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Embedding Literacy

Embedding literacy in our daily work

"The development of early language and communication skills is the vital first step to literacy" (Literacy Trust, 2017).

Embedding literacy practices is an integral part of the everyday routines in our nurseries and Children's Centres, as we know that this is a critical time for building the language and literacy skills that will follow children through life.

Book corner - Priory Day Nursery
The development of these key skills is encouraged through a mixture of led and open access activities. The list below gives an introduction to some of these activities, but core activities will be explored more deeply through a series of 'spotlights' or articles on this blog over the coming months.

  • Mark Making
    Mark making is fundamental to the process of literacy development. It can be making marks with a crayon or paintbrush, drawing in the sand, swishing food or mud around. It becomes a way to make children's thinking visible. At nursery we create enabling environments, together with support and encouragement for mark making. Read more ...
  • Singing
    Our sessions include a song time, usually towards the end. A repertoire of recognisable rhymes, songs and actions is built, and as the children become more confident they are able to interact with the songs in different ways.

  • Water Play & Mud Kitchen
    Communication and language skills are encouraged through staff interaction, ideas & follow up during the activity, for example:
    • Where does soil come from? What is it used for?

    • Encouraging imagination through baking mud pies and introducing different types of pots & pans.

    • Learning about the concept of sinking/floating.

    • Communicating feelings around being wet or cold, wearing waterproofs etc.
  • Cosy corner for reading and quiet thinking time

  • Cosy corner - Story Cafe
  • Storysacks
    A storysack is a bag containing a book, together with props, puppets, activities and games on a theme to encourage wider discussion, learning and role play. Story sacks are used in the setting itself, but are also lent out to children to explore with their parents at home. For example: 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' story sack explores the concept of birth and growth, with baby caterpillars and big caterpillars, cocoon and butterfly. Read more ...
  • Song Bags
    Song bags contain puppets which can be used during song or ‘Circle Time’. We also use lycra and rainbow rings.
  • Stay and Plays
    We hold regular Stay & Plays, when parents/carers are invited to join the children to read a story on a chosen theme, followed by activities and games based on this and associated themes.
  • Story Cafe
    Story Cafes are held twice weekly by our Children's Centre in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston libraries. Each session starts with a 'led story time', followed by a new activity based on the story (pictured below: Three Little Pigs), including crafts such as painting, collage or junk modelling.

  • Three Little Pigs - Story Cafe
  • Nurture Groups
    A nurture group is a small group of children of a similar age, taken to a quiet area for more focused developmental work. Prompts are used, e.g. picture cards or sound recordings, to help children to find or recognise initial sounds, such as animal noises, or everyday sounds they may hear in the home. Picture cards and rhyming may also be used to suggest objects beginning with a particular letter.
  • English as an Additional Language (EAL)
    • Books in dual languages are available for nursery children to borrow and read at home with their families.
    • Talking Phonics Packs, including Talking/Recording Pens. Talking pens are a multimedia creative experience which bring sound to paper, making the paper “speak”. Recording pens allow children to listen to themselves speak or sing, play an instrument or hear those around them. With talking books children are able to open the book, touch a page and hear professional narrators re-tell the story in different languages.
  • Talking Tents
    A talking tent is an enabling environment or 'a place to talk', read or interact. It is a cosy den, where children feel relaxed and may contain comforting objects such as a book, soft toys or a fleece blanket, cushions and a rug.


Raising UK Literacy Levels: Early Years Sector. Accessed 22 March 2017.

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