Today I am going to tell you about a FANTASTIC tool called “Velcro Books” to help your kids learn to read the sight words AND how to SPELL them! Velcro books can be used in small group instruction or for literacy centers, and in addition to sight word reading and spelling, they are great for practicing early reading skills such as finding the title, tracking capitalization skills, left to right progression, and return sweep.
We introduced this great tool in 2006, and I have been using them with each K/TK class ever since! (Some of you may remember them from way back then!) I just recently pulled them out for my TK students this year and gave my little ones a chance to try them. I had stored them away at first because when I first started TK (Transitional Kindergarten,) I assumed that things like this would be much too hard for them. BOY, was I wrong! My kids have made AMAZING progress this year! The top half of my class is truly reading, and all of them have learned the alphabet and sounds! Even my little ones who are struggling know at least ten sight words, and I think that is just GREAT!
What’s a Velcro Book? So this is how our Velcro Books work. They have the words to each sight word song written out and glued onto a file folder. There are blank spaces left where the sight words would go, and also where the letters would go when you SPELL the sight words. There are little card stock paper “tiles” with the words and the letters for the words, too. These tiles have velcro on them, as do the spaces where they will be placed. The children’s task is to rebuild the song by putting the letters and words in their proper place. They can cross check their work by looking at the words to the song on the opposite side of the file folder. When the pieces are not in use, they are stored in an envelope that is laminated separately and then laminated again onto the file folder. It stays closed with another piece of velcro.
These Velcro Books make an EXCELLENT small group instruction lesson in sight word spelling and tracking, provided that the teacher makes an effort to get around the table to listen to the children read/sing the song back to him/her. I always find it fascinating to watch my students try to sing and point to the words as they do so, for tracking the words forces them to SLOW DOWN as they sing and really try to focus on each word on the page! Otherwise, they may get to a letter tile too early or too late. It’s interesting to watch this thought process play across their beautiful little faces as they figure it all out!
I also value these Velcro Books for helping them begin to understand that titles are capitalized, along with the first letter of each line in a poem or song. If they focus on this, then they will know which tile goes where. Should it be a capital or a lower case letter for this particular word? If you look closely at some of these pictures, you will see that my little TKs (Transitional Kindergartners) were not ready for this, and so they used the sight words that started with the capitals and the lower case letters interchangeably.
Yes, Velcro Books Require a LOT of Prep Work But They Are WORTH IT! Yup, you’re RIGHT! These do take some time to put together! And that’s why I am telling you about them now, right before summer begins! Summer is the perfect time to do this sort of thing. That’s when I did most of mine! This is a fun project to do if you have a printer and a laminator at home and you can take your time. :)
I really enjoyed getting some nice, bright, Astrobrights card stock and some pretty colors of file folders and color coordinating everything! You might even wish to print out your own colors using digital paper! You can be as creative as you like with this sort of thing; the sky is the limit! I do recommend color coding your words as much as possible, though! That way, if you find a random letter on the floor, you can check the color and make a very good educated guess as to which Velcro Book Sight Word Song folder it belongs.
Don’t forget to order your velcro online or have parents donate it if possible. Velcro is probably the most expensive part of the project. I really prefer using the stickyback velcro “coins.” They work best for me!
Another tip: When you are purchasing the envelopes, look for some that overlap a good inch. Some of mine do, and others don’t! The ones that don’t tend to open up and the pieces fall out. But the ones that have a good amount of overlap don’t have that problem. Also, when you glue down the envelope, try to make a little fold (like a pleat) in the back of the envelope so that it opens up nice and WIDE. It makes it much easier to get the pieces in and out of the envelope!
But just consider this: Once it’s done, it’s DONE and you should be able to use these for MANY YEARS! I’ve had mine since 2006, and I’ve lost very few pieces because they are color coded and because of the velcro that holds it in there! I also keep an extra copy of the tiles, all laminated and ready to go in my file cabinet so that I can simply cut one out and stick it in the folder if necessary... but would you believe I’ve never used it? Now THAT’s good!
Hope you enjoy it! We have them for each of our Sing & Spell volumes, 1-6 and a song to match! Check it out here!
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