Having and using letters in the environment is an important way to encourage emergent literacy in young children. Everyday exposure gives children a chance to see letters in a meaningful context and offers opportunities to begin forming understandings that letters make words, words have spaces between them and words work together to make a thought or sentence. I took a photo walk through the Blue and Purple classroom and found so many fun ways letters are used in the classroom and incorporated into the children’s daily routines. I’ll share a little about how they are used and how children can learn from these different exposures to the printed word.
Often a child’s first meaningful connection to letters is through their name. We use children’s written name often throughout the day. This letter/friend board and the family book used in the safe place are just two examples. Knowing the first letter of their name is a pretty big deal. Once they know their own they will quickly move on to recognizing their friends names too. Where could you post the names of all your family members? Place mats (as easy as writing everyone’s name on a piece of paper) at the table, names on the fridge for jobs of the day, names posted on each persons bedroom door are just a few ideas for taking this idea into your home.
Using words frequently will give children a chance to begin to recognize words other than their name. On the weather chart above there is a photo prompt but you can be sure the children are noticing that Sunny and Snowy both begin with the letter S. The sentence on the safe place that encourages children to name their feelings is another sentence they will become very familiar with. Perhaps an emotion board would be a great idea on the fridge (or use an old cookie sheet.) This will have the added benefit of offering your child a chance to verbalize more about his or her feelings.
Posting the words of a song or poem that your child enjoys will give you opportunity to practice moving your finger or an unsharpened pencil or spatula along as you say the words. This would offer the extra benefit of encouraging singing in your home. You know I like that idea!
Having toys with letters on them is another way to encourage children to use letters and recognize words in a meaningful context. If you don’t have these kinds of things on hand (I know I didn’t when my kids were little) simply make some using toilet paper tubes and cardboard signs or taping letters onto blocks. My kids always LOVED when I would help them make a paper sign to name their block creation. I was always amazed they would remember the name they had given as they used the block creation over the next few days. (I’ll have to do a post on leaving toy scenarios up for multiple days some other time!)
Books! That seems obvious doesn’t it. Having books in the home and being read to has often been linked as one of the most influential things parents can do to ensure a child’s success in school. I loved looking at this class’s book shelf and seeing not only fiction story books but also books that focus on rhyming words, definitions and even an atlas. Reference books offer a whole different kind of reading experience.
Finally, I pulled out one of the class books the children helped make as a class Mascot (a stuffed animal) got to visit the different homes. This is one of those meaningful writing opportunities similar to those we are focusing on through the month with our “Love Letters” challenge. By the way, what’s your plan for writing today?
I’ll finish today with a photo one of our parents sent me. Each child got to write on 5 hearts for their LOVE tree. She told me it made her smile to see what they blurted out first. One yelled PICKLES! The youngest said his blankie and the oldest said mom. That pretty much sums them up. 🙂