Teach Your Child to Read – Activities to Foster Early Reading Skills

How do you help your child build early literacy skills? Here are 12 fun activities to help build early reading skills! These are activities we did with CVC words and basic sight words to make the learning process fun and engaging!!


The first step in learning to read is to make sure your child knows their letter sounds. We shared lots of ideas about that in our Preschool at Home series. If your child is  still at that stage, check out these posts with fun ideas for helping your child learn her letter sounds: Preschool at Home: Learning Letter or Preschool at Home: Alphabet Activities. You can use any of those fun activities to reinforce the sounds the letters make. When you’re reading with your child, stop every now and then, point to a letter and demonstrated how you “sounded out” a word on the page. Don’t do that often or your child will run screaming from the room — says the voice of experience 🙂 heh-heh!!

From there, I had my kids start putting letter sounds together.  We played lots of games and she would read one word on a page or one word at a time on various packets we had.

As my kids were figuring out how to read, I would have them pronounce each sound b – i – g and then would tell them to SMASH the word together b-i-g. I demonstrated that a lot and always clapped my hands together as we smashed  the sounds into a word. I don’t know if that would work for your kids, but all three of my kids learned to read by smashing  words!

File Folder Games: There are lots of games you can find free online as your child is beginning to sound out simple two and three letter words. At this age, making it fun is key! Below is one example of a file folder game that I made. Two-letter games like the one I made, Horse and Barn Phonics Game, are good ones to start out with.

We played games like these for no more than 5-10 minutes (as the kids were interested).  My biggest piece of advice — don’t push it if your child is not interested!!  Put aside for a month or two (or 6!!) and come back when your child is interested!

Here is a File Folder Game I made for kids to practice identifying two letter words. My kids did a lot of activities similar to this when they were just on the cusp of learning to read.

Free File Folder Reading 2-letter Word Game-Horse-and-Barn



Other websites where you find similar games include File Folder Fun and Child Care Land. I put these activities into the kids’ workboxes and would aways sit down with them while they worked on the puzzle so they wouldn’t get frustrated.



We progressed from simple 2 letter words, to word families and then sight words (such as the, are, etc.)


We printed out and used the word family resources from A Rhyme a Week :



I would sit together with ED as we look over a few pages (we covered about a half-dozen pages a day).  I covered over the picture and we look at the first letter, then the vowel and smash it together (while clapping) with the last letter. Then we look at the picture. I’m sure there are lots of booklets like the ones I linked to, but I used the picture card sets made by Laura here.



There are more word family activities at Carl’s Corner:

For example, here are the Letter i word families or go to Carls Corner and scroll (way, way, way) down to the bottom of the page and select one of the Word Family sets to select any of the word family sets your child is working on.


We used a lot of the puzzles like you see above:


You can write words in chalk or get a set of play mats, shout out the word and have your child jump on the correct word.


Place words on a clothes pin and have the child your child clip them to the correct word. This is one that I made for the kids, but it doesn’t have to be quite this fancy.

You can make this by printing out our printable. This was for -an and -at words

Valentine’s Sight Word Matching Game

HeartSightWord I made another one for -in and -it words. This was when we were studying the ocean (and whales), so it fit into the theme of those activities (See more of our Whale Activities and Ocean Unit)!!


Click here to download the free fishing game that I made:  Fishing for Sight Words (Letters or Numbers)

Fishing-SightWordsPopcycle stick matching: This is easy to make with any holiday or theme you may be covering. Just cover a cereal box, write the word and make a slit for the Popsicle stick. My kids always enjoyed these!



Play various word games and make up your own gameboards like this Princess Themed Sight Word Game:


Scavenger Hunts with Words: Write some of the words your child is trying to learn and hide them around the house or yard. Before she can hunt for the next word, she needs to read the word on the card.  If it’s around Easter, you can stick the words inside those plastic eggs and hide those.  The key is making it fun and infusing a lot of energy and enthusiasm  into the game!


Fishing for Words (magnet and paper clip): We used a magnet and paper clip to fish for everything from math problems to sight words.  The best things about this activity is that you can make it tie in with the season or holiday — pumpkins or leaves for the fall, flowers or butterflies for the spring.  Again, just write the words your child is working on and place a paper clip on it.  Ask them which word they are fishing for and have them have a go with a make-shift fishing rod!


The key to helping your child learn to read is

1) make sure *they* are interested and ready

2) make it fun, change it up

3) be natural about it; just integrate these activities into the rest of your day

4) work with your child every day for just a short time (5-10 minutes).

This post is getting pretty long, so in our next post, I will share the Readers that our family used. We went through a number of different series because each of my kids were different! 🙂

So, if your child is ready to start reading, don’t miss this post:


Other related posts you might be interested in:


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