The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 5, 2013

Early Childhood Showcase: What is playing with a purpose?

The Mankato Free Press


What is playing with a purpose?

This week's early childhood showcase is courtesy of Mankato's READY! for Kindergarten program:

Play With a Purpose helps parents focus the time they have for play with their children. Following are example play activities focused on the goal of matching letter shapes:

0-1 year: Hang interesting pictures or colored paper near the baby’s crib. Talk about what the baby is seeing.

1-2 years: Look for lines and curves in your environment. Make lines and curves with your body and find them in books. All letters are made of lines and curves.

2-3 years: Begin to match lower-case letters. Use homemade letter cards, magnetic letters or puzzle pieces to match letters with the same shape. Visual discrimination is important to reading development.

3-4 years: Find letters in the same shape families. Letters like a,c,e,o and s have similar curves and can be grouped together. Make letters out of pipe cleaners or draw them in sand.

4-5 years: Use books, signs, posters to find and match letters. Make letters with your cheerios or M&Ms. Smell and taste items that begin with the letter you are working on. Using all of the senses helps make connections in the brain.

READY! For Kindergarten is a parent education program offered through Mankato Community Education and Recreation. The READY! program asks parents to make small changes in their lifestyle to enhance learning for children in the birth to five developmental years.

Reading 20 minutes daily is the most important addition any family can make. This small amount of time can make a profound difference in a child’s readiness to read and write when they get to school.

Interested in more information about Play With a Purpose? Join a READY! class this fall on Oxt. 24 or Nov. 7. Register at or call 507-387-5501.