During studies for my master’s degree at Lesley University, I had an opportunity to take a class on early literacy learning with Professor Jean Ciborowsky Fahey. Jean works closely with a group called Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that partners with pediatricians’ offices to encourage reading-related activities for very young children.
Jean enthusiastically encourages parents and early childhood teachers to play literacy games regularly – daily if possible – with their young children and students. You can play these games anywhere – the breakfast table, on the way to school, the supermarket line or the playground line. One game involves taking apart compound words. For instance, children might be asked:
Say “something.” Say it again without the “thing.” Some.
Say “pinwheel.” Say it again without the “pin.” Wheel.
Say “motorcycle.” Say it again without the “cycle.” Motor.
Games can also help children learn to separate out the onset and rime; that is, the initial consonant sound of the word (onset) and the remaining vowel and consonant sounds (rime). The child could be asked:
Say run. Say it again without the ‘r.’
Say dog. Say it again without the ‘d.’
Say find. Say it again without the ‘f.’
By learning to separate the starting sound from those that follow, the child begins to understand the families of words that have the same ending sounds. Reading the words in the families becomes that much easier, as cat, fat, mat, bat, rat and sat all have the same end letters, just different beginnings. I’ve written a Word Families song – click the link and you can check it out on my Songs for Rhyming and Reading at Songs for Teaching.
What follows is silly song that invites children to play with beginning and ending sounds. Make a flash card for each of the words, and separate the beginning sound from the rest of the word. Have different letters available to form the nonsense words. Ask a children to pick out the correct letter to begin the word.
My Dog Lost the ‘B’ from Her Bark Tune: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
By Liz Buchanan
Oh my dog lost the B from her bark (repeat)
My dog lost the B from her bark bark bark
Now all she can say is “Ark!”
Until she found a “G” and went “Gark”
Oh, then she found an “S” and went “Sark”
Oh, what she really needs is a B you see
Please find a B for me.
Oh my cow lost the M from her moo …
Now all she can say is “oo”
My turkey lost the G from her gobble
Now all she can say is “obble”
My Frog lost the R from his ribbet
Now all he can say is “ibbet.”