Growing Early Literacy Skills


Spring has sprung! Gardening and time spent outside in nature provides endless opportunities to dig into the five early literacy practices: talk, sing, read, write, and play!

Nature Walk 

Go for a nature walk in your neighborhood and talk about what you see and hear. Can you find some treasures on your walk? Do you see any interesting sticks, leaves, seed pods, etc?  Watch the video below to see what Miss Linda found on her nature walk. She has a fun craft idea using what you found on your walk! 

Click here for Miss Linda’s Nature Walk Craft Time 

Recycled Gardens

edited from Daycare mattersDon’t have a backyard for garden play? Let’s get creative! Cut the top off of a milk or juice carton. Poke holes in the bottom for water drainage. You can also use plastic milk jugs, egg cartons, or other recycled containers. 

Allow your child to decorate their recyclables any way they would like! Provide a variety of materials – paint, crayons, glue, sequins, etc. There is no right way, so allow your child to use their imaginations! Decorate your own container alongside your child and talk about what materials each of you are using to decorate your container. The process of decorating their container is also great for developing your child’s fine motor skills and strengthening the hand muscles they will need to write!

Allow your child to scoop potting soil into the containers. Help your child to plant seeds or place transplants into the containers. Talk with your child about their garden. 

  • What seeds should we plant? 
    • Show your child seed packets or plant tags and point to the words on the packet as you read them. This demonstrates that printed words have meaning. 
  • How tall will your plant grow? (Could we measure it with a ruler?) 
  • Is this a plant that will produce flowers? 
  • Will vegetables or fruit grow on your plant?

Nature Soupflower-sensory-bin-for-kids-2

Outside, fill a bucket or large bowl with water. Add a large spoon or ladle and some small bowls for serving. Ask your child what should go into your soup. Should we add some of the things we found on our nature walk? Should we pick some dandelions, grass, or flower petals? Let your child guide the play, but play along with your child and talk about what they choose to add to the soup.

Garden Songs 

While you’re working in the garden, painting your container garden, or going for a nature walk, sing these garden songs! 

The Gardener Plants the Seeds

(Tune: “The Farmer in the Dell”)

The gardener plants the seeds

The gardener plants the seeds

High ho the derry oh, the gardener

plants the seeds.

(You can also replace “The gardener” with your child’s name!) 

Other Verses:

The rain begins to fall

The sun comes out to shine

The seeds begin to grow


There’s Something in My Garden

There’s something in my garden

Now what can it be?

There’s something in my garden

That I really can’t see

Hear its funny sound


A frog is what I found!


More Animals:





Gardening eBooks

Though the library is closed right now, you can still incorporate ebooks into your gardening activities!

Hoopla Hoopla-Logo-blue

Visit the Library’s downloadable resources on our website to access Hoopla! 

  • Badger’s Perfect Garden (by Marsha Diane Arnold)
  • Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt (by Kate Messner) 
  • Plants Can’t Sit Still (by Rebecca E. Hirsch)
  • From Seed to Sunflower (by Mari Schuh) 
  • Gardens in Spring (by Jenny Fretland VanVoorst) 

Storyline Online 

please-please-the-beesThe SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.

Bees are important in our gardens! Read Please Please the Bees with Rasida Jones, written and Illustrated Gerald Kelley, to learn how bear can help the bees in his yard!



Gro-Town teaches preschoolers and toddlers the wonder and magic of the world around us. Learn about music, gardening, and community with each Gro-Town video. Real, fun, live action music videos you can feel good about!

Also be sure to check out the album Motown is Gro-Town and download your own garden journal at


Get out outside today and enjoy talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing in nature!

Miss Emily – Early Literacy Librarian

Ready, Set, Play!

The Novi Public Library now offers a playgroup immediately following the Wednesday Tot Time for children ages 2 and under at 10:45 am. Ready, Set, Play! is a relaxed time for young children and their parents/caregivers to play and socialize. Playing in groups allows children to develop social/emotional skills, hear and practice new vocabulary, strengthen problem-solving skills, and use their imagination. Ready, Set, Play! is planned based on the concept of “Loose Parts,” the idea that children can be more creative and imaginative when given the opportunity to engage in unstructured, open-ended play with everyday objects. There is not one specific way to use the materials offered, but instead they can be used in an unlimited number of ways.

Basic loose parts materials for infants and toddlers used in Ready, Set, Play! include:

  • Balls
  • Blocks
  • Scarves
  • Fabric
  • Rhythm sticks
  • Buckets
  • Baskets

Special items are also offered depending on the week, such as:

  • Large shells
  • Plastic eggs
  • Muffin tins
  • Pom poms
  • Hula hoops
  • Sand
  • Cookie cutters
  • Magnet wands
  • Wooden or metal spoons
  • Pine cones
  • Cardboard tubes

This past week, children were offered the opportunity to explore magnets with a basket of metal cookie cutters and magnet wands. Children also used buckets, scarves, and rhythm sticks to cook up a pot of soup or were busy collecting interesting items in their buckets and baskets. Other children learned about weight by noticing the difference between trying to throw a heavier ball versus a lighter one. Giving children loose parts to investigate, manipulate, and actively explore using their senses, helps them to become more active and curious in their play.

Loose parts play can be easily replicated at home or anywhere you go because it uses everyday materials! When choosing materials for infants and toddlers, please be aware of choking hazards, otherwise the sky’s the limit! Interested in learning more? Check out the books Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children and Loose Parts 2: Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky.

Check the Library’s calendar for the next date for Ready, Set, Play! See you next time!

Miss Emily

Let’s Go to the Library!

Winter is here and that means there are fewer things to do to keep little ones occupied. So why not visit the Library? Not only do we have story time but also a place to play and develop social skills. And of course we have books. Lots and lots of books.

When introducing your child to new activities or visiting new places it’s always a good idea to talk about the experience first. Let them know what to expect. What they can do there, who they will see. One of my favorite blogs, Growing Book by Book has 5 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRIP TO THE LIBRARY WITH A TODDLER. They suggest discussing your expectations for behaviour, letting them explore once you arrive, and of course, checking out books. Here is a list of books that will help prepare kids for visiting the library.

D.W.'s Library Card by Marc Brownlola
Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss
Maisy Goes to the Library by Lucy Cousins
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp
Curious George Visits the Library by H.A. Rey
Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London
Library Day by Anne Rockwell
Dinosaur vs. the Library by Bob Shea

And now is the perfect opportunity to teach your child how to care for books. Whether they are library books or books from your own home library, you will find some great tips at Growing Book by Book Teaching Kids How to Care for Books.  And we understand, accidents happen. If a borrowed book gets torn just let us know when you return it and we will take care of the repairs.

Speaking of home libraries, The Children’s Council has some fabulous lists for building a home library for children of all ages. Take a look — I see some of my favorites.

See you in the Story Time Room!

Miss Kathleen

Why Fine Motor Skills Are Important

What exactly are fine motor skills anyway? It’s the ability to use the smaller muscles in fingers, hands and wrists. Fine motor development is an important skill for kids. In a recent article on ABC Radio Melbourne teachers expressed concern for the iPad generation and their readiness to write.  They believe there is a decline in fine motor skills because kids aren’t holding crayons and coloring or using scissors to cut as much as they had in the past.  Continue reading