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Rev up reading for first graders

Easy activities to help your first grader master essential reading skills.

By Catherine Ann Velasco

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Skill: Decoding

Kids love to play Concentration — perhaps because their young brains are so sharp that they can beat the pants off the adults in the room. Try playing Concentration with your child using sight words at her reading level. (Note: if these words are too easy for your child, try second grade sight words.)

Using index cards, make two copies of each word, then shuffle the cards and lay them down. Take turns finding matches; the player with the most pairs wins. (In the beginning, you'll likely have to help your child recognize many words, but give her the chance to try.) As your child becomes familiar with the words in your deck, add more challenging ones.

Catherine Ann Velasco has covered education and children and family issues for more than 22 years. She's won numerous awards, and served as a fellow of the Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families and the Education Writers Association’s Statistics Boot Camp. Velasco lives near Chicago and can be reached at