One of the most powerful ways to develop your child's literacy skills is also the easiest: talk to your kids! At age three, most kids name colors and put objects in basic groups (like food or animals). They can also begin to use words to express their emotions and ideas, instead of just naming what they see. Your three-year-old can understand more words than he or she can express. When you talk with them, you can help them learn new words and find language to express their sometimes overwhelming emotions as they make sense of the world.
Literacy Talking to Your Three-Year-Old
Help your child develop speaking and listening skills:
Questions are great conversation starters and can help kids explore their thinking. At this age, you can help them understand questions by offering them simple choices. For example: "Do you want to wear your red or blue pajamas tonight?" "Do you want to swing or slide first?"
Daniel Tiger is getting ready for bed. Your child can help Daniel complete his bedtime routine in this online game.Play This Game
Teach Words for Shapes and Sizes
Hearing spatial language helps toddlers and preschoolers develop their spatial reasoning skills. Spatial language includes references to shapes (triangle, square), sizes (tall, wide), features of shapes (corner, edge) and orientation (above, below, near, between). Help your child by using these words to describe daily activities. For example: "I see some round grapes that fell under the table. Let's put them in this bowl."
I Love Shapes
In this game, your child helps Curious George catch shapes. Deciding what shapes to catch can help build your child's decision making abilities.Play This Game
Introduce New Words at the Grocery Store
Talk out loud to your child as you select items and put them in the cart. Name foods as you pass them in the aisle and use new words to describe the food. "These bananas are so yellow and ripe. We can have these for lunch. Let's put those ripe bananas down gently so they don't get bruised."
PBS Parents Play & Learn
Designed specifically with parents in mind, this app provides more than a dozen math and literacy games that parents can play with their kids. Each game builds on the natural curiosity of children and is themed around a familiar location like the garden or grocery store.Play This Game
Walk Around the Block
Take your toddler for a walk in your neighborhood and enjoy the sights and sounds together. As you pass, name people and places for your child. "Look, there's our mail carrier!" Then add more details. "I wonder if she will bring us a letter." Ask your child to make simple predictions. "Do you think we will see that big dog today?"
Identify Soft and Loud Sounds in this Homemade Game
Taking a walk in your neighborhood can be good exercise and good way to practice observation skills. With your child, listen for sounds both loud and soft as you take a walk and then draw and organize the sounds onto picture cards to extend the learning at home.Do This Activity
Describe Family Photos
Kids love to look at photos of people they know. As you look at pictures together, ask "Who's that?" Wait for your child to respond and then follow up. "That's Grandma with your cousins Maria and Anthony!" Point to the people in the photo as you name them. Your child will want to look at the pictures again and again.
Write a Story With Your Child Based on a Real Experience
Together with your child, write a story based on a memory. Then help your child read the story back to you.Do This Activity
Rephrase and Expand on Your Child's Words
When you take children's simple phrases and expand them into full sentences, you help them feel heard while teaching them vocabulary and sentence structure. Here are two examples:
- Child: I see dog!
You: Yes, look at that fluffy brown dog! It's wagging its tail at you.
- Child: I want to go to park!
You: You want to walk to the park and play on the playground after breakfast.
Make Popsicle Stick Puppets
Using puppets to explore and express emotions can help your child learn to identify and develop appropriate responses when frustrated, sad or mad.Do This Activity
Raise a Reader with Sesame Street
On this very special street, children learn early language and literacy skills such as letter knowledge, vocabulary, and reading and writing fundamentals.Find Activities
Activity Finder: Learn With Your Three-Year-Old
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Play Pretend: Restaurant
Young children often like to play pretend about real-life occupations. Together with your child, set up a pretend restaurant and act out the roles of customer, waitstaff, and cook.
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Martha Speaks Story Maker
In this app, your child can write and save eight adventure stories featuring Martha and her friends. Then, kids can play with the characters in the storybook while Martha reads.
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Martha's friend Skits is dreaming of pizza. Your child can learn new baking vocabulary as he sifts, shakes, pours, and mixes ingredients to make a custom pizza for Skits and his friends.