I am sure you have many tricks up your sleeve about how to teach 1:1 correspondence (also known as tracking) but I thought I would share what I have found to be very effective in my classroom!
Children must know that one object is one thing before they can understand that one word is a word.
This is such a basic yet important skill.
Before students can read or even have the ability to count objects they need to be able to have 1:1 correspondence.
Making it Fun
I set out four random toys that have nothing to do with each other (pencil, crayon, truck and a car) or that easily contrast each other (crayons of various colors) which the child can easily label or identify.
If you are working with ELL students, make sure it is something they already know the name of so they are not focusing on processing the name of the object.
Students should only be focusing on pointing to an object as they name it.
Introduction & Diagnostic Assessment
While sitting across the table from my student, I place the 4 objects on the table in front with approximately 12″ gaps between them. I ask them to identify what they see to assess what they naturally do on their own.
Most students will do this without touching the objects. Sometimes you will come across a child who will point at the object while identifying it. Either way, praise them. If they are successful the first time I tell them that they may already be experts at the game we are about to play!
“Reading Objects” Lesson
When we start the lesson I tell my students that they are reading and describe how it is exactly how we read words.
“We read from left to right, touch the object we are “reading” and identify what it is.”
Now, correctly model how to identify each object while pointing at each object with 1:1 correspondence. Making sure you are modelling for them the left to right progression to support their basic reading development (which likely will backwards for you).
Next have them do exactly what you just show them and practice repeating this until they have mastered this skill. This is the point where you need to be actively enthusiastic about their correct answers to gain their “buy in” of the activity.
Repetition To Reinforce The Skill
Some students may need to practice this 4 to 5 times a day, for multiple days, until they can do this independently.
Once they can identify the objects, repeat this skill by moving the objects so that they are a few inches closer. If they can transfer their tracking skills in this new situation continue shrinking the space between the objects in small increments, until the objects are essentially a “finger space” away from each other which will represent the space between two words.
I’ll play this with the targeted students a couple times for a couple days, only if needed. Some students will only need to do this activity twice to retain the concept! Obviously, there are students who will need to have this skill reinforced multiple times for them to retain it!
The next step: Introducing words
From here, I introduce simple guided reading books or sight word books which have dots under the letters to reinforce the 1:1 correspondence.
I do not focus whatsoever on any other reading skill or strategy.
The dots help students develop the concept that they need to “bounce” their fingers like a ball from word to word (aka, from one dot to the next) instead of sliding their fingers under the words or placing their fingers in random locations. There are a variety of different books or resources you can get to help support this skill!
If you are interested in what I use in my class you can check these!