This Is How I Teach Characters, Setting and Major Events in Kindergarten

One of my favorite lessons to teach in kindergarten is characters, setting and major events. I actually start teaching this concept to my kiddos in the first two weeks of school.

Before introducing the topic, I check the state standards to make sure that I have the exact wording and to understand its intent. Using the specific wording of the state standard, I create a learning goal and a scale/rubric with four learning targets or levels.  Then, I  develop and administer a quick pre-assessment to students  in order to find out whether or not they have previously acquired that knowledge.  I strategically align the pre-assessment with the scale to make it easier to determine which students are at a specific level on the scale.

Once this process is completed, I start by introducing the vocabulary words (characters, setting and major events), which is usually on level 2 of the scale.  One of the most effective and fun ways to do this is by creating a slide show on the topic or an interactive PowerPoint presentation.  I teach the vocabulary words and informally assess students to ensure that they understand the meaning of the vocabulary words.

Once students complete this step, I teach them how to identify characters, setting and major events in a literary text.  We read a different story each day.  While reading, students are asked to identify the characters, setting(s) and the major events in each text read.  At the end of the week, I use an interactive PowerPoint presentation that I created in order to informally assess them prior to administering the summative assessment.   If after this presentation students do not answer the questions on the PowerPoint correctly, I continue teaching and reinforcing the concept for one more week.  Then, I formally assess students using a post assessment that mirrors the pre-assessment, but with questions that are more difficult.  Last, we celebrate success.

If you would like to check out my interactive PowerPoint presentation for teaching characters, setting and major events, please click below.

Characters, Setting, and Major Events {RL.K.3; LAFS.K.RL.1.3}

With activity, your children will accelerate their learning of identifying characters, setting and major events before you know it!

The Most Effective Strategy for Teaching High Frequency Words in Kindergarten

High-frequency words are often called “sight words.” This term refers to learning the words through memorization. The most common words used in the classroom are the Dolch List, Fry Instant Words, or words selected from stories in the reading program. Teachers regularly teach these words using flash cards in small groups or during whole group instruction.  Usually, teachers send these words home for students to practice and memorize.

My favorite way of teaching high frequency words is by creating PowerPoint presentations where I illustrate these words on each slide. This method is fun and engaging for my students. As I present a slide that shows the word of the day, if the word is not decodable, the spelling pattern is explained to students.  In my experience, the optimal strategy for learning high frequency words is integrating them into phonics lessons. The rationale for this is that this way allows students to learn the spelling patterns for these words in a way that makes sense.

When we restructure the way we teach high frequency words, it benefits all students. If you would like to add engagement to your high frequency words teaching, feel free to check out the resources below. Your students will learn their sight words in no time!

Kindergarten Sight Words Powerpoint - 1st Quarter {on PDF File}
Kindergarten Sight Words Powerpoint - 2nd Quarter {on PDF File}
Kindergarten Sight Words Powerpoint - 3rd Quarter {on PDF File}
Kindergarten Sight Words Powerpoint - 4th Quarter {on PDF File}

Keys to Teach Rhyming Words Effectively

Phonological awareness is highly related to later success in reading and spelling according to research (Moats and Tolman, 2008). Phonological awareness includes these components:

  • Counting, tapping, blending, or segmenting a word into syllables.
  • Producing a rhyming word.
  • Identifying and matching the initial sounds in words, then the final and middle sounds.
  • Segmenting and producing the initial sound, the final and middle sounds.
  • Blending sounds into words.
  • Segmenting the phonemes in two- or three-sound words, moving to four- and five- sound words as the student becomes proficient.
  • Manipulating phonemes by removing, adding, or substituting sounds.
A picture containing text, person, sitting, indoor

Description automatically generated

One of the avenues to promote phonological awareness is by teaching children how to rhyme and produce words. This can be easily taught by using these effective strategies:

  • Read rhyming picture books and poems to your children. As you read, identify and practice rhymes together.
  • Ask your children to recite learned rhyming words or alliterative phrases.
  • Share nursery rhymes with your children.
  • Play rhyming games.
  • Sing rhyming songs together.

During reading and/or singing activities, ask these questions to your children:

  • Do these words rhyme? How do you know? 
  • Which of these words does not rhyme? How do you know?

Rhyming has two components: Recognizing the rhyme and producing the rhyme. As children learn to rhyme, they may experience misconceptions.  Some of these confusions are listed below:

  1. Children may believe that rhymes are words that begin with the same sound (for example, hat and ham).
  2. They may think that words that have the same beginning and end sounds rhyme even if they do not have the same vowel sound (for example, pan and pin).
  3. Children may believe that they cannot change the first sound of a word to make a new word that rhymes (for example, hug and tug).

If your children need reinforcement to rhyme or if you need more rhyming activities, check out this mini bundle.  It was created in 2016 and completely updated in July 2021. It includes the following:

A picture containing text 
Description automatically generated
A picture containing text

Description automatically generated
Text, whiteboard

Description automatically generated

Description automatically generated
A picture containing diagram

Description automatically generated

Description automatically generated

With these rhyming activities for K-1, your children will accelerate their learning of identifying and producing rhyming words before you know it!                                                                 

Phonics and Word Study Instruction

What are the goals of Phonics and Word Study instruction?

The goals of Phonics and Word Study instruction, according to Adams (1990), Chard & Osborn (1999) and NRP (2000) are the following:

  1. To teach children that there are systematic relationships between letters and sounds.
  2. Written words are composed of letter patterns representing the sounds of spoken words.
  3. Recognizing words quickly and accurately is a way of obtaining meaning from them.
  4. Students can blend sounds to read words and segment words into sounds to spell.

What should we include in our Phonics and Word Study instruction?

Phonological and phonemic awareness, print awareness, alphabetic knowledge, alphabetic principle, decoding, reading practice with decodable text, irregular or high-frequency words, and reading fluency are the elements that we should include in our Phonics and Word Study Instruction.

How can we teach Phonics and Word Study?

Vaughn &  Linan-Thompson (2004) indicate that once our students meet the prerequisite conditions for word recognition, print awareness, alphabetic knowledge, and phonemic awareness, we can begin teaching them about the four subprocesses essential to teaching phonics and word study: letter-sound knowledge or alphabetic understanding; regular word reading; irregular word reading; and reading in decodable text.

Letter-Sound Knowledge: Select letter-sound relationships that will allow the students to form words.

Regular Word Reading: Once students know three or four letter-sound associations, teachers should begin regular word reading and building activities (i.e., CVC words).

Irregular Word Reading: Select and teach words that appear frequently in stories and informational texts.  These words need to be taught before they appear in a story by discussing the words and any special features and pointing out parts of the words that are regular.  Review these words regularly.

Reading in Decodable Text: Students need to know how to apply their letter-sound knowledge by reading decodable text in order to increase their ability to read and acquire confidence.

Why is it important to teach Phonics and Word Study instruction?

Teaching students about the relationship between graphemes and phonemes allows them to decode and read words.  There are two basic processes necessary for learning to read: Learning to convert letters into recognizable words and comprehending the meaning of print (Gough and Tumner, 1986). Students will not be able to learn to read and spell without first learning the relationship between letters and sounds (Moats, 2000).  Therefore, it is key to teach phonics and word study because early and systematic instruction in phonics leads to better achievement in reading.   

When should Phonics and Word Study instruction start?

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction improves children’s word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension, and is most effective when it begins in kindergarten and/or 1st grade.  Two years of phonics is sufficient for most students although other students may require additional instruction.

In sum, the combination of Phonics and Word Study helps students with word recognition, reading, and spelling.  If you need resources and activities to strengthen your Phonics and Word Study instruction, please refer to the ones listed below.

Back to School ABC Bundle
CVC Picture Cards for K-1
Fry Sight Words for Kindergarten

I hope that you enjoyed this post! If you need support with Phonics and Word Study instruction, please comment below.


Hello Friends!

I’m super excited to share this with you! You can save your hard earned money today and tomorrow (July 3rd and 4th) by buying what you need for Back-to-School without breaking your bank! These hundreds of deals will end tomorrow.  You will find clipart, back-to-school resources, ELA, math, science, social studies, book reports, fun printables and activities, distance learning… and much more!  To find these dollar deals, type #TPTSparklers21 into the TpT search bar.

Two of my resources are marked down to ONLY $1.00 each for this annual Independence Day Dollar Deals event on TpT.   Please click on these resources to be able to access them.

#TPTSparklers21 - Poster Quotes Clipart for Social Media, Blog Posts or Decor
#TPTSparklers21 - Backgrounds Clipart {Commercial Use OK}

Happy Shopping!