How to successfully integrate literacy into the early years

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Literacy is essential in the early years; building the foundation for letter recognition, sound, and blending are possible outcomes for young children. As Educators, our role is to create meaningful opportunities for children to discover and interest in language.

I think the best place for us to start is the very beginning. What is emergent literacy? Emergent literacy can be divided into two sets of skills: meaning-related skills and code-related skills.

  1. Meaning related skills have to do with building an understanding of what is written in a book. Comprehension and understanding of the language are essential to developing literacy.
  2. Code-related skills are the skills that will help children understand that the squiggly lines, the marks they see on a page are letters, the letters are related to sounds and the sounds when blended make words, and the words have meaning.

Meaning related skills                                      

  • Vocabulary
  • Story comprehension
  • Inferencing

 Language bags

Language Bags EY10381

Code-related skills

  • Print Knowledge
  • Alphabet knowledge
  • Sound awareness
  • Letter sound knowledge

Code related activities

A simple collection of items that reinforce letter sounds and shape
items that also begin with the sound

 Collection of images for NEwsletter Literacy

Letter Stones YUS1028

  • Create a practice of sharing initial sounds of words with children to support emergent literacy
  • Create letter Scavenger hunts
  • Using chalk, bring literacy outside with chalk blocks and

These are simple ideas, but all support emergent language skills and are versatile to be used repeatedly in multiple settings and with children of varying ages.

Chalk Blocks

Chalk Blocks  ONP1047 

 Images of letters

More literacy ideas

  • Letter matching archeology game- The perfect accompaniment to a dinosaur-themed unit, this activity allows students to practice letter recognition while playing archeologist. Drop a few magnetic letters onto a cookie sheet, writing the letters you chose on a piece of paper for your students to use as a key. Cover the letters in flour and give the kids a makeup brush to carefully ‘search the site’ for hidden letters. When they find one, they must match it to their paper key before continuing the hunt.
  • Sensory messy play- Letters drawn out with whipped cream on tinfoil begin this activity. Provide the students with sprinkles and other cookie-decorating accessories and let them decorate their letter. Multiply sensory stimulations creates an excellent opportunity for cognitive activity and retention
  • Alphabet rocks- If you (or your kiddos) have the time to collect 52 rocks, this uppercase and lowercase literacy activity could begin in the great outdoors. Wash the rocks and write an uppercase letter on one side, with the corresponding lowercase letter on the opposite side. Then show words or pictures on index cards and challenge them to re-create the word. 
  • Recycled Scrabble play- Old scrabble games are the perfect literacy tool.
  • Treasure chest- Recycle your old baby wipes containers and food jars to make your sensory treasure chest! Use gold spray paint to transform the container into a magical treasure chest, and the food jar lids into gold coins. Fill it with sand and hide your treasure for your little one to discover. Jar lids print letters 

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