How to create a fun day of play for kids with special needs

A child’s path to literacy expands from simple sound and letter recognition to the ability to read and write. One of the easiest ways to set your child on a positive path is to make reading fun.

Play is a great way to make literacy come alive for kids. By using books as a vehicle to inspire a day of play, literature leaps off the page. When children act out a story after reading and find things that they can relate to the tale, they experience the written word in a much deeper and more impactful way.

So here are some ideas to bring children’s books off the shelves and into the minds and imaginations for a special day of literacy play.

Book 1: Act out the story

In the morning, read a story about a journey and then set the scene in your home or yard to act out the passage by using items from around the house. If you are crossing a river, you can use Weplay Rainbow River Stones as a path, spread out a blue sheet to symbolize water and pretend to fish with the Melissa& Doug Catch& Count Magnetic Fishing Rod Set. You can use a play tent from Pacific Play Tents or a blanket and chairs to create a magical castle, a cabin in the woods and other scenes from story books.

Make lunchtime learning time by explaining to your child that a story has three basic parts like a sandwich—introducing the story (once upon a time), presenting a confrontation or problem (lions and tigers and bears, oh my) and then the resolution (happily ever after). Tell them that a sandwich is also made of up three parts. Bread, a yummy middle and then another piece of bread.

Put out the sandwich fixings and have them help make their three-part story sandwich. Kids can narrate their tale of sandwich-making while they create their lunch.

Book 2: Express the story

In the afternoon, read a book that connects to your child’s personality, then create a craft activity around the theme of the book.

If they like planes, you can create your own with Klutz Straw Shooter Jets, or if the story is about a treasure, have the kids create their own jewelry with ALEX jewelry kits like Bling Bangles.

Book 3: Explore the story

At the end of the day, read a book about an interesting character who faces a challenge.

After reading, use a puppet to ask your child questions, not about the facts, but about their thoughts and emotions related to the story.

By using puppets, children are often more revealing about their inner thoughts and more willing to share emotions. This is a great way to help kids learn to express themselves and develop social/emotional skills to understand their feelings as well as others. Folkmanis makes engaging, realistic-looking puppets that can be incorporated into storytelling.

Let your child take the puppet to bed as a reminder of all the great stories they heard.

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