Letter Sounds Activity with Locks

letter sounds activityLetter recognition is important but more important is knowing what sounds letters make. This is a fun and easy to throw together letter sound activity that uses novelty to make learning fun. My daughter has known her letters for a while but at three there is zero rush for her to start reading. I am not following any program or book, I am following her lead. She has been testing out sounds, pretending to read books to me and her brother, and asking to spell words. When I see signs like these I try some playful ways to challenge her but if there is resistance , frustration or confusion I back off. As parents we want to challenge and support not push or drill. After the first time we played this letter sounds activity I was pretty sure we had a winner, after the 4th time I was certain.

Gather your materials. You will need some stickers of easily identifiable things, masking tape, locks with keys, and a marker.

learn to read activity

Start by adding the sticker to the locks. letter sounds

Next add masking tape to the keys and write the letter on.

Lock the locks and pop the keys in a container. letter sounds

Time to play. She explored all the locks at first and then dove in. letter sounds with locks and keys

The letter sounds weren’t too big a challenge but the fine motor control required was. letter sounds gameMatching up keys with locks and opening them uses other skills too like hand eye coordination and hand strength too.  It took her a few tries to get the first key in but after a while she was a pro. unlock letter sounds

She loved that she could do the activity with no help from me. My daughter is about as independent as they come. key letter sound  matchI let her go for it and then after she was done have her show me her work. She walked me through each pair telling me the letter and the sound on each lock and key. lock and key literacy activity for preschool and kindergarten

Then she closed them all up and played again and again.

Read & Make Christmas – 25 Christmas Books With Crafts To Match

Christmas crafts for preschool Are you ready for another Read & Make post? I have so much fun doing these because they bring together so many of my older ideas with newer books or vice versa. I love creating great resources and this post is so easy to take to the library and grab whatever book they still have left on the shelf and know that you will have a great craft to activity to go with it. We have about 60 Christmas crafts on the site so if you don’t see something rad here check out our archives too.

Each pair includes a link to the full post for the craft or activity tutorial and a link to amazon.com for the book. I have read and reviewed most of these books and have paired crafts that would work not only with the book but with the book’s target age group as well. All book titles are affiliate links.

christmas crafts and books for kids

The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup is the perfect book to go with our Paper Bag Gingerbread Men craft.

llama llama holidya drama craft idea

Our Mess Free Ornaments are don’t need a lot of patience which is great if your child is like the little Llama in Llama Llama Holiday Drama .

xmasreadandplay24

Santasaurus by Niamh Sharkey and our Roll and Count Santa Math Game will keep your kids busy and learning!

snow playdough

In McDuff’s New Friend by Rosemary Wellsthe puppy makes tracks in the snow. Your child can make their own with our Tracks In The Snow Playdough activity even if you never get the real stuff in your area.

bear stays up

Bear Stays Up for Christmasby Karma Wilson includes all the traditional pre-Christmas activities like hanging stockings. These Scrap Paper Stockings can be hung up year after year.

nativity game and book

Play our Find & Fill  Nativity Game and then read What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams to further the lesson.

toddler christmas craft

This Handprint Christmas Tree was my daughter’s first craft and Counting Christmas by Karen Katz was one of her first Christmas books too.

Our Snow Globe Snowman craft is a great match for Snowmen at Christmas by Carolyn Buehner .

gingerbread playdough

Create gingerbread men that don’t need to be baked with our Playdough Gingerbread Men and read Mini Merry Book: Gingerbread Joy by Julia Woolf.

xmasreadandplay18

Merry Christmas, Ollie (Gossie & Friends)by Olivier Dunrea will be loved by your little one just as much as they will love the Sticky Wall Christmas Tree .

wise men craft

This Three Wise Men craft is even more meaningful when you read it with The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith.

madeline's christmas

Madeline’s Christmas is set in Paris and while I don’t expect you to jump on a jet and take your kids there you can imagine with your won Eiffel Tower and other Landmark Blocks.

christmas ornaments

Count your way through Merry Christmas, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff then make ( and count) these Letter Ornaments were a cinch to make and after many years they still look great.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo is a touching book and it goes perfectly with this Angel Craft. 

santa craft

This Paper Plate Santa is just right, much like Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno .

littlest elf

Elves don’t live in the toy shop they need houses to live in and these Elf houses are easy to create after reading The Little Christmas Elf (Little Golden Book) by Nikki Shannon Smith.

Rudolf craft

Read The Night Before Christmas  by Clement C Moore and then create your own Handprint Reindeer , you don’t have to make Rudolf!

christmas lights craft

Mooseltoe by Marge Pallatini is a hilarious read that you can follow up with these Sponge Painted Christmas Lights.

xmasreadandplay5Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin is a cute book about giving and these cute kid made gift boxes are a great craft to complete after reading.

ornament craft Even David couldn’t break this unbreakable ornament craft which is why after you read It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon they are a perfect craft to make.

xmas read and play 23

SantaKid by James Patterson is a great read to dive into the North Pole and a great addition to any North Pole play using this DIY  playmat.

xmasreadadnplay10

Christmas Eve with Mrs. Claus by M.P. Hueston is a sweet book about sweets and the perfect companion for this easy candy cane craft .

tree craft

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston is a great book for older children and this Button and Nail Tree is craft that they can really get into as well.

french christmas sign

Read Babar and Father Christmas  by Jean De Brunhoff then create this NOEL banner for a French celebration!

xmasreadandplay1Last but not least read all about How Santa Got His Job in this book by Stephen Krensky and then let your kids test out the jobs for themselves with this  Workshop play idea.

 

What is your favorite Holiday read?

Read & Draw Picnic – Comprehension Activity

read and draw picnic for kidsI love lazy summer days and trying to have a few before we all head back to school. This is such a simple reading comprehension activity and can be done with kids of any age. There is something awesome about reading outside, I love grabbing a blanket and some books and reading with my kids under a huge blue sky. This art activity takes that simple idea one step further by adding on an artistic retelling activity. I have been working hard to get my son to draw and write more this summer and drawing with his younger sister helps boost his confidence , lets him show her how to do things, and it’s made such a difference. Also his strength in retelling helps balance his lack of confidence in the drawing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a book , some clip boards, a blanket and your art materials. We used paper ,watercolor colored pencils, water , paint brushes, and some water.read and draw outside book activity for kids
  2. Start by finding the right spot. We found some shade in our yard and spread out the blanket.read and draw outside art and literacy activity for kids
  3. Pass out the clip boards and art material.read and draw outside for kids
  4. Start reading. As you read encourage your kids to draw what is happening in the story or something that sticks out for them from the book. Their favorite part, the saddest or happiest part … they can or you can choose.read and draw comprehension
  5. Make sure to have extra paper on hand my son made 3.read and draw outdoor reading picnic
  6. After they are done with their art work as them about it. Instead of saying ‘ What is that?’ which could make them question their artistic ability as well as gibe a much shorter answer say “Tell me about your picture.” I have found that when we do activities like this both my kids end up retelling the whole story naturally which is an important part of early literacy development. It builds comprehension and because it happens very organically no one feels like they are being quizzed on a lazy summer day. If they don’t retell the story on their own try asking :
  • Where  did the story take place?
  • Who was the story about?
  • What happened to them in the story? What happened next?
  • How did it end?read and draw outdoors

Try having your child retell stories from time to time and if they struggle do it more often. If they are really not understanding what is going on try simpler books and  try asking these questions throughout the reading not only after finishing the book.

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picture books for retelling

 

All of these books have story lines that are clear and younger children can successfully retell the major events while older children could use them and retell in greater detail. These links are affiliate links.

This post contains affiliate links.

Paint & Read { and sound it out }

learn to readTwo skills children need to master in their journey to independent reading are segmenting and blending sounds. Segmenting is breaking a word apart into individual sounds and blending is very simply the ability to combine the sounds together smoothly. When we tell a child to sound it out , this is really what we are asking them to do.  This activity was designed for my son who is a great reader but who will often read so quickly that if he encounters a word he doesn’t know he simply guesses and continues. If I ask him to sound the word out he will  still often guess and get frustrated at me for asking instead of slowing down and doing it even though he is perfectly capable of doing so.  I had to come up with a playful way that would force him to chill a little, slow it all down and focus on the sounds.  This activity can be adapted for any level even single sounds or sight words. We did a similar one for toddlers exploring letters here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, white wax crayon, dark water color ( container is you need one) , a little water and a paint brush. I also used a clipboard to keep the pages secure while painting. reading
  2. Start by writing out the words you want your child to stretch out. I used a book we’ve recently read to help me think of some words. Many of the words I chose were not a challenge to read , the challenge is to get him to slow down and stretch them out. For new readers you will want to do words like cat, dog, ball, map, off, snap etc…  but know that older children and more proficient readers can still work on this skill with more complex words. paint and read early literacy activity for kids
  3. Next I popped the black water color into the jar and added just a little water. To do this well you want a lot of color but not too much water .
  4. I invited my little reader and explained that he needed to paint over the words SLOWLY and read as he went, then to read the whole word normally. I had to emphasize that the goal was not to guess the word after painting over the first few letters, that the right way to do it was to carefully say each sound then put the word back together. paint and read learning to read activity for kids
  5. The activity was an instant hit. paint and read learning to read activity for kindergartenIt really did get him to slow it down and pay attention to all the sounds in the words instead of just guessing. I was happy to find a tool for him to keep working on these skills without making him feel like I was giving him a remedial task.  paint and readQuick activities likes this one can be thrown together easily with some really fantastic benefits to your child’s reading ability. paint and read early literacy lesson for kids

 

Writing Books With Your Child { Guest Post}

Writing Books with Your Child

by Becky Spence { This Reading Mama }

When kids are first learning to read, one of the things they need are some basic sight words under their belt. My son {age 4.5} has learned about 25 sight words this past year through the PreK reading curriculum I created for him. This summer, I want to expand and review that sight word learning without being too structured.

One way we will do this is by composing emergent readers together about him and the things he loves. There are many reasons why this concept works well. For one, it is all about the child. The majority of readers, even reluctant readers, will stick with something longer when the topic is of high interest to them {and what is more interesting to a child than a story about himself?} Secondly, this idea is highly adaptable to meet the developmental needs of the child {most writing activities are}. I will include some of those adaptations at the end of the post. But for now, I want to share how we made our first emergent book of the summer.

Steps to Writing Books with Your Child

Take Photos of Your Child Doing What He Loves | This Reading Mama

1. Ahead of time, I chose the predictable sentence I wanted for this particular book: “I like to…”. {For young readers, predictable text like this works well because of the repetition of words.} I asked him to pick several things he liked to do and he did them. While he was doing them, I took pictures of him. Painting, jumping, playing his favorite bird game, coloring…you name it.

2. I saved all the pictures to our computer. He chose the pictures he wanted to use and I printed them each onto a separate piece of paper to create a book.

3. I modeled the first sentence, “I like to color”. He listened as I talked through my sentence. It’s great for kids to hear us think out loud as we read and write. This is one way they gain the strategies they need to read and write with independence. An example of what I said, “I’m going to start writing over here on the left side of the paper because that’s where you start with reading and writing.” Think basic. Think simple.

Writing Books with Your Child

4. We worked on the other sentences together. “I like to jump.” “I like to play.” And so on. I let him take the lead and write as much as he wanted. When he didn’t want to write any more, I helped out. To keep him active in the writing while I had the pencil, he continued to help me sound out words. Writing books with kids is a great way to model spacing, capitialization, listening for phonemes {sounds in words}, and other foundational reading and writing skills.

5. Once all the sentences were written {this took two days}, we worked on the title page; made from colored construciton paper of his choice. Coming up with a title was a bit tricky for him, so I offered him several choices. He picked, “Things I Like to Do”. He added “by {his name}” to the title page as well.

6. We stapled the book together and he used our recycled bubble wand to read it to me. The book now has a home in his independent reading bin {a bin of books he can read himself, mainly from Reading the Alphabet}. If you don’t have a bin, displaying the books your child has written among the other books on the shelf or in a special space shows him you value his work as a writer.

Adaptations for Writing Books with Your Child

  • Instead of taking photos, ask your child to illustrate the pictures. This works particularly well for those children who love to draw.
  • Adapt the predictable sentence based on the words your child already knows or needs to know. Start simple. Sight words need to be introduced slowly with children just learning to read.
  • Use life experiences to create your sentences. For example, after a trip to the zoo, you could write the predictable sentence: “I saw a…” filling in the different animals your child saw that day.
  • Make it as long or as short as you’d like. Our book was five pages long because that’s all his attention span could handle.
  • Break up the activity into different segments. The entire book does not have to be completed in one sitting. Break it up over a few days, especially if you’re asking your child to do most of the drawing or writing.
  • For children who are not ready to do the writing, do it for them. But require that they be your helper, listening for sounds {phonemes} in words, helping put the space in between words by placing their finger there as a space holder, or drawing the period at the end of the sentence. Sometimes children just aren’t ready to write the entire sentence. Ask them to write the letters they do know how to write.
  • For more advanced readers/writers, mix up the sentences a bit instead of making the book totally predictable. For example, “I like to jump./I can jump very high./I jump the highest on my trampoline.” etc.

Predictable Sentence Starters

As a head-start, here are a few sentence starters that work well for writing predictable books with young readers, based on early sight word lists:

  • The _______.
  • A ______.
  • I see the ______.
  • I see a ______.
  • I can _______.
  • I like _______.
  • I like to ______. {example I used}
  • I saw a ______.
  • I am _______.
  • My _______.
  • Look at the ______.

 

Becky @ This Reading Mama

Becky Spence is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings. She is passionate about teaching, specifically literacy. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as literacy curricula and printables. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.