Inspiring Literacy in the EYFS Playground

EYFS Literacy

Literacy is an important part of the early years’ curriculum that requires an approach which children find engaging. If you are looking for inspiration on how to deliver literacy to young children, then consider broadening your horizons beyond the classroom and into the playground. With specialised outdoor literacy resources, the freedom to move about and the ability to be a little louder than in the classroom, the playground can be a great place to take learning to the next level - and in a really fun way.

Regular reading routines

The early years’ framework requires children to be given access to a broad range of reading materials in order to stimulate their interest and understanding of literacy. For most children, this comes in the form of being read to. While EYFS providers can deliver this stimulus by organising regular reading routines, these experiences can be made even more inspirational and fun by having them take place in a special storytelling setting.

The playground is a great location for providing enriched literacy experiences as, being separate from the classroom, children can engage more actively by joining in with both sounds and movement.

Today, many EYFS providers create special reading corners in the playground where such activities can happen. Featuring a traditional, large wooden story-telling chair, surrounded by a semi-circle of fairy tale mushroom seats, it is easy to create an intimate, theatrical setting where well-told stories can fire up children’s imaginations and where the children, themselves, feel comfortable participating. These environments are ideal to help youngsters discover new sounds, words and ways to express themselves.

Fun with letters & sounds

Making the link between written letters and spoken sounds is one of the biggest hurdles that young children face when learning to read and write. This is why phonics has become a core part of early years education.

While everyone eventually catches on, the process of learning can be accelerated if done in an engaging, active and enjoyable way. Today, the teaching done in the classroom can be reinforced through fun literacy and phonics-based activities in the playground.

In the same way that games like snakes and ladders help children develop an understanding of numbers, playground markings can be used to teach letters and phonics. These markings, which offer opportunities to play hopscotch-style games, can be used as part of learning activities or just for fun during free time. Markings available today include the Letter Stepper, Phonic Spots and  Footwork Vowels.

Story and roleplay

The ultimate aim of learning to read is to understand the meaning of the text. For younger children, the best way to do this is to explore the stories that have been read to them. While this can be done through questioning and discussion, a far more engaging and hands-on approach is through roleplay. When children take on the characters in the story and act out scenarios based on what they have heard, they are better able to understand the characters and make informed predictions of what might happen later in the story.

The playground is an ideal setting for such exploration. Children can be divided into small groups and work in separate spaces to invent their roleplays, before coming back to perform their creations to the rest of the group. This can be done in the storytelling corner or even on a playground stage.

Mark-making

Another challenge for young children is learning how to write. Aside from needing to know what letters and words are, they also need to develop the physical skills of mark-making in order to accurately form the letters.

This process takes time and requires plenty of practice. And at such a young age, it is just as important to learn the skills of holding a writing implement correctly and learning how to use it, as it is to learn and recreate the shape of the letters. For EYFS children starting the process, it’s helpful to work with a range of mark-making implements, including, paint brushes, crayons, board pens and even fingers dipped in paint.

Today, there is a growing range of playground equipment designed to help children hone these skills while having fun at the same time. There are post-mounted, wall-mounted, table-top and various other kinds of chalkboards and dry-wipe whiteboards to choose from. You can even let children practice mark-making by drawing in the sand, using a sandbox.

Conclusion

Literacy is a core element of EYFS, and the skills children learn are fundamental to their future education. By providing fun and engaging outdoor resources, children are given more opportunities to learn and practice skills - and can do so naturally, simply through play.

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