I randomly picked up a book at the library called "Teach Your Child To Read In Just Ten Minutes A Day" by Sidney Ledson. Like many parents of 3 and 4-year-olds I know, I've been wondering what to do now that Daphne has known all the letters and many of their sounds for awhile now.
I started reading and the method made total sense to me, so I decided to give it a try. The book tells you precisely what to do, step-by-step. First, you teach the "uh" sound of U. Then, you teach the "puh" sound of P. Then, you teach the word "UP." Then you add the "cuh" sound of C, and then you teach "CUP." So instead of learning all the letter sounds one after the other in isolation, you learn two sounds and then a word, and you keep adding whole words each time you learn a new sound. The trick is to do it in the exact order Ledson specifies; so you can't learn the sound of "A" first, for example. To make it fun, you conduct pretend school with a few stuffed animals as classmates. But the catch is that the animals are not very good at reading so they need lots of help from the child. The animals are constantly coming up with ridiculous answers that are simply hilarious to a 3-and-a-half year old.
We've been doing it for about 10-15 minutes each day for about two weeks, and I'm very pleased with the results! Here's Daphne reading the words she's learned so far. And just so you know I'm not being tricky, we didn't rehearse this ahead of time. Right before recording this, I printed the words on random colors of paper and put them in a random order on the wall. She hadn't practiced the words since the day before. As you can see, all she's really memorized is the sounds of letters, not the words.
We'll report back when she's reading sentences!