Talking, singing, playing rhyme games, reading aloud, and experimenting with writing and drawing with your child are great ways to establish a good literacy foundation. During the spring months, try some of these seasonal, easy, and play-based literacy activities to support and encourage your preschooler’s curiosity and confidence with spelling.
Spring Spelling Activities
1) Water Words
On a warm spring day take a bucket of water and a paint brush (a one-half or two-inch bristle-head brush works well) out to the sidewalk or driveway. Have your child paint letters and words with water on the concrete.
Variation: Take this activity a step further and create muddy messages: On a wet day find a stick and some space in the soil and practice writing words in the mud. A sunny day? Fill the watering can or grab the hose and create your own muddy canvas.
2) Air Spelling
Take some time to explore outdoors and talk together about the new things you see now that spring has arrived. A tree, bug, bird, or the sky may be just a few topics your preschooler wants to explore and discuss. “Write” these spring-related words together in the air with your finger, hand, arm, or a small stick.
Variation: Have your child write their spelling words on your back with their finger. Try to guess the word they are spelling.
3) Rhyme Anytime
Use phrases like ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ or make up nonsense rhymes together about things you are doing – for example, ‘see my feet walk to the beat’ or ‘put your glass from your drink into the sink’. Sing nursery rhymes with your child such as ‘Jack and Jill’, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ or the Alphabet Song when you’re at home, in the car, or out and about. By doing this, you are teaching your child about language, rhyme, repetition, and rhythm. These activities also will help her understand the meaning of words as well as how words are created.
4) Carrot Pencils
Dip the tip of a whole carrot into some paint and have your child trace over words you have written (or typed) or practice writing his own words on paper.
Waxy Words: On a piece of white paper have your trace over or write his own letters or words with a candle (a white or light colored candle works best). Next, have him paint over the entire paper with watercolor paint. Let the paper dry completely and see the words appear.
5) Rainbow Spelling
Have your child trace over words in several different colors of chalk, crayons, markers, or colored pencils. This activity can also be taken outside and completed with sidewalk chalk or sidewalk paint (available online or at most craft stores).
6) Stick ‘n’ Spell
Gather some spring-related items such as seeds, dandelions, small sticks, small leaves, blades of grass, or feathers. Separate the objects into containers. Write words on cardstock, large enough for your child to trace over with a glue stick or some paste and a paintbrush. Next, have your child select an item to stick on to each letter, covering each as completely as possible. When the glue has dried, have your child trace over each letter with his finger and say each letter and then the word.
Spring Spelling Apps
On a rainy day or on the go, you and your child might like to try these apps recommended by KinderTown that promote early literacy skills.
Starfall ABCs App Review
Starfall ABCs brings each letter to life with pictures, animation, games, songs, and stories. Using a clear, articulated voice, the app identifies each letter by name, sounds, and words. Children interact with each letter by taping, sliding, sorting, and dragging as each letter takes them through five or more screens of engaging phonics learning.
Gappy Learns Reading App Review
Gappy Learns Reading supports young learners building words letter by letter and sound by sound. Poor Gappy gets lost from his home, and your child needs to build 10 words to get him to his house. After building 10 words, your child earns a prize to customize the house in uniquely creative ways. There are four levels in the app, so young learners who are just working on letter identification can build words, and early readers can work on spelling lists of their own. This is a well-designed app for learning about letters and sounds while building words.
Engaging in literacy activities sets the stage for your preschooler to get excited about spelling. Remember that the goal of these activities is to give your child in a variety of literacy-based activities and to feel more relaxed about learning how to spell. Keep in mind that, while these types of activities are fun ways to practice individual letters or words, you should not depend on them alone to teach spelling. As your child gets older, your regular spelling program should present words in context to help him develop a visual memory of the words through writing.