Montessori Pre-Reading Activities

Reading is an advanced mental process, which requires some complex cognitive skills such as analysis and synthesis.

There are four stages of Language Development:
Stage 1: Spoken Language
Stage 2: Phonemic Awareness
Stage 3: Creating Words
Stage 4: Reading

Before a child can tackle reading, we need to expose them to the skills that will aid in the process of reading. Pre-reading activities prepare younger children for reading later. Visual discrimination, auditory discrimination, sequencing, pattern recognition, sorting, spoken language are all precursors to reading. All of these activities aid in the process of reading development. For younger children the more concrete these activities are, the better they grasp these concepts.

10 Pre-Reading Activities Ideas

Reading Aloud

This is the most simple and easiest activity you can do with your child. Even if you cannot get time to do anything else, you can only read every day to your child. Reading aloud with your child will help him or her emotionally, socially, and academically. It will create a lasting bond and will promote a healthy emotional state in your child. Research shows that children who are read to every day have a better grasp on reading.  

Note: You can read to your child anytime at your convenience. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime. Find the time that works for your family!

Object to Object Matching

This is a very concrete activity for toddlers and the easiest to prepare with what you have around the house. The idea is to have the exact same objects to match. For example, if they are matching spoons both spoons should look exactly alike for the initial experience. For this activity, have a basket of objects that look the same and then line a set on the left. Name each object as you line them and then model matching each object. Place it all back in the basket and then have your child repeat the activity. It is very important to show the entire process from start to finish to your child. Putting the work away is also a big part of learning.

Note: For a young toddler keep the objects limited to 2 or 3 set for matching.

Challenging Version of Object-Object Matching

Object to Picture Matching

This is the same concept of matching but this time we are adding a bit of a challenge by doing it abstract. Pictures are not as concrete as the objects. What we see in 3D and 2D are two separate experience. Thus, for a younger child it is a bit of challenge and a good practice to distinguish objects from 3 dimension to 2 dimension.

Backyard Birds Matching

Picture to Picture Matching

Now, we are taking away the concrete completely and introducing only abstract concept of matching. This lesson comes after the child has successfully matched objects to picture.

Patterning

Patterning is such an important skill for children to learn for reading. When we are reading a language or learning a new language, it is all patterns of letters put together to make a word or a sentence. Patterning helps children make prediction to what comes next and use logical connections.

Story Sequencing

This is a very important preschool activity. Sequencing help children understand the patterns of things. For example, using your daily schedule for sequencing can help children understand what to expect next. This is also an important skill for reading because then a child can compartmentalize the concept of first, next, then, and last.

Sorting Activity

Any sorting activity you can find around the house will help your child understand to put things into category. A basket of spoons, forks, and knives can be a great sorting activity for a younger children to understand the concept of organization. Not only it prepares the mind for reading but also for writing and math.

Sorting by Colors

I-Spy Games

I-spy games are great for working memory and building that visual discrimination. In order to read we need to have phonemic awareness and also we rely on our memory of hearing that sound or word before. This game can be played at various stages. For this activity have a basket of different object that the child is familiar with and then you can do I-spy for each object either by color or touch. For an older toddler or Pre-K student who is learning the phonetic sounds, you can say, “I-spy an object that starts with the sound “s”. You can mix it up by doing the ending sound or middle sound depending on the child.

Conversation Cards

These are great addition for pre-reading shelf. They help build inference knowledge in children. Oral language development is a first step to reading development. Conversation Cards also helps child understand the concept of questions and answering.

Sand paper letters

The sand paper letters is the way we introduce letter sounds in the Montessori classroom. Tracing the letter and associating it with letter sound prepares the hand and the mind. It build the muscle memory as child internalize and remember the sound by tracing the symbol.

In Montessori classroom, we follow the above order for introduction to letter sounds. This order is color coordinated as shown above.

Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace which is right for each individual child.

Maria Montessori

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