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Entries in phonemic awareness (2)


7 Activities That Support Emerging Reading Skills


Today I’m talking about ways you can work your child who is just starting to learn to read—things you can do at home to provide a solid foundation for becoming an independent reader.  Knowledge of letter names and sounds, phonological awareness and phonemic awareness are among the many skills needed to begin reading independently and these tasks support those skills.

1. The game Boggle Junior is a great one for learning to spell and sound out simple words. 

2. Mo Willems' Cat the Cat and Elephant and Piggie are both excellent series for beginning readers.  Some of the words in the series will be difficult for a first-time reader to decode, but there are still a lot opportunities to practice reading simple first words in both series.  For sight words, try a series like Bob Books.  You can do repeated readings with you reading the book out loud with your finger pointing to each word as you read, then have your child follow along with her finger as you read.  For a list of books for beginning readers, head over to this post.

3. Later you can try simultaneous reading (you and your child reading the sentences together in unison) as they become more familiar with the texts of the books you're reading on a regular basis.  

4. Later you can have your child point out individual words that you say (e.g., "Find the word 'dog' and put your finger on it."  "Can you find a word that starts with "b?"). 

5. You can work on some phonemic awareness like blending and segmenting (which are some of the more important ones) with the words from the books.  An example of blending would be "What word am I saying? C - a - t."  Later they become more familiar with the words, you can do segmenting, e.g., "Tell me all the sounds in the word 'cat.'"  You can use manipulatives (like blocks) to represent each sound to provide support.  

6. Joint writing (writing words, phrases and sentences together) also hugely supports pre-literacy skills.  Draw pictures along with what you write to support reading comprehension.  

7. And one last thing, making sure that you're reading rich children's picture books with good writing in them and having conversations about them every day goes a long way in supporting budding reading skills.

Check out other my other posts about how to work on phonemic awareness and early reading skills here.


getting ready for reading

Alphabet blocks like Land of Nod's Nod blocks can help in teaching not only letter names, but phonemic awareness and letter-to-sound correspondence.  Children need numerous exposures to print and letters in order to lay the foundation for reading.  Alphabet blocks are one way to expose children to alphabetic concepts and phonemic awareness.  Each block also helps to reinforce the concept that one letter represents one sound.  

Here is a simple and quick activity you can do with your preschooler who is starting to learn the alphabet and letter sounds.   Put some stuffed animals, animal figurines or pictures of animals in a bag and have the alphabet blocks ready and off to the side.  Have your child pull out an animal from the bag and then place three letter blocks, one being the actual letter that the name of the animal starts with and two other random letters.  For example, if your child pulls out a cat, you say, "What letter does 'cat' start with?  C-c-cat.  C, N or E?"  Have your child choose the correct letter (with help if needed).  Later, spell out the whole name of the animal and read it with your child so that s/he can get used to what that word looks like and also so that your child can start to learn that one letter stands for one sound.  You can repeat these steps with the other animals.  Later, you can use alphabet blocks to help teach blending and segmenting (pre-reading skills taught in kindergarten).  There are so many good uses for alphabet blocks!  They are an essential tool for play and learning in these early years.

Joint writing on a regular basis is also very important for early literacy development.  You and your child can draw simple pictures of animals and write words below.

Two engaging and fun iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps for learning letters and phonemic awareness are Duck Duck Moose Reading and Endless Alphabet.  Another good resource is KinderTown, which is an app that reviews and recommends educational apps in different areas.  Their Power Packs are "mini" lesson plans that provide ideas for activities and games in various subjects, such as these: Getting Ready for Kindergarten and Letters and Sounds.  Also, for a limited time, KinderTown is offering a 30-day free trial of their Power Parent membership, which gives you access to their Power Packs and other useful features of KinderTown.  Lastly, some great phonological and phonemic awareness activities to help your child get ready for reading can be found on this website.  Have fun with the process of learning to read!