First 5 San Diego: Talking is Teaching

first 5 san diego logo

Reading Activities

Building Literacy Skills Every Day

You and your child do lots of things together every day. Sometimes routines like riding in the car, going to the doctor’s office and grocery shopping can seem unexciting. Here are some simple reading activities and games that can make these everyday chores more fun for both of you. At the same time, you will support your child’s language and literacy skills and build the foundation for reading and writing.

Reading Activities At Home

Children spend a lot of their time at home. You can support your child’s learning while you do daily chores. You can invite your child to help you, or you can provide an activity for your child to do close to you. That way, you can talk and listen to your child while you work.


Pretty Picture. Make sure your baby has interesting things to look at while you are busy around the house. A colorful picture or a vase of flowers in front of her will get her attention. Her favorite thing to look at is you! As much as possible, place her where she can see you and hear you as you work. Talk to her about what you are doing using simple language like “Watching baby, watching baby, washing dishes, watching baby!”

Pots and Pans Music. While you work in the kitchen you can keep your baby close. Give her some light pots and pans of different sizes. Then give her a wooden spoon. She can make music while you use words like loud, soft, bang, and tap. Show her what the words mean by using your body and voice too. For example, when you say “That’s so loud!” cover your ears. When you say “That’s so soft!” speak in a whisper.

Recycle Problem-Solving. Toddlers love to create and solve problems using simple materials. Give your child some clean recycled items like cans of different sizes. Make sure there are no sharp edges. He will spend a long time fitting the cans inside of each other. As he works, introduce words like small, medium, large, inside, and fit.


Tips for Communicating with Your Baby

  • As you listen and respond to your baby, try using lots of facial expressions. When your baby is engaged, he is more interested in communicating!
  • An easy way to talk with your baby is to narrate your day using words to describe the things you see and do together – this helps your child connect objects with actions!
  • Even if you may not be sure how much your child understands, talk, read, and sing together anyway! Your baby is absorbing all the words, stories and conversations you share together.

Tips for Communicating with Your Toddler

  • Gestures like pointing are an important part of language development. Engage in back-and-forth conversations with your little one about the gestures he/she is making so that he/she can connect the gestures with language. For example, when your little one points to her cup, you can say, “It looks like you want your blue cup.” and wait for a response. Then say “What would you like to drink? How about some water?”
  • To help connect names and objects with gestures, play games like “Simon Says”. You can say things like, “Simon says touch your little nose,” “Simon says touch the white front door,” or “Simon says give Mommy a big hug.”
  • By the age of 2, most children will be able to say roughly 50 words but remember, every child develops at his or her own pace. When you respond to your little one, try to emphasize the correct pronunciation of words and phrases.
  • Between the ages of 18-24 months, toddlers begin to use action words and will communicate through a combination of short phrases and gestures. Try to respond to your toddler in full sentences, while still also using gestures and facial expressions.

Get more tips at First 5 San Diego.