Gateway to the Classics: Primary Reading and Literature by
Primary Reading and Literature by 

General Suggestions for Beginning

I. Telling the Story. Teacher should know the original story and adapt it, keeping the Primer story in mind as a guide when she prepares her story.

II. Conversation about the Story. Free expression on the part of pupils and teacher gives an insight into the understanding of the story, a chance to correct mistaken notions, and helps pupils to gain information which they need to make a unified whole of the story.

III. Dramatization of the Story. This should be begun early in the development of the new story. It aids the pupils in getting the setting of the story, vitalizes the thought, gives opportunity for self-activity and self-expression. The child lives the thought through its dramatization, and later, when he reads it his expression will likely be better because of this experience.

Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the manner of dramatization. The inexperienced teacher often errs in giving too much direction for it. Bear in min these facts; tell your story clearly, picture vividly the images you wish the pupils to get, question in such sequence as to secure continuity of thought in the reproduction, and, when you feel that the children have the story well in mind, parts in proper relation, say, "Would you like to make up a game about the Little Red Hen, and see if we can play it?"

Assign the various parts and allow pupils freedom in arranging the stage. If the teacher remembers only to direct and allow the pupils to do the acting, her dramatization will be a joy and a source of excellent results by way of laying a foundation for individual expression.

IV. Reference to Sentence. The teacher should write on the blackboard the sentence as given in the book. She should then read it, sliding the pointer under it as she reads. A number of children should then each read it, again sliding the pointer under the sentence. This will tend to the establishment of smooth reading.

V. Locating of Word in the Sentence. Find the word "hen,"  or find the sentence, The little red hen found a seed.  The pupil slides the pointer under the sentence, saying it as a whole, not as unrelated words. Then the teacher says, "Which word is hen?" Until his knowledge of phonics can guide him, the pupil may read silently to find the word.

VI. Use of Print and Script. Unless she can letter well, the teacher should not use the print forms on the board; it is simply an added difficulty to the pupils. If the teacher uses the script on the board pupils can take perception cards to the blackboard and match with script there.

VII. Re-arrangement of Words into unfamiliar Sentences. These sentences should be written upon the board. They should not be contradictory to the facts of the story in the book.

VIII. Silent Reading. The best materials for this are sentences giving directions to be read silently and acted out by the pupils, as in the Little Red Hen—

     You may be the hen, Mary.

     You may be the cat, Fred.

     John may be the dog. 

Or in The Boy and the Goats—

     Play you are the boy, Jack.

     You may be the goat, Albert.

     You may be the squirrel, Grace. 

IX. Oral Reading. Pupils should not be asked to express themselves orally until they have looked the sentence through and are sure of the thought. Then, looking from the book, they should tell the teacher or the classmates what they have prepared.

X. Pupils tell the Story. After the pupils have read the story for themselves, two, three, four, even more, if the interest be sustained, should be allowed to tell it to the class, to a visitor, or to another class in the building.

XI. Enunciation. First of all the teacher should set a good example in clear enunciation. Hold pupils responsible for making the classmates understand what is said. The teacher should keep at a distance from the one who is reading.

Making a list of words which pupils do not enunciate properly and having a drill separate from the reading lesson time but referring to this list when a mistake is made, is invaluable. Working with individuals who seem to be slow to hear differences in sounds, finding out the cause of the difficulty, may be time well spent.

XII. Phonics. Phonic drills should always be separate from the reading period, but phonics should be used as soon as pupils have the power to get new words of the reading lesson. A drill on the new words should always be given previous to the reading. An exhaustive list of words in a family, or set of words, containing the same phonogram, is unnecessary. Four or five words are sufficient.

Words that are outside the child’s vocabulary should not occur in these lists. Meaningless combinations which are neither words nor phonograms should not be used merely for the sake of phonic gymnastics.

XIII. Time and Number of Reading Lessons. Children should have two or three short reading lessons daily and two or three drill in phonics of two to five minutes each. These periods should be full of vivacity and enthusiasm. Short lessons are better than long ones, for little children are likely to become fatigued if kept long at one task. The time devoted to reading the lesson as well as to phonic drills may be extended as children grow in power of, sustained attention.

XIV. Devices. 1. Use the Perception cards furnished with the Readers for the purpose of drilling upon the words.

2. Use as sentence builders, cards containing the words written or printed on them. Let these be put together so as to form the easy sentences of the chart or board lessons.

3. Assign expression work to occupy the pupils at their seats. This must be some profitable employment. Playing with sticks, marking with a pencil, or doing anything else with no definite aim in view, should not be permitted. The work should be copying, illustrating by drawing, or painting, card work, paper folding, making objects described in the reading lessons, etc.

4. If desired, a chart for the reading work can be made from manila paper of postal-card weight. Use black "Standard Checking" crayon, number thirty-one, making letters that can be seen across the room. Teachers are advised to depend upon the board and methods suggested heretofore rather than upon the chart.

5. Fasten to the top of the blackboard a common window shade with a spring roller. This is to be used to cover lessons written on the board for sight reading.

6. Use colored crayons on the blackboard to emphasize certain words or ideas.

7. Use the sign printer to print the sentences on long strips of manila cardboard.

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