The new preschool year has just started. Some of you may be thinking, how can I help my child learn to read at home? What are the most important skills they will need for kindergarten? They need to know their letters and the sounds. This is so important and the basis for taking the next step when learning to read. There are so many toys on the market, but how do you know if they are good?
I have rounded up some of my favorite toys to help teach letters and their sounds, also known as phonemic awareness in teacher talk. These toys are a great way to practice and have fun while doing so.
5 Toys to Teach Letters and Sounds
Fridge phonics magnet letter set. This toy was around 12 years ago when my oldest was toddling around, and is still one of the best. It has nice big letters, easy for little hands to grasp. Press the letter and they can hear the sound and how it’s used in a word.
Learn the Alphabet Dough Mats. Kids use dough to form each letter right on the mats. This helps to boost letter recognition & fine motor skills as they create! The set comes with 26 mats.
Alpha Catch Phonics Game. This is a great game to involve some physical activity. You take turns tossing the ball and say the letter or sound, or both! The same idea can be used for sight words.
Uppercase Alphabet and Number Dough Stampers. Kids love playdough. This activity reinforces their letters and numbers, while having them practice fine motor skills. Ask them to find a particular letter, make the sound, make a pattern with two letters, the options are endless.
Alphabet Marks the Spot. The kid alphabet version of Twister! Call a letter or sound, kids run to the spot. Watch them get all twisted up! You would start with letter names, progress to sounds, and then a word that starts with the sound.
This should help on the road to preparing for school. Check out my link on how to encourage reading with your little ones!
I am a reading specialist and special educator by profession. I have spent many years working with small groups of children, trying to encourage them as readers. Most of these children are 2 or more years behind with their reading. As a reading specialist and special educator I have received a TON of training on how to teach reading, how readers learn, and the science of reading. The fact remains that the best way to learn to read, is to develop a love of reading. Today I am going to offer 5 tips to help encourage a love of reading at any age.
- Introduce new and engaging books. Libraries have plenty of choices. But have you thought to look at garage sales, consignment sales, or trading with friends? Try and make a weekly trip to your local library to constantly have a rotating collection of stories.
- Create special experiences that involve reading. My children look forward to Daddy reading time each evening, where they cuddle up in bed and listen to him read a chapter book. My toddler loves when we lay out a quilt and pull up a bin of books to read and look through.
- Children should be encouraged to self select books. Yes, even your toddlers. Keep the books at their eye level, where they can pull books out and decide what they want to look through. Reading should be done both independently and supported. Toddlers learn about concepts such as turning pages, direction of print, by looking through books. It is important to allow toddlers to explore books and develop an interest in reading.
- Children should hear and see a variety of people reading. This includes different members of your immediate household. It also includes other family and friends you may be visiting or trips to the local story time at the library. Children should understand that reading is important to everyone around them.
- Create a special reading nook. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but don’t you love a place to cozy up to a story? Maybe you have a few special blankets to cuddle when reading, or a special little chair next to a basket of favorite books. Make it inviting and comfortable. Check out some of my pins for creative reading areas →
How have you encouraged reading in your home?
The 17th Library of Congress National Book Festival kicks off September 2, 2017 at the Washington Convention Center. This annual festival is an awesome event. If you have never made it downtown with your kids, you should definitely consider going. Meeting your favorite author is pretty special, and you may just get to hug some of your favorite characters.
There is so much to do, and I have created a plan that can help you tackle most of the event.
Follow these 5 tips for a truly spectacular experience:
Once you print out the guide sit down with your child and make a list of your must do activities. You can then add activities that would be nice, but if missed would not cause any extra tears.
Completing a scavenger hunt in any new situation is a fun way to really get the lay of the land. Some things to collect on this scavenger hunt include finding an author from your home state at the Pavilion of States. Another is to find all three Waldo cutouts and then complete a Waldo postcard to enter a contest. Try and find Dog Man, Ned the Newshound, or Clifford the Big Red Dog and snap a picture.
When listening to a favorite author, remember that some do book signings before their talk. Check the schedule. If you are hoping to ask the author a question after the talk, sit near the center aisle. As soon as the talk is finished, get in line for the microphone because they get big quickly.
Play Eye Spy with the official poster
This year’s poster was created by Roz Chast, who is a cartoonist. There are lots of details and it’s fun to try and find some of the sillier ones.
- Find all the books with boots on.
- How many animals can you find?
- How many books do not have any hair?
- How many colors of books are there?
Visit the Pavilion of States
Grab a passport and try to get stamps from each of the states. Along the way learn about some great books from different areas of our country. Collect a prize at the Junior League booth.
Now go print out the guide and make your list.
Check back for Part 2 of this series, with more tips and tricks for the festival.