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Cognitive Development &
A Typical Course of Study for Preschool
Cognitive Development &
A Typical Course of Study for Preschool


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Learning Reading Readiness Concepts & Skills
To help develop reading readiness in your young children we have
provided some activities that correlate with the cognitive developmental
stage of 2-5 year olds and the typical preschool course of study. Here are
some key concepts, experiences, and skills that educators think children
ages 2-5 should have in order to develop reading readiness. Children

Be read to daily
Have their own books
Look at books and magazines
Use left-to-right progression
Pretend to read
Understand that print carries a message
Look at pictures and tell a story
Recognize some nursery rhymes
Answer questions about a short story
Know what a letter is
Be familiar with the alphabet
Remember objects from a given picture
Pronounce own first and last name
Identify their own first name in manuscript
Print own first name
Identify other children by name
Express themselves verbally
Be able to repeat a sentence of 6-8 words
Be able to complete an incomplete sentence with a proper word
Tell the meaning of simple words
Identify parts of the body
Identify objects that have a functional use
Know common farm and zoo animals
Here are activities to teach these reading readiness concepts and skills...

Read To Your Child Daily

Read different types of media to your child everyday. For example e-mails,
letters, magazines, books, stories, cereal boxes, instructions, directions,
recipes, advertisements and anything else with words!

Cuddle up and read a story or two everyday. Close contact will make
reading time twice as nice!

While reading recipe directions, have your child add the ingredients as you
say them. Have them do the steps as well, such as stir, beat, or mix. For
example: If you use a box cake mix let them "read" the pictures shown on
the back and get those items (if they can reach) out of the cabinets/fridge.
Help them to measure things out, pour or scoop ingredients into a bowl,
crack the eggs into the bowl, and then mix everything together. As you
measure ingredients together, show your child the words and read them

Give Your Child Their Own Books

Set aside a special area for your child's books; make sure he/she knows that
it is their special book nook.

Ask relatives to give your child gift certificates to bookstores for birthdays
and holidays so that they can buy books for themselves.
Give your child something special to put their books in. Let your child
decorate a box or a bag, or get your child a small bookshelf just for his/her
books to put in their room.

Clear off a shelf in your own bookcase, (at your child's height) just for his/her
books. This is a great way to show your child that his/her books are just as
important as your own.

Check out library sales or go to garage sales to find inexpensive books.

Look at Books and Magazines

Leave books on a coffee table, or out in plain sight where they are easy to
reach - encourage your child to look through them.
Get a magazine subscription for your child.

Take books and magazines in the car with you.

Leave books and magazines in the bathroom for your child to look at.

Use Left-To-Right Progression

  • Explain that we read from left to right and show your child the
    direction from left to right.
  • Use your finger to follow along as you read from left to right.
  • After you've read to your child for a while, ask your child where to
    begin reading and which way to go.
  • Pretend to Read
  • Ask your child to "read" to you. Encourage them to pretend.
  • Leave books around for your child to look through; ask them to tell
    you the story while you're cooking or doing a chore.
  • Ask your child to try and read picture instructions or directions such as
    those on a cake mix box.
  • Ask your child what they are reading when you see them looking
    through a book.
  • Ask your child to try and "read" junk mail based on the pictures they
    see in it. Have them tell you what they think it's about.
  • Understanding that Print Carries a Message
  • Ask your child to say something and write it down for them. Show
    them that their own words can be turned into text.
  • Ask your child to tell you a story, dictate the story and read it back to
    your child. Have your child draw a picture to match the story.
  • Read a book with pictures and words. For example, show your child a
    picture of a sun and then the word "sun." Say the word.
  • Show your child text and ask him/her if they know what it says. If they
    don't know, read it to them. You are helping them to understand that
    the letters and words have meaning. Some children may make
    something up - if so, then they are beginning to understand that print
    carries a message.
  • When your child, "writes" you something, you know they are gaining
  • When a child asks you what something says they are gaining
  • Tell The Meaning of Words Heard in Story
  • Stop reading in the middle of a story occasionally, and ask what
    certain words mean - particularly if you know it's a new vocabulary
    word for your child. Remember, this isn't a test. You're just inquiring.
    There should be no pressure to perform. If they don't know the
    meaning - tell them.
  • Talk about the story with your child and see if they get the meaning
    of the story or the main idea. Sometimes children will be intrigued
    more with a particular character or subplot - but if they can relate
    portions of the story they are understand the meaning of the words.
  • Talk about new words and use those new words in sentences when
    talking with your child.
  • Relate stories to real life by comparing things that happened in the
    story with things that happen in your child's life.
  • If you learn a new word, point it out if it comes up in conversation
    later on in the day. For example if you are shopping and you see
    something really big say something like, "This apple is huge! Our story
    was about a huge pizza today, remember?"

Recognising Nursery Rhymes

Say nursery rhymes together with this listing of 362 Mother Goose Nursery
Rhymes. When you get to the site, just click on the alphabet letter index to
find the rhymes. Read them online or print them out! Or get the book, "The
Real Mother Goose," published by Scholastic at your library or bookstore.
Here are some rhymes integrated with music and fun activities your child
may enjoy:
"Itsy, Bitsy, Spider" - read the rhyming lyrics to the song, get the sheet music,
print out some colouring pages and get suggestions for art projects and
recipes themed around this classic children's song. You can also read the
lyrics, listen to the tune, and
learn some history behind the song.

"I'm a Little Teapot" - listen to the tune sung by Hap Palmer, or read the
lyrics, hear the tune, and learn the
body motions that go with this song.
"Hickory Dickory Dock" - read the lyrics and listen to the tune. You will also
find a
fun online activity at DLTK's Nursery Rhymes for Kids.

Enjoy holiday rhymes such as:

5 Little Pumpkins - This classic rhyme is used in a fingerplay. Get everything
you need to
make your own book using this rhyme - from downloadable,
printable pages, instructions for assembly and more!

Night Before Christmas - This is a classic poem with rhyming lines that you
can read to the kids. You can get free
materials and directions for making a
book about the poem too.

Look at Pictures and Tell a Story

  • Look at picture books with your child and encourage them to tell you
    (make up) a story based on the pictures.
  • Look at magazines advertisements and have your child invent a story
    based on what they see. Do this with pictures/graphics of all kinds.
  • Every picture tells a story. Cut out pictures from magazines,
    newspapers, or junk mail and put them together to tell a story. Ask
    your child what each picture says to him/her and write a caption
    using your child's words.

Make a "Wish Book" with your child. Allow your child to look through
catalogues and advertisements and to cut out the things they want most.
Glue these pictures to a page. Put them into a mini-book and caption
each picture. This is great for birthdays! Send one to "Santa Claus" or to
loved ones so that they'll know just what to get for Christmas and the
Take photos and scrapbook them into a short story book. Do this for the
places you visit and events you attend such as vacations, holidays, field
trips, special occasions or just because! Don't forget to send one to

Answers Questions About a Short Story
Talk to your child about the stories you read and ask them what they liked
and didn't like about the story.

  • Ask your child about the characters in the story; did they do the right
    thing? Ask them what they would have done if they were in that

  • Ask where the story took place. Would they go there? Have they ever
    been someplace like that before?

  • Ask your child what they remember most about the story.

Identifies Letters and Knows The Alphabet

Prominently display an entire alphabet on the bedroom wall. You can get
them at teacher supply stores or print your own from our huge selection --
with this free printable colouring alphabet from
Learning Planet  ( have
downloaded and printed it in PDF format) who recommend they
accompany their
Alphabet Action, their fun pre-school alphabet game .
alphabet dot-to-dot and letter maze activities for free too.

Sing the alphabet forward. Try it backward too! Start somewhere in the
middle just for the fun of it!

Match the letters of your child's name with things in the world. For example,
David and dinosaur begin with the same letter and sound. (This will be
more fun if your child recognises his/her name).
  • Write the letters of your child's name on index cards (one letter per
    card) and put them in the right order to spell the name. Explain to
    your child that all of those letters make up his/her name. Mix them up
    and see if your child can put them back in order. Do this with other
    words that they will feel close to. (Siblings, Mom, Dad)
  • Variation 1: Write letters on index cards or use store bought letter
    cards and give them to your child. Let him/her pick the letters that
    are most appealing for this activity. Give your child a piece of paper,
    chalk or white board and something to write with, let them copy
    letters. (This will work with magnetic letters or letter tiles.)
  • Variation 2: Use the same cards/tiles and let your child cut out letters
    from magazines to match the letters that have the most meaning to
  • Read books with alphabet letters featured prominently such as
    "Alphabet Adventure" or "Alphabet Mystery" both by Audrey Wood.
  • Play alphabet games such as "My First Alphabet Game" by DK
    Publishing, or play alphabet games online.
  • Our Alphabet On-line downloadable software can make learning fun
  • Try our Alphabet Crafts for even more ideas

Remembers Objects from a Given Picture
Play "Who Remembers?" Using pictures from magazines, photos, books or
advertisements, look at the picture together, discuss the picture together
and point things out to one another. Turn the picture over or cover it with
something and talk about what you remember most about the picture.

Do the, "What's missing from this picture" puzzle with your child where you
compare two pictures to see what is different in each one.  Our
concepts &
Puzzle pages with concentration cards make this a fun activity.   Here is a
game you can play online.

Variations: Make your own "What's missing picture" with a digital camera.
Just make a scene, and then take the picture. Remove or add things to
your scene and take another picture. Have your child pick out the

Pronounces Own First Name
  • When you speak to your child, use their proper name, instead of a
    nickname or a term of endearment.
  • Make rhymes with your child's name, have your child repeat the
  • Get a personalized music recording that includes your child's name in
    the song.
  • If you meet someone with the same name as your child, point that
  • Sing the Name Game song by Shirley Ellis. You can find it on a Music
    For Little People CD called "A Child's Celebration of Rock 'n' Roll"

Pronounces Own Last Name

  • Say your child's name often and have him/her repeat it.
  • Play "The Phone Game" -- The phone game is played by pretending
    to talk to your child on the "phone," during a conversation ask your
    child their first and last name.
  • Play "The Door Game" -- You and your child stand on opposite sides of
    the door. One person knocks and the other person asks, "Who is
    there?" Use first and last name when responding to the question.
  • Have your child introduce him/herself using their whole name when
    they meet people.
  • Write child's name, show them their name in print and say it; child
    should repeat it.
  • Ask your child his/her name often.
  • Identifies Own First Name in Manuscript
  • Put brightly colored, magnetized letters on the fridge or on a
    magnetic board (even a cookie sheet will work) to familiarize your
    child with letters and how to use letters to form their name. They will
    begin to recognize how it looks in print.
  • Write a story about your child, with your child. Use his/her name
    often. When you read it together ask your child to clap or make a
    sound when he/she hears or sees their name in the story.
  • Make a mini-book with your child about his/her likes and dislikes. For
    example: Put a dish of ice cream on the page with the caption,
    "Samantha likes strawberry ice cream."
  • Make a scrapbook of the things your child does and use captions
    with your child's name to describe the picture. For example "Devin
    went fishing."
  • Get personalized books that include your child's name within the
    story. The "My Adventure" series of books can also be used in this way.
  • Prints Own First Name
  • Teach your child the individual letters of his/her name then show
    them how to put it together.
  • Use a chalk or white board to practice writing their name.
  • Print your child's name on a piece of paper. Put a piece of tracing
    paper over it and show your child how to trace their name. Or try this
  • Put your child's name at the top of a piece of paper and ask him/her
    to copy it just below the one you wrote. Children may start out by
    randomly copying letters on the paper, eventually, they'll copy it the
    same way they see it.
  • Make letters from Play-Dough or cookie dough to spell out your child's
    name. Begin by rolling out rope-shaped pieces that can be formed
    into letters. If you are using cookie dough, be sure to make letter
    shapes with enclosed portions, such as "A," "B," "d" or "R" with plenty of
    space inside the enclosed portion - the dough spreads when baking
    and closes up the part that's supposed to be open, making the letter
    difficult, if not impossible to read.
  • Identifies Other Children By Name
  • Take pictures of friends and scrapbook them with name captions.
  • When you meet a child/person for the first time, ask their name.
    Repeat it several times as you ask questions such as, "How old are
    you, Robert?" "Robert, do you have any brothers or sisters?" That will
    help your child to remember the new person's name.
  • Talk to your child after you meet new people or playmates. Ask your
    child who they met that day, what they did and if they had fun
    together. Talk about the new person in an observational way. "Kathy
    has long blond hair." Or "Derek's dinosaur shirt reminded me of yours!"
    The more time your child spends talking about his/her experiences,
    the more they are likely to remember.
  • Talk about the people you might see on your way to places. For
    example, "I wonder if Jesse will be at the playground today?"
  • Expresses Self Verbally
  • Encourage your child to express their feelings through words.
  • When your child is angry, have them draw out their feelings and then
    talk about the picture and their feelings.
  • If you're child has an outburst, let them finish, then calmly discuss
    better ways of expressing feelings.
  • If your child cries for what he/she wants, gently and calmly explain to
    your child that you cannot understand them when they cry. When
    they calm down, speak in soothing tones and ask your child to calmly
    tell you what is needed or wanted.
  • If your child points or grunts for the things he/she wants, encourage
    them to say the words instead.

Repeats A Sentence Of 6 - 8 Words

Play the "Copy-Cat Game" -- ask your child to try and repeat everything
you say. Keep the sentences short (6-8 words - or extend the length if they
are capable of remembering and repeating more.)

Call-and-response games and songs. Acclaimed singer Ella Jenkins has
several CDs with call and response songs for children.
Learn rhymes, fingerplays, and poems together. Here are some designed
just for preschoolers.

sing-along songs together and say the words to your favorite songs

  • Can Complete An Incomplete Sentence With Proper Word
  • Use stamps or stickers and make a rebus rhyme together. A rebus or
    pictogram is a story that uses pictures for certain words. The picture
    gives children a clue to the word that belongs there, not to mention a
    general idea of what the story is about. Here is a selection of rebus
    rhymes to print out and use at home.
  • Start sentences about the places you've gone or the things you've
    done and drop off the final word, as if you "forgot" what you are
    going to say. Allow your child time to pick it up, or ask them to help
    you remember.

  • Write sentences on index cards; leave a word out, ask your child to
    put a word in the blank. For example, "I like to play with my [ fill in the
    blank ]." Anything that makes sense is the right answer.
  • Make a book using a similar procedure; have your child cut out
    pictures to place in the space. This can be changed to words later
    on. Have them say the words/names of the pictures they are using.
  • Tell The Meaning Of Simple Words
  • While reading a story, stop once in awhile and talk about what's
  • As you drive in the car, point to street signs or billboards and ask your
    child if they know what it means. If they don't know - tell them.
  • Read directions and have your child do what they say. Talk about
    the things they don't understand.
  • Have your child act out or talk about words. Play preschool charades!
  • Talk with your child about everyday things. Listen to the questions
    they are asking and what they think things mean. You'll be glad you

Identify Parts Of The Body
  • Sing: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"
  • Talk about body parts.
  • Play "Simon Says" using body parts. For example, "Simons says, cover
    your eyes!"
  • Go to the library and take out books about the body. Get "Blue's
    Amazing Body Book (Blues Clues)" by Michael T. Smith. Try the "My
    Body Science" book series too. They are sure to make your kids laugh
    out loud while they learn anatomy.
  • Tell your child what everything on his body is called; use proper
    names. Using proper names for body parts will help the child let you
    and others know when something is wrong with them.
  • Ask your child what his/her body parts are called.
  • Do the "Hokey Pokey!"
  • Identify Objects That Have A Functional Use
  • Talk about tools with your child. When you use tools like a hammer,
    screwdriver, or wrench - show it to your child. Tell him/her what it is
    called, and how it is used. Let them watch you use it and give your
    child a chance to use it too under your careful supervision. Play
    toolkits are fun too!
  • Cook with your child and talk about the things used in the kitchen.
    Show your child how to use kitchen appliances correctly, and let
    them use them under your guidance. Play kitchen sets reinforce
    learning as well.
  • Let your child help with household chores. Most little kids thinks it's fun!
    Tell him/her the names of things like brooms, doorknobs, light switches,
    washer, dryer, clothesline, mop, vacuum, etc., and let him/her try
    using cleaning tools with adult supervision.
  • Garden with your child. A set of kid-sized gardening tools makes it
    easy and fun!
  • Show your child the phone, television, DVD player, CD player, game
    system, calculator, digital camera, computer, fax machine, scanner,
    photo-copier, remote control and other electronic wonders. Show
    him/her how they work and let them use it as well with your
  • Identify Common Farm And Zoo Animals
  • Read the "Big Book of Animals" by DK Publishing, or borrow other
    animal identification books for preschoolers from your local library.
  • Visit a zoo, petting zoo, farm, humane society or pet store. Look at the
    animals and say their names. What does your child like best about
  • Create zoo or farm dioramas for your child's favorite animals.
  • Play with animal puppets! Make your own animal puppets!
  • Sing "Old McDonald" and enjoy some activities themed around the
  • Get a subscription to the National Wildlife Federation's magazines for
    children that include, "Wild Animal Baby" and "Your Big Backyard"
  • Go to Enchanted Learning for fun farm crafts you can do with your
  • Build a zoo or farm for your child using recycled products. As you learn
    about new animals build another environment using shoeboxes,
    containers and milk cartons. Used printed animals, molded animals
    (out of baked clay, Play-dough, modeling clay, or beeswax) or
    plastic animals from the store. Try to see how creative you can be!
  • Sing animal songs.
  • Ask your child to walk, act and sound like an animal. Learn the
    sounds different animals make!


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