Minority Language Captive Reading for 3-Year Olds

Since the beginning of the school year, my 3-year old has shown an interest in letters as well as envy at her sister’s having captive reading in our bathroom.

So last November, I decided to put up an alphabet letter up in the loo for her.  I designed a little poster per letter on a Powerpoint slide, incorporating cliparts of words beginning with that same letter.

One evening before going out with friends, leaving the girls in the care of their granny, I put the first poster up.  The next morning, when my little one got up, she came up to me with stars in her eyes and thanked me for putting this up for her! By lunchtime, she was already asking for more!

Every time a new letter is up, I ask her its name, I tell her its sounds, go over the name of the cliparts, putting emphasis on the sound.  I also ask her to spot the letter that is up in a given page of whatever picture book I might be reading to her.

When I see she has picked up the letter name or has grown tired of the poster, I put it down and store it in a transparent display book, so we may later review it together.


  • Computer
  • Powerpoint or similar programme
  • Internet
  • Colour printer
  • Sticky-tack


  • Time consuming


For each letter, use a new Powerpoint slide:

  1. In the middle, using a simple print font and a bright colour, type the letter in upper and lower case side by side.
  2. Do a first Google search “words beginning with” your letter and then do a second search for cliparts of these words.
  3. Copy and paste the clip arts onto your slide to fill up the space.
  4. Print in colour and hang up in your usual captive reading spot using sticky-tack.


  1. After your child sees the poster, ask him/her the name of the letter, its sound and name the words beginning with that letter on the poster, emphasising the first sound.  Tell him, e.g: “O is for OOOOstrich, oooorange…”
  2. When selecting your words beginning with that letter, prefer letters which sound like its standard sound, and not an exception. E.g: for “i”, prefer “igloo” to “ice-cream”, since you will be starting with teaching that “i” sounds “iiiiii”, and not the “magic e” exception that turns the “i” sound as in “ice-cream”.
  3. Pick words kids can relate to rather than abstract concepts.  For instance, for letter “i”, imagination might be too abstract for a child to understand. Prefer visual words such as igloo and ink.
  4. Keep the used posers in a see-through display folder that you can flick through on demand or to revise letters and sounds. 

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