Writing and reading development support one another. As children become aware of print, they begin to understand that the print is what you are reading—not the pictures. They start to see print everywhere in their world and to understand that it represents meaning and the spoken word. It is also important to have your child practice scribbling even before they know how to form letters.
Try this fun activity at home to help strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands and get them ready for writing. After you read a birthday book such as I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, give your child a piece of wrapping paper for your child to wrinkle, tear, bend, and fold. These motions will help strengthen the muscles in your child’s hands and get them ready for writing.
The letters on the pages of books and on signs all around us form the words that we are saying when we read. Helping children understand this concept is a part of early literacy called print awareness. Hold books upside-down so children can learn to recognize the proper way to hold them. Also, trace your finger under some of the words as you read them.
In Spots in a Box by Helen Ward writing is important to the story. Be sure to point out the writing as you read it to emphasize that you are reading the text, not the pictures. This helps your child gain print awareness, one of the early literacy skills that will help your child learn to read later on.
To help your child develop the early literacy skill of print awareness, try playing this fun “I Spy” game using I Spy on the Farm by Edward Gibbs. Trace the word in bold with your finger and ask children what color they see. This will help your child associate the color with its written word.
You can practice print awareness anywhere, even if you don’t have a book. Name the letters and the sounds on stop signs or billboards you see while driving, food labels at the grocery store, and other print you run across throughout the day. Even though children may not be able to recognize the letters or words yet, they are still learning to recognize the shape or symbol. This will help them to understand that print has meaning and that it is all around us.
–Tip by Claire Bartlett, Youth Outreach Coordinator