| Mar 08, 2007

March 2007 - Early Literacy

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Early Literacy - March 2007 Red Roverby Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist, HFL&A

“Red Rover, Red Rover, we call Tanya over.” As a child I loved this game. My friends and I formed two lines facing one another and, with clasped hands, began our Red Rover chant. Whosever name we inserted into the chant had to leave their line and race toward ours. If the person we called over could not break through, they joined our line. If their speed and weight caused our hands to let go, one of us would join their line. Eventually one of the lines had all the players and the game was over.

Songs and chants imbedded into games like Red Rover, skipping and ball bouncing, and counting activities in games like Hide and Seek and Hopscotch were always a lot of fun. We were with our friends and on the move. It never crossed our minds that while we played we were practicing literacy, sequence, memory and math skills.


With the backdrop of February as Heart and Stroke Month, and the last week in March slated for the TV Turnoff Challenge issued by Kingston-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington Public Health, it seems timely to introduce our children to games that engage their muscles as well as their minds.

Sending a Letter is a game that originated in London, England and was first known as Sending a Letter to Canada. This game, a variation on Leapfrog, starts with the first player crouched down so that a second player can pretend to write a letter on his or her back. After writing the letter, the letter-writer gently slaps a stamp onto the first player’s back and leaps over the crouched player saying “Sending a letter.”

O’Leary is a ball bouncing rhyme:

1,2,3 O’Leary 4,5,6 O’Leary 7,8, 9 O’Leary 10, O’Leary Catch me.

Children bounce a ball each time a number is spoken, bouncing it under one of their legs whenever “O’Leary” is said. Use the rhyme to count backwards too. Or adapt the game for toddlers by rolling the ball between toddler and parent instead of bouncing it. Clap hands each time “O’Leary” is spoken.

Traditional Games of Childhood by Camilla Gryski is a treasury of active games for young children that include variations on age-old games for jumping ropes, marbles, hopscotch, leapfrog, seek and find, tag, ball bouncing, clapping rhymes and more.

Trish Kuffner, author of several parent resource books for babies through to preschoolers has recently written The Wiggle and Giggle Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your Child Moving and Learning. Geared for children 3 to 6 years of age, Kuffner suggests physical activities for each day of the year as an alternative to watching television or playing videogames. The book includes chapters on outdoor, indoor, water, rhythm/music and holiday activities, as well as some information about what to expect in children’s early stages of development.

Red Rover Red Rover,

We call a friend over, To play and have fun, While we skip, jump and run.

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