Bringing Life to Early Childhood

A Blog by Jan Jobey

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Take Literacy Outside! Planting the Seeds of Phonological Awareness

Continuing with the idea of GROWing literacy, the next step after preparing the soil, is to plant your seeds.  Phonological awareness is one of the best predictors of reading and spelling success.  It is a broad skill that includes phonemic awareness (letter and sound association), rhymes, alliterations, segmentation and syllables.  Here are lots of “seeds” (and sounds!) to plant.

Phonemic Awareness “Seeds”:
1. I Spy: For example,  I spy something that begins with a /b/ sound…..When the child finds something that begins         with the /b/ sound have them tell you the beginning letter of the item.

  1. Rhyming I spy: I spy something that rhymes with “loud” (cloud).
  2. Phonemic I spy: I spy something that has the same beginning sound as “train”  (tree)
  3. Listen for outdoor sounds—animals, weather, vehicle, birds, plane, trains, etc. What sounds do they make? What letters make those sounds?
  1. Action Alliteration Names:  Jumping Jan, Kicking Kim, Climbing Caleb. Let the named child lead the action and have other children follow.
  1. Sunny Sounds—Using die-cut paper letters, have children tape letters in a pattern, string, name (whatever) on a dark colored piece of construction paper.  Use double-sided tape, rolled masking tape, or sticky putty to keep letters in place.  Hang their paper with letters in a sunny location.  After the dark paper fades, remove the letters.  Have fun sounding out the made-up strings of letters, names, or words.
  2. Bean Bag Toss—Lay out 2 or 3 hula hoops with a letter card in the middle of each.  Have some beanbags labeled with various objects that begin with one of the letter sounds.  Children pick up a bean bag and toss the bag into the hoop with the matching sound.
  1. March around the alphabet: Use carpet/foam squares with alphabet, play music, when music stops, point to children and have them name their letter or make the sound their letter makes

9.  Phonemic Hop Scotch–Write letters inside hop scotch squares and have children say the sound of the letter as  they jump on them.


Check out these books that are perfect for promoting phonological awareness:

(click on the book for additional information)

Pet Riddles              Pig Prince             Woodland Riddles


What ideas do you have for Phonological Awareness that you can take outside?

Take Literacy Outside! Preparing the Soil with Alphabetic Principle

Literacy doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It’s all around us and with a little effort we can take literacy outside.  Discover and share exciting ways to promote literacy learning outside! With some “planting and nurturing”, literacy can GROW.  Kinesthetic learners will really benefit from literacy activities that take place in the outdoor environment.  Some components of literacy include Comprehension, Alphabetic Principle, Phonological awareness, and Concepts about Print.  This post will look at ways to GROW Literacy by preparing the soil with Alphabetic Principle: Alphabetic principle is the understanding that words are made up of letters and letters represent sounds. If a child understands these letter-sound associations, he is on the way to reading and writing words. (More on Phonological Awareness coming soon!). Just like in preparing the soil for a garden, we must enrich the soil of literacy with language about the alphabet, we must break it up with lots of fun, and we must plan and prepare activities for learning.  Let’s get started!

Preparing the Soil with Alphabetic Principle:
1. Scavenger Hunt for Alphabet in Outdoor environment.  Are there signs within the visual environment? License plates on cars that can be seen? Do you have or can you make traffic signs for trikes?  Provide a clipboard (with an alphabet list) and pencil tied on for children to record words they find with each letter.
2. I spy…alphabet.
3. Chica Chica Boom Boom Tree—hang large foam letters about to find and name.
4. ABC obstacle course.  “Plant” large foam letters about the play yard and have children follow the alphabet through crawling, climbing, running, hopping.
5.  Alphabet Simon Says:  Scatter carpet/foam squares with alphabet and have children perform gross motor acts along with finding a letter:  Hop on the “H”,  “Jump over the J”,  “Gallop around the G”,  ….
7.  Sandy Letters—find some plastic or magnetic letter shapes (or make some out of craft foam) to hide and find in the sand…Extend by asking “What sound does your letter make?”
8. Upper and Lower Case Mix-up:  Using jar lids from food containers, use a permanent marker to write letters (upper and lower case) in the inside of the lid.  Hide a few pairs along with a few more that don’t have a match in a sand box.  Encourage children to find the matching upper and lower case letters.
9. Hanging letters out to dry:  Locate some infant/child t-shirts without writing.  With a Laundry marker, put a letter on each t-shirt. Let the children “wash” the laundry and then hang on a low clothesline.  Give a child letters of his/her name…see if the child can hang the letters in correct order.  Variation:  Put upper case letters on t-shirts and lower case letters on shorts…match tops and bottoms.
10.  Freeze small craft foam (pre-cut) letters in ice cubes individually…Put them in the water table on a hot day….After they’ve melted, the letter could be used to play like making “alphabet soup”.
11.  Alphabet Bowl—use pop or water bottles labeled with alphabet.  What pins did they knock down, which one is left standing?
12.  Alphabet Hop Scotch–Write letters inside hop scotch squares and have children say the letter as they jump on them

I’d love for you to share any ideas you have about Alphabetic Principle in the great outdoors!


Here are a couple of ABC books about animals that make great “outdoor books”:

(click on the book to find out more!)


Woodland ABC's                              Pet ABC

Early Childhood is Priceless




I may be new to blogging, but I’m definitely not “new” when it comes to early childhood education!  My entire life has been devoted to early childhood in one way or the other and I’m looking forward to sharing practical applications of the vast early childhood knowledge “out there”, tips and ideas for teachers, and,  sometimes, just my thoughts in this blog.  Literacy, learning, and special needs are near and dear to my heart because of my own early childhood experiences as a child who entered first grade with my own language!  When I think of how my experience has shaped my life and my ability to serve those in the early childhood field, it also affirms the importance of the formative years!

Which brings me around to this: Early childhood IS PRICELESS.  In this day of budget cuts and lowering of standards, it brings, to me, a high level of concern of how these decisions will affect the individual child, our communities, and the future of our society.  Children of today already face challenges such as parents who work too much and who spend less time with them, going to bed hungry which affects the ability to learn, or children who are not taught in ways that they were meant to learn.  Budget cuts are affecting decisions about whether a mother can even afford to work, or if she can buy food for her family.  They will affect how childcare centers can pay their bills or even stay open.  And all in an age where we have tremendous resources available…but not necessarily accessible.  An age when we can send people to the moon, but fail to send all children to quality early learning settings.  Such dichotomy should bring us all a high level of concern!

It is my hope that as I begin this “blogging experience” that I can contribute to the priceless work and joy of teachers, the priceless responsibilities and privileges of parenting (and grandparenting), and the priceless accountability and honor of program administrations.  I invite you to join me and “follow” my blog!

And since we are in the midst of summer break, let’s remember how VALUABLE outdoor play is! Stay tuned for ways to take “Literacy Outside” in my upcoming posts! I invite you to comment, share ideas, or just “like”!  I look forward to sharing with you!


Together for Children,


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