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Teach Pre-reading Skills Using Board Games for Preschool

by Erica Loop

According to the national education initiative Reading Rockets, emergent -- or pre -- readers need the opportunity to interact with and become comfortable with print letters as they develop literacy skills. While picture books are a time-tested primary way to teach preschoolers pre-reading skills, you can also harness the power of a simple board game to increase early literacy development and start your young child on the road to reading.

Simplicity is Key

You may think that you've found the absolute essential when it comes to a pre-reading board game, but if the directions are overly complicated or the game play is tricky to figure out, your preschool student will lose interest quickly. Look for board games that feature one-step or simple and basic instructions. For example, opt for a game that only requires your little learner to roll a dice and move a few spots over one that asks your child to add up different numbers before moving back and forth between spaces or has a more strategic focus.

Reading Level

As an emergent reader your child may have more, or less, skills than other preschoolers her age. Pick a board game that meets, and goes slightly above, her current ability level. For example, if she can point out some of the letters, don't choose a board game that requires your child to child to read an entire direction card or asks her to pick out words that are entirely unfamiliar. On the other hand, if your preschooler knows some simple sight words -- such as cat or dog -- she may have the ability to play a game, such as a word card match, that has some of the basics that she already will recognize. Overall, the game play shouldn't rely solely on your child using actual reading skills. Although the game is helping your child to become a reader, remember that she needs to build up to it through letter recognition and other simple activities.

Making Memories

Memory is a constant classic that you can adapt to your child's learning level. Pick a ready-made deck of alphabet-themed cards or create your own at home. If you're creating your own memory reading game, use index cards to design matching pairs that feature the alphabet. For example, write each capital letter onto two different index cards. Spread the cards out, mixing up the pairs, and let your preschooler figure out the matches for himself. As your child begins to learn simple sight words, you can write words such as cat or boy onto one card and draw or copy a picture of the word onto another for him to match up.

B-I-N-G-O!

A game of bingo allows the preschool student to identify letters and even spell out simple words. Choose a ready-made bingo board that features the traditional B-I-N-G-O at the top, make your own with any word or letters that you want or go for a ready-made themed version. If you're buying a bingo game, look for a simple version that features capital letters and doesn't include lengthy words. If the board does have words written on the spaces, opt for one with accompanying pictures to make it fit your child's pre-reading level.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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