One to One Correspondence

Do you have children that are “stuck” in the reading process? 
They clearly know their letters and are comfortable with letter sounds but unfortunately they can’t seem to put all together and begin to read.  They are in the zone that educators hate…they are in the “stuck” zone. 
The trick may be easier than you think!  Stop banging your head against the wall and give one to one correspondence a try. 
Why one-to-one correspondence?
One-to-one correspondence is a favorite topic of mine in assisting teachers and parents because it’s easy to implement, has an incredible success rate with the right student, and is enjoyable for kids!  What’s not to love?
What is one-to-one correspondence?
One-to-one correspondence is simply a matching skill.  When a student can match an object with the specific name, they have mastered one to one.  The bag you will create is an invaluable tool you can use to asses and practice this skill.  Initially, students will work on matching words to objects and eventually they will transition that skill to matching known words on paper.
The set up:
You need to set up a bag with the following pieces in it so everything is readily available.  
  • 4 or 5 little trinkets.  It doesn’t matter what these are but they should be small.
  • 4 or 5 shapes cut out of construction paper or foam.
  • 4 pom-poms of 4 different colors (or objects of similar nature).  One should be yellow but the other three can be any other three colors.  I will explain later why the yellow is important.
  • A strip of paper (construction paper, cardboard, or a file folder) with circles colored the same colors as your pompoms.  I used stickers for mine.  It’s important that they are the same colors as the pom poms and are circles.
  • A sentence strip with a simple sentence written on it.
The good news is the hardest part is gathering the materials!  This skill is best taught one-on-one at a table.  It’s a fast paced method so remember to have your bag ready.  This method is much easier explained by showing so grab some popcorn and enjoy.
Here is a quick run-through of the directions:
  • Start with the little trinkets and line them up in a row on your table.  As you place your finger on one toy call out the name and move from toy to toy repeating that process.  Make your finger jump from object to object and call out the name as your finger touches that object.  Do not add any superfluous words but simply the name, almost as if you are “reading” the line of toys.  After you finish the line say, “Did you see how I made it match?  I said tiger when I touched the tiger.  Tiger is a long word so my finger was on the tiger for a long time!  Watch me again.”  and repeat the process.  “Now it’s your turn.  Touch each toy and make it match.”  It is important that knowing that the exact name of these trinkets is not important.  If Emma called the tiger a fox that would be fine IF she called it a fox every single time her finger touched it.When this group of toys has been mastered, mix them up and try it again.  Students tend to memorize the order and end up reciting them instead of “reading” them.  Mixing them up will help them practice making them match.
  • When this has been mastered, move onto the shapes and repeat the process as shown.  If this is difficult, pick up the pieces instead of simply pointing to them.
  • When this has been mastered, move onto the pom-poms.  Place the pom-poms in a row and ensure the yellow one is at the end.  The yellow pom-pom is tricky because it has two syllables. Many students will tend to move their fingers too fast pointing to one pom-pom for every syllable spoken.  Once this line is mastered, move the yellow pom-pom to the middle and repeat.
  • Now you’re ready to transition this skill to paper!  Take out your strip of circles and point to each circle as you call out its name.  If this is tricky for your student, fold the strip in half only showing 2 circles.  Once all 4 can easily be “read”, it’s time to move onto words!   
  • Point to the words on your strip as you say them.  If this is too much to handle, cut the words up and move them as you say them.  Have your student do this after you have modeled it.  This step was not demonstrated in the video.  Emma knows just a few words and this would have been frustrating for her…and you!
If your student hits frustration, back up and give him/her an easier task.  Try to end on a positive note.  Some students may fly through all 5 stages and some may hit frustration at the first or second stage.  Pay close attention to how your student is feeling and keep it fun.  Students learn best when they feel successful. 
It’s important to use the following key phrases when guiding:
“Watch how I make it match!”
“Make it match!”
“If there is a long word, my finger is going to stay on the word for a long time.”
“Make your finger jump, do not slide.”
These phrases are important so you might want to jot them down on a note card and slip it into your bag. 
Closing thoughts:
If you have a student in pre-K, test the waters with these activities.  If you have a kindergartener, start working towards mastery.  If you have a first-grader or above who is struggling with reading, attack this skill aggressively.  This may be the missing link in your student’s reading journey. 
Remember to keep learning fun!
Happy Teaching!


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