As Maddy learns more reading strategies and picks up new words each day, it’s been awesome to watch her unlock the world of words around her.
Her excitement is contagious, and Owen, always trying to keep up with his older sister, is also attempting to read more. Even Cora yells letters when she’s not screaming out the Alphabet Song–or throwing the occasional 2-year-old tantrum.
In order to capitalize on the ‘reading bug’ that’s been going around in our house lately, I’ve tried to use our mealtimes more wisely.
Eating and Reading:
I’ve always tried to buy or make holiday decorations that had words on them. Anything that promoted reading–along with a little holiday cheer–was worth buying. I’m a holiday-decorating nerd.
Last year, I remember Owen–mouth full of waffle–yelling, Mommy! If I put my hand over this other ‘e’, it says ‘Owen’ in ‘Halloween’!
Sure, it was only after 25 straight days of him staring at ‘Happy Halloween‘ on his placemat, but it was a small victory in my book.
Holiday decorations to help them learn
We do word hunts in our placemats or Trick or Treat wall hanging. I’ll say, Okay, Word Hunters, I’m looking at the word ‘treat’ in ‘Trick or Treat’. I see a secret word hiding in the word ‘treat’. Can anyone find it?
We also play with rhymes while sitting at the table, staring at the same placemats and decorations day after day. I’ve said, Let’s go around the table and say words that rhyme with ‘happy’. I’ll start. If I put a ‘p’ where the ‘h’ is, I have the word, ‘pappy’. What else rhymes with ‘happy’?
The team may not be much, but I’ll keep the plate.
Even though the team’s not worth talking about this season, the Redskins plates we have are another way we sneak in some mealtime reading. Having the kiddos use their (ahem. . . ) Doritos–or apples–to cover all of the letters of Redskins other than ‘red’ or ‘skins’ lets them focus on just parts of the word and led to a conversation about compound words one afternoon not long ago.
We came up with a bunch of other compound words, or words made up of two smaller words stuck together–birdhouse, ladybug, ponytail, baseball, eyeball. I’m not sure they were totally able to understand the concept, but there’s no harm in trying.
Owen’s favorite cereal. . . because his letter is everywhere.
All it took was one full box of Cheerios to empty onto our kitchen floor for me to make a habit of pouring cereal then immediately moving the boxes away; now, I keep the boxes on the table because they’re awesome for word-learning.
Every few days we’ll do some cereal-box reading (or juice, milk, or yogurt container). I may say:
- ‘Honey’ begins with the ‘hhhh-‘ sound. What letter makes the ‘hhhhh-‘ sound? Right, ‘h’. Who can find the word, ‘honey’ on this box?
- How many times can you find the word, ‘pop’ on the Pops box?
- Let’s see what numbers we can identify on the Frosted Mini-Wheats box. There are lots of them; it’s going to be tough!
- ‘Corn’ starts with the letter ‘c’. What sound do you hear at the end of ‘corn’? Think about the letters that begin and end the word ‘corn’ and let’s try to find it on this box.
- How many letters are in the word, ‘juice’? How many times can you find it on the front of the juice container?
- Who can find the two hidden words in ‘lowfat’ on our milk carton?
- Everyone look at their own cereal box. Let’s say the alphabet together and hunt for each letter on our boxes. Who can find a letter ‘a’?. . . then b, c, d, etc.
- Can anyone find a word on their box (or milk carton or whatever) that they know that begins with the letter ‘m’? . . . or c, j, etc. Call it out when you find it.
Not every day, not every other day, but several times a week–when the stars are aligned and we’re not running late and Maddy’s lunch is already made and no one’s busy arguing and no juice gets spilled and everyone’s in the mood–we’ll play some reading games at breakfast, or lunch, or dinner.
My goal is not to make my kiddos despise learning but to make it fun, natural, and easy–and to find some way to sneak something into their every day.
Want a few more alphabet activities? Check out:
- backyard alphabet hunt
- homemade alphabet book
- leafy letter learning
- ABC hunt
- on the road ABC hunt
- lowercase ABC hunt
- build your own bingo: uppercase and lowercase match
- ABC cards and clothespin match
- alphabet letter splash
- alphabingo (play with lowercase letters)
- alphabet letter lids
- leafy outdoor alphabet hunt
- build your own board game
- clothespin letter match
- 10 fun ways to learn the alphabet
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