Here are eight fantastic ways to promote pre-reading skills (without mess or fuss!) using alphabet refrigerator magnets.
The letter sets (uppercase/lowercase) shown in the activities below are perfect because the color of the letters match the letter tiles used in All About Reading and All About Spelling, but you can use any set that you have on hand.
And if magnets don’t stick to your fridge, you can do these same activities using a metal baking sheet or the front of your dishwasher.
Pour all your letters into a sauce pan or soup pot. Have your little one give the soup a stir and dish up some “Alphabet Soup”! Hold out your bowl while your young chef serves you up some “A Soup” or “F Soup” (or whatever variety is the special of the day!).
Mix up the letters in random order. Show your child how she can make a “train” by placing the letters in alphabetical order, singing the Alphabet Song as she goes.
Help your child recognize that there are letters everywhere! Pick out a few picture books or boxes of food. Have your child choose a magnetic letter from the fridge and try to find that same letter in the book or on a box.
Arrange the letters right side up and have your child organize the letters in matching sets. For example, can she find all the letters that have long sticks? How about short sticks? Can she find letters with circles? How about letters with dots? Sort out all the red letters. Can she find the letters in her name? How about the letters in a friend’s name?
Scatter your letters around your school room or living room. Give your child a basket and encourage her to say the name of the letters as she collects each one. You can use this activity to increase phonological awareness by calling out the sound of each letter instead of the name of the letter. Download our free Letter Sounds app if you need to refresh your memory on the sounds of the 26 alphabet letters.
Bury your letters in a large bowl filled with lentils, rice, or cracked wheat. Have your child dig for the letters with a magnetic wand. As she finds each letter, have her shout out the letter’s name and the sound it makes.
You can use your magnetic wand for this activity too! Make a fishing pole by tying a string to the end of a yard stick and then tying the magnetic wand to the end of the string. Spread your refrigerator magnets on the floor, and it’s time to go fishing! Have your child dangle the magnet wand to catch “fish.” Have her say the name and/or sound of each “fish” she catches.
This activity is perfect beginning readers. It will help your child learn that you can manipulate sounds to create new words. Build a three-letter word on the fridge. See how many new words you can make by changing the beginning and/or ending sounds. Here’s one using beginning sounds: Start with cat. Change the beginning sound to make fat, pat, and hat. Now create new words by changing the ending sound.
Interacting with letters helps your little ones get ready for reading and spelling. With these simple activities, your child will develop print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and listening comprehension—four out of the Big Five Skills that lay the foundation for learning to read and spell. (To add the fifth pre-reading skill, motivation to read, share some great picture books with your child!)
What other creative ideas do you have for using refrigerator magnets? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll add them to this post!