Most preschoolers love to pretend. You can use this to your advantage, with an activity that will make them feel all grown up. As your child plays photographer, snapping pictures around the yard, he'll also be practicing recognizing letter sounds, which will help him learn to read.
What You Do:
- Get Ready: Give your child the disposable camera and a quick lesson in how to use it. For instant gratification, a Polaroid is even better, but not necessary.
- Choose a Letter: Ask your child what sound in makes, then send him out into the yard or house to look for something that uses that letter. For example, if the letter was R, he might find a rock, a red candle, or a rainbow. Make sure he knows that he can also hunt for things with an R in the middle or end of their name, for example, a broom, or a car.
- Get Vocal: When your child finds something he thinks will fit the bill, ask him to shout it out. Be sure to repeat the word and the sound it makes, for example, “This is a rock and it sounds like rrr-rock. It starts with the “rrr” sound.” Then write the word in the notepad, or on an index card, indicating what letter sound it goes with, and ask your child to snap a picture.
- Put it All Together: Once you've taken all the pictures you'd like, drop the camera off for developing. When you get them back, spread them out on the table. Take out your list and ask your child to name each of the items he found with the “rrr” sound. Then cluster them together and make a scrapbook, writing the name of each item below its image, with a special emphasis (like an underline, or different color of marker) for the letter R.
- Repeat!: You can follow this same formula for each letter of the alphabet. Some letters, like c and k. sound the same, so do those at the same time and then sort the pictures when you get them home. This will help your child understand that they're the same, but different. Vowels are particularly difficult for young children, so do them last. And consider doing each vowel twice: once for the short vowel sound (for example, “a” in “animal”), and once for the long vowel sound (for example, “a” in “ate”).
As they say, “a picture's worth a thousand words”. And these pictures are sure to help your child learn to read them!
Donna Lybarger currently teaches kindergarten in Texas. Before that, she spent time as both a first grade and preschool teacher.