Play is a very important aspect of a child's learning. The same idea applies in developing pre-reading skills.
Some children see a word as a whole rather than as individual letters (or sounds) that combine to form a word. This makes it difficult to learn to read. For example, a child may read the word "dug" as "dog" because the words look so similar and the child doesn't notice the difference.
We can help children develop the skills that they need to be able to read by playing language games with them.
- "My name starts with /m/ (the sound of "m"). Who else's name starts with /m/?" Move on to other sounds.
- "I'm going on a trip and I'm taking a toothbrush." Next person--"I'm going on a trip and I'm taking a turtle." Continue taking turns naming things that start with the same letter until someone has difficulty with the task. Choose a different letter and start again.
- "We're going to make 'c' soup." Put soup pot in middle of circle and have a child start stirring it. Other children come up and pretend to put something in the soup that starts with the target letter. "I'm putting corn in the soup." "I'm putting carrots in the soup." Children can be silly with their ingredients if they want--"I'm putting a camera in the soup."
- Word sort--provide children with pictures that start with one of two different target sounds. (The target sounds should not be similar--don't use /m/ and /n/ together.) Children name each picture and sort them into piles of words starting with the same sounds. For example--one pile will have a picture of a banana, a boat, and a bone, while the other pile will have a picture of a man, a map, and a mop.
Making language fun is one way to help children more readily develop pre-reading skills.