Engaging Activities to Develop Children’s Literacy

The following is a guest post by Shelly Terrell, an International Speaker, Author, Founder of , and much more. Follow her on Twitter for more awesome inspiration, and check out her bio below!

The building blocks of literacy begin when we are children. Children who enjoy the process of learning how to read, write and count mature into highly literate adults. Technology and multimedia engage and encourage young learners who love animations, music, sound effects, fun characters, and colorful graphics. Children also love to participate, draw, sing, create, and share their learning with peers, teachers, parents, and family members. This is why I love using the Buncee web tool and app to teach young learners, because they can do all this and more!  Buncee has many features to support teachers and their young learners in creating digital stories, presentations, multimedia lessons, posters, books, greetings, and interactive images.

You can start with a blank slate or use one of the many ready to copy templates and create an engaging animated lesson, which includes videos, audio recordings, creative fonts, animated clipart, movable stickers, or visually stunning backgrounds. Even better your students can let their imaginations run wild and create their own Buncees with access to a library of fun stickers, animated characters, gifs, clipart, graphics, fonts, backgrounds, and more! They can record themselves with audio and video, add their own images, or draw on their Buncees. Below are a variety of activities to get you and your young learners started with using Buncee to build a foundation for reading, writing, and counting!  

Vocabulary Building Activities

Children love learning vocabulary through singing, games, chants, and Total Physical Response (TPR). The following activities incorporate these strategies in fun ways. The examples also include a copyable Buncee template to adapt.

TPR Songs– Research shows that one of the best ways young children learn vocabulary is through Total Physical Response (TPR), which is combining language and physical movement. Create a Buncee with lyrics and music to popular children’s songs, such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” In the Buncee, embed a Youtube video showing the movements to make it easier for children to learn the song. Embed this Buncee into your class website or Wiki for parents to access and sing the songs at home with their children. See this example of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” embedded on my English Story Time Wiki. Copy and adapt this template.

Fingerplays and Chants– Children love playing with their fingers and making them into characters. Children not only build vocabulary with fingerplays but many teach young learners to count. In your Buncee include a video of the fingerplay movements. Use the stickers and clipart to display the chant’s context, scenery, and characters. Make it interactive with the vocabulary labeled to further promote literacy skills. Check out this Buncee of the “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” which you can copy and adapt.

Clapping Games– Each child grabs a partner. Show them the Buncee of the clapping chant lyrics along with the embedded video with the movement. You can find several examples to teach a wide range of vocabulary at Funclapping. See this copyable template I created to teach homophones with the clapping chant, “A Sailor Went to Sea.”

Digital Word Walls and Banks– It is super easy to create a Buncee with vocabulary words and clipart. You can also record the pronunciation and include that next to each word. See this example to copy and adapt.

Digital Alphabet Books– Children can create their own alphabet books with examples of each letter using stickers, clipart, or their own drawings. Children can record themselves sounding out the letters. See this copyable template to adapt, which has stickers for children to match to the letter.

Vocabulary Journals– Children can create multiple slides to illustrate the vocabulary words they learn each week. See this example to copy and adapt. Create themed vocabulary Buncees or get students to post photos or drawings of examples they come up with.

Student Dictionaries– Children learn vocabulary with picture dictionaries. Buncee is a great way for each of your students to make a visual and audio dictionary with their own drawings, images, or examples. The children add the vocabulary word, the definition, an audio recording of the pronunciation and a visual. See this template to copy and adapt.

Color and Shape Hunts– Your young learners will enjoy going on shape and color photo hunts. Your young learners learn how to spell and identify colors then take photos of objects around them representing these colors. See this template to copy and adapt.

Spelling Journals– Children can create Buncees learning how to pronounce and spell words with a particular sound. Students illustrate the words with clipart or their own drawings. See this example with the long vowel sound i.

Elementary Math Activities

The following activities make learning math fun for children. Each activity also includes a copyable Buncee template to adapt.

Counting Games– Children will enjoy playing digital I Spy with this template to copy and adapt. Children begin by posting an image of themselves to represent the number one and understand they are unique! Use the template to also create number books similar to the alphabet book listed above.

Counting Books– Children will enjoy counting with animated lessons. After completing one of your lessons encourage them to make their own counting books with math activities for their peers. See this example to copy and adapt.

Measure Hunt– Get students to take measurements of things around them and jot down these measurements in a Buncee. Children can measure the height of their favorite toys, parents, siblings, or pets (length). They can measure the width and height of their books, desks, notebooks, or doors. See this example to copy and adapt.

Math Fingerplays and Games– In this copyable template, I have included counting chants and games, such as “One Potato, Two Potato.” Can you think of more to include?

Birthday Greetings– Part of literacy is surrounding children with numbers , wor
ds, and reading materials and showing how they are meaningful. Make numbers meaningful by sending students Buncee greetings for their birthdays. You can use any of these numerous
templates to copy and adapt. You can include the name of the student, the age, and the image.

Author Bio:

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is an international speaker, adjunct professor, elearning specialist, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning Strategies: 10 Ways to Launch EdTech Missions in Your Classroom, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching, and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, VenTESOL and the US Embassy. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times,  NPR, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and webinars. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Recently, she founded Edspeakers to enrich the field of education with passionate voices from those of diverse experiences and backgrounds. She is also the proud mother of Savannah and Rosco the pug.

Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via TeacherRebootCamp.com and on Twitter (@ShellTerrell).

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