Reading Strategy-Lips the Fish!

Hello! I am excited to go into more depth about some of my favorite things.....guided reading and animal strategies!! Today I'm going to dive in (get it?---lol) with my friend, Lips the Fish! 

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What does it mean to use lips the fish? Lips the fish is a reading strategy that gives students a good starting point when they are stuck on a word. When using lips the fish, students will "get their mouths ready to say the first part of the word." They will give the initial sound and can apply other strategies, I'll talk about this more later, to read the unknown word.

When should I teach lips the fish? I am often asked, what order should these strategies be taught in? I typically say that it depends on students’ needs and ability. I will say that, teaching kindergarten and intervention, this is typically the decoding strategy that I teach second. I would recommend starting here if:
  • The child is just beginning to read
  • You teach kindergarten
  • The child has secured all to almost all of their letter sounds
  • The child can track print
  • If the child relies on pictures clues while reading and uses eagle eye. If they do not, I would recommend starting there. You can read more about it on my previous blog post

Teaching Lips the Fish

If you are not familiar with these decoding strategies, they are based off of the Beanie Baby animals.  I bought mine at a local flea market and had some saved from my childhood collection! I always get these out when I introduce a new strategy. This seems to help students to make an association with the strategy. If you want to use the beanies too, check out Ebay, garbage sales, flea markets, and more! Of course, you don't have to have these to teach the strategies! 

Warm Up!
Before beginning your guided reading lesson, I would recommend reviewing letter names/sounds. I always keep letter flashcards near my guided reading table so we can quickly practice. You can have students give the sound only so it can go quickly...I know how pressed for time we all are! Since lips the fish depends on students knowing their sounds, be sure to continue reinforcing these sounds.
Grab these simple letter flashcards here!

Beginning Sound Match/Solve It
With these activities, you're of working "backwards" as you get students to think about the beginning sound. You can do this in many different ways: 

I like to add these activities to my word work. After reading, we practice matching or solving the missing beginning sound. You can write on sentence strips and match with magnetic letters or use a dry erase board. I've created some laminated and worksheets activities with missing sounds and pictures for quick matching over the years too.

If you do a morning message, you can always leave out the beginning sound in some of the words and work together to solve the missing sound. There are a lot of quick and simple ways to include this practice in your teaching! 😊

Highlight it
Get your highlighters out and highlight the first part of the word. If there is a book you are working on and students are having a difficult time with a certain word or words, you or the student can highlight the beginning sound(s). 

Highlight the beginning sound

Highlight the beginning blend

Highlight the beginning digraph

If you are not using printable books, you can always use some highlighter tape so you don't mark in the book! This is a simple way to remind students to attend to the beginning sound.

Check out the highlighter tape here!

Pair it with another strategy
Like I posted above, I tend to highlight or have students highlight the initial sound to remind them to attend to it. Sometimes I will pair this strategy with eagle eye. To do this, I will highlight the beginning sound and draw an arrow to the picture. This works well when students are regularly checking the picture and using their eagle eye. 

Looking at the book above, I think this is a great time to use both strategies. Often, students will use their eagle eye to read the final word as "dog" when it is written as "pup." If students do read it incorrectly, I praise them and tell them that they did a great job checking the picture and paying attention to what they are reading. I remind them that we still have to look at the letters in the words along with the picture. From here, I bring their attention to the beginning sound so they can use lips the fish or even begin to stretch out the word, if they are ready for it. It's always an awesome thing to get students using multiple strategies while reading and this is a great way to begin!!

Practice with task cards
To use these task cards, Students will say the first part of the word. Then, they will slide their finger on the arrow to read the rest of the word. They can read the word altogether at the bottom of the card. Includes long vowel words and short vowel words. Grab these printable task cards by clicking here!

Grab a freebie!

Check out one of my previous blog posts to grab this printable so you can remind students to use their strategies! Click here to grab the decoding strategy printable and more!

Read more about the strategies here....

Click the image to check out another blog post

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