baby into carseat DreamstimeBuilding your child’s early literacy skills is something you can do in the car, where you spend a great amount of time each day! Incorporating the 5 early literacy practices of reading, talking, singing, writing and playing into your daily routine helps prepare your child to learn to read. Here are some ideas for on-the-go activities to do with young children, as well as the early literacy skill each one enhances.

Ideas for Babies:

Have lots of books in the car for your baby to play with and explore. Board books, cloth books, books with texture and photo books are great choices. Skill: Print Motivation

Recommended titles: Eating the Rainbow: a colorful food book by Rena Grossman; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.; The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’ Connell and That’s Not My…(series) by Fiona Watt

Sing songs, or listen to favorite music on the radio or CD. Skill: Phonological Awareness

Some of our kid-friendly favorites are: Where is Thumbkin? (Kimbo Educational), Wiggleworms Love You and Songs for Wiggleworms (Old Town School of Folk Music), Charlie Hope’s album Songs, Stories and Friends: Let’s Go Play!

Encourage your child to make sounds (la-la-la, ma-ma-ma, etc). Skill: Phonological Awareness

Boy in carseat w book cropped DreamstimeIdeas for Toddlers:

While at a stop light, make up movements that go with the songs you are singing together (Row Row Row Your Boat and Wheels on the Bus are favorites). Skill: Phonological Awareness

Point out all the print you see while driving: on buildings, road signs, cars, trucks, snacks you have in the car (Goldfish, Cheerios, raisins, etc). Skill: Print Awareness

Point out your child’s letter (first letter of their name) on signs and buildings; have them help you find their letter as you drive around. Skill: Letter Knowledge

Car Dancing: at a stop light, show your child how to move and clap to the music. Skill: Phonological Awareness

Talk about the things you and your child see outside the window. Ask questions- What color is it? What shape is it? Where do you think that truck is going? What is that man doing? Skill: Narrative Skills

Recite nursery rhymes together or play a nursery rhymes CD and keep a book of rhymes in the car. Skills: Phonological Awareness, Narrative Skills

We recommend: My Very First Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie, Mother Goose Picture Puzzles by Will Hillenbrand, Marc Brown’s Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together by Marc Brown; Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes by Clare Beaton and Humpty Who? a crash course in 80 nursery rhymes for clueless moms and dads by Jennifer Griffin (this is a great resource for parents that includes a CD)

Singing in the carseat dreamstimeIdeas for Preschoolers:

Point out letters in words on road signs (“S-t-o-p”). Skill: Letter Knowledge

Make up alternative words to songs you and your children know. (Row, Row, Row My Car; Honk, Honk, Honk the Horn). Skill: Phonological Awareness

Make up a silly song with your child that describes what she is doing (eg: Going, Going, Going to Grandmas). Skill: Narrative Skills

Keep paper and crayons in the car, or a magnetic drawing board and ask your child to draw what he sees outside the car window. Once the car is stopped, let him tell you what is happening in the picture. Later you can write down his words on the picture. Skill: Narrative Skills

Stay tuned for more posts on activities you can do in a waiting room and at the grocery store to help build your child’s early literacy skills! -Marianne