Raising Readers: Using a Whiteboard

May 5, 2014

When Aaron started kindergarten last fall, Maxwell thought it was his turn for reading lessons. I wasn't feeling as intense of a desire to push him as I did Aaron (second child and all that). But since he expressed the desire, I was more than happy to oblige.

I had such great success with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Aaron (see my post: The Boy Can Read) that I naturally turned to it again. We made him a chart, just like Aaron's. We did lessons in the mornings, just like Aaron.

But, shocker. Maxwell is NOT Aaron.

I thought Aaron had a short attention span, but Max cannot even make it through the first three words before he is complaining about being "too tired."

We made it to Lesson 40-something before it became pure torture, and I thought to myself, Seriously?! Why am I doing this? He's four years old! He doesn't need to know how to read yet.

But he was still asking to do reading lessons. He still liked the one-on-one attention. He liked feeling like a big kid. And he really does want to unlock the secret code of reading.

But I had to think of some other way.

Enter the gigantic whiteboard.

Sorry for the poor quality pictures (that's a basement for you), but I had to show the size of this thing. It came from the conference room at the place where my brother-in-law works. When it sold for $12 at a company auction, he bought it, but he ended up not being able to fit it down his stairs. So we took it (much to the dismay of my seven-year-old niece who was in tears at the loss of her art canvas).

Anyway, I'm kind of surprised, but Max loves to do reading sessions on this board.

Here is how I've used it so far:

Have him read something short and simple. Max just needs something that's not daunting, so I've used the BOB books, Dick and Jane, and some of the simple books Aaron brought home from school during the first couple of months.

Use words from the book to explore with on the board. One day, there were a lot of words that ended with -er. So I started with the root word, asked him what it was, added -er to it, and then asked him what it was again.

(I'm not a trained educator, so I'm probably introducing combinations and word families at all the wrong times, but Max loves it, so I don't really care.)

Change one letter. Max really likes seeing the transformation of words and how, just by changing one letter or adding another, you can make an entirely new word.

Have fun with rhymes. Some days I will just choose a word and see how many rhymes we can come up with. Many of the words are nonsense, but it still shows Max how the letters work in combination with each other.

Keep a list of sight words. The box on the right side holds a list of five sight words we encountered in our reading. I just keep them up there and at random times during the day, I'll point to one of the words and ask him what it is.

Put sight words into a sentence. The other day, I wrote a few sentences on the board. Each one contained at least one of his most recent sight words. First I asked him to find one of the words . . .  "was," for example. Then I asked him to read the entire sentence.

Don't erase the words. After our short little lesson is over, I don't erase what I've written. I just leave it there for him to look over at his leisure as he is building with Legos or doing puzzles or whatever. Sometimes Aaron will come along and ask him about it. I like that he can just figure things out and remember them on his own without me hovering over him.

I'm sure we will come up with other ways to use this board. The possibilities are endless. And of course you don't need a whiteboard that's 8'x4' to do any of these activities. Paper or a chalkboard or even fridge magnets would work just as well.

But I have to admit, the whiteboard IS pretty fun.

For more Raising Readers posts, click here.


  1. Such a great post, totally pinning this to my Children & Literary board so I can come back to it!

  2. I love that your following your son's lead on this! We're starting early reading too!


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