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Early Childhood Literacy: Summer Learning Disguised as Fun

Updated on
Modified on June 22, 2023
  • Early Childhood
  • Literacy
  • summer


Summer is coming and it’s time for play. Keep literacy learning a part of each day!
Word play is fun and easy to do. Think of the words for the things around you.
Each word has a rhyme, syllable, and sound. Focus on one with the thing that you found.

When on a walk with a friend and you see a tree, say, “I see something that rhymes with three.”
“Now, it is your turn,” I say to my friend. “Find something you see that has the same end.”
A harder level, if you dare: Think of two words with a rhyming synonym pair.
A large feline is a fat cat and a rodent conversation could be a rat chat.
Once you start thinking, the pairs stream in. You might even sport a wink and a grin.

Find lots of things when out on a romp. Say every syllable with a big stomp.
When grocery shopping at the store, of syllables, see which word has more.
Say pasta, noodles, and macaroni; the third one’s the winner. Count and you’ll see.
Not much to see when you’re out and about? Think of a category with items to spout.
How about birds with three syllables? You can—chickadee, nightingale, pelican.

Now, for the smallest part of a word, the phoneme—a speech sound, a term you’ve heard.
Out on your walk. Here you go again, you see something that starts with /n/.
The number nine, a nest, a knee, there may be many more /n/ things to see.
How many names of friends start like “Scott?” Sam, Sally, Sidney…a lot!
Switch their names to start like “Joe.” You get Jam, Jally, Jidney—funny. I know.

Walk, talk, take in the scene. It’s actually better to turn off the screen.
Have fun in the sun with word play all day.
No special preparation, no cost, not a cent—yet for literacy learning, it’s time well spent.

About the Author
Dr. Lucy Hart Paulson
Author of Good Talking Words

Dr. Lucy Hart Paulson, Ed.D., CCC-SLP, is an author and literacy specialist with a mission of bringing research to practice. She is also a speech-language pathologist with years of experience working with educators and young children and their families in a range of educational settings. In addition, Hart Paulson was an associate professor teaching and conducting research in the areas of language and literacy development and disorders. She provides professional development using a broad-based perspective blending areas of language and literacy together resulting in effective, appropriate, and engaging language-based literacy instruction and intervention for all children. Additionally, she is the co-author of Good Talking Words, a social-communication skills program for young children; LETRS® for Early Childhood Educators, 2nd Edition; and Building Early Literacy and Language Skills, a resource and activity guide for young children.

Learn more about Dr. Lucy Hart Paulson