Emergent Literacy Games

We know from research that language development is enhanced through storytelling. We also know that language development is one of the key factors involved in a child’s reading and writing success. A language-rich home is a gift, indeed!{jcomments on}

Here are a few verbal games I play with my kids, in the car, to assist with their language development and in turn – with their reading and writing skills.

Group Storytelling

We take turns telling a story. I might go first by saying, “Ten days ago, there was a big wave at the ocean. The wave…” The next person finishes that sentence, until we’ve all had turns and the story is complete.

Rearview Mirror Fingers

When the car is stopped, I sometimes hold up fingers and ask my kids, “How many fingers am I holding up now?” I’ll hold up NO fingers (zero), three fingers, ten fingers, two fingers, six fingers, etc. They yell out the answer, one by one. To add storytelling to this game, carry on with stories about the numbers. For instance: “Ten friends went swimming. They splashed around. Five friends got tired and left the pool. That left five kids in the pool, to play. What do you think they did next?” Allow your child to finish the story in his/her own words.

Color Spelling

While driving, my daughter (six) loves to play a game that we made up called, “Color Spelling.” I being by saying something like, “I’m thinking of a color that starts with r and ends in d.” She yells, “RED!” Then she says, “I’m thinking of a color that starts with g and ends with d.” I say, “GOLD!” We carry this on for a while, until we have spelled out many colors. It can get tricky, too, with colors like mauve and aqua.

Menu Covers and empty CD cases

Do you have old menu covers at your disposal? If not, you likely have empty CD cases or DVD cases, right? Slip some paper inside, grab a few dry erase markers, and you have a fun game for your kids. They can color, draw, trace, dot-to-dot, practice their name and more. Wipe the covers off time and again for years of use.

Interested in Emergent Literacy?

I recently started up a new site called Emergent Literacy. In one of the articles, Making Up Stories, I chatted about storytelling.


Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in early childhood education. She’s the editor of Early Childhood News and Resources, as well as several other web sites. She’s also a proud parent, avid game player, and a Library Board Member.

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