Learning Letter Sounds at Holiday Time

Children may be away from school at the end of December, but there is no reason for them to stop learning. In fact, playing learning games at home over the break is a great way to reinforce skills while having fun.

The holidays are filled with signs and words that may soon become familiar to your child. For instance, some words he will likely see over and over again are: merry, Christmas, happy, Hanukkah, good, new, year, santa, best and wishes.

Use these frequently seen words to play some letter and word games with your child while out shopping or when looking at holiday cards you receive in the mail.

Here are some ideas:

– Ask your child to keep a tally of how many times he sees a word. You might write some of these words on a card that your child can keep in his pocket. Each time he sees the word, he puts a hash mark next to the word on his card. Teach your child to place four hash marks (lines) next to each other and then diagonally cross the group of four with the fifth line. This makes counting the hash marks easier later on since your child can count by 5s as he points to each group. Or he can circle two groups of five to indicate a “bundle” of ten, which makes counting even easier. With this activity, your child is learning popular words for the holiday season and practicing some counting skills.

– Play an “I Spy” game. Look for other words that start with a specific letter while out shopping. Santa and sale both begin with an S, for instance. Highlight one letter on each shopping trip you take. You may wish to write the uppercase version and the lowercase version of the letter on a card that your child can keep in his pocket to remind him of the letter he is looking for.

– Point out the starting letter of words and call attention to the sound that letter makes. As your point to a word and read it, ask your child if he can repeat the starting sound of the word.

– Brainstorm with your child and make a list of words that begin with the same letter as one of his favorite holiday words. The words on your list do not have to be holiday words. See how many words your child can think of.

– Ask your child to pick a holiday word out of a magazine or newspaper ad. Cut it out and paste it at the top of a piece of construction paper. Then ask him to find other words  that start with the same letter in cards or magazines, cut them out and put them on that piece of construction paper.

– Read holiday words as you see them. Clap as you say each syllable (or word part) and then ask your child to say the word slowly and clap for each syllable.

– Separate words into groups depending on the number of syllables in the word. Paste all the 1 syllable words on a piece of paper (such as  year, new, and best). Put the 2 syllable words (such as merry, Christmas, wishes and happy) on another sheet of paper, and so on.

Visit Renee at www.schoolsparks.com for information on helping your child develop important school-readiness skills. On her site you’ll find a free kindergarten readiness test plus hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets including shapes worksheets, Christmas math worksheets, Christmas worksheets, and dolch sight words.

Renee Abramovitz is a a former preschool and kindergarten teacher who retired in 2008 to become a “full-time grandma” to her four beautiful grandsons. She is passionate about the idea that all parents are their child’s first and most important teacher and strives to give parents the tools and confidence they need to successfully work with their children at home. 

Renee shares tips for working with young children at www.schoolsparks.com where she offers a free kindergarten readiness test parents can take to assess their child’s readiness to start school plus hundreds upon hundreds of free kindergarten worksheets for parents to use at home with their children.

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  • Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) , December 15, 2011

    Love these creative ideas… I'm going to try some of these with my 4 and 6 yr olds over the break.

  • Cascia Talbert , December 15, 2011

    Great ideas, Renee! My four year old would love these games.

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