Fruit & veggie phonics

Here’s a brain teaser that will help your child learn letter sounds, a key pre-reading skill. Play this game at grocery store or in your kitchen while you’re cooking.

What you’ll need

  • A bunch of different fruits or vegetables

What to do

Point to, say, a banana and a melon and ask your child which one starts with the “b” sound. Do this with any pairs or small groupings of fruits or veggies. You can also have your child pick out different fruits and veggies and tell you what sound each starts with. For more advanced play, ask your child to find a fruit or veggie that starts with a “b” (and of course, other letters) and bring it to you. If you’re at the grocery store, she can help you cross off the items on your shopping list while learning her letter sounds!

Cool letters

Magnetic letters make cooking time into learning time.

What you’ll need

  • Magnetic letters
  • A magnetic surface, such as the fridge (a cookie tin also works well)

What to do

First, challenge her to arrange the letters in alphabetical order. Next, ask her to close her eyes, pick out a letter, open her eyes, and come up with a word that starts with that letter. If your child has mastered this step, encourage her to spell out simple words (two to four-letter words) starting with the letter she picks. Finally, you create a word and see if she can change one letter (from, say, bake to cake) and make a new word. Ultimate challenge: If she spells cookie, can she have one, too?

Concentrate!

Kids love to play Concentration — perhaps because their young memories are so sharp that they usually beat the pants off the adults in the room. Try playing Concentration with your child using sight words at his reading level.

What you’ll need

What to do

Using index cards, make two copies of each word. To begin, start with about 10 words (so you’ll have 20 cards; two of each word). Shuffle the cards and with the word side down, lay them out in neat rows,. For each turn, a player gets to turn over two cards. If it’s a match, the player keeps the cards. Take turns finding matches; the player with the most pairs wins. Have your child say each word aloud as he turns them over. In the beginning, you’ll likely have to help your child recognize many words, but give him the chance to try. As your child becomes familiar with the words in your deck, add more challenging ones.

Word scramble

This word play game will help your child’s reading skills.

What you’ll need

What to do

Pick a sight word at your child’s level and make it the “word of the day.” Have your child form the word from letter blocks or magnets. Next, mix the letters of the “word of the day” up with other, random letters, and have your child find the letters to make the word again. Have your child repeat the games a few times, until she can easily make the word. When you go out, see how many times your child can find the word on street signs and at the store, and keep a list of “sightings.”

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Updated: March 2, 2016