You probably still remember the fun you had trying to get the lines to “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” to come out just right. Maybe you didn’t think about it, but you were practicing alliteration -- a powerful pre-reading skill emphasizing neighboring words with the same beginning sound. Your preschool child will laugh and have fun, but he’ll also be building a solid reading foundation when you engage him in alliterative games and activities.
Choose a word that is second nature to your child, such as her name or her pet’s name. Together, think of words that begin with the same sound. For example, if her dog’s name is Spot, you could say “Silly Spot.” Add more words: “Super silly Spot.” Expand it into a sentence: “Super silly Spot sneaked under the stool.” Every child likes to see her name in writing. Make up an alliterative sentence using her name and write it on a poster to hang in her room.
Ask your child to think of a name that starts with the same sound as tiger: “Tony the tiger.” Each time your child thinks of a different animal, you pair it with a name that has the same beginning sound: “Molly the mouse” or “Ronnie the rabbit.” Switch tasks. You name an animal and your child pairs it with a name that has the same beginning sound.
Some children have a difficult time with particular letter sounds. Perhaps you want to work on the letter D with her. Write the letter D in upper and lower case letters at the top of a sheet of art paper. Place a picture of a dog next to it. Help your child cut out pictures of objects that begin with the same sound as dog: drum, doll, desk and doughnut. Paste them onto the art paper. For a stronger connection to your child’s world, take pictures of household items with your digital camera.
Place foam cut-out letters into a grab bag. Choose letters that you want to emphasize. You and your child take turns pulling out a letter and naming as many words as possible that start with the same sound. If she pulls out a B, she’ll say “bat, ball, balloon and Betty.”
Place index cards on walls and surfaces around one room in your house. Glue pictures of familiar objects and their beginning letters on the cards. For example, glue a clown picture and the letter C. The cards should consist of at least three different beginning sounds. Ask your child to find all the cards with the beginning C sound. Group them together. Do the same with the remaining sounds.
Place several household objects in a plastic tub. When your child chooses one of the objects, she says a word that begins with the same sound. If she chooses a ball, she may say “bouncing blue ball.”
Many children’s book authors use alliteration. Read several of these books to your child. Do the same with poems. You can download alliterative poems online at sites such as My Word Wizard. After you have read several of the poems, create your own alliteration poem with your child.
Karen LoBello is coauthor of “The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition.” She began writing in 2009, following a career as a Nevada teacher. LoBello holds a bachelor's degree in K-8 education, a secondary degree in early childhood education and a master's degree in computer education.