LITERACY for our youngest learnersIt takes a village . . .

A major objective of the Kindergarten year is for each child to build a foundation of reading which is called literacy. To achieve this objective, a child needs to know the names of letters and the sounds represented by each letter. The more familiar they are with sight words used most often in the written word, the less time and energy they will need to spend figuring out those words. Readers go through different stages as they learn. Not every child learns at the same speed or in the same way. An early learner views letters as symbols made up of sticks and circles until we teach them the letter names and how they fit together with other letters to form words.

The most engaging way to teach children to read is through games and play activities. The purpose of this wiki site is to familiarize you with stages of development and introduce tools and activities that can be done outside the classroom.

Think of books like great treasures – full of surprises just waiting to be discovered.


Stage 1 – Emergent Readers
Characteristics: tracking print, concept of a word, recognition and production of alphabet, recognizing 25 sight words as provided by Fountas and Pinnell

Stage 2 – Beginning Readers
Characteristics: recognizing beginning and ending sounds, recognizing 50 sight words, reading simple books, beginning to recognize words and letter/sound relationships, focusing on text rather than repetitive text patterns

The best advice I can pass on to you to promote a love of reading is to make books fun! Below are some activities that you can play at home. I would encourage you to set up a "toolbox" so everything is in one place when you have a couple of minutes with your child.

Suggested items to include in your literacy "toolbox"
dry erase boards (2), markers and erasers, "golf” pencils, scissors, glue stick, paper (cool colors), timer, a set of the first 25 sight word cards, 3x5 cards, upper and lower case alphabet letter cards, magnetic letters, cookie sheet, magnifying glass, play dough . . .

If we work together to build a strong foundation, learning to read will seem magical!

These are the areas that you want to include for your daily reading enjoyment.


GOAL: to help your child learn the name of each alphabet letter and the sound each letter makes
STRATEGY: Teach multiple sound for those letters that have more than one sound (c - /k/, /s/; g - /g/, /j/; both the short and the long sounds for vowels). One of the most difficult letters to remember is /w/, therefore, we refer to /w/ as "wabayou dubayou". Teach the picture prompts for each letter from the alphabet mat as you work.
ACTIVITY: Have a scavenger hunt with words/pictures/objects. Lay 5 alphabet letter cards on the carpet. Lay five alphabet letter cards on the carpet. Set a timer, then say “GO”. Have your child scurry around to find an object to match the beginning sound of each letter card. You can vary the hunt by laying out objects or picture cards, and have magnetic letters around the room. How fast can your child find the letters and match them up correctly?
Provide many reading and writing opportunities. With each new exposure to print, understanding how letters and sounds work together will begin to happen!
  1. Model correct grammar, for example if a student says “I runned to school today, say “So you ran to school today? Was that because you were late?”.
  2. “Now and then” activities. Have children say something that is happening now and then the same sentence that happened in the past. For example, “I am going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Then, “I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich yesterday.”
  3. Say “row” and have your child play with changing the beginning sound to create new words that rhyme with “row” (bow, tow, low, mow, grow). This is known as “rhyming word families”. It is fun to create nonsense words when doing these rhyming chains.


Below are some activities that will help promote and teach fluent reading:
  1. Reread familiar text. Small children LOVE to hear the same stories over and over again! To make it more fun for you, try to vary your voice ~ papa bear, mama bear voices, loud voice, soft voice. Change the story line to see if your child is really listening! Take four pieces of paper and help your child illustrate what happens first, next, then, and last. THEN, shuffle up the pictures and have your child put them back in the correct order. Can they tell you the story as they turn the pages on the book?
  2. Echo read”. Choose a book that does not have much print per page. First, you point and read the sentence, then, your child “echoes” by pointing and reading after you. You will have to teach them how to count the words as you bounce your finger under each word. Spaces between words are often small so point out that the space is where one word ends and another one begins. Have them find where one word ends and another begins by placing and moving a piece of licorice or toothpick between each word. Train their eye to see the spaces between words.
  3. Act it out”. This is especially fun to do with poems. If acting out Little Miss Muffet . . . , gather a bowl, spoon, stool, and tie a black rubber spider on a string. Then, stand behind Little Miss Muffet, who is sitting on her tuffet, eating curds and whey. When it is time, dangle the spider beside her, she throws the bowl and spoon, then rushes away! A huge benefit of poems is that they are short and teach wonderful new words in a fun way!
  4. – Your child can read onto this computer program. It records their voice then you can play it back.
  5. Ending marks. Point out a period, exclamation mark, and question mark. Lay letters in a row like word units. Add different punctuation marks, then read the letters following the punctuation. ABC, DEFG, HI, J! ABCDE? GHIJK? LMN? OPQRST! UVW. XYZ! This will help train your child’s ear to hear your voice go up and down depending on ending punctuation.
  6. Emotions. Choose a picture of a person showing emotion. Read like the person in the picture (happy, sad, old, young, etc.)
  7. Make bedtime stories a way of life! If you don’t have time to snuggle and read together, tape record reading a book together, being sure your child joins in. Play this story as they fall asleep. Sweet dreams!


Concepts of print refers to the basic understandings that children need in order to navigate text. Some of these include: left to right tracking of words, top and bottom of the page, front and back of the book, front cover, page numbers, and punctuation marks. Model concepts of print and give your child practice manipulating text. Constant exposure to different kinds or genres of text and understanding concepts of print will help them develop the skills they need to be a successful reader.
  1. Can you pick up patterns in text? For example, repetitive sentence patterns (I see the . . . ), sentence location on each page, a common character located on each page somewhere, etc.
  2. Print a brief, familiar rhyme or poem on individual word cards. Construct and reconstruct the text by line to help your child them develop an awareness of directionality, one to one matching of print to spoken words, space conventions, and punctuation.
  3. Constantly model print when doing tasks throughout the day. Draft your child’s help to make out your grocery list. Ask: “Should we put our first word at the top or the bottom?”, “Will the first letter go on the right or the left?”, “Should the P in Penny be upper case or lower case?”, “What goes at the end of our sentence?” to promote an understanding of concepts of print.
  4. Sight word sentences. Add cards with your child’s name and names of family members, periods, exclamation marks and question marks and action words. Have your child put together the cards, leaving spaces between each card, to create simple sentences (“Mary can jump.” vs. “Can Paul sing?” vs. “I can run!”)


There are many different ways to encourage vocabulary learning. Try out some of these and then create some of your own!
  1. Use a variety of different words and vocabulary when discussing things or giving directions.
  2. Word Splashes. Draw and cut out a big “puddle” from poster board. Come up with one word and write that in the middle of the “puddle”. Stretch your child’s vocabulary by adding other words that mean the same thing. Then “upgrade” simple sentences into “juicy word” sentences!


Think aloud as you read to your child. Model what your brain is doing when you are engaged in text. Say “I'm wondering if . . . , What do you think . . ., I am noticing . . . , I am going to look back to check something we already read.” Summarize as you read and model other comprehension strategies, like, in the picture it looks like . . . so I think the word might be . . ..
  1. Provide clear, precise instructions. Begin with one step directions, then two, then three step. Can your child remember and do all the directions you gave?
  2. Young children love books about animals and playful text.
  3. Use many different genres and types of text. Some definites should include: fiction, non-fiction, poems, lists, and signs.
  4. Paraphrase what your child has said to make sure that they understand new learning.
(Duke and Pearson, 2002; Pressley, 2000; Strickland and Snow, 2002)

Genre Knowledge is developed with exposure over time. It is agreed that children can handle a wide range of genres if given exposure to them (Shedd, 2008). Choose a wide variety of books so different text features can be taught.

  1. Genre in dramatic play is one way to introduce a variety of genre (Shedd, 2008). Encourage your child to pretend they're going on a trip to the store. This incorporates the use of lists, labels, environmental print if you make signs you might see as you travel, tickets to board a pretend bus, etc. This will gradually introduce some of the different kinds of features used in a variety of contexts.

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening

  • Use a variety of text during play
  • Associate some letters and sounds with their names
  • Differentiate letters from numbers
  • Identify familiar words in environmental print
  • Use new vocabulary words when speaking
  • Demonstrate listening comprehension through answering questions, retelling and connecting prior knowledge
  • Apply knowledge of letters and sounds to read simple words

  • identify beginning and end of a story
  • differentiate between real and make believe
  • use illustration clues and story sequence to infer and predict what happens next in a story

  • Recognize different types of genre ~ poetry, fiction
  • Identify literary elements – characters, setting, events
  • Recognize rhyming words in selected readings, with adult assistance

The more connections children make between the multiple understandings required to read, the faster they learn. Help children engage with letters, to learn how to look at them, write them, play with them, and put them together to make words. (p.185)


Web site: animals and letters