Reading and Writing

Reading, Writing, and Language Early Learning Activities

Alphabet and Letter Play for Kids

Linking today’s alphabet and letter play for kids to Star Wars is a bit of a stretch but can be done. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star also uses the word star. It has the same tune as the Alphabet Song so some fun and play with the alphabet and letters can be related to Star Wars.

alphabet letter fun for kidsBefore kids go to school, it helps if they have had some experiences, especially fun ones, with letters. As we read to kids, when we move a finger under the words, kids will look at the letters. Instead of being totally strange, gradually the brain notices it’s seen some of those squiggles before. You can try this for yourself. See the sentence written below…

Twinkle, twinkle pang’ono nyenyezi.

Some of those words are not at all familiar, but you can probably figure out it’s Twinkle, twinkle little star even if you don’t know Chichewa. Now check out this one…

Сяй, сяй, маленька зірка

You can see there are 4 words and some letters are the same or similar, but some are new. And then another…

กระพริบตากระพริบตาดาวเล็ก ๆ น้อย ๆ

That one is Thai. And very unfamiliar. The Chinese and Arabic were even more different. Kids develop pictures of letters in their mind just by seeing them in books, having us show them in signs, noticing them on their toys, and more.

We can also encourage kids’ familiarity with letters by having magnetic or foam letters for playing. Hands-on opportunities give kids a chance to explore letters and turn them into old friends. They are far less intimidated by letters when it comes to learning to read. Other play experiences might be making letters in play dough, tracing them in sand, and drawing them in chalk on the sidewalk.

For some fun and learning today, is there a way for your child to have some alphabet and letter play? Oh, and after all that, also sing the Alphabet Song to the same tune as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

star-wars-letter-funP.S. I think I might use this on FB this month. Mrs. A in stars!

Star Wars Storytelling for Kids

Today’s blog post, Star Wars Storytelling for Kids, is brought to you by the famous Google Doodle, which is another story. This doodle is for Charles Perrault, the writer of some well-known fairy stories. Why would a storyteller deserve a day? Another question could be why these stories have been popular for centuries in the first place.

storytelling for kidsAll these questions have the same answer: because the human brain is wired for story. The power of our brains is based on connections. These connections make pathways. Fairy stories not only have pathways thru the forests, but, like all stories, they are a marvel of connecting. Emotions, actions, characters, and consequences are all woven together in a story. So much so, that there are movies of fairy tales seen by millions of people more than 300 years after they were written down. The movie and entertainment industries are all about stories. So is book publishing and news reporting. To say there are billions of dollars involved is no fairy tale.

Considering this, it’s not so strange to have a Google doodle about storytelling. Stories make it easier for brains to understand and remember. They condense vast banquets of information into smaller bites. Stories can be effective for teaching and learning and have been used as a tool for centuries.

star-wars-storytelling-kidsWhen it comes to kids, stories are a super strategy. Kids get their knowledge about dinosaurs and outer space from stories, not from experience. We read books to kids about monsters, animals, faraway places, feelings, bodies, adventures, and more. Imagination takes kids all around the world and beyond. And grownups too.

For a play-of-the-day, take some time for stories with your kids. Instead of reading, make up your own. Maybe Yoda comes to your house for lunch. Then what happens? Perhaps the car transforms into a space ship. Where does it go? Does your child have a concern or worry about something? A favorite Star Wars character might have a solution. Can your imagination play some Star Wars storytelling for kids too?

Dinovember: Dinosaur Word Game

Dinosaurs are great toys for learning. Last week, they helped with letters as kids dug them out of sand. This week, how about a fun dinosaur word game?

dinosaur word gameLetters have both names and sounds. Long before kids learn the names of letters they can have fun with sounds. Have you ever made a mistake reading a favorite story to a child and been corrected when you said a word wrong? Kids may not even be able to pronounce all sounds accurately but they know what words should sound like.

Dinosaur start with the ‘duh’ sound. So does dad, dog, and dish. When talking about dinosaurs, you can say the word dinosaur and then another d word and say something like, “Hey, did you hear that? Dinosaur and door both start the same. Duh, dinosaur and duh, door. Duh, duh, duh. I wonder if I can think of any thing else like that? Oh, oh. I got some dirt on my hand. Dirt. Dirt starts duh. Dinosaur, door, dirt. Wow that’s lots of duhs.” Some kids will not yet have developed the skill of dividing words into their little sound bits, but no matter, it starts to clue the brain into listening to different sounds.

dinosaur word gameFor some fun today, play the word game Stuck on Dinosaurs. That is, use the ‘duh’ sound incorrectly. For example, in the kitchen ask your child if it’s time for dunch. You can notice you made a mistake and realize you meant to say lunch not dunch, but you were stuck on dinosaur. Some other possibilities could be looking for your dlasses (glasses) or maybe your docks (socks). When kids catch on, they think this is pretty silly but very funny. You can even call your child by the wrong dame, er…name. Anyone for dice cream?

Kids need to hear millions and millions of words for the brain to figure out that words are made up of bits of sounds. This is called phonological awareness and it is a critical skill for reading. Taking advantage of opportunities to play word games with kids will encourage listening for tiny differences in sounds and help brains understand how sounds work. Sounds are like puzzle pieces that get put together in various ways. The sounds that words start with is one of those ways.

Can you play the Stuck on Dinosaur Word Game with your child?

P.S. You can get stuck on 123kindergarten on FB and play anytime.

B is for Bat, Boo, and Ball: Children and Rhyming

The second letter in the alphabet is B. The letter B starts  the words bat, boo, and ball which are perfect for young children and rhyming play.  About the age of 3, children begin to figure out words that rhyme. Ears and brains need to hear gazillions of words for this ability to develop. Children’s … Continue reading B is for Bat, Boo, and Ball: Children and Rhyming

Colors of Childhood: Books About Colors

There are some wonderful books about colors for kids: old, new, big, little, imaginative stories, real nature ones, and more. The hard part is choosing! One of the well-loved and well-used books about colors is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. This book is a favorite … Continue reading Colors of Childhood: Books About Colors

Off to School Toolbox: Familiarity with Letters

Before kids go off to school, parents and caregivers are concerned about what they need to know and a basic familiarity with letters is helpful.  But in the words of Dr. Dr. Dan Gartell, readiness is a state of mind, not a state of knowledge. Having encountered letters before will help kids develop a confident … Continue reading Off to School Toolbox: Familiarity with Letters

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #16

Pinocchio Play-of-the-Day Pinocchio is not just a puppet, he is a character with a dream. Even though he’s made of wood, he shares many characteristics with kids and adults too. Gepetto, a wood carver, creates a boy puppet. He loves Pinocchio very much but Pinocchio, like real children, doesn’t like to be controlled by others … Continue reading March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #16

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #15

Rapunzel Science Play-of-the-Day The story of Rapunzel can inspire a science experiment with hair for a play-of-the-day. All of us can do magic with our very own hair. Rapunzel is a beautiful baby stolen by a witch. In some versions she is a princess and her hair has magical properties. In others, her mother has … Continue reading March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #15

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #13

Beauty and the Beast Pretend Play-of-the-Day The story of Beauty and the Beast and today’s play-of-the-day can help young children deal with the common fear of monsters and scary creatures. Some are afraid of such ordinary things as a vacuum or their own shadow. You can either read this story to your child or tell … Continue reading March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #13