A Day of Play the Literacy Way

Posted on July 8, 2015

A child’s path to literacy expands from simple sound and letter recognition to the ability to read and write. One of the easiest ways to set a child on a positive path to literacy is to make reading fun and encourage a love of stories. 

Play is a way to make literacy come alive for kids. By using books as a vehicle to inspire a day of play, literature leaps off the page. When children act out a story after reading and find things that they can relate to the tale, they experience the written words in a much deeper and more impactful way.

So here are some ideas to bring children’s books off the shelves and into the minds and imaginations of kids for a special day of literacy play:


Book One -- Act Out the Story

In the morning read a story about a journey! After reading, set the scene in your home or yard to act out the passage by using items from around the house. If you are crossing a river, you can use Weplay Rainbow River Stones as a path, spread out a blue sheet to symbolize water and pretend to fish with the Melissa & Doug Catch & Count Magnetic Fishing Rod Set. You can also use a play tent from Pacific Play Tents or a blanket and chairs to create a magical castle, a cabin in the woods and other scenes from the story books.

Make lunchtime learning time by explaining to your child that a story has three basic parts like a sandwich—introducing the story (once upon a time), presenting a confrontation or problem (lions and tigers and bears, oh my) and then the resolution (happily ever after). Tell them that a sandwich is also made of up three parts. Bread, a yummy middle and then another piece of bread. Put out the sandwich fixings and have them help make their three part story sandwich! Kids can narrate their tale of sandwich making while they create their lunch.

Book Two -- Express the Story

In the afternoon, read a book that connects to your child’s personality, then create a craft activity around the theme of the book. If they like planes you can create your own with Klutz Straw Shooter Jets or if the story is about a treasure, have the kids create their own jewelry with ALEX jewelry kits like Bling Bangles.

Book Three -- Explore the Story

Finally at the end of the day, read a book about an interesting character who faces a challenge. After reading, use a puppet to ask your child questions—not about the facts, but about their thoughts and emotions related to the story. By using puppets children are often more revealing about their inner thoughts and more willing to share emotions. This is a great way to help kids learn to express themselves and develop social/emotional skills to understand their feelings as well as others. Folkmanis makes engaging, realistic looking puppets that can be incorporated into storytelling. Let your child take the puppet to bed as a reminder of all the great stories they heard.

According to the article titled, The Play-Literacy Nexus and the Importance of Evidence-Based Techniques in the Classroom by Kathleen Roskos and James Christie in the American Journal of Play, “…when children plan and act out stories during dramatic play, they have an opportunity to consolidate their growing knowledge about narrative story structure, building a foundation for comprehending and writing stories.”

So take a trip to your local library to get started on your literacy day of play! Ask your librarian to help select the best three books for your child and bring the world of literacy into your home. 

Source: Chicago Special Parent, Winter, 2015

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