Play Dough Snake Letters

Have fun rolling out play dough into long snakes with your child, then see what you can make them into together – letters, numbers, shapes, and more!

LET’S GO!

Use play dough to make letters, numbers, shapes, or words.

DO IT TOGETHER!

Together, roll out pieces of play dough into long snakes. Bend the snakes, or connect them, to make letters, words, shapes, or numbers. Spell out your child’s name using your snakes and let them copy it if they want to.

WHY?

Writing can happen in many different ways. By using something like play dough, your child can physically move and change pieces, which can help them remember the shapes of letters more easily. It’s also a fun way to do writing together.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Bring a Book to Life

Doing something to extend a book beyond just reading it will help your child to understand the book!

LET’S GO!

Take a favourite story and act it out while you read.

DO IT TOGETHER!

As you read a book together, you can build on the story by acting it out with your child.

You can play dress-up and be the characters, or use your child’s toys, stuffed animals, or puppets as props.

Make up your own story, add new characters, or change the ending!

WHY?

Books don’t just have to be read, they can be starting points for other fun activities like crafts and pretend play. Acting out a story can help your child to understand it more easily and lets them use their imagination to decide how they want to do it.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Real Pictures = Real Understanding

Drawings are hard for your baby to understand—they don’t always look like what your baby sees around them. Real pictures help with their understanding!

LET’S GO!

Choose books with pictures of real people, pets, or objects.

DO IT TOGETHER!

Share these books with your child by looking at the pictures, reading the words, and connecting what they see in the book to real objects in their life.

For example, if there is a picture of a teddy bear, point to it and say, “This teddy bear looks like your teddy bear, doesn’t it?”

WHY?

Young children have trouble connecting a drawing or abstract picture to real things in their lives. Books with real pictures will help your child recognize things in their world more easily and understand the connection from the book.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together). Click here for the iOS version Click here to download the Android version

Let’s Go for a Walk!

Often, we take all the signs and print around us for granted, but it’s one of the first things your child will start to notice and understand—helping them become a reader!

LET’S GO!

Go for a walk and explore the signs in your neighbourhood.

DO IT TOGETHER!

As you walk, talk with your child about what you see around you. As you pass a sign (road, store, or whatever else you see), point it out and talk about it—what colour is it, what shape, what does it mean.

WHY?

There are signs all around us. From information, to road signs, to advertising. This is called environmental print.

When you talk about signs as you walk, right from when your child is a baby, they will start to understand that the signs have meaning.

These are some of the first things your child will start to notice and “read.”

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together). Click here for the iOS version Click here to download the Android version

 

Sidewalk Scribbles

Drawing and scribbling lead to writing as your children get older, and sidewalk chalk is a great way to do it! Encourage your children to make scribbles, shapes, pictures, numbers, or letters. Let them tell you about what they have drawn. You could also do your own sidewalk art with letters and numbers so they can see how you do it.

WHY?

Creativity is a bridge to learning, and art and drawing help young children develop early writing skills. Those scribbles and drawings are their first steps to writing. Provide your children with the materials they need to practice becoming a writer. Children are great mimics so make sure they see you writing as well. Then they know it’s important!

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together). Click here for the iOS version Click here to download the Android version

Pudding Patterns

This is a fun craft to build together and a different way to draw, scribble, and try out writing!

WHY?

Drawing and scribbles at a young age are the first steps to learning how to write later on.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 large plastic zip lock bag

1 package of instant pudding (made beforehand) or a can of shaving cream

Packing or duct tape (optional)

WHAT TO DO:

Put the pudding or shaving cream into the bag. Make sure not to fill it too full.

Finish by flattening all of the air out of the bag and close it tightly. You may want to tape the top so it doesn’t pop open.

Lay the bag on a flat surface and let the creativity begin!

DO IT TOGETHER!

Your toddler will enjoy squishing the mixture around making abstract patterns. If you have an older child, encourage them to make letters or draw pictures.

Have some fun yourself by copying their designs and talk with them about what they are doing.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version

Click here to download the Android version

Bright Books for Babies

Your baby’s eyesight is still developing. Brightly coloured books will help the pictures stand out so baby can enjoy them more!

LET’S GO!

Choose a book with bright colourful pictures and simple words.

DO IT TOGETHER

Share the book with your baby by reading the words or talking about the pictures. Make sure your baby can see your face and the book you are sharing. Notice what your baby is looking at in the book and name it.

WHY?

Books with bright colours are good for your baby in their first few months as their eyes are still developing and they can’t see clearly. The colourful images are easier to see and help make the pictures stand out.

To get over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills, from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version

Click here to download the Android version

 

Linking Numeracy and Literacy

Stories are an enjoyable and effective way to explore mathematical ideas with children.

When you read books together, take time to explore and talk about mathematical ideas. It will help your children see and understand the math that happens all around them every day.

 

Children’s Books:

  • Encourage children to re-create stories in their own way, as well as to practice math skills
  • Provide a meaningful context to explore mathematical ideas
  • Suggest problems that can be solved using different strategies
  • Develop math concepts such as following directions, finding shapes in the environment and ideas about greater than and less than
  • Encourage the use of math language such as How many? How far? How much?
  • Help make sense of the world

When Reading Together:

  • When reading, talk together. Ask questions that need more than a yes or no answer
  • Introduce related math ideas
  • Don’t be afraid to use math vocabulary
  • Give children a chance to explain their thinking

Story Books:

  • Talk about the page numbers. What comes next? What number is the last page?
  • Talk about the pictures and what is happening in the story. Did something change? Why?
  • Talk about patterns in the story. Notice rhyming word patterns too
  • Notice the sequence of events: “What happened first? What happens next? What happened first? Second?
  • Wonder aloud about more than, less than and equal to
  • Count items on a page

Counting Books:

There are a number of good counting books that are enjoyable for both children and adults, and help to develop early numeracy and literacy skills. Books that count 0 to 5 or 0 to 10 are best for preschoolers.

Look for books that contain:

  • Engaging and colorful pictures
  • Easy to count items
  • Numerals that are easy to identify and are printed clearly

Things to Do with Counting Books:

  • Count the objects together
  • How many do you think will be on the next page?
  • How many would there be if there was one more? How many if there was one less?
  • Have your child place out a toy or other item for each number you read
  • If your child is familiar with the story, have them tell you what comes next

Some Good Books

Title Author
Tall Jez Alborough
Ship Shapes Stella Blackstone
Big Sarah’s Little Boots Paulette Bourgeois
The Greedy Triangle Marilyn Burns
1,2,3, to the Zoo Eric Carle
The Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
Pumpkin Soup Helen Cooper
Freight Train Donald Crews
Carry Me, Mama Monica Devine
I Am Small Emma Dodd
Ten Little Caterpillars Lois Ehlert
Color Zoo Lois Ehlert
Round like a Ball Lisa Campbell Ernst
Turtle Splash Cathryn Falwell
Two Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes Sally Fitz-Gibbon
My Sister Ate One Hare Bill Grossman
Lots of Dots Craig Frazier
A Second is a Hiccup Hazel Hutchins
The Doorbell Rang Pat Hutchins
Stuck Oliver Jeffers
Five Creatures Emily Jenkins
Actual Size Steve Jenkins
Mama, Do You Love me? Barbara Joosse
The Wheels on the Bus Maryann Kovalski
We All Went on Safari Laurie Krebs
Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? Bonnie Las
Inch by Inch Leo Lionni
Ten Cats Have Hats Jean Marzello
I Spy book series Jean Marzello
Lessons from Mother Earth Elaine McLeod
Quack, Quack, Moo We See You! Kelly Mij

If you would like to learn more about integrating math concepts into children’s daily routines, please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out about our programs and training.

Sharing Stories

Stories are so important to children’s development, and the following short list barely scratches the surface. Stories help children:

  • develop creativity and imagination
  • develop their language and thinking skills
  • build the knowledge and skills they will eventually need to learn to read

Books are just one of the tools you may use to share stories with your children, and there is so much more to sharing a book than just reading the words!

It is important to help your children actively engage in the book, and this can happen in a variety of ways.

Books may be shared in different ways with children of different ages. You don’t always need to read the words. It is alright to use your own words, in your own language, to tell the story. And, it is always more fun if you use lots of expression and different voices for each character, to bring it alive!

Some children may want to hold the book upside-down or skip a page. Or they may want to repeat a part over and over. Let your children lead the way and enjoy the book, so that reading is a positive experience for them.

Sometimes children will need to move around or will want to play close by, but don’t worry—they are still listening. You may try to keep them involved by having them supply missing words, repeating phrases with you, or by asking them questions such as, “where did it go?” or “what do you think is going to happen next?”

Children love to have stories told in a variety of ways. Sometimes they may enjoy acting out stories using stuffed animals or other props. It is also great for children to act out or retell the story in their own words. Children may want to extend a favourite story by doing a puppet show using the characters, dressing up like one of the characters, or drawing a picture. Some stories may lead to a treasure hunt or specific craft.

On the C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) bus, we love to share stories! One of the books we have enjoyed sharing recently is “Wheels on the Bus.” All of the children seem to love this one! It is especially fun because they can sing along and do the actions.

Most people are familiar with the common version, which includes “the doors on the bus go open and shut” and “the wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.” But our “Wheels on the Bus” book is about the animals on the bus.

If you borrow this book or have it at home, you could let your children make the animal sounds, and choose additional animals to extend the story. For example: “The cows on the bus go moo, moo, moo.” They could also use stuffed animals or draw pictures. This is also a book that they could “read” on their own by using the pictures as clues.

Sharing stories in this way brings them alive to children so that they look forward to story time with you. You and your children will both benefit if you make time every day to share a book.

The C.O.W. is out to pasture for the summer, but check the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out where and when you can join us on the bus next fall! In the meantime,  get out some favourite books and have fun!

 

 

Bedtime Reading for Babies

Bedtime story-blogYour baby loves routines. Though he or she might also like your stand-up comedy routine, I’m talking about everyday routines—like bath time, meal time, and bedtime. Your baby works hard to understand what is going on around her, so anything familiar and predictable will help her feel less like she has been stranded in a random and uncaring universe. Cuddling up and sharing a book, or a few books, at bedtime is a great routine to help your baby feel safe and loved, form a relationship with books, and settle down to sleep.

Settling down to sleep doesn’t just happen. We’ve all had restless nights, even before baby came, and sleep doesn’t come any easier for your baby. Having a bedtime routine teaches her a strategy for resting her mind and relaxing her body in preparation for sleep. She’s honestly not going to figure it out on her own, but if you have a routine in place, and follow it as often as you can, your baby will recognize it as familiar, find comfort in the predictability, and be that much easier to soothe to sleep.

Cuddling together to explore a book can be a very helpful tool to relax your baby. Your closeness is key. When you hold her in your arms to share a book, your baby can feel you, smell you, and hear your voice, and she will feel safe and loved. By deliberately slowing your pace, speaking in a more soothing tone of voice, and using more gentle movements, you can calm her further and bring her that much closer to sleep. Like reading, preparing for sleep is best learned when you do it together.

As your baby grows, she will become less and less willing to slow down, and by solidifying that bedtime routine early, you will be giving future you a much easier time. Baby will associate bedtime reading with all of those positive emotions you shared while snuggling together with a book when she was younger. She will fight sleep a little less, and you’ll be giving your baby a strong foundation in her literacy development at the same time.

The more you share books together, the more your baby will understand what those things are for and what can be done with them. By finding regular and positive ways to share books, you teach your baby about all she can get and experience from books. But even the best book will be ignored by your baby unless you show her that it is worthwhile by sharing and enjoying it together.

So take care of yourselves and your babies. And if you haven’t started already, make a bedtime story with your baby part of her daily routine!

Please check our Books for Babies program schedule on the Centre for Family Literacy website for opportunities to learn more with us!