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Literacy Activities

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Dear Debi,
Our son is two years old. Is he too young to focus on literacy activities? Could you recommend some simple literacy activities that we can do throughout the day?
Loren Greenhoe
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Focus on language & vocabulary
  • Include literacy materials during dramatic play
  • Use the library regularly
  • Let kids see you reading
Expert Advice
Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D.
Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D.
Language & literacy specialist, Loyola Marymount University
It is never too early to expose children to the world of literature. From the moment they are born, children can start to identify and recognize letters and numbers. There are many books available for babies that they can play with, touch and experience using all of their senses. This is especially important because the child begins to learn that literature is accessible as they are developing their senses.

Having a print-rich environment is one way to develop children’s literacy. As you drive or walk, calling attention to street signs, letters, numbers helps the child start to recognize words. It also helps to have items in the household labeled. The parent must also remember that children learn if there is a sense of play and enjoyment attached.

Use all of a child’s senses to stimulate an interest in literacy. Tracing letters or words in the sandbox is an example of this. So are Etch-A-Sketches. The parent can also use the sounds in the environment to help develop literacy. If you can hear something, you can write it. Also, make the child tell their own stories. Make them the authors so they begin to understand the different aspects of storytelling.

The most important thing about children learning literacy is to first model it ourselves. If the parent constantly reads and writes letters to families or friends, the child will begin to model that behavior. They will pick up on what the parent does. It is also important to make reading fun and not feel like a chore. Keep it from being routine – what we call “drill & kill.” For instance, don’t make them write the letter “M” fifteen times in a row if you want them to learn the letter.

Pediatricians will tell you that children develop at their own rate. If by age 3, however, the child is not talking or listening well, then something must be done. Sometimes the parents are causes for this delay in speech and language. They baby the child and answer everything for the child rather than letting the child speak for him or herself. Instead, help the child to talk and to listen.
Child Care Provider Comments
Letycia Gomez
Letycia Gomez
Mother of Two
My daughter Gabrielle is noticing things that start with the letter “G.” She walks around saying “there’s my letter” because it matches her name. I copy a lot of stuff from their schools. We have an extra room in our house – I call it the toy room. One area in the room has a table with arts and crafts and magazines. I’ve designated an area on the walls so that they can write letters in small case and lower case. I printed them off of the computer so that they can practice. I’ve also created a reading area with chairs for the children.
Carri Bryant
Carri Bryant
Cares for her two great-grandchildren
Children are always anxious to have you read to them. I love the nursery rhymes for the very young children because they love the rhyming sounds and they love to get into the activity – something like “Jack and Jill went up the hill,” they can use their fingers. Then you can get them involved and they'll ask you for the same one over and over.
Beth Collier
Beth Collier
Child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
Literacy starts in the womb hearing language and connecting to the mother’s voice. As for exposure to written materials, play is how children learn almost everything. Dramatic play is a great way to provide enriched materials for you child. One thing a lot of preschools do is have prop boxes. This is something you could replicate easily at home. Children love to deliver notes. We have a mailbox in our school. We have envelopes. Children love to deliver notes and write each other notes. I sometimes write them letters. It is very exciting to them to get letters that can be read to them.

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Literacy Activities Featured Video:
Literacy Activities
Topic: Early Learning Areas
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The Importance of Family Literacy
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Reading to Babies & Week in Review
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Reading to Babies & Week in Review
Resources
Early Literacy Project
The Public Library Association’s Early Literacy Program
1-800-545-2433, Ext. 5752
The National Center For Family Literacy
1-877-FAMLIT-1 (or 1-877-326-5481)
 
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