Toddlers and young children learn through play. So why not incorporate some toddler pre-reading activities into their normal daily playtime?
I am going to show you some of the preschool reading activities I’ve engaged my son in, before we started on our selected reading program when he was over 2 years old.
These learning activities are simple and routine, yet my son thrives on repetition and never get tires of doing or hearing the same thing over and over again. Maybe I was the one who got bored, not him. ;)
Display Out the Story Books
Yeah, this is a winner. You can start reading to your baby even when he’s inside your womb. There’s studies that babies can recognize their mommy’s, daddy’s and sibling’s voices even when they’re still in the womb.
Many advocates a daily routine, like a bedtime story, from when your child is a baby. It’s to help them build a love of books.
I started reading stories to my son when he’s over one year old. He was more into putting the little board books into his mouth. Next he progressed to enjoy being read to. He would giggle and express delight at certain books, or I should say pictures in the board books.
When he’s about 1.5 years old, he began to show more interest in books and reading. For a period of time, each day he would pick a book for me read. And I had to read the same book a few times.
Now he’s over 2 years old, he enjoys flipping through the pages and looking through the pictures, studying the accompanying pictures.
It’s fun seeing him go through growing stages with his books. I would say, put a box of books besides your kid’s toy boxes so she can easily access herbooks and pick out books to play with as and when she likes to.
Being Friends with the Alphabet
I know a handful of children songs only, and the one song that I know by heart is the… ABC song. I’ve sung this little song over hundreds of times to my son.
Besides singing him the ABC song. I’ve put up an old alphabet poster displaying both the upper and lower case letters with matching words and pictures that my sister passed to me. He could glance at it whenever he feels like it.
I’ve also written the letters A-Z many times for him to show him. When I did that back then, it was merely another play activity. I wanted to show him that we can write out letters and that there is an order to letters. But after I did it once, I got to keep doing it for weeks later because he would shove his drawing board onto my lap and ask me to write.
Then there’s the wooden magnetic letters and the wooden alphabet blocks. He loves playing with them. When he hasn’t yet mastered his alphabet, he would just stick on the colorful magnetic letters randomly onto the magnetic board passed down to him from his older male cousins. This set of wooden magnetic letters cost only a few dollars and yet brought him hours and hours of fun and joy. He continues to play with them even after he has learned his alphabet.
For his 2nd birthday, he received a box of wooden letter and number blocks. He would scatter all the blocks onto the floor and try to arrange the letters in a row rather than stacking blocks high up. But I just let him be and play in his own way.
One day my good friend came visiting us and she teased my son about arranging the wooden letters into alphabetical order. He just turned 2 a few weeks ago and could only pronounce some of the letter names. My friend was expecting to help him do it. Instead, he stunned us both by being able to arrange all the letters in sequence, in a row. That’s when I realized he really knew his alphabet.
There’s many learning activities that involves the alphabet, so you’ll have many chances to introduce alphabet recognition to your toddler.
Letter Names and Letter Sounds
Kids or toddlers, once you introduced TV or tablets or smartphones to them, they want to watch and play with it. To make myself feel better, I selected videos of phonics songs for my young tot to watch. I consoled myself at least there’s music, rhythm, and some educational content to entertain my toddler.
But guess what, these are the songs that taught me letter sounds too! I wasn’t taught phonics as a child and now it’s catch up time. Once I learned the individual letter sounds, I could teach my son about it. Maybe he was already learning at the same time I was learning, it’s just that he was too young to voice out the letter sounds back then. ;)
Here’s one of the main phonics songs I’ve played often to my son. It’s such a catchy tune that I’m sure your kiddo will enjoy it.
There’s even a new version updated in 2012 right below.
Another item that I feel helped my toddler in picking up phonemes (letter sounds) is the LeapFrog Fridge Phonics which was given to him by my friend when he was only six months old.
Well, he was too young to play with it then as his little baby fingers couldn’t even hold onto the magnetic letter tile. So it would be months later that he would learn to grasp a magnetic tile to slot it into the reader slot to activate the corresponding letter name and sound. Meanwhile, I did it for him.
When he was old enough to grasp the magnetic tile firmly with his fingers, he still needed to learn to rotate the tile into the correct position before slotting it into the reader slot. This educational toy certainly polished his fine motor skills, in addition to teaching him the ABC song, letter names and letter sounds. It’s a toy he grew with. He’s been playing with this toy for a rather long time now.
By 2 years and 2 months old, through many months of informal fun and play, my son has learned his alphabet and was able to pronounce most of the letter sounds.
All these little activities of singing, writing, and playing with toys, worked to instill the alphabet and phonemic awareness into my tot over time.
What learning activities did you engage your toddler in that enables him to pick up pre-reading skills? I’d love to hear about the preschooler learning activities you’ve found most enjoyable and helpful for your kid!