As a Reading Specialist, I’m no stranger to the ideologies that an early head start makes a difference in a child’s performance in the long run. I also see how young children are made for play and limiting playtime can result in a number of behavioral challenges. From ages birth to six years, children learn the most when they are playing. When kids go to school, they are expected to be reading sentences by age six! So if they begin learning how to read between ages four and five, it should probably be through meaningful play.
I started working through the book *Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons with my four year old and I have reviewed in previous posts how easy (or not) I think it is. It is certainly easy enough for me to understand and several of the strategies are very attainable for my child but it’s not that easy for her. The author even recommends you sit the child down before you begin the first lesson and warn them of the difficulty; For example, “I’m going to teach you how to read and it’s going to be very hard”. Well, as much as I respect being honest and open with children, telling them it will be hard is a sure fire way to get them to run away from the task before they even try it. My child, so far, has been resistant to things that seem hard. Maybe practice will make it a little easier, but modifications and PLAY make it a lot easier.
That’s how I came up with the tissue box monsters. I create flashcards for the reading lessons and as we review a letter sound or sound out a word on the card, we feed the cards to the word monsters. I used tissue boxes because we empty them quickly during allergy season and they are boxes with a built in mouth.
Creating the monsters only took a few minutes.
- I wrapped each box in colored tape (painters tape, masking tape, washi tape, duck tape, etc).
- I used white foam paper and sharpies for one set of eyes, goggly eyes for another and then glued them on.
- I glued on a pom pom for the nose.
You can probably tell my monsters were Sesame Street inspired, but your monster can be completely original. Just have fun!
I created the flashcards in the same way the words are introduced in the book so that my daughter can practice following the directions as she traces the arrows with her fingers and makes the letter sounds. The dots and other symbols indicate whether you should say sounds slowly or quickly. To make the lessons quicker and a little more age/developmentally appropriate, I personally review the lesson in the book the day before and then rely on the cards. This way the script works as a guide rather than a rigid procedure.
I’m more concerned at this stage with inspiring the joy and empowerment in learning to read so that her motivation will last. Sometimes she bucks when there is a challenge so I’m working on that. Learning can be work and that’s okay, but I want to inspire a love of learning. So I came up with the decorated boxes because my child loves boxes. She loves putting things in and out of every box and basket in the house. So we are using the boxes meaningfully and we love it!
If you decide to try out this craft for some learning through play activities, comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
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