Tips for reading readiness can make learning letters much easier.  These 10 Tips for Reading with Kids will have your child playing with alphabet activities, playing alphabet games, name games, creating phonemic awareness, writing the alphabet, learning alphabet sounds and generally learning letters! Kids Activities Blog is excited to welcome Mary Catherine from Fun-A-Day as Quirky Momma for the day sharing her tips for reading.

10 Tips for Reading Tips for Reading

    • Read, read, read.  Oh, yes, and read some more!
    • Write, write, write.  Write down the children's dictations about pictures they draw.  Write a class thank you note for a field trip.  Help the children write their names.  Let the children help you write about their art work.  Incorporate writing everyday!
    • Make name kits with the children.  Click here for more detailed information about name kits.
    • Write each child's name on a sentence strip.  Have the first letter in a different color, with the remaining letters written in block (so as to visually highlight the first letter of each name).  In small groups, or as a whole class, you can sort the names based on their first letter, how many letters are in each name, etc.  You can also play games with the names ” have each child hold his name, then call out letters and an action (ex: if your name starts with M, jump up and down ).  More information on name work here.
    • Make a class alphabet book.  Have a page for each letter of the alphabet, with both the uppercase and lowercase letter represented at the top.  Over time, add children's names in the book based on the letters in their names.  For example, my first name is Mary.  So my name would be on the pages for Mm, Aa, Rr, and Yy.alphabet ideas2

Learning Letters

  • Sort magnetic letters with the children.  It sounds so very simple, but it really helps kids to focus on how letters are alike, how they're different, and what shapes they are comprised of.  Ideas on how to sort the letters ” by color, uppercase versus lowercase, letters with holes versus letters without holes, letters with straight lines versus letters without straight lines, etc.
  • Sing songs related to the alphabet.  Yes, of course, the ABC song is a great one to sing, but don't limit it to just that one.  Sing the alphabet to different tunes and  rhythms.  Also, check out people like Dr. Jean and Jack Hartmann.  They have fun, silly songs and dances for the alphabet (as well as many other concepts).
  • Use environmental print.  Have children bring in pictures that represent stores and places around town that they recognize.  This could be cereal boxes, favorite snack boxes, ads from chain stores and grocery stores, pictures of road signs, etc.  These pieces of environmental print could be used for sorting based on initial letters/sounds, and they could also be made into their own bulletin board.  This would be a great resource to refer back to throughout the school day.
  • Have an alphabet chart up for reference.  A good alphabet chart should have the letters in alphabetical order, should have both uppercase and lowercase letters listed, and should have picture cues for each letter.  Refer to the chart when you're reading or writing ( oh, the word ˜run ™ starts just like ˜r-r-rabbit ™! ).  Run through the chart a few times a week, saying the letter names, letter sound, and picture prompt ( A, a, /a/, apple ) ” this shouldn't take but a few minutes.
  • Play games involving letters ” letter bingo, letter matching games, letter memory, name bingo.
Mary Catherine is a Mama to a kindergartener who keeps her on her toes. When she’s not chasing after him she is a teacher, and avid reader.   You can find her blogging at Fun-A-Day!

More Tips for Reading

Learning letters activities and more tips for reading can be found throughout Kids Activities Blog because we are passionate about making learning to read fun.  Here are a few of our favorites…  

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  1. I respectfully disagree, Ms. Larson. Teaching children to read and write needs to be done in a meaningful way, rather than focusing on the minutiae. Phonemic awareness and pencil grip, while important aspects of literacy, are nothing in comparison to understanding that literacy is all around us. Teaching children how literacy impacts them, how writing and reading are interrelated, and how to build upon what they know when learning new literacy skills is vastly more important than focusing only on phoneme segmentation (for example). Research shows that using a meaningful, contextual approach creates stronger readers and writers. Focusing on small skill sets, and only allowing progression once a specific skill has been learned, actually hampers literacy learning.

    For a more in-depth discussion of teaching children about letters, my full post is here (this is the original post upon which this Tips for Reading post was based) —

  2. Reading is certainly a great activity. But for some of the other activities listed here I do question how helpful they in fact are for learning to write and read.

    Basically, writing and reading involves a very specific set of skills–and the best preparatory activities are those that fosters these specific skills in a deliberate, focused way. Here’s a partial list of skills–and Montessori-inspired activities that actually develop them:

    1) Phonemic awareness. This means being able to parse words into their constituting sounds, orally. Here are some ways for helping children, as young as two or three years, develop this skill:
    – Ask: “What sound do you hear at the beginning of Cat?” Response: “c c c” (the letter sound, not “cee”, the letter name!)
    – Play sound I Spy games: put 3-4 small objects into your hand, things you find in the toy drawer, then say “I spot something in my hand (on the mat, on the table) that starts with “c”. Yes: a Cup!

    2) Pencil control. Much writing trouble start because children don’t have the muscle strength to hold a pencil. Coloring exercises, such as the Montessori Metal Insets, are great for improving pencil control directly, in a fun way. But don’t forget about many other activities – transferring water with a dropper, peeling an egg or an orange, sewing are all great for strengthening finger and wrist muscles.

    3) Associating sounds with letter shapes. The most important thing here is to focus on letter SOUNDs, never letter NAMEs: “c-a-t”, read quickly, says “cat”, “cee-aye-kay” never does! In Montessori, three-year-olds trace sandpaper letters while making the sound. This combines motor movement, oral work and visual impressions, and really cements the letter’s shape and sound in their mind.

    4) Learning to form letters. The above exercise in sandpaper letters teaches the hand how to form the letter. We then practice-first on large, unlined chalk boards, then on lined chalk boards, then, finally, on paper. The key is to not trace the letters (worksheets usually do that, and it’s no good); the key is to write them freely, with just visual reference to a model. That way, the hand automatizes the movement–instead of focusing on tracing.

    5) Putting letters together to build words. When children can segment words orally, and have learned to associate shapes and sounds, they can begin to “write” by putting together letters of a moveable alphabet. Four-year-olds in Montessori love, love, love this new power, and write simple, phonetic words with ease.

    Using these Montessori principles, most of our students at LePort Schools begin to write at age four. By age five (before Kindergarten) they write short sentences in cursive, and read simple books; by the end of Kindergarten, most of them are independent readers!

    Some of the activities suggested above are fun–but things like alphabetical order (e.g., the alphabet song, or putting the letters of a child’s name in the booklet by the right letter of the alphabet), or learning letter names (needed for spelling, but not for reading) come much, much later, and (if done out of order) can do more harm than good.

  3. Thanks so much for letting me be a “Quirky Mama” for the day! Love checking out this site for its great resources for kiddos and parents!

  4. I sang a song and played some alphabetical game with my son. He could be read alphabet in 1 month. I know you be a surprised about. But it is true. I think also above other methods suitable for kids to learn.