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Literacy Ideas for Home

Literacy Ideas for Home

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Literacy is more than just learning how to read. It consist of reading, writing, creating, and other forms of emergent markings that represents their thoughts and ideas. Children as young as 2 years old begin to imitate the act of writing and if we build on children’s experience as they grow, they’ll not only just learn how to read, write and create but they’ll love to do it!

“We live in a culture which worships the written word” says Mike Browne (he/him), Community Engagement Manager at Hilltop. “That stems from the Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, and has infiltrated our early education system. As an Afro-Caribbean, my culture leaned more on oral traditions than writing. And when we did write, it was more about creating than sentences. So while writing is vital, let’s remember that there are other ways we build and share knowledge and work to recognize the contributions and skills that every child and adult brings, even if it’s not done with the dominant form of communication you’re accustomed to.”

“The goal is to support the child and make sure that they are valued, visible, and validated” echoed Nick T. (he/him), Educator and podcast host at Hilltop. “Sometimes, that means we adults need to find alternative ways to support children in the ways they want to express themselves or in their language acquisition, or how they master print concepts. Same thing goes for their guardians. We need to understand how they learn and then find alternative ways to document what is happening for them. To authentically and effectively build strong literacy foundations, we have to think beyond paper and pen.” 
As the shelter-in-place order wages on, Mike, Nick T., and their colleague, Becky (she/her) have collated a list of activities Hilltop educators have provided the families and communities we served to help guardians keep children active, engaged, and emotionally supported during this time. Below are three examples of our favorite Early Literacy related activities! As always, these are suggestions and “families shouldn’t feel pressured to do ‘exactly’ what some of these sites illustrate in terms of the activities described” says Becky. We invite you to share this blog with your community and with your colleagues.

Building Language and Literacy Through Play:
These various sources below are examples of ways you can use books as a jumping off point towards a path towards more play and learning such as arts, crafts, puppets, science experiments (check out our previous blog titled STEAM at Home), and scavenger hunts to name a few! 

Summary of ideas: 

10 Little Rubber Ducks: In this idea, there are a series of activities such as writing, decorating, and crafts, to name a few, that combines allows you to combine environmental justice lessons with science, literacy, and of course, your children’s imagination!


Blast Off!: In this activity, you spark children’s imagination through role-playing. By combining books with play, you have multiple ways to scaffold engineering, space, science, reading, drawing, and technology in this session!
*Encouraging Art and Writing: When a child is able to share their story with you, they will be more motivated to “author” more and more as they grow. The use of art can encourage children to do just that! Inside is important reminders that creativity helps children become thoughtful, inquisitive, and confident learners. 
*A favorite among Hilltop children’s and faculty! 
Songs, Rhymes, and Fingerplay:
These various sources below are examples of ways you can use books as a jumping off point towards a path towards more play and learning such as arts, crafts, puppets, science experiments (check out our previous blog titled STEAM at Home), and scavenger hunts to name a few! 
Summary of ideas: 
Zero to Three: In this post, there are a handful of songs in both English and Spanish to which you can use to support Dual Language Learners or help your child acquire a new language.
*Zero to Three – Music with Infants and Toddlers: Music isn’t just for singing, it’s for dancing, introducing them to new cultures, working on their balance, gross motor skill development, and growing children’s thinking, language and literacy skills. Zero to Three covers a lot of different ways music can be used to nurture children’s learning and imagination.
*Using Everyday Information Creatively!:Don’t think too hard about activities and ideas to build children’s literacy skills. For young children, listening to, reading, writing, and presenting informational texts is a great way to build knowledge and vocabulary in science, social studies, and the arts—and a great foundation for success in school and life. Work smarter, not harder.
20 Literacy Ideas: A trip to the supermarket to do groceries provides literacy skills such as spoken language through interactions and reading through signs and labels. Literacy can be easy and fun!
*A favorite among Hilltop children’s and faculty! 
Literacy and Multiple Learning Styles:
There are multiple ways that children learn. We can connect literacy skills (and other subjects) to activities that will appeal to your children based on their particular strengths.

Summary of ideas: 
*Scholastic: These ideas are adapted from the book Brain-Based Strategies to Reach Every Learner.
Paths to Literacy: Through the use and creation of multimodal texts, children have opportunities to use linguistic, visual and audio modes in order to experience, conceptualize, analyze and apply meaning. This blog is great for all and especially useful for children who are visually or hearing impaired.
A Headstart Resource to Fun and Learning: Children are learning all the time. Adults will find this booklet helpful with great activities to share with their children that promotes all types of development including literacy! These activities can be done together at home, away from home, indoors, and outdoors. 
*Beyond Books: 6 Alternative Ideas to Books: We always encourage guardians to read to their kiddos. And there are other ways families can help children gain literacy skills when they are too busy, tired, or stressed. Here are 6 alternatives to books!
*A favorite among Hilltop children’s and faculty!

We hope you enjoy these activities as much as our community did! These preschool literacy activities will keep little ones busy, ignite their curiosity, develop their problem-solving capacities, and teach them the basics that they’ll need to succeed throughout their life.


Looking for additional learning opportunities? Check Out Our Educator Discussion Series, including our next virtual learning workshop:

  1. No Walls, No Problem! Addressing the Barriers to Taking Learning Outside
    Thursday, July 9th, 2020
    5:00pm – 6:30pm PST (8:00pm – 9:30pm EST)
    This workshop is geared towards educators, parents/relatives, interested professionals, policy-makers and more! 
    Register at:
    Missed it? This session is recorded. Contact us at

What’s better than one male educators of color? Two! Check out Hilltop’s brand new podcast called “Napcast” which features Mike Browne (he/him) and Nick Terrones (he/him).  This podcast is designed to help you learn on the go, hear another perspective, spark debate and honestly, remind you that you’re not alone. We live in a complex world, so allow us to challenge your orientation with words, thoughts, advice, and the perspective of two early childhood educators of color. Visit Napcast to tune in now and check out the rest of our professional development offerings including HilltopStudy Days and Study Tours to New Zealand.Feel free to email us at

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