Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teaching Kids Their Letters and How to Read

We are in deep into letter learning and learning how to read with my two middle children (4 & 2).  I've quickly learned that each child learns in their own way. My oldest daughter, now 7, was so excited and eagar to learn her letters and start reading. At a very young age she was asking me how to spell words, pointing out letters on signs and was reading on her own in no time. There was no need for coaxing or rewards, she just simply loves to learn. She was reading to her younger siblings at age 4.

His first book that he
read all by himself.
Our son (4) however saw no excitement or value in learning his letters. He moaned, he groaned and he struggled to get his letters and sounds straight. I have to admit that sometimes it was frustrating that he wasn't as eager as his sister to learn, but I could clearly see that it simply wasn't going to be as naturally easy for him so we took it slow, practiced every weekday, and even provided a prize incentive to motivate him. 

With lots of time and encouragement he finally mastered his letters and sounds and took his celebratory trip to the pet store to get his fish! It was a very happy day at our house. He is now learning to read and it is coming much easier than the letter learning did. He's proud and excited to sound out and read words (luckily with minimal whining). It's a fun time to see him learn to read.

Our third child (girl, almost 3) has a similar excitement in learning as her older sister does. She loves to sound out words, tell me what sounds words start with and continually asks me how to spell words. We are still working on her letters and sounds, but they are coming quickly and she actually knows more than I thought she did. She acts as though her "letter time" is gold and loves every mintue of it.

So whether your child resists or embraces learning patience and effort will produce a confident little learner in no time.

I wanted to share with you some of the ideas and resources I have used in teaching my children their letters and how to read.

* Flash Cards - You can get them at a dollar store or make your own. To start out I take 3-5 letters and focus on memorizing those for a week and then add more as time and progress is made.

* Make up some games - To make learning fun and applicable to life I often make a few slips of paper with a letter and then we around the house taping the letter to items that start with the letter. Play a memory game with letter matches that you make on paper, paint letters, use playdough to shape letters or write letters in pudding - just have some fun!

Star Fall
* StarFall - This a great website that focuses on all aspects of letter learning and reading. It has something for all ages and stages and is a very educational and helpful site. I take time each day to do the lessons and games with my kids, but like to also let them navigate the website on their own (which is quite simple to do). I love this site and highly recommend it. (

* Bob Books -Bob Booksare fabulous series of beginning reader books that has endless levels and series. We used some books in the series with my oldest daughter after she was well into her reading skills. I was impressed then, but am now even more impressed as I've been working with my son on the first book series and level. In my opinion, the books are expertly laid out to promote success in learning to read words and short simple sentences. Each book adds a little more depth and challenge. My son just read his first book all by himself tonight and it was such a thrill for him. I highly recommend this series! 

We were able to check out the first set in the series from our library or you can order the book from Amazon, HERE

* Phonics Books - We currently have a set of Fun With Phonicsbooks. The focus on middle vowel sounds and same endings. The books are fun for kids as there is wheel to turn as they review the letters and as you read the stories they can learn to read the simple three letter words that the book is focusing on.

I have not seen these books at the library, but you can purchase them HERE

*Wipe Off Books and Workbooks - With learning letters and how to read also comes the need to learn how to write letters and words. We like to to use wipeoff books and regualr workbooks to practice these skills. A few books we like are HERE.

My two oldest girls -2008
*Preschool Printables and Websites - As you know there is a plethora of resources on the internet to aid in teaching your kids to read and write. Here are a few others that we like:

I hope this information will be helpful for you mom's who have emerging learners and readers on your hands and has given you a  few simple ideas to mold into your own. I certainly had fun telling you about our learning experiences and would love to hear some about yours with your children. Any great websites, resources or ideas you'd like to share? Please don't hesitate, just leave a comment or email me, I'd love to hear!

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