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Reading and Play: Do the Two Intersect?

by | Dec 6, 2019 | Core Skills

We’re big fans of learning AND playing. In fact, we often find ourselves doing both and don’t even realize it. Our very own Peggy Kaye, shared a few activities to get your family reading and playing, which were featured on Jim Henson’s Family Hub!  

Reading and play: do the two intersect? They can and they should — the mix can be magical! Presenting reading tasks, or any other skill, in games or other engaging activities lowers your child’s anxiety and increases their involvement. These games make it easy to mix play and reading, and even better, they are fun for the whole family!

Treasure Hunt 

Saturday morning… nothing special on the agenda… might be time for a treasure hunt!

First, decide what the treasure will be. It could be a small toy, a cookie or a special trinket. Then, find a hiding place. Next, take five to ten index cards (the more cards, the longer the treasure hunt) and write clues on them.  

The first card will direct your child to the second card.  “Look under the red pillow in the living room.”  The second card — which you will hide under the red pillow — directs your child to the third card. Your child goes from card to card until the treasure is revealed!

This game will take you about ten minutes to prepare, but the fun will last a lot longer than that. Better yet, your child will really want to read what’s on each card!

Scavenger Hunt  

Next week, you might try a scavenger hunt.  This game works best when there are several players. Make a scavenger hunt list: something soft, something blue and red, something green you can eat, something orange you can wear, and so on.

Each hunter gets a bag to gather their goodies. The first to find everything on the list wins.

Family Journal  

A shared journal offers a perfect way to make reading and writing an important part of your family’s life.

To begin, you need a book with unlined paper to use as a journal. Drawing books work beautifully for this. Once a week, each member of the family picks something that happened during the week. It should be something worth remembering: it can be something that was lot of fun or something a bit sad. It is up to them!

On the top of a fresh page, write the date and then each person adds their experiences. For younger children, you might have to write out their journal entry for them, or you can let them use invented spelling. If what you child writes isn’t understandable, you can translate underneath.  You might decide to use drawings, with or without captions, to share the week’s memory. It’s also nice to include something you all did together instead of having one entry per person.

After a few weeks, go back over the book and remember together. Leave the book in an available spot so that anyone, including your child, can pick it up and thumb through it. If making this a weekly event isn’t optimal in your house, that’s fine. Pull out the journal at really memorable moments is also a lovely way to do this activity.

Written by Peggy Kaye, HOMER Senior Director of Learning and Curriculum Design

Featured on Jim Henson’s Family Hub

Let us know if you have any fun ways of mixing play and reading in the comments below!


Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos
Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos

Chief Learning Officer at Begin

Jody has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science and more than a decade of experience in the children’s media and early learning space.