Children learn about their world thorough different kinds of play. Play helps children express themselves, put thoughts into words, and think symbolically so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences.
Babies & Young Toddlers
- Play peek-a-boo while waiting in line, getting in or out of the car, or at home. Playing peek-a-boo helps children become more aware of their bodies, increases their curiosity, and creates brain connections for further learning.
- Blow bubbles! Encourage your little one to follow the bubbles with their eyes or try to pop the bubbles while you hold the wand still. As they get older, they can try popping the bubbles with their hands. This helps develop eye tracking skills, develops gross motor skills (big movements), small motor skills (small movements), and strengthens hand-eye coordination which are all important when reading and writing.
- Find a soft toy or rattle to play a gentle game of catch. Try handing or giving your child the item, and encourage them to give or toss it back. This back and forth process will help with the back and forth of conversations later on.
Older Toddlers and Preschool Children
- Find a children’s song, and start a dance party at home. This helps with both gross and fine motor skills, and help deliver oxygen to a child’s brain.
- Play “I spy” while you are out walking around or at a restaurant. Encourage your child to find an object based on a description (ex: name of color, size or shape). This helps your child connect words with physical objects and tests your child’s vocabulary. See our Early Literacy Tip: Identify Shapes With Your Child for a hands-on activity!
- Use those hands! Play with playdoh, finger paint, scribbling on paper, make shapes with fingers, or sing along to finger plays, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” This helps strengthen gross and fine motor skills, encourages imagination and is fun! You can also stimulate conversation by asking your child to describe what they created.
Check out our Early Literacy Tips series of blog posts here for additional activities to get your child ready to read.