Early Literacy Aside: Explain Aside: Noticing that the same letter can look different, like upper and lower case, is a beginning step for letter knowledge, one of the early literacy skills that children need to be able to learn to read.
Early Literacy Aside–Example Aside: One way we can help children learn what the letters look like and the letter names is by sharing alphabet books. When sharing alphabet books with children, we tend to focus more on the print than with any other type of book. Let’s share an alphabet book together.
Share the book ABC Look at Me by Roberta Intrater.
Did you notice that when I read the book, I pointed to the letter? As we read alphabet books, we tend to point out the letter on the page as we say its name. This does not come so naturally while reading other kinds of books. As you talk about the letter you can point out that the same letter can look different. For example, here’s the letter R. It can look like R or r.
Empower Aside: When you read alphabet books, don’t worry if your child does not recognize the letters and the different ways they look. You are just introducing the idea that the same letter can look different. Alphabet books do not need to be read from A to Z. You can give the book to your child and let them choose a page that looks interesting. Then talk about the picture and the letter. As your child grows, keep pointing out and talking about letters. Let your child see your interest in them and they will follow your lead in learning them.
Introduction: Let’s look at the cover of this book Goodnight Max by Rosemary Wells. What shapes do you see? Yes, the blanket has colored squares, the moon is a crescent shape; Max’s nose looks like a triangle.
Read the book.
Early Literacy Aside–Example Aside: You don’t need a book about shapes to talk about shapes. Talking about shapes with your child as we did at the beginning of this book, is the beginning of being able to recognize letters. Children begin to recognize letters by their shapes.
Preparation: Put some items in a bag or box, some of which starting with the sound /p/ (for example). Some examples include: pretzel, popcorn, paper, pig. Also include some items for words that do NOT begin with /p/.
Introduction: Ohhhh, here is my sound bag/box. Let’s see what’s in it today. Our llama in the book we just read was wearing red pajamas (Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney). Pajama starts with the sound /p/. Let me hear you say /p/. Good! I am going to pull out different things from my sound box. Let’s see which ones have the same beginning sound as pajama, /p/.
Play Game: As you pull items out of the bag, say what it is; or ask the children what it is. Repeat the word and emphasize the first sound. Our next item is a car. Car. Car. Car starts with /k/. Are /k/ and /p/ the same sound? That’s right! They are not. Let’s look for our next item. What else do I have in here? What is this? Right, a pencil. Pencil. Pencil. Pencil starts with /p/. Do pencil and pajama sound alike at the beginning? Yes, they do!
Early Literacy Aside–Example Aside: Helping your child hear the beginning sounds of words, in a playful way, like with this game, is one way that you can help your child develop [phonological awareness,] hearing the smaller sounds in words.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower Aside: We played the sound in a bag game today. You can play this game with any items you have around the house. Or you can have a sound day–today is /d/ day. Throughout the day you and your children look for or think of words that start with the /d/ sound. Remember, you’re not thinking about how a word is spelled, just the beginning sound. Keep it fun, not frustrating. This game is one way to help your children later sound out words when they learn to read.
Early Litearcy Aside–Explain: Today our early literacy tip is on hearing the smaller sounds in words. This prereading skill will help children later sound out words when they learn to read. [The skill is called phonological awareness.] I’ll be pointing out some activities you can do to support this skill as you read with your children.
Introduction: Hush: A Thai Lullaby by Mingfong Ho is our next book. It is about a mother in Thailand singing a lullaby to her baby.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: This book has both animal sounds and rhyming words. Both of these activities, hearing and saying animal sounds and hearing and saying rhyming sounds and words support one of the early literacy skills, phonological awareness.
Read the book. Have participants join in with saying the sounds of the animals. After you read the book, come back to a page and talk about two words that rhyme. Have the children think of other words that rhyme–remember they can be nonsense words.
Closing Early Literacy Aside: Today I pointed out some activities around the early literacy skill phonological awareness: hearing different sounds such as animal sounds, as we just did and having children make those sounds. For older children, we want them to be able to hear the smaller sounds in words, the syllables, to be able to hear and make the beginning sound in a word, to be able to hear and make rhyming words, and to play with these sounds. Researchers know these are important skills for later when your child tries to sound out words. Children develop at different stages and some things will be harder for some and easier for others. It is easier to recognize a rhyme than to make a rhyme, so if your child cannot rhyme a word, say two words and ask if they rhyme. By doing these activities, you will be helping your child enter school ready to learn to read.