The two strongest predictors of early reading success are alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness. As a provider, you can help strengthen these important phonics readiness skills. Before you begin, consider watching the Great Phonics Instruction webinar featuring author and education consultant Wiley Blevins. Now explore the resources in this workshop and consider ways you can incorporate phonics readiness skills into your own work.
Activities like word blending can help kids build phonemic awareness, which is the understanding that words are made up of a series of separate sounds, called phonemes.
Watch these playful videos to see word-blending in action. Then invite kids in your care to practice word blending, too.
- Use index cards and a marker to write letters and word family sounds. For example, write “b” on one card, and “at” on another.
- Then have children partner up to create words. The child holding “at” might stay in place while children with other letters (c or h, for example) rotate to make new words in the same word family.
- Consider incorporating actions or playful props to help the learning “stick.”
You can use the words from the videos, or create your own. The most important thing is to meet kids where they are, review what they’ve learned, and build on what they know.
International Literacy Association. (2019) Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction [Literacy leadership brief]. Newark, DE: Author.
Creating Alphabet-Rich Environments
Alphabet recognition involves learning the names, shapes, and sounds of the letters in the alphabet, and it helps get kids ready for phonics learning. There are so many ways to introduce the alphabet to young children. Adding a little alphabet magic to your environment can be a great place to start.
Consider these playful ideas:
- Post letters of the alphabet around the room.
- Celebrate a letter of the day.
- Place posters or signs with words on the walls.
- Create name cards for kids to place on their desks, to label their cubbies, or to wear.
- Provide a letter board, letter magnets, or letter blocks for kids to manipulate.
Read this article for even more ideas.
Now, do a quick survey of your setting. Are there opportunities to incorporate letter learning into your environment?
You can have endless fun with letters!
Alphabet art is a fun, hands-on way to help kids recognize the shapes of letters. It can also provide an opportunity to layer in learning across subjects. Watch this video and think of ways you might incorporate letter crafts into your work with kids and families.