Children are introduced to reading and writing in kindergarten and students are starting phonics. They spend a lot of time in the classroom with books; a large part of every day is devoted to teacher-led storytelling. Young people have a lot of chances of talking, asking questions, talking about stories, telling their own stories and describing things. Kindergartners begin to learn some rules of conversation during class activities, such as speaking turns and listening politely.

Reading and Comprehension

  • learn how print works (e.g., we read English print from left to right, top to bottom)
  • recognize and name the letters of the alphabet (upper case and lower case)
  • begin phonics: learn that letters represent sounds; identify letter sounds; identify words that rhyme; orally blend sounds to make words; break words into syllables; identify the beginning and ending sounds of short spoken words, etc.
  • begin to read some short words (e.g., cat, sit, milk, frog) • begin to recognize common words by sight (e.g., a, the, I, my, you, is, are)
  • read some simple phrases or sentences (e.g., “cat ran up,” “Sam sat.”)
  • tell what happened after listening to stories; predict what will happen next
  • practice distinguishing reality from fantasy in stories
  • listen to and follow oral directions
  • read aloud with someone outside of school at least ten minutes daily

Writing and Spelling

  • learn to write own name (first and last)
  • write all letters of the alphabet (upper case and lower case)
  • use letter, sound knowledge to write simple words and messages


  • learn basic story parts (e.g., title, beginning, end)
  • listen to and join in saying short poems (e.g., Mother Goose poems)
  • listen to stories, fables, and legends (e.g., “Chicken Little,” “Johnny Appleseed,” Aesop’s “The Hare and the Tortoise”)
  • listen to nonfiction prose (e.g., short biographies, books about dinosaurs)
  • tell and “write” their own stories (by drawing pictures, telling stories to the teacher while she writes them down, etc.)
  • learn some basic literary terms (e.g., author, illustrator)

 In a good kindergarten classroom, you might see children:

  • sitting on the floor around the teacher while she reads “The Indian Cinderella” (a Native American tale from Canada) from a big picture book
  • helping the teacher make a list of words that begin with the b sound
  • picking out words that rhyme as the teacher reads poems such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or Eliza Lee Fallen’s “Three Little Kittens”
  • filling in words or finishing sentences as they listen to the teacher read a familiar story
  • dressing up as favorite characters in stories the teacher has read aloud
  • reading or looking at picture books on their own

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