Play and Early Literacy

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Storytime today was a raucous and noisy affair, as it often is, but it was made more so by the inclusion of rhythm sticks into the mix. I had planned out a couple of activities to do with them and had one spontaneous activity - all of which turned out to be huge successes! I love when storytime works this way. I thought I’d share these ideas with all of you in case you are looking for more ideas for your storytimes, as well.

One of the activities had to do with making letters with our sticks. T, L, and I were the three we made, and I made up a song to go with them. I knew this one was a success when I watched the little ones trying to make the shapes and heard one of the 2 year olds singing the song we had sung with the letters.

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The spontaneous success came with the book Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle. It is a great story about a storm that builds and then dissipates - there is lots of onomatopoeia on each page, and taps and booms resonate throughout. Every time we hit a “tap,” we hit our sticks together. Every time we hit a “boom,” we hit our sticks on the floor. About three quarters of the way into the book, I noticed attention spans starting to drift, so I decided we should make a storm together. We started by tapping our sticks together really gently (and the quiet totally gets the children’s attention!) Then, we got louder and louder, making our way to the floor and beating it with our sticks. We then scaled back a little bit back to the “rain” of tapping our sticks together. We built the storm and receded a couple of more times before finishing up. This was a great way to incorporate sounds and activities into a book, and also to calm everyone down after lots of intense activity.

Play is such a critical part of the Early Literacy equation. When children are having fun and engaging with each other and with books, they are more likely to want to continue reading as they get older (and to want to return to storytime)!

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