Helping Children Read

6, 7, 8

Through teaming with younger children, learners will determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in context and use encouragement to help others learn to read. They will determine how their acts are a form of community capital as they build trust with their younger learners.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFour Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in written texts by using context clues and vocabulary aids.
  • recognize the benefits of positive reinforcement with children and in their daily lives.
  • define community capital and describe how it is enhanced.

• Three to five books per student at children's reading level • Dictionaries • Helping Children Read Rubric (Handout One ) • Planning/Reflective Rubric (Handout Two ) • Reflection Journal

Home Connection 

None for this lesson.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the following on the chalkboard:

    [email protected]@% *@^+-+$.

    Say, “It's been a long time since you first learned to read so I have a short sentence in symbol form that I want you to try to decipher to help you remember what not knowing words feels like.” (Answer: Good morning.)


  2. Day One: Using the symbol sentence, encourage the learners to interpret it. Be very encouraging. Have the learners notice that some of the symbols are repeated. Even if they can't read the sentence, encourage them to make inferences about how the symbols could form words. After a few moments, use harsher and harsher responses to get the learners to decipher the sentence.

  3. Discuss how the teacher can help or hurt beginning readers through impatience, frustration, tone of voice, word choice.

  4. Brainstorm how to help their children read a story and then develop a Helping Children Read Rubric (Handout One). Suggestions include:

    • Use books at children's level and allow them to select books they like.
    • Help the child decipher the meaning of unknown words from context, when possible.
    • Let the child hold the book while he/she reads.
    • Tell the child a word if he/she doesn't know it.
    • Keep a list of words the child has trouble with.
    • Watch to see if the child is getting tired or frustrated.
    • Play a game with words the child missed, such as Concentration, Word Bingo, Tic-tac-toe, if there is time.
    • Use a dictionary to find the meaning of missed vocabulary.
  5. Day Two: Review the “Helping Children Read Rubric .” Divide the learners into groups of three to practice reading/praise techniques while helping others read a story.

  6. Make up a short game to practice vocabulary words with children that had trouble.

  7. Day Three: Travel to the elementary school and form teams of a middle school learner with his/her two children.

  8. Help each child read an appropriate story, remembering to incorporate strategies from Days One and Two. Discuss ways of finding words children did not know (use of context).

  9. Play word games with “missed” vocabulary if time permits.

  10. Day Four: Form a reflective sharing circle. Share feelings and problems with yesterday's activities. Make future plans based on reflection.

  11. Review the motives for giving that the learners identified in Lesson One: Reading to Elementary Children . Ask the learners to identify the motives they had for working with the children in this lesson. How have they changed from the first time they worked with their team of learners?

  12. Put the term community capital on the board. Define it as “the trust among members of the community that enables them to work together to get things done.” Ask the learners if they feel there is a feeling of trust between them and their learner teams at the elementary school. How important is it for the teams to have community capital in order for the children to trust the middle school advisors to help them learn? What actions help and what actions hurt the building of community capital?

  13. Have each learner complete the following in his/her reflection journal:

    A. ______ While helping my children read a story yesterday I learned...

    B. ______ What I liked best was…

    C. ______ What I liked least was…

    D. ______ The way I would improve it is…


The journal entry, Helping Children Read Rubric (Handout One ) and Advisory Planning/Reflective Rubric (Handout Two ) will assess learning.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will help elementary children read a story, aiding them in developing strategies for finding meaning for unknown vocabulary.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.