I've been trying to find more fun ways to get my children involved with literacy. I just purchased a book that I think is going to be wonderful. Actually, almost all of the books that I have purchased that were published by Gryphon House are absolutely wonderful, masha'Allah (I actually have several – however, if you know me – I purchased them from Ebay :-)). They even have sample activities on their website that come from some of their books – to check it out, click here.
Anyway – more about the book, insha'Allah. The book is entitled "Literacy Play" by Sherrie West and Amy Cox. Why do I recommend it? The book has over 300 dramatic play activities that teach pre-reading skills. Your child does not need to know how to read or write – it is just to make them more aware (in my opinion) of all the writing that surrounds them (doctors office, dentists, bankers, etc.) and it also allows them to express themsleves in their own form of writing (which will, in time, lead to actual writing). The nice thing is that these activities aren't just for children learning to read – but you can allow them to grow with your child. When your child can read and write, it is a fun way to practice without just sitting down and working on worksheets. Here is the introduction to the book, which can explain it better than I can:
We wrote this book to help teachers (and parents) understand that literacy skills can be taught through play. Children lean best through hands-on experiences that are meaningful to them. Often, parents and teachers feel that children are only learning when they are doing worksheets or practicing their alphabet. Emergent literacy is more than drill and practice–it is not just teaching children the letters of the alphabet. Literacy is a developmental process, it is understanding concepts and applying them to the world. When children are engaged in group activities that expose them to both oral and written language, they learn to read and write naturally. Concepts become real, rather than arbitrary. Because the ideas and concepts are familiar to them they are no longer abstract. Dramatic play can be a place where children engage in, practice, and apply literacy concepts. By putting children in an enriched literacy environment, they can practice, experiment, and explore oral and written language. Dramatic play and literacy go hand in hand with activities that address the needs, skills, and interests of the children in your classroom (homeschool).
For the first literacy play activity, you provide props for your child to pretend he/she works in a doctor's office. You provide your child with a wall eye chart, sign-in sheets, prescription pads, and a clipboard where your child can write his/her diagnosis. It does not matter that you child cannot write – scribbling is an introduction to writing skills and personally I think that if they start doing fun things like this they will want to learn to write on them. The book provides you with open-ended questions to ask your child and it also provides you with other activities such as making books (related to their body parts, etc.), and poems and fingerplays. They also provide a short list of suggested library books to read to your child.
Other literacy play activities include: being a detective, veterinarian, dentist, firefighter, etc. I hope it turns out as well as I think it will. Not only will these activities make my child more aware about the print around them in the world (doctor's office, signs, etc.) but I also think it will open up a new world of imagination for them as well.
Anyway, I will update you – we are going to start using the book next week, insha'Allah as fun activities. I'm really looking forward to it myself.
Note: One thing I always do when recommended a book – I see if our library has it. Many times, they do not but I am able to get it on inter-library loan. This is useful because you can make sure the book would work for you before spending your money on it. I usually do this or look to see if a local bookstore has it on their shelf so I can look through the book and decide.
Sumayyah Umm SAA