Play Matters to reading success
We’ve talked a lot about reading in this blog and I was reminded at a work training this week that not only do we prepare our kids to become future readers, but we prepare them to become future writers as well.
I was under the misconception that writing was all about fine motor skills. I did a lot with my kids to strengthen their pincer grasp, but I didn’t know how important shoulder, back and forearm strength was for future handwriting success.
This workshop opened my eyes to a whole new level of early literacy success.
Some of the ideas I share below came from the workshop and others came from a great website called Your Therapy Source: Gross Motor Skills and Handwriting. I’ve put it in a graphic format so you can print it out and remind yourself to add play into your day to help your child develop the muscles he needs to become a strong handwriter.
This afternoon go find a park and try out some of the activities, not only will you and your child spend some quality time together, the play will actually build the arm and hand strength needed to be a successful student.
There are also great blog posts about how handwriting develops.
Developmental Progression of Handwriting Skills at Mama OT
Activities to Practice Handwriting Skills at Home at Growing Hands on Kids
What other gross motor skills have you used to build shoulder, back, and arm muscles for writing?
A girl explores the sounds of her neighborhood while she walks with her mother. She discovers beautiful rhythms in everything and everyone she meets. With fun illustrations, a diverse cast of characters and engaging text this is a book that all children will relate to and love.
This is a perfect book to build VOCABULARY. Body parts are named, sounds are described and unique words layer the text. Children will experience the parts of sounds, called PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS through the onomatopoeia used in the book as well as the gentle rhymes in the story. The diverse cast of characters participating in the every day routine of taking a walk in the neighborhood will draw all readers into the story encouraging PRINT MOTIVATION.
Literacy Skills Highlighted:
Questions to ask:
- Look at the cover of the book. Ask your child what she thinks the story is about.
- Flip to the back page. Ask her how she thinks the story will end.
- Before reading the story flip through the pictures and ask what is happening on the page.
- Where do you think the mother and daughter are going?
Take it a step further:
- Have your child find their own rhythm. Break out the pots and pans, oatmeal container, plastic tubs or whatever you have that makes noise! Use utensils, your hands and help your child discover the rhythms of your house. Have them mimic your beat or create their own sounds.
- The book focuses on parts of the body and what they do. Explore the senses.
- Taste. Mix together sweet(honey), sour (lemon), bitter (tonic) and salty water. Have the child taste the different waters.
- Smell. Find different smells around the house. You can use dishsoap, lotion, shampoos, spices etc. Make sure they are distinguishable smells. Guide your child through each smell and help her identify whether the smell is strong, light, flowery, sharp etc.
- Texture. Use fabrics, blocks, sandpaper, towels, etc. Help the child explore the feeling of each different material and name how it feels. Is it rough or smooth? Soft or hard? Fluffy or thin?
- Sound. We used pots and pans above but explore other sounds. Music, dry beans or rice in a tube. Make maracas out or old medicine bottles or spice jars. Go on a walk like the girl in the book and name the sounds you hear together.
- Sight. Patterns are all around us. Find wrapping paper or scrapbook paper and notice the different patterns. Highlight the colors and shapes he finds.
- Try these Montessori based materials.
Montessori sensorial – Nuts and Bolts
NEW Montessori Sensorial Material – Color Tablets Box 3 by PinkMontessori
NEW Montessori Sensorial Material – Rough and Smooth Boards by PinkMontessori
Head to the library or bookstore and take a detour to the picture book section. Pick out ten books at random and examine the illustrations on the page. How many of the pictures are animals personified as people? What is the percentage of illustrations where the main character is someone of color? Are the characters predominately girls or boys?
Have you ever noticed how un-diverse picture books really are?
One of the biggest factors in children being motivated to read is how they relate to the words and pictures on the page. Whether the book describes an every day routine, a tradition they celebrate or a face they look like, it matters to how a child connects with a book. In the short term we all enjoy books that take us outside of ourselves but imagine reading book after book where the main character doesn’t look like you? Don’t you think it would impact how you enjoy reading?
Diverse books need to have messages about every day kids participating in every day activities. When I worked in an inner city library I struggled to find diverse books that weren’t about heavy themes meant for older children. I wanted a simple book about a child visiting a store with a parent or going on vacation or heading to school or playing.
They were hard to find.
I want every child to open a book and see themselves on the page. I want the book to relate to the world they see around them. I don’t want any child to feel isolated or different. I never want a child to put reading aside because they don’t see themselves in the story.
It is time the pictures in our books start looking like the world around us.
Below are my favorite books with diverse characters participating in normal everyday routines. (The links will take you to Amazon. I was not paid to promote these particular books but if you make a purchase I do receive a small commission.)
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I am a librarian. I love to organize information and classify by subject heading. Books are the main diet of my day. I faithfully update my Goodreads account and visit my local library at least once a week.
I discovered my passion for building future readers when I was a librarian at an inner city library. I was trained to help model reading to parents and caregivers to ensure that every child is indeed ready to read when they get to school. Continue reading “What it’s all about”