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How to make early reading fun: EYFS Literacy activities to try

11 min of reading
04 August 2023
EYFS Literacy activities

Early reading is vital for language development. As we know, vocabulary acquisition during the primary years can be a pre-judgement of success in adulthood. Developing a love for early reading through exciting EYFS Literacy activities is a sure way to set a child up for continued success.

So, how do we make early reading fun? We share how to encourage it, along with EYFS Literacy ideas and reading area inspiration.

In this article, you will find:

    What are the EYFS requirements for early reading?

    Each of the seven areas of learning interlinks to build a well-rounded child ready for their next educational step. The prime area of need for communication and interaction is intertwined with the EYFS Literacy requirements.

    Considering most of the EYFS Literacy curriculum centres around speaking and listening, introducing fun communication and language EYFS activities into your nursery curriculum is a no-brainer! There can be lots of misconceptions about how nurseries teach phonics; take care when planning your phonics introductions into your EYFS curriculum.

    EYFS Literacy is split into three main areas:

    Early reading and oral language development are essential for good development. The more reading interaction a child can experience, the better. Early reading in nurseries is far more than just storytime.

    Early reading in EYFS can consist of the following:

    What are the benefits of early reading in the EYFS?

    There are endless benefits to having a language-rich and reading-driven learning environment in your nursery.

    How can early reading be encouraged in the EYFS?

    Ok, we know how important it is and what the EYFS Framework says about early reading. But how can it be encouraged across the nursery (spilling over into EYFS activities for the home too?)

    Plan reading into every day.

    Protect time every day to read to the children. It can be helpful to track the types of storytelling activities you plan as a nursery. You may find sitting in a circle with an adult reading dominates your reading approach. Mix things up by injecting some creativity into those EYFS Literacy activities.

    Develop your practitioner’s confidence with reading.

    Some nursery practitioners will throw everything but the kitchen sink into their storytelling. Accents, actions and facial expressions, the lot. But others may be more reserved and find reading aloud daunting—especially staff members who may have diagnosed (or undiagnosed) learning difficulties like Dyslexia.

    Build your practitioners’ confidence levels with reading by encouraging different approaches to boost reading in your setting. They may choose to build stories with the children using story stones or pre-record the audio, so they can engage with actions freely during the story.

    Audit your book choices in your nursery.

    You can ask six main questions to see if your storytime is cutting it. An important question to consider is, ‘Does this book help children connect with who they are?’ Make sure your nursery library has a wide variety of texts to represent different cultures, appearances and lifestyles.

    Engage parents with early reading.

    Parents play an essential role in developing oral language skills; every interaction is a vocabulary opportunity. Engage parents with early reading from the get-go. Share fun EYFS activities to try via your nursery software, or try sharing snippets of the books their child is enjoying via the online Child Diary. Skip ahead for more ways to engage parents.

    Create an engaging learning environment in the nursery.

    Nurseries are a place of wonder, stimulation but also relaxation. It can be hard to strike a balance between exciting the children and avoiding overstimulation. When creating an EYFS reading area, tailor it to your children’s interests and needs.

    You can show how important reading is across your nursery in many ways. Displaying your favourite books and authors can be a visual way of doing it!

    How to get parents involved with early reading.

    You may be wracking your brains for fresh ideas to engage parents with early reading. We have collated some of our nursery favourites for you to try.

    Share different types of books with nursery parents.

    Your parents may have firm favourites they like to read to their child. Help them add some new material to their bedtime story list by sharing recommended titles of traditional tales, poetry, letter books and picture books.

    Inclusive books that celebrate differences and diversity are a perfect talking point between parents and their child. One of our recommendations is ‘My shadow is purple By Scott Stuart. A wonderful rhyming book that celebrates and discusses societal stereotypes and the pressure of conforming to pink or blue (masculine or feminine behaviours).

    Here are some book titles to encourage your nursery parents with early reading:

    Traditional tales for early years:

    Traditional tales can be married up to phonic progression, helping to boost word recognition and enjoy some stories of yore.

    Some of the traditional tales are outdated when it comes to diversity and equality. Remind parents that this can spark discussions rather than avoid the topics.

    Poetry books for EYFS:

    Storybooks for toddlers:

    Plan a free book swap for nursery parents

    We model kind behaviour, turn-taking and social skills to the children; reading for enjoyment is no different. It is beneficial for children to see adults enjoying reading (in various ways); your nursery can help encourage parents to be positive reading role models too.

    Set up a free book library in your nursery entrance or foyer. You can ask charity shops or even libraries to donate some books to get you started. Share messages across your nursery software that the library is open and encourage parents to bring and borrow texts regularly.

    EYFS guest reader.

    Children love to engage in nursery activities with their parents in stay-and-play sessions or workshops. They experience such excitement when nursery and home combine, so why not create the same buzz with reading? Encourage parents, grandparents and family members to join you at nursery (maybe near the end of the nursery day) to read a section of a favourite book with the children.

    Many of your nursery parents work? No problem. Request parents to record themselves reading a snippet of their book or a poem and send it via your Parent App. Then, you can have a list of guest readers on hand at any time of the day.

    EYFS reading area ideas.

    A welcoming reading area can be the first step to enticing the children to a life-long passion for stories, books and learning. But thinking of ideas each academic year can become a little tiring and stagnant. Here are four top ideas for your EYFS reading area.

    EYFS reading area idea one: A reading garden.

    Think, fake leaves, AstroTurf and cosy cushions. The perfect start for a reading garden; break out the picnic blanket and make it a real treat!

    EYFS reading area idea two: A reading castle.

    Some cardboard boxes, paint (or brick-themed wallpaper) and some sticky tape, and you have a reading castle. Make the curtains a luxurious velvet (a sensory experience) to show the grandeur of your reading kings and queens.

    EYFS reading area idea three: A reading café.

    Fancy a sippy cup drink whilst you read? Combine EYFS role-play and social interaction with a role-play reading area. Encourage the children to read with a partner or alone. Perfect for nurseries with limited space.

    EYFS reading area idea four: Night sky reading area.

    A night sky-themed reading area can be useful for children who find bright colours overstimulating and need a quiet, sensory place to relax. Consider purchasing muted LED lights and black-out material for any nearby windows to block out bright light and create a sensory reading cave (torches optional!)

    14 EYFS Literacy ideas to try in the nursery.

    There are many different EYFS activities to try with little ones to cover all of the seven areas of learning. Searching for new ideas to freshen up the EYFS curriculum offer can be time-consuming; we share some engaging EYFS Literacy ideas to add a little creativity to your existing activities.

    Story scramble: rearrange images in line with a well-known story.

    Story stones: you can buy or make these with simple images on to create a story.

    I-Spy: level up the traditional I-Spy by finding rhyming objects.

    Finish the sentence: build an interactive story with your EYFS children.

    I went to market, and I bought…: a memory game that builds vocabulary acquisition.

    Role-play areas in EYFS: a great source of imaginative play, language development and fine motor skills.

    Splat the letter: ‘Find me the letter B…splat!’

    Alphabet sort: play this game with upper and lower case letters to sort the alphabet pairs.

    Create an encyclopaedia: anything you find on a nature walk can be added to an outdoor encyclopaedia with the click of a camera (or tablet). This helps children to recognise that words link to meaning

    Mark-making book: you need some paint and lots of different objects. Dunk the objects in and mark make onto paper!

    Flower press: think about the discussion, social development and patience needed to press a favourite flower. You can also make the pressed flower into a bookmark.

    Snowball letters: write a selection of letters on different pieces of scrap paper, scrunch them up and have a snowball fight. The child will read the letter of their new snowball, scrunch them back up and repeat!

    Makaton: EYFS Makaton is a great way to build Literacy skills, understanding of difference and support children who may find spoken language challenging. Check out some top Makaton tips.

    A nursery morning greeter: choose a different child each day to greet the children when they enter the nursery. Social skills, confidence boost and language development, win, win, win!

    For more brilliant EYFS activities, check out our Ultimate guide to EYFS activities blog post and easily cover the seven areas of learning!

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