggested in the book is to help you assess how well a young child understands print. Begin by using a sentence strip with the child’s name inserted (I will use an example like the author’s give on page 224):

Sarah and I can see the sun.

Point to each word while reading the sentence to the child. Then you can give the child a series of instructions to gather information about his/her understanding of print. Some examples are:
• Point to your name.
• Point to the first letter of your name.
• Point to the letter “I”.
• Where do you start reading?

Word Writing

The last optional assessment the authors suggest is word writing. You can ask the child to write his/her name or any words that he/she knows (you can guide this along by suggesting some words the child might know like MOM, DAD, CAT, etc.). You can ask the child “What did you write here?” and print the word next to theirs. This can be collected with other writing samples throughout the year and will show their progress in understanding print.

We have come to the end of the last chapter of our online book study! We’d love to hear your feedback!

What did you think of this book study? What is one thing new thing that you learned that you will definitely use in your classroom this year?

Thanks so much for joining us – and I hope you will visit us and all the wonderful early childhood blogs who participated often!

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