Literacy is not just about sitting down with a book … it’s about building a capacity to communicate, understand, and share ideas. With that in mind, we’re collecting ideas that build those skills but don’t always require a book.
As Tricia Storh-Hunt notes in her post at The Miss Rumphius Effect, the best plan is to never Leave home without your literacy tools. “Anytime we leave the house for errands we carry a bag that holds plain paper, crayons or colored pencils, and a few books that William has selected. Now the mantra before heading out is ‘Go to the bathroom and then grab a book.’ There always seems to be time to read in the car, the doctor’s office, the restaurant, you name it.” Many of these games will work well, too.
Letter and Word Games
Acrostics by Joyce Grant @ Getting Kids Reading. Acrostics is a game where you take the letters of the first word in a sentence and form a “hidden” word from it. Joyce has examples and ways to play acrostic games with all levels of readers.
Alphabet Game by Brian Shephard. In his post at Literacy Log, Brian explains what the game is and how to play it. There are lots of ways to play the game, including dictionary searches, categories, or literary themes, to name a few.
Bathtub Fun – One of our favorite “pre-reading” activities was playing with foam letters in the bathtub. William would line them up from A to Z and then hide his eyes. I would remove a letter and he would try to guess which one was missing. Sometimes instead of removing a letter I would rearrange them. As he got older, we would spell words for each other and then read them. (Tricia Stohr-Hunt, post at The Miss Rumphius Effect)
Construct-a-Word Game by Brian Shephard @ Literacy Log. In this game, readers build words by combining letter and letter blend “tiles.” This helps them recognize and understand letter sounds, how one letter can change the sound of another, and also build vocabulary.
Erase the Face: Hangman Edition by Brian Shephard @ Literacy Log. This game supports vocabulary and spelling initiatives, and can be fun for students from elementary to middle school.
Erase the Face: Crossword Puzzle by Brian Shephard @ Literacy Log. Readers of all levels can enjoy this game, but it does lend itself to more sophisticated activities for advanced students, too. Crosswords are great for helping kids understand synonyms, antonyms, and idioms.
Fun with Words – Spell with Flickr by Susan Stephenson @ The Book Chook. This great little application generates an image for every letter of the word you put in.
Homophones, Homonyms, and Knock Knock Jokes @ Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile. Kids love silly words and words used in silly ways. What better way to let them “play ” with words than to try their hand at knock knock jokes. (October 2010)
Letter Art – Kids love to make art using all kinds of media. I invested in alphabet rubber stamps so that William’s art could be adorned with letters and words. In the beginning, the artwork contained his just his name stamped on the page. Then, the objects in the scenes were labeled. Now, the art is fully described or sometimes forms the pages of a story. by Tricia Stohr-Hunt,post at The Miss Rumphius Effect
Riddle Me This – Mindi has a great idea for bringing together reading and fun in a game where you create a seek-and-find game to collect and read riddles and their answers. She has detailed instructions on how it all works at B.A. Bookworm (November 2009)
Spelling Lists that Entertain the Brain by The Bookworm @ B.A. Bookworm (February 2010)
On the Playground
Spend Time on the Playground – Singing, rhyming, repetition … and lots of laughter all add to literacy. Susan Stephenson pulled together some tried-and-true playground activities for herLiteracy in the Playground series (August 2009)
In the Car & On the Road
Book Festivals – The Library of Congress publishes a list of state and national book festivals and fairs. This is a great way for kids to hear people telling stories and meet their favorite authors and illustrators.
Create Stories – When you find a book or character your child loves, try to imagine together what the next adventure might be. This is an activity you can do in the car (storytelling) or at home (writing stories). (Tricia Stohr-Hunt, post at The Miss Rumphius Effect)
Sign Poetry – Travel is actually a very good time to practice reading skills. We keep a pen and paper in the car and often play a game where we collect words and phrases for poetry. We read and write (not me silly, I’m driving!) words we find on signs, billboards, bumper stickers, license plates, etc. Once we have a decent list, we make up silly poems using the words. . (Tricia Stohr-Hunt, post at The Miss Rumphius Effect)
At Home, Too
Building a Family Library – Bianca Schulze (The Children’s Book Review) published this list, courtesy of Reading is Fundamental (RIF).
Create your own bookmarks. We love this idea (and how-tos) from Erica at What Do We Do All Day: Summer Reading Bookmarks to Color. She’s got the links to free printable templates, too!
Light Up the Night – Buy your child a flashlight or book light and let him/her read under the covers. William will actually go to bed early if I tell him he can have time reading AFTER lights out. Reading undercover is fun and helps build independence. (Tricia Stohr-Hunt, post at The Miss Rumphius Effect)
Create a library at home – Mom and former librarian Mandy Miller has created Little Librarian, a kit that has everything your child needs to make a home version of their library. It has everything from file cards and bookmarks to sample overdue notices.
Keep a running list of favorite books or authors in a spreadsheet or table or use an online service like Goodreads.com or Shelfari. Before you head out to the library or to the bookstore, bring a print out. This list lays out your groundwork. You have information to provide those librarians when they ask what you’ve liked in the past and you’ve got solid sources to go back to in case you aren’t able to find anything new during that trip. (recommended by Valerie Baartz)
Turn a Catalog into a Classroom – In this post from Susan Stephenson, the Book Chook offers examples of ways to explore catalogs for reading, concepts, stories, and math.