Create a Literacy Rich Home–4: Writing–Show Kids How to Make a List


Even before kids start learning to read or write, one of the useful literacy activities you can do is to let them see you making lists: to do lists, appointment/schedule lists, grocery lists, names of people to invite lists…all kinds of lists.

Then it’s especially fun to see what kind of lists they make once they learn to write and read on their own!

Rose is excited about her upcoming November birthday, even though it’s only September. She is seven still, just beginning second grade, and she LOVES reading and writing.

Yesterday she handed me her wish list for her birthday. She wasn’t pushy or demanding or coy in doing this; she just wanted me to know what she was thinking she’d like to have and do. I like that kind of straightforward communication.

Here’s a picture of her list:

A seven-year-old's birthday wish list

A seven-year-old's birthday wish list

In case the writing in the photo is too small for you to see, I’ve typed out what it says, keeping her spelling and capitalization. I didn’t say anything about her errors when she presented it to me because “inventive” spelling at this age is normal and fine, the experts say. She’ll learn conventional spelling at school over the next few grades (and beyond!). Here’s her list:

trafic jam game
littleest petshop clubhouse house
Pogo stick
doll house
Amarican girl eneything
Books/boxcar children seris
Juni B. Jones seris

So why is making lists a great thing to do for literacy and to develop writing skills?

There are many reasons: It shows kids how useful writing things down is (it helps you remember). It teaches organization and thinking skills like categorizing or grouping. It teaches kids a way to get things out of their heads so they can use their brain space for other things. It’s a way to communicate easily with others (“Babysitter, my list of important telephone numbers of posted on the refrigerator.” It’s a way to have an idea now and then go back to it later.

In Plus It! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids there’s a suggestion (p. 68) making a list of household tasks or chores with your kids as a strategy that helps turn housework drudgery into something resembling fun.

And there are lots of other reasons to make lists, too. Please feel free to comment below about your personal experience with lists or with helping kids make them.

I think it’s one of those family activities that definitely contributes to both family fun and family literacy. And it’s so simple to do.

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