5 easy early reading activitiesThe preschooler surprised us all a couple of weeks ago, when he picked up a book and read a word from the page. High fives all round! The pride and excitement on his face was beautiful, and since then he has been so enthusiastic about reading that I so I would share some of the activities we have been doing. These are 5 easy early reading activities anyone can do at home.

Messy/ sensory play

There are always opportunities for reading practise in messy and sensory play. Letters are all around us and if they’re aren’t, I add them in. I always have the following to hand:

  • foam letters
  • magnetic letters
  • scrabble tiles
  • felt letters
  • stencils
  • stampers
  • chalks

so that if we are doing some messy or sensory play, I can pop some letters into the mix for some impromptu practise. The preschooler is so used to seeing letters and words around that he often points them out to me without prompting. An excellent example being our recent Autumn Sensory Dig. The word ‘mud’ was sounded out and read with gusto!

Another lovely activity we have done involved GelliBaff:

  • we mixed up a small amount of Gelli Baff and dropped it into the Tuff Spot
  • we talked about the sound it made and wrote the words splat and plop
  • We talked about how it felt and wrote the word cold
  • We talked about what it looked like and wrote the words red mud

We introduced toy cars to the mix and talked about how to move them by pulling, pushing and we talked about how the cars got stuck. We used chalk to write the words around the Tuff Spot and then used the initial sounds to play a simple game:

Which word begins with ‘s’? Can you make a splat sound like the word? Which word says splat? Which word says mud?

Early reading activities during messy and sensory play

The preschooler enjoyed finding the intial sounds and he loved being able to sound out CVC words too. The word games were heavily interspersed with playing!

Sound trays

The Boy and Me put me on to these wonderfully versatile trays (£3 from Asda) and we’ve used them a lot in our play. For these activities, we used letter tiles from Pairs in Pears (preschool word game from Bananagrams).

Early reading activities: sound trays

  • I chose sounds that the preschooler was familiar with for the first activity. I then searched for items which began with those sounds and popped each sound specific item in the same tray, with the corresponding letters jumbled in the middle. The preschooler then matched the letters to the items.
  • I muddled the items up and asked the preschooler to sort them into the correct groups
  • I muddled the letters up and asked the preschooler to sort them.
  • I chose new letters and asked the preschooler to find items that matched those initial sounds

The sound trays are a great way to practise letters and sounds quickly and there are lots of ways to use them.

Stencils and stampers

The preschooler loves using stencils and stampers and there are lots of ways to use them to help early reading. We used stencils to:

  • used the letter stencils to make words to read and to talk about letter shapes.
  • drew around pictures and wrote the words underneath. The preschooler sounded out and read the CVC words; we read harder words together.
  • extended the pictures activity by drawing pictures and asking the preschooler to tell me the initial sound. We then sounded out the words together as I wrote them.
  • wrote CVC words such as ‘sun’ and asked the preschooler to draw the shapes
  • wrote harder words and asked the preschooler to guess what they said before I finished drawing the picture- a little like pictionary, only the preschooler used initial sounds as clues

We used animal stampers to:

  • stamp the animal then write the name underneath
  • write CVC animal names such as ‘pig’ and ‘dog’
  • extend the activity by writing the word and asking the preschooler to find the relevant stamper

Early reading activities: stencils and stampers


Sounds simple- but at the end of the day, reading a book is still one of the best ways to teach early reading skills. When we read, I often talk about words on the page and ask questions such as:

  • which word do you think says ‘big’? What sound does the word start with?

The preschooler sounds out CVC words confidently and has also started to use picture cues to help him. We also have some lovely phonics books which have a wheel you can turn to change the initial sounds. These books have helped him to learn how to sound out CVC words.

Ultimately, we read a lot. The preschooler loves listening to stories and cannot wait to be able to read independently. It’s so exciting that he is on his way!