Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play – Over 130 Games/Activities and Tips

Your three-year-old son can read on a third grade level? How?

Just this past weekend, I saw my three-year-old son, Cory, reading a book to his Sunday School teacher and a group of kids.  As soon as the teacher saw me, she said “This child can read at three-years-old? How did you do this?” When someone asks me this, my short answer is always by making reading fun, exposure to a variety of books, and playing with words.

Then later that day, I took my son to another child’s home for a birthday party. The kids were having so much fun playing inside and outside. At one point, Cory was  playing with the Leapfrog letter set at the refrigerator and spelling words. He asked the birthday boy’s mother, who is a teacher, for the letter T in order to spell the word gift.  After spelling, the boy’s mom approached me and said “I can’t believe your son spelled gift!” I replied by saying “Yes, he loves to read and spell!” She said “How did you do this?” Again, I gave her my normal answer.


Is your son a genius?

Parents and teachers are usually amazed to know that my son was reading at 21 months. Right now, he can read on a third-grade level. They often say “He is a genius!” I think ALL CHILDREN ARE BORN GENUISES! Cory was born with the same capilibities as every other child. He was just exposed to words and language in a fun way at an early age. In my opinion, any child can do this!

Why did you teach your son to read so early?

It was not my intention to teach Cory to read as a toddler. I didn’t think he would learn the alphabet until the age of three or four. My objective was to expose him to words and language so he wouldn’t be a late communicator. In my experience as a social worker/play therapist, I noticed children who couldn’t speak would resort to hitting or kicking out of frustration. However, once they developed language this behavior would decrease because they could communicate their needs and wants. 

As I started exposing Cory to words through play and reading, I noticed that he liked what I was doing. After reading a book to him as a baby, he would take the book and give it back to me. He wanted me to read it again. I remember my husband read the book, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See ten times in a row to Cory at one time. He enjoyed the interactive activities and games we played, which I used to exposed him to new words daily. He has always loved playing with letters, learning the phonics, and blending sounds. Finally, there came a point were he had a desire to seek meaning from words through reading!

Watch my three-year-old son read the book, Charlotte’s Web. A book for children ages 8 and up.

Why is reading a struggle for some kids?

Reading is boring.

Some kids think reading is boring. Many young children spend their days playing. Then once the child turns five or six-years-old, adults tell the child that they have to sit down, focus, and learn to read. Learning to read can be a frustrating process for some kids. It takes time and concentration because one of the best ways to become a better reader is to read. This can be difficult for the child who is a kinesthetic learner, as most kids are, and loves to be physical and experience what they are learning. 

My Child is not trying hard enough

Sometimes when a child is behind on their appropriate reading level, the teacher will tell the parents. Parents usually get nervous and upset by this information, and these emotions transfer to the child. During home reading sessions, the parents get frustrated with the child because “they are not trying hard enough.” This most often leads kids to having a negative view of reading. They will often tell their parents “I hate reading!” In turn the parents become more upset because their child is behind their classmates and they are unable to motivate the child to read.

Parents don’t know where to start

Teaching a child to read can be an overwhelming task. First, you have to learn the alphabet, phonics, blending sounds, sight words, and the various rules of the English language. Parents may have a child that knows the alphabet and phonics but is having difficulty with teaching them sight words. Flashcards are often used to teach sight words, but again the child thinks this is SO BORING!

Furthermore, if a child is reading a book with a lot of words they are unfamiliar with, they may get irritated and want to do something else. Additionally, how do you explain that the word bat can be an animal and a tool used for baseball? Oh and when you see the letters PH together, you should make the F sound. Also, C can make the short sound like in cat or the long sound like in cell.

My Child won’t sit during reading time.

I have heard many parents complain that their child doesn’t want to sit and read an entire book. As parents are reading, the child may look in space and not pay attention. Or if the child can read, they get distracted by something happening in the background. Sometimes a parent may read the first few pages of a book to a child but the story line is boring which causes their mind to wonder.

My Child is uninterested in reading about the topic.

A big reason why some kids don’t like to read is because they are uninterested in the topic. This often happens when kids have to read school textbooks or remember facts that they have no connection to. The kids are wondering why they have to know this information. Parents and teachers are trying to get their children to retain the information and it is just not happening for the child. This can be a pretty difficult situation to navigate.

Below are questions many parents have about reading…

What age should a child learn to read?

Most kids start learning to read at 6 or 7. Some kids start earlier at the age of 4 or 5. I believe children have the ability to recognize words earlier. My son started recognizing words at nine months. 

One day my son and I were playing in the basement. I asked him to get the book, Brown Bear Brown Bear out of the bin. Out of the 12 books in the bin, he picked the correct title.

My son was able to blend sounds to make words at 21 months. The only reason he did this so early was because he was exposed to it as a baby. However, all children learn at different times and levels. They also learn with various methods. It is important to concentrate on your child’s level and their readiness to learn.

Watch the video below to see my son spelling at 21 months old

How can I help my child learn to read?

There are countless ways to teach kids to read. Kids learn through reading, talking with others, story-telling, workbooks, digital media and technology, learning phonics and sight words, blending sounds, writing, and asking questions. 

I used playful in-depth learning to teach Cory to read. This included fun activities like singing, dancing, playing with blocks, magnetic tiles, Playdoh, drawing, games, role- play, writing stories with paint and sidewalk chalk, going outside to play and reading. It is important to read books that interest your child so they will gain the curiosity to seek meaning from words.

What if my child is not interested in a certain topic?

Children will be interested in reading when there is a connection to what they are learning. I remember in high school disliking my geography class because I felt no connection to other countries. My interest in geography did not come alive until I started to travel internationally while in college. 

Let’s say you want your child to learn about other countries, then observe your child and see what they like and offer a connection. For the child who loves sports, have them read about Sports played in the countries. If your daughter loves princesses, have them read about princesses around the world.

How long should a child read each day?

Children should read at least 20 minutes a day. However, if a parent is doing formal reading lessons then all you need is 15 minutes a day. Outside of the 15 minutes, please know that reading can take place anywhere. Children can read a dinner menu, playground signs, grocery list, captions on their favorite cartoon. 

How do I help my child who is struggling with reading?

First, you must define what struggling means. If you are comparing your child with other kids in the classroom or the national standards of reading and they are below their level, then yes they maybe struggling. However, if you don’t compare them to anyone, you may realize that they just need more time to get the concept. 

When a child needs more time with reading, ensure you are teaching to their learning styles. 

Auditory learners love to learn through hearing. Great activities for them would be to read books based on songs and retelling stories you have read and adding music with DIY instruments like banging the bottom of an oatmeal container. Visual learners use sight to learn. They would enjoy drawing and painting colorful stories and doing word puzzles and games with colorful pictures. Kinesthetic learners love explore the world through touch and movement. Try building model sets based on books and doing a Treasure Word Hunt Game would be fun for them. 

In my opinion, the best way for children to learn to read is through playful in-depth and natural wholesome interaction. It is the best way to create a desire in children to read. 

This is why I have written the ebook, Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play: A Detailed Account With Over 130 Games/Activities, Tips, and Resources.

My goal is to help you expose your child to words and reading in a fun way. This book will take you through a step by step process of how I taught my son to read. It gives you games/activities to do with your child along the way to make reading a process that is fun, natural, and interesting! It will help spark your child’s curiosity in wanting to seek meaning from words which is essentially reading. 

This book provides the following…

  • A detailed account of how I taught my son to read
  • Over 130 Reading Games/Activities and Resources
  • How to expose your child to new words through play
  • The types of books to start your child’s reading journey
  • How to encourage curiosity in your child
  • Child brain development and how to develop faster connections in your baby’s brain
  • How to expose newborn and babies to words through play and bonding
  • How my son was able to recognize words as a baby
  • How to make rereading books fun for you and your child
  • Simple ways to create a literacy rich home
  • The MOST important thing you can do as a parent to encourage reading in your household
  • How songs and dancing assisted in teaching my son to read.
  • How to take full advantage of the FREE Services at your Local library
  • How Physical Activities can boost your child’s reading skills
  • How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way
  • How to Teach the Phonics, Blending Sounds, and Sight Words in a Fun Way
  • The three basic learning styles in children
  • How to determine your child’s learning style
  • How to expose children to new concepts aligned with their learning style
  • How children with certain learning styles tend to communicate
  • The toys/activities children with certain learning styles tend to favor
  • How to make learning fun and playful for children
  • How to determine the best time to teach your child
  • How to execute Fun In-Depth Learning
  • How to use the body’s senses to teach your child
  • How to combine In-depth learning and learning styles during play
  • How to incorporate digital media in your child’s learning
  • How to teach a child with more than one learning style
  • How to Structure your Day
  • How to progress to teaching your child the phonics
  • How Writing and Art can build a child’s reading skills
  • How to Use Real World Experiences and Field Trips to expose children to language.
  • How to Choose Books your Child will Like to Read.
  • Strategies for When your Child Loses Interest in Reading.
  • Examples of toys we used
  • Examples of books we read through our journey
  • Once your child begins to read, how to continue to build their skills.

Here is What Others are Saying About the E-Book

“This was a wonderfully detailed account of not only how to teach your child to read, but also how to connect with your child, support your child in a lifetime of loving to learn, and use your time caring for your child in a meaningful, fulfilling way. I am inspired as a mother, and I wish I’d known about this sooner!

I thought it was very well written, and the flow was perfect. The book flowed seamlessly from one chapter to the next, and I felt like it was organized perfectly.”

-Stacey

“This is a wonderful guidebook for parents who want to help their children begin learning at an early age through play. It is an introduction on how to nurture a love of learning and proficiency in reading in children, which in turn will open the door for your child to be exposed to and learn about a variety of topics.  Andrea incorporates several learning styles in order to pave the way for a lifetime of learning.

I look forward to incorporating some of these techniques into playtime with my little learners.”

-Danielle J.

“This book documents the journey of an engaged parent who used creative and fun ways to introduce her son to books. This led to the child’s continuous interest in letters, words, sentences and naturally, reading. If you are willing to invest the time in incorporating the tips in this book with your child, he or she will also develop an interest in books and learn to read during the early stages of brain development. This book is an excellent example of the African Proverb “Each One Teach One.”

-Linsey Mills

This is a great e-book for parents with children ages 0-7! Invest in your child’s future. Reading is the most powerful tool to promote creativity, increase brain power, and it helps your child express themselves better! The best way to teach a child to spell and grammar rules is not through flashcards and worksheets but through reading and play!

This is a digital product only. It is downloadable and you will receive a .pdf file at checkout. You are permitted to print one copy of Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play: A Detailed Account with over 130 Games/Activities, Tips, and Resources for personal use. NO REDISTRIBUTION. T

Click on the Buy Button Below to Invest in Your Child’s Reading Skills! Get the Discount Code at the Bottom of this post.

Not Sure Yet? Then Complete the Form at the Bottom of this Post to Read the First Chapter for Free!

The book is originally $18 but for a limited time it will be $15 once you input the discount code.

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  1. You will be taken to a Payment Details Page.
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5 Reading Games/Activities For Kids

Infants Can Read?          baby smiling

Did you know that children show signs of reading as infants? Reading is all about discovering meaning and this is what your baby did  when they first responded to your smile.

Sometimes discovering meaning can be lost with traditional ISOLATED learning methods such letter sounds and worksheets. Reading should follow the natural way that children learn which is through a variety of experiences and following their interests.

Following Your Child’s Interest

If children are offered reading material that follow their interests, then they will want to seek meaning from words. From this desire, they will learn word recognition and phonics skills.

Children learn best from discoveries they make from exploring the world around them. They gather conclusions from their experimentations and creative play. For example, in water play, they learn about volume, capacity, and the properties of water as they pour it cup to cup.

What You Can Do As a Parent

Your job as the parent is to describe their play and provide them with language.  During water play, use descriptive words such as wet, splash, ripples, warm, and cool.  Then expose them to similar words by reading books dealing with water such Splish, Splash Ducky by Lucy Cousins or Spot Goes to the Swimming Pool by Eric Hill.  This is the beginnings of  you making connections with language and play.

The games/activities provided below will  help you make more connections with words through creative play.

Want to know what Games/Activities, Tips, and Resources were used to get my 3-year-old son to read on a 3rd grade level? Access my e-book, Teach Your Toddler to Read through Play, here. 

Let’s Get Started!

Change the Story

Children should be provided opportunities to apply knowledge from books through imaginative play. Below is a way to stimulate your child’s ability to problem solve, sort information, and develop new ideas through creative-thinking questions. Below is how to do it…

  1. Read a story to your child.
  2. Ensure your child is familiar with the story.
    • You may have to read the story multiple times to your child.
  3. Have your child change the ending.
  4. They may communicate their version of the ending through the following…
    • Drawing a picture
    • Creating a sculpture with Playdoh or Clay
    • Creating a dance
    • Role playing with props
    • Simply telling the story

play doh

Clues from the Story

The following activity will develop your child’s listening skills. It is also great for reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary.

  1. Read a story to your child.
  2. Ensure your child is familiar with the story.
    • You may have to read the story multiple times to your child.
  3. Gather clues from the story you have read. Clues from the story can include…
    • Characters
    • Setting – where the story took place.
    • The conflict or problem in the story.
    • The story’s resolution
    • Basically anything in the story
  4. Let your child guess what you are thinking from the story with the clues you give them.
  5. Use descriptive words to describe your clue such as…
    • “I’m thinking of a humongous animal with a large trunk.”
    • Then let your child give you the answer which is elephant.
  6. Now let your child think of something and give you clues.
  7. Another variation of this game is to have your child get clues by asking you yes/no questions about a mystery item.
    • “Is it large?
    • “Does it make a loud noise”

Treasure Hunt   treasure hunt

This game is great for reading comprehension. It also helps your child learn how print and pictures carry meaning.

  1. Read a story to your child.
  2. Ensure your child is familiar with the story.
    • You may have to read the story multiple times to your child.
  3. Tell your child they are going to do a treasure hunt.
  4. Find one vocabulary word, item, or character from the story.
  5. If you have the item in your home, you may use it for the hunt.
  6. If you don’t have the item, you may draw a picture and briefly describe it on separate piece of paper.
  7. Hide the item in your home.
  8. Leave a series of notes or pictures to help your child find the item.
    • For example, write “Go to the dining room table” or draw a picture of the  dining room table.
    • On the dining room table, have another note ready stating, “Go to your bedroom” or draw the child’s bedroom.
  9. Your child will continue finding and following instructions on notes or drawings until he/she locates the item from the story.
  10. Once your child has found the item, ask them to identify the item and how it fits in the story.

Charades

You will need more than one child for this game. This game is great for reading comprehension and promotes in-depth learning. In-depth learning is when you learn about something in various ways. Charades will allow your child to learn words through physical activities, reading, and application (identifying where it fits in the story)

  1. Read a story to your child.
  2. Ensure your child is familiar with the story.
    • You may have to read it multiple times to your child.
  3. Write vocabulary words or characters from the story on index cards or paper.
  4. Players will take turns picking these cards from a plastic bag and acting them out.
  5. The other players will guess the word.
  6. Once the word is identified, then have the child identify where the word fits in the story.
  7. Another variation of this game is to have the player draw a picture of the word while the other players guess the word.

Spy a Word

  1. Read a story to your child.
  2. Ensure your child is familiar with the story.
    • You may have to read it multiple times to your child.
  3. Omit a word and let your child fill in the blanks.
  4. Let’s say you read a story where a mouse is trying to find cheese.
  5. You say “In the story, the mouse is trying to find……
  6. Let your child say “cheese.”
  7. Keep stating the plot of the story and let your child fill in the blanks.
  8. Another variation of this game is to fill in the blanks with silly words and let your child correct you.
  9. You state  “In the story, the mouse is trying to find a cat to eat him.
  10. Let your child correct you with the word “cheese.”

black father reading to son

Have Fun Reading and Playing!

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10 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve Others

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10 KIDS SERVE OTHERS

What Kids can Learn from Serving Others?

Encouraging kids to serve others is a great way to teach citizenship. Citizens understand there is a world greater than themselves. They make it a better place to live through helping others.

How Kids Benefit from Serving Others?

Kids who are involved in community service tend to be more confident because they have periods where they can forget about themselves and focus on others.

When kids are constantly thinking about themselves, they tend to focus on their flaws. This is where low self-esteem is usually developed because they constantly compare themselves to others.

Other Benefits of Community Service?

Serving others opens your eyes to those who are less fortunate than yourself. Also it boosts a child’s self esteem when they can apply their talents and skills to the benefit of others.

Children, as young as three years old, can learn about serving others. I have provided creative ways kids can help others below.

These service ideas are a collection of my personal experiences and recommendations from the book 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve by Sondra Clark. The author gives wonderful ideas for kids to assist people, animals, and the environment.

Let’s get started!

1. Collect Tennis Balls for Animals Shelters

Volunteers use the balls to interact with the animals

  • Contact local tennis clubs and ask if they have old balls they don’t need.
  • Ask tennis high school team coaches (if you have one) to announce that you are collecting balls  for animals in shelters.
  • Contact local parks and the recreation department for tennis balls.
  • Set up a drop-off time with animal shelters in your area.

tennis balls

2.  Prepare Birthday Bags for Children Living in Shelters 

It’s difficult for parents living in shelters to provide birthday parties for their children, but you can help.

3. Give Giggle Bags 

Bring joy to kids in the hospital with giggle bags.

birthday bags

4. Help Habitat for Humanity – Even if you are too young to build

 

Go to the Bottom of this Post and Get Access to Service and Gift Ideas from Real Moms. These Moms Share the Service Projects they have done with their Children.

5. Build a Rock Garden for a Senior 

6. Recycle at Home

  • Have a family meeting about ways to recycle.
  • Make a list of ideas like buying in bulk, use reusable containers for lunch, recycle old batteries at the local drugstore, and donating old clothes and furniture to charity.

recycling kid

7. Collect Coins for Those in Need

  • Provide for people who suffer from war, disease, poverty, or natural disasters a gift.
  • Go to the World Hope Website and find the gift catalog to choose a category such as education.
  • Have children collect coins for the need they would like to fill.
  • Call World Hope at 888-466-4673 and decide on the best way to deliver the money.

8. Create Senior Emergency Kits

9. Give Stuffed Animals to Offer Comfort

  • Firefighters and police officers frequently deal with kids going through tough situations and stuffed animals can help comfort these children.
  • Ask the police and fire stations if they would like stuffed animals.
  • Get stuffed animals by looking through your old toys and asking friends and relatives.
  • Ask local stores and office buildings for boxes to store animals.
  • Get ribbons to put around the stuffed animals’ necks.

stuffed animals

10. Pack Up Backpacks for Foster Kids

  • Help foster children by collecting backpacks and small suitcases to help them as they move to a new home.
  • Call your local Social Services or Child Protective Services Office to see if they could use backpacks.
  • Write letters to big stores like Wal-Mart or Target and ask them to donate back packs.
  • Ask local schools for backpacks in their lost and found boxes (that are not claimed).
  • Add a stuff animal in the bag if possible and deliver them to the Social Service agencies you contacted.

There are many ways kids can serve others. Please share your ideas in the comments below!

Happy Serving!

Don’t forget to sign up for our FREE course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Also, download our FREE Printable Holiday Card so your children can showcase their artwork to family and friends this Holiday Season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Best Toys for Young Boys Who Love to Build and Create

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The Best Toys for Boys Who Love to Build and Create

I love toys where children can use their imagination to build and create various objects. These types of toys exercise children’s brains by teaching early math skills and spatial awareness.

Below are imaginative toys that my son loves!

These toys occupy his time, provide fun educational opportunities, and bring out his inner engineering skills.

Let’s get started!

 

1. Magnetic Tiles

This is such a versatile STEM toy. My son has built letters, numbers, rocket ships, ferris wheels, towers, and cars with this toy. It has an instruction book to teach you how to build various objects. It is a great way for kids to use their creativity and engineering skills!

 

We built a rocket ship!

 

This is the letter B!

 

 

2. Learning Resources Gears

Gears are a great STEM toy that encourages kids to sort, group, count, construct, design and solve problems. My son has built homes and traps for his action figures with this toy. He also likes to build letters and numbers with the gears and widgets.

 

This is the letter T!

 

This is the letter P!

 

 

3. Legos DUPLO Town Truck & Tracked    Excavator

 

 

This is a great toy for children who love cars, trucks, and construction vehicles. Whenever we pass by a construction site, my son can name all the vehicles because of the books we have read and hands-on learning provided with these Legos. We have also created stories around the characters and vehicles to incorporate literacy. The package says it’s for children ages 2-5 but my 7-year-old cousin played with these and had a great time!

 

Multiples of 3 Lego City!

 

4. Sum Blox

 

This amazing toy taught my son how to add numbers 1-10. The “height of each number corresponds to its value.” For example, the “1-block” is the shortest number and the “10-block” is the tallest number. If you stack the 5-block on top of another 5-block, then they will equal the same height as the 10-block. Your child will learn that 5+5=10 by building creative structures such as walls, towers, bridges, etc. These blocks are a bit pricy but worth it, in my opinion.

5+5=10

 

He created a tower for his cars to go through!

 

5. Wikki Stix

 

My son and I love this simple yet fun toy. It keeps his attention through church services and in waiting rooms. Wikki Stix allows your child to create any object they want. They come in fun colors and require no mess. Boredom is NOT an issue when it comes to this toy.

wikki stix 2
Making a football

 

wikki stix
All done!

6. Flexi Rods

 

This is not exactly a toy but a hair product. I had unused flexi rods in my closet and gave them to my son to play. He played with these for 45 minutes! These rods twist and turn in to various shapes and objects. My son likes to create letters and numbers with them. My pediatrician said it strengthens his hands and is a great fidgeting toy.

 

He built these letters and put them on my computer.

 

7. Automoblox

 

I discovered these during a playdate. Your child can take these cars apart and rebuild them. It teaches kids to problem solve, color recognition, and coordination. When my son and I are racing the cars, sometimes I will take one apart and pretend he is a mechanic. His job is to rebuild the car so we can race again. He loves this game!

corban cars
Building the car!

 

corban car 2
Put the car together with success!

8. Steam Dinosaur Toys

This is a great toy for kids who like dinosaurs. Children can take the dinosaurs apart and rebuild them using kid-sized screwdrivers. It develops hand-eye coordination, puzzle solving skills, and patience. The dinosaurs have wheels on the bottom so you can slide them on the floor and race them.

Triceratops is being taken apart.

 

A race is about to happen between two dinosaurs!

 

9. Snap Circuits Jr.

This toy is recommended for children ages 8 and up; however, my three-year-son and I love building with it. This kit allows you and your child to build working models of a photo sensor, flashing light, and adjustable-volume sirens. Your child should have a basic knowledge of letters, numbers, and putting together puzzles in order to maneuver this toy.  Parental supervision is needed if your child is under 8. I advise you to learn how the circuits work then present it to your child.

 

Starting to build an electric light and switch.

 

Success!

 

He just built the flying saucer!

 

10. Bristol Blocks

My son received this toy for his birthday. He has built cars, airplanes, robots, letters and more with these blocks. They have built his hand strength and eye coordination. He has learned how various geometrical shapes can be connected to make a masterpiece. Our favorite activity is to build something and make up a story around what was created.

He likes building letters! Here is letter E!

Please tell us which toy your children like! All of these are a hit in our household!

Don’t forget to sign up for our FREE course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Also, download our FREE Printable Holiday Card so your children can showcase their artwork to family and friends this Holiday Season!

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