“Momma, what’s that letter?” your pre-kindergarten child asks. She wants to learn to read and she scans the pages trying to identify each letter. You can help her identify letters that put her on the path to reading. Common letters such as “E” and “S” give you a starting place because she can find lots of those letters in any printed material she sees.
1. Find the Letter
Pre-readers often enjoy hide and seek games with letters. While you are driving down the road on your way to school or home, you might challenger her, “See if you can point out any “S” you see on license plates, billboards or street signs.” She can do this at home with her books and other printed material. You might scatter various craft foam or magnetic letters on a table or refrigerator and say, “Can you show me all of the “S” letters here?” You might also flip through preschool workbooks to find pages where the letter is hidden in pictures.
2. Letter Sounds
The letter “S” makes several different sounds your child should learn to help her sound out words. You might suggest, “Can you make an “S” sound like a hissing snake?” Other sounds you want her to associate with “S” would be the “Z” sound in word like “Dogs” or both the soft and hard “S” sounds in the word “Sounds.” Words like “Sugar” and “Sure” use an “Sh” sound. You could ask, “Tell me what different sounds “S” can make.” If you make cards with pictures and written words that begin with “S,” you can point to the picture and say, “Can you tell me which “S” sound you use with this word? Look at the picture to figure it out.”
3. Letter Shapes
Once your child can identify the letter, you might ask, “Can you draw an “S” for me on this paper?” Different textures can make drawing the “S” with her finger more fun. Pudding, gelatin, sandpaper, fabric or paint can all provide fun textures your child can use to trace the shape with her finger – and pudding and gelatin will offer a tasty treat as she does it. You might give her a stick with a fabric streamer and have her draw a big “S” in the air as she dances or moves to the music.
4. Letter Art
Letter shapes can make fun art. For example, your child can make a snake, worm or a caterpillar with the letter. You might ask, “What like of animal does the letter “S” look like?” Alternatively, you might give her a handful of large and small letters and say, “What kinds of things can you make with the letter "S?" Does it look like an elephant trunk or the vines on my cucumber plants?” She can glue the letters on paper and use a crayon or finger paint to make enjoyable “S” pictures.