Early Lit Tips: Mind Your P’s And Q’s

While harvesting peas from my small, backyard garden this morning, I was reminded of one of my favorite ABC books, LMNO Peas by Keith Baker. Alphabet books are a natural choice for the Early Literacy Practice of Writing. Writing and reading go together. Early writing activities may not look like much, but they develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. They also help children make the connection between spoken and printed language.

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
Cover of LMNO Peas by Keith BakerThis book will bring a smile to the face of any parent who has ever heard their child slur these middle letters together as they sing the Alphabet Song. This book is populated by lively Peas whose actions match the letter on the page. To build letter recognition and promote writing skills, trace the letters on your child’s leg or palm as you read. Or guide their finger to trace the letters. Talk about what the peas are doing to build vocabulary, too. (Full review of LMNO Peas)

Rhymes and Songs
Finger plays are not only fun, they build fine motor skills, which are essential when the time comes for a child to learn to write. These two rhymes are classics for a reason!

The Eensy Weensy Spider

The Eensy Weensy Spider climbed up the water spout
(Put index finger to thumb of other hand, then twist hands to put other index finger to the other thumb. Repeat to make a climbing motion.)
Down came the rain (flutter fingers downward)
And washed the spider out. (Sweep hands out to your sides as if brushing away the spider.)
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain (Make a big sun with your arms over your head.)
And the Eensy Weensy Spider went up the spout again. (Repeat spider climbing.)

Repeat the song with the words “Great Big Spider.” This introduces the concept of size comparison.

Here is the Beehive

Here is the beehive. (Make a fist with one hand)
Where are the bees? (Wave other hand around fist.)
Hidden away where nobody sees. (Shrug shoulders)
Watch and you’ll see them
Come out of their hive.
One, two, three, four, five. (Bring out fingers from fist one at a time)
Buzz, buzz, buzz (This is your cue for tickling!)


Little ones of all ages can enjoy scribbling. Even babies who can’t hold a crayon yet can scribble with their fingers in soap suds, shaving cream, or finger paints. Provide your child with lots of opportunities for open ended scribbling and drawing. Keep it fun and avoid “correcting” what children do to help avoid frustration.

Label their world
To help children make the connection between written words and spoken words, label things with them. Ask them what they’ve drawn and write a caption. Or encourage them to “write” it. Don’t worry that they can’t make correct letter shapes or spell the words. It’s the concept that matters at this stage.

Learn more about the role of scribbling in learning to write: From Scribbling to Writing  from PBS station KERA in Texas.

For more books and ideas for promoting writing, check out my Bibliocommons book and resource list: Building Early Literacy with (Pre-)Writing Activities.


About booksnquilts

I'm the Children's Services Coordinator for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Central Virginia.
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