Play with Your Words for Preschool Age Children

Sometimes I am concerned that my blog might frustrate potential readers. Family literacy may seem like a pretty focused topic, but it encompasses a large number of subtopics and audiences of various ages.

Literate Lives is about reading, but it’s not just for book lovers. It’s about writing, but it’s not just for writers. It’s for parent’s, but addresses issues that might interest younger and older people, alike. It’s for students and teachers, yet they too do not compose the sole audience.

There is one age group in particular whose needs I do not address as frequently as their families’ might wish, yet whose concerns form the foundation of a literate lifestyle. I’m talking about non-reading, non-writing preschool age children.

Thursdays’ Play with Your Words posts have primarily targeted those who can write. However, I’d like to suggest ways you can adapt Play with Your Words into a meaningful activity for you and your younger child.

Generally, use the Play with Your Words prompt as a stimulus for conversation.

More specifically Play with Your Words exercises, the art prompts in particular, can be used to help your pre-reader to make the connection between the thoughts in their minds, the words you and they speak, and words on a page.

Show your preschool age child the art prompt. Discuss it. Ask your child to point out things he or she observes in the painting. Finally, ask your child to tell a story about it and write down what he or she says. If your preschooler needs some encouragement, maybe suggest a start like, “There once was…” or that old fairy tale gem, “Once upon a time.” You can also help your child by taking turns adding sentences to the story. If he or she gets stuck, ask questions like, “What happened next?” or “How did that feel?”

Also, collect your child’s stories in a binder or portfolio. Encourage him or her to draw pictures to go with them. Reread them together as you would a published book.

Make this a fun, cozy time for you and your child. The pleasure and comfort of this time you spend exploring literacy will remain an association when your child begins to read and write for him or herself. Embrace the reading writing lifestyle. Remember it is not just about an important life skill but an activity that can bring pleasure and expand the mind.