Category Archives: Teaching Ideas

Go on a Word Hunt

A fun way to incorporate reading into your babies daily life is to go on a word hunt.  If, for example, you have taped up labels around the house, you can hunt for the words.  Tell your baby to find the word refrigerator.  You can crawl around on the floor with your baby if you want to and go find the word refrigerator.  Once you get there you read the word by sliding your finger under the word and saying “refrigerator” with lots of excitement.  If you want to you can even tell your baby that they earned a point.  Children love to get points, even if they are never added up.  Continue on by finding as many different words as you can joyously seek out.  Once you have been doing this for a period of time, you can mix the words up.  You can purposely put the words on the wrong objects and then fix them with your baby. You can also give your baby a word and have them place it in the appropriate place.  I know a mom who claims that the word dwarf came in during nap time and mixed everything up.  When her child wakes up they set everything straight again.  When teaching your baby to read you are only limited by your imagination.  Now go and have fun teaching your baby to read.

Incorporating Baby’s Favorite Words

Once your baby has shown an interest in anything in particular, you can incorporate those words into your reading program.  For example, if your baby likes Dora the Explorer, you can make flash cards with words related to Dora.  If your child likes airplanes, or vehicles, you can create cards with words that are exciting to your baby.  There is no prepackaged reading program that will cover everything that is exciting and interesting to your baby.  It is important to keep your program fun for your baby.  As your child’s interests change, be willing to adapt and tailor the program to meet their needs.  It is a good idea to keep a stack of 5×8 index cards and a red marker handy so you can create words on demand. 

Teach your baby colors

From birth to 3 years old babies are absorbing everything from their surroundings.  Learning is not an effort or a chore, it is what they are wired to do from birth.  By being aware of this we can easily teach our babies many things on a daily basis, just by changing the way we behave.

In order to teach your baby to identify colors, all you need to do is talk about colors from birth.  As you dress your baby describe the color dress you are putting on.  You can identify the color of the toys you are playing with, the food you are eating and so forth.  Babies naturally and easily learn their colors well before their 1st birthday if taught in this manner.  You can also create a flash card of the color word.   Show your baby the word and then identify objects of that color.  Your baby will learn to read the word as easily as they will learn their colors.
You can find out if your baby knows their colors by placing two or more objects of different colors in front of them and asking them to choose green or red, and so forth.  At ten months old my daughter could correctly identify her colors, even though she couldn’t speak.

Turn Bath Time into Reading Time

A simple and fun way to expose your baby to written language is to teach your child to read while bathing.  All you need to do is buy some foam bath letters.  You can use these to teach your baby the ABC’s or you can go a step further and teach your baby to read words. Babies can learn the ABC’s and how to read with the same level of ease.  It is no more difficult to teach your child to read words, which have an immediate use in their life, as opposed to teaching the alphabet, which they won’t be able to do much with from birth – 3 years old.  We advocate teaching your baby as many words as you can before you introduce the alphabet.

When teaching baby to read during bath time, you can start with names of family members.  You may want to teach the names of items found in the bathroom, such as soap, bubbles, shampoo, etc…  You can even spell out the words as you are creating them for your baby This will give them an advantage in learning to spell as well.  Babies are sponges and will absorb the information that surrounds them. Don’t think for a moment that your baby can’t learn to read AND spell with ease.

How to Teach the ABC’s

So many parents are fixated on teaching their babies the ABC’s.  They begin to sing them the ABC song shortly after birth.  They want to be sure that they are ready for school and teach them what the name is for each of the 26 symbols in our alphabet.  This is all great, but there is more to reading then being able to recognize the symbols we call letters.

If parents want to give their child a real tool to use, they should teach the letter sounds at the same time.  When pointing out the letter A, they should explain that A makes the beginning sound you hear in the word ant.  A says “aaa”.  You can even make up songs about the sounds of the letters.
Since our words are made up of sounds that blend together to form words, it is much more important that children can recognize these sounds.  A child that has been taught the sounds of the letters will be better able to decode the word cat by using this code, the phonetic code.  They will say, “Cuh, aaa, ttt” ”  Cat!  Otherwise, they will just know the word as C-A-T.  With that they can do nothing.
When you teach your child to read as a baby, they are usually able to pick up the sounds of the language on their own.  Adding in some phonics is a fun way to take your reading program in a different direction.

Create a chore chart

Another way that you can incorporate written language into your child’s daily life is with a chore chart.  This works best for children around 2 years old.  It will also help them to learn responsibility.   Think of some simple tasks that you would like them to do each day.  Get a large piece of paper or poster board.  You can laminate it if you choose and check off the jobs as they are done each day. The chart might look something like this.

        Chore Chart
  • Make bed
  • Put toys away
  • Help mommy with laundry
  • Dust 
You can add whatever jobs are applicable to your daily life.  My 2 year old loves to help wash the dishes.  Just remember that children love to feel needed.  Give your child some responsibility and let them feel proud to contribute to the family.  As you look at the chart each day, run your finger under each word as you say it out loud.  In no time your child will be reading the phrases you have recorded.  How can you lose?  You are teaching your child to read and to help out.

Teach baby to read with a to do chart

If you are doing a reading program with your baby, you can add a new element to your program by incorporating a to do chart.  You would create a chart to keep in the baby’s room that may say “Daily To Do’s”.  Create a simple list of things you do each day and read them together before each activity.  Your baby will learn to read as well as follow directions.  Here is an example of a chart you might create for a 12 month old.

 Daily To Do’s
  • Take bath
  • Brush teeth
  • Read story
  • Sing ABC song
  • Take nap
  • Go for a walk
  • Watch video
  • Say Prayers
  • Time for bed
This is an easy and quick way to expose your child to written language and train them in following a schedule.


Go Grocery Shopping

A fun game that you can incorporate into teaching your baby to read is to create a shopping list.  This is a fun game for babies around 12-24 months old.  You can play the game at home, or you can really go shopping.

If you decide to play at home you can play with a pretend set of groceries or you can shop from your pantry.  Write out a list of items, in a large, clear print and tell your baby what you are shopping for.  You can concentrate on particular food groups, or just list random items. You may shop just for fruit, if those are words you want to reinforce, or dairy items.  You can get as creative as you want.  You may even want to list a treat on there.  When baby reads it, they get to eat that treat.
You can also write your shopping list on a large 5×8 index card and let your baby read you the items as you shop at the store.  You can give the baby a pen to cross them off after you place them in your cart.  There are just so many opportunities to expose your little one to language.  Let me know if you have any great ideas to share.

Have fun with big words

When I began to teach my son to read, we read all kinds of words.  I made him picture books and taught him to read the words and know what they were by seeing the pictures of the items.  He loved to read his books and I loved to make them for him.  It was so exciting to teach him what everything was.  When he got to be around 2 years old, there weren’t too many new items that I could teach him.  We began a new phase of our program.

I would sit and think of as many big words as I could.  I chose words that he had heard before, not words that were completely foreign.  I taught him to read words like excellent, fantastic, microscopic, and so forth.  Of course, I had no pictures for these cards.  He didn’t mind at all.  What was amazing to me was that after seeing the word two times, he knew them.  It was not only a lesson in learning to read, it was also a lesson in vocabulary.
Don’t limit yourself to small, easy words.  Expose your child to all kinds of words.  There are patterns to learn from our language and the more words you expose your child to, the faster they will figure out the rules.  This will give them the ability to learn to read new words on their own, using the rules of phonics.

Tally Marks for Flash Cards

Teaching your baby to read with flash cards is a fast and easy.  The average number of times that your child should view each card is between 15 and 20 times.  When working with babies, sometimes things aren’t predictable.  You may have a set of flash cards set aside that you are working on.  While you are going through them some sort of distraction occurs and now your baby is not interested anymore. 

I have found the best way to handle this is to keep track of the number of times a card has been viewed by using tally marks on the back of the card.  This keeps the baby from getting bored if I show it too many times.  Once the baby has seen a card around 15 times, we place those in our stack of old cards, to use again in the near future.  This way at a glance, I know where we stand with each word.