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Preschool activities and resources
1. Tiny guideBefore reading a story to a child, use makeup pencils to decorate the tip of your index finger. You can, for example, draw a happy face, a ladybug, a spider, etc. Use this finger to follow the text, sliding it from left to right on each page. The child's eyes will be attracted by this fun character. This simple activity will help him/her understand how the words appearing on the pages of a book must be read from left to right, a first step towards learning to read. Depending on the child's age, you may choose to draw the same character on his/her finger and read the story a second time, but this time moving the child's finger under the words as you read them.
2. Cut wordsIn the educatall club, you will find many series of word flashcards associated to a wide range of themes. Select words that are related to your current theme and print the flashcards. Glue each word flashcard on a different color of construction paper. Laminate them and cut each flashcard in half, with the word on one side and the picture on the other. Have fun cutting them different ways (round edge, zigzag edge, wavy edge, etc.). Children will enjoy assembling the words with the correct picture and "reading" them. The colors will help them find matching pieces.
3. Recorded picture booksGather a few picture books that contain pictures of everyday items with the corresponding words written under them. Use a tape recorder to record your voice as you read each word. Read the words on the left page followed by the words on the right page. Before turning a page, ring a small bell. When children hear the bell, they will know they must turn the page. Show children how they can use the recording to "read" the words on their own.
4. Word sticksWrite one, two, or several words that are often repeated in the story you wish to read to your group on colourful Popsicle sticks. You may choose very simple words (the, is, a, or) or, with older children, the name of an animal or character. Show children the sticks and read the words. Invite children to hold the sticks as you read the story. Encourage them to identify the words in the text.
5. Tracing wordsPrint word flashcards related to your theme. Laminate them and cut them out. Pour Jell-O powder in the bottom of a baking sheet. Encourage children to take turns using a small stick to trace the letters that make up a word in the colourful powder. Read the word together. Tracing the letters will help children begin to recognize the words.
6. Felt lettersUse stencils to cut the letters of the alphabet out of colourful felt. Be sure to prepare many copies of each letter. Have fun arranging the letters on your felt board with your group to write simple words. Children will enjoy reading and writing words they can see on word flashcards, the words that make up the titles of their favorite books, or words that can be seen on posters displayed within your daycare.
7. Magnetic letters and soundsFill a large container with magnetic letters. Explain to your group how each letter is associated to a sound. Attach a paperclip to the end of a long string tied to a stick. Let children take turns "fishing" one letter at a time. As soon as a child catches a letter, make the corresponding sound. Encourage children to repeat the sound. At first, use very few letters. Once children know the sounds associated to those letters, add more.
8. Guess the sentenceUse rebus puzzles with your group. Search the Web to find simple examples that are perfectly suited for young children. Print illustrations related to each word or part of it and display them in the correct order on a piece of cardboard. Under each illustration, write the corresponding word. Show children how they can use the rebus puzzles to "read".
9. Spelling with blocksWe all have wooden blocks with the letters of the alphabet printed on them. Show children how they can use them to spell simple words. You can hand them the blocks they will need to write different words associated to your theme. Every time they complete a word, "read" it with your group, pronouncing the sound associated to each letter very clearly.
10. Vowel and consonant diceWrap a small square box in white paper. On each side of the die, write a vowel (a, e, i, o, u, y). Wrap a second small square box in white paper. On each side, write a consonant (w, s, t, p, r, m). Show children the sound(s) each vowel and each consonant make. At first, use only one die. For example, let children roll the vowel die. Together, make the corresponding sound(s). After a while, repeat this exercise with the consonant die. Later, if you feel children have mastered the sounds associated with each letter, let them roll both dice. Place the consonant die in front of the vowel die and show children how they can connect both sounds.
11. Let's repeat togetherOlder children are often quite eager to learn how to read. Be sure to select simple books and to always follow the text with your finger. Encourage children to repeat each line you read, following the words with your finger and helping them if necessary. Repeat this exercise a few times with the same book. After a few practice sessions, certain children will be able to "read" it on their own.
12. Alphabet soundsSing the alphabet with your group, but instead of naming the letters one by one, pronounce the sound associated to each letter. This will represent quite the challenge for little ones. However, this exercise is great for helping children learn to read. Once they master the sound each letter makes, they will begin to connect these sounds and read short words.
13. Signs, posters, etc.When you are out and about with your group, stop to observe the various signs and posters you see. Children who are beginning to show an interest in reading will naturally be attracted to these reading opportunities. Take the time to break down each word with them and make the sound associated to each letter to help them "read" the messages.
14. Rhyming wordsIdentifying rhyming words is usually quite difficult for young children. However, you can help them by creating picture books containing rhyming words. Simply print pictures of rhyming words and write the words under each picture. As you turn the pages of your picture books, accentuate the ending sound of each word. These picture books will help children understand the concept of rhyming words. For example, one picture book may contain the following words: bat, cat, rat, mat, and hat.
15. Small tilesUse Scrabble tiles to write simple words and encourage children to "read' them. Help them by making the sounds associated to each letter or group of letters. They will try to do the same. Repeat this activity often. Keep in mind that the more children see the same words, the more they will learn to recognize them. Eventually, they will no longer need you to make the sound associated to each letter. For example, when they see the letters "c-a-t", they will automatically know they spell the word "cat".
16. Tiny flipogramFor this activity, you will need two rings. Print vowels and consonants on small pieces of cardboard. Use a hole-punch to make a hole at the top of each piece of cardboard. Form two piles: one containing vowels and one containing consonants. Slide a ring into each stack of letters. Fold a piece of heavy cardboard into three equal parts to form a three-dimensional triangle (like a desktop calendar or Rolodex). Insert the rings at the top of the triangle so the letters can be flipped behind the triangle (consonants on the left and vowels on the right). Display one vowel, for example the "a" on the right and flip the consonants, linking them to the letter "a" to create two-letter sounds. After a while, display another vowel and so on.
17. Labels galore!To help children learn to recognize words, they must be given the opportunity to see them over and over again. Label as many items as possible within your daycare: table, chair, door, window, etc. Once your labels are ready and installed, go around your daycare with your group, reading each word. The labels should represent permanent additions to your daycare décor.
18. Illustrated menuPhotograph food items that you serve often. Slide the pictures in small photo albums and use adhesive letters to write the name of each food item below it. When children are seated at the table, encourage them to look at these picture books. During cleanup time after a meal, you can invite children to find the pictures of the food items they just ate. When they succeed, have them "read" the words.
19. The sound trainGlue a consonant on your toy train's locomotive. Glue a different vowel on each wagon. Encourage children to connect the consonant to each vowel, one by one, and read the sound created by connecting the two letters.
20. Vowel cityUse colourful electrical tape to write vowels here and there along the streets of your car mat. Stick adhesive consonants on small toy cars. Show children how they can drive the cars along the streets, stopping to connect the consonant on each car to each vowel they meet and reading the corresponding sounds.
21. Colourful posterOn a large piece of cardboard, write the name of each color using a marker of the corresponding color (write "blue" using a blue marker). Invite children to name the colors while attracting their attention to the letters that make up the word.
22. Stamping soundsPurchase stamps that represent the letters of the alphabet. Use them to write several simple words or words related to your theme. Help children read the words. Encourage them to use the stamps to recreate the words while making the sounds associated to each letter.
23. Sound bingoIn the educatall club, you will find a bingo game that will help you practice the sounds associated to different letters (Bingo-Alphabet). Each time you pick a letter, make the corresponding sound instead of naming the letter. The more children hear the sounds, the easier it will be for them to remember and recognize them.
24. Reading magnifying glassPurchase tiny magnifying glasses (dollar store). Select a storybook in which specific words are often repeated. Write these words on a small piece of cardboard and read them with the child you are about to read to. Break down the words, sound by sound. Encourage the child to identify the words as you read to them. Children will like to position their magnifying glass over the words as they spot them, just like little detectives.
25. Picture clue storyIn the educatall club, you will find several picture clue stories. They are great for children who can't wait to be able to "read". For each story, print the small cards containing the picture clues and review them with your group. As you read the stories, pause each time you reach a picture clue and let children complete the sentence, pointing to the right card.
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