Here’s a quick one for those of you looking for more mail-themed reads. Raymond and Nelda is a story of….well, Raymond and Nelda, of course! They’re best of friends but have a falling out. Their neighborhood mail lady sees both of them upset and urges them to work it out. Through a series of letters they eventually come to understand that they each made mistakes and need to apologize because their friendship is more important than their pride. This book is great for tying together the themes of friendship and communication!
You could follow this book up with a variety of mail-themed activities, but I usually have a short discussion about the social aspect of the books (being a good friend and making apologies) and then build some pre-reading skills by doing a little phonemic awareness exercise in small groups.
First, I point out the names in the title, emphasizing the beginning sound, and then we think of other words that begin with the same sound. “Rrrrraymond. What else starts with that same rrrrr sound? Rollerskates! Run! Rhino!” (Remember that phonemic awareness is an auditory skill, so if they suggest something that starts with the same sound, but different letters, that is acceptable. So, red and wrong do in fact go together as do snake and cinnamon for another example.)
Using pictures cards like these, I arrange a group of three cards, two with similar beginning sounds and one with a different sound. I say the name of the picture as I lay down each card so that the children hear the sound and so that there isn’t confusion as to what the picture actually is. Then, I have the children help me find the two that match, and we “kick out” the one that doesn’t.
If you find that there is a significant discrepancy in the skill level in your group and the same children are immediately answering every time, give them the chance to “be the teacher”. That means they don’t answer right away, but once the other children answer, they can say whether or not they are right.
For more on phonological awareness, read here.