Something a bit different today. I usually post a mini-unit on Fridays, but we will be mixing it up for our Reading Readiness series and there will be 26 mini-units introduced over the year that will more than make up for today’s change in scheduled programming 🙂
Today, I wanted to share how I am enriching our home learning environment with a love of language.
I have created three specific areas in our home where books will always be available and enjoyed, but I would definitely be open to placing more baskets of books around the house to make every space a reading space. Currently, our spaces are in my office, in the playroom, and beside Ella’s bed.
In the playroom, the books are all board books for now, and we will slowly be adding simple books as Ella learns to read independently. These books are books that she can go, pull off of her shelf and either browse through while cuddling with Bob the Bear, or request to be read to her. I choose to provide board books as they are easier for her to handle and I won’t be worried about ripped pages.
In my office, I have placed a cozy loveseat across from a small bookcase which features some permanent fixtures, as well as themed books based on Ella’s current interests. I would ideally like to find a different structure for themed and library books and have these shelves completely dedicated to our “permanent” books.
Beside her bed, I have a small basket of books that are specifically about bedtime. Once Ella settles into a better bedtime routine, I’d like to replace this basket with one simple chapter book which we will read a chapter of per night. Our first selection which I have already purchased and wrapped is Paddington Bear.
In addition to reading corners, we have a shelf completely dedicated to language activities. As with all of our shelves, these activities will be rotated.
Our current language center activities are:
- Lacing Sweets
- Letter matching puzzles
- Sandpaper Letters
- Cookie Monster activity
Initially, I had the activities on the bottom shelf and I liked how the activities were a bit hidden by the giant bear, as Ella often initiated them after she has initiated a bit of independent “reading”/browsing, so there is a clear literary connection. The giant bear was a gift and she loves cuddling up with him to read, so I felt it was important to keep him in the space. Having the activities on the top shelf may change, but I like that they are a bit more inviting and remind Ella of their presence and will be more obvious if I change out an activity. She always knows that she can find some good books on the bottom shelf, so I think this might work better.
A Child-Friendly Stereo
My old, slightly out-dated CD player is a great tool for encouraging literacy, as it allows Ella to initiate her own music listening, and eventually I hope she will use it to play her various audio books. Learning and memorizing songs is a great literacy activity.
If I can show Ella that there is a literacy connection with something, it builds the concept that literacy is tied to all elements of life, not just storybooks. For example, actually pulling out a recipe card or cookbook for a recipe that I might have memorized; writing down a note for myself rather than making a voicenote or typing it into my phone; looking up information in a book rather than youtube videos, etc.
Pens and Paper EVERYWHERE
My dad hates this one whenever he visits and I always have to check to see if he hid Ella’s writing utensils, but I think its important to show children that we are writing for several different purposes and to encourage them to incorporate “writing” or other forms of representation in their play. For example, if Ella is making lunch in her play kitchen, I might encourage her to write out a recipe or meal plan, or pull one of our kid cookbooks off of the kitchen shelves. In her Peace Corner, I have placed a Buddha Board which has been a great tool for calming down as well as practicing letter formation.
I always have a small basket of story aides (such as our crocheted or Folkmanis finger puppets) on the nature table that Ella can use to recreate a story that we have heard, or create a new story. Its important to remember that literacy is not merely reading, is about creating a culture of language.
How do you encourage literacy in your homes?