While children naturally love the simple act of curling up with a caregiver and a good book, there are ways to infuse even more learning and benefits into storytime. Ruth Rumack, veteran educator and creator of the Alpha-Mania Adventures storybook series, recommends incorporating language fun into reading by playing with sounds as you read. The ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken language is known as phonological awareness, and it’s a strong predictor of future reading success.
Phonological awareness skills include rhyming, blending, alliteration, segmenting, and sound manipulation, and research says that kids who learn these skills in their preschool years tend to become better readers. Ruth recommends the following activities to do during and after storytime to turn your child into a strong reader in a fun and meaningful way:
1. Make note of rhyming words within a story, or better yet, have your child complete the final rhyme in a sentence.
2. Practice blending sounds into words. Play guessing games where one person says a word slowly, one sound at a time, while the other guesses the word (mmm…aaa…p = map).
3. Think up alliterative phrases related to the book to practice hearing the initial sounds in words (Magnificent Maggie makes merry music).
4. Point to an object in the illustrations and ask your child to segment the word into individual sounds. Stick to things with four sounds or less (/S/…/U/…/N/; /S/…/A/…/N/…/D/).
5. Make up riddles where your child has to manipulate sounds in words to discover a new word. (“Change the first sound in like to a /b/ sound. What’s the new word?”) You can even send them on a hunt around the house to find more riddles.
Playing with language at storytime is an excellent way to help your child develop strong reading skills and a love of language. Preschool-aged children love silly things, so don’t worry if the words they’re rhyming or blending or manipulating are real words or nonsense words. As long as they’re hearing the sounds, it is beneficial. Keep it fun, and be as silly as you want!
After completing her Bachelor of Education, Ruth Rumack started her career as a Children’s Program Director at a community center. It was at this time that Ruth began working with students privately, supporting their academic needs. Her practice quickly grew from her living room to the 3000 square foot office that Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space currently occupies, employing close to 25 full-time certified educators, designers, and support staff. As an educator, Ruth has a particular interest in working with students of all ages who experience reading challenges, as well as those diagnosed with learning differences and other exceptionalities such as ADHD, anxiety, and executive functioning issues. She is a member of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario and regularly attends learning conferences to ensure that she is on the leading edge of new research and new methodologies. At her Learning Space, Ruth and her team of highly-qualified educators provide individualized support that emphasizes honoring the individual strengths and needs of each child. Their goal is to provide all students with a strong academic foundation, achieved through active, kinesthetic learning that doesn’t feel like learning at all.
Outside of her passion for education, Ruth enjoys all aspects of the performing arts. She was part of the first cohort of students to attend the Claude Watson School for the Arts, majoring in theater/musical theater from Grade 4 through the end of high school. A classically trained singer, Ruth also studied opera for eight years. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.
For more information, connect with Rumack on her website and the series' site, as well as Rumack's Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Alpha-Mania Adventures is now available on Amazon, alpha-mania.com, and Ruth Rumack's Learning Space.