Literacy Fun for Young Children Page 1

Literacy Fun for Young Children Page 1

Sharing is caring!

Click here for all four early childhood literacy pages linked together…Fantastic!
This page has ‘Tips and Ideas’ for daily reading, book talk, and literacy in dramatic play. Although page 1 has ideas that are helpful to parents, it is a page that is more suited to early childhood teachers.
Parents AND teahers… Be sure to look  at page 2… there are more than 70   ‘FUN ACTIVITIES’  —- that promote reading, writing and communication!

Introduction: Definition of ‘LITERACY’
Thinking is fundamental to literacy! Literacy is most commonly defined as the ability to read, spell and communicate through written language. However, in a more general sense, literacy is more than just the ability to read or write. It means being able to view, listen, read, comprehend, evaluate, speak, and write effectively and systematically.
Literate children approach reading and writing as fun and exciting activities. They use reading to learn about a wide range of subjects, and they use writing to share their own ideas. Literacy stretches imagination and stimulates interests. Youth who lack a comprehensive and enjoyable introduction to the world of literature tend to see writing and reading as work–something they have to do. Literacy broadens a person’s world as surely as illiteracy narrows it.
Literacy is empowering.  It is one of the most important skills a person can have! How skillfully and successfully children develop their reading skills and grow towards literacy may influence their beliefs about their personal worth and abilities for a lifetime!
Because literacy develops along a personal continuum, same-age children may display varying levels of skills.  Because of this, both literacy activities for day care and preschool settings — as well as literacy activities for the first grade levels– may all be appropriate for each age group. So when planning activity lessons, look for activities geared from pre-k through first grade.

There are tons of ideas in the following sections–but most of all—-‘WE’ as teachers and parents… need to  model our love for the written word and reading!

  • Label everything; write notes; keep a calendar and daily planner; post rules.
  • Post lists of snacks; schedule; upcoming events; and children’s responsibilities.  Children observe adults using print materials!
  • Teachers and Parents…introduce new vocabulary words during routine conversation and book reading.


1. Ensure that children have ‘daily experiences’ of being read to and are independently reading meaningful and engaging stories, as well as informational texts.

2. Help children learn how to choose appropriate books for independent reading.

3. Encourage children to join in reading by letting them complete rhymes or tell favorite parts of stories. After you have read the book a few times, stop when you come to the second word that rhymes, and let the children fill in the word.

  • “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a yellow fish looking at ____”
  • Use the fill-in-the-blank technique: For example, “Old Mother Hubbard went to her ____.” This method also can be used with non-rhyming books.

4. Provide opportunities for children to talk about what is read and to focus on the sounds and parts of language as well as the meaning.

5. Provide repeated readings of stories so children can gain mastery of the narrative, ideas, and language.

6. Actively engage the children. Example: “Do you know anyone who acts like that?”

7. Take time to answer children’s questions about reading.

8. Allow children to choose the stories to be read during story time.

9. Encourage children to: compare and contrast, predict, ask why and how, and check their understanding of stories.

10. Guide discussions that help children summarize and relate texts to their lives; help them develop a deeper understanding of characters.

11. Listen attentively when children begin to read emergently, pretending to “read” aloud from a book.

12. Include: Songs, flannel board stories, finger play, poems, games, and stories with alliteration, rhyme repetition, and patterns.

13. Share several versions of the same story. For instance, there are two versions of the Little Pigs. The traditional version and then the ‘True Story of the Three Little Pigs’ from the wolf’s perspective.

  • Read a few to the children and let them choose their favorite version.
  • Be sure to ask them why it is their favorite.

14. Have big books available for single or partner reading.

15. Play reading tag by choosing a book with many words that the child knows. Each time you want your child to read a word, tap him or her on the shoulder.

16. Ensure that the classroom/home library is well stocked with a variety of reading materials: Books, magazines, and newspapers. Allow time for children to enjoy the library area independently.

17. Try using a puppet with children. Many story telling kits have puppets included. The puppets can host your story time; the puppet can open the story time with a favorite finger play, song or rhyme. This can become a favorite ritual. A puppet can also serve as a role model for preferred behavior such as sitting quietly and listening to the story. Let children make their own puppets and use them to act out a story.

Wear different hats during story time.
Example: Construction hats, Beach hat, Cowboy hat, Gardening hat, Minnie/Mickey mouse hat, Train Engineers hat, London Fog rain hat, etc.

PROVIDE A PRINT RICH ENVIRONMENT where children can see the purpose and use of the written language.
Label everything in the room. Rooms should be set up where children can read the room. Make word lessons and word walls that display words on a classroom wall that are part of phonics being used. Before you put the words up-show the children. Review the words on the wall and different areas once they are placed.

NOTE from KidActivities:

Be sure to make labels large enough where they are noticeable. Tour the room with the children and go over the words. I once was hired to consult with a Kindergarten program. The suggestion was made to provide a print rich environment.

When I returned to see how the group was doing~ I asked if labels were made.  They were…however labels  were on tiny scrap pieces of paper (one to two inches long and a half inch wide) and placed were they could not be seen. Additionally, the children were not told about the labels…where they were…or what they said. (Barb)


1. Have child take turns in helping select reading material to read aloud to the class.

2. Ensure that all children have the opportunity to read aloud to someone with whom they are comfortable for at least 10 minutes each day; this reading may be done with volunteers, older buddies, or as a take-home reading program. Some children will still be reading emergently, particularly early in the school year.

3. Provide many ways for children to re-read books through shared reading, buddy reading, and small group reading.


1. Have children ask their own questions about stories and respond to classmates’ questions.

2. Allow class time for regular sharing of each child’s thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

3. Enrich the conversation by responding to children, asking questions, and expanding on children’s words.

4. Help your child see the story from the character’s point of view. After reading a story aloud, ask a few simple questions:

• Which character is most like you?  How?
• Which character is least like you? How?
• What happens in the story that you wish could happen to that you wish could happen to you? Why?

5. Enrich children’s vocabulary by providing pictures and discussions that relate to stories.


  • If shelf space is not available, books can be put into tubs.
  • The tubs are labeled and a sticker is placed on the label. All of the books have a corresponding sticker. When finished, children place the book back in the correct tub. (This is also good for shelf use)
  • Example. Science tub has a red sticker and each book a red sticker. You can also have a theme tub that changes as the theme changes.

LISTENING CENTER:  BOOKS AND TAPES – Use read-along books and CD’s/cassettes in your listening center. If you don’t have a tape/CD for a big book or familiar book – make one.


Remember back to your days playing cowboys and indians or house?  It’s still the same for kids today!!! Encourage creativity and language development in your children by providing a creative dramatic area in your center. Ensure the classroom has “special materials and play areas geared to encourage children in particular domains while appealing to their interests.”

  • Some examples of centers are:
    Art center, music center, puppets, science center, home center, doctor’s office, or other real-world play areas. Consider changing your dramatic play area every month to reflect a different theme.

Example: One month set up a doctor’s office with real stethoscope, x-rays, doctor’s scrubs, dolls for patients, ace bandages, gloves, and play- doctor kits. The following month change the theme.

1.  Encourage children to use literacy materials in their dramatic play.

  • In a block area, provide maps and labeled photos of buildings and construction sites.
  • In a woodworking area, provide tool catalogs, home improvement magazines, and picture reference books about building.
  • In a home area, provide food packaging, menus, (use a collection of cereal boxes and take-out menus) phone book, and appliance instructions.
  • In an office area, provide plane tickets, travel brochures, and computer keyboards.
  • In a drugstore area, provide magazines and books, play money, checkbooks, paper bags for prescriptions, labels for bottles, empty medicine boxes, and prescription pads.
  • In a store area, provide checkbooks and play money.
  • Shopping – laminate sentence strips and bind into books – pictures of food, toys, clothing, and anything else you can find.

All pictures should be clearly labeled; Include writing utensils and “list paper”, small memo books and list type of paper (long strips of lined paper).

2. Provide time for children to create scripts for dramatic play. This will take at least 30 minutes to create and carry out the scripts.

3. Put on a play with a pre-written or well known script. Dress up in costumes and act out a simple story.  Provide simple props and let children act out their favorite stories. Simple folktales like the Three Little Pigs and The Billy Goats Gruff are fun to act out. If children are over fours years old…pop popcorn for a snack afterwards.

4. Have staff take part in the dramatic play to model ways of using literacy materials and show children ways of dramatizing.

5. Have pretend phone conversations with the children asking what they did yesterday, are doing today, and want to do tomorrow?

6. Puppet Theater- Make puppets (bag, paper plates and sticks, socks, mittens, lunch bags, foam or felt).
Make Puppets, Write a play, Produce, Practice, Perform…

7. Masks: Make and play

Have the children sing songs and play games that encourage language play. (Visit the two pages of Early Childhood Songs)
1. The ability to pick out rhyming words is one of the first skills in phonemic awareness. Children who have been exposed to lots of music and nursery rhymes have a huge head start on these skills.
There are many songs that play with sounds.

  • “allaby, Woo” by Raffi is a wonderful way to play with initial consonant sounds. Children go around a circle and playfully insert a child’s name into each verse.
  • “The Name Game” by various children’s artists is another.

2. Make up songs or rhymes using the children’s names.  Let children add motions to the songs as you sing them.
3. ABC’s sung frontward and then backwards…Have a poster of the alphabet and point to the letters starting with “Z” and go from there…
NOTE: When I consultd and observed one school site, a child actually starting singing the alphabet backwards as she was playing at ‘choice time’. She wasn’t thinking about it…she just started singing.
4. Sing a simple song with the children.  Count the words that rhyme. Make up a new song of your own using words that rhyme.
5. Lettercize to Music (music, movement, the alphabet)

  • Children stand in a circle. A music CD with ABC’s, using Rocky theme-music is played.
  • Children call out ‘A aahh'(while doing a boxer punching motion with fist into the air)
  • Then ‘B and b  sound'(making each letter sound after the letter name.) This is done all the way to Z. At intervals, the Rocky music will play and children aerobicsize to it(punching, jumping rope, etc.)  The alphabet starts again —until the next Rocky aerobicsize movement.

6. For a transition activity, call each child’s name using the same letter. Example: If the letter of the day is ‘B’-Call Byrone, Beremy, Bita, Biane, Bal, etc.
7. Play the game ‘Snap’!
One player says two words. If the words share a sound (first, middle, or last), the other players say, “Snap!” and snap their fingers. If the two words do not share a sound, the other players are quiet. Begin with first sounds and move into the other sounds as the children are ready. (You may have to work on teaching children how to ‘snap’ their fingers!)
8. Play a listening game in which the children blend an onset sound and rhyme that you pronounce separately. Example: b…at, bat. When you first play the game, begin by using words that are in the same family, such as: hat, cat, and fat. When the children become proficient at this type of activity, change it so that you keep the onset sound and change the rhyme: s…and, sand; s…un, sun; s…eal, seal.
9. Create or purchase a set of pictures and letter cards that have children sort pictures by the letter they begin with (beginning sound). Start with one letter and ask the children to help find the pictures that begin with that sound. Gradually add more letters to the sorting activity.
10. Play word games that help children hear syllables in words. Example: Clap syllables in children’s names.
11. Print out two sets of alphabet letters: one upper case (capitals), one lower case (small letters).  Cut the letters out, mix them up and play a match-up game with your children (A-a, B-b, C-c).
12. ‘Jumping Bean’ game
Children take turns picking a letter from a container, and are to think of one or two words that start with that letter. If they pick out the word or picture of a ‘bean’ instead of a letter, children all get up and jump around like Mexican jumping beans!
13. Place a ball on a table in front of the class. Explain that there are special words that can be used to tell someone about the ball. Give two adjectives that describe it.
Example: red and round. On the chalkboard, write “It is red and round.” Help the children read the sentence. Remove the ball and place another item on the table. Invite the children to think of two words that tell about the item. On the chalkboard, write “It is_____ and_____.” Give each child a turn to read the sentence and complete it with his or her words that tell about the item.
14. Make large flash cards using words of your choice based on the children’s level of ability. Laminate these cards. Laminate or cover the cards in plastic; the cards are now ready to use.

This is page 1…be sure to continue onto page 2 for more than 70 wonderful activities the promote and encourage learning. Most are ideas where the children don’t even realize they are learning!

You may also be interested in:


Sharing is caring!

2 replies

Comments are closed.