Early Reading Language Resources we Love!

Rose is in kindergarten half time and her reading and writing is developing in leaps and bounds. She is reading sight words and simple readers but her confidence is low. When she is not in kindergarten she wants activities to complete with Granny. These are a mixture of independent tasks and those which will need Granny help!

Matching Upper and Lower Case Letters

This is a great activity Daisy enjoyed at the same age. Correct letter formation is important to know at an early age to ensure a student’s kinaesthetic (movement) memory commits to well formed letters. It is more difficult to unlearn an incorrect method.

Identifying Initial Sounds with Alphabet Objects

Alphabet Objects

With 3 objects for each letter sound, sorting these objects requires phonics skills.


Making words with Word Building Pebbles


Letter pebbles are great for the visual and tactile reminder of letter formation and their sounds. As Rose lifts the pebbles she makes the letter sound and places in order to make a word.

Playing with Word Families

This post involves Daisy making cvc words from a game and dice.

Using Letter Tracing Stamps

Tracing letter stamps

We all know writing goes hand in hand with reading. Read about how Rose uses letter stamps here.

Using Build-A-Sentence Cubes 


With six colour coded sentence structures and  a related high frequency word on all six sides, there are lots of sentence options with these cubes.

Writing Sentences with Sentence Strips

Writing Sentences

This paper is fabulous for disccussing letter formation as we did here.

The invitation

The colour recognition of “dirt, grass and sky” adds an extra step, helping a student remember the letter structure.

Playing Spot It! Basic English.

As well as reinforcing sight word recognition, this game is just pure fun!

Of course one of the main activities Rose does is READING!



Supporting Early Writing

Rose has started kindergarten and is loving it. She is eager to learn and loves to read and write. Her reading is mostly of the illustrations at the moment and she loves her quiet reading time. Writing she is also eager to partake in but her confidence is low. She is hesitant to write many letters without support even though she knows her upper case and lower case letters and their corresponding sounds.

To encourage her to write, with less frustration over letter formation, we are using Tracing Letter Stamps as a guide for writing.

Tracing letter stamps

When sounding out a word Rose selects the letters, checks her choice with me and then stamps. Yes this child is a perfectionist. Daisy would have been happy to choose her own letters and would then argue her choice was right if I corrected her. Rose hates to make a mistake and the stamps seem to be helping to build her confidence as an emerging writer.

Tracing letter stamps

When she has completed a word or sometimes a sentence she writes on top. For this I do try to watch and correct, to ensure she does not develop incorrect letter formation habits. Bad habits can be difficult to break as we all know. At this age, once the movement is committed to kinaesthetic memory it is much more difficult to alter.

Rose seems much more content with writing when using stamps as a reinforcement with letter formation. A happy writer is much more likely to write!

Tracing stamps are available in lower case and upper case sets as well as numbers and signs for math.

Tracing Stamps

Check them out here.

If you are interested in upper and lower case letter activities check out this post: matching-lower-and-uppercase-letters


Letter Formation using Sky, Grass and Dirt.

Daisy has begun working on lower case letters more earnestly at school and we are supporting this at home. She finds upper case letters much easier and has to be reminded to use lower case letters. Gentle reminders and modeled examples of writing helps.

She was struggling with writing on a line so it was time to give more help with the ‘sticks and circles’ we call writing.

The invitation

I cut up a sentence strip into word sized strips and taped it onto the light table. The light table makes everything appear cheerier but it is not necessary for this activity.

The alphabet line behind shows both upper and lower case letters. If your children are not familiar with upper case letters, sticking to the lower case might be better.

The alphabet line is coloured with Chubbi Stumps, (my favourite crayon for wee hands):

  • Blue = sky
  • Green = grass
  • Brown = dirt

The bottom three sentence strips are already coloured and the top two are for Daisy to colour.

Looking for dirt letters.

We talked about how letters are mainly in the grass but some reach up to the sky and others reach down into the dirt. As we identified the letters we made a big (2′) letter with our arm and hand in the air.

Using finger spacing between the letters

Daisy then wrote her name and chose other words to write.

She used her pinkie finger to ensure enough space was left between the letters.

There you have it: a colourful way to reinforce the position of lower case letters.

Letter formation, sky, grass and dirt!

Sentence strips can be bought in many forms, even reusable wipe off versions are availalbe now. Check out the options below:

Matching Lower and Uppercase Letters

Daisy started Kindergarten on Friday and we have been doing activities over the summer in preparation. These activities have prepared her well. Nothing could prepare me!
We were given a laminated sheet of upper and lowercase letters by Daisy’s Literacy Links teacher and a wealth of other goodies you can see here. Last week we did a revision of upper and lowercase letters using Alphabet Pebbles and a String Along Lacing Kit.

We started with the letters of her name and formed the uppercase letter on the String Along board followed by the lowercase letter.

Forming the letters on the foam board forced us to consider how the letter starts and finishes. It was a great revision for me too as I am more familiar with the pre-cursive alphabet rather than the print alphabet. We named words starting with the letter sound as we made the letter.

As we made the letter we used an alphabet pebble to mark the chart.

Letters ‘Dd’ and ‘Aa’ were relatively easy to make. Letter ‘Ii’ was more complicated and forced us to join the dot and line.

You can pull the string through the back of the board so it is possible to make a clean ‘Ii’. We didn’t worry too much. The aim was to practice forming letters rather than having a perfect letter made. Process versus product!

To make a curved letter like the ‘Dd’ Daisy had to count how many holes across the letter was match the holes down. Making a curved letter is challenge but it was a great problem to solve.

It was a good activity for letter revision but I have to say she enjoys free play on the board more. The pattern cards are a good bridge when she needs inspiration to get started. Here is more information on the String Along Lacing Kit.

Learning Opportunities

  • uppercase and lowercase letter formation
  • recognizing the sound a letter makes
  • problem solving (how to form the letter)
  • counting
  • fine motor skills (threading the punch pen and using the crocodile grip on the pen.

Smart Snack Alpha Pops Fun #Giveaway

These Smart Snack Alpha Pops look good enough to eat!

Daisy got to play with them first and immediately began matching and sorting. She used a large salad bowl to keep them organized.

“Look I can make a word.”

“Look a big letter and a small letter”. My response, “yes a lower case u and a capital U.”

“I made another word, lica”

“What does this word say?”

“Clif” I responded “Yes, that does say cliff. Cliff the name and a cliff you might fall off has two f’s. Can you find another?”

We talked about the need for using a mixture of upper and lower case letters.

Cat (back to front).

Both girls busy playing and matching lower and upper case letters.

This product allowed both girls to play simultaneously but in different ways.

Rose was matching colour and I was able to chat about the colours she was joining up. She did point to the letters occasionally, so I shared the letter ” yes that is an ‘a’ on the popsicle.”

Daisy tended to move onto c.v.c. world building and exploring word families.

Anything you can do I can do too!

This was the start of Daisy’s ABC project. She lined them all up and sang the ABC song while pointing to the letters. It was easy until it came time to flip the posicles to the other side. It forced her to slow down and think about each letter. A great learning experience.

And of course the pretend popsicle licking!

This learning toy is versatile and was appropriate for both children. The printed letters on both sides meant less toys (a bonus for most classrooms and families).

A friend was over playing with the girls at the weekend and he did not like the restrictions of letters on both sides. He also wanted to click whole words together. While I sympathized, I understand the aim of the Alpha Pops is to match upper and lower case letters.

Here is the low down on Smart Snack Alpha Pops

“Pop together these frozen treats to match uppercase and lowercase letters. Double sided to include all 26 letters. Self checking by colour. Single alpha pop measures 4″L x 1-1/4″W. Ages 2+.”

If you would like to play with this lovely set of Smart Snack Alpha Pops tell us how you teach upper and lower case letter matching.

All you need to do is one of the following:

Before Friday July 27th, 2012, 4pm Central Time.

This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Looking forward to hearing from you and good luck!

Literacy Links – Preparation for Kindergarten

Daisy is very fortunate to be entering a school division that runs a Literacy Links programme to support children entering Kindergarten and Grade One. We had a wonderful facilitator visit our home once to work with Daisy for an hour. She is coming back to do another three sessions during the next month. Daisy counted the sleeps waiting for her to arrive and is now eagerly awaiting the next session.

Here is the low down on what Literacy Links is:

Literacy Links supports parents with pre-school children in understanding how to develop a positive literacy environment in the home setting and make the important links between home and school.

Literacy Links is a program in the St. James Assiniboia School Division that is offered May to August and is free of charge to all families of children entering kindergarten in the fall. Trained facilitators will work with families to demonstrate and to assist them in providing developmentally appropriate and enriching learning experiences.

The focus of the program will include:

  • Book selection and parent-child interaction during reading
  • Environmental print (i.e. signs, labels, logos, etc.)
  • Rhymes, songs and word games to develop phonological awareness
  • Appropriate writing opportunities
  • Learning letter names and sounds
  • Math concepts (i.e. patterning, counting, number recognition)
  • Suggestions for a positive transition to Kindergarten
Families will be provided with a home package of materials that include literacy information and guides, books, activities and games.
Daisy is enjoying playing with the resources we received in our literacy links pack.
Here is a list of suggested resources if you would like to make a similar pack to give to a child or class of children getting ready for Kindergarten. Click on the image for more information.
Play dough– a wonderful way to build fine motor skills. Relating the play to counting and letters adds to skill learning.
Chubby Stump Crayons– colouring and writing are always to be encouraged. These crayons are short and encourage little hands to use the correct grip for writing. Providing blank books or simply paper, and allowing time to respond to picture book or activities during the day, is a great opportunity to sneak in some letter and work learning.
Phonetically Coloured Letters Magnets– go a little further than the regular coloured magnets in helping children identify vowels. Here you can see how clearly the C.V.C. relationship is demonstrated using red and blue letter magnets.
The Super Sorting pie covered a variety of early math skills including counting, sorting, identifying and making patterns and reasoning. The tweezers that come with the pie encourage fine motor development and are quite simply fun to use.
Books that you love! If you love reading them, whoever you are reading them too will share your enthusiasm.
Easy readers– choose fun books students can learn to read easily and therefore enjoy their success. This series was a huge hit with us.
So even if you don’t have a wonderful resource like Literacy Links, you can put together your own kit to help prepare your students or child for Kindergarten.

Alphabet Soup

We have some lovely letters for letter and word exploration. As the girls were playing in their kitchen a while ago, I gathered them up. I also had a big black pot, perfect for soup.

Daisy began to put the letters into the pot. The magnetic teaching tiles stuck to the inside and outside of the enamel pot. Daisy immediately began making words. I supported her word making when asked.

She added her wooden letters and letters stones, enjoying the ‘plonk’ and ‘thud’ they made in the pot.

Next, it was off on an ingredient hunt… no she did not add ice-cream. She did add carrots and cucumber however!

Finally, to mix it all up, Daisy borrowed a big wooden spoon.

Yes, you can see some odd Halloween decorations in the background. We did this a while ago and I forgot to post it. A witches hat was handy and the alphabet soup was suddenly a potion which needed chanting and singing to accompany it. The only thing that came to my mind was Shakespeare; “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” Daisy came up with alternatives which included a mishmash of what she was hearing from books at home and daycare.

Alphabet soup served up for Rose, Daisy and I. Yum!

And Miss Mischief enjoyed helping with the cooking.