Activities and Games for Pre-Literacy

July 2015
One-to-One Tutoring

By Summer Reads VISTAs

About Summer Reads
This children’s literacy tutor resource was created by Summer Reads VISTA members. Summer Reads is an AmeriCorps VISTA national service program of Literacy Minnesota. For eight weeks over the summer, Summer Reads VISTA members volunteer full-time as children’s/youth literacy mentors in schools, libraries and out-of-school-time programs across Minnesota. They bring literacy to life for low-income students through a variety of activities – one-on-one tutoring, creative enrichment activities like using arts and drama to explore language or practicing vocabulary and comprehension in science and other subjects. They also connect students and parents/caregivers to community resources through wraparound basic needs support. At the same time, the VISTA members build their own leadership, explore career paths, pay for college and become lifelong advocates for the communities they serve due to the power of their experience.


  • Alphabet Books
    Make a book that has a page for each letter of the alphabet. The child can draw or find a picture for each letter and paste it on the page. Write the letter on the page for the child or let him or her do it. Staple the pages together to make a book. Read the book from time to time.
  • Building Words with Play Dough
    Get colorful construction paper and write the sight words in bubble words. Have your words laminated and have the kids build those words with Play dough!
  • Alphabet Play Dough
    Help your child form letters out of play dough or modeling clay. Then, have them close their eyes, feel a letter, and try to identify it by shape.
  • Alphabet Match-Up
    Write the letters of the alphabet on small pieces of paper and tape them to clothespins, or print the letters right on the clothespins. Cut out magazine pictures, one for each letter of the alphabet, and have your child match the clothespin letters to the beginning sounds of the objects in the pictures. Clip the clothespins to the corresponding pictures.
  • Kinesthetic Sight Words
    Add some sand into a pencil box and give the kids an un-sharpened pencil. They can trace the sight words in the sand!


  • Phonics Game for Kids-Pound the Sound
    This is a simple game that asks children to identify the initial sound of a toy animal then pound the letter that makes that sound on the toy tool bench.
  • Word Recognition
    Write a word on an index card have your child match a photo to that word.
  • Name Spelling Game
    Using letter flash cards, teach your preschool child to spell his/her name. Print each letter in your child's name on an index card. Lay them out to spell your child's name. Mix them up and have her try to put them back in the proper order.
  • Listening Game
    Have your child close her eyes and guess the sounds you make. Use household objects, such as keys, coins, silverware, or a whistle. Tap on a pot with a spoon, snap your fingers, or click your tongue.


  • "Online Games." Building Literacy Every Day. National Center for Learning Disabilties, Inc., 1999. Web. 03 Aug. 2014.
  • "Phonics Game For Kids - Pound The Sound - No Time For Flash Cards." No Time for Flash Cards. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Aug. 2014
  • Wabuge, Kristen. "Kindergarten Is Crazy (Fun).” Sight Word Literacy Center Activities. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2014.
  • "Printable of the Week." RSS. PEARSON ED, 2000. Web. 02 Aug. 2014.

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