Why playing is important
Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children express themselves, put thoughts into words and understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences.
How to encourage play
Help your child be ready to read with these simple activities every day.
- Give your child plenty of playtime, especially unstructured playtime.
- Encourage dramatic play, which is when children make up stories using puppets or stuffed animals.
- Pretend to read a book by having your child tell you a story based on the pictures in a book, or ask your child to "read" a book you've read together many times and tell you the story.
Looking for more ways to encourage play?
- Tell your child stories from your own childhood.
- Provide simple props, such as puppets, stuffed animals or boxes to help your child act out stories.
- Old clothing is a fun way for your child to play dress up and act out situations and stories.
- Make a book by clipping pictures from old magazines; your child can tell an imaginary tale using the photos you collect together.
- Encourage your child to tell a story about a favorite event or act it out for you.
Encourage play with these books and activities.
- Ten Little Fingers by Annie Kubler
- Where is Baby's Belly Button? by Karen Katz
- All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury
- My Car by Byron Barton
- Hands are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi
- Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
- Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
- We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone
- Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Rhymes, songs and stories
Encourage play with these rhymes and songs.