It is really hard for Kindergarteners to remember to 1) read and write from top to bottom, 2) read and write from left to right and 3) read and write one page at a time, using return sweep.
When we make hard skills like this memorable for our kids, they are more likely to remember them. Once we teach students these tactics in such a memorable way, time after time, their eyes and brains will soon train themselves to follow the rules (and we will no longer have to remind them over, and over).
Here is a little background about why and how I love teaching reading from left to right and top to bottom in this way.
This lesson is introduced in whole group. Later, in the same day, we practice this lesson in small groups to reinforce it. We continue to practice this lesson in small and whole group throughout the first week. Then, as the year goes on, we practice this less and less.
First, I get out my song and then I begin my lesson in the whole group setting! I created this read and write song and I feel it really reinforces to students 1- what my expectations are, and 2- how to use the appropriate strategies.
"Today, I am going to teach you guys a song to help you remember the skills that good readers and writers use. I want you to listen to me sing the song. Then, we will practice it together. For now, I want you to think about the things that good readers and writers do. Let's talk about this before we learn the song. Hmmm... Let me think... Do we start reading and writing at the bottom or the top?"
(Students will say, "We start reading and writing at the top.")
"Great, so we start at the top. Hmmm... And do we read and write from the right to the left or from the left to the right?"
(Students will say, "We read and write from the left to the right.")
"You are correct again! We start at the top and we go from left to right. Some other things we do include turning the pages and also paying attention to return sweep! All of those reminders are in our song. Since you all already know so many of our rules, I believe you are ready to hear the song. Are you ready to listen to the Reading and Writing Reminder Song?"
(Students will say, "Yes, we are ready.")
(The reference sheet I use to sing from and show my students is attached.)
"Great! The song is sung like Mary Had a Little Lamb. I want you to turn on our listening ears and pay attention as I sing you the Reading and Writing Reminder Song. Listen- It goes like this:
Start yourself up at the top,
Then move down,
Don’t you stop.
Begin at the left,
Move to the right until the end.
Pages go from left to right,
And top to bottom,
Follows our sight.
Don’t forget the return sweep,
These reminders you should keep."
"Alright... Let me sing it one more time. Listen to me sing it fluently and listen to all of my words." (Sing the song again, while tracking the print on your reference chart.)
"Now, I would like for you to sing along with me. Look up here (point at the chart) to see the words as we sing along."
(Sing the song with students.)
"Great job. Now, you try to see if you can sing it yourselves."
(Students will sing the song together.)
"You all have done a great job trying to learn the Reading and Writing Reminder Song! Wow! Give yourselves a pat on the back. This song is going to help us remember all of the things we need to be doing when we are reading and writing correctly. We will be going over this song later today and for the rest of the week, so don't forget it! Right now, hum it in your head before we move on."
This song can be sung less and less as students progress and can remember these skills without reminders. I like to sing this song after breaks, especially, to remind students of the expectations for reading and writing. Also, I like to sing this song in small groups (especially my approaching group) as often as once per week. Finally, I make sure to get my whole class singing this song before I begin my reading and writing assessments. After all, practice makes perfect!