Early Literacy Workshops

Early Math Skills Early Literacy Workshop

This is a workshop my colleague and I hosted with parents at a local school. The following is the format/outline of the workshop and the points we covered all through casual but directed conversation and through fun activities. 

Math + Literacy Early Literacy Workshop Outline:

Quick review:

What is early literacy? (Discussion)

Definition: Early literacy is what a child knows about reading and writing before they have the ability to read and write ex: scribbling with a crayon, recognizing shapes

5 Foundations of Literacy? (Discussion)

Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play (I like to sing it to a beat, drum on table, helps us remember)

Major Talking Points:

  • Count
  • Point out shapes
  • Talk about patterns & relationships
  • Make music

Counting: How can we count at home?

  • Grocery store (Ex: How many apples should we buy? How many apples should we buy if everyone in the house gets 1 apple?)
  • While cooking: (Help with measuring, How many of X do we need you think?)
  • General counting by sight: (counting steps, counting ppl on the street, counting stripes on a shirt, counting sidewalk cracks)

Shapes: How can we encourage our child to notice and acknowledge shapes?

  • Easiest thing to do is point out shapes you see, maybe pick a shape of the day
  • Can be done on train, at home
  • Ask how do you know it’s X shape?
  • Make it a game: Play “I spy” “I spy a green circle” (a traffic light?)
  • Playing with shapes such as legos, tangrams, blocks, drawing and cutting shapes, tracing shapes to make a story

Patterns and relationships: How can we encourage our child to notice patterns?

  • Recognize repetition (of lines, colors, shapes) great at the grocery store & clothing store
  • Use math words to describe change (I am taller than I was last week!, I dumped blocks out of the bucket, then I put them back in the bucket when I cleaned up, this is the very beginnings of algebra)
  • Where are patterns? On street, in bathroom, at stores, on clothing
  • Finding all the squares in a book
  • Sort blocks (by color, shape)
  • Matching capital and lowercase letters
  • Larger smaller
  • Matching lids, bottle caps to containers

Making Music:

  • Clapping to a beat helps children understand rhythm, numbers, patterns. Rhythm=pattern
  • Read rhyming books
  • Listen to music
  • Sing songs (1,2, buckle my shoe, 5 little monkeys, 5 little ducks, really all songs have rhythm)

Song Break!

(I chose this song because it has a lovely rhythm, a built in word pattern [tick tock tick tock] and some numbers!)

Tick Tock

Tick tock tick tock I’m a little cuckoo clock
Tick tock tick tock now I’m striking 1 o’clock CUCKOO! (jump up and sit back down)
Tick tock tick tock I’m a little cuckoo clock
Tick tock tick tock now I’m striking 2 o’clock CUCKOO CUCKOO! (jump up and sit back down)
Tick tock tick tock I’m a little cuckoo clock
Tick tock tick tock now I’m striking 3 o’clock CUCKOO CUCKOO CUCKOO! (jump up and sit back down)
Tick tock tick tock now it’s time to STOP

General tips:

  • Have natural discussions, not just questions and answer sessions
  • Patience, math talk takes time!


Two possible activities: Lego Time &/or DIY Tangrams

Legos & Discussion Time

Ingredients: Legos and that’s it!

  • Making & recognizing patterns with legos
  • Sorting legos
  • Making shapes out of legos
  • Counting legos

DIY Tangrams:

There are many places online where one can find printable tangrams and instructions for DIY tangrams with measuring and whatnot but I like to think of the simplest possible way to do things because I think that’s more realistic for parents, so here’s my short and sweet and super simple DIY tangram recipe!


  • Cardboard box
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons


  • Draw shape outlines on box
  • Color in each shape as desired
  • Cut out each shape
  • Make fun new shapes, designs and characters out of your tangrams!

This is a great activity to do together with a child and then continue to leave out on a table or the floor as an invitation to play.

Extension activities:

  • Only color one side of shape and then play a “matching” game where child tries to match colors
  • Close eyes and try to match shapes just by feel
  • Add numbers to each shape and play number matching game
  • Shape sorting, counting and pattern making
  • Invite child to turn shapes into characters based on a story you have read



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