Saturday, February 26, 2011

Teaching your Kids to Read

We started teaching our preschooler how to read about 4 months ago and ever since then it seems like we've been getting lots of questions about how to do it. So for those of you who have been asking... this post is for you. If you haven't been asking, perhaps you can find a preschooler to teach after you see all of the fun and exciting resources that are available.

Almost everything below is most likely available at your library or for free online.

To start your child needs to learn their letter sounds. For this we used the Leap Frog Series Letter Factory. It worked like a charm and the kids LOVE it. I also LOVE it because it is sans character attitude, which is hard to find these days. 

The show follows Tad as he learns his letter sounds by meeting all of the letters in the factory that are creatively learning how to say their sound. He meets the "M"s who eat all day and say "Mmmmm" and the "O"s that sound like Tarzan as they swing through a jungle yelling "OooooooOoo". 

It's fun and they'll learn. 

I promise. 

After conquering sounds we moved on to our main book, Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The title does a pretty good job of summing it up. 

Bean is on lesson 93 and she can read, even after 93 easy lessons. 

The book teaches sounds as well, but it was more fun learning them through the movie. It takes about 20 minutes a day of one-on-one time, but we both really enjoy the time and I'll be sad when it's over.

In addition to learning the phonics of reading there are also sight words. These are those pesky words that you just can't sound out. For this we use Preschool Prep Company's Meet the Sight Words Sieres

The series is brilliant.

Each DVD introduces 15 different words. To do so they animate each word in a fun way, for example, the word "on" is a pig, like you see above. The only thing you hear the entire time the "on" is on the screen is the word "on" as the pig walks around the farm.

For additional reading supplements we use "Bob Books" These are short stories with simple pictures, but my kids think they are funny. They do a lot of sitting on things and on each other (For instance, Mat sat on Sam). The books build upon each other, so you just have to make your way through the series.

We also adore our set of Little Angel Readers. These Catholic books are so sweet and are filled with simple lessons in virtue or the lives of the Saints. You often see little guardian angels floating around and watching over the kids, which my kids get such a kick out of!

Next, meet Zac from Bean cries (this is not a joke), if she can't play her "Zac games" at some point throughout the day. She's a little obsessed... we're working on it. Starfall is filled with online games, activities, movies and animated stories that your child can click their way through. 

Again, it's fun and they'll learn.

Finally, on to a program you have to pay for... Reading Eggs. We LOVE this program. It's not super cheap at $69.00 a year, but you can test it out for free for two weeks to see if you and your kiddo like it. This online program teaches your budding reader how to read in 120 fun and interactive lessons filled games and videos. It has a spelling component (Skills Bank), a place to write stories (Story Factory), a place to read stories (Storylands), and so much more. Test it out, I promise you'll be impressed.

P.S. I think it's important to let a child's first experiences in reading to be with actual books, so we wait to use this until after we have established a foundation for sounding out words and have begun to read a few very simple books.

That's it from my experience, if you have any stellar ideas you'd add to this list, please put them in the comments!


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