In first grade, today’s lesson began with phonics and Reading Workshop. Mrs. Wilson offered the visual aid of using two fists together like a train, one hand for the first syllable and one for the second.

“Say ‘farm.’ Now add ‘-Er.’ What’s the word?”

“FARMER” shouted the class.

“Say ‘Later,’ said Mrs. Wilson. The students repeated back the word. She instructed them to “change Late- to Let-,” taking one hand away for Late- and adding it back for the new syllable. The students imitate the same action with their hands and in unison they shout “LETTER!”

Mrs. Wilson reminded the students of the little engine that could, who never gave up and famously chugged along, saying “I think I can.”

“We as readers can do that too. We roll up our sleeves and do lots of things to solve our hard words.” One student responded: “We don’t think we can, we can do it!”

After this, Mrs. Daniels’ first graders practiced their phonics on the basketball court with chalk digraphs written on the ground.

“Find the digraph for ‘such'” instructs Mrs. Daniels. Students ran to the “Sh” marked on the ground and some to the “Ch.” Together the class practiced the “Ch” sound until everyone understood which digraph they should run toward. Mrs. Daniels offered support, letting students know they can change their spot even if they made a mistake on the first try.

DCD teachers keep the students engaged and excited about their practice of building words and sentences. Building their literacy foundation is fundamental to their academic success, while fun is key to the children learning with more ease. Our first-grade classrooms balance joy with rigor as students embark on their independent reading journeys.