Early Literacy Skills to Include in Planning

Being a part of an educational team means that we are always keeping up with standards and skills that are developmentally appropriate for our learners. I find that skills are expanding and the goals we have for our learners get more difficult. We need to know what skills the standards are according to our state, district, and per classroom so that we are aware of where our learners need as goals and what skills we are monitoring. Amongst all domains and individualized goals, studies have shown that strong early literacy programs focus on developing children’s oral language skills, knowledge of the alphabet, and concepts of print knowledge. Research suggests that phonemic awareness and instruction on letter names and sounds is best supported by lessons that are brief, highly engaging and fun. In this post, I will share some common state standards for early childhood and kindergarten curriculum as well as how to incorporate them in everyday lessons and activities.

Literacy Standards and Skills


Although standards and skills differ by state, school district, classroom, and curriculum, many of the early learning standards are similar. When a child is developing typically, the skills are sequential and match up with many assessments that are commonly used among educators. Often, learners develop skills out of sequence or even skip skills and move on to the next. Reading, talking, writing, and all verbal behavior is important to start when a child is a baby and continue throughout their years. Teaching Strategies GOLD is an assessment that is used in many preschool classrooms in my area. The following are their literacy objectives taken from the linked webpage:

  1. Demonstrates phonological awareness, phonics skills, and word recognition: Notices and discriminates rhyme, Notices and discriminates alliteration, Notices and discriminates discrete units of sound, Applies phonics concepts and knowledge of word structure to decode text
  2. Demonstrates knowledge of the alphabet: Identifies and names letters, Identifies letter–sound correspondences
  3. Demonstrates knowledge of print and its uses: Uses and appreciates books and other texts, Uses print concepts
  4. Comprehends and responds to books and other texts: Interacts during reading experiences, book conversations, and text reflections, Uses emergent reading skills, Retells stories and recounts details from informational texts, Uses context clues to read and comprehend texts, Reads fluently
  5. Demonstrates writing skills: Writes name, Writes to convey ideas and information, Writes using conventions


An effective early childhood classroom, gives learners access to activities by engaging them in some of the following ways: 

  • Read alouds
  • Begin to experiment with different writing modalities 
  • Identify labels and signs in the environment
  • Rhyming and alliteration games
  • Letter games to work on labeling and identification 
  • Reread favorite stories even when they weren’t in the lesson plan 
  • Give access to different genres of books
  • Include literacy in all centers throughout the classroom 
  • Promote literacy-related play activities throughout the day 

Receptive and Expressive Language

Learning to tact and receptively identify both objects and pictures of items is an important pre-reading skill. Knowing the names and connecting them to the objects, concepts and feelings within the world. Matching words to pictures and objects to words is a step in the reading sequence. A learner reads when they are able to sound out letters to form a word, but what is equally important is matching the word and understanding the meaning. Comprehension of what is being read is an important skill. The educational team can work on expanding a learner’s current skills by modeling conversations with adults and peers, read books aloud and ask questions for comprehension, engage in conversations during meals and play opportunities, and model expansion of language to what learner’s are able to say using different modalities such as PECS, core boards, gestures, and vocal language. Some other strategies that can be implemented in the classroom are: 

  • Label items while working with a learner
  • Narrate what you and the learner are doing together 
  • Read books often. Expanding on words in the book and also minimizing the words being spoken in a book depending on the learner’s skill set 
  • Play with puppets, create a storyline between the puppets.
  • Read wordless books and encourage children to make up the story.
  • Listen when children talk and tell stories.
  • Engage in conversational words even when a learner is babbling or exploring sounds. 
  • Encourage children to re-tell a story after reading it.
  • Ask children open-ended questions
  • Read books with a repeating patterns and allow children to fill in the blanks or endings of sentences. 
  • Talk, a lot! This helps build up vocabulary and an understanding of the world around our learners.
  • When a learner tells a story or talks about their day, expand on their thoughts and add descriptive words.
  • Create a time during circle time to focus on new words. Plan for weekly or monthly words charts and core vocabulary.


Resources to Implement Literacy Around the Classroom 

The Autism Helper Literacy activities to include in your classroom:

Free resources from the CDC:

My favorite read alouds:

  • Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet
  • Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss
  • The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen 
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • How The Crayons Saved The Rainbow by Monica Sweeney 
  • Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell


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