How to Teach Your Child to Read the Fun and Easy Way Part 2: Letters Make Words

In part 1 of this series, we talked about how to teach your child the consonant and short vowel sounds. Once your child starts to catch on and can tell you the sounds some of letters make, you can start to help her mentally connect the letters to words. I like to use a simple matching game to do this. Feel free to create your own variation, just remember to keep it simple and keep it fun!

You will need some alphabet letters. These can be magnet letters, letters from an alphabet puzzle, moveable alphabet letters, or even letter tiles from Scrabble or Bananagrams. Use 3 dimensional letters if you can – something your child can hold and have a sensory experience with. 

These are some of my favorite letters to use (and we use them all the time in our homeschool!):

You will also need a variety of small objects that your child can name, or small cards with pictures on them. Flashcards can work for this as long as there is a side that has a picture only, no letters or words.

Place a picture or object in front of your child. Place 2-4 letters next to the picture or object. If your child is very young or not completely confident with the sounds of the letters, you might want to start with just 2 letters. One of the letters next to the picture or object will be the letter that it starts with. Now have your child match the picture to its beginning letter.

Here is a sample script for this:

Parent: What is this? (pointing to the little toy pig).

Child: It’s a pig.

Parent: Right! What is the first sound in “pig”?

Child: (makes p sound). (If your child struggles with this, you can ask her to say pig with you, and exaggerate the “p” sound, “p-p-pig.”

Parent: Right! Pig starts with (make p sound). Which of these letters makes the sound at the beginning of pig?

Child: This one!

Parent: That’s right! Pig starts with P! Put the P next to the pig.

When you play this game, assist your child as much as he needs. You can do this exercise in reverse as well, by laying out three objects and one letter and helping the child figure out which object name starts with the letter.

Once your child is good at identifying the first letter in a word, you can move on to matching letters to the middle and ending sounds of words. When doing the middle sounds, make sure you stick with short vowel sounds for now. Here is a list of words you might use:

  • man
  • map
  • hat
  • pan
  • can
  • fan
  • pin
  • cat
  • pen
  • ten
  • net
  • red
  • pin
  • lip
  • bib
  • kid
  • fin
  • pig
  • pit
  • dog
  • fog
  • log
  • pot
  • box
  • fox
  • top
  • sun
  • bun
  • mug
  • rug
  • bug
  • nut
  • gun
  • cut

You can also make the game more fun by letting your child draw the letters or pictures out of a bag and then matching them, or even hiding a letter and matching it when he finds it. Just remember, keep it short – if your child is losing interest or getting frustrated, stop. And keep it fun!

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