Author: Rosemary Wells

3-Year-Olds Storybooks

Max wants to make an earthworm birthday cake for Grandma, and his sister Ruby wants to make a raspberry angel cake. Max tries to help, but spills so many ingredients. He makes several trips to the store with lists from Ruby. The grocer only understands Ruby’s handwriting, so finally Max draws a picture to show the grocer what he wants.

Before, During and After Reading

Letter Knowledge

Introduce the book. Read the title of the book, sweeping your finger under the words as you read them. Read the author’s name and explain that the author is the person who writes the story. Name some of the letters in the title and/or author’s name, and ask your child to point to them.  

Oral Language

Ask questions.  Ask your child about the illustration on the front cover of the book. For example, Where is the bunny sitting? Guide your child to use a positional word like inside, as in, The bunny is sitting inside the bowl.  

Talk about the uses of objects. Name some of the objects in the front cover’s illustration and talk about their uses. For example, The bunny is holding a whisk, and a whisk helps you mix things. As you talk about the whisk, pretend to mix something in a pretend bowl and have your child mimic your actions.  

Phonological Awareness

Listen for words that rhyme. Think of some words that rhyme with Bunny and Cakes. Say those rhyming words to your child and have him repeat them with you. For example: bunny/funny, bunny/money, bunny/sunny, bunny/honey and cakes/bakes, cakes/lakes, cakes/makes, cakes/rakes, cakes/shakes.

Beginning Writing and Letter Knowledge

Why didn’t the grocer understand? Ruby’s grocery lists appear throughout the pages of the book. Take time to point out her lists, sweeping your finger under the letters as you read the words. Help your child understand the differences between Ruby’s writing and Max’s “writing” and why the grocer is not getting the items that Max wants.   

Beginning Writing

What helped the grocer to understand? Revisit the page that shows Max’s drawing of the Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters. Explain that the grocer couldn’t understand his scribbles before (go back in the book to look at the earlier grocery lists). Now, the grocer finally understood what Max wanted because he carefully drew a picture of the Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters.

Ask your child to write a grocery list for you. Give your child some paper and some writing tools (crayons, markers, pencil, and/or pen) and ask him to “write” a grocery list for you. Name some items for him to put on the list. You could have him cut and paste pictures of items from store circulars onto the list, or you can encourage him to draw the items.

Oral Language

Extend conversations to real life experiences. Ask your child if he thinks that Grandma was actually thrilled about both cakes. Explain that Grandma was thrilled about both Ruby’s and Max’s cakes because all their hard work showed Grandma that they really loved her and wanted her to have a very happy birthday. Extend this conversation by talking about the personal experiences of your own family and friends.  

Make a cake together. Talk about what you are doing, the names of the ingredients and tools, and the steps in the process.  

Discover more reading activities for three-year-olds, or answer the questions on the Preschool Reading Screener to measure your child's pre-reading skills.