As a teacher, one of the things I get asked the MOST about is teaching kids to read. For some children, it comes so quickly and naturally. And for others… it doesn’t. So this post is for the mama of one of those “others” (and I say that in a kidding and kind way, of course. I have two “others” myself).
Now, since this is the topic I get asked about ALL. THE. TIME. I created a special resource to ensure you feel confident with this important step.
This resource reveals the very best way to teach letters, sounds, and reading to children. Get ready—it’s going to blow your mind! Did you know that you should actually teach your children letters in a different order than A, B, C?
Grab your free guide below to see exactly how to teach the letters and sounds—and why! Once you have this guide, you are set to begin with the activities in this post.
And if you’re ready to teach your child to read with everything laid out for you step-by-step, you are going to love How Wee Read!
How Wee Read is my learn-to-read resource. It covers it all, from rhyming to reading in 60 sequential, simple, and playful lessons:
- Step One: Phonological Awareness (7 lessons)
- Step Two: Letters, Sounds, and Blending (12 lessons)
- Step Three: Special Rules (5 lessons)
- Step Four: Familiar Readers (36 lessons)
Okay… ready? You know now which order you are going to teach the letters AND why you are going to do it in this way. Feeling confident? You are going to rock this! Here we go!
Teaching Kids to Read
Learning to Read: Name Letter Activities
Teaching Kids to Read: Wonderful Word-Blending Activities
The free guide you downloaded at the beginning of this post shares with you how to teach children their letter sounds. Once a child knows the sounds letters make, they can start “sounding out words” letter by letter. Slowly but surely, they can then push those sounds seemlessly, faster and faster, into the sound of a familiar word. This skill is called word blending.
Please Note Two Things:
First of all, these activities use all sorts of letters. Please use the letters shared in the groupings in the guide provided to you at the beginning of this post. Small groups of letters shared in a sequential manner really, really benefits young children learning to read.
Secondly, some of these activities allow for children to build nonsense words like GAT or JIT. Do not worry about this confusing your child or encouraging poor spelling. This is a necessary skill when teaching kids to read. A child that can sound out any word blend correctly, whether the word exists or not, is a confident child that deeply understands their letter sounds. Down the road, this skill will help them read complex words that are new to them.
Active Word-Blending Fun
Quiet Time Bins – Little ones love to play with skills they are learning all on their own. I made learning to read quiet bins for my boys to use during their rest time. These were a huge hit!
Driving Word Blends by The Balanced Literacy Project via OISE – Drive slowly through each letter and pick up speed as your kiddo blends each word with greater ease.
Frog Hop by Fantastic Fun and Learning – Your child can help their favorite animal blend sounds by hopping from one letter to the next. Monkeys can hop on trees, chickens can hop into nests (my favorite!) you get it.
Sponge Bowling by Toddler Approved – If your child sounds the word out correctly, they get a chance to knock it down. Keep it fun if they don’t knock down every letter. They can sound out the ones they did knock down or the ones that are left over.
Gross Motor Word Blending Activities
Snowball Toss by I Can Teach My Child – This shows more of a sight word activity, but we can easily turn it into a word blending game. Write single letters onto your ping-pong balls and word endings onto the cups. Kids say the word they are about to create (adding B to AT written on the cup) before tossing the ball into the right cup.
Word Blend Hop by Alumnoon.com via My King’s List (link no longer available) – Kids will have so much fun hopping to each sound to build words. They will even forget they are learning!
Word Blend Stomp – On cue cards, write, then tape a few word family endings to the floor in one column. Then add a second column of single letters. Call out a word like “can” and have your child jump on “C” and then “AN.”
Musical Blending by The First Grade Parade – Place paper plates with word endings in a circle and give each child an index card with a letter. When the music stops, children face a plate and say the word built by adding their letter to the paper plate ending. If it’s a nonsense word, they’re out; if it’s a real word, they keep playing.
Large Matching Games by Hands on as We Grow – Instead of matching sight words, one column can have consonants, while the other has word endings for children to match and build words. Add a column with photos of the words to be built as an additional cue.
Crafty Word Blending
Vowel Tree by Living Montessori Now – Get creative with your kiddo and craft this tree together on a wall or on your fridge using your choice of materials. Use laminated letters that attach with magnets or velcro and place them in an envelope beside the tree. I can see little ones playing with the letters independently, experimenting with different sounds, or trying to re-create the words provided.
Word Blend Flowers by A Blog from the Pond – This cute craft is a fun and tactile way for your child to practice word blending.
Ice Cream Word Families by Surviving a Teacher’s Salary – Craft and decorate these ice cream scoops and cones, then have fun playing the suggested games.
Play Dough Word Families by I Can Teach My Child – Kids use alphabet stamps or magnets to build words they copy or add letters to pre-stamped word families. Add a creative twist and challenge your little one to create a model for the word they made.
Playdough Phonics Squish by Katelyn’s Learning Studio – Strengthen fine motor skills and appeal to a kinesthetic learner in one go. Kids squish a play dough ball each time they sound out a letter.
Word Blending On-the-Go
Magic Spoons by Teaching Bits and Bobs – This fun game really is as easy as it looks! Use spoons or popsicle sticks, paper, or a whiteboard.
Word Roll by Laughing Kids Learn – Kids will love playing with these word rolls at home or on-the-go! This idea can be applied again later when your child is ready to practice sight word families. More advanced ideas are also provided.
Paint Chip Word Families by Joyfully Weary – Have a little chat about colors while word blending in different word families. Take this activity on-the-go or toss it in a quiet bin for kids to write the words they create.
Teaching Kids to Read: Sight Word Games
Sight words are commonly used words that we want kids to be able to read at sight. Many of them do not follow the regular rules of spelling, so sounding them out each time would be cumbersome. It is especially important to keep learning fun when practicing sight words and teaching kids to read! We are essentially asking kids to memorize, and that can get dry pretty fast.
Games to Play with a Friend
Sight Word Bingo by Squarehead Teachers – Tap into your competitive early reader’s heart with this fun variation on Bingo. Children must say their word correctly before using it in the game.
Sight Word Dominos by NurtureStore – I just love do-it-yourself activities for teaching reading—especially those I can use time and time again as my child’s learning progresses! Match dominos based on their first letter sound or based on their rhyme. The possibilities are endless!
Sight Word Walk by Conversations in Literacy – Tape sight words to the floor in a boardgame-like path. Roll a die and have your child walk the number of steps rolled, then say the word they land on. Additional sight word games are mentioned that are especially suitable for classes and small groups.
Sight Word Go-Fish by Life Sew Savoury – Using a classic game like Go Fish to practice sight words makes teaching kids to read so much more relaxing. Create your own cards or use the printables provided.
Showdown by Playdough to Plato – This fun 2-player game will really tickle the interest of the competitive kids (inside each of us… *ahem*).
Sight Word Games for Independent Play
Sight Words on the Stairs – Popping those sight words on the stairs is a great way to practice sight words daily. Every time little ones go up or down the stairs, they can say those words aloud!
Word Family Spoon Sort by Planning Play Time – Little ones love sorting almost anything, and many kiddos love it even more if it’s a race. Invite (or challenge!) or child to sort their sight words into word families using spoons or other familiar.
Object-to-Word Match by Busy Toddler – The objects in the box serve as visual clues for the words your child may struggle with. This hands-on activity gives them just enough of a challenge to keep them on their toes.
Sight Word Sort-O-Roo by Growing Book by Book – Have your child sort sight words in different categories by placing them into the correct muffin tin row. Three additional fun muffin tin games are shared.
Sight Word Scavenger Hunt by Kinders in NY – Rip out a few child-friendly ads or title pages from a magazine or newspaper and set your kiddos out on a sight word scavenger hunt.
Squish and Seek Sight Words by Playdough to Plato – Write your list of sight words on one side of a large paper. Randomly write those same words on the other end of the paper that will be covered by a paint-filled Ziploc bag. Once you’re set up, invite your toddler to squish and seek her sight words!
Games to Play When Reading Simple Stories
Don’t throw out those baby board books and simple stories just because you have a “big kid” at home! You can build confidence when teaching kids to read if you revisit those simple, cherished stories that you read to them over 100 times. Playing these fun games gets them to see a familiar book in a new way, applying all the fabulous reading skills they are slowly acquiring.
In this blog post, Learn to Read Using Any Simple Story, I share numerous games you can play using simple stories when teaching your child how to read. The following few give you an idea of what you can do:
- Find a Vowel – Ask your child to point and identify a vowel. They can show you the sound it makes.
- Find Consonants – Alternatively, ask your child to find a word that starts with two consonants; what sound do they make?
- Sight Word Hunt – Begin by telling your child that you two will be hunting for sight words as you read together. Make it a race!
- Follow with their Finger – Invite your child to hold on to your finger as you point and read. Encourage them to eventually try pointing out the words on their own, especially if the book follows a pattern.
- Fill-in-the-blanks – Again, if you are using a book that repeats a certain sentence structure, invite your child to “fill-in-the-blanks” with their own ideas. A book that comes to mind is Eric Carle’s Head to Toe. “I am an elephant and I stomp my foot. Can you do it?” could turn into “I am a bunny and I wiggle my nose. Can you do it?” They could follow with their finger to know when to add their choice of words.
- Silly Rhymes – Go through your favorite rhyming classic and stop reading just before the final word. Invite your child to finish the sentence with a different rhyming word, even if it makes no sense! How hilariously silly!
Alright, friends, you are set! I hope you and your little ones have so much fun playing some of these games as you teach your child to read. Learning to read can be so fun! And teaching kids to read can be so fun too!
Of course, it is not always fun and games. Sometimes it can get frustrating, and you can start to feel lost as to how to best help your little reader. If this happens, I am just an email away: HowWeeLearn@gmail.com
For absolutely everything you need to teach your child to read, step-by-step in 6o simple lessons, check out How Wee Read right here: