Reading tips & strategies: Playing with the sound of words (ages 2-8)

As your children are getting ready to read or developing their reading skills, it’s great to play with the sound of words. Each word is made of small blocks of sounds. In order to learn to read, we need to be able to break words into the smaller parts. Focus on these sounds (not letter names) and play with these sound parts. As image from PBS Kids for Parents


Play with rhymes:
Rhyming games help children recognize how parts of words can be similar. You can sing songs or read stories with rhymes. But you can also play guessing games with everyday objects. Maybe it’s a version of “I spy” using rhyming: “I spy something that rhymes with bear.” 

Be silly with nonsense words: Kids love-love-love being silly. Encourage this, and use nonsense words that play with small sounds of words. These types of words help kids learn to blend together words, using these sound chunks. Maybe if you sneeze, try saying “achoo-a-boo-boo-boo!” Do you see how that helps emphasize that small part of the word?

Listen for sounds: Help your child listen for beginning sounds in words and then play with them. Can they make this even sillier: Silly Sally sings songs all Saturday — by extending all the sss’s? What about Mommy makes mud pies? This sort of goofy playing actually helps children realize that the beginning sounds are important parts of words.

Swap sounds around: For a more advanced game, try removing or swapping sounds. What is ‘beat’ when you take away the T sound? Bee! Maybe they can use this to make up silly nicknames for their pets or stuffed animals.

Read more ideas on PBS Parents at How to Start Playing On-the-Go Literacy Games.

Playing with language and words will help children develop their confidence and phonics skills. How do you help grow your readers? Send me a note, and let me know what works for you! 

©2021 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books