Reading, writing, ‘rithmatic, and riotous fun

By Liann Bobechko »Liann Bobechko

Surprising ways to celebrate Family Literacy Day

January 27th, 2012


Photo by Risen1

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Okay, so we all know reading books promotes literacy, and who can knock it? Reading is one of my favourite pass-times (good thing, given what I do for a living) but, according to the ABC Life Literacy Canada, developing literacy doesn’t have to stop with books.

Here are some other great ways to develop a love of reading that you may not have thought of as promoting literacy. You’re probably already doing some of these things with your family, but now you can go ahead an do them in the name of literacy:

  • Follow a recipe. No matter how old your kids, this is something you can do together. Have them help read the recipe and follow the steps. For really little helpers, sit down with them to “translate” the recipe into pictures, showing the equipment you need, the amounts of each ingredient to measure out, and the steps for combining them. It’s great for developing systematic thinking as well reading numbers and words. Plus, the results are delicious.
  • Read a road map. Perfect for the trip to the cottage or ski-hill this weekend. Highlight the route, or get them to do this, depending on their age, and then they can follow along as you pass road signs on the way. They may want to add sticky notes, or draw their own personalized version, to mark their favourite roadside landmarks and stops.
  • Write while you pretend. Kids love to play make-believe, but let their imaginations go the next step by having extended conversations while role-playing and including writing or drawing materials they can use while “in character.” It may give them a new way to see writing, and give them more confidence trying out their burgeoning skills “as” someone else.
  • Play a board game. Our two-and-a-half-year-old is desperate to play games right now, so we’ve been keeping an eye out for things she can handle. Her favourites are Uno Moo (which is basically Uno, but instead of using cards, this version features little round farm animals), and Monopoly Junior: Lemonade, which we got at a yard sale last summer. (In this version, players make the big bucks by putting up lemonade stands all over town.) I was amazed that she has learned to count the spots on the dice, and then move her player forward the right number of squares, and that she can correctly pay the “bank” to set up her new stands. I’ve gotten to learn a lot about her while she’s been learning too.
  • Play word games together on those long drives. Here’s a rhyming game we like to play, even with our young daughter: take turns choosing a word to which everyone can try to add a rhyming word. Start with Pink, for example, and everyone can add to it by chiming in with sink, drink, link, skink, etc.
  • Play Rhyming Bingo. I like ABC Life Literacy Canada’s extension on this. They suggest playing a game of Bingo where “participants look for words on their game card that rhyme with the word being called. For example; if the word “float” is called, then players can mark words such as “boat,” “goat,” or “oat” on their game cards. First one with a row wins.”

ABC Life Literacy Canada has lots more ideas for activities promoting fun and learning, such as Simon Says, and scavenger hunts. And if you have family traditions that seem to fit the bill, I’d love to hear about them.


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Liann Bobechko