Reading is an inevitable part of every student’s life. From when they are just learning to read for the first time in elementary school, completing a book report in middle school, or perhaps just reading for their own enjoyment, it is a constant skill that they need at every age. Whatever the case may be, reading is not at the top of every student’s list of favorite pastimes for many different reasons. Thinking back to when I was in elementary school, I myself didn’t struggle with reading or other literary skills. However, I have been in different environments where I have seen my peers dread doing reading assignments or reading tests.
I think that one of the reasons why some kids dislike reading is because the books themselves are just uninteresting to them. I have been in this position more times than I can count—it is so difficult to take the time to read for school when the content or subject is extremely boring or irrelevant. On the other hand, when you find a story that sparks your interest or that you can relate to, reading turns from a task into a fun and relaxing activity.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose what we read. In fact, most times it is the opposite, especially when it is required for school. In addition to this, the English language isn’t always on our side when it comes to learning new words. Between the different sounds a vowel can have, silent letters, double letters, compound words, and other confusing phonics rules, reading and writing can seem like a never ending battle, especially for younger, beginner readers.
The New Highlighter In Town
Identifying rules and letters is an important part of learning the ins and outs of the English language, and this is an easy step to forget. A fun and easy way for kids to identify certain words in a text is to highlight them. I always liked to use a highlighter while reading when I was younger because of the bright colors and because it helped me keep my focus. However, I mostly used highlighter on papers and worksheets, never in books because it would ruin the pages that needed to be reused for other students.
Well, in fact there’s this nifty thing out there called “Blockout & Highlighter tape” that does just that. Where was this my whole elementary school life?!
- It’s removable and reusable, so it’s ideal for beginner readers to use for identifying and decoding difficult words.
- Once they have successfully recognized the word or rule the tape can be taken off and used somewhere else.
- Use on readers, textbooks and homework for temporary highlighting that won't damage the paper when removed.
The highlighter and blockout tape has endless uses, and isn’t limited to classroom use. But if you are a teacher or parent of a student who struggles with reading, these are some great ways to use the highlighter tape in phonics activities at home or at school:
- Highlighting initial sounds for repetition practice.
- Block out syllables to break down long, overwhelming words.
- Highlight “trouble words” so you can go back and practice or write them on flashcards.
- Use the removable tape to search for letter sounds on different objects in your environment.
- Highlight sight words that need to be memorized because they don’t follow letter-sound rules, like, ‘many’, ‘been’, and ‘of’.
- Highlight similar long and short vowel sounds ahead of time.
- Have students highlight a certain letter sound or vowel sound when they see it in their text-having the students do this themselves make it more like a fun game!
- “Slow reveal” of a challenge word—uncover only the initial letter, sound out, reveal more and more to sound out complete word.
- Find long and short sounds of a vowel and mark with tape different tape colors to show difference. Some examples of this are ‘elephant’ vs. ‘eagle’, ‘octopus’ vs. ‘ocean’, ‘animal’ vs. ‘ape’.
- Hunt for double letters or compound words—highlight separate syllables.
- Use the tape to have students self-correct their written work by highlighting errors in homework or quizzes.
- Highlight new and unfamiliar words to look up definitions later (for older readers in middle or high school).
The list goes on and on.
One reading specialist teacher I spoke to (okay, she’s also my mom!) said that she could definitely find many uses for the tape in her classroom with her students. And a middle school teacher suggested they’d make a perfect tool for teaching typing. She highlights letters that students spend time searching for on the keyboard (where is that “P?”).
Teacher, Suzi B. had the brilliant idea to place pre-cut pieces of the tape on an index card so students could easily use, remove and reuse the tape. This makes it time saving and money saving!
It’s also a bonus that they can be reused; highlighter markers can run out of ink quite fast when used a lot, and these rolls will definitely last much longer. Plus they come in bright colors and can easily fit into a pencil case or pouch—easy to say that they have just become my new favorite school supply!
Look for highlighter and blockout tape in upcoming Papered Teacher subscription boxes!