Vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, sound awareness and narrative skills are just a few pre-literacy skills that most preschool and kindergarten classrooms focus on each day. But how do you teach a child with autism, hyperlexia, and/or language disorders, these pre-literacy skills? This week we wanted to focus on just that. Here are the first things you need to know before working on pre-literacy skills at home:
1. Does your child’s teacher focus on a new letter each week at school? If so get a copy of this plan and focus on the same letters at home. If not then you will need to determine what letters to start with. At the KidSpeak, LLC office we typically start with consonant sounds first and go down the alphabet (i.e.: B, C, D, F, etc.).
2. Where are your child’s pre-literacy skills right now? Do they sing their ABCs? Can they recognize some letters (in or out of order)? Do they know their letter sounds? Are they working on rhyming? Once you know exactly where your child’s skills are, then you can begin working on them at home.
Here are two helpful hints before starting pre-literacy activities at home:
1. Remember to start with a little at a time. If you try to do too much and you become stressed, then your child will become stressed and all your hard work will backfire on you. Start slow. Try to do one pre-literacy activity per day. After the first successful week, then try to do two pre-literacy activities per day and so on.
2. Try to work pre-literacy activities within other activities that occur during your day (snack, puzzles, waiting in line, driving in the car, etc.). The more you can place these activities in your day naturally the better.
Here are seven fun and easy activities that you can do at home. Remember that you can alter all of the below activities to fit your child’s specific language, social and pre-literacy needs:
1. ABC pages: One of the easiest activities that you can do is to color or paint a picture of the letter that you are focusing on that week. If you are focusing on both upper and lower case, you can color a different page on two different days. While you paint/color sing a song about the letter and the sound. Within this activity you are working on a variety of skills including: letter knowledge (upper and/or lowercase), sound awareness, print awareness, fine motor skills and much more. Here are a few different links to ABC color pages:
2. Gluing Activities: Another fun art activity is to glue items on a piece of paper that start with that letter/sound. First cut out your letter or use the letter your child colored. If your child is working on using one to two-word utterance then focus on one word like gluing pictures of “dogs” on a letter D. If your child is already using one to two word utterances then focus on many words like gluing a picture of a “dog, duck, dinosaur, donut,” etc. on your letter D. Remember while you glue, sing a letter song such as: “Dog starts with D, dog starts with D, all our words start with sounds Dog starts with D”. Within this activity you are working on a variety of skills including: letter knowledge (upper and/or lowercase), sound awareness, letter/sound association, beginning sounds, print awareness, fine motor skills and much more. You can find pictures to use within clipart, magazines, internet, etc. You can also make this activity easier/harder for your child by using stickers rather than gluing pictures, have your child cut out their pictures that you have already picked for them, have your child look through a magazine and cut out the pictures on their own, etc.
3. Breakfast/Snacks/Lunch: During snack time you can also focus on your letter of the week. You can make cookies, sandwiches, pancakes and more with the shape of the letter you are working on that week. Here are a few different places that you can find ABC cookie Cutters:
You can also eat foods that start with your weekly letter such as: pancakes for P, pretzels for P, carrots for C, muffins for M, oranges for O, apples for A, grapes for G, sandwiches for S, etc. Within this activity you are working on a variety of skills including: letter knowledge sound awareness, letter/sound association, beginning sounds, print awareness, and much more.
4. Scavenger Hunts: Having Scavenger Hunts is another wonderful way to work on your child’s pre-literacy skills. If your child is working on using one to two word sentences, then we suggest that you pick one noun to focus on such as “cat for c”. Then take different cat pictures and hide them/post them around your house or backyard and go on a scavenger hunt “looking for cats”. Remember to sing while you search: “Where are cats, where are cats, look a cat”. The more you sing and focus on “cat” the better. If your child is already using one to two words, then you may try to focus on more pictures such as “cat” and “car” for letter C. If your child has even higher level language skills, then you may have them design their own scavenger hunt by finding pictures in magazines/internet that start with C. If your child is working on rhyming then you may want to hide words that rhyme with “cat” if your letter of focus is C. Within all of these activities you are tackling a wide variety of skills!
5. Tracing: If your child is tracing/writing, then tracing is a great activity. You can trace the upper and/or lowercase letters. You can also trace words that begin with your letter of the week. One activity that we do at the KidSpeak, LLC office is tracing words that begin with our weekly letter and then glue their pictures next to them. So if we are focusing on the letter K, the children may trace the word “king” and then glue a picture of a king next to it. Here are a few websites that you can go to, to print out tracer pages as well as create your own:
6. Play: You can always work on your pre-literacy activities through play. Here are just a few easy ideas:
a. Play-Doh: Within Play-Doh you can make a variety of things including: the letter of the day, items that start with your letter of the day, build words that start with your letter of the day, build words that rhyme, etc.
b. Fishing Game: One fun game is to tape pictures on your fish of a fishing game. Each time you catch a fish you have to: say the letter, say the letter sound, match the uppercase to lowercase, say the word that starts with the letter, match the word to its beginning/ending letter, say a word that rhymes with that word, etc. Here is the set we use at KidSpeak, LLC
c. Puzzles: If you have an ABC letter puzzle at home, try hiding the pieces around the house and then finding the letters. This really helps with children who only know their ABCs in order and/or only like to work on them in order.
d. Art: There are a wide variety of letter related art activities. You can color/paint, cut, glue, etc. You can even make the art last a few days such as: during T week you may color a train on Monday, cut the train out on Tuesday and then glue the train pieces together on Wednesday.
e. Books: Reading letter books is a wonderful way to work on your child’s pre-literacy skills. At KidSpeak we found that it was difficult to find books that we like that focus on each specific letter so we decided to make our own books. You can do the same using clip art.
7. Internet: There are a wide variety of online pre-literacy activities. Here are two of our favorite sites:
Remember to focus on the specific letter for that week. When playing on the computer, two helpful hints are: 1. We typically save our computer time for the end of the week or the weekend and 2. At KidSpeak, LLC we recommend less than 30 minutes a day on the computer and educational time counts towards this 30 minutes.
There are all sorts of fun and easy pre-literacy activities that you can do with your child. A few of our favorite sites for pre-literacy in general are:
Remember, while you are working on your child’s pre-literacy skills (really ALL their skills – social – academic – language, etc.), you and your child should be having FUN! If you guys are not having fun then it is time to change things up! Enjoy!
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