Literacy Talking to Your Five-Year-Old

One of the most powerful ways to develop your child's literacy skills is also the easiest: talk to your kids! When you talk with them, you can help them expand their vocabulary. At age five, children begin to understand the sequence of time — what happened and in what order. They can also follow multistep directions, use rhymes and engage in conversations about real and pretend topics. At this age, they are learning about the give-and-take of conversations — taking turns and building on someone else's ideas.

Help your child develop speaking and listening skills:

Ask Questions

Questions are great conversation starters and can help kids explore their thinking. At this age, kids enjoy the "would you rather" game, which can be both silly and serious. For example, "Would you rather play in the snow or on a hot, sandy beach?" or "Which superpower would you rather have: super speed or the power to fly?" Follow up with "Why?" to encourage them to clarify their thoughts.

Which Would You Choose?

Would you rather have a pet elephant or a pet monkey? You can expand your child's vocabulary and critical thinking skills by asking this and other 'would you rather' questions and comparing answers to other people's preferences.

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Expand on Observations

When your child shares an observation, expand on what he notices. You can help him feel heard while teaching new information and vocabulary. When your child points out the full moon, take a moment to talk about the cycles of the moon. When your child notices a stop sign, make it a game to find and identify other traffic signs.

Listen!

What makes creaky sounds and what makes crunchy sounds? Listen carefully to the sounds in your environment and then have a discussion with your child about what he hears.

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Describe Family Photos

Kids love to look at photos of people they know and events they've enjoyed. As you flip through photos together on your phone or in an album, share stories and memories!

Memory Book

Creating a memory book of experiences can help your child develop creativity and language skills as well as provide a long-lasting art project that can be read again and again.

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Play Guessing Games

Games such as "I Spy" and "20 Questions" teach language and reasoning skills. Give your child a clue and see if she can guess what you are thinking. For example, "I am thinking of something with wheels. It is painted black, and it makes a lot of noise." After your child guesses, "The neighbor's car!" let her have a turn.

Mystery Letter

In this activity, you can play a mysterious guessing game with your child to help him learn about letters and their sounds.

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“Let's Find Out!”

In the age of the smartphone, the answers to many of your child's "Why?" questions are in your pocket. When kids stump you, use it as an opportunity to say, "I don't know. Let's look it up!" But before going online or to the bookshelf, first ask your child, "What do you think?"

Dog Dictionary

Is your child interested in another language? Help him create a simple bilingual dictionary to practice fun words in another language.

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Introduce New Words in the Kitchen

Cooking is a great time to talk and teach language and math skills. Show your child what a recipe looks like, pull out and name ingredients together and describe the process of measuring, cutting and mixing.

Peg and Cat's Incredibly Popular Honey Cake

Yum… honey cake. Try three different sweet recipes while helping your child learn about patterns, standard measurements, and shapes.

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Raise a Reader with Super Why

Super Why introduces children to the power of reading -- and helps kids develop problem-solving skills along the way. Through engaging stories and games, your child can practice key skills like letter identification, word decoding, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Five-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: