“… I have a strong belief in the power of messing about with words. Children are hard wired to enjoy nonsense, (as are Book Chooks!) and playing with language is something they take to immediately.
Here are some activities we can use to encourage kids to play with language, develop their literacy skills, and have fun. All can be used by a parent, or adapted for the classroom.”
Not really a formal game, What’s Missing is when a parent or teacher leaves out a word and asks children to identify it. It might be during an often-read story or nursery rhyme: “Humpty Dumpty had a great …” Children will join in enthusiastically to provide the missing word. It’s also great fun when Dad substitutes one word in a story: “So the three bears went off for a walk in the marshmallow.” Giggles and groans of “No Dad!” will greet that one.
Encouraging your kids to play with rhyme is really beneficial to both their reading and spelling. By working out that “stink” rhymes with “sink” they are also unconsciously absorbing that chunk:ink, making it easier for them to decode “pink” and to spell “think”. Combine What’s Missing and Rhyming Time so children have the fun of providing a rhyme. This can start in read alouds, where you first let your voice slightly emphasise the rhyming pairs, and even slow right down on the rhyming word. Next read-through, leave a little gap and make your voice go up just before the rhyming word, so that kids can jump in to supply it. “Hickory Dickory Dock, The mouse ran up the …?” This works well with rhyming poetry like nursery rhymes, songs and finger rhymes.
Having magnetic letters and words on the fridge encourages kids and adults to leave messages for each other, make words, and even create short poems. It’s an easy strategy to implement that puts the focus on messing about with words, and makes children’s functional literacy part of everyday life.