Brooklyn Reading Center - Fun Language and Early Literacy Games (you can play during bath time, etc.)

Teaching your child language and early reading skills can be (and should be) great fun for you and your child. With a little coaching, you'll see how easy it is to enrich your child's vocabulary, comprehension, sound and letter association and phonemic awareness. Bath time is one of many times during the day that you have the opportunity to optimize all of the above.

Let's begin with the morning; a time when most parents feel really rushed. Without taking one additional millisecond, here's how you can work on vocabulary, and all of the above. Okay, it's time to get dressed, so you say, "First, we put on your sock. Socks on! Then, we put on your shoe. Shoe on your foot. Two shoes on your feet! Here's your shirt. (Your child's name here)'s shirt is green. See the green frog. The frog is on the rock. The frog is happy.

So what did your child learn about here? It's a surprisingly long list, compared with how little you needed to say. We have object labels, regular and irregular plurals, prepositions, color as well as other describing words, sentence structure, and sequential events, which we demonstrated by using the words "first" and "then".

Now, it's time for breakfast. You say, "Here's (Your child's name here)'s breakfast. First, we pour our juice. Juice in the cup. Mmm. The juice is sweet and cold. It's orange juice. The glass is full of orange juice. MMM, drink the juice. Ooh, the glass is empty now. Let's have some more. Now, the eggs are ready. Let's put the eggs on your plate and then we'll put the toast on your plate. What a yummy breakfast! Let's eat now. We're not hungry anymore. Now, we're full. Our tummies are full! (as you pat your stomach).

So again, without spending one additional second, you've talked to your child about object labels, describing words including an opposite pair (full and empty and hungry and full), recurrence (more), negation (not hungry), sequencing events, sentence structure; the list goes on and on. You and your child have had fun, she's learned a lot and you still made it to Gymboree, or to Day Care right on time.

Now, so far, we've only (only!!) talked about language per se, not pre-literacy skills. Again, we're not doing anything extraordinary; we're using everyday opportunities to facilitate letter awareness, and sound awareness. In the bath, it's fun to sing together. So, why not sing the alphabet song. Then, "'b' is for bubble, 'b' says "buh", s is for soap, s says ssssss" Play a rhyming game that helps kids develop phonemic awareness. In our house, we used to have a "rhyme-off". You say a word and your child (maybe, with your help) says a word or a nonsense word that rhymes with it. Then you rhyme and then your child makes a rhyme. When one of you is stuck, you move onto a different word.

Another game that helps your child develop pre-literacy skills goes like this. Your child says a letter he knows and you say the letter, the sound it makes and a word that begins with that letter. He says "the letter 'n'." Then you say, "'N' says nnnnnn like in the word 'nose'". "An older preschooler will also be able to take turns. Another game is a variation on Twenty Questions. You say "I'm thinking about something that says woof-woof and begins with the sound 'd'." You can move on to ending sounds when your child seems ready.

With these simple talking games, your child learns about letters, the sounds the letters make, beginning sounds and ending sounds. Practicing rhyming word families, she learns skills that prepare her for decoding and spelling. You can do these at the dinner table or in the bath.

So, you strengthen your connection with your child while he learns vocabulary, grammar, concepts, sequencing, and language comprehension. You've gotten your child ready for reading by playing letter/sound and rhyming games. It doesn't take one additional minute out of your day either. A definite win-win situation!