Engage Kids in Reading Through Song

I read a professional article a few days ago about using song lyrics to teach reading. It brought to mind my successes with using music as a reading tool. While the article focused on new readers and suggested using simple lyrics with sing-songy melodies and rhyming words, my experience has been that incorporating popular music from a variety of genres into the curriculum is just as effective, if not more engaging.

Finding song lyrics is as simple as typing the song title (or part of the words if you can't remember the title) into a search engine. Tons of sites offer free printable song lyrics. To find matching music, YouTube is always a great place to start. And the KidzBop series will offer clean versions of the most popular tunes. If you think Kindergarten is too young to start with popular music, think again. Imagine my surprise when my own kindergarten-age daughters came home from school boppin' around to pop songs. Granted, they didn't always have the words quite right, but they knew the melodies and busted their best dance moves.

Once you track down the lyrics, copy and paste them into a Word document. This serves two purposes: 1) you can clean up any naughty language and 2) you can increase the point size and/or spacing to improve readability or make room for class notes. When you're ready, print a copy for each student. The rest is easy. Just play the song and have the kids track the words, just like you would with any other text. There are so many kinesthetic activities you can build around music and reading, too. A true curriculum-expanding strategy!

I've used lyrics as reading material with students of all reading abilities. The strategy is a huge hit. And I've used it with my own peeps (now 1st graders). Not only is it a fun way to engage students in reading, but lyrics lend themselves well to discussions about figurative language, literary elements, author's purpose and meaning. Again ... expand that curriculum!

Thanks for reading! It keeps your  ... Mind Full of Literacy!

True Literacy Confession: I Skip Text and Never Look Back

Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Currently, I'm reading All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending by Laura Vanderkam. This the second book I've read by Vanderkam. Earlier this year, I read her book about time management, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. You can read that post here, on my other blog My Ideal Reality.

I enjoy Vanderkam's books because they challenge me in a couple of ways. First, she introduces fresh perspectives on common topics, and that puts my brain into overdrive. Second, while her books are pretty much "just right" for my reading level, on occasion my literacy comprehension skills are put to the test, especially when percentages, statistics and other numerical data fill the pages. My brain stops working. I envision it grinding to a halt.

Here comes the true confession part of this blog ...

Instead of staying the course and figuring out those numbers and what they mean to me, I skipped those parts. No big deal, right? Maybe. But here's the shocking part: I never looked back. We tell our students and our children that it's ok to skip confusing words or information and continue reading as long as they go back and fix their thinking. Yeah, well, I didn't fix my thinking. I just plowed on through. (hangs head in shame)

Granted, I'm a proficient reader and I know that if I really need to understand that information I can - and will - go back and work through it. I have that self-discipline.

But here's the thing: young readers and striving readers don't have that self-discipline. They skip and never look back. My question to you is, "How do we instill literacy discipline in them?"

I'd love to hear your thoughts as well as any true confessions about literacy-related sins you may have committed.

Thanks for reading! It keeps your ... Mind Full of Literacy!