Set up a little library role play area in your home or classroom for encouraging emergent, meaningful literacy experiences for young children.
Please take a moment to read the introduction to our series in this post, then come back and keep reading about our theme for this week, which is an exploration into meaningful, context-based literacy play experiences.
So much of the Reggio emphasis is on creating an environment which compels children to want to explore and make connections for themselves, and so inviting and well-prepared that they cannot resist discovering and learning as they do so. There is also a very important place given to children directing their own interests and being allowed to determine which topics or projects they would like to pursue, which is clearly the way that human beings are best motivated to learn as it’s 100% relevant to the child. My eldest, C, was very keen to create our own library at home, having been to our local one and also because she has one in her new school.
They both love role play and engage it on oftren together, mainly based in real life scenarios that they have experienced, from the most popular “mummies and babies”, to visiting the cafe, setting up a shop and going to the doctors. Role play is so important for children to be able to talk through and reenact what they have experienced, therefore consolidating and understand the events in their own way.
The girls helped me to set this up and directed their own ideas into how things should look and where things should go. We simply cleared a little space and brought in some child sized chairs, a rug and cushion and a small bookcase. They then filled this with baby books on one side and picture books on the other. On the top we added some non-fiction/ information books and took a moment to explain the differences between them.
I added some simple labels to the shelves, describing the types of books, and added one or two signs above to create some opportunities for observing print in the environment. On the table we placed some mini clipboards with some index cards attached, along with some adult writing pens. On some of these I started off some example writing such as “please return by” and “date borrowed” etc. I only did this on two or three and left the rest blank for them to use in whatever way they decided.
They absolutely loved the space and all three of them used it in their own way. They borrowed books, did some emergent writing on the cards and envelopes, read quietly in the chairs and talked together about what they had seen in the pictures.
I added some stampers for extra fun and as a nod towards the date stamps in library books. If we had a number or date stamp it would be even better (perhaps I will look out for one on ebay.) Where possible, it is always best to provide as true to life objects as possible for role play set ups.
Pop used marks and letter-like shapes when filling out her borrowing cards for her books, then popped them inside the front covers. She was able to “read” back to me what they said and was clear about her own purposeful design behind the writing.
Cakie chose to copy the book titles onto her cards, then wrote numbers underneath to represent the dates that they had to be returned by. She filled in lots of these (only one pictures above, on the left) and tucked them all inside her book covers and took them up to bed with her for our bedtime stories. She has now decided, in her (occasional) role as the librarian, that all bedtime story books must be checked out at the role play library after dinner each night, and returned the next morning! I love the way she has thought through her system.
Please pop on over to see the wonderful literacy rich ideas my co-hosts have written about this week:
[more on their way!]
Please join us again in two weeks time for our next Exploring Reggio instalment!
Meanwhile you can find our Exploring Reggio pin board here on Pinterest
You may also like to see our other Playful Literacy ideas