Literacy Activities for Preschoolers
THE KIASU PARENTS
Hubby and I have introduced books to Sonia and Arnold since birth. Yes, since birth. In fact, we were already reading books to them when they were still in my belly (I know lah, we’re kiasu but we can’t help it).
Why we did what we did? Because we believe by doing so, we can build close bonds with our children and provide a window into a world of literacy that they will eventually enter.
From the day Sonia said her first word, till she learned how to string a proper sentence, and later manage a paragraph, we never stop reading to her daily. Yes, everyday, every single day, we read to her, no matter how tired we are because it is the best way to instill love for and interest in reading.
I’m glad we persevered because today we reap what we sow. In her free time, she wouldn’t ask for toys or to watch cartoons, but pick books and sit by her bed to read. Sometimes quietly, other times aloud. She’s three-year-old and doesn’t know how to read those prints on the books (yet) but she knows the stories by heart and will recite them in her own words.
So what she knows? A lot, actually. And we are so proud of her. Sonia knows the names of her favourite books. She knows how to hold a book correctly, turn pages, recall familiar words and phrases, pretend to read, and make up rhymes or silly phrases. She can also predict what might happen next in a story. And she knows we read from left to right, not the other way round.
And I’m glad to see how Arnold rub off good reading habits from Sonia. He wasn’t exactly reading; just flipping and seeing pictures but that’s a good start.
We do not develop literacy by only reading, we take it out to the streets, supermarket and everywhere else. Sonia can recognise some prints on the street, stop signs, and familiar store signs. We help her to see how text is already a part of her daily life. Point out the name of her favourite snacks. And show her the labels on clothing.
When we are out and about, we play games involving letter and number recognition. She always screams in delight when she sees words containing alphabets that make up her name (S.O.N.I.A). She also always point out words that contain “W” and “E” because she recognises hub and my name (Winnie & Edmund). Learning was fun and we will leave it that way. Developing text awareness should never be a chore.
READING ACTIVITIES WE DO AT HOME
#1 – REPETITION AND RHYME
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- Books with repeated phrases, for example, “The Three Little Pigs“, and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin, Jr..
WHAT TO DO
- Pick a story with repeated phrases or a poem you and your child like. For example, read:
WOLF: “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
LITTLE PIG: “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.”
WOLF: “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”
- After the wolf has blown down the first pig’s house, your child will soon join in and mimic after you.
- Read slowly, and with a smile or a nod, let your child know you appreciate his or her participation.
- As the child grows more familiar with the story, pause and give him or her a chance to fill in the blanks and phrases.
- Encourage your child to pretend to read, especially books that contain repetition and rhyme. Most children who enjoy reading will eventually memorise all or part of a book and imitate your reading. This is a normal part of reading development.
- When children anticipate what’s coming next in a story or poem, they have a sense of mastery over books. When children feel power, they have the courage to try. Pretending to read is an important step in the process of learning to read.
#2 – ACT IT OUT
Children grow as readers by connecting feelings with the written word.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A short story or poem. It could be from a book or something you invented.
WHAT TO DO
- Read the story slowly to your child, and bring all your dramatic talents to the reading. The key is to ham it up!
- Suggest acting our a favourite line. Be sure to award such efforts with delighted enthusiasm.
- Ask your child to make a face the way the character in the story is feeling. Remember that facial expressions bring emotion into the performer’s voice.
- Be an enthusiastic audience for your child. Applause is always nice.
- If you child is comfortable with the idea, look for a larger setting with an attentive appreciative audience. Rope in the grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. Perhaps an after-dinner “recital” for family members would appeal to your child.
- Mistakes are a face of life, so ignore them.
MORE LITERACY ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOLERS
- Younger children love rhyme, rhythm and repetition. They also love patterned and alphabet books. When you’re looking at these kinds of books, encourage your child to turn the pages and talk about what she sees. Use your finger to guide your child’s eyes from left to right across the page as you read, and point out certain words or phrases. Ask questions about the pictures, and ask your child to point to different things.
- Children love reading the same book over and over again. You can make the most of this by asking your child to direct book reading – for example, ‘Where do we start from?’ Every so often, stop reading and ask your child what he thinks will happen next.
- Link books with real-life experiences. If you’ve read a book about playing in a park, you might like to take your child to the local park and point out swings that look like the ones from the book.
- Visit the library with your child, and encourage her to choose books she’d like to take home. I take my kids to the library once every fortnight to borrow new books. Having new books every week breeds excitement about reading!
- When you’re out and about with your child, take a book along as well as a toy. We always keep books in the car and both Sonia and Arnold always pick them up!
- Read books with rhymes to help your child develop awareness of sounds and words. Dr Seuss and Pamela Allen books are a hit with many children – try The Cat in the Hat or Doodledum Dancing.
- Teach your child the separate sounds in his name. For example, ‘Sonia’ has three sounds – sss-ooo-nia’.
- Make touch cards for babies and toddlers with objects they like to look at and touch – soft fabrics, wool, foil, paper that rustles. Then look through the book together and talk about how each page looks and feels.
- Expose your kids to BIG ideas. Instead of the usual “How was your day?” kind of conversation, talk to them about something you read that was interesting. It stretches and excites your children and helps them prepare to enter the world of reading with more understanding.
More activities for kids can be found here.
Have fun reading with your children! Remember, READ & REAP!