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Our Mission is to inspire and prepare all students to realize their potential and enhance our global community.


35 Barksdale Rd.
West Hartford, CT 06117
Phone: 860-233-4421
Fax: 860-232-4732

Jennifer Derick, Principal 

Reading Resources

Parents, see below for some information on what you can do at home to help support your child. Students, please visit the Useful Links page to enjoy practicing your reading and writing skills at home!

Please contact members of the reading department with any questions:

Mrs. Richters                                           Mrs. Hershey
Reading Specialist                                  Reading Tutor
860.233.4421 ext. 3202                          860.233.4421 ext. 3258
sharon_richters@whps.org                   martha_hershey@whps.org


Megan Wares
Early Interventionist
860.233.4421 extension 3223


Parents… you are our most valuable resources! Without you to support what we do in the classroom, our students would never be so successful. Please use this website to help you learn more about how you can support your child at home.

Reading With Your Child

Below you will find a list of possible questions to help you with conversations about your child’s reading. They are not intended to be used all at once or every time you read with your child. Use them at your discretion and where they are appropriate. Happy Reading!!

Questions to ask before you read

Can you look at the pictures and predict what you think will happen in this book?
What makes you think that?
What characters do you think might be in our story?
Do you think there will be a problem in this story? Why or why not?
Does the topic/story relate to you or your family? How?

Questions to ask during the reading

What do you think will happen next?
What can you tell me about the story so far?
Can you predict how the story will end?
Why do you think the character did _______?
What would you have done if you were the character?
How would you have felt if you were the character? (use different characters)
As I read____________, it made me picture________ in my head. What pictures do you see in your head?
As you read, what are you wondering about?
Can you put what you’ve just read in your own words?

Questions to ask after reading

Can you remember the title?
In your opinion, was it a good title for this book? Why or why not?
Were your predictions about the story correct?
If there was a problem, did it get solved?
What happened because of the problem?
Why do you think the author wrote this book?
What is the most important point the author is trying to make in his writing?
What was your favorite part of the story?
If you could change one thing in the story, what would it be?
Can you retell the story in order?
If you were __________, how would you have felt?
What is the most interesting situation in the story?
Is there a character in the story like you? How are you alike?
Why did you like this book?

Background Knowledge

There are so many valuable activities that help your child to build their background information. Especially living in Connecticut, we have the world’s best experiences at our doorstep. Take advantage of the time you have with your child to go to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, the Mystic Aquarium, or to the New Britain Rock Cats for a baseball game. Share positive experiences and create memories to last a lifetime.

It is difficult for a student to read or write about a penguin, if they have never witnessed the beauty of how a penguin glides effortlessly through the water. It is important to build your children’s background knowledge so when they are asked to read or write about a topic, they can make realistic connections to the topic and reflect with vivid details of their experiences. After your visits to new places, be sure to talk about features you enjoyed and ask your child to share their thoughts. The following Top 10 Family Weekend Activities come to you from FamilyEducation.com where you can visit to gain additional information which will enhance your child’s learning out of school!

The Zoo

Take the whole family on a trip to the local zoo. Visit each creature’s exhibit and test your kids’ animal knowledge. Little kids love to stop by the petting zoo to mingle with a variety of friendly, furry animals. Older kids will enjoy sitting in on a lecture by a professional zoologist, to learn about the various environments and eating habits of wild animals.

Science Museum

If you live in a large city, or close to one, chances are you have a science museum nearby. Satisfy your child’s inquisitive side by exploring the array of exhibits, ranging from marine life to astrology and everything in between. Be sure to catch a lecture, live performance, or an IMAX showing for an in-depth look at fascinating subjects on the revolving schedule of shows.

Live Sporting Event

Take me out to the ball game! Who doesn’t love a live sporting event? Don your player’s jersey and support your favorite professional team with a family outing to the ballpark or stadium. Grab a hot dog and some peanuts, settle into your seat, and root your team on to a win. You can even make the game a math lesson for your kids!

Kids’ Concert/Show

The next time your child’s favorite band is in town, take her to a show for a special treat. Tickets may be hard to come by, especially for sensations like Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers, but you’re guaranteed to be the Parent of the Year if you are able to score some. If you’re unable to get tickets to a popular show that’s coming to town, check the local theater for old favorites such as Annie, Sesame Street, or a Disney movie on ice.

Amusement Park

Whether you seek thrills from hair-raising roller coasters, or prefer to glide on an old-fashioned carousel, amusement parks have something for every member of the family. When you’ve had enough of the rides, don’t forget to try some friendly family competition at the arcade!


Become one with nature. Grab the bug spray, pitch a tent, and tell ghost stories while sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows. If a weekend getaway to a campground isn’t possible, have your own family camping night in the backyard. Ask your children to identify the different animal and insect noises, or collect backyard materials for a special project. Although building a fire may not be recommended, you can grill hot dogs and tell spooky stories by the glow of a flashlight or portable lantern. At bedtime, hunker down in sleeping bags under the stars, or set up a tent. It’s amazing how your own yard can be transformed into a nature wonderland at night!


Make this perfect rainy day activity a family affair. G-rated movies can be entertaining and enjoyable, even for adults! Your child will love seeing her favorite characters on the big screen, and you can kick back, relax, and enjoy some quiet time. Besides, who can resist the popcorn?

Park/Hiking Trail

Enjoy the great outdoors and get some exercise, with a leisurely stroll or hike along a nature trail or scenic road. Read up on the different flowers, trees, and birds native to your area, and give your children an informal nature lesson. If hiking isn’t your thing, pack a picnic lunch and head to the local park to feed the birds, pick some flowers, and soak up the sunshine.

Outdoor Sports

Whether you live somewhere that stays warm all year, or in an area that is subjected to snow and ice during the winter months, there is always an outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Biking is the perfect outdoor activity for nice weather, and you don’t need to own any equipment to enjoy it. Many local bike shops rent bikes and safety gear and they will even fit you with a helmet and pads to ensure you are wearing them correctly. If snow is in the forecast, bundle up and head to the closest ski area. Again, you can rent the equipment, and a lesson from a professional ski instructor will have you gliding down the slopes in no time. Look for packages that include kids’ lessons, as well.


Don’t forget the local bowling alley when you’re looking for something different to do on a rainy day. Throw on the goofy shoes and partake in a little competition with your kids. If your children are young, ask the bowling alley to supply bumpers for the lanes to avoid any gutter balls. And if you just don’t feel like leaving the house, try this at-home version for the little ones!

Reference(s): Family Weekend Activities http://www.FamilyEducation.com

Phonics Practice

On-the-Go Rhyming Game

Goal: To show your child that rhyming words end in the same middle and ending sounds

Materials Needed:

Your child

Your imagination!


1. As you are riding in your car or walking through your neighborhood, invite your child to play a rhyming game with you.

2. Tell your child you are going to name something you see, and then say another word. S/he is to listen to the sounds and tell you if the two words rhyme.

3. Example: Say, “tree, see.” Ask your child, “Do these words rhyme?”

4. Then say, “tree, cap.” Ask your child, “Do these words rhyme?”

5. Say, “I see a house.”

6. Then say, “house, horse” (you can choose any two words that don’t rhyme, but do sound similar) and “house, mouse” (use any two rhyming words).

7. Then ask your child which word rhymes with house? horse or mouse?


Sound Spy

Goal: To help your child identify the beginning, middle and ending sounds in words

Materials Needed:

Time with your child


1. Invite your child to play “Sound Spy” with you. S/he will be a “spy” who has to find matching sounds at the beginning of words.

2. Now, think of two words that begin with the same sounds and one word that begins with a different sound. Example: mat, sit, mop

3. Say the words and have the child say them with you.

4. Then say, “I hear two words that begin with the same sound. Can you ‘Sound spy?’” (Your child may need a lot of help at first.)

5. Try the same game, but this time match middle or ending sounds. This is harder, but with practice, your child should be able to “Sound Spy” in no time!


Say and Clap

Goal: To help your child learn to notice the number of syllables in a word

Materials Needed:

Time with your child


1. Read each word.

2. Have your child clap once for each syllable in the word.

3. Turn this activity into a family game throughout the day with different household items.


Make a Rhyming Word Ring

Materials Needed:

Index cards
Writing utensil (pencils, crayons, markers)
Metal ring (you can buy them at Staples)
Word Patterns sheet (for ideas)

First, pick a rhyme (a word pattern) you want to make. (Please see Word Patterns page for ideas).

Next, write as many words as you can with that same pattern. Write one word on each index card.

Then, hole a punch in the corner of each card and put them on the ring.

Last, flip through the cards and read each word.

Reference(s): Adapted from Words Their Way

Consonant Rummy

Materials Needed:

52 index cards (in place of a deck of cards)

First, pick 13 consonants you want to review.

Next, write each consonant on four index cards, totaling 52 cards.

Then, you are ready to play.

RULES: Each player is dealt eight cards. The first player asks another player for the consonants that begins a certain word. For example, “Do you have a letter that begins the word get?” If the player has a letter g, he/she gives it to you. If the player does not have the letter g, the caller picks a card from the deck and the next player takes a turn. The first player to have four cards of the same letter is the winner.

Last, play again!

This game can also be modified to play Go-Fish!

For a challenge, try it with consonant blends (bl, ch, dr, fr, gl, and so on).

Reference(s): Adapted from Johns & Lenski, Improving Reading Strategies

Making Words

Materials Needed:

Writing utensil (pencils, crayons, markers)

First, pick a word with more than 5 letters. (example: stand)

Next, think about how many words you can make from the word stand and make a list of the words (at, sat, as, Stan, Dan, tan, an, and).

Then, write the word stand on a piece of paper, leaving spaces between each letter. Count out the letters. (s, t, a, n, d)

Last, have your child move the letters around to create new words. Tell them to make the words you listed above. Saying: “make the word at. Now, add an s in front of at the make the word sat. Continue this until all the words are made.

Reference(s): Adapted from Johns & Lenski, Improving Reading Strategies

A Few Word Patterns

Add a consonant before each chunk to make a new word. How many words can you make?

Short Vowels:

Short a sounds: -ab, -ack, -ad. -ag, -am, -ank, -ash, -atch

Short e sounds: -eck, – ed, -eg, -end, -ent, – ess, -est, -et

Short i sounds: -ib, -ick, -id, -ig, -ill, -ing, – ip, -ish, -it, – itch

Short o sounds: -ob, -ock, -od, -og, -ong, -ot

Short u sounds: -ub, -uck, -ud, -uff, -um, – ump, -unch, – ush

Long Vowels:

Long a sounds: -ace, – ade, -age, -aid, – ail, – ain, – ate

Long e sounds: -each, -ead, -eat, -eek, – eep, – eet

Long i sounds: -ice, -ide, -ife, – igh, -ight, -ike, -ime, -ite

Long o sounds: -oad, – oast, – oat, -old, – one, – ow

Long u sounds: -use, – ute


Finding the Right Words

Materials Needed: paper and pencil, construction paper, newspapers and/or magazines, dictionary and/or thesaurus, scissors, glue


This activity can be a fun art project, or it can be used as a birthday, anniversary, or holiday gift.

Pick a person or animal in your child’s life.
Have your child brainstorm some words that describe that person/animal. A dictionary and/or thesaurus will help generate some new and unusual adjectives as well.
Scan through the headlines in newspapers as well as advertisements and articles in magazines looking for the brainstormed words. Remind your child it is fine to use other words he/she may come across even if they are not on his/her brainstormed list.
Once you have accumulated a pile of words and even a few appropriate pictures, arrange the cut-outs on construction paper.
Organize and glue them to make a unique collage or a creative greeting card.
Reference(s): www.readingisfundamental.org

Websites to Increase Vocabulary

Materials Needed: Computer with Internet Access


The following websites have some wonderful games and activities to increase students’ vocabulary.

http://www.vocabulary.co.il- Choose from a variety of vocabulary games including 8 Letters in Search of a Word, Hang Mouse, Clueless Crossword Puzzle, and Higgy Piggy Word Game
www.freerice.com- This website is wonderful for older elementary children. You can choose from a variety of subjects. For each vocabulary term you correctly define, 10 grains of rice go to help end world hunger.

On The Go” Vocabulary Games

Materials Needed: Paper and pencil for Vocabulary Charades only


These games can be played in the car, at the beach, or at home anytime.

Vocabulary 20 Questions
Pick a word from a particular category (beach items, birds, types of fish, states, etc.). Tell the category to the guessers.
The guessers ask yes/no questions about the “mystery word.”
Cue your child to use the information given in previous answers to narrow down his/her questions and guesses.
Vocabulary Alphabet Game
In a group, take turns naming a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet, going in sequential order.
Options to make it more challenging:
1. Play several rounds. Any word named in previous rounds cannot be used again.
2. Require that each word given belongs in the same category (i.e. foods, games, animals, etc.)
3. Require that each word is a specific number of letters.
Vocabulary Charades
Each player writes 2-3 vocabulary words on a piece of paper (to make it more challenging, require them all to be from the same category). Divide the players into teams.
Players take turns acting out the words without talking or sounds.
See which team can guess the most words!
Reference(s): http://www.resourceroom.net/comprehension/vocabactivities.asp


Sticky Note Summaries


Chapter from a book, or magazine article, post-it notes, pencils


Have your child begin reading the first page of the chapter they are currently on in a book they are reading (or page or paragraph if using a magazine article or short book.)
After each page have your child stop and write down 1 or 2 of the most important things that happened or that they learned on that page that they might want to include in a summary of the story. Each idea should go on its own post-it note
Repeat that step for all of the pages of the chapter
When you have read the whole chapter/book/article, have your child put the post-it notes in order
Lay other post-it notes that say First, Then, Next, After that, Last on the table or floor. Have your child put their post-its next to the guide words to create a summary of what they have read
Multiple ideas/post-its can go with each guide word if there are more ideas than one per guide word.

Story Sequencing


Sequence Cards (http://www.enchantedlearning.com/sequencingcards/ is a site where you can find many copies of sequence cards available to print for free), paper, pencils. You can also find any set of pictures that go in a sequence to use


Cut up the sequence cards, and arrange them in a random order.
Have your child put the cards into the order that they think they belong in
Discuss what the story could be that the pictures are telling based on the order your child has placed them in
Rearrange the cards if needed, and have your child tell the story from the beginning again
Work with your child to write the story that they created, they can dictate it to you as you write, or you can help them write it on their own. Spelling and punctuation should not be a concern when the children are writing at first, you can go back and correct and work on that later.

Story Pyramid


Fiction Book, Paper, Pencil


Read the whole story with your child
Have them pick one character from the story that they really liked
Follow the form below to create a story pyramid about the story

Line 1: 1 word that describes the character

Line 2: 2 words that describe the character

Line 3: 3 words that describe the setting

Line 4: 4 words in a sentence that describe one event

Line 5: 5 words in a sentence that describe the problem

Line 6: 6 words in a sentence that describe the solution or conclusion

When written the story pyramid should look similar to this:


2.__________ ______________

3. __________ ______________ _____________

4. _____________ ___________ ___________ _____________

5. __________ __________ ____________ ____________ ____________

6. ___________ __________ __________ _________ _________ _______

Reference(s): Adapted from Improving Reading Strategies and Resources 4thedition, page 419-420. Jerry L. Johns, and Susan Davis Lenski, 2005.

Main Idea-Mapping for Informational Texts


An informational text, or magazine article, paper, pencils


Have your child read a portion of the information text (one section or even a paragraph is long enough)
Ask them to tell you what the topic of the text is
Ask them to show you in the text where there are some details that tell about the topic
Finally, ask them to tell you what the main idea of the passage would be, based on the supporting details they gave you
Have your child create an idea map based on what they read for the next section of the text

Details: (3 or more is good)

Main Idea

Reference(s): Adapted from Improving Reading Strategies and Resources 4thedition, page 428. Jerry L. Johns, and Susan Davis Lenski, 2005.

Story-Reading Ideas


Any book that you or your child pick out and are reading together

These techniques below give ideas for what you can be doing before, during and after reading a story with your child. You do not need to do everything under each section every time you read, but doing one or two while reading will help your child’s reading comprehension.


Before Reading
Look at the title and illustrations together. Predict what the story will be about
Discuss what you both already know about the topic of the story
Read the first page and then ask your child to predict what might happen next.
During Reading
Encourage your child to picture in his or her mind what is happening in the story
Ask what might happen next in the story
Encourage your child to change his or her predictions as the story provides new information
Ask how a character might feel
Talk about the illustrations
After Reading
Have your child retell the story and create a new ending together
Retell the story from another character’s point of view
Let your child illustrate his or her favorite part of the story
Discuss the story together
Reference(s): Improving Reading Strategies and Resources 4th edition, page 537. Jerry L. Johns, and Susan Davis Lenski, 2005.

Character Interview


Any book that you or your child pick out and are reading together


Read part of all of the story with your child
Discuss what one character in the story did and why you both think they behaved that way
Ask your child to think of 3 questions that they would like to ask the character based on what they read in the story
Pretend you are the character and answer the questions your child asked you based on the story
You can change this around and you be the one who asks the question and your child can be the one who has to answer
Here’s an example based on Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Question: Goldilocks, why would you go into the bear’s house and eat their food?

Answer: I was hungry, and they left their door open

Question: Are you going to go back to the house and apologize to the bears for making a mess in their house?

Answer: I should because I made a mess in their house, and I ate some of their food, and that was wrong of me.

Reference(s): Adapted From Reading Response Activities with Graphic Organizers by Deirdre Kelly, 2007


Repeated Readings

Materials Needed:

2 copies of a passage from a book or magazine, which is on your child’s reading level and between 50 and 250 words, timer, graph (see example below).


Have your child read the passage to you while you time them and mark any errors or repetitions on your copy. Do not stop your child if they make a mistake, let them read on. It is common for many mistakes the first few readings.
A tip for marking errors- you can draw a line over words that were skipped, make an “R” over repeated words, and write any additions or words that were said instead of the correct word.
When your child is done reading tell them how long it took them to read, and show them the errors or places that they repeated.
Make sure you praise the hard work they did on the passage; the goal is to help them gain confidence in their reading.
Create a bar graph (see example below) to add to each day to show how their reading is getting faster and the numbers of errors are going down.
When your child is comfortable with this passage (anywhere between 4-6 readings) move to another passage and repeat
Reference(s): Improving Reading Strategies and Resources 4th edition, page 278-281. Jerry L. Johns, and Susan Davis Lenski, 2005.

Echo Reading

Materials Needed:

-Independent level reading book


Choose a book that you child can read independently. This means that your child should be able to read almost all of the words in the book easily.
Sit next and slightly behind your child. Place the book in front of your child so that both of you can see it.
Tell your child that you will be reading with him/her. Tell them “as you read this book, I’ll be reading with you. Sometimes I’ll whisper the words, sometime I’ll read in a regular voice, and sometimes I’ll be quiet as you read. If you come across a word you don’t know, you can listen to the way I figure out the word. This kind of reading is called Echo Reading.
Place your mouth behind your child’s ear. Read with them, and when they have difficulty with a word, then stretch out the word so your child can hear the word parts and sounds in the word. Read with expression.
Tell your child that this type of reading practice can help build reading fluency or smoothness in reading.
Practice when the opportunity occurs, as much as you can!
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.

Audiotape Reading

Materials Needed:

-Your child’s favorite book

-Tape recorder

-Cassette tape


Make an audiotape of your child’s favorite book by reading it aloud.
Play the audiotape and read the book with your child.
Then have your child read the book alone with the tape.
Have the child read the book with the tape several times over the next few days.
Eventually when your child is reading fluently, then you can have your child read the book and make an audiotape of his/her reading
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.

Sentence Strips

Materials Needed:


-Sentence Strip or Piece of Paper


Write a sentence each day on a piece of paper, or a sentence strip.
Have your child read it several times throughout the day.
Repeat each day for a week, with a new sentence each day.
At the end of the week, have your child read all 7 sentences.
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.

Listening Pet Day

Materials Needed:

-Pet (or imaginary pet if you don’t have a real pet; or a stuffed animal)




-Markers or crayons


Have your child read a book at their independent level to a pet, an imaginary pet, or a stuffed animal.
After they have read to the pet, have your child draw a picture about the pet and write about the book they read.
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.

Musical Book

Materials Needed:

-A Favorite Book


Have your child read and reread their favorite book.
Then help your child make up some music for the words to the book.
Have your child “sing the book” aloud, with your help if needed.
When ready, have them “sing the book” aloud by themselves.
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.

Reading Rhymes

Materials Needed:

-Chart paper or large piece of paper





Identify a rhyme or repeated saying that your child uses frequently.
Write the rhyme or saying onto chart paper, or a piece of large paper.
Tell your child that you have written a rhyme on paper that will be familiar to them.
Have your child read the rhyme aloud until they are fluent.
Have your child copy down the rhyme on paper, so they can carry the rhyme, and read it to anyone anywhere.
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


Materials Needed:

-Fry’s Instant Phrases List

-Sentence strips or index cards


-Graph paper


Write down one common phrase on each index card or sentence strip.
Have your child read the phrase out loud.
Have your child repeat reading the phrase out loud until it becomes fluent and natural.
Once they have read the phrases naturally and fluently then put it in their pile.
Graph how many phrases they can read fluently each day.
Reference: Johns, Jerry L., Lenski, Susan D. (2005). Improving Reading: Strategies and Resources.

Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.


West Hartford Public Schools

50 South Main St, West Hartford, CT  06107

T: 860-561-6600

F: 860-561-6910

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