Little School of Smiths

This month my son finished learning all his pre-primer sight words! He has been begging me to teach him how to read since last summer and has worked so hard. He has mastered all the pre-primer sight words and is growing his confidence in reading. He just turned 5 and is now reading basic readers on his own!

This was my second time around to teach a child to read. Both of my kids learn very differently, but to start I decided to just do what worked with my first. A few things we adapted, but for the most part my method was the same and seems to be a great process for us. A gentle, and FUN, way to ease into learning how to read. I thought I would share if you need any help or guidance in teaching your own kids.

Teaching reading doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to be daunting. Kids learn best through exposure, repetition, and play! You will find that most of my favorite and most effective ways to teach them are through games! So here is the order of goals I like to meet:

1. Always start with mastering all the alphabet letters and their sounds.

Check this post HERE how I teach a letter a week during my kids preschool years. We also love Let’s Play School Play & Learn ABC games.

Letter A Week Curriculum for Preschool at Home

There are so many fun games and ways to practice and master beginning sounds. Check my post HERE for many fun games and free printables.

Beginning Sounds Games

2. Once my kids have mastered all their beginning sounds, we begin to work on the pre-primer sight word list. I usually only introduce 2-3 new sight words at a time. I will not add more new words until those few have been mastered first.

Just the same as beginning sounds, we play a lot of games! These are some of my favorite ways that we play and learn sight words: (Choose a few of these to play throughout the week to practice and reinforce the sight words they are working on.)

  • Let’s Play School Play & Learn Sight Words
  • Kaboom! (My son’s favorite! Easy DIY popsicle stick game)
  • Flash card games: You can print out the words on card-stock or even just write them on index cards. Using the sight word flash cards I’ll line them up on the floor & have them read the word and jump over it (put them in different paths to switch it up- zig zag, circle, up stairs, around furniture.) Using our cards we also play hide & seek. I’ll hide the cards around the room for them to find and read when they bring it back to me.
  • Zingo Bingo Sight Words
  • Read It, Build It, Write It (Breaking down the word and building it, as well as writing it, helps with word recognition.)
  • Dry-erase Dice: Write a few sight words with dry erase marker on these dice, have them roll it & read the word, or roll it & write the word it lands on.
  • Sight Word Search: Write a few sight words multiple times all over a piece of paper and have your child use a do-a-dot marker, sticker, or marker to cover or circle the sight word you call out.
DIY Learning Game- Kaboom!
Read It, Build It, Write It

3. As I begin to add more sight words, I will also start working on blending words.

  • Word Family Wheels: These word wheels are my favorite! They come in a set of 18 for only $6! We will start to practice one or 2 wheel word families until it is mastered before moving on to the next.
  • Sticky Note Search & Blend: Write the end of the word family on multiple sticky notes. One a piece of paper write down the first letter that will go with the word family. Place the sticky notes around the room. Have them find one, stick it to the page and sound out the word. (pictured below)
  • Magnatiles Blending: My kids love their magnatiles. If you also have some, you can write on them with a dry erase marker (one for each letter.) Have them move around & connect the pieces to create and sound out words.
Word Family Wheels

4. Reading practice:

  • Dash Into Learning: These books are my favorite! They are an early phonics program with beautiful stories crafted to build reading skills. They are simple, fun, colorful, and help you teach your child with a helpful teaching page at the beginning of each book. There is 10 books in each set and they build off each other. (You can also get the amazing activity packs that go with each set for further practice and fun games.) They were the first books my kids ever read on their own and they love them! Use code SMITH20 For 20% off!
  • Moffatt Girls Emergent Readers: My kids love to color so they love these! This set comes with 15 mini books of sight words for each vowel! Each mini book has 6 pages they can color, put together, and read. We continue to read and work on the same book until mastered. Each book builds off the previous, so they are constantly reviewing and reading all the words they have already learned.
Dash Into Learning Set 1 Readers
Moffatt Girls Emergent Readers

5. Continue to read to them: Reading aloud or reading together while they follow along is extremely beneficial. They learn word recognition, spelling, punctuation, and so much more just from reading together. We love spending time reading lots of great picture books. The Good and the Beautiful has a great book list you can find HERE.

In the end, have fun! Take the pressure off yourself, and your children, and wait until they have an interest or are ready to learn to read. You’re building a foundation they will have for the rest of their life and you want them to feel confident. If they aren’t ready, it’s ok to take a step back and just read to them. They might not get it today, tomorrow, or next week, but they WILL someday. There are so many resources out there to help, you just have to find what works best for you and your family.

These simple and fun activities have been very successful for both my daughter and now my son. He is so excited to be able to read and what a rewarding feeling to be the one to have taught him.

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