Building Strong Foundations for Reading

Step inside a Kindergarten Class

Little children dressed in blue flannel sets and pastel leggings with matching tops sat at their desks, stuffed animals next to them, in Sheryl Carini’s inviting kindergarten classroom at Katonah Elementary School. It was Pajama Day--a celebration at the end of their week-long study of the letters P and J.

The students wrote P and J in the air using their stuffed animals as pens. They traced the letters on their desk with their pointer fingers and even closed their eyes and did it again. Finally, it was time to take out their individual white boards. The students wrote letters and simple words with pride.

Skywriting P & J

systematic, explicit phonics instruction, daily

Systematic, explicit phonics instruction builds the foundational skills which allow writing and reading to occur. It happens each day in kindergarten through third grade classes across the Katonah-Lewisboro Schools.

“The multi-sensory approach, explicit instruction and daily practice are key,” said Alison Porcelli, staff developer for elementary grades.

Time is built into each school day for teaching phonics using Fundations, instruction on recognizing that certain letters represent certain sounds, and how to segment words to identify those individual letters and sounds. Kindergarten through first grade classes also use Heggerty Phonemic Awareness resources to assess and teach skills such as rhyming, segmenting and blending.

opportunities to read and write throughout the day

“Students really respond to the structure of Fundations,” said Kuczinski. She cited the progress that students make across a school year, thanks to the focus on an ordered progression of letter-sound correspondences.

All day long, elementary students are engaged in opportunities to read and write, reinforcing each skill as it is built—from looking at a text while listening to their teachers read aloud, to independently reading from a baggy of books just right for them, to reading instructions to math problems and science experiments and writing stories about topics in which they are interested.