Build a Foundation in Literacy for Young Children
Part 1: Alliteration

Why Literacy?

Do you remember how and when you learned to read? When you might have started looking at books and discovering that you enjoyed looking at the pictures and hearing the words? Your earliest experiences with literacy materials most likely had a lot to do with your sparking your interest in, and future success with, learning to read and write.

It is important for young children to recognize that learning to read and write has a real-life purpose, and to identify what reading and writing look like as people are doing them. Children are amazing observers, so when they see you reading your mail, writing a shopping list, reading from a recipe or enjoying a magazine they begin to make the connection about everyday applications of those skills.

Using Books is a Skill

Young children who are provided with hands-on activities with reading and writing materials often become avid readers and writers throughout their lives. 

  • They can readily learn to turn pages with board books since the pages don’t tear.
  • They can learn how to prevent tearing books with paper pages as people reading to them model and explain gentle and appropriate handling of books.
  • Providing children with age-appropriate crayons, markers, paper and other drawing and writing media gives them the chance to experience the extensive variety of ways to have fun using them.

Alliteration Makes Reading Fun

One easy way to advance children’s literacy skills is to read children books and do activities that involve alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of multiple closely connected words. (Example: Many monkeys make messy mudpies.)

Alliteration builds children’s skills at matching beginning letters of words to beginning word sounds. As you were growing up you may remember hearing or saying “tongue twisters” such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” and “She sells seashells by the seashore.” These are examples of alliterative sentences.

Books That Build Alliteration Skills

   Packed with wonderful and wacky words, remarkable rhymes, ingenious illustrations and comical cats, this book is a fun way to explore alliteration.

  Clara is a carefree cabbage caterpillar who will captivate children with her cleverness.

The hand-drawn, whimsical illustrations in this alliterative book will entertain the whole family.

A hilarious story that has highly imaginative vocabulary worked into alliterative phrases and sentences that adults and children of all ages can enjoy. One of my favorite books!

Activities From Things Around the House

Some alliteration activities for family fun:

  • Adults can write the first letter of their name and make a silly sentence using words that also begin with that letter. Then they can draw a picture that represents their silly sentence.
  • Next use the first letter of the children’s names and help them construct their silly sentences. Everyone can participate with writing the sentences and creating illustrations together.

When I was teaching preschool over the years I did this activity many times with children, writing the words for their sentences. One of my favorites: “Terry took ten turtles to tea parties.” Her drawing showed a table that was way higher than the ten turtles at the bottom of the picture could possibly reach to get their tea!

I also did this activity with early childhood college students when teaching literacy classes, and their alliterative sentences and drawings were engagingly entertaining and enjoyed by everyone!

Karen is an Early Childhood Specialist with more than 40 years of experience in teaching, consulting, and curriculum development for young children.

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