One of the first things that comes to kids’ minds at the onset of summer is “close the books, school’s out!” In order to keep literacy a priority when kids want nothing to do with reading, be a little stealthy and sneak in some letter love with these games and activities.
Just like hiding vegetables in brownies and smoothies, kids won’t even realize they are reading as they enjoy this simple day of play.
Use letter cookie cutters to make impressions in bread before toasting. Those letters provide the perfect canal for squeezing honey (also good for working on muscle strength and gross motor skills). If pancakes are what you please, squeeze the mix out of a bottle to create legible edibles. Make a word for the day and then incorporate that word throughout your day.
ABCs of morning calisthenics
Morning calisthenics can keep bodies healthy and minds sharp. Kids learn and retain more if their bodies are active during the learning. Call out the letters in order with each jumping jack (either seated or standing) or spell words with each jump rope rotation or sit-up.
Lunchtime munch time
Alphabet soup, anyone? Think of it as digesting knowledge! Add Cheez-It Scrabble Junior crackers by Sunshine to make it a full-on letter lunch!
Chalk on sidewalk, letters in lake
Whether on dry land or at the shore, literacy learning can be in tow. Create an alphabet hopscotch path on the sidewalk or play giant games of hangman. For ready-made letters, Jumbo Bananagrams is the perfect game for taking to the beach. The bold rubber letters float. If you prefer the quieter corner of your yard, stock your kiddie pool with a supply of plastic letters and equip your kids with aquarium nets to catch the word of the day. Once caught letter by letter, spell it out and throw the letters back for a bigger catch!
If indoor air conditioning is more to your liking, try uKloo, a treasure hunt game with three levels of reading clues to get kids reading and searching for the hidden surprise.
Playing with your food is usually frowned upon, but not when it helps sneak in learning! Use cooked spaghetti noodles to lay out cursive letters, or if printing is more your speed, penne or rigatoni noodles let you create block type letters. Who knew rigatoni is the new font?!
Wind down with technology
Kids may wind down with a good book if it’s read through technology by a grandparent or faraway friend. Take a look at the Kindoma Storytime app. This amazing app brings together books through video chat. Kids can enjoy a book read aloud by a distant loved one. The book pages are synchronized and both sides have the ability to point to pictures and words, flip pages and talk.
For more information on products for kids, go to ableplay.org. AblePlay is sponsored by the National Lekotek Center, an authority on play and children with special needs.
Ellen Metrick is director of Industry Relations & Partnerships at the National Lekotek Center and a member of the Chicago Special Parent advisory board.
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