Toddler Word Dictation Game

Toddler Word Dictation Game

Looking for a fun pre-reading activity to get a small child ready to read? Here's an easy one to prepare them for understanding that words are made up of individual sounds, and that those sounds are represented by letters.

Now, because they're a toddler, it would be a bad idea to sit them down and have them do worksheets... because, you know, they have the attention span of a two-year old. This fun activity doesn't require them to write anything or even to sit down if they don't want to. And you can start this game as soon as they can say a few words!

Toddler Word Dictation Game

Materials: paper, crayon or marker, sense of humor

Ask your toddler: "Hey Timmy, what word do you want me to write?" Timmy will probably start off by asking you to write his name. Write in nice, big, tidy letters with proper capitialization. Most importanly, while you write, say each sound (phoneme) in the word as you go.

Timmy's name

If a sound is spelled using more than one letter, keep saying the sound as you write both letters. For example, keep saying /m/ as you write the two m's in Timmy.

Do NOT say letter names. I'll know that you did, and I'll be disappointed in you. If you are unsure of how to pronounce the sounds in a word, check our Phoneme Reference Guide or Word Mapping Tool.

Timmy's name pointer finger going left to right

After you've written the word, run your finger from left to right underneath and read it. This also helps teach Timmy that we read from left-to-right in English.

Just Keep Going

Then ask Timmy what word he wants you to write next. He'll probably want you to write the names of everyone else in the family. At some point, ask him to look around the room for ideas for other things he'd like to have you write. Once Timmy gets the hang of the game, he'll ask for more and more words.

Whenever he feels like he's done, give him the paper with the words to keep. Don't ask Timmy to try to read the words on his own. That will come later. You can offer to read the words to him again.

Inevitable Words

Let me warn you, at some point Timmy will ask you to write the word 'poop' or 'butt'. Take it in stride and write the word. He'll get a kick out of it, which will just make him want to play more.😜

Bonus Level!

Ask Timmy if you can have a turn picking a word to write. If that's okay with him, don't tell him what word you're going to write in advance. Just start writing the word while saying each sound as you go. Pause for a second after you finish writing before saying the whole word. This gives Timmy the chance to yell out the word before you say it. Don't ask Timmy what word you wrote. Just allow space for him to beat you to it if he figures it out.

Doing this is a sneaky way to get Timmy to practice blending sounds into words. At the same time you are also linking the sounds in each word to the letters we use to represent them.