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Early Literacy Activities while "On the Go"

The"On the Go" materials include 14 activities designed to be used outside the home: in the car, while walking, during busrides, etc. The activities encourage early language and literacy development from birth through preschool. They are appropriate for children with disabilities as well as children who are developing typically.

  1. Activity: Doing things with music

Do different things while listening to the car radio or to a tape or CD:

  • Sing
  • Clap (while at a stop light!)
  • Move to the music, when you’re stopped or in the back seat with your child
  • Talk about how the music makes you feel

Hints: Doing things with music

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Encourage your child to make sounds (la-la-la)
  • how your child how to move to the music - car dancing - when you’re stopped at a light!
  • Ask Yes/No questions (e.g. Does this song make you feel happy?)

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Encourage your child to sing without you
  • Let your child use a musical instrument such as a toy drum
  • Have your child create dance moves - but stay buckled up!
  • Ask open-ended questions (e.g. Why does this music make you feel like dancing?)

  1. Activity: Beginning to sing songs

While singing in the car together, you can:

  • Move to the beat together when stopped or sitting in the back seat
  • Make gestures that go with the song (e.g. Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
  • Encourage your child to sing along
  • Sing the rhyming words louder or softer

Hints: Beginning to sing songs

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Play your child’s favorite tape or CD in the car
  • Sing his or her favorite song while driving
  • Bounce up and down in the car seat!
  • Tune the radio to your child’s favorite station

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Encourage your child to move to the beat on his or her own while in the car seat
  • Encourage your child to make gestures that go with the song all by him or herself
  • Have your child sing some of the song’s words aloud (e.g. Wheels on the Bus)
  • Have your child say the rhyming words with yo

  1. Activity: Making up silly songs

Do different things while singing to the car radio:

  • Make up words to the song (Row, Row, Row My Car)
  • Make up silly words to the song (Bow, Bow, Bow My Squoat)
  • Talk about your silly song, use words to describe it bbb bbb

Hints: Making up silly songs

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Make up a song that describes what you’re doing (Honk, Honk, Honk the Horn)
  • Say some real and nonsense words and see if your child can pick out the silly ones
  • Have your child say a letter sound and make up a silly word that starts with that sound

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Have your child make up a song that describes what he or she is doing (Going, Going, Going to Grandma’s)
  • Say a sound, have your child make up a silly word and then use that word in a song
  • Encourage your child to write those silly words down on a piece of paper bbb bbb

  1. Activity: Rhyming words

As you are driving around, play with words that rhyme:

  • Say a word and ask your child to say another that rhymes (bike/Mike)
  • Let your child make up words to rhyme with real words (tike/bike)
  • Put different sounds at the beginning of your child’s name to make words that rhyme with it (Sam/ram; Lee/tea)

Hints: Rhyming words

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Say softly some words that rhyme with your word and encourage your child to
    repeat them (car/far)
  • Say a new first sound to make a new rhyming word
  • Say the end of your word and ask your child what word might sound like that

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Give your child longer words to rhyme (railroad track/piggy back)
  • Encourage your child to say as many words that rhyme as he or she can think of
  • Have your child tell you why the words sound alike

  1. Activity: Guess the password

Play this game in the car to make the miles go faster!:

  • Pretend your child’s stuffed animal or doll has a password to get into a special place
  • Say a word that rhymes with the password (It sounds like ham).
  • Have your child guess the password (It's a name).
  • Later, you can write the word down and read it together

Hints: Guess the password

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Give your child hints of what the password is (“It starts with the same sound as your name." "Sounds like hat, it’s furry...”)
  • Draw a picture on the car window of what the password is (when you’re stopped!)
  • Do this activity as your child is asking for something in the car, a snack or a toy

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Have your child use the password in a sentence
  • Encourage your child to write the password down on paper
  • Ask your child why your word sounds like the password

  1. Activity: Seeing words

As you are driving around, point out all the print you see on:

  • Buildings SAFEWAY
  • Road signs AAAUUUBBBUUURRRNNN
  • Cars & trucks Ford
  • Snacks you have in the car Goldfish crackers

Hints: Seeing words

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Point to words on things that your child touches often in the car (snacks, toys, books)
  • Point out the letters in words as you read the word out loud (“S-t-o-p”)
  • Bring your child up close to the words so he or she can see them - stop at the STOP sign and say the letters; read the Safeway logo together

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Ask your child to find words on his or her own as you drive around
  • See if your child knows what the words say
  • Have your child say the letters in the word
  • Encourage your child to write the words down

  1. Activity: Keeping a diary

Keep a pad of paper handy in the car and:

  • Offer paper and encourage your child to scribble, draw or write
  • Ask your child to draw what he or she sees out of the car window
  • Can your child write words to go with his or her picture (road, trees, cars)?
  • When you’re stopped, help your child write a sentence about his or her drawing; remember to date it
  • Look back at the pictures in your child’s pad and read what he or she wrote

Hints: Keeping a diary

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Give your child different things to make pictures with (stickers & paper; magazines & a glue stick -tear the paper, NO scissors in a moving car!; crayons & a coloring book)
  • When you’re stopped, help your child write words that go with his or her picture

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Have your child read the picture sentence back to you
  • Ask open-ended questions about your child’s drawing (What do you think the truck is hauling?)
  • Have your child date their masterpiece!

  1. Activity: Talking about nursery rhymes

Recite nursery rhymes together as you drive and:

  • Talk about the nursery rhymes
  • Play a tape or CD of nursery rhymes (Wee-Sing; Raffi)
  • Keep a book of nursery rhymes handy in the car for your child to look at as you’re
    traveling

Hints: Talking about nursery rhymes

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Recite your child’s favorite nursery rhyme over and over (and over!) as you drive
  • Ask your child to pick a nursery rhyme from a book and see if you can recite it!
  • Encourage your child to draw a picture of his or her favorite nursery rhyme

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Ask your child to draw two pictures about the same nursery rhyme and talk about how they go together
  • Encourage your child to say the nursery rhyme all by him or herself
  • Ask simple questions about the nursery rhyme

  1. Activity: Talki ng about what will happen next

As you are out and about, ask your child what will happen next when you are:

  • About to go into the store
  • On your way to the doctor’s
  • Going to visit a friend or family member
  • Heading out to a place your child likes (McDonald’s; playground, library)

Hints: Talking about what will happen next

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Tell your child what will happen next
  • Ask yes/no questions about what will happen next (Will there be other cars in the Safeway parking lot?)
  • Show your child pictures of what will happen next in your outing today (first we’ll go to the library, then McDonald’s for lunch, and then home)

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Ask your child what will happen next as you get to where you’re going
  • Ask your child what will happen tomorrow when you two go someplace
  • Ask what your child thinks will happen at a special event (visit to Grandpa’s birthday party)

  1. Activity: Talking about things outside

Ask your child questions about things he sees out the car window:

  • What color is it?
  • What shape is it?
  • How do you think it feels?
  • Do you think it has a smell?
    Bike!

Hints: Talking about things outside

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Talk about what color and shape things are and how they feel and smell
  • Ask your child questions about things your child is really interested in (trucks, bugs, flying)
  • Ask yes/no questions (was that a Ford truck we just passed?)

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Encourage your child to describe things with more than one word (that’s a fast, brown dump truck)
  • Describe something you’re passing by and see if your child can find it
  • Have your child describe something for you and you try to find it
    Bike!

  1. Activity: Listening to different things outside

As you are driving, have your child listen for:

  • Birds
  • Cars, trains and planes
  • Animals in trees and fields
  • Water
  • Wind in the trees........................and talk about how they sound

Hints: Listening to different things outside

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Have your child listen for things he or she likes (birds, car horns, engines )
  • Have your child listen for loud things (dogs barking, trucks passing, train whistles blowing)
  • Talk together about what you hear

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Have your child listen for quiet things (leaves moving, birdsong, water babbling)
  • Have your child describe what he or she hears with more than one word (out there, pounding, hard)
  • Ask your child to tell you the location of the sound (up high, down here, close by)

  1. Activity: I Spy

This is the original car game to pass the time! The basic rules are:

  • Pick something easy for your child to identify
  • Say “I spy with my little eye something beginning with.....”
  • Give your child time to guess
  • Take turns being the person spying and the person guessing

Hints: I Spy

To help your child succeed, you can:

  • Choose something that starts with a letter you know your child already knows
  • Spy something very obvious such as trees or the road
  • Give extra clues like a rhyming word (starts with “t” and rhymes with “bees”)

To make it more of a challenge, you can:

  • Choose a letter your child is working on at school
  • Pick something familiar up the road or at where you’ll be staying (“I’m going to spy...”)
  • Ask your child to draw the last three things you both spied and to write the words that go with them

  1. Activity: Window Writing

On very hot or very cold days when the car windows are all steamed up, have your child:

  • Write the letters in their name
  • Make scribbles & shapes
  • Pretend to “write”
  • Write numbers 1-10

Then give your child a cloth to wipe the window clean!

Hints: Window Writing

To help your child succeed, you can have your child:

  • Copy a simple shape such as a circle - make your’s while you’re stopped, not driving!
  • Copy the first letter in his or her name - again, make the model for your child when it’s safe for you to do so
  • Draw themselves

To make it more of a challenge, you can ask your child to:

  • Write in cursive!
  • Write the letter that begins the word you’re saying
  • Draw a favorite cartoon character and write the character’s name

  1. Activity: Talking Maps

As you are driving to familiar places with your child (grandma's house):

  • Talk about the different landmarks on the way (school, park, grocery store)
  • Talk about directions as you go straight or turn right or left
  • When you arrive ask your child to tell how you got there (How did we go from our house to grandma's?)

Hints: Talking Maps

To help your child succeed, you can have your child:

  • Have your child tell you what they see
  • Encourage your child to notice landmarks ("Look, there's the fire station!").
  • Remind your child of all the landmarks ("First we went by the park, then we went by Sandy's house").

To make it more of a challenge, you can ask your child to:

  • Draw a map
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