Ask a Storytime Ninja: ECRR Crafts

This week’s question is all about incorporating early literacy practices into craft activities.  Do you have any more ideas? Share them in the comments!



The Question:


Is there any suggestions for crafts to do with the ECRR 2 practices? I am an old time ECRR but am starting a new storytime using these practices for 2-3year olds.


The Answers: 


From Abby:


What about making books together? You could staple together several sheets of paper and provide either pictures for the kids to color and parents to cut out and glue and write words down (or if families prefer to draw and make up their own story, they could). This practices writing (and pre-writing as the littles are coloring, drawing, etc.), talking, and reading. Or you could provide printouts with the words to simple songs (Twinkle Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider) and have children color pictures or draw a picture for the song above the words. Taking the words to the song home may encourage families to sing together.


Making simple finger puppets or stick puppets (even just having kids color and cut out pictures and glue to popsicle sticks) encourages talking and playing.


I did a little research and found some sites that have ideas:


From Lindsay:


Great idea! I’d start by thinking about interesting materials and surfaces that will lead to the ECRR practices (I’ve bolded them here). Art supplies that engage the senses will warm up the kids’ brains for learning and inspire them to talk, explore, and play. Here are some ideas that I’ve tried in the past that have worked well.


Painting with marshmallows: Get the big ones and let them get slightly stale before the activity. They’re just the right size for 2s and 3s to grip (and they smell like sugar!). Use paper that contrasts nicely with whatever washable tempera paint colors you choose. Kids can dip the marshmallow into the paint and make marks on the paper.  Simply changing the paint and paper colors from one week to the next will give the children a different experience.  Get the kids talking and describing while they create (Narrative Skills).

Shape art: Cut out a bunch of shapes from construction paper. Give the kids chunky paint brushes and watered-down glue in bowls, and watch them go! Getting hands-on with shapes helps with Letter Knowledge. Try it on paper or paper plates. Or, try stamping with sponges cut into different shapes.


Tissue paper collage: Again, with watered-down glue and chunky paint brushes. Encourage kids to tear tissue paper (an interesting sensory activity), and stick it to the paper. While they’re doing this, they’re developing fine motor skills, which will help with holding a pencil and writing later on. Try it with cardboard tubes or foil, too.

How about colored tape?  Have caregivers help children decide how long of a piece they want (math-related Vocabulary) and help them tear it and stick it to a piece of paper (fine motor skills and writing), creating lines and shapes (Letter Knowledge).  Paint over it with water colors.


Try any of these on banner paper and let the kids work together on the floor.  Banner paper, since it’s not take-home size, reinforces the idea to caregivers that it’s about the process, not the product.  Display related books to read such as Mouse Paint, Lois Ehlert books (lots of shapes in the illustrations), or Tip Tip Dig Dig (which uses mixed-media collage).


Give caregivers a couple open-ended questions they can ask to get their children talking, or key Vocabulary words to introduce such as blending, streaks, or layer. If they’re taking something home, give caregivers index cards and have them write down what their child says, creating a caption for the piece.  Tell them to point to it and read it aloud to their child later in the day; Print Awareness!


Read more from ZERO TO THREE, “Learning to Write and Draw”

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