For me, I loved playing school with my sisters. We’d grab whatever notebooks, papers, markers and envelopes we could find [and after losing a bill or two, our mom made sure blank envelopes were on hand]. Half the fun would just be setting up our classroom; we’d use small fold out tables or footstools as our desks. And probably the best part was using the corner of our living room as a locker: our piano sidled up close to the wall, but still left an extra foot of space between it and the wall. The nearby door to our dining room had swing-out panels [like extra-long shutters actually], and once you pushed back just one side, voila! Your own little space to store your mock school items [whenever it was your turn to use, of course – I will admit, it was my turn a lot].
When I think back to those days of early elementary school [I was about eight or nine], playing with my sisters who were two and five years younger than me, I realize how our favorite game didn’t require anything more than what we already had. Kids can be satisfied with playing with regular household items, especially if they are playing with family.
Getting kids ready to read does not have to be expensive or difficult. In fact, there are five simple things you can do each day with your little one to encourage early literacy. These include talking, singing, reading, writing, and last but definitely not least, playing!
Playing varies from age to age. What you do with your baby will look completely different from what your toddler or preschooler can do, but all of these activities can double as meaningful quality time and great pre-reading exercises. The Kent District Library [in Kent Co., Michigan] has a webpage listing several handouts which offer all sorts of ideas to make the most of these important years of your child’s life. These ideas fall easily into daily routines like bedtime, mealtime, and bathtime. Check out this brief sampling:
For Babies: Fill small plastic containers with cereal or uncooked rice and use a tight lid. This makes a fun rattle for baby to shake. Show your baby how to play, and say, “Shake, shake” each time your baby shakes the container.
For Toddlers: When out taking a walk, show your child how to listen to and copy sounds around you.
For Preschoolers: Play “I Spy a Letter” by finding objects that start with the first letter of your child’s name.
Here at Clermont County Public Library, we have spaces in each of our ten branches for you to play with your child. And of course, we have plenty of books to encourage playing games and using your imaginations. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Children learn in so many different ways, and playing is definitely one of them! Have fun!