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My daughter Jenna is almost three and a half. I’ve been teaching her about letters and sounds since she was about 18 months old.
I used the same methods with her older brother, and by the time he was three he was reading Bob Books. But every kid is different, and that’s okay.
Jenna knows all of her letters and sounds, and can sound out several words on her own. More importantly, Jenna is super excited to “do reading”. She’s pulling out materials, and asking to practice on a regular basis.
Here are some of the things we have been doing:
Modified Ziggy games
I’ve previously mentioned how I bought the Ziggy game book from All About Reading, even though we aren’t actually using AAR. At this point, the learning goals of the games are way too easy for her, but Jenna still really loves Ziggy. So I’m bringing out the file folders and also pulling out some word cards.
The way we play the game is that I hide the game pieces under high-frequency words that can be sounded out. “Ziggy” asks Jenna to hand him the word that says _____. Underneath the word is a game piece. Jenna picks up the appropriate word, gives the card to me, and gives the game piece to Ziggy. Simple? Yes! But for some reason Jenna loves this.
I have been pulling cards from this deck of words I already own. It says “sight words”, but we have only been using the words that are decodable, like: but, and, cut, man etc. Then I realized that I could be making my own flashcards from the AAR activity book I purchased a while back.
Blast Off to Reading book
I purchased the AAR level 1 activity book because I was curious. I’m a former Kindergarten teacher and I don’t believe that you need to buy a special program to teach kids to read. That’s the whole purpose of my blog! But I love All About Spelling, and so I really wanted to see a little bit of what All About Reading was like. Plus (full disclaimer) I’m an AAL affiliate.
Anyhow, yada, yada, yada, AAR appears to be just as good as AAS. If you really want a program to hold your hand through the whole teaching process, then AAR would be a really good choice. I’m not personally going to use the full AAR program, but the activity book dovetails into what I’m already doing.
Leap Frog Easy Reader Phonics Kit
We have a really old Leap Pad kit that I had purchased for Jenna’s brother a long time ago for $30 at Fred Meyer. Jenna’s the perfect level for it now, and thankfully it still works! It uses the same characters as the Leap Frog Talking Words Factory videos, which is cool.
Please note, I’m including the links to Amazon for this kit at the bottom of the post, but that’s just so you can see what they look like. I bought all three kits for $30! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that deal on Amazon. I bet there are people selling these on Ebay though. Once again, they are called “Leap Frog Easy Reader Phonics Kits”.
Talking Word Factory Videos
These are the two videos that I really credit teaching my son Bruce how to read. Unfortunately, they weren’t a magic wand for Jenna. But she still does ask to watch them every once in a while. You can probably find these videos for free at your local library.
What really seems to work for Jenna (but what her older brother Bruce was totally uninterested in), is Starfall.com. That’s been a really big help, and we’ve uprgraded to the $35/per year premium level.
Custom books tailor-made for my child? Did I mention they are free? All I have to do is make them myself. Jenna now has over thirty books that tell the story of her life. How awesome is that?
That’s my update for now. Hopefully we will be ready for Bob Books soon!
Full disclaimer: I am an All About Learning Press Affiliate. You can find out more about how much money my blog makes (yes I share real numbers) here.
For the past week Jenna(3) and I have been playing games from Adventures in Reading with the Zigzag Zebra, a Ziggy Game Book. This is a supplement to the All About Reading program published by the same company as All About Spelling.
I LOVE All About Spelling, and need to get going with it again with Bruce(7) now that school has started again. It is so much better than weekly spelling tests, and really makes a difference. So I’m sure that the complete All About Reading program would be really good too.
I’ve opted not to purchase AAR however, because I have my own free methods which I share on my Where to Start Page. However, if I had a first or second grader who wasn’t reading at grade level, I would probably take a lot of comfort in a program like AAR. Or if I felt unsteady as a teacher to begin with, then a systematic program like AAR would really help hold my hand.
But back to the Ziggy Game Book, it was under $20 and looked like it might be a good fit with what I already do. As a teacher, I was already familiar with the concept of “file folder games”. This means that ahead of time, you rip out the pages from the book and paste them onto file folders. Laminating is optional, but not necessary. I chose not to since I’m just working with one child. In a classroom setting however, laminating would be a must.
The Ziggy Game Book includes 9 games. Almost all of them use the Phonogram Cards, Word Cards, or letter tiles from the AAR kit. These pieces are not included with the activity book and must be purchased separately. But since we already own all of the AAS spelling materials, we were pretty much good to go. We have just been using the AAS cards and tiles instead.
Jenna has been asking to “play Siggy games” every single day since I first brought them out. They are not magically teaching her to read. But they are encouraging her to practice a little bit each day. She still isn’t blending, although she knows all of her letters and sounds. She also definitely understands the difference between vowels and consonants. That’s not bad for a three year old, if I do say so myself. And I do! 🙂