Reading Readiness as you wait on the Starbucks drive-up? Yes, Please!
Remember our post sharing the parent’s guide to phonemic awareness?
Now that we better understand that phonemic simply means sound, here are a few ways to add a little more sound play into your everyday life.
And yes, some games can be played in the car on the way to soccer practice or while waiting on a cake pop.
These five easy ways to add phonemic awareness and reading readiness into every day will give your preschooler and kindergartener extra tools in their reading toolkit.
What is Reading Readiness
Reading Readiness is when your child shows signs of interest in learning how to read.
Remember how long it took you to run that first 10k? Or how about the first time you (finally) completed that 1000-piece puzzle?
Think of reading readiness the same way.
Before reading the words on paper, we must first take a step back, deepening our awareness of the sounds we hear.
Next, we must remember that reading is a marathon, and our child will get better over time with practice.
5 Ways to Bring Reading Readiness Into Your Day
1. Bring attention to the body
Grab a handheld mirror with your child and study your mouths, tounges, and vocal cords as you say words.
This may sound silly, but schools following the science of reading use mirrors in preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
Notice for each sound you make in the word “flap” (/f/ /l/ /a/ /p/).
- What are your lips doing?
- What is your tongue doing?
- What about your vocal cords?
Have your child put his hand over his throat as he makes each sound.
Point out that some letters use our voice box like /l/ and /a/ and some do not like /f/ and /p/.
Learning how his mouth forms each sound can be a critical support to him as he learns to spell.
This is why it’s so common to see a first grader spell the word “fox” as “vox”. The /f/ and /v/ sounds are made the same way in our mouths except one uses our voice and the other does not.
If this is pointed out to a child, noticing what his body is doing to form each sound will help him distinguish his phonemes for spelling.
RELATED: Did you know that balance helps with reading?
2. Use alliteration and rhyming
As I mentioned earlier, using alliteration can be beneficial when beginning phonemic awareness activities.
Having children notice the repeated beginning sounds will help them realize that there are individual sounds to be heard.
Also, nursery rhymes are a fantastic way to help children hear words that rhyme.
Rhyming is a hard concept for many preschoolers when first practicing, but it will improve over time and vastly raise phonemic awareness.
ACTIVITY: Playing with word families is a great extension activity.
3. Count syllables by holding your chin
Did you know that every syllable has a vowel sound?
Did you know that every vowel sound is made by dropping the chin and opening the mouth?
We used to direct students to clap out syllables within larger words, but this can be really difficult for some students.
An easier way to help them notice syllables in a word is to put their hand on their chin. Say a longer word like “underpants” (why not make it fun, right?).
Now, as you say un-der-pants, notice that your chin drops on each syllable.
Once your child can hear and count syllables, you can play all sorts of fun guessing games like “What ocean animal has three syllables in its name?” (Octopus).
My kids love this game in the car. I’d let them pick the category, and I’d find a word and let them guess it according to syllables.
RELATED: Working on sight words? Start with these tips on helping children at home with sight words.
4. Count words in sentences
Say a sentence and have your child tell you how many words are in it.
- Start with shorter sentences and avoid compound words. Young children may not realize that “bathtub” is actually one word.
- Start small to ensure quick success.
5. Make phonemic awareness a game
I like to play “When You Hear…”. This is a fun one.
- Put an M&M on the table.
- Select a sound for your child to listen for (for example, the /k/ sound).
- Start with a simple list of words. (Bat, sight, horse, car…).
- When he hears “car”, he raises his hand. If he’s right, he gets the M&M; if he’s wrong, you get it.
Be sure to sound out each sound in the word with him to reiterate what he’s hearing.
You can bend these rules however you’d like to fit your family; the point is to get him to begin listening for specific sounds in words.
CHALLENGE: Chose words that have the sound but in the middle or at the end of the word. Also, instead of a list of words, say a nursery rhyme or sing a simple song.
Reading Readiness Takeaways
Learning how to read is a complicated task. Doing activities such as the ones listed above will help your child connect the dots over time.
Keep these five tips in mind:
- Bring attention to the body
- Use alliteration and rhyming
- Count syllables by holding your chin
- Count words in sentences
- Make phonemic awareness a game
This Blog Post was Co-Written with Juli.
Juli is an educator passionate about the early identification of learning differences and the science of teaching reading. She is Orton-Gillingham trained and has worked with students with dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning differences.