Beginning Sound Letter Hunt

The quickest and easiest sound activity ever


Little Brother and I are working on learning (and reinforcing) letter sounds.  I am also in the throes of learning how to juggle 3 kids…while nursing a newborn about 7-8 times each day.  Needless to say, activities these days must be SIMPLE and QUICK.  This beginning sound letter hunt met all the above criteria and Little Brother just happened to love it because it felt like a game!  :)  In addition to learning letter sounds, this is a great phonemic awareness activities for dissecting the sounds heard in words and identifying the onset (initial sound heard in a spoken word).


Here’s what you’ll need:  Letter Stick-Ons (for posters).  Don’t have those?  Write some letters on a post-it note and call it good.  :)


 *You can find these letter pads near the poster board at most stores.





Give your child a sticky letter.  Identify the name of the letter and then help him/her make the letter sound.  Have him/her take the letter and stick it to something in the room that starts with that sound.  Little Brother started off by sticking the “N” to himself.   :)




 “B” for Books!





 “L” for lamp!





 “B” for Balloon





“P” for Piano!


It doesn’t get much quicker or easier to help your child learn letter sounds!


What is your favorite “on the fly” learning activity???


20 Tips for Creating a Language Rich Environment for Your Toddler

A portrait of a mother and a son reading a book

Guest Post by Katie of Playing With Words 365

We know that exposure to print and letters/letter sounds is imperative for literacy development. A quick Google or Pinterest search for terms like “preschool literacy” or “toddler literacy” will provide you with millions of literacy activities. With all the emphasis on these types of activities, you may be surprised to learn that a very important predictor to a child’s later literacy skills requires just you, your child, and some conversation.  Within this post, you will find some great tips for creating a language-rich environment for your toddler.

The Power of Our Words

There is a plethora of research that indicates that children with strong language skills in the preschool and early school years will have strong literacy skills later in life. Specifically, these studies tell us this:

    • The quantity of words spoken to a child in the first three years of life is strongly associated with a child’s language skills, vocabulary size and IQ later in life. Quantity is especially important in toddlers aged 12-24 months for vocabulary development.


    • Quality of words is also so important on vocabulary development. Especially in toddlers aged 24-36 months, who benefit from hearing more sophisticated vocabulary.


    • Children exposed to more positive feedback and statements in relation to negative feedback in the first three years of life had the highest language skills at age three and beyond.


    • Children who were engaged more in conversation by their caregivers or teachers knew more colors, letters and shapes at age three than children who were engaged less in conversation in those first few years of life.


    • Conversations and narratives about past and future events are especially important for preschool children aged 36-48 months.


    • The size of a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten predicts his ability to learn to read.


    • Children learn language and vocabulary when they are directly spoken to, not so much from passive exposure like from watching TV.


    • Children learn language in everyday moments and through PLAY.


So, we know that more exposure to language in the first several years of life correlate to overall stronger language and literacy skills later in life. The question is, how to provide our children with a language rich environment in which to learn, especially in the first few years of life? Today I’m going to share some tips with you to do JUST that!



Creating a Language Rich Environment

It is absolutely amazing watching children learn to talk. They start out with babbles that morph into single words that they soon learn to string together to form sentences. By age three, we can actually have conversations with these little people! And the more amazing thing is that these children are learning language in the everyday moments of life! I’m talking about meal times, diaper changes, dressing in the mornings, and in their everyday play. These sometimes boring and mundane activities for us adults are actually the ones that matter most. Here are some tips on making those everyday moments count, especially with little ones. Click on the link to read more tip in more detail.

1.  Slow down and be truly present in your interactions as much as possible. Put down the phone, close the computer, and be present with your body and mind, as much as possible.



2.  Talk to your child throughout everyday activities



3.  Follow your child’s lead in everyday activities. Believe it or not, this can be challenging sometimes!



4.  Whenever possible, get down at your child’s level to communicate with him/her.



5.  Don’t just focus on your child’s words; watch your child (especially pre or non verbal) for his nonverbal communication cues. This is especially important for children who are not yet communicating with any/many words.



6.  Interpret your child’s messages (both verbal and nonverbal).



7.  Respond meaningfully to your child’s communication attempts within your child’s Zone of Proximal Development.



8.  Try to keep your language positive. Balance the inevitable “no’s” “stop’s” and the “don’ts” with LOT’S of positive talk! I suggest 5-6 positive comments for every negative.



9.  Talk about what you are doing and what he is doing during your everyday routines. During diaper changes, meal times, bath times, etc.



10.  Ask questions, but not too many. Balance your comments to questions at around 4 or 5 comments to each question.



11.  Expand on what he/she says. If your toddler says “car!” expand his words and tell him “Yes! A blue car!” Stress those new words.



12.  Provide your little ones with opportunities to communicate throughout their day.



13.  Read, read, and read some more! Ask questions, talk about the pictures, stress new words and have FUN.



14.  Invest in quality toys that do NOT require batteries! I have some tips on picking toys here.



15.  Consider a toy rotation.  Children are more likely to stay with one toy for longer periods of time, allowing a more rich learning experience, when less toys are within reach.



16.  Play with your child. I know this sounds like a given but when was the last time you got on the floor and played with your child? Children learn through their play and play is your perfect opportunity to jump in and follow their lead to respond meaningfully!



17.  Stop counting, and start communicating! Sure, incorporate letters and numbers into your daily life but don’t make those the focus of those early years (especially the first three years).



18.  Start SINGING! Singing is awesome for speech and language. Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, even Let it Go (ha…if you aren’t sick of it yet!)



19.  Stay active! Head to the park or outdoors as children often learn language while on the move.



20.  Limit screen time. For two reasons: 1) research shows vocabulary is best learned through direct conversation and 2) time spent on the screen is time spent NOT doing other things, that are better for their development.




When Talking Isn’t Enough

Sometimes, you can do everything “right” and still have a child who struggles in the area of speech and language development. In fact, my own son has a mild speech delay and I am a speech and language specialist! If your child is displaying any Red Flags for speech and language delays, I suggest you have your child seen by a certified speech-language pathologist in your area. You may also be interested in checking out my How to Help Your Child Talk series, where I share tips on how to interact with your child t best support his speech & language development (many of which I’ve shared above, and many more coming in the weeks ahead!) If you’d like to learn more about speech and language development, you may want to check out my Speech and Language 101 page as well.

I’d love to hear how YOU get the conversations going in your house! What fun things do you do to introduce new vocabulary and allow opportunities for meaningful conversation?


KatiePWW365This guest post is from Katie Yeh, M.A., CCC-SLP, a pediatric speech-language pathologist who blogs at Playing With Words 365 where she shares information about speech and language development, therapy ideas and tips, intervention strategies and a little about her family life too. She’s Mom to three kids ages 5, 3, and 8 months. She is passionate about educating, inspiring and empowering parents of children with all abilities. In addition to her own blog, Katie is a regular contributor to The Friendship Circle’s Special Needs blog.


Can Watching Television Improve Your Child’s Reading Ability?

Guest Post by Kristen of Busy Kids = Happy Mom

Hello I Can Teach My Child friends! It’s so good to be back! I’m an elementary Reading Specialist and blogger over at Busy Kids = Happy Mom.

So, the big question today is “Can watching television really improve my child’s reading ability?” Before I even answer it, let me start by saying the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child have no more than 2 hours of technology time per day. This includes all technology: educational games on your iPad, videos on your phone, Baby Einstein on a DVD or your DVR, Phineas and Ferb on your TV…. you get the picture.

Can TV Watching Improve Reading

The truth is, we all let our children watch television. As hands on as I’d like to be, sometimes we all need some down time. What if there was a way to make television time more educational?

The Answer: Closed Captioning! (see above)


“While watching captioned television, readers simultaneously absorbed both the spoken word and the printed text that flows across the screen.”

Readers are supported by listening to the same text they are reading.

Research from Koskinen, et al., 1993; Postlehwait & Ross, 1992 in The Fluent Reader by Timothy Rasinksi

Personal Story:

My friend Angie (mom and teacher) was the first to tell me about the benefits of Closed Captioning. Here are her thoughts:

“CC was used for my family when I was growing up because my sister is deaf. I never thought of it as a reading aid because it was a necessity for my family. Through the years and as I began to have my own kids I realized out of habit I always had it on. As my children have become readers we have all seen the benefit of having the CC on while we are watching a movie or TV show. The way Adeline refers to it is “CC is like having someone reading to you while you watch TV – I love it!” The funny thing is my husband wishes he had started watching TV with closed captioning earlier. It’s a way to keep you brain going while vegging out to TV.”

Bottom Line:

If you’re going to watch TV, why not turn on the closed captioning? It’s a WIN – WIN!

Have you also thought about, AUDIO books? Reading and listening at the same time. Another great way to get kids reading! This link contains great age appropriate resources. Another great way to improve reading!


Kristen is a Reading Specialist who currently works with children in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade.  She is the blogger behind Busy Kids = Happy Mom, a site dedicated to fun, practical, and purposeful activities to do with your kids.  Follow Kristen on FacebookPinterest, and Busy Kids = Happy Mom.


Sound It Out Parking Lot

Sound It Out Parking Lot. {Playdough to Plato}

Guest Post by Malia of Playdough to Plato


When my four year old learned the last few alphabet sounds, I knew that it was time to show him how to blend those sounds together and make words. Learning this new skill would take a lot of practice so I wanted to make the process more fun and motivating by incorporating one of his favorite things: Matchbox cars. Sound It Out Parking Lot is a playful, hands-on way to help kids begin reading.


To Prep, I pulled out a pile of Matchbox cars, a sheet of dot stickers and a black marker. I wrote a different letter on each dot and attached it to the roof of a car. I wanted my son to be able to build a variety of words so I used the letters {p, f, r, d, t, c, m, a, e, i, o and u}.

Sound It Out Parking Lot. {Playdough to Plato}

I grabbed a piece of blue construction paper to use as the parking lot and glued on two strips of yellow construction paper to make parking stalls. {Yellow tape would have made this step even easier but we were all out.}

I placed the {f, i, t} cars in front of the parking lot and invited my son, C, to join me. “Today is a big day!!” I said. “We are going to start sticking letters together to make words. Look at the tops of these three cars. What letters do you see?”

“F, I and T,” he said.

“And what sounds do those letters make?”

“/F/ … /i/ … /t/” he said carefully.

“Great! Now we are going to stick those sounds together like this.” I reached over to the cars and said each sound as I pushed the matching car into a parking stall. “/F/ {pushed the f}, /i/{slid the i}, /t/ {moved the t}.” I pulled the cars out and invited my son to try it too.

Sound It Out Parking Lot. {Playdough to Plato}

We slid the cars out of the stalls again and I showed him how to do it more quickly. My son eagerly repeated after me. After picking up the pace a third time, he figured out the word. “FIT!!” he exclaimed proudly.

“You’ve got it!” I said. “When you stick the letters {f, i and t} together you make the word {fit}. We sounded out the letters slowly at first and then went back to read them more and more quickly until we figured out our word. Now let’s practice again with a new word.” I drove the {i} away and replaced it with an {a}. Following the same process as before, my son was able to sound out his new word {fat}.

We continued swapping out one car at a time to create new words and with each new word he read, my son’s speed and confidence grew a little more. I had so many proud mama moments watching him.


Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4, 2.5 and 5 months}. She shares fun learning activities over at Playdough to Plato. Check out her site and follow along with her newest activities by email.

Word Family Lego Buildings

LEGO Word Family Buildings


These Word Family Lego Buildings are a great way to encourage your child to hear/see patterns in reading.  This is an important skill because it allows children to begin “reading” by grouping sets of letters within a word.  To put it simply, word families (sometimes called “chunks”) are groups of words that rhyme.  The first part of a word is called the onset and the last part of the word is conveniently called the rime (although it is spelled differently).  Word families share a similar “rime” as the onset changes.


Here’s what you’ll need:  LEGO Duplos, return address mailing labels, permanent marker, and scissors.




1.  Cut your labels in half lengthwise.



 2.  Write rhyming words on the labels.



3.  Attach the labels to the DUPLOs.



4.  Set out the blocks and encourage your child to put the blocks that rhyme together in the same stack.




5.  Point out that the words in the same word family end with the same letters.







He did a great job!






Looking for more word family activities?  Check out these posts:


Word Family Pull Out Activity

word famly game

Word Family Game