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Wellman Literacy & Learning

Empowering Students Through Literacy

Family Interactive Literacy Activities

The term 'literacy' refers to the ability to read and write. The foundation for reading and writing is language.  Speaking, listening, reading and writing are all cognitive-linguistic/language processes. There is no hierarchy for these processes but rather they develop in reciprocity.

The below literacy-language activities are to encourage reading, writing, speaking and listening with in the family  context.

Week 3

Make up Your Own Test

In order to create a test, true and deep comprehension is required.  True and deep comprehension enables application of what was read or heard rather than just answering the questions by ‘finding the answers.’

  1. Read a short story or short informational text.

  2. Create a ‘test’ as though she/he is the teacher.

  3. Be sure that the test has varying questions types that requires use of cause-effect, prediction, inferencing, explanation of process, description, definition, and opinion with justification using proof/examples from the text.

  4. Examples of varying questions types would be:

    1. Why do you think (a character’s name) did …….?  

    2. What would happen if…….?

    3. Explain how….. (a process, i.e., an igneous rock is formed)

    4. Explain how you play…….

    5. Describe a …….

    6. Define the term…….

    7. What do you think about…….?   Why?


***For a student in the 4th grade and older, asking basic yes/no or concrete questions that require a one-word response may be an indication that he/she does not fully understand concepts/total ideas of what was read.  The strategy used for creating questions may be to find concrete statements in the text and make questions from those statements rather than integrating and synthesizing information to create questions.


             Targeted Areas:

  • Self-monitoring and feedback regarding level of comprehension

  • Formulation of varying question types

  • Evaluation of response to questions

  • Identification of relevant information

You’re the Reporter

 It is the job of a news reporter to report on current events.

  1. Read your local newspaper online or in hard print to get an idea of how articles are written: how they are organized, the type of information that is used, how the article begins and how the article ends.

  2. Choose a current event in your area that is of interest to you. It could also be a past or upcoming school event.

  3. Start with the headline. Develop a one line phrase or sentence that makes the reader curious by giving just enough information about the event but giving no details. An example of this may be: ‘COVID-19 Hits the U.S.’

  4. Your article will give details to this headline. 

  5. What background information do you need, i.e., you may want to start with defining what COVID-19 is; define the term pandemic. You can also include details from other countries.

  6. You can then talk about how this pandemic has affected our everyday routine and special events. Give examples.

  7. You can finish your article by giving predictions about the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing.

  8. To share your article, give a newscast to your family and read your article.


Target Areas:

  •  Summarizing relevant information and main concepts of a news story.  Simply

             answering the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ questions does not give the     

             necessary information. Writing is not just answering questions.

  • Giving adequate and the most needed background information and details so that the reader can understand the article as you give more and more details.

  • Organizing information according to the most general information to more specific details

  • Providing relevant background information so that a person that has no background knowledge can follow and understand the article.

Week 2

X Marks the Spot

This is an activity of giving written directions.

  1. Choose a spot or place in your house or yard.  Be specific when choosing, don’t just choose a room but rather a very specific spot in that room.

  2. Put an item/object in that spot

  3. Write directions to that spot.  Be sure to give the starting point.

  4. Be specific in your directions.  If you write ‘go forward’ or ‘go straight,’ include a direction of when to stop, i.e., ‘go forward until you reach the kitchen.’

  5. If the directions include all needed information with details, then the person following the directions will have no questions and no difficulty finding the spot.

  6. A map can be drawn before writing the directions. 


   Targeted Areas:

  • Visualization of  a location and a route to that location

  • Understanding another’s perspective

  • Inclusion of all relevant information

  • Organization of information

  • Specificity of information: directional vocabulary, use of high informational words rather than here, there, somewhere

  • Referential communication (using one object or location to reference another)

  • Use of prepositional phrases

Story from a Character’s Perspective

This is an activity of retelling an entire story or the part of a story from a character’s view or perspective.

  1. Using a story that is very familiar, choose a character that is most understood (can describe the characters attributes).

  2. Retell the story from the beginning or any event in the story as if that character was retelling the story. 

An example of this would be telling the story of The 3 Little Pigs from the wolf’s perspective or retelling the story of Cinderella from the step mother’s perspective.

You can also use perspective taking to talk about the day from a family member’s perspective or even the family pet’s perspective!

Expressing another’s perspective should include that character’s thoughts, emotions, and motivations.

The story can be retold orally or in written expression.  It is best to first do an oral retell and then put the retell in writing.


Targeted Areas:

  • Taking another’s perspective

  • Using and understanding aspects of a character and his/her motivation/intention,

  • Applying cause-effect relationships (how a different perspective can change the outcomes of the story)

  • Using the structure of a story (chain a causational events rather than just listing unrelated events)

  • Connecting events through use of grammar (so, because, since, therefore, etc

Notes of Admiration or Appreciation

We all need a little pick me up now and then and getting a note of admiration is a great pick me up.  All ages can write a note or draw a picture to show admiration or gratitude.

Sadly, hand writing notes has become a lost art.   

Notes of admiration require the writer to generate positive characteristics of a chosen person and then give examples of when this person demonstrated these positive characteristics.

If writing a note of appreciation, it is important generate positive attributes of a gift, why you appreciate the gift and if appropriate, and when or how you may use the gift.  Attributes should be specific to the gift and not general descriptors.

Fortunately, you can still buy note cards in stores. 

My children are both in their 20s and I’m happy to say that they both still write Thank You cards.


            Targeted Areas:

  • Generating and expressing positive characteristics or attributes

  • Expressing a general statement and then giving supporting evidence

  • Formulating syntactically correct and varied sentence structures

  • Using specific and varied vocabulary to describe characteristics or attributes

Week 1

Directions Barrier Activity

            Two to four people can participate in this activity which requires direction giving and direction following. You’ll need two sets of small objects or toys, a large piece of paper/cardboard (cookie sheets work well) and a barrier.  Each set of objects should be exactly the same. Players sit across from each other with a barrier between.

The person/team giving the directions will set up all of their items on their board.  The other person/team should not be able to see the other board.  The person/team with their board set up will give directions to the other person/team.  The direction giver(s) can look at the other board but the person/team receiving directions cannot look at the other board.  The direction giver(s) may not point to a location or object.  Directions can be repeated and revised and should be revised if the direction follower(s) is/are confused or ask for repetition or clarification.

The goal is to have both boards look the same. Developing direction giving skills can encourage direction following skills and vice versa.

Family Book Club

A book club is a great way to interact with books and stories.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Books/stories can be chosen by the level of the child/student readers or can be read aloud by an adult or older sibling.  There are many benefits to reading aloud to your children, and yes, even when they are in junior high school and older. Reading processes continue to develop and evolve throughout one’s lifetime.

  2. Don’t worry about the speed at which your child is reading or correcting the mistakes. We read to interact with the meaning of the text so meaning should be focus.

  3. Each member of the book club should have a chance to ask questions and give their opinion.

Encourage questions that are open ended.

  1. Discussion should not be focused on whether answers are ‘right or wrong’ but rather explanations that support ideas and perspectives.

Guess What It Is

This activity encourages recognition and application of the most relevant and distinctive features of objects.  It can be played with 2-6 people. You’ll need a container that holds 8-10 small items.  I’ve used an apron with pockets and it seems to work well. The items should be easily recognizable everyday objects. One person at a time will take out an item, keeping it hidden from the others.  The goal is to give no more than 3 clues before the others successfully guess what the item is.  It’s important to emphasize that the more relevant and clear information that is given in each hint, the fewer hints are needed.