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Nancy Welsh taught the kindergarten children of military parents at Ft. Bragg Schools for 32 years. Her very first principal did not allow the use of reproducible work sheets and this greatly influenced the evolution of Nancy’s teaching style and philosophy. She developed a highly hands on approach to teaching and learning. In the last decade as academic expectations for kindergarteners dramatically changed, requiring them to read by the end of the school year, Nancy developed methods to teach reading in child friendly ways. She strove to continue fostering the joy, delight and power of reading. She did not want it to become a burden and dreaded experience for her students.

READ A SONG©’s creation began when Nancy wrote songs to use with her classes Color Days. Beginning in the first week of school, she and her students celebrated a color each day as they learned classroom routines and expectations for fifteen days. She wrote simple song lyrics set to familiar children’s song tunes which spelled each day’s color word. She then transferred these lyrics to large charts. The students were introduced to the songs in whole group lessons.  They were given free access to the charts once they had been presented. The students loved these songs and used them frequently during free choice or independent reading times. They were also excited when a color word was encountered in a story and would spontaneously begin singing the corresponding Color Song.

Nancy discovered that these Color Song lessons allowed her to meet her students’ diverse needs and ability levels. She accessed her pupils’ literacy abilities during the first month of school, so she was aware of their individual needs and strengths.  By interacting with the Color Songs song charts, some students were experiencing the concept of spoken word/written word correspondence for the first time. Others learned that print operated left to right. A large number of students learned to identify alphabet letters via the spelling of the color words. Many children learned to read the high frequency and sight words contained in the lyrics and some read entire sentences or songs. By asking different students to interact in various ways with the song charts Nancy was able to differentiate and tier her instruction while teaching the whole class. And, they had fun while meeting many literacy standards.

The success Nancy’s students experienced with the song reading chart materials and lessons lead her to write lyrics to teach each high frequency or sight word the students needed to learn. The children enjoyed them so much that she started meeting more and more literacy and other content area standards via song lyrics she created which she loaded with targeted words.  Often when Nancy introduced a new skill, concept or topic and did not have a song for it, someone in her class would ask, “Where’s the song?” This let her know that this approach was successful, enjoyable, and developmentally appropriate, so she incorporated it into all aspects of her teaching. She even wrote songs for classroom management and social skills instruction.

Nancy has recently retired and now devotes much of her time to working with students and teachers throughout the country, so they can have access to the joy and success of learning through reading and singing songs which meet their needs. She’s been asked to make materials available for overworked, busy teachers who don’t have the time to make them themselves. She has developed fold-a-charts, materials which can be used with document cameras, song sheets which can be sent home, and audio DVDs are currently being developed. These DVDs will allow teachers to hear how the lyrics fit into various tunes.

READ A SONG© materials work well as companions to other reading programs, and help teachers teach the Common Core Standards since they put elements of literacy into all curriculum areas. They are versatile and can be used to introduce, teach, re-enforce, or review. They can be used in quick 5 minute lessons, or as much longer involved lessons depending on needs. Nancy is very pleased with her students’ reactions to her songs. She hopes you will contact her about doing staff development at your school. She’d love for your class to enjoy her songs too.