Finding literacy in the great outdoors
Is there any time of year more glorious than the Queensland spring? Boasting clear blue skies and fresh-as-a-daisy days, it’s the perfect time of year to get off the couch and enjoying the outdoors. Luckily, the bush and beach also offer the ideal classroom for a little sneaky early literacy, suggests Karen Gawen, Young People’s Services Supervisor from Sunshine Coast Council.
Involving little ones in early literacy activities is an essential part of every day,” Karen explains. “The literacy skills learnt in the first five years of a child’s life provide a critical foundation for their literacy outcomes in later in life.”
The Australian Early Development Census data for 2012 shows that 26.2 per cent of Queensland children are developmentally vulnerable or at risk on one or more developmental domains – including language and cognitive skills. Queensland ranks sixth behind the other states.
Studies have found that children who have plenty of opportunities to talk with engaged adults each day are less likely to experience difficulty with literacy when they reach school. So, now is the time to find any excuse to chat with your little one!
Here are some great ways to sprinkle some literacy into your outdoor days.
At the beach
The water might be too cold for a swim, but the beach offers the perfect canvas for some imaginative sandy fun! Build sandcastles and make up stories about what you have created, play giant Pictionary or Hangman, or Noughts & Crosses in the sand. Look for shells and pebbles, or explore the rock pools and chat about what you find.
At the park
Take a book and a blanket to the park and share a story under the shade of a tree. Or gaze at the sky and see what shapes you can spot in the clouds.
Collect twigs, leaves and bark to take home to create art or a collage about the trip to the park.
Count the rungs on the monkey bars, have timed races around the trees.
Cook a picnic at home to take to the park, and have the kids help reading the recipes.
Out and about
A little fresh air can put a fun spin on anything, and you don’t need to go far! Go for a family bike ride together, stopping along the way to see what you can find.
Head out in the car, read signs, sing songs, listen to audio books. Collect tourist pamphlets or maps and have the children plot the visit as you go.
After visiting somewhere, get the children to write a story or draw a picture of the best thing that happened that day, and chat chat chat about what you see and do.
“Every conversation they take part in and every new word they hear is making a positive difference to a child’s literacy skills,” says Karen. “And more importantly, any time spent having fun with you will also be a fabulous addition into their happy memory banks.”
For more fun early literacy ideas head into your local library or visit library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au