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First-Grade Festivities with My Reading Buddies

Olivia and Sofia like to write words. Give them a dry-erase board and a marker and they're going to want to copy sentences from a book. Then the three of us sit around and admire their writing because it's so nice and neat. I read with the first-graders one day a week at their school; they're so, so close to having their reading skills come together. I mean, look at those boards!

Right now, reading contractions aloud is hard for these six-year-old scribes. "We're" looks like "were," "it's" is kinda strange, and "I'm" occasionally eludes them. "Tickle," though? No problem. "Tickle" they can read. Today they both read a short new book to me, and needed help only with the contractions. Afterward I read Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog to them. In that advanced beginning reader (more of a second-grade book), the main character and his cat care for a dog, Zeke, while Zeke's owner recovers from an injury. Zeke fails to manifest self control, and Mr. Putter thinks that he is a "nightmare," instead of a dream dog. "Why does he keep saying that!" Olivia wanted to know; she didn't care for describing Zeke that way.

One of the last pictures is a two-page spread of a party that Mr. Putter and Tabby have when their Zeke-walking stint is over. Their relief is palpable (to an adult), but what Olivia and Sofia liked was Arthur Howard's illustration of a table laden with cupcakes, cookies, a teapot, and a pie. "Let's draw a party!" Olivia said. They madly erased all their sentences on the dry-erase boards and drew inviting- looking parties, both of which included refrigerators to keep the drinks cold. Streamers filled the air; balloons floated among the guests. Olivia added a piñata, and Sofia made sure to have doughnuts. They put plenty of chairs around each table. All of us wanted to go those parties.

What a fine way to spend a cold, dreary winter morning.


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Contractions are tricksy, and I know an awful lot of adults who can't recall when to use them and when not, so the girls are doing just fine if they're already sorting them out at age 6.

I want to go to a piñata/doughnut party myself.

Kelly, wouldn't such a party be so much fun! These girls are close to reading fluently. (I think that's the term.) That's why I love first grade. So exciting!

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