Thursday, August 4, 2011

Playful Literacy: Creating a City

After reading several books about the city, as well as taking a pretend journey to NYC in our church's VBS this year, we decided to create a block city.
First, we looked at some online pictures of NYC on mommy's iPad. We talked about skyscrapers and apartment buildings. We talked about our neighborhood and neighborhoods in NYC.  We talked about parks and playgrounds.
Then we got out blocks and we built skyscrapers and apartment buildings.
We built slides and swingsets for our little people.
We built neighborhood grocery stores and schools.
Then we talked about words we might see in the city. We talked about stop signs, labels, store signs, etc.
We decided to add some small sticky notes and writing utensils to our block play. Logan and Tyson could scribble on them. Logan could dictate a message to me (like stop). Or they could just stick them on the buildings to represent signs. We talked about different colors and using a red sticky note to represent a stop sign.

In Literacy Beginnings authors Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas encourage teachers to add literacy to play spaces such as the block area. To make the block area more literacy rich, they suggest adding signs, vehicles, dolls, books about topics related to blocks-- such as building bridges-- and writing materials: a small basket with paper, writing materials and tape.
Pam Allyn expands this idea in her new book, Your Child's Writing Life, by suggesting that "writing begins in the block corner". As your child invents and creates, he is building a narrative. He is building a setting. He is often acting out what is happening. You can support this by asking him to describe what he is building. Model using the words first, next, last as you stop in to join in the creative play. (You can read my full review of this book here.)
I'm excited about adding elements to all of our play spaces to create a more literate environment.
What have you done to make your play spaces more literacy-rich?
Here is where I'm linking up:

play academy

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

smart summer button '11


  1. I love the idea of having post-its out when JDaniel plays. He would love it too.

  2. These are great ideas! I tried to leave notepad and pencil in Anna's room, and she was using notepad paper to make candy wrappers :)

  3. We have book tubs and shelves in every room as well as spaces for writing with supplies in the dining room, kitchen, office, and kids' rooms! I also have moved our furniture to the edge of the living room so the kids have lots of play room - like the duct tape city we made last week. :)