My son is just beginning to learn to read. He will start Kindergarten in the fall and I wanted to help encourage him . I found the Road to Reading activity center from Lakeshore and was pleased to try it with him.
The kit works by building one skill at a time. The first is learning letter sounds by completing alphabet puzzles. Next step is building simple words by using picture cards and letter tiles. Third, they recognize and read sight words. Last is a emergent reader book. The kit has 5 different folders each with the 4 different steps. Included in the activity center is a guide that tells you to use each step.
Right now my son is only on the first step. He knows many of the letter sounds and is working on learning more. We began by just saying the letter on each puzzle and the sound that it made. Then we went on to show the pictures and the sound it made. For example I said T is for Turtle. I also would pronounce the words slowly emphasizing the beginning sound. Then together we did the puzzles. After that he did them individually. Since his big sister was also playing with us we ended up turning the puzzles into a matching game. They each took turns finding two pieces and if they fit together they got to keep the match if they could identify the letter and sound. If it didn't match their turn was over. While this was not an activity listed it was a simple way to get both kids involved and learning their letters and letter sounds.
We tried some of the other steps even though my son is still learning the letter sounds. Sometimes he was able to figure out the beginning sound to build the word. Other times he wasn't. I'm sure after he masters step one this will be easier.
Step 3 has them recognizing and reading sight words. The cards are tactile and you have the child trace the letters with their finger and then say the sight word. After they become familiar you can then hold up the cards and have the child quickly identify the word.
The final step is reading a simple book. The book has the letter sounds, simple words, and sight words that you worked on for steps 1-3. You can look through the book together and make predictions. Show how you read from left to right. They can also look for simple words or sight words that they recognize. I had my son find some simple sight words in the book. While he doesn't have those memorized yet he was able to match the word on the card to the words in the book.
I like how this kit progresses and allows the child to master one step before moving on to the next. I also like how this kit allows my child to use fine motor skills and manipulate the words throughout the process. Allowing him to do puzzles, build words, and feel the sight words makes learning a fun process. He enjoys the process and it is simple enough that anyone can pick up the kit and use with the child.