You won’t regret using wordplay to support your child’s phonemic awareness – good phonemic awareness will help a young child with reading readiness and spelling.
At one of my Parent Education programs at a preschool last Fall, I talked about the importance of helping children to develop phonemic awareness. I explained that, together with alphabet recognition, good phonemic awareness is critically important for young learners. We want children to understand that words are made up of sounds and we’d like them to learn to play with the sounds in words. Developing a good understanding of rhyming is one element of this. Children who ‘get’ the concept of rhyming are gaining phonemic awareness.
After my presentation, one of the moms in the audience told me that she’s been playing, “How’s Your Nose, Rose?” with her young son. The game begins with one of them asking, “How’s Your Nose, Rose?” The other replies with, “How’s Your Back, Jack?” and the game continues until every possible body part rhyme has been exploited; “How’s your toe, Joe?”, “”How’s your arm, Parm?”, “How’s your leg, Peg?”, “How’s your brain, Jane?” etc.
What great fun and what a marvelous learning opportunity; it doesn’t cost a penny, it can be done anywhere, and asking, “How’s your nose, Rose?” just might make waiting in a long line a tiny bit easier. If you have a great idea for an inexpensive, portable reading lesson, I hope you’ll share it with us.
So, how’s your tummy, Mommy?
Be sure to click to visit our Phonemic Awareness page and learn more about this important indicator of readiness for reading and writing
There are many, many ways to support young readers with these free, printable sight words. Homeschoolers, classroom teachers and parents will love using them with beginning readers.
We want all readers to aquire the skills they need to decode unfamiliar words so that most words become sight words. This aspect of learning to read is also referred to as aquiring ‘Instant’, ‘Whole’, ‘Look & Say’, ‘Dolch’, &/or ‘High Frequency’ words.
We know readers with large sight word vocabularies read more rapidly and more fluently than readers whose sight word vocabularies are small. It is logical that a reader who is able to ‘instantly’ recognize and understand the words he or she reads, will be faster and more fluent than a reader who must often pause in order to decode unfamiliar words.
We also know that some English words are not appropriate for ‘sounding out’ – they occur much too often and are not necessarily phonetic (for example ‘there’ does not sound anything like /t/+/h/+/e/+/r/+/e/).
Our free early literacy printables, including our sight word printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already have Adobe Reader, you will need to download it to access the printable sight words.
On our “Printables” page you will find links to printable sight words, that is, lists of high frequency words. We also refer to these as whole words. We have organized the sight words in groups of ten (per page) and a total of sixty sight words per link. (#1-60, 61-120, 121-180 & 181-240). Here is a shortcut…
The printable lists can be used for flash cards (I don’t call them ‘flash cards’ with children. I prefer something a bit zippier) but the real fun is in finding creating ways to introduce these words and make them ‘instant.’
There are dozens of ways to make learning sight words fun – especially if you have access to colored paper, attractive stickers, cardstock and/or file folders. Adding authentic game pieces (like dice, markers, spinners, and penalties (for example “go back two”) will help to engage your child in the activities. In all likelihood, he or she will be glad to help you create board games, memory games, special tic tac toe squares or bingo cards.
Note, we also have sight word dominoes, practice sentences and special PDFs (i.e. seasonal, vehicles, and activity-related sight words) that include words and pictures.
If you are helping a child learn to read, this simple trick might be the easiest way to decide if the chapter book is a good match for his or her reading level
Ask your child to read a page aloud. Each time he struggles with a word, he should raise one finger. If he raises five or more fingers per page, the book is too difficult. However, if he raises fewer than five fingers, the book is probably a good choice.
Ideally, we would like our children to choose books the same way Goldilocks would; we’d like them to select books that are ‘just right’ rather than ‘too difficult’ or ‘too easy.’ Having said that, ‘easy’ can be relaxing – a bit like browsing through a magazine – something we all enjoy doing from time to time.
Remember, if a chapter book is too difficult for your child to read independently, it might be a perfect choice for you to read aloud to your child.
When your child gets stuck on an unfamiliar word, here are some strategies we’d like her to use…
Begin by using the first letter(s) as a clue, then move further into the unfamiliar word. Try to “sound out” the word and then blend the sounds together.
Look at the pictures for clues. Especially in books for early readers, the pictures are intended to help tell the story.
Look at the “chunks” within the unfamiliar word. Perhaps part of the word is known and can act as a clue.
Consider what is happening in the story and what decide what might make sense.
Go back and read the sentence (or even the paragraph) from the beginning. Think about the story and what decide what might fit.
Listen to the words and decide if they sound ‘right.’
As a teacher and a mom, I want to see kids succeed. I want to see them achieve success and push past it to the next level, particularly in reading. When getting kids to fall in love with reading you have to keep a couple things in mind:
a) You have to (help them) find books that interest and appeal to them
b) You need books that they can read and understand independently without frustration
Once you have done both of these things, the chances of success in reading, and in turn, the love of reading, increase greatly. My favourite moment is when it clicks~ they understand what they are reading and they want to read more. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch our eight year old develop not only a love of reading and books, but to become a strong reader. However, she is now reaching a difficult stage; one I didn’t expect to encounter even though I have watched her excel in reading. What happens when children know what interests them but what they are capable of reading academically and independently surpasses what they should be reading emotionally?
Striving for independence, my daughter recently convinced me to let her go to our school book fair alone, with her own money to make her own choices (By on her own, I mean I didn’t go into the book fair with her but since I work there, I was close by). When she showed me what she had chosen, I knew I was stuck with a dilemma. She had chosen a book that dealt with adolescent friendship, middle school, and a crush on a boy. She used my ‘a/b’ theory and found something that appealed to her and was within her reading range. For some kids though, like my daughter, what she is able to read and what she should be reading are two entirely different things.
While we are ecstatically proud that she is reading at a grade six level in grade two, it does present some problems, even if the grade level and ability level gap is smaller. An author’s goal is to speak to their audience; to engage and captivate them. They build their plots and characters based on their (anticipated) audience. Therefore, an author writing books for the typical grade two/three student would appeal to their developmental stage. Some great books in this age range (at least for my girls) are theDaisy Meadows Rainbow Fairies collections, the Nancy Drew Clue Crew series, or the Bailey School Kids. These books appeal to this audience with their age appropriate characters solving problems, working on mysteries, and going up against mythical or magical figures. In grades two and three, the problems our kids are facing (hopefully) include getting out for recess fast enough, snagging one of the three skipping ropes available, or not being it for tag. It’d be nice if problems could stay this simple, but they don’t and as kids mature, so do the books that appeal to them.
A grade six student, by contrast, is caught up in an entirely different world that includes best friends that come and go, crushes on boys, and dealing with self-image. Accordingly, books that appeal to this age range deal with these issues. Coming of age classics like Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume perfectly highlight some of the trials girls this age face. And while I truly want my daughter to read these books, or even the one she chose from the book fair, I’m not ready for her to wonder about these ‘issues’. So, I’m faced with deciding whether or not to let her read books past her maturity level to accommodate her ability level.
I suppose it’s like anything else with parenting; I take a look at her choices and make the best judgement call I can. For me, I’m hoping that keeping the conversation doorway open is the answer to finding balance. Discussing what your child is reading is a key to helping them develop as fluid readers. So, while I don’t want her to have a crush on a boy, I’m fine (so far) with explaining what it means and talking to her about the issues her characters are facing. Perhaps it’s a plus that right now she’s hooked on the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about any boys from the Underworld popping up with their three headed dog any time soon.
If you are playing around with Hink Pinks, the answer is a funny bunny.
Solving and making up Hink Pink riddles will help your child to develop phonemic awareness and, since phonemic awareness is a key to reading success will bolster early reading and spelling.
So, here are some Hink Pinks for you to try…
an overweight kitten
a very large hog
a damp dog
a large stick
a disappointed father
being startled by a grizzly
a turquoise sandle
what rabbits use to pay for things
24 hours without any work
mama bear massages her baby
use one to catch your goldfish
crimson sheets and blankets
rockers at the beach
And here are the solutions
an overweight kitten (fat cat)
a very large hog (big pig)
a damp dog (wet pet)
a large stick (big twig)
a disappointed father (sad dad)
being startled by a grizzly (bear scare)
a turquise sandle (blue shoe)
how rabbits pay for things (bunny money)
24 hours without any work (play day)
mama bear massages her baby (cub rub)
use one to catch your goldfish (pet net)
rosy sheets and blankets (red bed)
rockers at the beach (sand band)
Following these steps when your child is a beginning reader will help him to become fluent and will enable you and your child to enjoy the learning to read experience together.
Click on the book covers for our post about using word families with a beginning reader.
1. Make reading part of every day. Without exception. Committing to share this special time with your child each and every day will help your child to see reading as valuable. Have your child read to you and make sure that you continue to read aloud to your child.
Remember: becoming a great reader requires practice and some children need more practice than others do. Don’t despair when reading doesn’t happen quickly or easily, learning to read is like learning to ride a bike or becoming a swimmer. If you choose to make reading a priority, your efforts will be rewarded.
2. Keep the read aloud experience happy, relaxed and comfortable. Cozy up near a good light and enjoy a snuggle. If your child is too tired to read aloud, let it go (for one day) and spend a couple of extra minutes reading aloud to her.
3. Help your child to find appealing books to read. Be sure to check out the selection at your public library or stop by your child’s classroom for suggestions. Do your best to find books that are “just right” for your child. You will be better at evaluating books than your child is so take an active role in assessing the level of difficulty.
In my experience, some of the “best” books are the ones that other children recommend. Positive “word of mouth” advertising can be a great motivator for a young reader.
4. Celebrate your child’s success with reading. Being able to read twenty words or a chapter book is a big deal! How about celebrating with a book worm cupcake or a trip to the library or a special bookmark or a new bookshelf? Perhaps the readers in your household are allowed to stay up fifteen minutes later than the non readers…
5. Remain patient and supportive. When your child encounters a tricky word, help with some strategies. If your child can’t manage the word, tell her the word and move on.
Here are five ways to help your child gain familiarity with printed language
1. Encourage your child to be the page turner when you read aloud to her.
2. Ask your child to hold the book while you enjoy it together.
3. When reading aloud, point to some of the words or trace from left to right as your read. Watch for books that use interesting fonts to express emotion – encourage your child to read exciting words (like ABRACADABRA or FEE FI FO FUM) with you.
4. Explore the world of environmental print. Encourage your child to notice lists, labels, packaging, signs, menus, mail, newspapers and magazines. Help your child to notice the many ways you use print: checking instructions for medication, reading a recipe, laughing at a comic in the newspaper, assembling a toy or learning a new game.
5. Make a mistake and see if your child corrects you. Hold a book upside down or try to read it from back to front.
Picture books that promote print awareness
Exclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld Picture Book that promotes print awareness published by Scholastic Press
Exclamation Mark is just not like anyone else. As much as he’d like to look the same, he’s always a standout in a crowd.
He was confused, flummoxed, and deflated.
He even thought about running away..
Clever wordplay and fun, expressive illustrations will captivate children old enough to understand punctuation and the important role it plays in our language. Older readers will enjoy the double entendre and will celebrate Exclamation Mark’s voyage of self discovery.
Why oh why is he different? He wants nothing more than to look just like the periods around him. It is only when Question Mark arrives on the scene that Exclamation Mark discovers something deep within – he discovers why and how he has an important role to play – despite his rather unique upright appearance.
An outstanding 2013 picture book, Exclamation Mark is highly recommended for readers aged five years and up.
Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin Picture Book that promotes print awareness published by Simon and Schuster
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a fun story that does a great job of introducing print awareness. The story draws the reader’s attention to letters and words and one way of conveying messages. As well, Farmer Brown’s body language is great to watch. The illustrations in the story encourage children to “read between the lines.”
A 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a terrific book for children aged three years and up.
Those of us who “know” picture books are very familiar with the wordless and almost wordless variety. I’m not convinced, however, that “non bookies” are aware of the genre or that they understand the important role a wordless picture book can play in early literacy.
Wordless picture books “tell” a story using illustrations only. They encourage active participation and, as a result, are super for stimulating language development. Wordless picture books also move children and adults to a level playing field; a young child is equally able to “read” a well-designed story because there are no words to be decoded. A wordless picture book is great for multilingual families because stories can be discussed in any language. Perhaps most importantly, wordless picture books provide a great platform for story retelling. A youngster who enjoys a wordless picture book with an adult, should be encouraged to retell the story, using his own words, to another adult – a great way to improve the child’s ability to retell a story and thus helping to prepare the child for formal reading instruction.
Every kindergarten and early primary classroom ought to be stocked with some wordless picture books. Here is a brand new title you will want to consider: A Ball for Daisy – created by Chris Raschka Wordless picture book published by Schwartz and Wade Books, an imprint of Random House
Have you ever suffered the loss of favorite toy? Perhaps it was broken beyond repair? Daisy is an adorable little dog, oozing with personality. She loves her beautiful red ball. Daisy kicks it and bounces it and snuggles with it on the sofa. One day, while enjoying a walk, Daisy encounters a doggy friend who is too exuberant and accidentally punctures the red ball. Daisy is inconsolable; she can’t believe what she sees and she tries everything to make her red ball whole again. Unfortunately, the ball has been destroyed.
Thankfully, Daisy’s friend understands her distress and, when she next visits the park, a lovely new blue ball is waiting. Breezy, bright illustrations, perfect for sharing with a group, guide readers (and non “readers”) through A Ball for Daisy.
Raising a child who reads well and loves to pick up a book is a team effort. Parents can support young readers’ and writers’ formal learning by being involved and enthusiastic, providing encouragement and tools. Here are some ways you can help set the stage for reading success.
Download a free, printable PDF of this information
• Be a reader and a writer – make sure your children see you reading books for pleasure and information as well as writing letters or making lists.
•Read aloud to your children every day – even once they have learned how to read. Make it a priority to find great articles and engaging books to share with your family.
• Be flexible. Read when, where and how it suits your child. If your child won’t sit still, it is okay to play quietly or color a picture while listening.
• Write silly notes to your children. Print out riddles and add them to a lunch bag or hide them under a pillow.
• Have Grandma or Grandpa send emails, encourage your child to reply.
• Try a new recipe, read a map, solve a mystery, check out the comics or learn magic tricks together. Help your child realize the value of being a good reader.
• Hook your child with wonderful series booksor look for more books by a favourite author or illustrator.
• Encourage your child to notice and readenvironmental print(stop signs, entrance, exit, push and pull signs as well as labels on groceries or names of familiar stores).
• Listen to your children when they read (or when they pretend to read). Offer lots of encouragement to readers and writers of every age.
• If possible, have a basket of books, a well-placed reading light and a comfortable chair inviting young readers to curl up and enjoy a story.
• Keep writing implements; coloured pencils, erasers, rulers and paper handy. A stapler is also great for children who want to make their own books.
• Visit your public library regularly. Encourage your children to borrow fiction and non fiction books.
• Get to know your child’s school librarian and make sure the librarian knows your child’s ability and interests.
• Explore your community with your child. Background experiences help readers to understand. A child who has been to an aquarium or a farm will make connections when reading about sea creatures or baby piglets.
• Ask for recommendations and suggestions. Most libraries have lists of book recommendations. Check with friends and teachers and look at our picture book and chapter book recommendations. If you need help, send an email. We will gladly give you suggestions.
When your beginning reader is faced with a new word to read, here are six ways she can approach it
(1) Sound it out. Have the beginning reader say each letter sound and “mush” the letter sounds together until they make a word.
/c/ — /a/ — /t/
/c/ – /a/ – /t/
/c/ /a/ /t/
(2) Use the first letters as hints and then guess. The farmer drove the /t/. Your child might guess ‘truck’ or ‘tractor’ – either of these words will probably fit within the context of the story. If your child guesses ‘tiger’ or ‘trampoline,’ we would want to ask if the word really makes sense.
(3) Look at the pictures for clues. This approach might mean a child substitutes “kitten” for “cat” or “bike” for “bicycle.” A mistake like this does not change the meaning significantly. The word the child ‘reads’ still works within the context of the story.
(4) Read the sentence again. Sometimes backing up will help a child gain momentum and get over the hurdles.
(5) Skip the mystery word and continue reading. Once your child has read further, the mystery word may become obvious
(6) Ask someone for help. Usually when a young reader asks me for help, I simply provide the word. I really do not want to ruin a great story for the sake of one or two words.
If you are a parent who is working with a beginning reader, it may be tempting to correct every mistake he or she makes. However, especially with a beginning reader, as parents, we need to be cautious about our demands. We need to take a non judgemental, supportive approach and avoid having our child embarrassed by his or her mistakes. Our role is to be cheerleaders. Our job is to applaud and encourage success and to provide assistance when needed. In fact, one might say that our job is to be like a family pet. We should sit happily with the child and wag our tails from time to time. If we can resist correcting our child, our child will reap the benefits provided by Reading Education Assistance Dogs.
Reading comprehension – ensuring that readers understand
We help our children to learn letters and then letter sounds. We sit with them while they read their first words and we share their excitement as they become readers. As this amazing transformation takes place, we should remember the goal of reading: comprehension. It is not enough to be able to read words, readers must be able to understand the words they are reading.
If you are helping a beginning reader, these ideas will be of assistance to you and your child.
Often with beginning readers, there is alot of emphasis on having the child read aloud to an adult. Sometimes teachers will even assign “Home Reading (aloud)” homework. The fact is that some children don’t want to read aloud to an adult. They may worry about making mistakes and feeling “exposed.” If your child doesn’t want to read aloud to you, suggest that she read aloud to a favourite doll or teddy bear or even the family dog. There was a study, not long ago, that found reading aloud to a dog was effective in improving reading skills.
I also want to mention that parents should continue to read aloud to children long after they learn to read for themselves. So, don’t stop reading aloud just because your child has started to read. Hearing you read more challenging stories will encourage them to improve their own reading skills. We want them to have an appetite for more difficult books and an appreciation for the amazing stories that are available to good readers.
Click on the book covers for more information about each book and follow this link for more information about Beginning to Read.
Anyhow, back to the “plan” for helping a beginning reader…
Choosing a book is alot like tasting porridge. We don’t want a book that is too difficult and we want to move past the ones that are too easy. We want a book that is “just right.” Some people suggest using The Rule of Five. If your child has difficulty with five or more words on a page, have your child choose a different, easier book to read. Then, offer to read the “too tough” book aloud so your child has the opportunity to enjoy it.
Keep in mind that just because a book is labelled “level 3,” does not mean that the level of difficulty is consistent with other books with the same label. Take time to check out the text.
Once your child has selected a book, talk about the cover. What sort of story will it be? Does this cover remind you of anything else we’ve read? Who wrote the book? Who illustrated it? Previewing a book can help boost comprehension and critical thinking.
If the book is non fiction (a fact book), ask your child what he hopes to learn and what he already knows about the subject. Warm up the book.
Decide how best to share the book… does your child want to read it silently and then aloud? would your child like you to read together with him? will you alternate pages or paragraphs? or will your child read the passage and then listen while you reread it? Please keep in mind that some memorizing and guessing is “normal.”If your child makes a mistake or gets mixed up, pause and give him a chance to self correct. If he can’t solve the problem, suggest that he try to read it again or read to the end of the sentence and decide which word would make sense.
If your child makes a mistake that does not make sense, ask him, “Did that make sense? Did it sound right?” If he tries twice but can’t decode the word, tell him the correct word.
If possible, as you are reading together, pause to discuss what is happening, what might happen next, how the story might end.
Remember, your praise is incredibly important to your child. There are all sorts of things you can say to a beginning reader
“I loved your expression when you read that story.”
“I’m so glad you are checking out the pictures for clues about this story.”
“I like the way you figured out that tough word.”
“I’m glad you asked me to help you read that tricky word.”
“I am so proud of your reading!”
Keep in mind that your child does not have to read perfectly. If she substitutes a word and the sentence still makes sense, ignore the mistake and let her continue. If she makes a mistake and the sentence does not make sense, wait for the sentence to end and then ask, “Does that make sense?” Encourage her to correct her own mistakes.
My advice is to relax. Learning to read is not a race and becoming an early reader does not ensure a love of books. Reading is like so many other milestones in childhood. Some children become readers quickly and almost effortlessly, while others require encouragement and lots of extra help. Your child will become a reader – I am sure of it – and, if you can keep the experience positive, relaxed and happy, I believe you will be playing a critically important part in raising your child to love to books and reading.
Please share your ideas, questions and suggestions about helping a beginning reader.
The process of learning to read begins long before children begin kindergarten. Learning to read begins when children are babies.
Very young children love to learn new words and they especially like to use their voices to play with sounds. When spending time with very young children, chatting, sharing rhymes and reading aloud all contribute to reading readiness. If we take time to examine what we would like youngsters to know before they start kindergarten, we will be guided in our choices about stories to share and the importance of engaging young children in conversation and wordplay.
Our free early learning printables, including our nursery rhyme and alphabet printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.
Before starting kindergarten, we would like children to know some nursery rhymes. Why not use our printable nursery rhymes or visit your public library and borrow a nursery rhyme book or two? Here are our free downloads:
Hey Diddle Diddle
Traditional English nursery rhyme that includes repetition, rhyming and imagery.
Traditional English-language nursery rhyme. Usually includes an anthropomorphic (possessing human traits, emotions) egg.
Jack and Jill
Traditional English-language nursery rhyme. Includes alliteration and rhyming.
Little Boy Blue
Traditional English-language nursery rhyme featuring alliteration and rhyming.
We would also like youngsters to know how to re-tell a favorite story. I suggest ‘reading’ wordless picture books with your child and then ask her to re-tell the story. Dinner table conversation can also be an opportunity to share stories. As well, rides in the car are a great opportunity for storytelling.
Also, before beginning school, we would like to children to understand that when we read a story, it is very much like being able to see the same words we speak
Hopefully, before starting school, children to know some or even most of the letters of the alphabet. You will find lots of free, printable alphabets on this site for children who are learning to read. Use the alphabets to create matching and memory games, or an alphabet strip or spell your child’s name with them.
A Brush Stroke Alphabet
A printable brush stroke alphabet - great for children who are learning letters. This alphabet can be used in a variety of ways: create an alphabet ‘strip’ or cut the letters apart, mix and then put in ABC order. Or, print two sets, cut apart and create an alphabet memory/matching game.
A Marching Alphabet
A free, printable marching-theme alphabet for preschool, homeschool, kindergarten.
Ideally, children beginning kindergarten should understand that letters each have at least one sound associated with them. Help your child to learn this by explaining the sounds made by “P,” “F,” “M” and “S” because these sounds are very distinctive.
We’d also like children who are learning to read to understand that books written in English are read from front to back and pages written in English are read from left to right. When enjoying a read-aloud, talk with youngsters about the cover and the spine of a book. Notice whether a book is a paperback or hardcover and point out a book jacket if there is one. Ask your child to open the book and find the title page. Remember to look for information about the author and/or the illustrator. Once you start to read aloud, casually point out the words you are reading and move your finger from left to right as you read a story.
Usually when I read a book that uses LARGE, BOLD letters for some especially great words, I make a point of repeating the best passages and I encourage my audience to “read” the words with me when I read them a second (or third) time!
Note: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.
Here is a fun, easy-to-make activity for learning letters. Check out your neighbourhood dollar store for seasonal banners. The two I found are each nearly three feet long. They each have a series of Easter bunnies on them. The first one I prepared, was for children who are learning letters. I added alphabet stickers and laminated it.
Have a child gently grip one end of the banner, close their eyes and say, “Go, go, go, STOP!” As the child says, “Go, go, go,” slide the banner through their fingers. When they say, “STOP,” ask them to open their eyes and read the letter on the nearest bunny. For older children, make it more difficult by asking them to read the letter and say a word that starts with it.
For children who can read, print words on the bunnies. I used the “ot” family for my bunnies and carrots banner.
Borders and trims will also work well. Here are some examples that could be cut and laminated.
For all sorts of printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn letters, be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.
Follow this link to our Spring and Easter theme printables for preschool and kindergarten
Our early literacy printables, including our learning letters printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.
Some of our Most Popular Alphabet Recognition Posts
Hover over the photo for a description of the activity. Click on the photo to read the full post
We invite you to follow Storytime Standouts’ Alphabet Craft Board on Pinterest
Here are our answers to 10 frequently asked questions about reading aloud to children.
Simply put, reading aloud to your children will positively effect them for the rest of their lives.
Reading aloud and sharing wonderful stories will make them laugh (and cry), expand their vocabulary, broaden their view of the world, teach them lessons, prepare them for formal reading instruction and create long lasting memories.
Here are my answers to ten frequently asked questions about reading aloud to children…
When should I start reading to my baby? Some people would say, “Start while the baby is still in the womb.” For me personally, I think six months is a good age. Ideally, starting to read to your child should happen before the baby is really mobile. Snuggle up and enjoy a couple of board books every day.
When can I stop reading to my child(ren)? My personal opinion is that you should continue reading aloud daily to your children (at least) until they are teens. We know that as children get older, the words, paragraphs and chapters become longer, there are fewer illustrations and the content is often more complex. If you continue to read to your child – even after he becomes an independent reader – you and he can enjoy books that are too challenging for him to read independently. This provides great motivation for him to continue reading
Who should read aloud to our children? Everyone! I would love to have parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts and uncles read aloud to children. Each adult can bring something special to the read aloud and/or storytelling experience. For boys, it is very valuable to have a male role model for reading. I know of one family where Dad reads the stories while Mom sits nearby and enjoys her own book. This is great for the children to observe.
What if my child won’t sit still for a story? Hearing the story is more important that sitting still for the story. Allow your child to bathe or color or bounce a ball while you read aloud.
My child wants to hear the same story over and over again… I’m bored. What should I do? Read your child’s favorite story and then offer an incentive to listen to something different… “We can turn the light out now and you can go to sleep OR you can stay up late tonight and hear this new story!” My prediction is 9/10 children will want to stay up late to hear a new story.
I have two children, aged six and three. Can I read the same stories to them or do they each need their own stories? Ideally I would try to read stories to each BUT that may only be possible occasionally. Just do your best.
What if a book includes a word or idea that I object to? Rather than avoid the book altogether, use this as an opportunity to explain your objection to your child. Books can be great springboards for frank discussions about behavior, language and more.
My child likes those puzzle books but I find them really boring. What’s the point of those books? I Spy, Spot Seven, Can You See What I See? – type books help your child to notice small details and will also introduce new vocabulary. Enjoy in moderation.
Some of these fairy tales can be awfully scary… Is it okay to read them to my child? You’re right, witches and potions and monsters can be scary. Be guided by your child. If your child wants to hear you read a scary story, trying it while sitting comfortably with you enables them to enjoy a shiver of excitement in a safe setting, One of my fondest camping memories involves a campfire, a book of ghost stories and a flashlight!
English is not my first language. I am uncomfortable reading English to my children. What should I do? Books on tape or CD could help you and your child enjoy books together. Look for these at your local library. While you are at the library, find out about storytimes, many libraries offer several opportunities for children to hear stories read aloud. Wordless and almost wordless picture books may also be a good choice for you and your child. Finally, you will spend many years encouraging your child to try new things – I would encourage you to try reading at least one book to your child every day even though you may make mistakes.
A quick post to highlight the new, free word family printables offered on this site…
Our early childhood literacy printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already have Adobe Reader, you will need to download it to access the word family printables.
Please note: some of our early childhood literacy printables, including these printables are available to Storytime Standouts members only. To become a member of the website, please click on the “Members” tab and register as a user.
In today’s Beginning to Read class we read City Signs. This is a great book to share with four and five year olds, particularly youngsters who are anxious to read. City Signs is a series of photographs that each include at least one word. The word is shown in context so young “readers” can use their detective skills to make an educated guess about the word. Some of the words are unmistakeable: ambulance, ice cream, life guard, horses. Other words are somewhat trickier: litter and supermarket both challenged the group I was with this afternoon.
For children who are desperate for reading success, looking for environmental print and encouraging them to read “EXIT,” “PUSH,” “BUS STOP” and “STARBUCKS” can be a real confidence builder.
Our free #1 Environmental Print printable for young children
There are all sorts of ways we can help children to read unfamiliar words. When children struggle to decode an unfamiliar words, here are some strategies to suggest.
Picture Clues – Almost all books for beginning and emergent readers are generously illustrated. We want children to “read” the pictures and use what they see in the illustrations to help them read the text. Encourage your child to look at the illustrations and see if there are clues in the illustrations that can help. Remember, even before children start reading independently, we can pause to discuss and investigate illustrations for story clues. We can encourage children to think about the relationship between the illustrations and the text. Wordless picture books are a great resource for pre-readers and children who are beginning to read. They offer opportunities to practice reading and interpreting illustrations.
Blending Letter Sounds – Many of the words that children encounter in books for beginning readers can be decoded by “sounding out.” Encourage your child to begin with the sound made by the first letter in the word. Continue with subsequent letters and sounds. Finally, mush the sounds together until they blend. Note: we can help children to learn this skill (before they start reading or once they have begun to read) by giving them sounds to mush or blend together. For example, “Blend these three sounds and tell me what word they make /c/ /a/ /t/.”
Using Word Chunks – Some words that beginning readers encounter will have familiar parts or chunks. A child may be able to use his knowledge of other words to identify chunks within a new word. If your child can read “dog,” he should be better able to decode “hog.” Familiarity with word families and rhyming words supports this approach.
Context Clues -Some sentences and paragraphs provide clues about words that might make sense. For example, if a child encounters this sentence: The brown dog jumped up and _______. If the first letter in the unknown word is “b,” what might be a logical guess? Keep in mind that sometimes a child uses clues and makes a logical guess that is not correct. For example and child might substitute “house” for “home.” When a child makes a guess that is logical (given the clues) but incorrect, we usually would not interrupt his reading to correct the mistake.
Some more of our posts about reading and learning to read…
As adults, we tend to think of reading, learning to read and learning to write as a book-based or pencil-based exercise. Keep in mind that children learn in a variety of ways and providing tactile* experiences is one way to help your child to learn letters of the alphabet kinesthetically.
As part of the letter-learning experience, try the following…
Encourage your child to build letters. She could use Lego,K’nex,Tinkertoy,Craft Sticks, or Pipe Cleaners. Building letters will help your child to notice how letters are alike and different. It will help your child to notice that letters can be round or straight – or a combimation of round and straight.
Have your child make letters in sand, mud or shaving cream. Drawing the alphabet in thick, interesting textures will add an extra dimension to the learning process.
Use Masking Tape or Sidewalk Chalk to make giant letters in side or outside. Walk, hop or skip the alphabet. Movement is another way to reinforce learning and it’s fun!
Have your child sort magnetic (or other 3-D) Letters. Make three groups: letters that are made up of only straight lines (M,X,I), letters that are made up of only curvy lines (S,O,C) and letters that are made up of a mix of straight and curvy lines (B,D,J). An alphabet sorting activity like this can be done long before children know letter names or sounds.
Remember, children learn in a variety of ways. Providing tactile* experiences makes for fun play and an opportunity to boost letter recognition.
Note: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.
If your refrigerator is dotted with magnetic letters, you’ll want to try one or more of these activities with your child…If your fridge is not covered with magnetic letters – a tray and plastic letters should work fine.
Ask you child to sort the letters by shape: those with curvy lines (letters S, C, etc.) , straight lines (letters H, I, K, etc.) and a mixture of curvy and straight lines (letters B, D, P, etc.) This will draw your child’s attention to how letters are alike (and different)
Play ‘I Spy With My Little Eye.’ Give your child clues: ‘I spy a letter that has just one curvy line and no straight lines.”
Use the magnetic letters to print a word on the fridge. Ask your child to point to the first letter in the word and name it, the middle letter in the word and so on. Once you have talked about the word, scramble the letters and have your child put them back together in the right order.
Ask your child to put the letters in ABC order or redro sdrawkcab CBA .
For a child who is reading three and four letter words, use the magnetic letters to print a word like ‘CAT.’ Substitute other consonants at the beginning of the word (B,F,H,M,P,R,S) or at the end of the word (B,N,P,R). Nonsense words are okay, too. Ask your child to read each of the new words.
For a child who is reading three and four word sentences, have your child read a sentence and then scramble the letters or the words. Have your child put it back together in the right order.
Challenge your older child to solve a melubj (jumble).
I’m sure there are many more ways to play and learn with magnetic letters. Please share your ideas!
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