Following you will find a list of preschool literacy activities that
are appropriate for any early childhood classroom or home.
General Preschool Literacy Activities
Hang clipboards in one or two spots in your classroom. Stock them with
paper and attach a pencil. Encourage children to use them whenever they
like. (Very popular in my classroom)
Collect restaurant order pads, trucker's logs, tablets for shopping
lists, small calendars, planning books, unused teacher planning books,
etc. Put out a few favorites at a time.
Collect menus, empty boxes, labels off cans, advertisements, maps,
small phone books, cookbooks, etc. to use in various centers.
Gather a variety of advertisements from businesses children will
recognize. Label some unit blocks with the business name and logo. One
logo on each block. Wrap clear packaging tape around the block to hold
the logo so children can't peel it off. Children will build stores,
offices and towns using these blocks. Children will enjoy reading these
logos as well. KMART, WALMART, McDonalds etc. (with the golden arches
Preschool Literacy Activities - Name Recognition
Teachers often use name cards to dismiss children to go to the next
activity. It was only recently that I discovered all of the lessons to
be learned in a simple name card. You can, of course hold up the card
each day until the child reads his own name. Provide a card with a
symbol or photo along with the child's name for those who can't yet
read their names.Then you can put the child's last name on the card and
teach him to read that.
But, I have seen some ideas that go beyond
that. One teacher I know uses a name card with room under the name to
write it again. She holds up the card. After the child reads his name
on the card the teacher begins to teach individual letters in the
So, the first day the teacher asks each child to point to
the first letter in his name and tell what the letter is. If the child
does not know the letter she teaches it. Once the child learns that
letter and repeats it two days in a row she writes the learned letter
under that letter in the child's name. Every time the child knows a
letter two days in a row the teacher writes it on the card until the
name is written on the card a second time.
This teacher is very good a
showing enthusiasm for each letter learned. I think every child in her
classroom identified every letter in his name by the end of the year.
Many of the benchmarks created for letter learning say that a child in
preschool will begin to learn the letters of the alphabet including
those letters in his name.
You can teach children to identify the letters in their names by giving
them each a small chalkboard or whiteboard. (If you don't have these be
creative.) Make yourself a set of alphabet cards and include capital
and lower case on each card. Write each child's name on his board for
him leaving a little space between each letter. As you show a letter
card to the entire group each child can erase that letter however many
times it appears in his name.
So, if your name was Sarah and the
teacher held up the "a" card you would erase the two "a's" in your
name. Try not to make the game too competitive You might think that the
child with the shortest name always wins but this is not the case. The
fun part of this game is talking about how many letters in each name,
who has the same letters in their names, how many times a letter
appears in a name, etc.
Another one of the preschool literacy activities for learning the letters in children's names takes
more preparation than the one above. If you can do this on your
computer it will probably save you a lot of time and work.
names of each child in your group on a piece of tagboard or card-stock.
Make two copies of each name. Leave a little space in between the
letters. I use to make mine by hand and each letter took up a space
about two inches by two inches.
One name strip for each child will be
cut into cards that will match the child's name on the other strip. So,
imagine this: The strip says "S a r a h" The cards you have cut off
the second strip will say, "S a r a h", one letter on each card. You
should be able to lay the cards directly on the remaining strip and it
will all match up.
When you get done you will have a strip for each
child and enough cards of each letter to create all of the children's
names a second time. To play, place all of the "A's" together, all of
"B's" and so forth (including the capital letters).
When you turn over
"S" from the "S" pile, whether capital or lower case, the children look
on their name strips for the letter s. Anyone with that letter will
tell you how many they need (cards with the letter on it) and you can
ask if they need a capital.
The game is done when everyone has
re-created his name by placing the matching card on his name strip.
Before you start the game you can put all of the name strips next to
each other and see who has the longest name and talk about the letters
in the names.
Preschool Literacy Activities - Dictation
Letting children dictate information is one of the preschool literacy activities that teaches them to see the
relationship between spoken and written words and reading. We had our
children write in their journals each day. We used planning journals
but journals can serve any purpose.
I think possibly children will do
more sophisticated work if they have a purpose in their journal writing
but I may be wrong about this. Children will draw, scribble, write in
letter-like symbols, write using conventional letters and invented
We also had our children dictate daily as well. Children
dictated their plan for the day. What center did they choose? Who would
they play with? What did they plan to do? We wrote their exact words
Then I often took the child's finger and had him read what we
had written as he pointed to the words. The journals could also be used
by us (teachers) like portfolios. We had samples of the children's
drawing, writing and language all in one place.
The idea for one of my favorite preschool literacy activities came from the books written
by Vivian Paley. She wrote "You Can't Say You Can't Play" as well as
many other books based on children's dictated stories. I had been
wanting to try out Vivian's methods but didn't know where to start.
day when I asked a child about the picture he had drawn in his journal
we took off on a story. I tried to use the children's exact words as
much as possible even if I didn't think the story made any sense. The
children often changed person (I/he) as they told their story. I think
that is because suddenly they see themselves as the
usually just added what I thought it should be in parenthses.
moved to Vivian Paley's next step in the process. I let the author
choose actors to play the parts. We had people playing rainbows,
Then came the fun part. We had everyone who was not in
the story sit around the edge of the carpet and be the audience. I read
the story as best I could and the chosen actors acted it out. It was
GREAT! You wouldn't believe what the children were able to do.
Sometimes I played director in order to keep things organized but most
of the time the children needed no help. Eventually we began to have
the actors take a bow at the end of the play. Then we would all shout,
"Author, Author" and the author (who probably also had the leading
role) would take a separate bow and sit down. I had children who wanted
to insure a spot in a play so badly they would dictate a story. These
were often children who surprised me by their request to write.
In the above preschool literacy activities, I found that children would often use TV shows as
a basis for their stories. But, if you allow them to do this they will
create something that is definitely their own.
I have often had
children dictate a story very similar to another child's story.
Sometimes I would have three stories with the same topic. The stories
however will not end up to be identical.
It always amazed me that
sometimes a child would get stuck on a story and include any object
that might come into his vision at the time.
I usually had two rules
for writing stories. We never wrote stories more than one page long
(mostly because of time). Also, stories could not be violent so sometimes I
had to redirect the author.
Preschool Literacy Activities - Book Bags
To involve families
in our preschool literacy activities, we created book bags for the
children to take home and share with their
families. I purchased some ready made bags but later made my own. If
you like to sew this is fun. If not maybe someone else can make the
bags for you or use the non-diposable grocery bags every store sells
for a buck.
I liked looking for material to match my books. Each of our
bags contained one or more books (on a related topic). They also
contained a spiral notebook
for children and their families to write
in. Sometimes the parents, grandparents, babysitter or sibling wrote in
the notebook. Sometimes the preschooler drew or wrote their own text.
They told us how they liked the book, what it was about or who read to
the child and how they used the props. The bag also contained
or stuffed animal and an idea sheet. This was a wonderful family
activity to promote literacy.
The children got a new bag on Thursdays and were to bring it back on
Tuesdays. When they brought back a bag they were elegible for another
bag. We didn't mind if they kept the bags longer.
Be prepared to
replace parts when necessary. Always check the bags when they come in
and make sure everything is in good shape. Wash the bag and stuffed
animal if they smell like smoke.
I know of other classrooms that send home an inexpensive book from
Scholastic or you could do this with used paperbacks. They put the book
and some ideas for parents to use with the book in a gallon bag and the
kids keep this bookbag.
are many preschool literacy activities that are used to teach children
the foundations for reading and writing. I hope you can use these ideas
as a springboard for your own creative preschool literacy activities!