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Reading books and playing sound games every day – ways to awaken children’s fascination with the alphabet

There exist numerous scientific publications about how much good it is to read books to a child every day. Forming a bond between a parent and a child, satisfying the child’s emotional needs, supporting the child’s mental development, teaching the child to use language correctly, improving the child’s concentration and developing the child’s imagination are just a few examples of why it is worth reading to children. Bearing in mind the child’s overall and harmonious development, we decided that reading aloud to children every day will be a regular part of the daily routine in our kindergarten. Following the Montessorian principle of a prepared environment, children have free access to books – at any time of the day they can choose an item that interests them and watch it independently or with their peers. Additionally, while relaxing, children and the teacher choose books to read aloud. While reading, we try to create an atmosphere that fosters relaxation – we dim the light, turn on the lamp, children assume the most comfortable position for themselves. Of course, we remember about voice modulation, interaction with children, conversation about the plot, characters, so as to actively involve preschoolers in the reading process. All these procedures mean that children associate reading with pleasure and relaxation.
What’s more, every day children can bring in their favorite that they read together with their parents at home. This creates an opportunity for the children to share experiences, talk about their favorite books, and inspires the children to play characters from their favorite fairy tale. Awakening the love for books from an early age – both at home and in kindergarten, will certainly result in the future of willing, independent reading of our children.

 

Another interesting way to awaken your child’s fascination with the alphabet are sound games. What are sound games and how do we play them in pre-school institutions?

Sound games appear at the very beginning of Montessori language education – their objective is to teach the child to recognize specific sounds before he learns the corresponding graphic signs. That way, we show the child that every word they use consists of sounds – that is, speech units. This game is a natural bridge between a specific sound and its symbol – a letter that the child learns at a much later stage.

ZWhen starting to play sound games, the child should be able to name things in the environment, form sentences, develop clear speech. In pre-school, we start to play the first sound games with the smallest children.

 

What are the general rules for audio games and can they be played at home?

As the name suggests – sound games are a form of fun with specific goals and rules:

  1. At the beginning, we choose one thing from the child’s environment (it may be a favorite object, toy) or we ask the child to bring us one favorite toy for the rug or table.
  2. When a child brings an object, we name it with emphasis on the first sound of the word, e.g. aaaaaaauto [Polish: car], ooooookulary [Polish: glasses], mmmmmałpka [Polish: monkey] etc. In this way, we draw the child’s attention to the initial sound.
  3. We ask the child to repeat the name in the same way.
  4. We then ask the child to give us an item that begins with “aaaaaa” (the specific item we are working with).
  5. After the first stage, we increase the number – 3 items starting with different sounds, the rest of the work pattern is the same – we name it with emphasis on the first sound, then the child names it, and finally gives us the items for the sound we specify.
  6. When this is accomplished, we add movement – the children look for objects beginning with a given phone in their environment – in the room, in the garden, in the park;
  7. When the child is fluent in recognizing the sounds at the beginning of words, we move on to the next stage – searching for sounds at the end  We start with words that clearly hear the last sound – e.g. autooooooooooo [Polish: car], małpaaaaaaa [Polish: monkey], lalkaaaaaaaa [Polish: doll];
  8. Finally, when the previous two stages of the game are mastered, we move on to the last one – searching for sounds in the middle of a word – this stage is the most difficult, so it should be left for practice at the end. In this case, we also start with examples where the middle sound is easy to hear, e.g. draaaaaaaaabina {Polish: ladder].
  9. When playing games with ending and middle sounds, you should also repeat the opening sounds to make your child aware of how many different sounds words are made of.
  10. In case of any difficulties, repeat the previous stage of the game.

Children love sound games, during walks to the park they often play together or with the teacher, saying: I see a thing starting with “aaaaa” – what is it?
Sound games can be successfully played at home. Children are very eager to search for items in their rooms with a specific sound in their name or ask their siblings and parents to find a given item.
You are encouraged to play with your children!

 


Author
Sylwia Kocjan
Montessori teacher