We've been working with Amanda for quite awhile on reading, but it's never been a huge thing - we wanted her to come to it on her own, rather than forcing it down her throat. She has known her letters and the sounds they make for a long time, and she was starting to read simple things well before her fourth birthday. We also bought some Bob Books, which are great first readers, and would practice with them once in awhile. However, she would get very easily frustrated and we left it for awhile, figuring eventually it would come.
Several months ago, she got very interested in her Word Whammer. Over the past couple of months, we've been asked many times a day "How many letters does XXX have?", since she knows that if it has 3 letters, she can spell it in the Word Whammer. She started with the settings that help you spell the word, but now she does it completely on her own. And if she wants to spell something that doesn't fit in the Word Whammer, sometimes we will play along and sing the song for her..."The word, yellow, is what you see, you made that super-duper excellently!". (Oh yes, we have the whole schtick memorized.)
A few weeks ago, it was like a light bulb went on over her head and all of a sudden she is really reading! We revisited the Bob Books and she can read an entire book completely on her own! She also is reading everything she sets eyes on: road signs, newspaper headlines, ads... The frustrating thing is that we're now starting to realize how crazy the English language is. The poor kid remembers pretty much every rule we throw at her, but then the next word she tries to read will negate that rule. It must be so frustrating for her! But she is just so excited to be reading that it doesn't seem to bother her too much. Of course, once she gets to Kindergarten we'll probably find out we've been teaching it all wrong and she's messed up for life!!
I'm going to try to get a short video of her reading, because I think it would be something cool to have and look back on later...if I can get it filmed I'll post it!