Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fun, Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Promote Literacy with Your Preschooler

Here's an article that I recently wrote. If you are interested in posting it on your site, feel free. I just ask that you include my bio at the end - thanks!

Many preschoolers are not particularly fond of sitting down at the kitchen table to ‘work’ on their ABC’s, or complete activities in the myriad of books available to help your child get that headstart in learning. Children learn through play, games, and modeling. There are lots of ways to incorporate early literacy into your daily lives, and to make it fun, easy, and inexpensive too.

1. Driving Around in my Automobile... Ever feel like you spend alot of time in the car with your little ones? Driving older ones here and there, running errands, taking them to classes, you know the drill. Rather than popping on that high tech DVD player to satisfy the boredom of the five point harness, here are some fun and easy games to play in the car with our little learners.

a. Pick a letter and see if they can count how many "A's" (for example) they can see on signs as you drive.

b. Have them try to find the letters of their name, or any other word, on license plates. Remember that one as a kid?

c. Guess the password - give rhyming clues so your child can guess the right word. "It rhymes with can, and starts with the 'fff' sound.

d. Recite favourite nursery rhymes together, have them do the actions (keep your hands on the wheel Mom!).

e. Make silly changes to rhymes they already know - Row, Row, Row your car, gently down the street.....

These ideas can also be used on neighbourhood walks, on the bus, in the mall or at the doctor's office.

2. Scrub A Dub Dub... Bath time is a great time to introduce literacy activities. You have a captivated, somewhat contained audience and literacy can easily become part of the bath time routine.

a. Have kids play imagination games and role play with bath toys. Is that sponge really a fish? A mermaid? A jellyfish?

b. Draw with bath crayons. Let kids write on tile and it washes right off. Or, write with your fingers on steamy windows.

c. Take the opportunity to learn the names of body parts. Can they wash in alphabetical order? Wash that ARM before your BACK or CHIN.

3. Penny Pinching... Using everyday items in your house, and found objects you can easily create some quick, fun and inexpensive activities for your kids.

a. Let your child play with letters and pictures cut out from newspapers, magazines, and flyers ... and you're helping the environment by using some of those flyers that would just be landing in the recycle bin anyways.

b. Encourage your children to use real life literacy items in their play. For example, grocery receipts, empty boxes, and coupons for playing store or a small notepad for taking 'orders' at a pretend restaurant or junk mail and old greeting cards as mail for the postman.

c. Make your own games such as match up by cutting out squares and writing a letter or word on one card (depending on child's age) with a corresponding picture on the other. Preschoolers can even help draw the pictures.

4. Tactile learning... What child doesn't like to get their hands into things... well, okay there are some kids who hold their hands in the air and say 'Ick' when they get messy. But many young ones are tactile learners and love to play and discover various textures and mediums.

Use sand in a box to write letters. Form letters using playdoh, plasticine, or cookie dough! Scraps of yarn and string can be manipulated to make letters. Add glitter or sprinkles to a shallow dish and ‘draw’ letters, shapes, or numbers with your fingers. Use plastic shapes such as Lego or Megablocks to form letters.

Many of these strategies make for fun, interactive and inexpensive learning experiences while helping promote early literacy in the lives of your little ones.

Lee-Ann O'Neill (B.A. Hons, B. Ed, M. Ed) is a mompreneur who runs The Little Stamp Co. which creates personalized Learn to Print stamps for little learners. She enjoys promoting early literacy ideas for parents and running a business with a fun and educational focus.

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