Learning Through Play

Letters and Words

Whole Sentence Activity

This activity is quite useful when a child has been given an early reading book from school or nursery. Quite often parents say "He's not reading the book. He's remembering the story off by heart". This can happen. Some children become over-dependent on the picture clues and do not look for clues from the words.

Making Sentences

Read the book with your child so he/she is familiar with the story. Then simply use the first sentence from the reading book and copy it out on a strip of paper. Either write it out or if you use a word processor use a font such as Century Gothic (font size 36 at least). I suggest this font because it is important to use one that is similar to your child's reading book. Leave a double space in between each word. Now cut up the sentence into the individual words. For example:

Word cards

Ask your child to make the sentence, "This is a dog.", using the individual words. At first you will probably need to help. When he/she has made the sentence ask your child to read it to you and encourage him/her to point to each word with a finger.

When he/she can sequence one sentence, you can introduce the next sentence from the book. Ask your child to read them both.

Retain interest by only spending a few minutes a day on the activity. If your child makes a mistake do not say "That's wrong" immediately, because negative comments discourage. Ask your child to read the sentence and mistakes will often be self-corrected. If not, you can give clues such as, "What sound does dog start with?" If your child is still unable to read it, say positive comments such as "What a good try. You got all these right and only this part wrong. Well done." Then show your child the correct order.

I recommend working on a maximum of five sentences on each reading book. This method is useful for teaching children to look for the first sound of a word.

When your child becomes more proficient and can recognise a number of words, you can play a game with some of them. Have a little 'competition' with your child. Stack the individual words in a pile and ask you child to read them one at a time. If the word is read successfully, your child wins the card. If not, you win it. Children enjoy beating adults and it is more fun than just saying, "Read these words".