Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Best of Series: More Fun Oral Language Development at Home (Family Literacy #12)

Editor's Note: This blog was previously published, we're re-sharing it as part of our 'Best of' series, a look back at some of our most popular blogs.

This is the last post in our series on the role of parental involvement in children's literacy, which presents ideas for Family Literacy Workshop activities taken from Family Literacy Workshops for Preschool through Grade 6: A Research Based Approach, and offers free activity downloads and further instruction on how to hold successful family literacy workshops at your school and tips for taking literacy home. You can see the earlier posts here.

The workshop ideas presented in this post and the previous two family literacy posts help parents learn new skills in order to increase their child’s oral language development through structured and unstructured activities.

Fact and Fiction

Today's oral language development activities, intended to be used as take-home activities for parents to complete with their children, offer families a chance to play with both the discovery of facts and the creation of narrative, two skills that are very important for children to acquire if they are to meet the Common Core State Standards. Both activities are available as reproducible sheets free for download as a PDF at the bottom of the page, in addition to being laid out here.

My Turn, Your Turn Story Time

This is an old-fashioned storytelling time activity. It begins with a prompt from which one person starts telling a story and then at any moment hands the story off to the next person, who continues telling the story in his or her own way. This is repeated among the participating members until the story is finished.

• Appropriate for all ages


Step 1: The first person should begin telling a story based on the story prompt provided below.

Step 2: When the story has reached a point that the first person feels is a good place for someone else to continue, he or she allows the next person to take over the storytelling, going in any direction of his or her choosing.

Step 3: Continue this way until each person has had a chance to add to the story and someone comes up with an ending. An alternative to this oral interaction is to take turns writing the story down until it is complete.

Step 4: Make up your own story prompts and repeat the activity.

Sample Story Prompt:

There was a boy who loved school. He was very smart and loved to read. One rainy day, he was walking to school with his best friend when ...

Family Tree

Creating a family tree is a great way to discover and preserve your family’s unique history. This may take some time and energy, but creating an heirloom that the family can share forever will be well worth it in the end.

• Appropriate for older children


Step 1: Start by interviewing your parents. Ask them about themselves and then about their parents (where and when they were born, what their names are/were, what your mother/grandmother’s maiden name was, and so on). Keep notes on this so that you can create your family tree.

Step 2: Interview other immediate family members such as your grandparents and possibly great-grandparents. Ask them to tell you what they remember about their parents and grandparents.

Step 3: Talking with everyone listed so far should allow you to take your family tree back to at least your grandparents, if not your great, or great-great grandparents. The more family members you talk to, the more information you should be able to gather. Record this information and make a couple of rough drafts of your family tree before you make your final draft. Share your finished family tree with family members.

You can download a PDF of the family tree worksheet below.

This is the last installment of our Family Literacy Workshop blog series. For the remaining six workshops, order the book: Family Literacy Workshops for Preschool through Grade 6: A Research Based Approach