Tip Tuesday: Incorporating Literacy into Play therapy for Non-readers!

Literacy in Play Therapy

Today I’ll be sharing simple ways in which I incorporate literacy in play therapy for non-readers (and early readers).  This is part 3 of my literacy series.  You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.  Enjoy!

1. Restaurant Menus:  Playing restaurant is so much fun for our PK kiddos; taking turns being the waiter/waitress and the chef.  Taking food orders is part of the fun.  Sometimes I make a simple “menu” using pictures (and word labels below the pictures) for my students to circle when the food is ordered.  However sometimes I just give my students blank pads of paper and have them “write” down my order using pre-writing strokes.  Both are simple and fun ways to incorporate early literacy skills in restaurant play.


2.  Food boxes/containers in play:  We all love to play with fake food.  How about keeping some of our food boxes and containers (eg. Cherrios, butter/margarine containers, gold fish containers, etc.) and add them to our fake food play?  This way we are exposing our clients to some more common name brands on the containers and in play they begin to attend to these food labels without realizing it.


3.  Store/Restaurant signs in play:  Oh how fun it is to quickly print out some quick well known store icons and signs to add to play (eg. Wal-mart, Target, McDonald’s, etc.).  This is another way to simply add early literacy skills into play.  We can label a small box Wal-mart and drive our cars there to pick up a list of food or other items.  Then we can stop by McDonald’s and grab some french fries (great b/c now we can incorporate the fake food fries we have in our fake food box).  And the play can go on and on in this manner.


4.  Street signs in road play:  Street signs are so great for early literacy concepts.  We can add traffic lights, stop signs, yield signs, pedestrian crossing signs, detour, construction signs, etc. in our play when driving cars on roads etc.  This is one simple way I’ve been able to do incorporate early literacy skills for boys who are so very engrossed in vehicle play.

DIY interchangeable road signs for car play from And Next Comes L

I found this fun picture on a blog post from And Next Comes L  I thought using clothes pins are just the cutest idea! So clever!


5.  Writing in play:  In simple play we can recycle cards of all kinds (Christmas, Valentines, get well, blank cards, etc.), scraps of paper, business cards, stickers, etc. by creating a writing play scenario.  I’ve done this many times with PK students, particularly those I am working on expanding their expressive language skills.  We take turns “reading” out loud what we “wrote” in our cards to certain people.  Eg.  I will have students “write” a get well card to my dog who amazingly become sick that week, etc.  It’s a great way to get some pre-writing strokes, early drawing skills, and it’s such a great open-ended activity that facilitates language.  We must remember to keep our expectations just above our students current language skills.


Again, these are just a few ways to incorporate literacy in play!  You have other great ideas?  Please share below!

Happy Talking!