Prosody Activities & Exercises for Children

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Helping children develop prosody is an important part of teaching them to be strong and self-extending readers. This lesson provides activities and exercises oriented toward prosody development.

Understanding Prosody

As teachers of reading, we are often drawn into a focus on decoding and comprehension, forgetting about fluency and all that goes along with it. Yet without fluency, readers cannot have strong comprehension. One aspect of fluency is prosody (pronounced pros-uh-dee) - or cadence, expression and a sense of poetry - in what we read. Students who read with prosody understand the more nuanced aspects of text and the feelings that can be expressed through reading.

For some students, prosody comes naturally, but others need more explicit practice if they are really to read with cadence and expression. The exercises in this lesson can help children of all ages develop prosody in their reading.

Prosody Activities and Exercises

Poetry Partners and Practice

One of the things that can help children develop prosody is reading the same text multiple times. When students read for the second, third or even fourth time, the pressure to worry about decoding is minimized, and they can focus more intently on how they read.

For this exercise, give your students a short passage or poem to work with. Have them read it once in their minds, then ask them to read it out loud to you individually. Then, pair your students into partnerships. Ask each partner to take a turn reading the same passage out loud again, this time to his/her partner. Finally, bring students together and ask them to articulate what they noticed in their voices and the voices of their partners as they read the same passage for a third time.

Voice Recordings

Sometimes, students do not really know what they sound like when they are reading. However, insight into their own voices can go a long way toward helping them develop prosody.

At the beginning of this activity, ask your students to read a passage or poem silently. Then, have them think about what their voices sounded like 'in their minds' as they read. Talk about expression, mood, cadence and tone.

Next, give students a chance to record their own voices as they read the same passage out loud; have them listen to their own recordings. When you confer with students, ask them how their voices did and did not sound the same as the voices they heard in their minds. Help them reread the passage again with the aim of sounding closer to their imagined versions.

Poetry Party

Reading poetry is a great way for students to develop prosody, as poems build in so many different opportunities for changing tone, expression and cadence. At the start of the activity, provide your students with access to a selection of books, magazines and websites that have age-appropriate poems.

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