Big books work well for this, but you can use any book with large print. Try to use a book that you’ve already read with your child and one that has a good amount of dialog in it.
- Tell your child that you’ll be reading xyz book, but that you’ll be hunting for different things this time. Write, or show them what an exclamation mark (!) and question mark (?) look like.
- Tell them that you’ll be hunting for these in the book and that they should let you know when they see one because you’re going to have to read it differently.
- Begin reading the book (maybe with less expression than you normally do) until your child lets you know that they’ve spotted one of the marks. Say “Oh, thanks – that’s an (!), that mark means that we have to read this sentence with a lot of expression. Listen to me first and then we’ll try it together.”
- Reread the sentence modeling good expression and then have them read it (or repeat after you if they can’t read yet) with you. Try to have them imitate you as much as possible so that they get into the habit of learning to change their voice when they see these marks.
- Do the same with question marks – Teach them that our voices sound different when we ask questions and that they should sound like that when we read questions too.
- This is one of those easy activities that you can do to lay a strong foundation for good reading habits and fluency. It can be done whether your child can read or not because all they have to do is practice sounding like you (a good reader)!
- Change this up for older kids (2nd grade and up) that need help with expression by skipping the “hunt” and just calling their attention to the marks when they read. Having them listen to you, reread it with you, and then again by themselves will give them the practice they need to improve their fluency.