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Literacy For Prep And Grade 1, At Primary School

Literacy For Prep And Grade 1

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Best Start

Prep children get the best chance in literacy and numeracy if they know the alphabet and numbers 1 to 10 when they start school. The first year eases children into the routines of school and gives them a broader social life.  It extends their familiarity with words and numbers. Reading and writing begin.

Sight Words

The first groups of 100 sight words are important to learn in Prep and into Grade 1. These should be known by the end of Grade 1. There are other sight words for Grade 2.

Phonics Knowledge

Knowledge of letter and sound combinations enable first-year children to read simple three letter words. Together, the early sight words and three-letter words are used to create simple texts. Once a child is reading text then phonic combinations can be introduced progressively.

Getting Ready For Reading

Knowing common words, being up to date with sight words and knowing letter-sound matches are good indicators for success. Classroom practice in the early grades works on predictability. Routines are predictable. The teaching style of the teacher becomes known and predictable for the child.

In keeping with this, my literacy packages are predictable in their format. This makes it easier for the parent to teach from, and easier for the child to learn.

From Sight Words To Text

  • Knowing the sight words that apply to your child’s stage in Prep or Grade 1, means he or she can move to words in context.
  • Simple texts that relate to your child’s world give them confidence. With confidence they enjoy their reading.
  • Word Wall will help your child to master the sight words.

Here is the link:


Print in A3 to stick on a wall, or A4 for a folder. They are names WW1, WW2 etc for Word Wall 1, Word Wall 2. They are hand-printed in black marker.  From these you can make flash cards. Flash cards are very effective in improving your child’s literacy at this level.

Make Flash Cards

Flash Cards and the the Word Wall pages go together.

Step 1.

If you have some lead time with your child going into Prep, ask your circle of friends to save the card dividers from tea bag packs. Otherwise, if you are not too far from a stationery store, buy card. If you do it this way, you need to sit and cut the card. A small guillotine from the stationery store enables you to do this quickly. And you get a better result than using a scissors. From personal experience using a scissors is hard work as well. The guillotines are inexpensive.

Step 2.

A bit of practice is needed on paper first. Get your printing style right. Use a permanent black marker with a thick tip.  How To Teach Handwriting will help you get the basics in order. The reason is that you are modelling hand printing for your child. Neat and even letters are the key. Use whatever style is taught in your child’s school or state. Here is the link to this post:


Step 3.

  • Measure with your eye where you need to write each word on that card. The aim is to get the word centred in the space.
  • Copy each word from the Word Wall.
  • Colour code each set with a colour in one corner. The children get to know what colour group they are doing well and are keen to move to the next set.
  • When placing each card in front of the child, you want immediate recognition. So test your child to see which words are known immediately. That’s your starting point. Tick those off on your own records.
  • Make a list in a wide book. Write the date across the top so record when you tested.

Teach Using Flash Cards


  1. place each card in front of your child and say the word yourself. Go through this once or twice.
  2. Then go through again. Say each word again. Ask your child to repeat each word after you.
  3. Do this, altogether, about three or four times. Or until the child is tired but try to build your child’s staying power.
  4. Then test. Again, place each word in front of your child. See what he or she recognises. Tick off on your own records for that date if your child recognises a word immediately on sighting.
  5. Repeat this process every day or every second day. Expect some regression after the break but this is normal.
  6. Don’t wait for your child to know every word before moving on to the next set. You may have three sets going at one time.

Pictures To Symbolic Systems

The Ancient Egyptians had a pictorial system of writing. Today, the Chinese have a written communication system that has derived from pictures. We don’t want to go back to pictorial systems. We have a symbolic alphabet in which individual letters or letter combinations work to represent sounds.

So I ask myself why so many classroom materials for children require extensive use of pictures. Often, a teacher will ask a child to use the pictures in the story to prompt the child in decoding the text. This is a hang-over from the period of Whole Language. And Whole Language was the dominant theory directing classroom teaching from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. This link provides further reading on this influential matter:


It is phonics knowledge that should guide children in decoding text. Pictures act like page props. We need to progressively remove the props so children become readers of text. Diagrams and pictures should compliment the text and further inform the reader.

Texts For Children

In classrooms today children often get little grabs of text. A lot of material for children is laid out in boxes, in columns or with bullet points. Reading material is sprinkled with cartoon-like characters and drawings. This may make it more interesting and yet we don’t know if it does. It is just the new norm. It means the child’s eye jumps around the page. The eye is not trained to read left to right, top to bottom. Many texts have beautifully produced coloured pictures as well. These look great but are also the most expensive part of book production. Again, they act as props in the text.

If a child hesitates in decoding, the teacher often instructs the child to look at the picture. In fact, this encourages the child to depend on pictures. We want children to learn to read text not read pictures.

In Conclusion

I have touched on the importance of sight words in the early years, on phonics and whole text. There is help here in making flash cards and in using them.

The literacy packages available on this website are all original. The story is the basis of the unit of work. The activities draw on the words, spelling patterns and writing conventions in that text.  For Early Primary Literacy items, the story is written to the spelling patterns and not the other way round. Some stories are full of  particular spelling patterns, such as  oo  or  ee  or both. There is a line drawing or two in each unit that children can colour in or that enhance the text.

I hope every parent looking for help and suitable literacy material will find it on my website.