Pre-Reading Skills

shooting-star-147722_1280by Becky Ross Redwater, Alberta, Canada

There are many things that preschoolers could be learning to assist them in becoming ready for reading. Here are some easy things to try!

1. Hear and Identify Rhyming Words

  • Recite and memorize nursery rhymes and songs. Favorites are: Humpty Dumpty, Baa-Baa Black Sheep, Hickory Dickory Dock, Jack and Jill, and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • Make them aware of the rhythm by clapping out the words or the syllables in the words to the song or rhyme (Twin­-kle, twin-kle lit–tle star . . .).
  • Repeat rhymes or songs having the child clap only on the rhyming words.
  • Continue to familiarize the child with rhyming by reading rhyming stories such as Dr. Seuss Books, The Teeny Tiny Woman, etc. . . .
  • More challenging songs to try at this point would be:

The Ants Go Marching
The ants go marching one by one, Hurrah, hurrah.
The ants go marching one by one, Hurrah, hurrah.
The ants go marching one by one,
The little one stops to suck his thumb,
And they all go marching down
Into ground to get out of the rain,
Boom! Boom! Boom!

Continue with more verses:
One by one – suck his thumb
Two by two – tie his shoe
Three by three – climb a tree
Four by four – shut the door
Five by five – take a dive
Six by six – pick up sticks
Seven by seven – pray to heaven
Eight by eight – shut the gate
Nine by nine – stand in line
Ten by ten – say “The End”

This Old Man
This old man,
He played one,
He played knick-knack on his thumb
With a knick-knack
Give the dog a bone.
This old man went rolling home!

Continue with verses:
One – on his thumb Two – on his shoe
Three – on his knee Four – on the door
Five – on his hive Six – on his sticks
Seven – up in heaven Eight – on his gate
Nine – on my spine Ten – on his hen

2. Rhyme Recognition

  • Match rhyming words by saying two words and have the child identify whether or not they rhyme. Does tree rhyme with sea?
  • Play “I Spy, With My Little Eye, Something That Rhymes With______________.” Gather pictures from magazines and set them out a few at a time asking the child to identify which one rhymes with the word you give.
  • Give the child a list of words and ask her to identify which one does not belong, such as: sat/mat/bat/sun, feet/cat/meet.

3. Complete Rhymes

  • Sing songs saying the first word and let the child supply the missing rhyming word. Try this one:

A Hunting We Will Go

A-hunting we will go,
a-hunting we will go.
We’ll catch a (mouse)
and put him in a (house),
and then we’ll let him go.

Other rhymes to use on this song could be: dragon-wagon; armadillo-pillow; bat-hat; bear-chair; butterfly-pie; cat-hat; crocodile-pile; crab-lab; deer-here; dolphin-muffin; frog-log; dragonfly-pie; duck-truck; kangaroo-zoo; pig-wig; porcupine-mine; raccoon-balloon; rat-vat; skunk-trunk; seal-meal; snail-pail; snake-cake; sheep-jeep; cow-plow; goat-boat.

Little Miss Muffet
Little Miss/Mr. Muffet
Sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
and frightened Miss/Mr. Muffet away.

Substitute other animals for the word “spider”, such as:
Along came a pig and took off her­­­___(wig)
Along came a sheep riding in a ___(jeep)
Along came a bunny licking some___(honey)
Along came a snake eating some ___(cake)
Along came a bee and sat in a ___(tree)
Along came a goat wearing a ___(coat)
Along came a dragon riding in a ___(wagon)
Along came a parrot eating a ___(carrot)

Five Little Monkeys
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed.
One fell off and broke his (head).
Four little monkeys jumping on a boulder.
One fell off and broke his (shoulder).
Three little monkeys jumping on hose.
One fell off and broke his (nose).
Two little monkeys jumping on a tree.
One fell off and broke his (knee).
One little monkey jumping on a couch.
Broke his toe and yelled out (“Ouch”).

Hickory, Dickory Dock

Hickory, dickory, dock, the mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one, and missed the (fun).
The clock struck two, and I lost a (shoe).
The clock struck three, and I landed on a (tree).
The clock struck four, and I opened a (door).
The clock struck five, and I fell on a (hive).
The clock struck six, and I dropped the (sticks).
The clock struck seven, and I went to (heaven).
The clock struck eight, and I opened the (gate).
The clock struck nine, and I climbed a (vine).
The clock struck ten, and it woke up the (hen).
The clock struck eleven, and I said hello to (Kevin).
The clock struck twelve, and I decided to (delve).

4. Production of Rhyme

  • Make up lists of rhyming words

“Tell me a word that rhymes with hop.” (pop, top)

“What rhymes with blue?” (Shoe)

  • Rhyming Riddles
    “This word rhymes with pop and bunnies do it, they ____.”
    “A fish named Jim, was learning to _____.”

Try some of these easy word games. You’ll find your little ones developing skills that will help in the deciphering of our language, preparing them to learn to read.


May I recommend:

Practice for Preschoolers

Is it a “b” or a “d”?

6220 Early Learning Workbooks

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