There is a fun and simple way to get your kids started recognizing some basic words. You can do it easily without even having to spend any money – you label all of the things in your house. The kids will enjoy getting involved in the ongoing process of labeling things, as well.
You will need some small strips of paper (you might adjust the size according to the item you are labeling), a pair of scissors, a pen or marker, and some tape. You just go through the house room by room, looking for things to label. Say, for instance, we started in the kitchen. Some things in the kitchen we could label are: cabinet, microwave, refrigerator, drawer. Labels might not stick on the oven or the dishwasher when they heat up – and when the dishwasher blows out steam. There are lots and lots of opportunities in the kitchen for naming things, though. You could even keep a stack of paper on the counter and when you come back from the store once a week, you and your child can label cereal boxes, etc.
Constant repetition of these basic words will help your child recognize them by sight and can also begin to help with letter recognition. This is a very basic step in the learning to read process and will not help with phonics skills. It is, however, a very important step and a fun way for your child to begin to ‘know’ words on his own.
You and your child can get very creative with all of this labeling, too. As stated before, some of the strips of paper can be different sizes, according to the thing being labeled. The strips of paper can also be arranged on things differently. For example, you can put the word ‘window’ vertically on the middle bar that separates two windows. And on venetian blinds, you can tape the word ‘blinds’ to an individual blind so that it is easily read when the blind is closed in the downward position. Your child will think it is so funny, because, when you open the blind it will be harder to read. And if you close the blind in the upward position, you won’t be able to read it at all.
This is a good way to use the things in your house like flashcards. Close the blinds up and quiz your child on the first letter of the word. And if they are advancing even more, you can ask them to spell the word. This could also be done with cabinet doors – open the door all the way so you cannot see the word.
One room that is difficult to label is the bathroom. Remember when we talked about that steam coming out of the dishwasher? Well, the bathroom is full of steam from our hot showers, shaving, etc. The bathroom can be labeled, it’s definitely not impossible. Just keep in mind that you will be replacing those labels from time to time.
The best thing about using labels all over the house is that your child will consider it ‘play’. He’ll love to help you cut the paper and hang the labels, making it more like a craft than an educational experience. All the while he’ll be learning an important foundation to a life of literacy – what a great combination!