Growing Reader

At-Home Reading Activities
for 6-Year-Olds

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credits (left to right): Girls sharing headphones (Fuse, Getty Images); crayons (Panoramic Images, Getty Images); flash card girl (TongRo Images, Getty Images); word jar (Imagination Soup); mother and children (Blend Images - KidStock, Brand X Pictures/Getty Images); sight words (themeasuredmom.com); boy reading in bed (Jekaterina Nikitina, Taxi/Getty Images); Zingo (megduerksen.typepad.com/whatever/)

Six-year-old kids are sponges, absorbing tons of information every day. Here’s how you can help your 6-year-old child grow into an expert reader with fun, at-home reading activities.

Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll want to keep on reading to your child every day — it’s critical in their literacy development! And keep a good variety of books available everywhere — in the car, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, well, everywhere.

Now for the activities…

Reading Activities with Words

  • Decode
    Reading the sounds in the word is called decoding. Add in more strategies to your “sound it out” tool kit. Teach your child these other strategies for figuring out words:

    • Say the Beginning Sound
    • Look for Chunks
    • Look Inside the Word
    • Say It Slowly
    • Use the Picture
    • Skip It, Go Back
    • Ask for Help
    • If your child is struggling, suggest a strategy. “How about you try to chunk it up? What does the sh- chunk say?”
    • Then compliment the strategy your child uses. “Way to go on using the picture clues to figure out that word!
  • Sight words
    It’s really important that kids learn the basic sight words. These are words that frequently occur in text and children must know “by sight,” not by sounding them out:

    • Download the Fry or Dolch sight word lists. Start with the list of words your child does not know yet.
    • Write one or two of the sight words on sticky notes or flashcards. Bring them in the car, to dinner, to the playground … make them available throughout the day to look at, say, and remember.
    • Print out two sets of sight word cards. Use these to play a memory match game or “Go Fish” with pairs.
    • Play games with sight word magnets. For instance, post three sight words. Ask the child to find one of the three sight words. “Can you find the word ‘and’?
    • Hunt for sight words in printable books. Stamp or circle the sight word, then read the sentence out loud.
    • Write sight words in rainbow colors using crayons or markers. Get extra fancy and write them in sentences using invented (a.k.a. close-enough) spelling.
    • Play Zingo, a sight word Bingo game.
  • Word fun
    • Play Hangman. This is especially fun(ny) when you have a new reader who can’t spell. Just go with it; it’s pretty awesome.
    • Help your child read the signs while you’re driving.
    • Rhyme and learn word families, or sets of words that have the same spelling patterns, such as -eep, -at, -op. Build new words in the same family with magnetic letters. (Lists of word families here.)
    • Start a word collection of all the words your child can read. Keep in a kid-decorated glass jar or any other fun container. Be proud of those words!

Activities with Short, Easy Reader Books

  • Book choice 
    Let your child choose their own books. But show them how. Explain how to look at the cover, read the back, flip through the pages, and so forth. Then let them practice. A lot.
  • Tracking 
    Follow the words you or your child reads with a finger or reading pointer.
  • Reread 
    Children gain confidence and skill by reading familiar books more than once. Practice makes better.
  • Take turns 
    Take turns reading each page. Or have your child echo read immediately after you say each word or sentence. This will help build confidence and show how fluent readers read with expression.
  • Write 
    Kids love reading what they write. Write a story together or individually. Write poems. Write love letters. Just write. Then read what you wrote.
  • Background knowledge
    The more background knowledge a child has about a subject, the better their comprehension when reading. You can build this. If you’re reading a book on caves, find YouTube videos about caves or go visit a cave. Then read the cave book.
  • Add in tech
    Since kids love technology, try reading with websites like Reading Eggs, Starfall, ABCya!, RazKids, or Lexia Learning. Then check out our recommended reading apps for kids.

Activities with Easy Chapter Books

  • Reading nook
    Make a cozy reading area with your child’s help.
  • Listen
    Listen to audiobooks. They improve a child’s vocabulary and increase their love of story.
  • Discuss
    When you’re reading books together, stop and talk. Discuss the words, the story, what you think will happen next, questions you have, and if you have connections to your own life. This will be a lot of YOU modeling for your child but before long, your child will be jumping in.
  • Monitor meaning
    Some kids read words without thinking what they mean. Avoid this by encouraging your child to frequently stop to answer you about what’s happening or ask themselves, “Am I understanding what’s going on?
  • Headlamps
    Headlamps really motivate my kids to read. The trick is to set an early bedtime. Then let your kids “stay up late — just this once” (or ten times) so they can read in bed with their headlamps.
  • E-Books 
    Entice more reading practice with a Kindle or an e-Reader. Both my kids have Kindles and one of their favorite things about them is looking up new words.
  • Retell 
    Tell your child about the book you’re reading. This models how to retell and shows that you’re a reader and thinker too. Then, help your child retell what is happening in the book they’re reading. (Don’t worry too much about differentiating between summarizing and retelling just yet.)
  • Fluency
    Model how to read the story with expression. Pause at periods. Use different voices for different characters. Encourage your child to do the same. It’s also fun to read in a voice different from your own: British, cowboy, princess, monster, or baby.

Good readers are thinkers. With these beginning reading activities, you’re helping your child think by learning specific reading strategies so they improve in their overall reading ability. Go, you!

 

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