Teaching Literacy to Young Children

Teaching Literacy to young children is not always easy. Three and four year-olds have short attention spans. They get frustrated because they don’t know or understand something. A few don’t care about letters and reading because they just want to play.

In preschool, literacy consists of teaching kids letter recognition, letter sounds, vocabulary, word families, and sight words. This can be done in multiple ways. We use themed curriculum each month to help build vocabulary and knowledge of certain topics. I also like to teach my preschool students through games, songs, the use of journals and worksheets, and simple I Can Read books sent to me from Mother Goose Time.

Games and Play

One thing I like to do when I introduce a new letter is have the students search for that letter around the room. I will write the letter on several pieces of paper and tape them around the room. Then, I give the students magnifying glasses. I tell them we are detectives and are trying to find the letter of the day. The students love running around the room searching for the letter. I have also had the students search through books for the letter, but it’s not as effective because the kids like to get up and move.

I often outline the letter of the day with tape on the floor and we do an activity on the letter. The letter we are learning is always in plain sight and I am constantly refering back to it as we do our activities. Repetition is key.

Another activity we often do is practice writing the letter using different types of materials. This past week, we practiced writing the letters in kinetic sand. The students picked a letter from the bag. If it was the letter of the day, we did some kind of movement and wrote the letter in the sand. If it wasn’t the letter we were learning, we identified the letter and sound, and if the student chose to, wrote it in the sand. In previous lessons, we have made letters with straws, craft sticks, string, playdough, and anything else we can find. This is a fun alternative to having them practice writing the letters with paper and pencil.

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Word family games are not always a sucess, but the students are being introduced to the fact that letters make up words. and certain letters put together make certain sounds. If they know some of these sounds, they can figure out the word. They practice rhyming with word families and reading simple three-letter words.


I use the Jolly Phonics CDs to teach letters and sounds. I love the CD of songs because they are fun, they stress each letter’s sound and each song gives examples of words that start with that letter. The students love to sing these songs and dance around. There have been a few times when I’m reviewing a letter and the students will start singing the song! Music is so powerful. And some of the songs are so catchy that they get stuck in your head.


I use journals with my students. These journals are used for practicing letter formation and drawing something that begins with each letter.



The students color a letter coloring page for each letter we learn for an alphabet book I am making for them. They can use this book as a reference or just read it for fun!

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“I Can Read” book

These books are simple, easy, and predictable. The students practice reading sight words because they basically have the book memorized. I make my students point to each word they are reading so they are identifying words and hopefully making connections, such as: letters make up words and words can be read.

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I believe that children learn from being exposed multiple times to the same concepts. The learning activities can be different, but the concepts are the same. Although, repetition of certain activities is helpful as well, especially for young children. I also believe that students will learn when they are ready and sometimes it won’t click until they are older. So be patient if your child isn’t getting a concept right away. Exposing children to those early literacy concepts with engaging learning activities multiple times is the key to success.


** I receive curriculum from Mother Goose Time for honest and authentic stories resulting from my daily experiences using the curriculum. This is my 3rd year using Mother Goose Time, and I am pleased to promote quality educational learning experiences through play with Mother Goose Time!

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