A Literacy Rich Environment


Reggio inspired living and learning

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream….

Loris Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children

A hundred different ways to understand, to discover and to learn. And each one of these provides endless opportunities for children to develop their oral language, writing and reading. All without a single worksheet or workbook.

When I was teaching, I specialised in literacy and learning support. We had bookwork and activity sheets, flashcards and listening stations.

My co-teacher and I taught a class of 14yr olds who had reading and writing comprehension levels of lower-middle primary. The workbooks were not targeted at teenagers and even though I’d not heard of the Reggio Emilia Approach, out of respect for the students we tried to create a learning environment which inspired them to create meaningful language in context.

We saw remarkable improvements in the students’ literacy levels. A group of ‘unteachable’ students were successfully teaching themselves. It was a huge turning point in my teaching practice.

Reggio inspired living and learning

Reggio inspired living and learningOur environment influences our behaviour. For our students, a literacy-rich environment; one which allowed the students to engage with language in an authentic way, allowed their language development to be interwoven into activities which interested them.

“Children do not simply receive information…they transform it in order to understand it….[T]o read and write is much more than “learning the alphabet” and…is not only limited to the learning of “instrumental” techniques.”

The Hundred Languages of Children (pg. 214)

Now at home, I have tried to create a literacy-rich environment for Jack and Sarah. Here are a few things that I have out at the moment to encourage them to use language in meaningful ways.

Reggio inspired living and learning

Writing materials on our science discovery shelf

Reggio inspired living and learning

Writing caddy (lead pencils, coloured pencils, artline markers, coloured sharpies) and notebooks

Reggio inspired living and learning

Writing materials and a geometry set alongside building blocks

Reggio inspired living and learning

Language manipulatives: Sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet

Reggio inspired living and learning

A globe – meaningful language

Reggio inspired living and learning

Writing materials for dramatic play

Reggio inspired living and learning

Labelling drawings

Reggio inspired living and learning

Jack’s writing journal: He writes in this when inspiration strikes

Reggio inspired living and learning

More opportunities for using language in dramatic play

What other ways can we promote literacy in a language-rich environment?


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15 comments on “A Literacy Rich Environment”

  1. Dee P. Reply

    This is amazing….just a great way to help promote literacy. I love using my wooden letters on the light table…..the children love making “words” or their names.

  2. Faigie Reply

    I think that it used to be that the kids that had poor literacy came from poorer homes without much stimulation. Now I think its with the kids who are so glued to their devices, they never read or are even interested in reading

  3. Pingback: Exploring Reggio: Meaningful Literacy

  4. Bek @ Just For Daisy Reply

    So glad that your posts appear in my inbox as soon as you publish them! I’ve visited this a few times from my email and on my phone! And now finally on my computer to comment! Thank you for sharing so many ways to make literacy a part of everyday activities and make it perfectly meaningful for our children.
    Pinning, sharing, liking! :) You rock xx

  5. Danya Banya Reply

    Great ideas! I try to incorporate a little bit of meaningful learning into our everyday play too, but you’ve got me thinking of new ways I can subtly weave it in. :)

  6. Debs Reply

    Gorgeous post Kate. I love to set up a literacy rich environment and as you’ve shown people in the pictures above, it’s not difficult to do. Your materials are beautiful and I always love how you present them. :)

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