All parents want their young children to succeed in school and become fluent readers. How can parents promote reading readiness in their two and three-year-olds while playing with them? Activities that encourage speaking and listening, the precursors to reading and writing, are a great way to start. Here are some fun activities that develop language skills and expand imaginations:
Puppets are a great way to get young children to verbalize their ideas and listen to others. Make your own puppets from paper bags, popsicle sticks or socks, or use stuffed animals, dolls, or action figures. Encourage your child to pretend they are the puppet’s character and have a conversation. Use the puppets to act out a favorite story, or “interview” your child’s puppet about a recent holiday or special celebration.
Play-acting with masks made from paper plates will also get children talking. You and your child can be favorite characters from a book or animals from the zoo. Start a conversation or begin to act out a story; your child will learn about the give and take of dialog as you create your own “show.”
Put together a bag of dress-up items (old adult clothes, shoes and hats are very popular). Dressing up inspires children’s imaginations and acting out different characters is a great
way to expand vocabulary. Get in costume and have your child pretend to be the parent while you’re the child.
Get out the tape recorder or video camera and have your child talk, sing, or tell a favoritestory, real or imaginary. Watch or listen to the performance together. Children love to see and hear themselves in action.
For older preschoolers, collect unusual household items, such as a wisk, a potato masher, and a coaster. Ask your child to tell you about the item; describe it, figure out what it is used for, or come up with a funny new way to use it.
Begin a sentence, and have your child finish it. For example, “When I was a baby, I liked to...” or “If I was an astronaut, I would...” or “If I was an animal/truck/dinosaur I would be....” Ask follow-up questions — why did you like that, how did you do that,
where did you go next? This is a great game for the car, the bus or waiting on line.
The Parent-Child Home Program Recommends:
Measure Up Cups — The youngest toddlers can dump and fill, stack and swat. Older preschoolers can mold, stamp, and sort. Provides opportunities to discuss and experience size comparison, sequence, and volume. For ages 12 months — primary school.
Dress-a-Pillar — This friendly caterpillar lets preschoolers manipulate all the features they find on their own clothes: zippers, snaps, buttons, ties, buckles, and Velcro straps. One of the pockets even includes a surprise, can the child guess what’s in there? For ages 3 years — kindergarten.
Oh Rats! Puzzle Game — A fast-paced game and a puzzle all in one. Kids can practice color-matching and pre-math skills as they match wits with others. Or they can fit the pieces together and use it as a puzzle on their own. For ages 3 years - kindergarten.
Giant Pegboard — Toddlers can stack and topple, sort and count. Older children can flip to a “geoboard” with raised pegs to create geometric designs with string or rubberbands. 25 pegs. 10-3/4” square. For ages 19 months - primary school.
All of these items are available through Discovery Toys. Parent-Child Home Program sites, please contact the National Center for information on special discounts.
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The Parent-Child Home Program
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