Fun Literacy Activities

Allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment: literacy is extremely important.

I taught college composition for four years in graduate school and I saw first-hand how important literacy is to a student’s long-term college success. Students with high literacy and goal-oriented succeeded in the classroom, whereas students who struggled and did not take advantage of the opportunities provided for them inside and outside the classroom did not do as well.

Without going down the rabbit hole of the American educational system both past and present, I recognized that a student’s success correlated with their literacy levels. Those with high literacy knew when they struggled and came to me for help. Those with lower literacy levels tended to not recognize it or rejected any outside help I offered them. I had several students with lower literacy levels (or were afraid to reveal how literate they actually were) who sought extra help from me.

Those were always my favorite teaching success stories. They turned their failing grades into high passes. The look of accomplishment and pride they gave when meeting at the end of the semester informed me that they would find college would be less of a struggle now that they could apply what they learned in my classroom across the courses.

Seeing the importance of literacy informed how I would teach Jai as a parent and encourage him when he finally became a student. I want Jai to know how to work through a problem and to seek help when he gets stuck.

What is Literacy?

Originally it was defined as the ability to read and write effectively. But like all words, over time it’s expanded to include how we interact with language and information both in conversations and what we read. At its core, literacy is critically thinking through information presented to us and analyzing it to determine what to do with that information: accept as fact/opinion or rejecting it as misinformation.

Literacy is struggling to maintain relevancy, but there are ways to ensure it remains important in how we teach our children. It’s never too late to encourage literacy with a child, but because I have a toddler, I am going to focus on the fun activities that promote literacy between the ages of 12 months and 36 months.

There are plenty of resources available to promote literacy in early childhood for little ones beyond the toddler stage.

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Day Trips: Bringing along Toddler

The idea of bringing a little one along on a day trip is daunting.

Where to go that will capture their interest, what to bring, what to do…

No longer can the carefree couple be truly carefree. A lot of planning goes into the whole process of taking a day trip when bringing a little one along.

That said, taking a day trip with a little one isn’t impossible, nor is it difficult to plan. It just takes a little extra prep the first couple of times and once everything is in place, it should be a breeze each time you want to take a trip.

Prepping a “Go Bag”

The quintessential item that should come along each trip, besides a diaper bag, is what I like to call a “go bag.” This bag is filled with books, toys, activities, and snacks that are age appropriate and “special” because they solely reside in this bag and aren’t for play at any other time.

I try to swap out a different and legitimately new toy each time to keep the bag somewhat fresh, but only if I have the time to pick something up. If not, the novelty of the bag tends to be enough.

In Jai’s Go Bag:

  • Small pots of non-toxic “dough”
  • Water marker and activity set
  • Several small figurines
  • Wooden noisemaker (that isn’t too obnoxious for us)
  • Wooden car
  • Special stuffed animal
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Stickers
  • Board books
  • Flashcards
  • Stretchy string ball
  • Non-perishable snacks that can sit between trips without going bad (and easy to use in the car)

I try to keep everything tactile in nature at this point because Jai is very touch-oriented. As he gets older, I will probably switch in some books and more activity sets that are easy to handle in the car.

As a last resort, we bring a tablet pre-loaded with some of Jai’s favorite movies so we can hand it to him if he is unable to occupy his time with everything in the bag. This is especially ideal for air travel where we’re in confined spaces and loud noises.

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Day Trips: Parents’ Day Off

Ash and I don’t go out often.

We tend to be homebodies, happy to spend our time together after Jai’s gone to bed. But we do try to get a night or a day off by ourselves at least once a month.

Leaving Jai is less of a problem given all that I do to prep him and the caregiver for our time away. Figuring out what to do for Ash and me – that can be a problem. Many times we go see a movie or out to dinner, but we end up having a lot of extra time either before or after the event and end up being aimless for the rest of our date.

Part of the problem is we don’t manage our time well. We aren’t exactly rushing to get back to Jai, but we do end up cutting our nights shorter because we can’t figure out what to do with ourselves.

One type of date with the most kind of success for both of us is the day trip where we go outside our comfort zones.

Considering a Day Trip

We can’t take day trips all the time, but they are perfect for our once a month outings. Taking a Saturday or a Sunday to get out of the area to do something fun is a fantastic way to reconnect and try something new.

Especially as parents, we’ve found that whenever we take a day trip somewhere we say to ourselves how much fun Jai would have if we take him there. More on that Friday. But these trips also double as reconnaissance for things to do with a toddler.

Day trips can be a road trip to a specific destination or becoming a tourist in your own city. It depends on the mood, desire, and time frame. Most of the time Ash and I limit ourselves to locations within a 3-hour drive from Jai.

When he’s ready to be away from both of us for more than 24-hours we will consider longer trips that can take us overnight.

I love day trips because many times it gets us away from the big city and into the countryside for a nice long drive. I love getting away from technology and the confines of the urban setting to recharge my batteries. I find that I get stressed if I spend too much time in the concrete jungle so taking a day to unwind out of my normal environment helps manage my personal stress.

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Rainy Days: Toddler Book Activities

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Jai is still in the early stages of toddlerhood and therefore limited by what he can do with organized activities. Many of the activities have to either be done by me for his benefit, or with a lot of supervision to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. That’s if his attention span lasts long enough.

That said, Jai loves books. He’s not able to read them yet, but he loves sitting down on his bedroom floor and flipping through the books for vast stretches of time. I’ve walked in to check on him only to have Jai chase me out of his room so he could have his private book time. Jai brings his favorite books to whatever adult is close at hand and makes the reader repeat the book a couple of times before moving on.

It came to mind to find a couple of activities we could do on a rainy day that ties into his favorite books. His current favorite authors are Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and Sandra Boynton (this last one makes me happy because she is a local author where I grew up). I know that making the connection between his favorite story and activity would make him happy, plus I always enjoy a creative endeavor.

Below are the activities I came up with to do with Jai on those rainy, summer days.

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Mystery Blogger Award

mystery-blogger-award

Fellow MS blogger, Alyssa at Fight MS Daily, nominated me for this blog award. I am thrilled and honored to be nominated; it means a lot to know that others read and appreciate my work, just like I appreciate their writings and insights. Please take a moment to check out Alyssa’s blog and follow her – she provides a lot of positive energy and support to those working though their MS diagnosis.

Mystery Blogger Award:

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Created by Okoto Enigma.

The rules are:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

My answers to Alyssa’s Questions:

  • What is your favorite exotic animal?
    • Probably the Slow Loris. They are so stinkin’ cute.
  • If you had a magical wand, what are 5 things you would do?
    • Fund research for all illnesses/diseases until cures are found
    • Make those cures accessible to everyone regardless of income
    • Fully fund educational, nutrition, & health NGO’s in all countries in need
    • Create a public transit system in Atlanta that is agreeable to everyone
    • Create a fully furnished house of my dreams in the location of my dreams
  • If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
    • India. Specifically Goa because that’s the only way I can get Ash to go with me. He’s been multiple times to visit family friends and he would prefer to just go to Goa the next time he’s there.
  • What is your favorite color?
    • Kelly Green specifically. I love all sorts of earth tones, but that’s my favorite color of all.
  • I know y’all have many, but what do you feel is your biggest strength?
    • Not letting anything get me down for an extended period of time.

Three Things about me:

  1. I am owned by three cats: Edward, Byron, and Marlowe.
  2. I am able to wiggle my ears and fold my tongue two ways at once
  3. I’ve been to London twice.

My Nominees:

Please take a moment to check out their blogs – they are really fantastic and inspirational.

  1. Jen, Tripping through Treacle
  2. Hannah, My MS & Me
  3. Cheche, Cheche Winnie
  4. Tamara, The Purple Almond
  5. Teri, Motherhood Defined
  6. Priyabrataa, Mistimaan
  7. Val, Find your Middle Ground
  8. Thirty on Tap
  9. Running on Happy
  10. Running Diva Mom

My Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If you came into a great sum of money, what would you do for fun?
  2. What is your favorite food?
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  4. Would you like to be famous or infamous?
  5. Cat or dog person?

My Best Post:

Coping with Personal Stress” – I chose this one because I think it is one of my most reflective posts regarding my illness and how I have learned to handle it outside of medical intervention.

The Last Word:

Even if my nominees don’t want to keep this award going, know that I nominated you because I really enjoy reading your blog and it’s made an impact on my day-to-day life.