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How to Teach One to One Correspondence

One to One Correspondence: Tracking Words

Teaching students how to track words from left to right and use one-to-one correspondence is the first step in teaching them to read. By providing them with the ability to read the correct number of words on a page, we are preventing omissions and additions to sentences. This is the first step you should be taking with non-readers. Welcome to my Teaching Children How to Read Blog Series. This is your first stop!

one to one correspondence


When I first started teaching kindergarten, I quickly realized that I was the sole person responsible for teaching these children how to read. And that’s when the panic set in! Where do you even start? Where is my step-by-step manual? Guess what? There is none! So I buckled down and read every blog post, looked at every teaching manual, and worked my behind off to figure this all out. I’m putting everything I learned and put into practice into a series of blog posts. I’ll break down each strategy and show you how to teach it and examples of ways to practice it.

What is One to One Correspondence?

One to one correspondence is when children say the same number of words that are printed on the page. They understand that printed text and spoken word have a connection.


How Do We Teach Children About One to One Correspondence?

The best way to help our new readers practice tracking words is to have them touch or put a finger under each word as they say it.

To introduce this concept, we practice counting the words on the page. If there are 4 words on the page, then we should only be saying 4 words. Once children understand that connection, we practice touching each word as we say it.

One way to make this fun and engaging is to introduce “Reading Fingers.” Provide a prop to encourage them to track each word. I personally love to use witch fingers as a reminder to touch each word. Eyeball rings are another great option!




Practicing One to One Correspondence in Guided Reading Groups

Small groups and guided reading are a great time to practice tracking words. Using hands-on activities before you jump into reading is the perfect way to practice this skill. I love these Tracking Word Cards.



These cards come in sets that each follow a pattern. There are also picture clues for the words that are not sight words. This allows children to focus solely on practicing one to one correspondence, without having to worry about decoding unknown words. These cards work great for non-readers and children who are reading on a level AA-D.



The dots underneath each word are a great visual to help children with one to one correspondence. Watch as one of my students uses these cards during a guided reading warm-up.

This strategy should be taught first to your non-readers before any other strategy. You can (and should) teach this while teaching also teaching phonics skills (FREE Phonics Pacing Guide HERE).

If you’re looking for some activities to help with this strategy, make sure to grab this resource now!


Up Next-Using Picture Clues


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Hi, I’m Michelle! I’m a teacher, mommy, and curriculum designer from Long Island, NY. I’ve taught both general and special education, with a focus on grades pre-k through first. My passion is hands-on learning, and finding ways to make all things engaging and fun!

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