At PCHP, every day is literacy day; actually, every day is “Early Literacy Day”, so we are thrilled that today people across the country will be thinking and talking about the importance of literacy.
What is literacy? Yes, literacy involves reading and vocabulary, but it depends on so much more than just those two skills. The basic components of literacy, especially early literacy, are talking and listening. Life-long literacy and a love of reading are built on exposure to language-rich, vocabulary-stretching conversations when you are young. Toys as well as books are critical early literacy tools. Toys spark imagination and narrative – simply think about all the language that emerges from young children when they play with toy dishes, a set of farm animals, blocks, or paper and crayons.
This Literacy Day, and every day, we celebrate the books and toys that stretch vocabularies and imaginations. These materials are the heart of the Parent-Child Home Program curriculum. Many PCHP families may have no literacy materials in their homes when they begin the Program, but by the end, they have at least 23 of our favorite children’s books and 23 educational toys.
This year, we are celebrating Literacy Day by sharing two great activities – one linked to one of our favorite books, and one linked to a favorite toy. Enjoy both of these with the children in your life, and remember to read to them even more today, have longer conversations, and play even more imaginative games than usual. All of these activities will lead to your child learning – and having fun with you in the process!
Read Brown Bear, Brown Bear together today.
Early literacy, cognitive development, and reading readiness are all supported by the gentle rhythm and rhymes of this book. Children love the repetition, and will be delighted when they can start to predict what comes at the end of the rhyme. Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a great introduction to colors and animals for younger children. With older children, let their imaginations run wild by having them add to the story! Extend their vocabularies by adding new words. For instance, if a child points to a red bird and says “wing!” you can say, “Yes, that’s the red bird’s wing. It helps him to fly through the air!”
After reading the book together, make your own brown bear mask! Retelling and extending the story through imaginative play with the mask will help develop early literacy skills.
- Paper plates cut in half. Help your child cut two holes for eyes in each plate
- Cut small circles from extra plates or paper – one circle for the nose and two half circles for the ears
- Colored pencils, crayons, and/or paint for decorating the masks
- Plastic straws, wooden dowel/chopsticks
- Stapler or glue
- Masking Tape
- Explain to your child that you will be making bear masks that they can use to act out the story
- Have them decorate the pieces of their masks in whichever way they choose (what color is their bear?)
- When children are finished decorating, help them glue or staple the nose and ears onto their masks
- Tape the straw or wooden dowel/chopstick to the back of their mask
- Ask your child “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” and tell your own version of the story together!
Play with blocks together!
Blocks are a great way to support cognitive development as well language skills and early literacy. With blocks, children can use their imaginations to tell stories and build pretend worlds!
Encourage your child to play with blocks in many different ways. Engage your child’s imagination – have a single block represent a car and use blocks to build a city. Introduce new vocabulary to your child such as pillar, tower, stack, cylinder and column. Talk about relationships, such as what causes things to happen. Ask your child what they are building and tell them about what you like to build.
Make a block puzzle!
- Masking or Duct tape
- Floor space
- Wooden blocks
- Using the tape, create large shapes on the floor. Squares and rectangles are easiest for young children
- Work with your child to fit the wooden blocks into the large shape on the floor
- Children can make the puzzles tall, stacking blocks on top of one another once the base has been filled in
- Children may enjoy coming up with new puzzle “rules”. They could line blocks up just on the tape, or along the outside edge of the shape, but not inside the lines.
Ways to enhance literacy:
- Sing a song while doing this puzzle together, such as “Do You Know What Shape I Have?”
- Describe your actions and encourage your child to describe theirs. Make statements such as “This space has four sides, but the square block is too small. What other shape block might fit there?”
- Keep the conversation going! Talk about the color of the blocks, the texture, the size, what else you could do with blocks, etc.
For more of our favorite books and toys, please click here.