Early Lit Tips: Take It Outside

June is Great Outdoors Month. With that in mind, and in celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1, let’s head outside this week.

Early Literacy Practice: Singing
Cover of We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Rosen and Oxenbury
One fun way to help build your child’s pre-literacy skills is through singing. Singing slows down language and there is often a different note for each syllable in a word. That helps children hear the smaller sounds in words, which will help them sound out words when the time comes for them to learn to read. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is a great book for combining the theme of the great outdoors with a fun, singable story. If you feel unsure about how to sing a book, check out the Youtube video of Michael Rosen performing the story.

Rhymes and Songs
Nursery rhymes are also great for helping children hear the smaller sounds in words, building what is known as phonological awareness. They should also be fun! Many nursery rhymes also include hand motions, which can help build fine motor skills, and counting, which helps provide a basic foundation for later math literacy. Here are two outdoor-themed rhymes with hand motions.

Round and Round the Garden
Round and round the garden,
like a teddy bear.
(Trace a circle on child’s palm or tummy with your finger)

One step, two step
(Walk your fingers up the child’s arm)

Tickle under there
(Tickle child under the arms or chin)

Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Five green and speckled frogs       (hold up 5 fingers)
Sat on a speckled log                       (“sit” 5 fingers on other arm)
Eating some most delicious bugs
Yum! Yum!                                        (rub tummy)
One jumped into the pool               (hold up 1 finger)
Where it was nice and cool.
Then there were 4 green speckled frogs (hold up 4 fingers)
Glub! Glub!

Four green and speckled frogs . . .
Three green and speckled frogs . . .
Two green and speckled frogs . . .
One green and speckled frog . . . Then there were no green speckled frogs!

Activity
View of the grounds at Stratford Hall, VAHead out into your own backyard or find a nearby hiking trail and go on your own bear hunt. Make up your own version of the nursery rhyme based on what you encounter. Most importantly, just walk, explore, and talk about what you see. For some great ideas about how to encourage kids to use their senses on a nature walk, check out this post on Simple Kids: Explore Nature With Your Senses.

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About booksnquilts

As a Youth Services Librarian, I am passionate about literacy in its many forms. In our current, complex world, literacy in all its form is increasingly important for a successful life. I believe that libraries can play a major role in improving literacy in our communities.
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