Friday, September 13, 2013

Fun with Letters: Activities to Pair with the ECRR Parent/Child Workshop

Every fall, I work with my local Parents as Teachers group to offer in-library early literacy workshop programs for the families they serve. I create my program content around the ready-to-use Powerpoint-based presentations that come with the ECRR2 kit, which I modify to include my library's branding and my own talking points and activities. This autumn finds me focusing on the "Fun with Letters" presentation, complete with a variety of activities to pair with each of the five practices. Here's what we're doing this September:

Fun with Letters: Activities to Pair with the ECRR Parent/Child Workshop

  • We work together to say the letters in every child's name; children write their names on a small paper plate (tactilely more interesting to them than nametags, I've found), so all the adults in the room have a cheat for name spellings.
  • We play an "I Spy" game using our alphabet rug in the program room; I name an object featured on the rug, and the kids search for it and identify the letter it starts with, also shown on the rug.

  • Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham is for slightly older, more engaged audiences, and we talk about the letters and objects we see on each page.
  • With younger children, I usually do a picture walk through G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco,  demonstrating that you don't have to read a story fully for it to have a positive literacy impact.

  • I set out alphabet-reinforcing toys at the beginning of the program while families trickle in: alphabet machines, doodle boards, and an I Spy bottle.
  • We play with pipe cleaners to make the letters in our names. Lots of exercising those fine motor skills!

  • We sing the letters of the alphabet to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," a trick of Saroj Ghoting's to help children hear the differentiation between all 26 letters--no more amorphous "ellemmennohpi."
  • We make an ABC parade; using the alphabet rug as our guide, we parade along the letters of the alphabet, naming them as we go.
  • We sing "Willowby Wallowby Woo" with the silly assistance of a Horton the elephant stuffed animal.

  • We practice making letters using shaving cream as our medium. I fill sandwich-size zipper-lock baggies with a bit of shaving cream, then seal the tops with duct tape. Ta-da! Trace and erase!
  • With butcher paper covering our program room tables, kids get to use crayons to draw all over the tables. Older children work on their letters while others create a comfort with writing.


These activities keep kids pretty well engaged and excited while their caregivers get a bunch of accessible early literacy tips they can take home, and we all get to have some fun with letters!

Have you offered a variation on the "Fun with Letters" ECRR2 workshop? What activities have you used to round out the workshop?

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