Getting Ready for Kindergarten With My Library : Language Development

Getting Ready for Kindergarten using the

“Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar“

And our Libraries


Part 2: Language Development

When we look for the definition of language in the dictionary, it tells us that language is the tool humans use for expressing thoughts, needs, desires, and also to communicate with others.

The famous psychologist Noam Chomsky in his language acquisition theory, what he called,“Universal grammar” defines language as a basic human instinct. He assured us that our brains are wired for language, any language. In my last article, “To be bilingual: Benefits of knowing two languages,” we learn that, “newborn babies are able to discriminate between sounds of any language and learn them.”

Does that mean that we as caregivers/parents don’t have to help our kids with language development? No, on the contrary, even though our brains are born ready to learn language, we have to make those connections happen. It’s like when you buy IKEA furniture, you have in the box all the materials you need to put together the furniture, but you need some external conditions to actually make the furniture: you need some tools, to follow the directions, and a human (you or someone you hired) to connect all the pieces together.

In a more complex and marvelous way, our brains are like IKEA furniture; they come wired to do a lot of things (talk, read, write, sing, play and more) but they need some external factors to develop.


You as a caregiver/parent/teacher can help develop the skills children need for language acquisition.


There are six basic early literacy components that help children with school readiness (Getting Ready for Kindergarten, Ready? Set? Go! Colorado State Library)

  1. Print motivation: interested in and enjoy books
  2. Phonological awareness: hear and play with smaller sounds of words
  3. Vocabulary: know the names of things
  4. Narrative skills: describe objects and events and tell stories
  5. Print awareness: notice print, hold a book the right way, follow words on a page
  6. Letter knowledge: know letter names, sounds, shapes


Children need language development skills throughout their life and they will be able to develop these skills with family, friend and neighbor interactions and at school as well. But before they start formal education, there are some skills our kids should develop, and we can help them on a daily basis using your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar and visiting your local library!


Language and Reading skills (Getting Ready for Kindergarten. Ready? Set? Go! Colorado State Library)

Skill #1: State their names, home addresses and telephone numbers.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Talk about being safe. Make sure everyone in the family knows their name, address, telephone number, and what to do in case of an emergency. Here are eight ways to teach your child to learn your address and phone number:
  • Walk through your house or outside. See if you can find items with the first letter of your child’s name.
  • Draw a large outline of your child’s name. Have them trace and color each letter

Skill #2: Identify some labels and familiar signs (like McDonalds or a Stop sign).

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Draw safety signs like “Stop” and “Yield.” Talk about what they mean when crossing the street. Talk about traffic lights and their colors. Have everyone play the game Red Light, Green Light.
  • When driving by the streets. Point out signs, labels, and logos along the road and name them.

Skill #3: Know some letters and make letter-sound matches.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

    • An Alphabet of Colors! Starting with A, go through the alphabet and see if you and your child can name a color for every letter!
    • Practice singing the ABC’s. Talk about letters and words. Can you think of an animal/fruit/vegetable/object for every letter of the alphabet?
  • Write out each letter of the alphabet. Cut them out in squares and take them around the house. Call out a letter for your child to find until they are all gone! Make an ABC Book. Make a 26 page booklet from blank paper. Together, write each letter on the top of each page. Fill in your book with drawings or magazine pictures.


NOTE: In the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar, the month of September is completely about letters with daily activity for letter recognition.


List of books you can check out at your local library that will help your child develop this skill (Visit your Library, its free!):

    • First Words by Roger Priddy
    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
    • LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
    • ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee
    • Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words by Ruth Rocha
    • Backseat A-B-See by Maria Van Lieshou
    • Numbers, Letters by Leo Lionni
    • Alphabatics by Suse MacDonald
    • Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson
    • AlphaOops! The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis
    • Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A. Rey
    • Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet by Muriel Feelings and Tom Feelings
    • Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
    • The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra

Skill #4: Understand that writing carries a message.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Label items in your house. Practice saying the words together.
  • Encourage your child to write or tell you a story. If they tell it to you, write it down so you can share it with their family and friends! If you have a copy, read Rocket Writes a Story.
  • Use a cookbook to make something new! Read the recipe and talk about the ingredients. Try to choose a healthy recipe.

Skill #5: Enjoy listening to and talking about story books.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Sit down as a family and read a story.
  • Spend time reading together outside. Sit under a tree and, if you have a copy, read The Giving Tree.

Skill #6: Ask and answer questions related to the story.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

    • Ask your child to tell you a story. When they finish, ask questions. This is how children learn how to tell complete stories and know you are interested in what they have to say.
    • With your child, look at the pictures in a book and guess what happens. Then read the story together to see if you were right.
    • Read two books to your child before bed. Ask your child about their favorite part of each one

Skill #7: “Read familiar books alone, often by memory, using picture cues.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Find some pictures from a magazine or pamphlet. Lay them out in a row and tell a story about them.
  • Ask your child about their favorite book and read it together. Encourage your child to tell you the story.
  • Some picture books have no words only pictures. See if you have any books that are wordless and make up your own words! If you have a copy, read The Lion & the Mouse.

Skill #8: Understand that we read from left to right, top to bottom.

  • When you read a book, point to the words you are reading. By doing this your child can relate the spoken words with the printed text. They can give meaning to the printed words and help them understand the difference between words and pictures. Also they can understand that when we read, we do it from left to right, top and bottom.

Skill #9: Speak clearly and understandably.

  • Sing with your child. Songs are a natural way to learn about language. They develop listening skills and slow down language so children can hear the different sounds in words, a key decoding skill.
  • Talk! Encourage conversations. After you read a book, ask questions about the book.
  • Stretch the language. The more words they know and understand the greater success they will have learning to read. Name and describe things in the world around them. Expose children to new words.
  • Reinforce the correct sounds of letters. Learn some fun activities here


More readings about this topic:


Pamela Mejia de Rodriguez
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