Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chalk Play

Michigan has been having some great spring weather lately so I have been spending a lot of time outside with the nieces.  This morning we were playing with chalk.  I thought that by showing you some of our creations, you may pick up a new trick to play with early literacy.  For me, it tends to shade most of what we do (even if it isn't obvious).

I haven't figured out how to flip this top picture yet so you will just have to look at it sideways.  Otherwise, you can see that I wrote the number "2" in yellow chalk and my 3 year old niece traced over it in pink.  Chalk is a great way for your child to practice their letters and numbers.  First, it is big enough for their little hands, which gives them more control over the chalk.  In addition, like above, chalk is great for layering.  You can write out your child's name, their age, or any other word and they can trace over it.  Because chalk is temporary, it doesn't matter if you make a mistake.  It is all about the process!

My niece kept trying to make her own hopscotch board, but couldn't quite make her squares big enough.  While it isn't the traditional board, we made a ladder shape (or a giant rectangle with lines through) and numbered the spaces.  She had to tell me the numbers as we wrote in the squares.  Kids are funny, because she had to make sure I had a number "0", which then meant that we had to talk about where it would go.  Even though we were dealing with numbers (which is an early math skill), we did a lot of talking (early literacy skill) as we put the numbers in order.  Then we talked about how we should jump on the squares.  Can you use one foot to jump on all of the squares?  Do you use both feet?  Can you do one on one foot and the next square on two feet?

Chalk is fun for drawing.  If you use your sidewalk as your canvas, you have lots of empty space to make your creations.  Drawing for kids is important, because they are using their hand muscles as they draw (like exercise).  These same muscles will be used as they begin to write words with a pencil and paper.  In addition, you can pull out your talking skill.  Try asking your child about their creation.  You can see that the above creation is a rainbow.  We talked about the colors that were used (because they weren't the traditional colors) and the shape of the rainbow.

You can see that the above shape is an "X".  We have a lot of fun playing pirates.  Of course, pirates have to find the "X" and dig for treasure.  This turned into a fun game, like Hide and Go Seek, where one of us had to draw the "X", then we both had to find the "X" and pretend to dig for treasure.  Then we talked about what treasure we found.  The funniest was when I said that we found gold coins and she asked if they were chocolate gold coins, because that is all that she is familiar with.  You would be amazed at the amount of new vocabulary that kids learn as they use their imagination.

This game came about by accident.  We had already wrote both of our names as we signed our pictures.  I sat down and wrote out the alphabet in my empty space.  She came over and wanted to know what I was doing.  Then we spelled words with our feet (I pointed and she jumped on the letters).  We went through all of the members of the family, like "MOM" and "DAD".  Then we created our own words.  This gave us a chance to talk about what sounds letters make.  She always had a good time coming up with words like ZXPQA or YTKMN and I would sound them out for her.  This is a good thing to do because we are practicing sounds and the letters that make them.  We are assembling words with those sounds.  Plus, we are making it fun so she will want to keep doing it.  Early literacy can be fun!

Now that I have shown you some fun early literacy ideas to use with chalk, pull out your chalk on the next sunny day and draw with your child.

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