Looking for words: why it’s a good literacy activity

Everyday activities like going to the local shops are fun ways to help your child’s literacy development. Also, everyday literacy activities don’t cost extra money or take up extra time.

For example, looking for words is a simple literacy activity. You can do it when you go to the supermarket with your child.

Your child’s journey towards literacy involves learning to speak, listen, read, understand, watch, draw and write. It’s never too early to start helping your child to learn these skills.

What you need for looking for words: literacy activity

This activity uses your normal grocery shopping trip, so you don’t need any special equipment. Just look for the words all around you and share them with your child.

How to do looking for words: literacy activity

  • Sit with your child while you write a shopping list. If he’s old enough, he can write a list too. Or he can pretend to write a list by scribbling on paper.
  • Talk about what you plan to buy, including any foods your child likes. For example, ‘Let’s put milk on the list. Milk starts with an “m”. M-ilk’.
  • When you’re at the shops, point out words on shop signs and product labels. Show your child how you use the list so you don’t forget anything. Your child can help by crossing things off the list as you pick them up.
  • Encourage your child to identify words or letters on the things you buy. Ask your child to guess what words mean by looking at the first letter and the picture on a packet. See whether your child can find a product that begins with the first letter of her name.

Adapting this literacy activity for children of different ages

Your younger child might not be able to recognise letters, but he can still have fun with words and sounds. For example, you might say ‘B-bananas. We need bananas’. Hold things up for your child to see when you name them, and make sure he watches your face while you’re talking. Encourage him to try to make the sounds or say the words too.

Your older child will be better at recognising letters and signs. She might even be able to read some. See whether your child can tell you what something is by reading a label. You could look more closely at a label and point out where you can read the ingredients or the country where the product came from.