Monday, September 27, 2010

Not Literacy?

I recently heard of a local school that removed all the play kitchens from the kindergarten rooms - because that didn't teach literacy. This news made me unhappy. I love using the home center...and so do my kids.

I considered the various responses to this news that I could list here on Brick by Brick.
1. Kids need to learn lots of different skills in their early years. Literacy is only one of them.
2. A place like home center helps build security in young children.
3. Learning about the community and their roles in it is valuable for kids.
...and so forth.

But I decided to think about ways that that a play kitchen could support literacy. And I looked through my photos to see what I could find.

Add books to read to the dolls. And help kids understand that books are a regular part of family life.

A cookbook or recipe cards help extend cooking activities. And help kids know how reading and writing support life skills.

Paper and pencils allow kids to take notes while on the telephone. And help them better understand practical uses of writing.

Paper, envelopes, and writing implements allow kids to practice communicating in written form.

Clipboards with paper and pencils with the doctor kit aids kids in understanding the use of reading and writing in occupations.

Grocery store ads, notepads, pencils, and sticky notes help support how writing is used throughout the community.

Using food boxes brings familiar words from a child's world into the classroom. And encourages a child to "read" these words.

Playing bookstore reinforces literacy in the child's life and the community.

Add notepads and pencils to encourage spontaneous writing.

Pencils and paper among the tools allows children to experiment writing in real world situations.

These are just a few things that support literacy that I found among my photos. And I think that these "practical" uses of writing and reading are strong foundations for literacy in a kindergarten class...and ample reason to keep those kitchens in the classrooms.


  1. Great post, Scott! Post of the year material. I forget how lucky some of us are to work in situations where we are not constantly called upon to defend things like play kitchens. It makes me want to take someone by the lapel, shake them, and say, "Snap out of it!"


  2. Love your thoughts on literacy and needed the reminder myself to enhance and allow time for self driven learning. Thank you.

  3. I am deeply saddened. I think one of the major problems with our current educational system is that we keep taking away all of the concrete objects and toys from children, removing the play and the necessary tools to teach to concrete learners, replacing them with abstract concepts and ideas when children are not yet capable of that abstract thought.
    I love the dramatic play options for children, and they are a great way to support literacy and language. Don't forget about your shopping list in your play kitchen!

  4. Scott- You are so right! There are so many ways to integrate literacy into dramatic play. Additionally, the mere act of symbolic play is in fact preparing young minds to read. Before a child can say, "This squiggly group of symbols is a cat", she has to be able to imagine that "this can is really a phone". Add to that the fact that literacy is about language and stories, relationships and meaning....and that's what kids do in the dramatic play area! Sadly, when "professional" strip out play to provide more "focus" they tend to remove the meaning,the application, the joy, and the motivation. Sad.

  5. What on earth are they thinking Scott? Like you, our dramatic play areas are perhaps the most literacy-rich areas in the preschool. You can't stop them! So much so that we put our writing area next door to the dramatic play area for ease of movement of materials between the two. Makes me sad to think that with all we know about how children best learn and develop - and the importance of play - that this is still going on.

  6. So true! Plus play encourages language and the core of literacy is language.

  7. This was just one of the many reasons I decided on early childhood ed for my career path. There is so much to say about how/what we teach. The power of play!! :)
    Great post, Scott, as always!

  8. I am happy that your post totally supports what our school system recommends. Glad that's not a battle I have to fight! Well put!

  9. What can I say Scott that hasn't already been said! I love the fact that this post has brought out peoples passion for literacy ... Good on YOU!