This is a simple literacy table that we have set up in our living room. I rotate the items on the table from time to time, which helps to keep R interested. I try to keep things simple and uncluttered but at the same time bright and playful, hopefully encouraging him to engage with the materials. R is five years old, so my aim in having this available to him is not to have him form perfect letters as he writes, or to even write actual words (although he does do that regularly). The intention here is simply to encourage exploration of letters and their forms. Sometimes he will write notes and letters to loved ones, sometimes he will stamp letters randomly across a page and other times he will draw pictures.
Below I have listed the materials that I currently have out for him and some of the ways that he has responded to them.
These scrabble inspired letter tiles are in a wooden bowl, and I arrange some of them to form a word which I change regularly. The word might be something we have been learning about, something we have discovered on one of our walks, or something R has asked me about recently. When he is writing a note or making a card, he will sometimes asks me how to spell a certain word. I will use these letter tiles to show him the word and then he will write it out himself using the tiles as a guide.
I like to offer some open ended manipulatives on our literacy table. These are from our completely wonderful Spielgaben set. You can read more about these wonderfully educational toys in my playfully learning with Spielgaben post. I have selected some shapes that could be formed into letters. R loves making letters from anything he sees – straws, chenille sticks etc and so these manipulatives are perfect for his learning style.
I love watching R forming words with these pieces. There is so much creativity and problem solving happening, and they are brilliant for fine motor skills as well. One of my Exploring Reggio co-hosts, Deborah from Learn With Play at Home is exploring the Spielgaben set in a similar way in her Enticing Literacy post.
Our literacy table also includes a small wooden box with a set of alphabet rubber stamps. R loves these. They are quite small so just like the Spielgaben set, they are wonderful for fine motor skills.
On this occasion he stamped random letters in a row across the top of the page and then declared them to be a sign for a store that sells clay. He followed this up by drawing a picture of the store. I love that he has made the connection between letters having meaning and conveying a message. I also love that using the stamps encouraged him to then put pen to paper with his drawing.
R was very curious about them the first time I put them out and proceeded to trace the entire alphabet.
These foam alphabet stickers are a great way to add some playful learning to a literacy table. They are so tactile and the bright colours make them wonderfully inviting.
R used these letters to make a card for a friend. I arranged some of the scrabble letter tiles to form the word “dear” and R used that as a guide to write “Dear Ben” using the alphabet stickers. Again he put pen to paper as he wrote “love from R” and then drew a picture of his friend. It was such a sweet and thoughtful card.
Creating a simple space like this has really encouraged R to write. He has always been interested in drawing but his confidence in writing words beyond his own name has really grown since he has had this literacy table.
How do you encourage a literacy rich environment in your home?
Don’t forget to visit my wonderful co-hosts in our Exploring Reggio series to see how they approach purposeful literacy in their homes.