Teaching Preschoolers to Read
Preschool Phonics

The Tortoise and the Hare

The beauty of working with preschool kids is that everything will be
in slow motion and everything will be exaggerated to show the mistakes.  
So if what you do is not successful, you will find out immediately from
the performance of the kids what you did that was wrong.
(David Boulton childrenofthecode.org )

If we pace ourselves and teach only phonics lessons and ONE decoding skill at a time, preschoolers will cross the finish line as reading winners every time!  Never has the statement first impressions are lasting impressions been more relevant than the proper way to introduce reading to insure that children get hooked on phonics!

At the beginning of the school year if brand new readers, (Pre-K - 1st grade) are immediately taught intensive phonics, I guarantee that they will be reading by Christmas break!  Marva Collins, Educator

FIRST / MIDDLE / LAST  order of letter-sounds

A well trained reader can listen and identify each letter sound heard in a word.


Props:  3 toy animals, (duck, cat, dog)
Activity:Develop sound order identification skills
Arrange toys in random order 
 Quickly recite the animal sound for each toy
EX: quack meow ruff (duck, cat, dog)
Ask child to identify first, middle and last sounds
*for younger children, (ages 3 ½ - 4) try starting off with only 2 toys (ask them to identify first and last sounds)

When a child displays mastery of sounds-order skills, and understands the concept of letters as sound pictures substitute toys with alphabets.

1.FIRST / LAST sounds - 2-letter words demonstration (exercise contains real and nonsense words)
  /i-f/  /a-t/ /i-n/  /o-n/  /a-m/  /u-s/   /e-p/   /a-k/

  3-Letter Words Demonstration
  /f-u-n/   /c-a-t/   /h-o-t/   /a-f-o/  /o-m-s/  /f-o-s/

*always teach short vowel sounds first

Thinking Visually

Look at the image below.
What animal do you instantly see?


In English, a left to right visual reflex is necessary to be able to read.

Left  Right

If a readers visual reflex is from left to right, they will instantly see a duck.

If a readers visual reflex is from right to left, they will instantly see a rabbit.
*Common problems this type of reader might experience:

(weak eye muscles) skipped lines when reading often loosing place when reading
  • REVERSALS of letters or words: for saw for was
  • Dyslexia

LEFT / RIGHT activities

Left/Right Map Finder (booklet)
take a blank sheet of copy paper
 hold it side-ways (horizontally) and fold it together creating a booklet
use a permanent marker or crayon to mark the left and right inside pages
Write a giant letter on the left hand side of the fold and
Write a giant letter on the right hand side of the fold
can personalize the booklet by writing the child's name on the front cover
explain the left/right side concept to your child and what a map is, then present them with their very own
Left/Right Map Finder booklet
ask child to practice locating the left and right side of objects at home (anywhere)

1.Use left/right map book and give mom a kiss on her left cheek, then her right cheek;
2.Use map book to locate the left, then right side of home objects (TV, doors, table, refrigerator, toy box, closet door, oven, etc)

Hokey Pokey - song
To use this song as a left to right learning reinforcement activity, always start with left body parts

put your left hand in, put your left hand out, put your left hand in and shake it all about,
do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around that's what its all about

*Also, always turn toward the left during the turn your self around part of this song;
Again, this is to reinforce the development of a left thinking automatic reflex, which is necessary for reading.

Tip: If you stand side by side with your child, rather than facing them during this song, it makes it easier for them to mimic your left leaning movements.

Note:if you are unfamiliar with this song, I bet a seasoned relative will be able to help you out with the tempo and the lyrics, otherwise please Google it!!!


Mirror Mirror on the wall, show me how my mouth should fall!

The ability to isolate individual letter sounds is a very important reading skill that can be easily taught with a common everyday household item a mirror.

Mirror Activities:

Provides visual pronunciation clues.
Shows readers how to isolate letter sounds and develop automatic reading fluency.
Demonstrates to students how letter sounds interact with their lips, mouth, tongue, teeth, breath and voice.

sample mirror demo:
For the letter imagine your tongue tap dancing against the back of your teeth.

Any program that shows children
what's happening inside their mouths,
(lips, teeth, tongue, breath, voice) 
as they enunciate letters and words 
is a sound investment!

Letter Names

For brand-new readers (pre-kindergarten through 1st grades),
teach letter names AFTER learned and mastered
the 26 letter-sounds of the alphabet.