15-min. ideas, 5-min. ideas, Tips

No time for literacy activities? Harness the power of two

Literacy game - "crumple"
What kid can resist a game of "Crumple"? Crumpled up pages reveal silly riddles.

If you aren’t able to find time to read to your child or offer him literacy activities—use the power of two—you and another parent.

You know that kids who are read to every day are more likely to develop a love of reading. But that’s 15 minutes that tends to slip right by and before you know it, your child is asleep and you haven’t managed to read together like you’d hoped.

Here’s what you can do—team up with another parent and schedule time to do some literacy activities with your child and their child.

If you’ve got a toddler or an infant, chances are you regularly get together for coffee with another parent. Next time, plan to build a five-minute literacy component into something you’d be doing anyway. Use the first five minutes you’re in that café to prop your friend’s child on your lap and read her a couple of books. At the same time, she’ll be doing the same for your child. (Or each read to your own children—whatever works.)

Then, the rest of the coffee break can be about other things. But the point is, you’ve read with your child and she has read with hers. And better still, the kids saw each other reading, which will reinforce that this is a nice thing to do.

If your child is older, use the power of two to motivate you and remind you to do some literacy activities. Schedule regular weekly playdates—one at your house and the next week, one at their house. Talk to the other parent and brainstorm a simple literacy game, craft, activity that the kids can do—if only for 15 minutes—right at the beginning of the playdate. When they come to your house, the kids will find a craft or a game set out on a table. Let them find it themselves and it’s pretty likely they’ll start doing it. (I don’t know many kids who can resist stuff set out on a table, especially if the parent is just leaving them to it.)

Here are some suggestions:

* Put some crayons and blank paper on the table. Pre-make a paper airplane with a message inside it, “Hi Scott!” and explain that these are “message planes” that fly back and forth across the room with messages to the other person.

* Put a sentence on the table that is all mixed up. When they piece the words together, they’ll discover a secret message: “Your playdate snack is under your bed!”

* Play “Crumple.” Put a bunch of crumpled-up pieces of paper on the table. As they unravel each one, they’ll find a joke—on the back of the paper is the answer. (“What kind of hair do oceans have? Wavy!”) Here are lots more silly kids’ jokes.

It takes a bit of planning, but with the power of two, you’ll have a day off the next week as the other parent puts together a fun activity for the kids at her house.

For other fun literacy crafts or activities, search this blog or click on the tags for five-minute ideas or 15-minute ideas. There’s lots of stuff you can do that is fun, quick and easy and costs nothing to put together.

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