How to Teach the Stretchy Snake Strategy to Emergent Readers - Guided Readers

How to Teach the Stretchy Snake Strategy to Emergent Readers

Are you wondering about the best ways to teach reading strategies to your Emergent readers?  These students are at the beginning stages of reading; but that’s why it’s so important for them to grasp these important tools for reading and decoding. As Emergent readers start the adventure of learning to decode, the Stretchy Snake strategy can move them along! Stick around to learn how to teach Stretchy Snake successfully!

Lips the Fish and Eagle Eye are basic strategies that will help get your little Emergent readers started, but Stretchy Snake really sets them on the road to decoding! Now let’s take a quick look at how to use this super-spectacular strategy!

If you think I’m overdoing it on the ‘s-es,’ I have to agree; however; I’ve done that to make a point. Stretchy Snake is an important tool that helps readers decode by stretching out letter sounds and blending them together to form words. We all know the snake is the perfect symbol for this stretching-out strategy! 

Like the other strategies I’ve mentioned in this series, you may want to use a stuffed toy snake as your instructional mascot while teaching this strategy. Sidenote: Just be sure to get a cute and cuddly one, rather than one that’s realistic or scary! : )

The Stretchy Snake strategy supports the Graphophonic, or Visual, cueing system. It teaches readers to stretch the sounds they hear as they say the letters in a word. It’s a strategy they’ll use a LOT going forward, so be sure your students understand how to use it.

Introduce Stretchy Snake in a Whole Class Setting

Begin with a whole-class lesson using the Stretchy Snake section of the Strategy Fan. Give each student a strategy fan and then model the word-stretching strategy using a larger demonstration fan.

You might also consider passing out small “Slinky” toys that will help your students visualize stretching out sounds as they pronounce them. To teach this strategy in a whole group setting choose a big book that will have plenty of recognizable sight words as well as more challenging words that lend themselves to using it. 

Start out by saying, “Stretchy Snake is long and can stretttchh out his body! Just like his body stretches, he stretches out the sounds in words to help himself figure out what he doesn’t know! Let’s be just like Stretchy Snake and stretch out the sounds in the words we’re trying to solve.”

Model the strategy first. Choose a short CVC word such as “top” or “bug.” Point to each letter in the word on a whiteboard or chart paper, stretching the sounds out slowly, then repeating them. Blend the sounds together to form the word. You can use the Slinkys as a teaching aid; or you may just want to have your students tap their fingers for each sound and then reach out and bring their fingers together to “pull” the blended sounds. “bbb..uhhh..ggg — bug.” Next, move on to some simple two-syllable words like “water” or “baby.”

Reinforce Stretchy Snake in Guided Reading Group Practice

To teach Stretchy Snake in a guided reading group, distribute strategy fans; then have students practice using the strategy while reading a text. Let’s look at how this instruction might go if you were using the book, How I Move. (This book is available within Guided Readers, my new online guided reading program.)

First, have your students turn to page one; then show them how to use the Stretchy Snake strategy to stretch out the sounds in the word “run.”

Say, “OK boys & girls, let’s be like Stretchy Snake and sound this word out! Ready? ‘rrrr…uuuu…nnnn. ‘run!’ Let’s repeat it: ‘rrr…uuu…nnn. ‘run!’ Great job stretching out those sounds and blending them.!”

Finally, instruct them to look at all the letters in the word. Say, “Remember, as we blend the sounds to say the word, we look at the letters and ask ourselves: ‘Does it look right?’”

Continue through the book, giving your students plenty of opportunities to practice this important strategy. Sound out words like “walk,” “hop,” “jump” and “stomp.” Stretchy Snake is a tool that will move your kiddos toward fluency, one lonnnng, strettttchy sound at a time!

Guided Readers Can Help

Finally, let me ask you a question. Do you ever feel like you’re stretched too thin as you plan your guided reading instruction? If so, Guided Readers can help!  I’ve heard from so many teachers who are loving the engaging texts, the standards-based lesson plans & resources, and the easy-to-use digital interactive reader that are part of this new, online guided reading program! 

All the texts in Guided Readers are professionally leveled by Fountas & Pinnell and Lexile.com, and your students will LOVE them! Best of all, YOU’LL love the way Guided Readers gives you everything you need to implement an effective guided reading program in your classroom! From done-for-you, standards-based lesson plans to easy-to-use teaching tools, Guided Readers takes the guesswork out of what to teach and how to teach it!  If you’re tired of feeling like you’re stretched too thin in your literacy instruction, get Guided Readers and get back to loving what you do!

Thanks so much for stopping by for this post on teaching Stretchy Snake. If you missed my posts on Eagle Eye and Lips the Fish, click the links to view them.

And check the blog for future posts on additional strategies!

Also, if you found this post helpful, I hope you’ll head on over to my YouTube channel to see the videos I’ve posted about teaching this and other strategies.

You’ll see plenty of examples of how I teach this strategy using guided reading texts from my new online guided reading program, Guided Readers.

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