St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida


June 1, 2019 | View PDF

Ocean Themed Literacy Program Makes a Big Splash with Local Children

Over the summer the Early Learning Coalition of N. Florida’s outreach team is holding a series of Ocean themed literacy programs in local pre-school centers. The programs consist of an interactive story time featuring ocean themed books, songs and rhymes followed by an activity time. During the activity time the children get to make their own ocean in the bottle, paint sea shells, make sand necklaces and ocean themed hats. Children learn about ocean creatures as well and life in the coral reefs as they feel real pieces of coral and touch different types of shells. Each child receives a free ocean themed book to

take home.

Volunteers are the key to success for this program and the other themed programs that the ELC puts on including: Space, Meet the Masters, Dinosaurs, Mother Goose “Rhymers are Readers” and Eric Carle’s World of Colors program. Volunteers help the ELC in two main ways. The first is by being an outreach volunteer that assists in putting on programs. These volunteers read the stories, sing the songs, maybe they put on a costume such as the shark costume that goes with the ocean program and they lead the craft activities. The second way volunteers help is by being a weekly reading volunteer to a group of local preschool children. Reading volunteers get the privilege of exposing the same group of children each week to great books and get to plant the seed of early reading.

Six Skills to Get Children Ready to Read

Early literacy helps prepare children with the necessary skills in order to ensure future success. The Early Learning Coalition of N. Florida (ELCNF) agrees with the National Research Council that there are six primary skills to prepare children for reading. The list includes vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, phonological awareness, letter knowledge and narrative.

1. Vocabulary

By the time children enter school, their vocabulary is well into the thousands. Building vocabulary in the early years prepares children to learn how to read.

2. Print Motivation

Print motivation is children’s interest in reading, even if they don’t necessarily know how to read yet. Parents can easily encourage print motivation by having children’s books readily available on shelves at their children’s eye level.

3. Print Awareness

Print awareness includes reading from top-to-bottom and left-to-right. Parents should also point at words they are reading as well as take the time to relate the pictures that accompany the storybook to ensure children’s understanding of the subject matter.

4. Phonological Awareness

Closely tied to print awareness is phonological awareness, which is the process of placing simple syllables together to make words. This builds the ability for children to sound words out in years to come. Rhyming is an innovative tactic to build phonological awareness, which is also both interactive and fun for children.

5. Letter Knowledge

By the time children have tackled the aforementioned skills, they will be prepared for letter knowledge. Letter knowledge takes place when certain sounds are derived from the letters that pertain to them. For example, the letter b is for boy and so on. This will also help children sound out words in the early stages of reading.

6. Narrative

Finally, narrative is a skill set which involves children explaining events they were part of. This skill is interactive and parents will need to encourage children to describe the event, suggesting the use of the five senses – sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.

As a parent juggling a job, house work and child raising it’s difficult to find the time to work on child development. Remember that even 10 or 15 minutes of quality time each day has a long and lasting impact on child development.

For more information about volunteering contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at [email protected] or 904-342-2267.

About the Early Learning Coalition: The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) serves the counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns assisting parents, caregivers and educators of children ages birth-pre-kindergarten. ELC manages and evaluates early child care and education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system.


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