By exploring letters, words, and sounds, your young child is embarking on a path to literacy. These six playful activities make the process fun — for both you and your little one.
1. Fun With Letters
Children enjoy copying words out onto paper. Write your child’s name and have him copy it himself with alphabet stamps, stickers, or magnets. Encourage him to “write” his own words using the letters. Your child will write letters backwards, spell seemingly randomly, and may hold his marker strangely — it’s “all good” at this age when a child wants to communicate in writing of any kind.
Book Pick: Scholastic Early Learners: Wipe Clean Workbooks - Pre-K: Alphabet will let your early writer practice letters over and over without the endless need for paper and messy markers. Your child can practice writing the ABCs and simply wipe his workbook clean and start again. This book has endless opportunity for learning — plus, what child doesn't love dry erase!
2. What Word Starts With…
The letter-sound connection is one of the first steps to reading. Play a guessing game about your child’s favorite words. What letter does “p-p-p-pirate” start with? How about “M-m-mommy”? Once your child guesses one correctly, see how many words you can come up with together that start with the same letter.
Book Pick: Peppa's First 100 Words (Peppa Pig) is not only full of basic words to boost easy letter and vocabulary recognition, but the interactive flaps on its pages will motivate your child to keep learning until she reaches word 100! Plus, this title has all things Peppa Pig, a beloved character your little one will love to learn with as she practices her letter sounds.
3. Your Child the Author
Three-year-olds can be chatty, and by age 4, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise. Take advantage of your child’s interest in talking by writing a book together. Start out with something simple, like describing a fun day at a park or visiting friends. Staple a few pieces of paper together, and write out one or two of your child’s sentences on each page. Then, read the story to her and let her illustrate it.
Book Pick: Scholastic Early Learners: Kindergarten Mix & Match Silly Sentences will inspire constant storytelling while boosting your child's ability to form words and complete sentences. Your little learner can turn his silly statements into even sillier stories by mixing and matching wacky sentences to form a comedy-infused tale with a ton of learning benefits snuck inside.
4. A Different Way to Read
Reading to your child is great — but what’s even better is something called “dialogic” reading. That’s when you ask your child to participate in the story. Before turning the page, ask your child what he thinks will happen next. You can also ask your child what other way the book could have ended. For example, with the classic book Corduroy, what would have happened if the little girl hadn’t come back to take Corduroy home from the toy store?
Book Pick: You Read to Me, I'll Read To You: Very Short Stories to Read Together is the perfect tool for parent-child read-aloud, even if your child needs a little help along the way. Using different colored words to signify different voices and whose turn it is to read, this rhyming book is full of easy-to-understand language, quick and simple stories, and a great chance to push your little one to practice reading.
5. Take Letters Outside
Kids are tactile and enjoy few activities more than poking things with a stick. Many preschools encourage kids to make letters out of Play Doh or draw them into sand or clay. The next time you are out in the park, or at the beach, or in the snow, use your surroundings to play with letters. Take turns writing letters in the snow, dirt, or sand.
Book Pick: Before you hit the sandbox or the seashore, read Beach with your little one to get swept away in sandy scenes and simple language. Once you and your preschooler have finished the story, choose a few words from these colorful pages to practice writing in the sand of your local playground to combine indoor reading with outdoor learning!
6. Just the Facts
Try getting your child interested in nonfiction books. At the library or bookstore, find books on your child’s favorite topics. Cars, dinosaurs, dogs, and other topics are covered in on-level books with plenty of pictures, designed especially for kids this age.
Book Pick: Now You Know How It Works plays on your growing toddler's constant curiosity. From exploring how straws suck and crayons draw, your child will be enthralled to have all of her questions answered while reading basic vocabulary and associating every day items with actual words. Parents, some of your curious questions may even be answered too!