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Family Fun Interactive Reading Strategies

Shared Reading

Quick Ways to Include Your Children in Shared Reading

Improve reading for emergent, beginning and conventional readers

Ann Yurcek, Jodee Kulp and Marcia Chambers are offering our 2020-2021 public school Furry The LIttle Penguins That Could curriculum FREE TO FAMILIES during this time of social distancing – SIGN UP TODAY! No strings attached!


Page-turning ideas, you can ask your child to:

  • Signal to turn the page
  • Turn the page
  • Provide the click to change the page
  • Provide the swiping motion.
  • After you have read the story once aloud and talked about the chapter, read the chapter again.
  • When you reach a word you and the child are practicing, keep your finger in place, pause, and allow the child to indicate the word with a sign, blink, click, breath or motion you have selected. Please do not do this with emergent readers as it will confuse their thinking process and the flow of listening to the story.
  • Act out the story as it unfolds and take turns doing what the characters are doing.
  • Pick an empowerment game card (FREE CURRICULUM FOR FAMILIES) Select ‘penguin’ or any other word you choose and say, “Look at this word. I will say the sounds in the word. You can say them in your head. Can you put a picture in your head?” More ideas available:
  • As you read, glide your finger under the word.
  • Provide a penguin as a prop for the child and each time you find the word penguin encourage the child to move the penguin.
  • Focus on Interest. If a chapter in Furry – The Little Penguins That Could pique an interest – take a field trip online to find more books on that subject.

Encouraging families to read together

  • Growing Book By Book offers excellent ideas to share with families. One of Furry’s favorite reading times besides bedtime is the family dinner time. There is even a book club!
  • Listen to audiobooks instead of watching television for a week.
  • Create a family reading time and ask your child’s opinion about what he or she is reading.

Promote and encourage a reading culture in your community.

  • Check out 25 Ideas to Motivate Young Readers – Arrest that book, musical books, stand up – these ideas are worth checking out.
  • Host a “Once a Month Evening Read-In” Choose a book, add some pizza or popcorn.
  • Students can bring Stuffies and wear pjs.
  • Invite parents, community members, local television, author, or local sports figures to be mystery readers.
  • Unveil the book for next month during the read-in.
  • Run a “Get Caught Reading Raffle” – every time a teacher ‘catches’ a student reading the student gets a ticket and goes into the draw for a weekly prize.
  • Have a book drive for your local police station of children’s books so they have a selection of books for children in crisis.
  • Raise money with a Read-a-Thon Instead of spending time selling overpriced fundraising products, students focus on reading. Students commit to completing 10 reading sessions, ranging from 10-30 minutes a day for 10 days. They can choose any book they want to read. Readers build personal Read-a-thon pages that they share with friends and family using social media, email or text. Those friends and family are asked to support the reader by making a one-time online donation.
  • Check out Kids, Communities, and Cops
  • Create an online book club
  • Host a community book swap where every book is free to trade and the remaining books are given to local non-profit, hospital, clinics or other places people may be sitting and waiting.
  • Create an escape place for children to chill out and read when overwhelmed or need a break time.
  • Check out 5 fun ways to get students to read aloud:
  • Download free lessons including a free homework pass
  • Have children join Storybird to write their own books
  • Launch young readers with Reading Rockets
  • Challenged readers check out Learning Ally
  • Join the Little Free Library program. Little Free Libraries inspire a love of reading, build community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. If you have public transportation set up your Little Free Library near the bus or train stop.

Let’s Go!

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Furry the Little Penguin – Shared Reading Curriculum

Developed by Marcia Chambers,
Ann Yurcek, Jodee Kulp, Jeff Peterson, Mac, his friends,
and all the Kindergarten Stuffies.

Read Together with Shared Reading

Furry – The Little Penguins That Could is designed to be a Shared Reading opportunity for children in schools, day programs, and homes. Children learn through play. Furry is playful, can be silly, and meant to be enjoyed. Shared reading creates a sense of togetherness in the classroom or at home. It empowers children to become peers and support partners. Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience that happens when students share reading a book while supported and guided by a teacher, friend, or caregiver.

The “Reader” models reading with expression and fluency. The child connects as he or she communicates with the story. As you will learn in Mac’s life, he connected through a stuffed penguin. Shared reading supports and encourages emerging readers to participate while listening and understanding the story.

The Furry -The Little Penguins That Could Shared Reading Curriculum is designed to enhance the love of reading through listening, playing, and participating with others.

We have worked hard to create a curriculum that includes almost ALL children.

The thirty chapters in this 204-page book stand-alone or can be read together. Each chapter is between 4-15 minutes of reading. Written above the reading level of many 3 to 8-year-olds, shared reading of this 30 chapter, fully illustrated book allows children to participate in a challenging reading experience regardless of ability. Children will get a sense of accomplishment. Main Readers will discover each curriculum chapter is filled with ideas to create a classroom that bridges friendships, promotes acceptance of differences, and includes everyone.

Furry provides chapter videos and links to help the main readers develop skills. We offer creative learning ideas for art projects, listening, talking, singing, movement, and playing games to build a love of reading.

Furry is a true story about a real child.
The story reaches out to all ages and stages of readers.

The Furry curriculum is designed for children ages 3-8 in three developmental reading levels:
1. Emergent readers.
2. Beginning conventional readers.
3. Conventional readers.

Emergent readers are individuals beginning to grasp the basic concepts of book and print.

Shared reading of this book with emergent readers is engaging and multi-sensory. If a child is showing interest, asking a question, or making a statement take the time to engage the child

Emergent readers are encouraged to:

  • Talk about the story.
  • Look and talk about the picture.
  • Enjoy the reading experience.

Emergent readers are learning the alphabet.
Research has shown that learning the UPPERCASE letters first, which have more variation leads to better understanding and allows for the transition to learning lowercase letters while developing many phonological awareness skills. These skills include recognizing phonemes (sounds that each letter makes), syllables, and rhyme. As they progress they begin to learn sound/symbol relationships starting with consonants and short vowels. This is why many emergent reader books contain CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, rhyming words and high-frequency words (Dolch/Fry words).

When searching for books for early emergent readers look for concepts of interest to the person, large print with wider spacing, natural language and picture support of the story. Often these books have carefully controlled text, repetitive patterns, and limited text on a page. Furry – The Little Penguins that Could is an introduction to a larger more robust reading experience to encourage children to develop the love of reading and listening to reading.

Children move towards a more conventional understanding of literacy as they have a means to interact and communicate.
Over time the student knows most of the letters much of the time and actively engages during shared reading.

Beginning conventional readers have a grasp of the alphabet, phonemes, and early phonics.

They also know many high-frequency words. Books for emergent readers will have more lines per page, contain less repetition, patterns, and pictures. Again focus on books that hold the child’s interest to make deeper discoveries and create a love for reading.

Beginning conventional readers may share in some of the reading as they recognize a word, number, or symbol they already know. Recognizing and sharing is a time of celebration for accomplishments.

Furry has created games to play to encourage enjoyment for beginning conventional readers.

Conventional readers are able to read, decode, and write.

Furry’s wish for you is that he and all his friends with their adventures and antics will bring you a joy-filled reading experience. Our team of educators, parents, adults challenged with disabilities, and a curriculum designer have worked tirelessly to bring you an exciting and fun curriculum to include all children.

The chart below has been adapted from the Literacy For All Instructions in Canada – For more information visit:

Download the Curriculum Overview

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Free: Furry Inclusion Valentines

Mackie has his valentines ready for his classroom party. Taking the characters from the story, we made coloring cards with color crayons for his classmates.

Glue Stick
Double Sided Tape
Colored Cardstock or Construction Paper
Hole Punch
Coloring crayon packages
Envelopes- 4.75 in x 6.5 in.

There are four different Valentines on a sheet and a teacher card sheet in the download.

Cut 4.75 inch x 6.5 inch colored cardstock/construction paper backs.
Apply glue to the back sides and center on the colored paper backs.
Use a hole punch to punch two holes if wanted and tie with ribbon.
Have your child sign the back of the valentines before putting on the crayons.

Search Etsy for Children’s Name Stamps

Mackie struggles with writing his name. We purchased a stamp with his name on it for him to be able to “write” his name like his classmates.

Cut apart the Valentines list and glue the names

For kids who struggle writing the names on the Valentines, cut the list into strips and glue them to the envelopes. Accommodation and setting up our kids to be able to do their Valentines for their friends means we have to think out of the box.

Furry has Valentines for his friends!

We even found Valentines for Furry to give the classmates at the Target Dollar Spot. Furry Stretchy Penguins!

Safe treats for everyone!

His teacher reached out to check to see what Mac could have for the party and she is making sure he is included and not left out due to his complex food allergies and intolerances. Due to Mac’s shortened school day, the party is moved to the morning so Mac can be there with his friends. A parent checked in to see what treats he can have and I found Black Forest Organic Valentines Gummy Bears that are dye-free and gluten-free for his friends to put with his Valentines!

Now all that is left is for Mom to make gluten-free Crispie Bars for the classmates and Mac. Planning ahead we are making sure that everyone has a great Valentines Party.

Happy Valentines Day from Mac, Furry and the Friends at the Little School That Could!

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FREE: Furry Inclusion Valentines Instructions

Mackie has his valentines ready for his classroom party. Taking the characters from the story, we made coloring cards with color crayons for his classmates.

Glue Stick
Double-Sided Tape
Colored Cardstock or Construction Paper
Hole Punch
Coloring crayon packages
Envelopes- 4.75 in x 6.5 in.

Download and Print and Cut out the Furry Inclusion Valentines.
Cut 4.75 inch x 6.5 inch colored cardstock/construction paper backs.
Apply glue to the backsides and center on the colored paper backs.
Use a hole punch to punch two holes if wanted and tie with ribbon.
Have your child sign the back of the valentines before putting on the crayons.

Valentine's Day Inclusive Coloring Sheets
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Acceptance Changes Stigma

Furry says, “Let’s Stomp Out Stigma!”

Stigma continues due to a lack of knowledge and awareness about rights, legality and how to empower people with a learning disability.

Stigma and discrimination makes people with a learning disability more prone to lower self-confidence and increased vulnerability (Jahoda and Markova, 2004)

Stigma and discrimination

Beyond school time

  • People in the local area calling them names
  • People in the local area ignoring them
  • Violent physical contact by people in the local area
  • Their parents restricting them
  • Their siblings calling them names

Within school time

  • Being ridiculed/called names by other pupils
  • Violent physical contact from other pupils
  • Being ignored by other pupils
  • Teachers giving unwanted extra help
  • Teachers refusing to help
  • Teachers getting angry about the mistakes they made
  • Being ridiculed by teachers

(Cooney et al., 2006)


  • Cooney, G., Jahoda, A., Gumley, A. & Knott, F. (2006). Young people with learning disabilities attending mainstream and segregated schooling: perceived stigma, social comparisons and future aspirations. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 432-445.
  • Jahoda, A. (1995). Quality of Life: Hope for the Future or an Echo from the Distant Past? In I. Markova and R. Farr (Eds.) Representations of Health, Illness and Handicap (page range). Singapore: Harwood.
  • Jahoda, A. Cattermole, M. & Markova I. (1989). Stigma and the self-concept of people with a mild mental handicap, Journal of Mental Deficiency Research, 32, 103-115.
  • Jahoda, A., Dagnan, D., Jarvie,P., & Kerr,W. (2006). Depression, social context and cognitive behavioural therapy for people who have intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 19, 81-89.
  • Jahoda, A. & Markova, I. (2004). Coping with social stigma: People with intellectual disabilities moving from institutions and family home. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 48, 719-729.
  • Jahoda, A., Trower, P., Pert, C. & Finn, D. (2001). Contingent reinforcement or defending the self? A review of evolving models of aggression in people with mild learning disabilities. British Journal of Medical Psychology


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Craft – Paint a Waddle of Furry Penguin Friends


Special thank you for Chester Zoo
More ideas can be discovered at

To make your own perfect penguin, you are going to need an empty toilet roll.

If you don’t have one right now, maybe wait a few days and keeping checking around the around. One will appear sooner or later! You could also find an empty kitchen roll and just cut it in two. The more toilet rolls you collect, the more penguins you can make. You’re also going to need some black and white paint, a few google eyes, and black and orange paper.

Here is your list

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Google eyes
  • Black paper
  • Orange paper
  • Black paint
  • White paint

Got everything? Let’s get started!

1. Lie your toilet roll flat and draw two straight lines upwards from one edge. Draw a curved line to connect the two straight lines. This is the outline of the penguin’s white tummy fur.

2. For the feet, use a pencil to copy our design (above) on to some orange paper. Then cut them out using scissors.

3. For the beak, draw and cut out a kite shape from the orange paper.

4. Fold over the shorter half of the kite to make the top part of the beak.

5. Cut a pair of penguin flippers out of the black paper. The look a bit like long leaves.

6. Paint the toilet roll body of the penguin, keeping within the lines you drew earlier. Do the black paint first so that you don’t accidentally get any in the white tummy area.

7. Use some glue to stick on the googly eyes and orange beak. For the beak, only put glue on the larger bottom half of the kite shape, so that the top half still folds over.

8. Use the glue again to stick on the flippers and feet. Attach the flippers to the back of the toilet roll so that they point outwards. For the feet, fold over the back of the paper and stick this to the inside of the toilet roll. It’s a lot easier than trying to stick the paper to the thin toilet roll rim!