In first grade, students may be learning more about decoding and blending sounds to make and understand words. Text in books is getting a little more difficult, and students also may be focused on the ‘who’ questions of comprehension.
Daily reading may be assigned, and parents may need to initial or sign a sheet noting that their child read their allotted number of minutes. All reading can help a child feel more confident with reading and may help improve their fluency.
But tools beyond books can help young readers, too! Here’s how to help a first grader read using games, apps and more!
Reading Games & Activities
Playing games can be a fun way to practice literacy skills. Parents who have children who watch PBS Kids might have seen a segment where a little girl and her mother were playing a rhyming game at the store.
Creating fun games like rhyming games could help children identify sounds and understand how end sounds mirror each other. Or even differ, too.
Here are a few games that parents can play with their first grader to help them with phonics and other reading basics:
Spot the Sight Word
First graders will have a list of sight words that they will be expected to memorize. Sight words are words that kids need to identify on sight. Make a list of these sight words and have children look for them during errands.
This is a scavenger hunt type game. However, parents also could get crafty and create clues as to where these words could be located around the home.
On a rainy day, parents could encourage children to play I Spy the sight words in their own room. Can they find the words in different books? On game boards? Toys?
Going on a long trip? Or stuck in traffic? It’s time for a story! Everyone is going to help create a unique story using just their imagination. Let the youngest member of the family begin the story…or maybe the oldest can start.
Then everyone needs to add a detail to the story. Parents can prompt when it’s the next person’s turn to add to the story. The person who gets stumped loses!
So how does this help first graders read? While it isn’t focused on literacy in the standard form, the game does help children create plots, use their imagination and maybe focus on how a character might feel…and then express this sentiment in their telling of the story.
On a beach ball, parents can write comprehension questions: who, what, where, when and how. Make these question prompts basic so that they can apply to any book or story.
Then parents can read a story with their kids (or to their child). After the story, it’s time to comprehend. And, yes, parents should play, too!
Toss the beach ball. Whatever prompt faces up is the question the child (or parent!) needs to answer. This game helps children think more about the story.
Recipes are a tasty and fun way to practice reading (and math!). With first graders, though, make sure recipes are easy enough for them to safely help. Think about making no-bake cookies or something simple.
Encourage children to read the ingredients list…and then help them find those ingredients. Children also can help measure out ingredients and learn to follow the recipe. Of course, parents need to help children as needed. Plus, cooking together is a great bonding experience!
Parents can also look for recipes that are somehow tied to a child’s favorite book or story. Make green eggs and ham! Or another story food!
Scholastic even offers a list of cookbooks for kids!
Take a Trip
Reading field trips can help children step into a character’s shoes and travel to the places in books. However, parents also might encourage a reading component to these trips.
When taking a reading field trip, help children read about the place they are visiting. Museums or historic sites could offer children’s materials.
Or parents could take their child on a virtual field trip! Explore museums or other places, and check out any kid-friendly materials on the website.
Beyond the binding of books and even fun games and activities, parents also could use educational apps to help their first grader practice core literacy skills. Apple’s App Store and Google Play could offer different options, although some apps might be available for both Apple and Android devices.
Educational apps can help children practice sight words, letter identification, sounds and more! Many of these apps are free, but parents should be aware that some apps may offer in-app purchases. If parents don’t want their child to buy ‘extras’ within the game, they will need to disable the in-app purchase option via their phone.
Game-based apps can be fun for children to practice basic phonics and word identification. Games can feel much less formal, and some may include unique features that add to the fun. Children may earn rewards or badges via the game as they move through levels.
Parents can read the reviews for each game to figure out the experience of other users/players. Each app also includes a quick description, and this can help parents understand how the game may help their child…and what educational lessons the game can provide.
Reading Instruction Apps
Some parents might feel that their child is not progressing in reading as they should. Maybe their child doesn’t read on grade level or perhaps the child just doesn’t feel confident reading.
Parents can explore apps that feature a lesson-based approach that helps their child gain confidence and proficiency. Apps should be able to grow with a child; for example, Readability can be used from preschool through fifth grade.
When considering a reading app for their child, parents might consider a program that offers help for all aspects of literacy. Readability can help children gain fluency and also help them with reading comprehension.
Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that helps children as they read. Lessons via Readability are read aloud, and the AI tutor is programmed with voice recognition software which allows them to catch any errors during these lessons. If a child struggles with a word or is stumbling, the tutor will offer help.
At the end of each story, the AI tutor also asks questions about the book. This is how Readability measures comprehension. If a child shows proficiency with both comprehension and fluency, then they can advance to the next reading level. However, children stay at their current level until they demonstrate mastery.
Since first graders are still learning core literacy concepts, parents can expect that lessons will be appropriate to a first-grade level. Stories will never be too difficult.
How can parents understand their child’s progress via reading apps? With Readability, parents have access to a portal called the Parent Dashboard, which displays the child’s reading level, their reading fluency (words per minute) and the time spent via the app.
Parents can even compile all this reading data into a report to send to the child’s teacher if they wish. This can help teachers better understand a child’s progress at home…and compare it to the progress at school.
Parents might research different apps to find the best option for their first grader. Readability offers a free seven-day trial that allows parents and their child to explore the program and all its features…including the AI tutor.
Interested in using a virtual AI tutor to help with reading lessons? Try Readability today!