Develop your Child’s Literacy Skills with these Play Ideas

May 10, 2018 Published by

Eleven play ideas to practise literacy skills



Go on an alphabet hunt

A bit like I-spy – ask your child to find objects beginning with certain sounds.  This is a great game for playing when you are out and about! You could go to the woods and ‘collect’ as many words as you can starting with the ‘a’ sound. Write them down, or let your child take photos.

Create a letter collection

Go for a walk and collect some natural objects (e.g. feather, stone, twig). When you get home, put the objects on a large sheet of paper. Start by asking your child what sound each object starts with, then have them group together any objects that start with the same sound. Encourage your child to write the initial letters next to the objects, or the word for each object if they’re feeling really confident!

Sand and water play

Put toys that all begin with the same sound in a sand and water tray (e.g. dinosaur, dog, dump truck, doctor). Talk about the sounds and get your child to practice saying them. Can they think of any other words with a similar sound? They could also practise writing the letters in the sand.

Letter-sound yoga

Encourage your child to get into different letter poses; this can be done inside or outside.  This activity will develop letter and body awareness; build concentration and can be used to manage behaviour and emotions. 

I’m thinking of a word

Tell your child a word that rhymes with the word you are thinking of. For example: “I can see something that rhymes with bone, what could it be?” (Stone). Can your child think of any other words that rhyme with your word? Make this as silly as possible for lots of laughs – you could use made-up words or make it into a poem!


Child Writing at Home

(Photo Credit: Writing by Ben.timney licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Shopping lists

Ask your child to write a shopping list when you are off to the shops or a menu for dinner.  For young children, it is all about getting them to develop the fine motor control and understand the principles of writing; as they get older they will begin to create recognisable signs and symbols that will eventually become letters and words. 

Write your name

Encourage your child to write their name wherever you are! With a stick in the sand or mud, on the pavement with a piece of chalk, on their artwork, using their finger in a pile of flour or a splodge of paint…there are countless opportunities to practise writing letter shapes and improve the hand and finger strength needed to write.

Magnetic letters

Place the letters on the fridge and let your child play with them while you’re busy in the kitchen – Can they spell out their name?  What other words can they create using the same letters? Can they find the initial sounds of the ingredients you are using to cook?  This is a great activity that a child can do while you are getting on with your daily jobs as it requires minimal adult intervention. 


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Create a story basket

Choose a favourite book and create a basket of props.  For example, for The Tiger that Came to Tea (Judith Kerr), you could take a cuddly tiger, a doll, a tea set and play food.  For many books, you can use items that you already have lying around the house. Share the props with your child as you read the story. As your child gets more familiar, they could get out the props at the appropriate stages. Leave the basket of props out for them to use in their pretend play, and create a new story basket every few weeks.

Go on a story treasure hunt

Read a book then take your child around the house to find key parts of the story. For example, for Little Red Riding Hood can they find a basket? Some play cake? A red cloak? A cuddly wolf? They could collect the items and then put them together in order to retell the story.

Story stones

Older children will love creating story stones that retell a simple story.  By drawing key events onto stones, they will be able to recreate a simple storyline; they can either retell a familiar story or create their own.

How do you practise literacy skills at home? Share your ideas on  Facebook or Twitter.


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This post was written by Claire Gillies

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