Reading Tips and Activities: Simple & Silly Pre-Reading Games

Learning to read is made easier for children when they have a good understanding of letters and sounds. Play matters for children, so games are a great way to introduce  letters and sounds to children and to develop their understanding.

Susan Case is a knowledgeable and experienced educator of young children, and I’m thrilled that she is sharing some fun game ideas with My Little Bookcase today. I particularly like the spontaneous nature of the games. If you like her ideas, make sure you take a look at her own blog, Kindergarten and Preschool for Parents and Teachers.

It is wonderful to read books to children every day. This produces well-documented results of enriched language and reading skills. But young children love action. So to complement the daily reading, I’d like to suggest a few hands-on and inexpensive games to help children learn letters and sounds. This will help them understand the alphabet symbol/sound/reading connection and it’s a lot of fun!

Benefits of Playing Letter Games:

  • Increases vocabulary and language while helping children focus and relax during a family shared time.
  • Games are challenging and help children learn sequential thinking or logical planning while they try to reach a desired goal.
  • Making up silly games inspires creativity.
  • Playing games fosters social skills including healthy competition, taking turns, sharing, listening, cooperating, good sportsmanship, how to handle disappointment and  the development problem solving skills.
  • Physical exercise works the muscles, improves coordination and releases stress, especially when accompanied by laughter.
  • Playing games increases the number of new brain connections leading to a higher IQ.

Here are a few games that I tried with my three-year-old grandson, Sammy. I used inexpensive objects purchased at garage sales or at craft stores. Some were given as gifts.

Making up games helps children build confidence in their abilities. Even if your child wants to play a silly game over and over, remember that they are building social, mental and physical skills.

Shout It Out!

Sammy enjoyed throwing beanie toys at the sparkly letters as he yelled the letter name and sound. At first, I placed the letters in his name around the star but he wanted to place different letters himself and knew most of them. He enjoyed throwing beanie toys on top of the letters as we clapped and laughed together.

Checker Letters

Children are most interested in learning the letters of their name. Offer those letters and encourage your child to place them on the black squares. Slowly sound out different names of things that your child loves such as Mum, Dad, dog, and cat then have them find the letters and place them on the black or red squares.

Hop Scotch Alphabet

I used painter’s tape to make an indoor hopscotch. Sammy wanted to put letters in the squares himself. He then threw the animals at the letters and thought this was hilarious. We applauded as he told us the letter names and sounds. Then he hopped around on the squares, naming each letter as he went.

Matching Game

a) Put a letter block or card in a bucket. Have your child find objects that begin with that letter sound to throw in the bucket.
b) Have objects available in a container that begin with the letters in their first name. Can your child match the beginning sounds?

Action Figure Slide


Have your child choose a number from the  spinner, and then take a spin. When it stops at the chosen number, it’s their turn to find a letter by sound. When they accomplish this, let them pick something to slide down the slide.

Susan Case is the author of Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers & Parents and the co-author of The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. You can visit Susan on her blog: Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers.

Reading Tips and Activities: Simple & Silly Pre-Reading Games

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  1. Love all of these ideas…and such an important focus! Thanks Susan and Jackie x

  2. Kelly said: On March 4, 2013

    Such great ideas, and I really like how they made use of toys and things around the house. Dino Boy would like the hopscotch for sure! Anything with movement for him :-)

  3. So many great ideas!

  4. What great ideas to make learning fun… Dimples would love the action figure slide,

  5. Love these ideas! So simple to put together and hours of fun for the kids,

  6. This is fabulous! Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips! Will be using some of these with my 2.5 year old! :)

  7. Debs said: On March 7, 2013

    What great ideas! Always a quality article from Susan. Thanks and pinning!

  8. Penny said: On March 9, 2013

    Yay, it was lovely to see that Susan had written this post. She has such good ideas. I love these. When the twinkles are ready for letters, I can’t wait to try these idea out.

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Reading Tips and Activities: Simple & Silly Pre-Reading Games

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