Early Literacy Storytime: Here Come the Animals
One of the things that helps children get ready to write is building strong muscles in their shoulders, because these muscles provide stability to the smaller muscles in the forearms and hands. More stability means less effort is needed to complete fine motor tasks.
Activities that simply allow the shoulders and arms to bear some of the weight of the child’s body will help develop these muscles (like climbing walls and monkey bars on the playground). But an easy way to do that in storytime is to walk like animals!
In any animal storytime, invite the children to pretend to be animals with you. Engage their shoulder muscles by channeling:
Bears! Start on hands and knees, then lift knees off the ground so you are walking on all fours with both hands and feet taking steps.
Crabs! Sit on your bottom, feet flat on the floor in front of you, and put your hands on the floor behind you. Lift your bottom up so that only your hands and feet are on the ground. Can you take steps forwards, backwards, and sideways? Tricky!
Snakes! Lie on your tummy, then push with your hands and arms so your shoulders and head are up off the ground. This is like a cobra yoga pose.
Lizards! Lie on your tummy, and use your elbows and knees to wiggle yourself forward while keeping your tummy low to the ground, like a baby’s commando crawl.
Prairie dogs! (or meerkats!) Start on your hands and knees, then push off with your hands so you are kneeling up on your knees and looking around. See any danger yet? Better hide! Fall forward onto your hands again!
When you are done playing, say something like this to the grown-ups: “Parents, when you play active games like this with your child, they develop arm and shoulder muscles that give support to their hands and wrists. More support means they will be able to write and draw more confidently and more precisely.”
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