Stretch & Catch words is an easy method that I have developed to help all children learn to read. This book is designed to be an easy guide for parents, caregivers, and teachers who want to teach a child to read. Every child deserves to read, and I truly believe that the Stretch & Catch method of combining developmentally appropriate words for Stretch & Catch, combined with high-frequency words (The Word List words), and daily reading can help all children learn to read.
This section provides an overview of what you will find within each chapter of this book. Please keep in mind that the content covered within this book ranges from preschool to fourth grade. The book is designed to help guide parents with a simple daily activity of 10 minutes or less that will build a strong reading foundation.
The text is designed to be easy to follow. The first chapter explains Stretch & Catch, The Word List (TWL) words, and daily reading. It will explain how and when to teach Stretch & Catch to your child and will also describe the reasoning behind using TWL words and why automaticity is important for every reader. Finally, the chapter will clarify how the daily reading should be completed. At the end of Chapter One are three assessments. The first assessment is on the 26 basic alphabetic sounds. If you are unsure if your child knows his/her basic sounds with a 100% accuracy, you will test him/her using this assessment first. The second assessment is the Feature Assessment Tool. This tool will help the parent know where to start teaching the child at his/her instructional learning level within this book. The last assessment will assess your child on his/her TWL words. The TWL Assessment Tool will help guide you to the correct colored TWL word list for your child.
Chapter Two focuses on the alphabet feature. (When I use the word feature, I am referring to the spelling pattern that your child will be learning in the chapter.) This chapter is the Pre-Stretch & Catch chapter and includes daily reading ideas for the parent. Before your child can Stretch & Catch, he/she will need to be able to identify the 26 basic alphabetic sounds. Beginning with Chapter Three, you will introduce your child to the Stretch & Catch features and TWL words, and the daily reading will continue. Chapter Three focuses on Features 2–6 from the assessment, which are short-vowel words.
Chapter Four covers Features 7–11. Here, your child will begin to blend two letters together at the beginnings and endings of words. These words are referred to as beginning and ending blends.
Chapter Five, with Features 12 and 13, introduces digraphs. This is the first chapter in which your child will learn that the number of sounds heard in a word won’t always correspond with the number of letters that are actually in that word.
Chapters Six through Nine, covering Features 14–26, enter the last phase of Stretch & Catch. This is referred to as the last phase because it is the phase which your child moves from a beginning reader to a more advanced independent reader. Beginning with these chapters, you will notice that your child will lead the Stretch & Catch activity while you will be there to guide your child. TWL words will continue to be present in Chapters Six and Seven but won’t be needed by Chapters Eight and Nine because your child now has a stronger word and spelling foundation and will be able to figure out unknown words by using the Stretch & Catch Reading Strategy and context clues. In all of these chapters, the daily reading is extremely important for your child’s reading success. By the end of this book, your child will transition from reading aloud to a silent reader.
Starting with Chapter Five and moving through Chapter Nine, an optional activity is included to introduce each feature before you Stretch & Catch. Although this is an optional activity, it would be very beneficial for your child. If you do not have time for this activity, that is okay; the Stretch & Catch templates will help provide the introduction to the features as well.
For the lessons in this book, I suggest purchasing a 500 pack of 3×5 white note cards. The note cards will be used to reinforce the lesson in Chapter Two for the alphabet. In Chapters Three- Nine, there will also be optional activities to reinforce the feature you will be teaching by using the note cards. You will also write The Word List (TWL) words on the note cards.
For Chapter Two, you will need 52 note cards. Make one note card per letter for each uppercase letter and one note card per letter for each lowercase letter. Consonants should be written in one color, while vowels should be written in a different color. It is important that the consonants are written in a different color than the vowel note cards because you want to make a distinction between consonants and vowels in this chapter.
In Chapters Five through Nine, there are optional activities to reinforce the spelling pattern your child learned by using note cards. If you chose to use either of the optional activities that appear before or after the features, you will need to prepare the note cards before you teach the lesson.
You can continue to use the lowercase note cards from Chapter Two throughout this book, but you will also need to make additional consonant and vowel note cards because there will be words with duplicate letters. Once your child understand the difference between consonants and vowels, all the letter note cards can be written in the same color.
You will also need to write TWL words in the corresponding colors (blue, orange, green, red, and purple) for Chapters Three through Seven on your note cards.