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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MOO!! CoW (Concept of Word)

Were these posts too easy for your child?
If you have a preschooler or child about to enter Kindergarten, this is the post for you!

One of the first milestones in learning to read is having Concept of Word (also known as CoW).  This means that children can match spoken words to written ones.  Children must understand that spoken words are individual components making up thoughts (sentences).  Here is a YouTube video that shows a little girl taking a Concept of Word test.  The examiner has her memorize the story using pictures before giving her the actual text.  Notice that the adult models how to point to the words before allowing her to try on her own. 

I saw the cutest video in my M.Ed courses where a little boy was supposed to point to the words on a large chart as he recited “Humpty Dumpty.”  He obviously did NOT have concept of word because he was pointing to the end of the entire song when he had only said up to “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.”  I wish I could find that video, but it shows that most kids will move to another word whenever they hear a sound.  Syllables will be an important concept to teach next!

There are several ways you can help your child achieve Concept of Word.  

  • To start, give them a book they’ve read with you before.  This time, allow them to make up sentences to go with the pictures.

  • Let your child choose a sentence from a book.  Write each word of the sentence on a notecard or Post-it.  Read the cards in the correct order several times together.  Next, scramble them up and show your child how to put them back in the right order.  Finally, scramble them and put your child to the test.  Make sure they say each word as they move it into place.  Note that although your child is probably not actually reading the words on the cards yet (or maybe they can), they have memorized the sentence and can associate words spoken with those written!

  • Go on a word hunt throughout a book to find short words (3-4 letters) versus long words (6-7 letters).  Show your child that words vary in length.

  • PALS is a program the University of Virginia developed to assess children’s literacy development in Virginia.  In my public school, we used it at the beginning, middle and end of the year to make sure kids were on the right path.  They have also developed lessons to help teachers achieve their goals for each child.  Here is a CoW lesson I found on their website: 
    • Compose a sentence.
    • Give your child one cube (M&M, lego, toy, etc.) for each word in the sentence and line them up in a straight line.
    • Show your child how to build the sentence by pushing one cube (or item) up each time you hear a word.  Explain that although a word may have more than one syllable, it is still represented by only one cube (or item) in the sentence.
    • Now let him/her try!
Do you have any other suggestions?  What do you find to be the hardest part of teaching or getting your child to read?

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