Leading to Reading
Toys That build Reading Skills
Tags: reading toys
Posted: 2011-10-03 13:34:04 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 

Before children start reading other people's stories, it helps if they can tell or retell their own stories. Puppets are wonderful props for that kind of creative play. It encourages them to recall a known story, like the Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and Three Bears and tell it in their own words and in sequence or to make up their own story with a beginning middle and end. These kinds of skills are excellent for the emerging reader.

A puppet stage is great, but kids can also use the back of the sofa or a table with a cloth they can hide behind or put a spring rod with a curtain across a doorway. You'll find some wonderful puppets and puppet stages on our product lists.

Art supplies also offer children a way of communicating in a non-verbal way first. Their pictures become symbols for ideas and actions they want to share. Once the art is made, encourage them to dictate or scribble-write their story. Remember telling a story is a skill that goes hand in hand with being able to read a story.

Games and craft kits that involve following rules, reading the step-by-step directions also develop a child's sense of the value of reading.

Musical toys with keyboards or chimes involve another form of reading--using color symbols or notation. Like reading a book, music involves reading left to right and from top to bottom...a skill we sometimes assume kids know, but one they do have to learn.

Here are some of our favorite toys that will lead kids to reading.

 

 


2011 Award
North American Bear Nesting Puppets- Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
(North American Bear Co. $40 Score: ) Here's a great gift idea! The Mama Bear and Baby Bear all fit inside the big Papa Bear. The big brown Papa has Goldilocks, a finger puppet with yarn pigtails, tucked in the pocket of his red overalls. Mama is in a pink flowered dress and Baby in blue gingham checks. This wonderful set is ideal for encouraging kids to retell a familiar story in their own words. With so many puppets more than one player can take a role and help in the story telling. Just as they like rehearing a tale, they will enjoy retelling it with these props. You can also encourage them to tell the further adventures of these familiar characters. Being able to sequence the story and put it in their own words is an important pre-reading skill that develops language and recall. A good story needs a beginning, middle and end and this one has a strong storyline with room for all that someone's been eating my porridge, sitting in my chair, sleeping in my bed! Kids love the repetition and the drama is sure to get more powerful as they grow into their roles. Also available, a charming set of the 3 Pigs and the Bad Wolf from the same maker. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
North American Bear Nesting Puppets 3 Little Pigs
(North American Bear Co. $40 Score: )

What great gift idea! The mid-sized pig and littlest pig do nest inside of the biggest pig puppet. All are done up in pink velour. The big guy has 'I love bricks' embroidered on the front of his overalls. The middle one has 'I love sticks' on her overalls and the littlest one has 'I love straw' stitched on his. As for the bad wolf, he's a finger puppet stored in the big pig's pocket. This wonderful set is ideal for encouraging kids to retell a familiar story in their own words. In the recall department the embroidered images will help them retell the events. With so many puppets more than one player can take a role and help in the story telling. Just as they like rehearing a tale, they will enjoy retelling it with these props. Not only that, you can encourage them to tell the further adventures of these familiar characters. Being able to sequence the story and put it in their own words is an important pre-reading skill that develops language and recall. A good story needs a beginning, middle and end and this one has a strong storyline with room for all that huffing and puffing to make telling it good fun! Also available, a charming set with Goldilocks and the 3 Bears from the same maker. 4 & up.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Manhattan Toy Puppet Playhouse Theater
(Manhattan Toy $64.99 Score: )

A purple and yellow tent that looks like an oversized wizard's hat. Kids can get into the tent through a roll up portion of the tent that can stay open with Velcro. We love the gold gossamer fabric that is used for the puppet theater curtain and as trim. Assembly is required but not overly complicated.  Great to pair with their wonderful line of puppets.  Puppets are a great way to build your child's storytelling skills and give them an opportunity to act out both pretend scenarios, and perhaps most importantly issues that they are working through.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Manhattan Toy Trip Triceratops Puppet
(Manhattan Toy $30 Score: )

Get ready for a whole lot of growling when this oversized soft puppet is unleashed for action. It has three green horns, a metallic blue body that will cover a small arm, a dotted ruff on its head and big scary eyes half covered in the orange face. Most of all the mouth is easy to open and close with its big red interior and tons of teeth--the better to eat with, my dear! Pair this with any other puppets or bring home the other colorful dinos in their line, Dave Dimetrodon or the fearsome Peter Pteranodon

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Chimalong XR
(Woodstock Percussion $150 Score: )

We found this chimalong had sound quality closer to the original Chimalong. The chimes are bigger and rest in a cradle stand. Kids can follow the music or the numbers or color-coded notation. It has better sound quality than most musical toys. That said, it does not have all that musicians with perfect pitch would desire.  We suggest you try this in the toy shop and see how it sounds to you and (given the price) decide if your child is going to find this a compelling toy to return to again and again. It is one of those big ticket items that should be memorable. That will depend upon how good a match it is to the child who gets it. It is not one of those toys that instantly or automatically plays. Kids have to apply themselves. Some like that kind of challenge - others will fiddle with it a few times and then leave it in a corner. You have to know the child you are bringing this to. The age label says 3 & up. We think it will be a better choice for 5 & up.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 

eeboo Tell Me a Story Animal Village Cards & Pad
(Illus, by Stephanie Graegin, eeBoo $$10  Score:)

Newest in a wonderful series of story cards and writing pads designed to spark storytelling skills. It's a form of pretending that is totally made up by the story tellers. Use the cards to inspire an original story that you can spin together. Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, the pictures feature a cast of forest animals who are really "children in fur" doing things that children would do - such as having a party, dancing, riding a bike. For kids who like to dictate stories or write their own, the Write Me a Story Pad ($8) includes a set of stickers featuring the same cast of buy characters. Stick them on the page and let the story begin. Younger children learn a lot by watching you print the words they say. Slightly older kids love being "authors" and writing their own words--with a little help from older sibs or parents.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011.

 


 

 


2011 Award
eeBoo Tell Me Story Cards
(eeBoo $10.95 Score: )

Use these large cards for playing a story telling game.  These can be used solo, but for starters players can use threes cooperatively to tell a story as suggested by the images on the cards. This kind of game promotes language development, vocabulary, and the ability to make up a story from the liely pictures. There are several other sets of 36 cards with different themes. Newest of the cards ar the Tell Me A Story Animal Village Cards illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. They feature a cast of furry friends romping in their mini village. We also like Lizzy Rockwell's Fairytale Mix-ups with familiar storybook characters such as the Gingerbread Boy, Tinkerbell, and a Wicked Witch among others. For Circus fans, look at Brandon Reese's Circus Animal Adventures, Melissa Sweet's Mystery in the Forest cards are full of action and for the sci-fi minded, look for Saxton Freymann's Little Robot's Mission. 4-8. Also, marvelous, eeBoo's Write Me a Story Pads, as pictured (eeBoo $11.95 each 4.5) The same artists have used the images on the cards to make stick-on seals that can be put on the top of the lined paper. Parents can take dictation of a child's story or older kids can use the stickers and blank pages to write their own tales. Getting kids to tell a story is the first step in getting them to read a story.     The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2007 Award
Create Your Own Books
(Creativity for Kids $15.99 Score: ) Two blank books, one with a “window” cut out of the cover and pages that a photograph will show through. This could make a great book that’s all about one person or a pet or a special place. A second book is notebook-sized and has lined paper with spaces for illustrations, plus colored pencils and stickers. These are open-ended materials for the budding author/artist. Comes with some suggestions for creating rough drafts and a list of story starter ideas. Says 4 & up, but this is likely to be a better choice for 5–9s. (800) 311-8684.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

 

 
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