“Can we do it later, please?”
You have probably heard these words coming from your pre-schooler when inviting them to read or do writing exercises. For some children, reading or writing can be a chore simply because their interest is not piqued enough. However, as parents, we know that reading and writing are essential skills that they need to have to manage the challenges, not only in school, but also in life. Below are some tips and resources on how to make reading and writing a fun learning activity:
Pelmanism Sounds big, right? It’s actually just a simple game of memorizing cards or pictures placed before the players and pairing them up. For example, you could find out what storybook your child has been using in class and then use some of the vocabulary featured in the text. Be careful not to use too many words as the game can then take too long and your child may find it hard to concentrate. Around eight to 10 pairs of cards for each game will do.
Go Fish Also known as Happy Families, this is another card game that pre-school learners enjoy. Players ask each other for the cards they need to complete sets they are collecting. Not only does this game help with reading skills, it also boosts their matching and sorting skills, spelling and vocabulary as well as enhancing listening and memory skills. Aside from the reading benefits, Go Fish can also help with maths and social skills as it helps them in recognising numbers and taking turns.
Mystery Word Bag This is a fun activity to give your child practice in reading individual words as well as improving their comprehension skills. Place six to eight words from a featured story into either a box or a bag and then take turns picking a word from the bag. Read the word together, breaking up the individual syllables if the word proves difficult to read. Then, ask your child to think about the word and where it occurred in the story.
Board Games Board games are always fun and are a great way of bonding with your child. Rather than use existing board games, create or print off a blank board game template and add either words or initial phonemes to each square. Then take turns with your child moving counters around the board and reading the words or phonemes. As they progress you can ask them to write and spell words that include the phonemes on the board.
Guided Handwriting The first steps to becoming a confident writer are challenging for all pre-school children. The motor skills involved in holding a pencil properly and then controlling it can prove extremely difficult. To help them overcome these difficulties, make sure that your child starts writing by using pencils that have fat tips. Then hold their hand and guide them through the letter shapes. This will help build their confidence and familiarity with the letters before they start writing independently.
Writing Stencils These are fun tools that build your child’s motor skills to write letters. They are also useful in raising their awareness of the differences between small letters and capital letters. Many different types of stencils can be found in bookshops and stationery shops.
Sand Writing Most children enjoy playing in sand and this is a fun way of channelling that enthusiasm towards a literacy aim. As their writing confidence develops, you can ask them to spell whole words in the sand. A reminder though: make sure that children do not touch the sand and then their mouths.
Sandpaper Letter Tiles These can be found in many pre-school material shops. They are small tiles, about the size of 20 square centimetres and have various phonemes written in sand paper in the middle of the tile. Cover your child’s eyes and then ask them to follow the letter with their fingers and guess which one is on the tile. This is a tactile game that will appeal to your child’s sensory perceptions.
www.starfall.com – This is a favourite used by many pre-school teachers that focuses on improving awareness of different phoneme patterns and building basic reading fluency.
www.learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org – A regular feature in many British Council classes. This site includes many stories and accompanying worksheets of various grades of difficulty.
https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/apps/learnenglish-kids-playtime - This is a relatively recent App from the British Council. It features a number of stories being told with supporting activities. (Paid subscription needed)