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The great news is that in simple but powerful ways, parents can engage and excite their young ones about learning to read. Kids won’t even know they’re learning with some of these quick, on-the-fly games.

1. Love your letter

Get your child to adore and be proud of the first letter of their name. Hunt around your house for every single place you can find their “letter” and place a tiny chart sticker next to it. Then count the stickers and celebrate.

2. Play “I Spy”

When you’re out on the town, even if it’s in your own neighborhood, point out the environmental print — text on signs, posters or billboards. It’s a great way to get kids reading in a new and fun way.

3. Eat to learn

Using a handful of alphabet crackers or alphabet cereal letters, have children search for as many “first letters” as they can. Find all of their letters, build their name and then eat it.

4. Get messy

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous or have a little time on your hands, spread dry Jell-O mix, shaving cream, rice or sand on a cookie tray and write letters using fingers. Shake the tray and start all over again.

5. Look on the bright side

On a sunny day, let your child paint their letter — or their whole name — on rocks, on your steps, on your back porch or on the sidewalk using water and a paintbrush. Have them work towards painting their whole name before it evaporates.

Keeping these activities light, fun and stress-free is key. You want your kids to enjoy spending this time with you, playing games and learning along the way. Remember that kids learn by watching and observing you, so show your children the importance of reading by carving out time for your own pleasure reading. Sit down, unplug and read as a family. Make it an everyday occurrence that the whole family enjoys.