Readers play: 5 Activities to Build Readers

With so many states moving towards 3rd grade reading guarantees, parents and teachers are worried if kids are prepared for literacy from an early age. We talk a lot about books on this site but I don’t want to ignore an equally important but often ignored learning strategy for literacy success.

Play!

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What Play is

Play does a lot for a child’s developing brain. New textures activate synapses that haven’t had their chance to exercise. The natural conversation that happens when you and your child play builds a strong vocabulary. Imaginative play creates reading comprehension through sequencing events and describing the routines and world around the child.

A child needs the space, time and freedom to explore and interact with the environments around them. Ask questions, get involved, not as a leader but as a participant. Us adults forget how freeing the creativity of play is. Let your child teach YOU something for a change.

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What play is not

Play is not wasted time. Play doesn’t need to be structured or curated. Play will not be linear. They may start working in a grocery store and suddenly decide they are firefighters. All you need to do is sit back and let your child lead.

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Get them started

While it is important to follow the direction of the child in play, there might be times they need a little encouragement. If you don’t know what to do here are a few play starters to help your child engage and ignite their brains

  • A texture walk. Shoes protect our kids feet and they also keep our kids from feeling the world through their soles. Go outside and have your child walk in the driveway, grass on a dewy morning or in ooey gooey mud. It will not take long for your child to come up with an adventurous story.
  • Go for a sound hike. If you live near a park or reserve head out and hear the wildlife but if you are in the city, do not fear. Think about all the noises the neighborhoods provide. Talk about what you hear and ask what your child hears.
  • Make tape art. What kid doesn’t love to play with tape? Get out a few rolls of different kinds of tape. Masking, packing, duct, washi and scotch tape. Find an easy peel surface or use paper and let them create. Don’t sit on the sidelines! Join in and create worlds together
  • Create a wall ball run. Find leftover paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, gift wrap tubes and a few different balls around the house. With painters tape and scissors help your child cut the tubes in different lengths, tape to a wall and have fun. Not only will your child watch physics at work, they will learn to problem solve when something goes wrong.
  • Fort building. We may not all have trees at the ready to make a tree house. But with a few blankets and some outside chairs, tables and garden tools, you can make your own fort city.

There are so many ways to play each day. No fancy toys needed. All your child needs is time, space and freedom to lead.

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What other ways do you encourage play? What are your child’s favorite activities?

Book Review: Anna at the Museum by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert

Read

I have to admit, the last place I wanted to take my kids when they were small was the art museum. The rooms were big, they echoed loud and there was so many ways they could get themselves (and me!) in trouble.

Thankfully the Cleveland Art Museum, in our city, has a lot of opportunities for family to enjoy art together, with outdoor installations, rooms for kids to explore.

In Anna at the Art Museum, Anna can’t help but attract the attention of the attendant. The art begs to be touched! The rooms insist she run, and when Anna gets hungry she doesn’t understand why she isn’t allowed to have her snack. When she finds a door marked NO ENTRY, Anna tries very hard not to walk through the door and to find out what happens you will have to read the book.

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale. I was not paid for my review, I received a NetGalley copy for an honest review)

Talk

This book has a lot of great conversation starters with your child. Who hasn’t taken their child to a doctor’s office, or the grocery store or a special event and found yourself saying:

It’s no surprise our kids run when they say to get their shoes on! This book is a great way to introduce the expectations we have for our family when we are in different public places. Try to use positive language like: Ask before you touch something that isn’t yours. Use walking feet when we are indoors. Use an indoor voice when we are at the store. Not only will it help your child prepare for “field trips,” it will also help you think about what you want to see happen before you reprimand. I know for me, I often give consequence without ever having any clear discussion with my kids about the behavior I expect when we are out of the house. These types of positive conversations don’t only make for pleasant days out, but it also helps your child build vocabulary.

MDW Anna

Another great way to take this book out in the world is to talk about the different signs in buildings, while driving, and even at school. Point them out as you see them and talk about what the mean, why it is posted, and what you should do when you encounter them.

Sing

There are a lot of great ideas on Incredible @rt Department, but one I liked in particular was to put on different types of music and have your child, “follow the line”. You can use finger paint, colored pencils, whatever you have on hand. There are no rules for this, just have your child draw what the music feels like, and make sure you point out the lines in the book when Anna is moving around and when she is in the hidden room and the color’s she experiences. Listening to the music will also strengthen your child’s phonological awareness which will help them when they are learning to read and sounding out words.

Play

This book begs for a field trip to a local art museum or art gallery. Many art museums are free or ask for a donation. Plan out the trip beforehand and keep the time short. Modern art would be a great place to start and make sure you talk about and describe what you see and have your child do the same.

Another option is to find a child/parent paint session at the library or a local paint and sip store. Spending time together allows for many opportunities to talk without the pressure of home and schedule AND it is play which is what all kids need to grow.

What to read next

Funny stories about an outing with your child? Share in the comments below or share with us your favorite art museum.

Happy Reading