Language and Literacy skills are an important part of everyday life skills. As early educators, it is crucial that we plan curriculum, activities, and learning opportunities that promote the development of these skills every day. To promote language and literacy in our classroom during this particular thematic unit, I would carefully consider what changes could be made in our learning space. First, I would plan to add some themed materials to our dramatic play area. For example, I could create a pretend play scenario of a field trip to a pumpkin patch by providing small decorative pumpkins, green yarn for vines, baskets to collect their pumpkins, and more. In addition, all of our learning centers would be refit each week with themed activities in math, reading, creative arts, listening, and writing skills. Below are some example of themed centers and sample activities that would help promote language and literacy.
1. Pumpkin Paint Large Group
Measure out equal parts of flour and salt, mix together. Add orange paint and stir. Add in approximately one tablespoon of pumpkin pie spices. Offer green paint for the stem of the pumpkins. Children can use the textured paint to finger paint or brush paint a pumpkin onto construction paper. While students are painting encourage them to use new words to describe their experience and their painting. Words such as: Wet, Goey, Orange, Green, Cold, Smells good, Grainy, Round, etc.
2. Large Group Pumpkin Patch Drawing
This activity is geared more for the 4 and 5 year olds. For this activity students are learning to listen, follow directions, and learning positional words which is an imporant part of language skills and object placement. Give each child a white sheet of construction paper. Tell them not to draw anything on their paper because we are going to do this as a group. It’s best if you model this on a whiteboad or projector. Give step by step instructions, reminding them often to only draw what you say.
For example: “First, draw a round orange pumpkin in the MIDDLE of your page. (Pause after each step and give them time to complete). Great! Now, draw green grass UNDER your pumpkin. Wow! What great drawings you have so far! Next, draw a sun ABOVE your pumpkin at the TOP of your page. Okay now draw a tree NEXT to your pumpkin. The last thing now is to draw a scarecrow on the other side of your pumpkin to protect your pumpkin patch. You have all done such a fabulous job listening. I love your drawings!”
3. Pumpkin Letter Tracing Center
Print out the pumpkin letter pages from http://printables.atozteacherstuff.com/1319/pumpkin-lowercase-tracing-alphabet/. Laminate them and cut them out. Children will use dry erase markers to trace the upper case and lower case letters and match them and can even go further and place them in ABC order. This promotes literacy because children are learning to recognize and name their letters and how to sequence them in ABC order.
4. Listening Center:
Students will have student journals stored here and can listen to different pumpkin themed stories on the projector (maybe a new one every two days). They will listen to the story or video reading and sometimes a live reading, and then draw the details of the story such as characters, plot, setting, etc. This will help children learn to decode and recognize key elements of a story and while expressing their interpretation.