Accidental Hipster Teacher

Teaching Your Child to Read by Using Letter Sounds

The summer holidays can be a great time to spend bringing your child on. With that in mind, I’m excited to bring you a new series from an anonymous guest writer: Accidental Hipster Teacher. 

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The Accidental Hipster Teacher

Your child loves looking at books, speaks in sentences, can complete easy jigsaw puzzles, repeats simple stories, songs, and rhymes. You’re convinced he’s ready to read; only he’s not yet at school and you don’t have a clue how to teach him.  Or maybe he’s already started school, but can’t seem to remember the sounds covered by the teacher. You’d happily help him at home if only you knew how.

That’s where my blog posts can help. Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting a series of activities designed to help young children remember the most common sounds of the 26 letters of the alphabet. (To keep things simple I’m using the traditional approach—the children learn the 26 sounds of the letters of the alphabet, and then the sounds they can make by putting together the sounds they already know.)

Teaching Your Child to Read by Using Letter Sounds

I’ve aimed to make the activities fun.  You need your child to learn, but he needs to think he’s playing, so it’s very important to be lavish with praise and keep the activities as exciting and as stress-free as possible. (For ease of writing I’ve used the word ‘he’ rather than ‘he or she.’)

One new sound a week is best for a pre-school child. Have a large letter card ready to display, showing the letter of the alphabet you’re going to introduce, drawn in thick black marker pen. (Lower case only for now, capitals can come later.)

I’ll be introducing activities for each letter of the alphabet in future posts, but if you’re keen to get started now, you could begin with the sound at the beginning of your child’s name. Followed by the sound at the beginning of a brother or sister’s or friend’s name a week or so later.

Begin each session by showing your child an object that begins with your chosen letter. e.g. if the sound is ‘b’ you could pass him a toy bear and say: ‘Look, here’s a bear. When we say bear, ‘b’ is the first sound we make.’ Have him say along with you: ‘b-b-b-b-bear,’ then hold up the card and show him what the sound looks like when it’s written down. (Focus just on the letter sound, not its name.)

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Buy an assortment of alphabet books (I’ve found some great vintage ones in charity shops) and look at them together each time you introduce a new sound. The ones showing lower case as well as capitals are best then you can focus on lower case and introduce capitals only when needed e.g. for someone’s name. I particularly like the alphabet books that show a simple scene incorporating lots of items beginning with the target sound. As an example for the ‘b’ sound you could say something along the lines of: ‘Look there’s a picture of a beach on this page and lots of things that begin with ‘b’. I can see a b-b-b-b- bucket, and a b-b-b-b-baby. What can you see in the picture that starts with ‘b?’ If he misses any give a clue. ‘I can see something beginning with ‘b’ and it’s sailing in the sea.’

You could follow this up with a game of Roll a ballSit on the floor a short distance away from your child and roll a large ball towards him. When he grabs it he has to think of a word that begins with the target sound before he rolls the ball back to you. You do the same, then it’s his turn again.

Writing the target letter:

Make a writing tray. Place a little sand in the bottom of a white plastic tray and show your child how to form the letter shape using his finger. (To vary the activity he could also use a blunt pencil, a plastic knife, lolly stick, bottle top, a paint brush or a twig.) Encourage him to start the letter in the right place and guide his hand if necessary.

Or you could spread some shaving cream/foam over the base of a baking tray. You form the letter first, but don’t erase it, then ask your child to use his finger follow the path you made. After that you can smooth out the cream and he can try writing the letter by himself.

little boy on a tractor

Start a sound scrap book. If you’re planning to use your child’s name as a starting point, find a simple activity he enjoys, which begins with the same letter as his name. eg Tom could ride his toy tractor, Danielle could play with her dolls. Take a quick snap shot, print it out and stick it in a scrap book. Over the next few days add to the book with a couple more simple activities beginning with the same letter sound. Label the page with your target letter and always start a new page when you introduce a new sound.  Once you have a few pages completed share the book at bedtime to practice identifying letter sounds already covered.

Next time:  More suggestions for writing the sounds.

Teaching Your Child to Read by Using Letter Sounds

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39 thoughts on “Teaching Your Child to Read by Using Letter Sounds

  1. What a great post! My youngest granddaughter is 2 1/2 and her mum works very hard to teach her all sorts of stuff. I’m amazed by what she knows, but I think this series will help my daughter a lot in moving forward with letters. Thanks, Accidental Hipster Teacher. I love the graphics! 🙂

    1. Fabulous, I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful. I can’t take credit for the drawings, they’re all from the post author. I can’t wait to share more with you!

  2. Lucas could read at 3and 1/2 whereas his brother Thomas was nearly
    all so different
    The main thing is encouragement and fun

    1. You’re definitely right. I think each child is so different, my daughter loved books but my little boy is too much of a wriggle bum to have more than one story at a time!

  3. My children could all read key words by the age of 3. As a qualified primary school teacher myself, I had the resources at home!

  4. My son could read simple words just before his 4th birthday but he had always been fascinated by letters and still loves reading now at 6. My daughter is now nearly 4 and doesn’t know many letter sounds at all – they all develop in their own time and have different strengths. I do find it really fascinating how children learn to read though!

  5. My son is 10 now and we obviously read most nights still but I remember him reading well really early but I can’t remember exactly what age. He was very good at reading and spelling and still is.

  6. My Daughter is 3 and she is starting to know when certain words are said in books. So not quite reading but working towards it.

  7. My children seemed to read quickly. All around aged 3 read small words, piecing the sounds together , etc xx

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