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Compiled Literacy Tips, Challenges, and Strategies

Page history last edited by Erin Tobiasz 7 years, 2 months ago






Even if your child can’t write yet, letting them practice writing teaches them fine motor skills and builds their reading and writing confidence and comprehension.  Even if they just scribble to start, giving them crayons and markers, as well as frequently writing their name in front of them, will encourage them to copy you.




Writing with your children is a great way to encourage associating meaning with printed words.  This is also known as print awareness.  This helps kids prepare to learn how to read when they enter school.  You can encourage this by writing in response to a book, song or activity during the day.  Even if kids can’t write yet, let them practice or write in front of them as an example.




Use fingerplays with your child at storytimes.


Fingerplays develop fine motor abilities which your child will need for drawing pictures & eventually writing letters & words.


Try to find a fingerplay to do together with your child as a pre-bedtime story, calm down activity & make it part of the bedtime routine.    




Encourage your child to sign their names (even if it is not legible) on their artwork.  This shows them that letters represent specific sounds/words.  


Display the work at home.


Point out written words during the day - signs at the store, in the car, at home.  


Beth Z:


Grown ups, I have an “Easter Egg” for you!


Coloring is a great way to help your child build his/her writing skills.


Crayons and markers help children practice these motor skills needed for writing in school.  


Scribble on paper, use finger paint, play w/ sidewalk chalk, etc.  


Fun of creating art & building basic skills.  




We’ve heard some fun stories today


I’m going to give you crayons & paper so you child can draw or scribble something they heard.  This is a start to writing.  Be sure to take your work home & post it on the fridge.  








Even if it seems like your child is distracted or too young to listen to a book the most important part is hearing new words. Don’t fear sharing new or “big” words with your little ones!  Everyday!




When introducing new/unfamiliar words, ask children to clap out syllables to enhance understanding of word parts.  




Not all stories are found in books!  Stories are found all around us and each of our grown up friends has stories to share.  So set aside special time for families to tell stories to each other.  It helps your child to understand narrative structure and builds family connection.  


Julie C:


Having children act out the movements & sounds of animals helps children developing their gross motor skills.  


Reading poetry to your child helps build their vocabulary.




When reading to your child, discuss various aspects of the book.  


This can help with predictive behavior, sight words, even creativity.  


Try to pick books that encourage integration.  Examples of this are “Is That Wise Pig?” or “I Spy Animals on the Farm”.  




After reading a story with your child, practice re-telling the story.  Re-telling stories helps your child develop Narrative Skills and understand order of events. Talking about what your child did during the day or retelling what you saw at the zoo is a great way to practice this.  


Judy Errico:


The more you talk to your child the bigger their vocabulary becomes.


When you are doing an activity like folding towels talk to your child about how the towels “feel”, smell, what shape your are folding them into.




Listen for words/syllables that rhyme.


Increase vocabulary by searching for words that sound alike.  May begin with words that have same beginning/middle/ending sounds.


Practice in the car, at the dinner table, etc.  Singing also helps develop rhyming.  




Talk to your child using vocabulary words from the book.  


Using vocabulary during daily routines helps your child develop the strong vocabulary he/she will need when reading.  


Put a post it on the wall with the word you choose to remind you.  




Today we’re going to read stories from beginning - end, but sometimes we’re just not in the mood to sit still for a whole story.  That’s okay, just turn the pages & look at the pictures with your child.  Talk to them about what’s happening, let them make up the story, or let the book be a springboard to talk about anything.   




Talking aloud to your child as you go through the day is more beneficial than you think.  


Listing if they are running around


Hear the cadence of spoken language.


Increase vocab.


Talk about what you are doing as we adults spend so much time on our “screens” the importance of this increases.






I love hearing when you guys tell me that you hear your little ones singing the songs we sing @ storytime @home!  You might not realize what an amazing thing that really is!  They’re learning about language!  (Not just irritating you!)  Songs help kids separate out syllables and learn phonics- it’s pretty cool stuff, so encourage plenty of singing! Yay!




Rhyming Stories:


Combine reading & singing


Kids learn to anticipate the content of the story


Turn a book into a song


Kids who enjoy singing will enjoy putting a melody to a familiar book that rhymes.






Establishing a sense of rhyming can be used to increase a student’s awareness of rhyming patterns in all areas of reading & writing


Just sing and enjoy your child




Frog puppet


Singing a song about frogs


Works as memorizing words to song when they see the word frog and then touch the puppet






Singing helps children hear new words and learn how to pronounce them better.  Call and response and rhyming songs include repetition which helps children practice & remember the new words, ideas and concepts they are learning


You can sing in the car, at bathtime, or just for fun.  




Song - Rhyming song - Down by the Bay with visuals.  


Singing to your kids is an important part of early literacy skill building.  It doesn’t matter if you can sing well.  Since songs incorporate different beats and notes that will later help them sound out new words they encounter.  You don’t have to stop singing after this!  You can sing to your child anywhere anytime!  During breakfast, car rides, brushing teeth!  Be creative!  




Today we are going to sing one of my favorite songs “Five Green & Speckled Frogs”  This song is jam packed w/ learning!  There is rhyming which helps with prediction and phonological awareness. There is counting and hand motions which will get our “whole brain” engaged.  And last but not least, silliness!  Because learning is fun!




Incorporating short rhyming words & songs into your everyday activities (at home or on the go) helps not only with speech development but also in developing the awareness of how the sounds that words make are structured - which is an important first step in learning to read.  


Phonological awareness.  




Reading nf:


If your child shows interest in a particular subject, build on that curiosity to explore a nf book.  NF books can be paged through as your child pleases, not necessarily cover to cover.  Talk about he elaborate pictures & talk out what they point out.  




Make reading with you child a routine activity - pull your child into your lap, point out the title & author on the cover, & read in your best voice.  Your child will come to know what reading a book is & will appreciate the routine.  




Children are learning about how books work each time you read together.  


Knowing that you read from left to right, how to turn pages, etc.  all helps them prepare to read on their own later.  


After reading a book, try asking your child to “read” it to you.  This also helps them understand how narrative stories work.  




Reading together is an active way!


Making sounds such as the animals make in Daniel Finds a Poem, not only makes the story more fun but helps your child to hear the smaller sounds in words that will help them later on when they learn to read.  


As you continue your day, take the time to make the sounds of animals you see or the sound of cars, leaves crunching, etc.  


Amy G:


Reading - Vocabulary


Refer to one of the books in storytime


In the Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward you will encounter more rare words than in everyday conversation.  Some of these words are emerge, protecting, howl, prowl, and scurry.


At home, when you say a common word like red, you can add synonyms like rouge, etc. to increase your child’s vocabulary.


Michael B:


When Reading at home


Follow words with your finger!


This demonstrates that the words are related to the story and shows the direction we read!


You can allow your child to point while you read together.  




Read picture books to your children.


Even if it is a book you’ve read before, children love repetition.


You’re not limited to just picture books, read billboards, signs, the newspaper, anything with words.  




Don’t be afraid to read stories with advanced vocab even with young children.  A child typically needs to hear a word 5 times before they start to develop a working understanding.  So, even if they don’t fully understand the word the first time you say it, you are starting the process of building their vocabulary.  Children rely on vocab when they’re learning how to read.  




I would include the book Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry


As the title states Poetry is great for Otto and it can be great for you.


It instills positive reinforcement of poetry through the story.  It also says that it is okay to be different.  


While reading the story I would let the child participate in the rhyme.  


MB Parks:


By reading to your child, you can help your child develop print awareness by pointing to words on the page.  Print awareness allows your child to understand that words have meaning.  


  • When you are with your child outdoors, you can take the opportunity to point out signs (street signs, stop signs, etc.) to promote this skill.  




    Jamie C:


    Ask questions of your child when they play like “what are you cooking?”


    Children need to develop the ability to express themselves and talk.  Asking questions provides a way for them to simply share what they are doing or imagining.  


    You can ask questions anywhere, use to extend or expand their play - even when they can’t talk or express themselves you can narrate their life.  


    Gabi B:


    Play dress up with your child.


    Encourage them to try different people - teacher, librarian, store clerk….they can play the adult and you the child.  


    Enforcing positive behavior & human interactions.  


    Veronica M:


    Creating fun activities with your child will help them learn through play.  


    Stories that we read often or talk about or topics in the world around us.  Fun activities will allow your child to explore these ideas more in a fun and casual way.  


    Play activities can be inexpensive, made with objects found around your house or in nature.  


    Andrea M:


    During baby and me we will use scarves - working on opposites but we finish with a game.


    When we ball up the scarves we are helping them to develop gross motor skills.


    You can extend this at home with teaching your child how to dispose (?).  


    Taylor L:


    “It’s okay if your child eats the shakers, we wash them after story time, but at this age child explore their world by using all 5 senses - including taste!”




    Just making up voices for characters is a type of play.


    When you play, you give kids the okay for them to play with you.  Playing with your kids gives you a chance to know what they are thinking and it gives them a way to be in charge.  


    Next time you read a story, try making up voices for the characters in the book.




    Watching a seed turn into a plant is a magical experience for most children.  In this book I’m about to read, children learn about nature.  After story time, please stay and play in our sensory bin, plant a flower using the seeds and dirt available.  You can do this at home, as you encourage your child to explore their environment outside.  


    Challenges faced when sharing early literacy tips during story time and the strategy you use to overcome that challenge:


    (paraphrased from you, our experts!)




    I have an audience that doesn’t speak English.

    I use simple literacy tips that I can mime. For instance, I point to and touch my body parts when I say the corresponding part name to stress the importance of increasing vocabulary and demonstrating new words.

    You can also use this resource from Reading Rockets that has literacy tips in different 10 different languages.


    I need to find and share new and diverse tips.

    I search online and compile the tips that I’ve used in the past.

    The adult(s) in storytime aren’t paying attention to me.

    I share my literacy tips at the beginning of storytime while I still have their attention.

    I want my tip to be welcomed and not to sound forced or stilted.

    I respond directly to what the parents are saying to me already. For example, if the child is distracted and the parent is worried about his/her behavior, I talk about how children are listening and learning even if it doesn’t seem that they’re paying attention. I make it conversational.

    My adult audience is very diverse--some are very knowledgeable about early literacy, and others know little about early literacy.

    I rely on professional resources and point adults to those resources.

    The kids are distracted and wiggly. I’m worried I’ll lose them if I share a literacy tip!

    I move with the kids and families and make movement part of the story time.

    You can share a tip about movement and gross motor, and how developing our big muscles (gross motor) allows children to then develop fine motor (small muscles, like those in our hands in fingers). Fine motor skills are important for writing!

    I’m worried that the teacher will think I’m being condescending. I’m in their classrooms and they are the education expert.

    I ask the caregiver specifically what problems they are facing or what areas they want to work on with their students. Then when I visit the next time, I respond directly to what they say.

    I always share why I selected the book I’m using. This lets them know why the book is useful or helpful in a very unintimidating way.

    I talk directly to the kids and say things like, “Ask your teacher--When we share this book you’re going to learn … [new words, for example].”

    Not every early childhood educator is an expert in early literacy! Teachers and childcare providers are wonderful, smart and amazing people, but they aren’t always experts in all aspects of early literacy. The more help and support you can offer, the better. And even expert teachers can still learn from and be inspired by their fellow professionals.

    Plus, don’t forget that you can have an impact on the paraprofessionals and the aids in the room. They may not have a background in early literacy either.



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