I'm lucky that Alyssa loves to read, so getting her to practice is no struggle. Still, the more fun we have, and the more ways I can "sneak it in", the easier it is. Here are some things that have worked for us:
1) Word search puzzles. You can find children's word search books at places such as Chapters, or you can always make your own. This is what I did initially - I used graph paper, filled in simple words to start, and then filled in the blanks with random letters. Making them yourself is actually an ideal way to start because you can customize them to your child's level. Make sure the first few puzzles have only a few words (i.e. 4-6), so that your child has a feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing the puzzle.
2) Leave the close captioning on the TV. We did this by accident once and Alyssa actually learned how to spell a few words by watching and reading along. Since then we've left it on.
3) Play Hang Man. This is another favourite of A's. You can use short phrases as well, and whenever your child is ready, he/she can create the puzzles for you to solve. Humour takes the work out and turns it into play: Alyssa made a puzzle for me to solve, the answer to which was "do not fart". She was pretty amused, let me tell you ;-)
4) Communicate with notes. I leave notes for A in her lunch, and taped to her bedroom door. You can take this a step further and play "treasure hunt" with notes - so much fun :-)
5) Make books with your child. I use coil bound notebooks from the dollar store and write short stories in them, and Alyssa will illustrate them after she's read them. The nice thing about writing them yourself is that you can tailor them to your child's level and interests.
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