Teacher Resources

Teaching kids how to read – and how to enjoy it – is a challenge for any educator, especially when there are so many other demands on your time. Below, you’ll find lessons, articles, and curriculums that make it easier for any child to pick up skills.

Lesson Ideas & Curriculum

  • SUPER WHYSUPER WHY Lessons (ages 3–6)
    Have your students learn letters, rhyming, vocabulary and more with these episode-specific lessons plans from SUPER WHY.
  • READBetween the Lions for Deaf Students (ages 3–7)
    For deaf or hard-of-hearing students, Cornerstones has literacy units based on Between the Lions.
  • Between the LionsBetween the Lions Curriculum (ages 3–7)
    Between the Lions is based on a comprehensive literacy curriculum for beginning readers ages 4-7. Read the overview and curriculum here, perfect for PreK-3 teachers.
  • Sesame StreetBringing Sesame Street into Your Classroom (preschool) (ages 2–4)
    Sesame Street is an inherently educational show, and you can get more value from the episodes with this article highlighting ideas for using the show in the classroom.
  • girl readingLibrary Time (preschool and kindergarten)
    Libraries are a wonderful resource for both families and teachers. Make the most of library time with this article.

About the Raising Readers Literacy Framework

PBS KIDS Island focuses on helping young children develop a variety of important literacy skills described by the National Reading Panel. These include everything from identifying letters and their sounds to learning new vocabulary. PBS KIDS Island delivers these literacy skills with reading games with favorite PBS KIDS Raising Readers programs like Between the Lions, Sesame Street, Super Why, and WordWorld. Children can earn tickets, win prizes, and build their own Island amusement park. Each level builds upon the one that came before—often reviewing skills that children have already practiced, but featuring different characters and a new twist.

Below, see how each game on PBS KIDS Island aligns with the skills that the National Reading Panel recommends for children to learn. Plus, parents, teachers, and caregivers can use the Child Progress Tracker to see which of these skills their child is learning. Just login to see your child’s progress.

Click on any game title to view or play a preview of that game.

Emerging Reader Skills—Helping Your Child Learn to Read
Preschool through Grade 3
Letter Knowledge Phonological Awareness
Knowing the names and shapes of letters of the alphabet The understanding that spoken language is made up of individual and separate sounds
Letter identification Letter sequencing Matching upper and lower case letters Rhyming Alliteration
  • Red = Between the Lions
  • Yellow = Sesame Street
  • Green = Super Why
  • Blue = Word World

Full explanation:

  1. Spoken Language Comprehension
    The language used in talking and listening; in contrast to written language, which is the language used in writing and reading.

    1. Understanding that talking is one way to communicate.

      1. Telling simple narratives that have a beginning, a middle, and end.
      2. Using modifiers and or relational terms (taller than, smaller than, softer than) to describe people, places, and things.
      3. Following verbal directions.
  2. Letter Knowledge
    Knowing the names and shapes of the letters of the alphabet

    1. Identifying alphabet letters (both name and sound).

      1. Consonants that begin the names of characters (as in B for Big Bird)
      2. Names of letters whose sounds are like their names (as in b /be/ and m /em/ and d /de/).
      3. Letters whose names are not closely related to their sounds (h, q, w, y, g, and the short vowels)
      4. Identifying the printed form of letters.
    2. Sequencing alphabet letters.

    3. Matching upper and lower case letters.

      1. Upper and lower case letter pairs that look alike (T-t, K-k, Y-y, C-c, V-v, O-o)
      2. Upper and lower case letter pairs that look different from each other (A-a, Q-q, G-g, D-d, H-h, B-b, E-e, and R-r).
  3. Phonological Awareness
    The understanding that spoken language is made up of individual and separate sounds.

    1. Rhyming words.

      1. Recognizing rhyming words
      2. Recognizing words that don’t rhyme
    2. Alliteration (Recognizing words that begin with the same letter).

      1. Group words according to their first sound.
      2. Recognizing alliteration in a silly song, chant or tongue twister that has several words that begin with the same letter (as in “Fe-fi-fo-fum”).
      3. Identify words that are not alliterative (as in “Peter Wiper picked a peck of tomatoes”).
  4. Print Awareness
    Knowing about print and books and how they are used.

    1. Recognizing the parts of a book (author, title, front, and back).
    2. Understanding print conventions (reading left-to-right and top-to-bottom)
    3. Developing an awareness of print and its role in the world (signs, newspapers, menus, labels)

Click on any game title to view or play a preview of that game.

The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children How to Read
Kindergarten through Grade 3
Phonemic Awareness Instruction Phonics Instruction Vocabulary Instruction
The understanding that sounds of spoken language (phonemes) work together to make words Connecting written language to spoken language Learning the meaning of words
Individual phoneme sounds Blending Word Families Phoneme Manipulation Decoding Spelling Advanced Word Recognition Strategies Relationships between words Conceptual Domains
  • Red = Between the Lions
  • Yellow = Sesame Street
  • Green = Super Why
  • Blue = Word World

Full explanation

  1. Phonemic Awareness Instruction
    The understanding that sounds of spoken language (phonemes) work together to make words.

    1. Recognizing the individual sounds of a phoneme.

      1. Consonants
      2. Multiple sounds (as in ck)
      3. Short vowels
      4. Long vowels
      5. Recognizing the same sounds in different words (fix, fall, fun).
    2. Blending phonemes to create words (c-a-t. cat!).

    3. Segmenting a word into its separate phonemes or syllables (dog. d-o-g!).

    4. Counting a number of sounds in multisyllabic words (an-i-mal, three!).

    5. Furhter blending and segmenting of words with an emphasis on word families (as in the words bag, nag, sag in the —ag family).

    6. Manipulating phonemes.

      1. Substitute sounds (presented orally) to create new words.

        • Substitute initial sounds, as in changing dog to fog.
        • Substitute final sounds, as in changing pig to pit.
        • Substitute medial sounds, as in changing fox to fix.
  2. Phonics Instruction
    Connecting written language to spoken language

    1. Decoding

      1. Recognizing consonant sounds when they appear in the beginning, medial and final positions of words.
      2. Decoding words that contain short vowels in the CVC pattern (as in hot).
      3. Decoding words that contain long vowels in the CVCe pattern (as in pale).
      4. Understanding the individual sounds in blends and decoding words that contain them (as in brick, play).
      5. Decoding words that contain consonant digraphs (/sh/, /ch/, /th/, /tch/).
      6. Decoding words with 3-letter blends and consonant clusters (str-, scr-, shr-, spl-, and thr-).
      7. Decoding words that contain vowel digraphs (/ai/, /ea/).
      8. Decoding “r-controlled” vowels (or and ar patterns, as in for and car).
    2. Spelling

      1. Spelling words related to the phonics skills above.
    3. Advanced Word Recognition Strategies

      1. Decoding multisyllabic words by “chunking” them into syllables (rather than decoding them letter-by-letter).
      2. Using structural analysis to decode words and figure out their meaning (roots, prefixes, suffixes).
      3. Using structural analysis to decode compound words (both those in which each word retains its meaning, as in pancake and those that don’t, as in butterfly).
      4. Using context clues to decode words.
  3. Fluency Instruction
    Ability to read text accurately and quickly

    1. Recognizing high-frequency words.

      1. Those that are phonetically regular (as in little, you, part, place, well, number, look, think, help, get, back, came, three, go, must, make, and did).
      2. Those that are not phonetically regular (as in because, again, years, of, their, could, through, does, each, and people).
    2. Reading with expression.

      1. Using punctuation for cues about the mood and tone of sentences.
      2. Using overall context clues to determine how to read with expression.
  4. Vocabulary Instruction
    Learning the meaning of words

    1. Relationships between words

      1. Understanding synonyms (gigantic/enormous).
      2. Understanding homonyms (bear/bare).
      3. Understanding antonyms (hot/cold).
    2. Understanding figurative speech (as in He was so happy that he was walking on air).

    3. Categorizing words into conceptual domains (as in understanding that some words go together because they’re similar in meaning, as in horse, bridle, saddle, stable).

    4. Text Comprehension
      Understanding the meaning of text

      1. Becoming a strategic, engaged reader.

        1. Self-questioning techniques (as in, does what I’ve read make sense to me?)
        2. Predicting outcomes
        3. Using context clues
        4. Developing schemas
        5. Using punctuation cues
        6. Activating prior knowledge when presented with new information
        7. Retelling or dramatizing familiar stories
        8. Asking self who, what, why, what if questions when reading (nonfiction).
        9. Distinguishing between cause and effect, fact and opinion, main idea and supporting details (nonfiction).
      2. Understanding the characteristics of fiction.

        1. Characters
        2. Setting
        3. Plot
        4. Resolution
        5. Storybook language (such as “once upon a time”)
        6. Theme or message
      3. Understanding the characteristics of nonfiction.

        1. Using maps, diagrams, graphic organizers, charts to get information.
        2. Learning specialized vocabulary (as in volcano, lava, erupt).
        3. Understanding and using a simple set of written directions.
PBS KIDS: Raising Readers