Teaching In The Target Line: Easy Ideas For Developing Strong Readers!


You can help your pre-school age child develop critical early reading skills while in the Target drive up line or while waiting for a take-out meal. Some simple techniques can help you teach during “down time.”  One of the most important stages of learning to read is called “phonological awareness.”  Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in language. For many students that struggle to read, this foundational stage was not well developed.  Alternatively, students with strong phonological awareness typically develop sound reading skills.  Phonological awareness is all acquired verbally.  There are no flashcards, worksheets or technology devices involved.  Activities consist of things like word rhyming and breaking apart words and sounds.  This makes phonological awareness practice an ideal activity for found moments in a busy day.   

reading games in the car line developing strong readers

You can provide valuable phonological awareness exposure by simple conversations with your child.

Consider trying out some of these examples to engage in phonological awareness activities while doing something as simple as waiting in the car.  It will feel more like a game than work for both of you.  These quick activities have the added benefit of allowing you to connect directly with your child through intentional interaction. 


Talk about words that rhyme: “cat/fat/bat.”  These don’t have to be “real” words. My son always preferred the silly non-words by far.  Pretty soon you will hear your child generating his/her own rhyming words.

If you have multiple people in the car, involve everyone by creating a “rhyme chain.”  Start off with “cat” then pass it to the next person-each adding a rhyming word until either everyone has contributed once or until participants run out of rhyming words to contribute. 

Words in a Sentence

Tap or clap the words in a sentence. “I see a rainbow.” You can do the same with syllables in a word.  “Rain-bow” (two claps). My turn-your turn works great for this. 


reading games for kids

 Word Parts

Use compound words to play with word parts.  “Rainbow has two parts…rain and bow.”  “If I say rainbow without the bow I would just say rain.”  “Can you say rainbow without the rain?” Although you may have to model this at first by providing examples, eventually your child will be able to do this independently.

Word Sounds

Think of all the words you can that start with a particular sound.  “Let’s think of words that start with the /b/ sound (say the sound not the letter).”  “What do we see that starts with /b/ (say the sound not the letter).”


You can find more fun and simple phonological awareness activities here.  


Have fun trying some of these while you wait!  The educational benefits will serve your child well in the years to come. 


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I am currently the Director of Special Education with Anderson School District Five in Anderson, SC. Prior to this, I worked as a school principal, director of charter schools and special education teacher. My bachelors is in Special Education, my masters in Educational Leadership and my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. My particular educational interests are supporting children with Autism and supporting struggling readers during their school years. We relocated to the upstate five years ago and love the area. I am the mother to one son who loves all things sports. Two of my favorite weekend activities are leading exercise classes and doing portrait photography.


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