Rainbow Fish Literacy Lesson Plans

Rainbow Fish LiteracyThis mini-theme is based on the literacy selection “Rainbow Fish” written by Marcus Pfister.  Other similar selections written by this author could also be used for instructional purposes.  This lesson plan is part of a nine-week program (or longer) to meet the majority of the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten curriculum outcomes.  A balanced literacy approach is used within the Kinderplans teaching resources.  This approach has proven to be the most effective model used in teaching today.


Modeled Reading

All alphabet letters/sounds and sight words begin with using  popular literature selections for modeled reading.  In this set of lesson plans, the teacher would use Rainbow Fish written by Marcus Pfister and other similar literature selections written by this author.


Shared Reading Follow-Up

The companion emergent reader “Rainbow Fish Retelling” would be used as a follow-up to model the reading process and to introduce the following:


Alphabet Letters:  Rr for “rainbow” and Ff for “fish”


Pre Primer Sight Words:  see, the, you


Rainbow Fish Reader Black and WhiteRainbow Fish Reader Colour








Alphabet and Rhyming Literacy Center Games and Activities

The games outlined below are follow-up activities that are used to reinforce what has been taught using the emergent reader as an introduction to the focus skills.  A collage of the activities/games are provided in the photograph below.


Spin and Print

Playing partners spin and print the letter of the focus initial letter sound represented in the picture they landed on.


Draw and Print

Students draw a picture card and print the letter of the focus initial letter sound displayed in the picture collage below.


Picture Mnemonic Printing Activity

Students will be involved with focus letter picture mnemonic printing activities as displayed in the photograph below.


Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Awareness and Rhyming Activities

Rhyming, phonemic and phonological awareness activities are always addressed within the units.  These lesson plans based on the book “Rainbow Fish” include suggestions and activities in relation to developing these skills.

Rainbow Fish Literacy Games


Sight Word Literacy Center Games and Activities for 

Spin and Print

Playing partners spin and print the focus sight words (see, the you).


Roll and Print

In this game focus sight words are printed on a blank die.  Students roll the die and print the focus sight word on the templates provided.


Roll, Move and Say

Playing partners take turns rolling a die and moving their game players accordingly on the game board provided.  They must say the sight word that they landed on.


Draw and Say

Playing partners take turns drawing a word card and saying the word displayed.  They get to keep the card if it is read correctly.

Rainbow Fish Sight Word Games


Writing Activity

All lesson plan themes include a follow-up writing and craft activity. The students would complete the craft/writing activity displayed below. The writing template is meant to be a shape book for your young learners to print a sentence about what they have learned about ocean animals.  The fish template was sponge-painted and thick aluminum foil was used for the scales.


Rainbow Fish Writing Craft 

Where Can I Access These Resources?

You can access the resources from the link below


Rainbow Fish Literacy Lesson Plans



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Is Teaching Printing Still Important?

Is Teaching Printing and Handwriting Still Important In This Digital Age?

Teaching Printing

Teaching Printing

Increasingly more students are arriving in our classrooms never having the opportunity to hold a pencil, coloring and cutting with scissors and fine-motor skills are lagging.  I have certainly noticed a significant decline since I started teaching 34 years ago. This blog post is meant to address some of these concerns.  How often do you hear, “children do not need to know how to print because they will just learn to type.”  Research has been done in this area and supports the importance of still learning to print


Importance of Learning to Print – Correlates to Learning to Read

A 2012 study showed that young children who attempted to write letters on a blank piece of paper demonstrated similar brain functionality used by adults when reading and writing.  Children who only traced letters or shapes with dotted lines, or those who typed the letter on the computer showed no such effect.  Their brain functionality for activating the same skill level was much weaker.


Printing and Writing Results In Better Retention

The video below discusses how printing/writing results in better retention.


Handwriting Versus Typing

Handwriting Versus Typing

Teaching Printing In Relation to Learning Letters and Sounds

The research above confirms the importance of teaching printing in conjunction with learning letters and sounds.  There is such a huge connection between learning letters and sounds and printing the letter.



In conclusion, the importance of learning to print should not be overlooked even in this digital age.  I believe even more research is going to become available showing the same outcomes.  Below I have posted a few printing “Literacy Centers” ideas.


Literacy Games That Promote Fine-Motor and Letter Learning

The game displayed below was one of my student’s favorite Literacy Center games. I place the picture circle graph in a paper plate so the top would not roll off.  The students must twist the spinner (great for fine-motor) and print the letter represented by the picture the spinner lands on.

Spinning Alphabet Board Game

Spinning Alphabet Board Game

Roll, Count, Move and Print Game

This is a great game to assist in letter learning and printing and also incorporates math. Students roll a die and move their game player accordingly. They must print the letter that represents the sound of the picture they landed on.

Literacy Center Game

Literacy Center Game

Draw and Print

As a member of the Kinderplans site you have access to 156 alphabet picture cards.  The students would draw a picture card and print the letter represented.


Draw and Print

Draw and Print

CVC Word Printing

As a member of the site you will have access to 45 CVC picture cards.  Students can make words as displayed in the photograph below.


Making CVC Words

Making CVC Words

More Literacy Center Ideas

In the link below you can find more Literacy Center ideas.


>More Literacy Center Ideas


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Pre K Phonics Program


Printing Sequence

What Order Is The Most Effective In Teaching Beginning Letter Sounds?

This is a question I often get asked, “What order is the most effective in teaching beginning letter sounds?”  Since I introduce the correct letter printing formation at the same time as introducing the letter name and its corresponding sound, I try to follow the sequence our occupational therapist suggests.  However, this sequence does not necessarily start with the sounds that the students find the easiest to hear.

After experimenting with different letter sequences, this is the one in which I found to be the most effective in terms of learning to print and hear sounds more readily.  The first letters I chose were ones that we will use the most frequently in our daily writing.  The order I suggest is as follows:  l, b, h, r, f, m, n, a, t, p, s, e d, c, k, u, v, i, o, j, w, g, z, y, x and q.  The “Alphabet Program” which is included in the Kinderplans membership, was specifically developed to teach the alphabet and their related sounds effectively within a balanced literacy classroom.  More information on the “Alphabet Program” can be found in the link below:

Information About the Alphabet Program


Steps to Teaching the Alphabet and Related SoundsLibrary-Lion

Step One – Read Aloud

I start with reading the suggested literature selection which is associated with the emergent reader that will be used to introduce the focus letter(s).  If you do not have the literature selection readily available in your library, sometimes you will find an online version by doing a search.  For example, I will start the year reading “Library Lion” by Michelle Knudson that is associated with the emergent reader “Lion Likes to Read”.   You can also choose another literature selection related lions.


Library Lion Video


Emergent Reader Lion Likes to ReadStep Two – Shared Reading

I project the color version of the reader “Lion Like to Read” on the Smart Board and model the reading process (reader associated with the literature selection).  We do a activities related to the reader for a number of days.  I will introduce the names and and sounds of letters “l and b” within context of using the reader.


Step Three – Word Study, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

We do a number activities related to the focus letters and sounds such as:

Alphabet Action Songs

Alphabet Action Songs

1.  Discuss names within the classroom and other words that begin with these letters and sounds.

2.  Discuss possible actions that could go with these letters and sounds.

3.  Sing the songs related to the readers that are found on the “Alpha Tunes” CD which is included in the membership.  I also sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” but change the words to begin with the focus sound.

4.  Sort picture cards according to which ones relate to the focus sounds (alphabet picture cards included in your membership).

5.  We sort pictures on the Smart Board.  You will find a Smart Board sorting activity for letters “Ll and Bb” in the link below.



Smart Board Sorting ActivitiesAs a group instructional activity, we sort pictures according to if they begin with an “Ll and Bb” sounds on the Smart Board.  You would need access to Notebook software in order to download this activity.



Guided Reading and Independent Reading

"Ll and Bb" emergent reader

“Ll and Bb” Emergent Reader

During guided reading the students will be circling words and completing the interactive component which requires them to cut and paste the correct “b” picture that matches the text.  This adds a comprehension component to their reading.  After reading the selection a number of times during shared and guided reading, they should now be able to read it independently (pretend reading at this stage).


Literacy Center Follow-up Activities

The “Literacy Center” activities are an important component of the program as this is when the students practice what they have learned during instructional time.  In the link below you will find information on these Centers.


Ideas for Literacy Centers


Alphabet Bulletin Board

Alphabet Bulletin Board


The fabulous freebie for this newsletter is the “Alphabet Bulletin Board Picture Cards”.  These picture cards are related to the alphabet animated action video and the emergent readers.  As a member, you will have access to three different sizes of these picture cards. These picture cards are the medium sized version.  I place these in front of the room and refer to these regularly when reviewing the letters and their related sounds.  Removed on September 12th.



 Animated Alphabet Video


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Five Components of Teaching Reading

Pre-Kindergarten Reading

Five Components of Reading

I recently attended a session by Dawn Reithaug, who has assisted with reading intervention programs within different school districts.  I found this session provided reassurance as to what I am doing correctly and what areas of improvement can be made.  Even after 32 years of teaching, I still get excited about how I can improve.  She identified five components of reading that need to be explicitly and systematically taught:  phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension strategies.  In this blog post I wanted to expand on these areas and provide a few samples of how I incorporate these.


Phonemic and Phonological Awareness

What Is It?

It is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in words.  In a more recent blog post I presented a video that explains this, as well as, teaching strategies that I have implemented successfully to address this area.


Video Explaining What It Is and Teaching Instruction Ideas


Phonics and Spelling

What Is It?

It is the ability to associate letters and groups of letters with sounds and blending these together to read words. Again, this is also an area that she identified as requiring explicit and systematic teaching instruction.   The “Kinderplans Alphabet Program” was solely developed to address this area of teaching. The importance of introducing a phonics sound and applying this skill within written context was also stressed.  This confirmed what I have always felt was lacking in many phonics programs.


More information about the Kinderplans phonics program can be found in the link below:


Explicit and Systematic Phonics Program


My Alphabet Sound Wall – Importance of Using Strong Visuals



Many teachers post generic alphabet letter picture posters within their classroom but they are rarely used and hold little meaning for the students.  My students use ours continously to support their learning. The pictures are associated with the sounds related to the characters found within the emergent readers and songs we have sung.  More and more research points to the importance of using visuals for teaching and I can attest to this level of importance.  Connecting specific letters to a certain sound is a complex task for these young learners and using visuals provides additional support.


Outstanding Site for Information and Assessment Materials

The site in the link below provides outstanding information and assessment materials that are used widely by different schools.   Picture assessment cards can be found but if you are a member of the Kinderplans site you have assess to many more picture cards.


Oustanding Informational and Assessment Materials


 What Is It?

Pre-Kindergarten Emergent Readers

Ocean Theme Emergent Readers
Used for Developing Reading Fluency

It is the ability to decode and recognize words with speed, accuarcy and proper expression to facilitate comprehension.


How This Applies to Pre-Kindergarten

This is a difficult to implement in Pre-K since many of the students are not truly reading yet, however, there are still strategies that can be incorporated that can set the stage:

1.  Modeling fluent reading to your students.

2.  Having your students do repeated oral reading at the emergent level is the key to success for students at the Pre-K level.  They are not necessarily decoding the words yet but they are being continusouly exposed to print and the reading process.  The emergent readers have proven to be invaluable to my class.  I get so many requests from my students to read these to the entire class that I had to compile a chart outlining on what days they are scheduled to read.  They must practice prior to their turn, so they can read fluently to their classmates.  I modeled what fluent reading looks like.

3.  Teaching high frequency words within context of print.  This should be exercised with considerable caution.  The blog posting below addresses the concerns I have in this area.


Sight Word Teaching


It seems more and more students enter our classrooms with language deficiencies.  It is very difficult for a classroom teacher to replace enriching experiences that a home can provide.  In the link below you will find the document “A Review of the Current Research on Vocabulary Instruction” by NRTAC.


Current Research on Vocabulary Instruction


Choice of Literature Selections Serves Platform for Vocabulary DevelopmentFunnyEnormousEggs(1) 2

In a Pre-K classroom, the bulk of vocabulary development would be provided through the literature selections we choose to read, field trips and online videos. I have read that 5 – 7 new words should be introduced daily. To be honest, I try to feature one new vocabulary word a day for the purpose of retention.  Last week, the feature word was “enormous” which was introduced when reading the emergent reader “Funny Enormous Eggs”.  The students made personal connection with the word and illustrated it.


Reading Comprehension 

This is such a huge topic and it would be difficult to cover this in one blog post.  I would recommend reading the book “Reading With Meaning” by Debbie Miller, it goes in depth on how classroom teachers can implement comprehension strategies effectively in the primary grades.  I have very briefly outlined some strategies below:

1.  Idenitying purpose for reading and making personal connections to previous experiences related to the topic.images 2

2.  Asking who, what, when, where, why and how questions.

3.  Summarizing what was read.


Again, it is important for classroom teachers to model the thinking process.


As always, I hope you found these ideas helpful!


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