We are playing our way to learning to read! My Sam just turned 4, and I am in no rush for him to read. I read to him oodles, and we play fun games (like this one) to give him the skills he will need to tackle reading successfully – when he is ready. SO for now, we play!
This game is actually a reading activity. It is ideal for wee ones who are just learning their letters and sounds or phonics. When teaching letters and sounds to kids I find it best to start with name letters. I talk about that, and a bunch of other learning to read stuff, in this post on Alphabet Recognition.
For this reading activity you need:
- as many jars or containers as letters in your child’s name
- small household or nature items
We used three jars for Sam. Because whenever we do an activity like this I choose to call my Sammy Sam 🙂
It is a great idea to take your time with this reading activity. One jar and letter a day is plenty. Sam took a few days on his “S” jar. Once he was happy with his findings, and I was happy with his understanding of the sound “S” we moved on.
This reading activity is so very simple:
1. Go on a scavenger hunt for the first sound in your child’s name. Your child is on the hunt for any items that can fit in the jar that start with the same sound as his or her name. Sam therefore started his hunt looking for all things that started with the sound “S”. For simplicity sake I left our all blends (Such as the sound “Sh” in Shoes).
Sam began in the toybox and had almost immediate success: Screwdriver! Yes! That definitely started with the sound “S” like Sam. It was also big enough to fill almost the whole jar … hmm…
After finding a few more treasures in the toybox, his search led him to the kitchen: Spoon … and snack …..
Alright. Good. Now with a full tummy our search led us to the backyard in search of a snake. Thankfully (for me not Sam) we did not find a snake. But we did find a Stick.
At the end of our “S” scavenger hunt Sam had found:
- silver car
- snack (though not in the jar)
2. Continue this activity a few days later for the second letter in your child’s name. We searched for all things “A”. Sam had found:
3. Continue for each letter in your wee ones name. Because my wee one has only 3 letters in his name (at least that is the way we cheat for activities like this) this was his last jar. He finally searched for all things “M”.
Reading activities can be adventures and build on a little one’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity. My kids all love this ‘Name in a Jar’ Reading Activity – even my oldest helps out (she was on the hunt for something Metallic for Sam’s ‘M’ jar)
It is a great idea to keep these jars in your child’s bedroom for awhile. They can play with the items, practice their sounds and letters, all the while having fun!
Math Extension: Some reading activities double nicely as math activities. This is a great activity for sorting. Once you have found all of the items for your jar you can really challenge your wee ones and have them mix up the items and try to put them back in the correct jars.
For me, the important thing to remember is to follow my little ones cues. He will let me know if he is ready to do the activity I am asking, or if it is too challenging. If it is not fun, we stop. Plain and simple. Which means we stop a lot of Mama’s activities to play cars, or make mudpies … which is absolutely a-ok with me!