8 Activities to Encourage Pre Reading

Encouraging Pre Reading and Early Literacy

Before your child actually begins to read, she'll develop a set of skills known as pre reading skills. These pre reading skills are the signs of early literacy and, though it may look as though your child is merely playing, she is organizing what she knows about books and language and how they work together to for this magical skill known as "reading." It's actually quite a lot of fun to work on pre reading skills with your child. It's not hard at all and can capture your imagination right alongside hers.


Read, Read, Read, Read, Read

Father and toddler sitting on a bed reading a book

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Read, read, read, read, read! There used to be a poster called "Ten Ways to Be a Better Reader." Numbers 1 through 10 simply said "read." There is no better way to introduce your child to words, cadence, fluency, and sequencing than to read to them daily. One day soon she'll be reading to you!


Picture Books

Buy an inexpensive second copy of your child's favorite picture book (you can usually find a copy at a thrift store) and separate the pages from the binding. If you think he's up to the challenge and the text is underneath or above the pictures, you may even want to cut the text from the illustrations. Have your child recreate the story from memory and, if possible, place the text with the pictures. He may not be able to read it, but if you've read the book together enough times, he's bound to recognize the look of the words for each page.


Environmental Print Is Pre Reading

Make an environmental print book. It's not as complicated as it sounds. Environmental print refers to the signs, logos, symbols and words that children see everyday and recognize without being able to read them. For example, few children need to be able to read to recognize that the Golden Arches means a McDonald's is nearby or that the red octagon on the street corner is a stop sign. Provide your child with newspapers, magazines, scissors, glue and a sheaf of blank paper stapled together. She can then cut out the familiar logos and symbols, paste one of each page and read you her book.


Magnetic Letters

Invest in a few sets of magnetic letters and an inexpensive cookie sheet. Before letting your child loose with the letters and the cookie sheet, sort through and make sure all the vowels are the same color. At first, it's enough to let her learn the names of the letters and what they look like. As she gets a little more comfortable, you can move on to putting the alphabet in order. Eventually, she can sound out and spell small words like cat or bat. This can lead to an entire lesson in phonemic awareness.


Make a Rhyming Box

Make a rhyming box. Basically, this will give you a great excuse to wander the miniatures aisle at your local craft store. Once you find small items that rhyme, such as a pan and a fan or a shell and a bell, place approximately ten sets of them in a shoebox and give it a shake. Have your child open the box and match up the rhyming items. To extend this activity, you can provide an item that does not have a rhyming match and have your child draw a picture of something that would rhyme with it.


Practice Sequencing as a Pre Reading Skill

Practice sequencing with your child. Though you can buy sequencing cards, it's just as easy to print sets of them (and practice cutting at the same time). Once the cards have been sequenced, ask to hear the story that goes with them. It may not always be what you expect, but as long as the story and the pictures are in a coherent order, your child is learning that stories have a beginning, middle, and end.


Telling Stories About Pictures

Encourage your child to tell you stories about random pictures. It doesn't matter whether you use a photo or turn to an advertisement in a magazine, simply ask your child to tell you who the characters are, what they are doing and why they are doing it. Assure her there is no right answer, it's a story from her imagination.


Sentence Strips and Common Words

Use sentence strips or pieces of posterboard to print the names of the common items of your home. Make two sets of these strips, taping one to the items and giving the other to your child to play with. Don't push your child to match the two sets; the idea is to get him familiar with the look of the words for common items, eventually making the connection on his own. It won't be long before he's showing you that he recognizes his set of words from seeing them around the house.

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