Reading and Writing

Reading, Writing, and Language Early Learning Activities

Telling Fairy Stories – Fairy and Elf Activities #11 for Boys and Girls

We’ve all heard of fairy tales, which are not always about fairies, but instead of reading about these adventures, how about telling fairy stories? This activity can be done inside, or outside, like we did on a forest and garden tour. Once upon a fairy…

Did you know that making up stories with your child is a super learning activity as well as lots of fun? Once upon a time there was a fairy who lived in a house in the forest…

fairy-houseAs adults, we take the basic structure of a story for granted but children are only beginning to understand that stories have a beginning, middle and end sequence. Some of them have dialogue. Stories are usually built around one event or idea. When you tell your child a story you will use this same structure even if you are not aware of doing so. As with so many things, kids need to experience this same pattern over and over before it gets recorded into their thinking strategies.

Telling stories instead of reading them gives kids a chance to make the pictures in their own heads instead of putting the book’s pictures in their minds. This is called visualizing. Creating pictures also exercises their imaginations, plus they link words and images using context and language. You model for your little one how to think on one’s feet and build on resources that are immediately available.

These are just a few of the ways that telling stories promotes development and early learning. As parent or caregiver you have extensive knowledge of what interests your child. You can start with a level and things that are familiar and expand them. 

telling fairy storiesYour stories can be about fairies,  faeries, trolls, elves, gnomes, sprites, imps, leprechauns, pixies, or other mythical creatures. Sometimes, kids will make up their own beings. Grimm’s Fairy Tales are over 200 years old. These stories come from ones told orally for hundreds of years before that. Stories and the story-telling tradition link us to the past and people all around the world. That’s  the magic and power of fairy dust. Could telling fairy stories be part of your child’s play today?

Fairy & Elf Activities #2 for Boys & Girls: Children’s Fairy Tales and Stories

Fairy tales are not politically correct and we may be concerned with the violence in them but children’s fairy tales and stories are still worth reading. They introduce kids to the magical world of dragons, castles, wishes, fairies, and animals that talk. Kings, queens, princesses and princes lead charmed lives and magic gives power. At the same time, the heroes are often the ordinary people who succeed with determination despite the odds. Often, the children save the adults.

fairy tales and stories

Even though the Disney versions are quite different from the Grimm’s and traditional fairy tales, at least, they have kept the stories from disappearing altogether. Knowing how the old stories go is part of enjoying ones with a new twist. Here are some wonderful stories based on the familiar ones to delight girls and boys, and the grownups reading them.

children's dragon books

Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by Tim Bowers, tells the coming of age of a young dragon who will now breathe fire. Except he doesn’t, despite the name of Crispin. Instead of lighting his birthday cake candles with a flame, Cripsin adds whipped cream. His misadventures continue, with bandaids for the doctor’s office, marshmallows on a field-trip, and more. His family and neighborhood finally come to terms with Crispin’s unusual and untypical power.dragon movement activities

Another dragon story is The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. A prince is captured by a dragon and this time, it is the princess who saves him. Instead of fighting the dragon with bravery and a sword, she uses bravery and words. Unfortunately, the prince complains about her unusual appearance and the princess again has to use something sharp—her tongue, as she tells him her opinion of his behavior.valentine story books for kids

In The Princess and The Pony, written and illustrated by Kate Beaton, another warrior princess wants a big, strong, brave pony for her birthday. She ends up with a rolly-polly pony who farts. This story is hilarious and so fun.fairy tales and stories

Mo Willems, who writes of the two friends Elephant and Piggy, changes the three bears into three dinosaurs, in Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Jan Fearnley writes about a wolf who wants pancakes for breakfast in Mr. Wolf’s Pancakes, but has a terrible time. He can talk, but struggles to read, write, and count.fairy tales and stories

These and other books, are based on the world contained in children’s fairy tales and stories. Has your child visited this world?

Visit the world of play each day, on the 123kindergarten blog.


Magic Wishes for Early Learning #4: Access to Books for Kids

When parents were asked to share one magic wish for early learning, parent Catherine, hoped for more access to books for kids. Here’s an article for why this is so critical for early learning and development. Journalist and parent, Amy K. Williams explores some of the reasons in this guest post.


The Importance of Reading to Babies and Toddlers

access to books for kidsWe all know the importance of holding our babies, feeding them, bathing them, and basically meeting their every need. Reading to them has recently become recognized as one of those needs. Your first thought may be, why should I read to him before he can even talk (or hold his head up, for that matter)? But think about it.  We don’t wait until babies can speak before we talk to them. We sing to them long before they are capable of mimicking a lullaby. Studies have shown reading to them from a very early age is one of the best things you can do for your child  in terms of language and literacy skills, overall brain development and thinking skills, and establishing healthy social-emotional relationships.

When broken down even more specifically, reading aloud to your child teaches him about the world around him. It teaches him about communication with inflection and tone of voice, as well as building his vocabulary, listening, and memory skills. It also introduces important concepts such as letters, numbers, shapes, and colors in an appealing way. Even better, the more you read to them, the more you reinforce all of the above skills.

As a matter of fact, just hearing words aloud helps build a communication network in your baby’s brain.  By the end of his first year, he will have been exposed to all the sounds needed to speak his native language. Children who are read to regularly know more words by age two than their counterparts who have not been read to, and they are more likely to learn to read at the appropriate developmental time and do well in school.

access to books for kidsAdditionally, as you read to your child while snuggling them, you are building and strengthening the parent-child bond. The first two years of life are a critical period for child development in establishing literacy skills and nurturing the much-needed intersocial human connection. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.” Plus, your baby loves the sound of your voice and feeling you close. Listening to you read provides them cues for expressive sounds and different emotions, which promotes both social and emotional development. As baby gets older, he can point to pictures, mimic sounds, and even ask questions to further build thinking and comprehension skills.

access to books for kidsThe more you read to your kids, the more benefit provided. Whether you read them old classics passed down from your childhood, or new favorites of their own, they will reap the benefits by developing higher literacy and communications skills. Equally as important, they will come to connect reading with you to a sense of enjoyment and pleasure. This increases the likelihood of instilling strong literacy and language skills, as well encouraging them to become lifelong readers and learners.

amy-kristine-williamsAmy Kristine Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. She enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and is passionate about writing.  Thank you, Amy, for your guest blog on


How to Steal a March 8: Play Turns Letters into Familiar Friends

Like numbers, letters can be challenging unknowns for kids when they arrive at school but early play turns letters into familiar friends. When young children arrive at school, their biggest challenge will be learning to read, this is figure out what the lines and squiggles on a page mean. It’s a huge task and it … Continue reading How to Steal a March 8: Play Turns Letters into Familiar Friends

How to Steal a March #2: Reading Books to Kids Builds Brain Power

One of the most important activities you can do at home before children go to school is to read books because reading books to kids builds brain power. Books are superfood for brains. How much reading do you have to do in a day? While some jobs are mostly hands-on, many ordinary tasks involve reading. … Continue reading How to Steal a March #2: Reading Books to Kids Builds Brain Power

Lion and Lamb: March Opposite Fun Play-of-the-Day

Today’s play-of-the-day is March opposite fun. Learning opposites isn’t a black and white challenge, it’s really quite complicated. Opposites aren’t only one thing or the other, like on-off or black-white. They often depend on the context. For instance, the temperature outside can feel too warm if you are wearing a parka, hat, snow pants, and … Continue reading Lion and Lamb: March Opposite Fun Play-of-the-Day

February Friendship #4: Kids Can Be Friends with Books

Kids can be friends with books, and that’s another very important one to have. This is friendship month and we can share some great books with kids. Eric Carle is one of my favorite children’s authors. A fairly recent one is Friends. This is the story of a two friends. To get together one of … Continue reading February Friendship #4: Kids Can Be Friends with Books

Kids Imaginary Journeys – New Year’s Word #9: J for Journey

What fun with kids imaginary journeys! Today’s new year’s resolution word goes on a journey with children’s author and Storytime Pup creator, Bill McManus. This is an on-line interview with Bill about both real and imaginative journeys. No need to pack, come enjoy the trip. To start, I’d like to ask: What journeys did you … Continue reading Kids Imaginary Journeys – New Year’s Word #9: J for Journey

Children’s Dragon Books: Same and Different with “Not Your Typical Dragon”

Welcome to Dinovember and some dragon fun activities—after all dragons are like dinosaurs and we’ll start with some children’s dragon books and stories. Since we’ve done some dinosaur activities before we thought we’d try something a little bit different. Dragons. Dragons can be pretty scary, although Mike the Knight’s dragon Sparkie, is quite friendly. Toothless … Continue reading Children’s Dragon Books: Same and Different with “Not Your Typical Dragon”