If you’ve been hanging onto big books, chart poems, and old anchor charts, but aren’t quite sure how to use them with your students, this simple idea is just for you! When you’re out shopping for school supplies, grab some plastic page dividers (I used these, but rather than ordering online, look for deals in stores. You should be able to get them for a dollar or two a pack during back-to-school time!)
These multi-colored translucent plastic dividers are easy to cut with scissors or a paper cutter into a variety of sizes to make these useful highlighter strips! To make the strips, measure the text height in a few of your big books and on your charts, and then cut strips in a variety of lengths and colors. (Think about what you might want to ask students to highlight: words, letters, blends, digraphs, punctuation, etc.) Store the strips in a shallow basket or container so students can look for and select the strips that are the size they need.
To use these strips, have your students lay a big book or chart flat on a table or the carpet. Challenge them to find certain words (letters, patterns, etc.) that you have been focusing on in your shared reading or small group instruction. You can give the students a list of items to look for, or you can have them refer to your word wall or class-created anchor charts.
Hint: If you use removable highlighter tape during your shared reading activities, your students will know just what to do with these strips. Wikki Stix are another way to isolate words and letters on a vertical page or chart.
Another way students can use these highlighter strips during literacy centers is to play a simple partner game. This works best with a big book or poem that you’ve already read together. Have the students take turns highlighting a word for their partner to read. Teach the students to check for accuracy using strategies you’ve already taught (letter sounds, blending, re-reading the sentence to check the context…).
These DIY highlighter strips made from plastic dividers will add some fun and purpose to a simple read-the-room center in your early childhood classroom. Preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade students will all enjoy and benefit from using this simple tool!
While you’re in the DIY frame of mind, you might want to check out this DIY Math Toolkit post.