Preschoolers Activities (page 3)

— U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Nov 12, 2009

What You Need

  • Alphabet book
  • Alphabet blocks
  • ABC magnets
  • Paper, pencils, crayons, markers
  • Glue
  • Safety scissors

What to Do

  • With your child sitting with you, print the letters of her name on paper and say each letter as you write it. Make a name sign for her room or other special place. Have her decorate the sign.
  • Teach your child "The Alphabet Song" and play games with him using the alphabet. Some alphabet books have songs and games that you can learn together.
  • Look for educational videos, DVDs, CDs and TV shows such as "Between the Lions," "Blue's Clues," and "Sesame Street" that feature letter-learning activities for young children. Watch such programs with your child and join in with him on the rhymes and songs.
  • Place alphabet magnets on your refrigerator or on another smooth, safe metal surface. Ask your child to name the letters she plays with and the words she may be trying to spell.
  • Wherever you are with your child, point out individual letters in signs, billboards, posters, food containers, books and magazines.
  • Encourage your child to spell and write her name. At first, she may use just a few letters for her name; for example, Jenny might use the letters JNY.
  • Line up several alphabet blocks and have your child say the name of each letter. Have her use alphabet blocks to spell her name.
  • Give your child a page from an old magazine. Circle a letter on the page and have him circle matching letters.

Rhyme It!

Rhyming helps children start to pay attention to the sounds in words, which is an important first step in learning to read. Rhymes are an extension of children's language skills.

By hearing and saying rhymes, along with repeated words and phrases, your child learns about spoken sounds and about words. Rhymes also spark a child's excitement about what comes next, which adds fun and adventure to reading.

What You Need

Books with rhyming words, word games or songs

What to Do

  • Play rhyming games and sing rhyming songs with your child. Many songs and games include clapping and bouncing and tossing balls.
  • Read nursery rhymes to your child. As you read, stop before a rhyming word and encourage her to fill in the blank. When she does, praise her.
  • Listen for rhymes in songs that you know or hear on the radio, TV or at family or other gatherings. Sing the songs with your child.
  • Around the home, point to objects and say their names, for example, sink. Then ask your child to say as many words as he can that rhyme with the name. Other good easily rhymed words are ball, bread, rug, clock and bread. Let him use some silly or nonsense, words as well: ball-tall, call, small, dall, jall, nall.
  • Say three words such as cat, dog and sat and ask your child which words sound the same-rhyme.
  • If your child has an easy-to-rhyme name, ask her to say words that rhyme with it: Kate-plate, late, wait, date, gate.
  • If a computer is available, encourage your child to download and run rhyming games.

Say the Sound

Listening for and saying sounds in words helps children learn that spoken words are made up of sounds, which gets them ready to match spoken sounds to written letters. This, in turn, gets them ready to read.

Helping your child learn to pay attention to sounds in words can prevent reading problems later on.

What You Need

  • Old magazine
  • Book of nursery or nonsense rhymes

What to Do

  • Say four words that begin with the same sound, such as big, ball, basket and balloon. Ask your child to tell you the first sound in each word, /b/*.
  • Say four words, such as cap, hop, cake and camera. Ask your child which of the words starts with a different sound.
  • Say four words, such as stop, top, mop and hop. Ask your child to tell you what the last sound is in each word, /p/.
  • Give your child an old magazine. Sit with him and point out objects in the pictures. Ask him to say the sounds that the objects start with. Change the game by saying a sound and having him find an object in a picture that starts with that sound.
  • Have fun by helping your child say tongue twisters such as "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," and nonsense rhymes such as "Hey Diddle, Diddle," as well as more modern nonsense rhymes such as those of Dr. Seuss.
  • As you read a story or poem, ask your child to listen for and say the words that begin with the same sound. Then have her think of and say another word that begins with the sound.
  • Help your child to make up and say silly sentences with lots of words that start with the same sound, such as, "Tom took ten toy trucks to town."

Matching Sounds and Letters

Although children can be taught to match most letters with the sounds that they represent, be prepared to give them lots of help.

Matching sounds with letters helps your child to learn that the letters he sees in written words represent the sounds he says in words. This is an important step in becoming a successful reader

What You Need

  • Pieces of paper
  • Paper bag

What to Do

  • Say some sounds for letters, such as /p/, /h/ and /t/ and have your child write the letter that matches the sound.
  • As you read to your child, point out words that begin with the same letter as her name: Megan and morning, Liza and land, Sophie and save. Have her find other words that begin with that sound.
  • Write letters on pieces of paper and put them in a paper bag. Have your child take a piece of paper from the bag and say the name of the letter and the sound that it represents. Then have him say a word that begins with that sound.
  • Sit with your child and play "I Spy." Look around the room and say, "I spy something that starts with /s/. What is it?" If you like, add clues such as "We use it to cook our food." (stove) "It's where we wash the dishes." (sink)
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