10 Easy Ideas for Pre-Reading Activities

Language is all around us, but it takes more than just casual familiarity with words and letters for children to be able to read.

In Montessori, we are blessed with wonderful materials like the sandpaper letters, movable alphabet, and the Pink, Blue, and Green Series. These go a long way towards familiarizing children with letters and sounds.

But, it’s sometimes nice to to include some games and activities to encourage a pre-reader or emergent reader.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Speak to children about the environment around them, teaching the vocabulary of everyday objects. You may want to label items in your classroom environment so that they can see the words every day (“map”, “pencil”, etc.)

2. Choose a picture out of a magazine or unfamiliar book and have the child tell you a story about what is happening in it.

rhyming_basket13. Make a rhyming basket with several small objects that rhyme. Have children match rhyming items, like this one I made for my daughter, by placing them next to one another.

The items are, from left to right: pan/fan, jug/mug, cat/hat, fish/dish, and clock/block.

4. Practice forming letters using materials that are fun: pasta noodles, kidney beans, cereal.

5. Have a specific reading time each day. Actually, I like to have two reading times: one for silent reading (you should read quietly too!) and one for you to read aloud to the children. Even a pre-reader or early reader can sit quietly with a book and discover a story through illustrations.

6. Give children games to play with cards and games that reinforce pre-reading skills. Examples might include: opposite matching, rhyming object cards, part-whole matching, sequencing, and patterning.

7. Have a child re-tell their favorite story using props. They can dress up in costumes to act it out or make puppets to help illustrate the plot of the story.

8. Practice drawing letters or numbers by tracing them in a tray of sand, rice, or cornmeal. Shake the tray to “erase” after each letter or number.

9. Staple or tape blank paper together to make a booklet. Ask the child to tell a story by drawing a picture on each page. If they would like, they can dictate the story to you and you can write it in the booklet as well.

10. Play the “I Spy” game to practice beginning letter sounds. Start the game by saying something like, “I spy something that begins with ‘b’ (using the letter sound).” Later, you can expand the game to include pre-spelling skills by saying “I spy something that begins with ‘d’ and ends with ‘g’ (dog).”

By trying out some of the ideas above with pre-readers, you’ll not only encourage enthusiastic development of language, but foster a love of learning that will extend well beyond the years spent learning to read.

Any ideas for other types of pre-reading activities? I’d love to hear from you!

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7 Responses to “10 Easy Ideas for Pre-Reading Activities”

  • Amber said at May 3rd, 2009 at 6:39 pm :

    Hi Lori!
    The rhyming basket is a great idea. We were just working on rhyming words this morning & I could probably easily put a basket together. Thanks 🙂

    I also wanted to let you know how wonderful I think the new *free* activity cards you put up are. I think they could be used in any classroom or home – Montessori or not. In fact, I’ve already printed them out & think that they’d be a fun thing to pack when we go away soon… they’ll take up no room at all but will provide us with lots of fun learning activities!

  • KittenMuffin said at May 3rd, 2009 at 9:13 pm :

    What a great round up of ideas! Thank you! I’m definately going to be doing some rhyming themed activities with my girls. I also need to figure out more about what Montessori is about. I came here via adventures of a rainbow mama, and a lot of this type of learning appeals to me and the way our home dynamic is, but I’ve not done any reading on it beyond blogs. Any advice on a good book to start with?

  • Lori Bourne said at May 3rd, 2009 at 9:24 pm :

    @Amber – I know, it was funny how quickly I put that basket together. I think I buy tiny objects every time I see them so I have a ton. So glad you like the new cards – love the idea of using them as a travel game. Great suggestion!

    @KittenMuffin – Glad you like the ideas! I’d say before even checking out books about Montessori, take a look at my Montessori Basics posts. The second one is a book list and there’s several great suggestions for books on learning more about Montessori.

  • seema said at May 18th, 2011 at 9:02 pm :

    writing the letters in air will help imageryand who will say the letters longer will help pronounciation.

  • Sally Lucas said at March 17th, 2012 at 1:29 pm :

    Another thing that helps children learn to rhyme is Rhythm with Repetition. Many years ago I had five children under the age of six and often sang to them nursery rhymes and my own little songs. Now as a published author I love hearing how really young children (some as young as two years old) enjoy my published works. Oh, and my adult children still recall the little songs I sang to them. One is even an artist now and illustrated my three most popular books.

  • Lori Bourne said at March 17th, 2012 at 3:03 pm :

    Yes, rhyming is so important! Thanks for stopping by.

  • eunice said at November 27th, 2012 at 8:34 am :

    I really enjoyed the rhyming basket!