Literacy is one of the things that I feel most strongly about in early years education. It ranks right up there with empowering children, because there are so many power structures hidden within literacy that it is almost impossible to confront and challenge without being aware of them.
Because of this books play an important role in our lives; we have more books than will comfortably fit on a bookshelf. Miss H is encouraged to find information in dictionaries and encyclopaedias (rather than “just googling it” as she insists she gets told to do at school), and Mr J still gets two bedtime stories every night. Miss T is kidnapped and taken to story time … sometimes at the library, but far more often on my couch (because that’s always open).
As part of this, I wanted to start exploring language and words with Miss T in a way that she could control and enjoy. Enter, literacy stones.
These are based on the story stones that I posted about a while ago and that Miss T loves.
The stones are divided into three groups: upper case letters, lower case letters, and words that Miss T is interested in (ie, her name “Mummy” “Daddy” and “baby”).
I really love some of the alphabet stones that I’ve seen on places like Etsy but bearing in mind the Montessori principle of isolation of quality (where the only quality that changes is the quality which is being explored) I decided to keep the letters all the same colour, with only the shape of the letter varying.
I bought some bundles of stones from Bunnings. I was looking for the same sort of stones that I had used for the story stones, but they only came in giant packets and were more than I was looking to spend at the time. Instead I found some similar ones that were glossy.
This gloss meant that I couldn’t use the same techniques as on the story stones – I found that the permanent marker rubbed off pretty quickly because of the gloss.
I tried baking the rocks to set the permanent marker. I had seen this tried for things like DIY decorated mugs, but all it did was fade the colour of the ink. Instead I ended up buying some polyeurethene spray and using that to seal the permanent marker. I have to admit that I chose the cheapest spray they had, which meant that my stones ended up with a matte finish, rather than a gloss one. I also had to be careful to make sure that the ink had had time to dry/set otherwise the spray made the ink run.
The stones didn’t take long to make; approximately 30 minutes to write all the letters and 2-3 minutes to spray them with the polyeurethene. I gave them a second coat after about 2-3 hours, so that was probably the only thing that took any time.
When Miss T came over, I got them out to show her and she loved them. She got very excited to spot the letter “T”. “That’s my name!” she declared excitedly.
She was also excited by the letters that spelt Mummy and Daddy, though she was disappointed when she realised I hadn’t made name letters for myself or for her Grandma. They’ll be next on the list, just as soon as I work out how to spell “KiKi and Geeya” (that’s what she calls us).
We used them to talk about upper case and lower case letters, the alphabet, our names, to spell out words and to just play with.
And just in case you thought that these would only be good for younger kiddies, Miss H started playing with them almost as soon as she saw them, and Mr J managed to find all the letters needed to spell his favourite word.
How do you encourage literacy in your house? Have you got a favourite literacy activity?
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