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Playful Reading

Here we explore some of the ways to apply playful reading techniques. First, it is essential to know your students. Students have differences in: Physical development. Social emotional development. Cognitive development.
Kids sitting with teacher to brainstorm about the book they will later read
© Australian Catholic University (ACU, 2021)

Here we explore some of the ways to apply playful reading techniques.

First, it is essential to know your students. Students have differences in:

  • Physical development.
  • Social emotional development.
  • Cognitive development.

When selecting activities and literature it is important to bear this in mind in order to:

  • Understand contemporary issues, values, practices and educational purposes of children in local communities and/or “its children”.
  • Understand the impact of economic and social change on children’s development within physical, social, emotional and cognitive domains.
  • Reflect and interpret issues and engage with communities in ESL teaching and learning.

Playful reading occurs before, during and after reading. Teachers can use playful reading to actively engage students and prepare them “before reading”. The purpose of “before reading” is:

  • Activating prior knowledge.
  • Making text to text connections.
  • Making text to self connections
  • Predicting and inferring.

Activating Prior Knowledge

Activating prior knowledge is a critical component of the reading process. What the child already knows shapes what students understand and learn from reading. Prior knowledge helps students fill in the gaps and aids comprehension by enabling students to infer meanings. Students with more knowledge about the content are able to use the context of the text to make sense of new information and better able to make connections across different parts of the text.

Children engage when they feel prepared for learning. If students demonstrate gaps in their understanding, some pre-reading activities might help to support their reading comprehension and consequently their engagement with the text.

Children engage when they see themselves in the text (text to self connections). Before reading, ask children to share with a partner what they know about the topic. This helps the student to make connections between the ideas in the story and their own experiences.

Children engage as readers when they have a purpose for reading (predicting and inferring). Before reading, ask children to predict what the text might be about. They can write or draw their prediction on a piece of paper and share it with a partner. This gives the student a reason to pay closer attention to the story as they check their partner’s prediction.

Note: Prediction is a form of inferring.

Before reading activities

Before reading, use pair work and small group activities to “front load” vocabulary or content knowledge. For example:
  • Word wall

    • After predicting what the text might be about, students work in pairs to brainstorm vocabulary they expect to find in the text.
  • Progressive brainstorming

    • A progressive brainstorm is a great activity to check prior knowledge and for students to share what they already know about a topic at the beginning of a unit of work.
  • Floor storming

    • Use images or phrases relevant to the topic of study and lay them out on the floor or tables. These could be sentences or images from a picture book.
  • Dictogloss

    • The dictogloss activity is an effective language learning tool as it requires learners to listen, talk, collaborate, take notes, redraft and read. Students work in groups of 4 to share what they can recall from the text. Each student in in turn shares their notes with the group for discussion. Then they work together to produce their own version as close as possible to the original. Once they have agreed on the final version, the teacher gives them the original text for comparison and further discussion.
  • Cloze activity

    • Activity in which words are removed from a passage for a learner to fill in as an exercise in reading comprehension. The missing words can be provided in a word bank, with other clues to prompt the learner. Close activities come in many forms and can also be used to help younger learners make use of context clues.
© Australian Catholic University (ACU, 2021)
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