I strive to get a little reading practice in everyday with both children, but my secret is, I never use workbooks or worksheets. Yes, worksheets are convenient, but I focus my energy on HANDS-ON activities because they give you so much more bang for your buck. From your own childhood, did you ever really learn something from a worksheet or as some people call them, a ditto? I remember projects and games that brought information to life in meaningful ways, but I cannot recall having an "Aha moment" from a worksheet.
That meaningful activity sticks in your mind so much, and kids often ask to play this one again. An element of surprise and reading skills combine in The Hidden Object game.
How to Play this Early Literacy Game:
You'll need about 5 opaque containers, like cups or bowls. Grab the same number of Post-Its and a marker. You'll also need 1 special object to hide under those containers.
On the Post-its, write the letters your child is learning. If you're just starting out, start with the letters of their name.
If your child has moved into reading, try sight words or words in a particular word family (cat, rat, bat, sat, etc). Another idea would be to include words that have a new sound they've just learning like digraphs: sh, wh, th, and ch.
Invite your child to play:
"I've hidden a special object under one of these container. Before you check under the container you must read the letter or word on that container's note."
Remind your child to read the letter or word before they can look under the container for the hidden object.
Once they find the hidden object, have them close their eyes and start again!
This simple game can be used for so many different skills, but I use it most often for reading words to help target a specific goal my child is working on. This game, I was focused on getting her more comfortable with reading CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words that had different vowels in the middle. If I notice her struggling with a specific vowel or letter sound, I would put more words with those sounds in there.
Reading Games and Early Literacy:
Whenever I discuss early literacy skills like reading CVC words and sight words, I want to reinforce that all the games and wonderful activities are only half of the puzzle. The biggest thing you can do for your child to have success with reading from an early age is read to them everyday.
Read often and check for understanding when reading:
What kind of letters do you see? What words?
Who is in the story?
What's the problem in the story?
Take a look through a book before reading and see if the pictures give you clues as to what might happen.
Make predictions as you go along.
Retell or sequence events in the story?
All the guided questions above activate new connections in your child's mind. So don't worry if you are too busy to play reading games or put together an activity; just make sure you're reading together as often as possible. How often do you read with your child?