Hi there Mamas!
I’ve gotten a few questions asking about tips and tricks to help little ones who are beginning to read. During my time in the classroom, I utilized various ways of supporting my students who were beginning to show interest in letters and what they create when we put them together!
Their little faces lighting up when they read words as simple as at, it and yes for the first time is a teacher’s highlight on any school day!
I can’t wait to bring these classroom tools into my own home when my little guy is ready (which will be a few years from now as he just turned four months :\ ).
Though certain teaching techniques are teacher go-to’s, please keep in mind that each and EVERY child learns to read at their own pace. Also, no one knows your child better than you do. If you feel one or some of these methods/tools will interest your child more than others, give it a go and watch their natural magic unravel!
1. First Little Readers
These adorable books are wonderful! Each page has brightly colored illustrations. These allow the child to be able to point out the image pertaining to the word on the page easily. Each word is printed in big sized letters which always makes reading much easier for beginners.2. Bob Books
These books are my absolute favorite pre-reading books ! Each page has between 2 and 5 words per page which helps the little reader not feel overwhelmed by many letters on a page. Long sentences could seem daunting for children even if each word is short and simple. The illustrations are also in black and white with the exception of some color sprinkled around. This is a great feature of these books because again, the child can easily associate word with image but without the distraction of fully colored images which might be a better match for some children.
3. Montessori Alphabet Box
When I pulled this box out of my teacher closet, my students knew they were in for a treat! This tool is specific to the Montessori curriculum but can be used even if your child is not part of a Montessori based school. I taught in a UPK classroom (a program that follows the Common Core Curriculum) after teaching in a Montessori room located within a Montessori pre-school and it worked just as well for my students as it did the rest of the school. The great thing about this alphabet box is that the vowels are blue while the consonants are red. Unbeknownst to the child, they’re picking up on this important detail of reading comprehension without the added pressure to learn a whole other aspect of reading before they really have to.
The coolest thing about this tool is how easy it is to customize it for your child! Throughout the school year, I would ask my students to draw pictures of images connected to the monthly lesson theme through open-ended questions (What do we see outside during the month of January?, What do we see at a beach in July? etc.). They would share their own answers and draw a picture. I would then label under their picture the word matching their illustration and laminated it to make them durable for re-use.
This method allowed my students to make a greater connection to the letters they were pulling out of the box to create words. The fact that they created the images allowed them to feel more confident in their attempt to read the words. Over time I would cover the image and have them practice reading the word first instead.4. Bingo Reading Game
It’s game time! If your child is showing interest in reading but might get bored easily from learning through books, a reading game is a great option! As the box suggests, there are a few ways to play for the win. One thing I found worked best was playing this game with smaller groups of students. Usually, 3 at the most because each child picked up the words at a different pace and so smaller groups allowed me to better monitor reading progress. In a home setting, this game would be easy peasy to use! After a few rounds with this game, my suggestion would be to observe which words your child might have a harder time pointing out and use image cards to help them. Either way, this game is sure to keep your child’s interest while they learn to read!
5. Homemade Labels
Yes, you’ve read that right! Countless times throughout the school year, I would simply write a word on a white piece of paper in clear and bold black letters. I would laminate (again for durability but not necessary for the home) and tape them to their matching item around the classroom (ex: TABLE on a table, SHELF on a toy shelf, etc.). Once again this method made letters and words connect with tangible items the children could make connections to without them feeling like they were sitting down for a reading lesson per say. Oftentimes, students would ask me to label certain items around the classroom and this showed me not only that they were aware that the words were present but that they were interested in how certain words looked like for whichever object they were requesting the word for.
If you give one of these pre-reading methods a try please let me know! I’d love to hear your feedback and which method worked(s) best for your little beginner reader!