NCFL’s guide to 30 Days of Families Learning Together provides a month’s worth of family literacy activities and practices designed to inspire family memories rooted in imagining, playing, and learning together. These hands-on and wonder-filled activities were hand-selected from our signature programs, Wonderopolis and Family Time Machine.
Day 1 - Check Out Your Library
Libraries offer valuable information and exciting adventures. Visit your local library as a family and ask for a tour to discover its depth of offerings, and then take advantage of your library card and weekend with free books, music, and movies!
Day 2 - Bring a Book to Life
Draw pictures of your children's favorite book characters and cut them out to make puppets. Use the puppets to act out a scene together. Bringing the narrative to life through dramatic play or retelling the story helps children to better understand character development and the storytelling process.
Day 3 - Share Your Sunday Morning Memories
Storytelling is a great way to promote literacy and build familiar bonds. Share with your children what Sunday morning was like when you were their age. What traditions did you and your family uphold? Ask your child to retell your family memories in his or her own words.
Day 4 - Kid-Friendly Kitchen Restaurant
Create an imaginary restaurant with your child. Create a menu together, assign roles (host, server, chef), and discuss whom would you invite as your “customers.” You could even take a trip to the grocery store to find your recipes’ ingredients. This is a great activity to explain why you would make certain choices and to use lots of details when describing menu items.
Day 5 - Build a Word Jar
Flipping through a dictionary, write down new words and their definitions. Collect these new vocabulary words in a Word Jar. At dinner, extract new words and create sentences out loud together. If there’s time, draw pictures depicting the new word to extend the learning.
Day 6 - Interview One Another
Take turns pretending to be a newspaper reporter or detective. Ask each other important questions of “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why.” Pause after each question to allow your children time to think about the question and what they want to say. Pausing to think teaches children the give and take of conversation and the importance of taking time to understand information they are receiving.
Day 7 - Turn Friends into Pen Pals
Together, write a letter to a faraway friend or family member. Talk about what you might say or which fond memories you may share with the recipient. In addition to being a great deal of fun, writing a letter to someone faraway helps your child practice important writing and storytelling skills.
Day 8 - Thoughtful Television Talks
Watch a TV program together as a family. Afterwards, ask your child what part he or she liked best and why. Offer your own opinions, and talk about how sitcoms were different when you were growing up. Talking about television shows can help family members understand the experiences of others and build a stronger bond.
Day 9 - Sidewalk Stories with Chalk
Encourage your children to use chalk to write a poem or story about the weather or your neighborhood on the sidewalk. You could even suggest writing a poem about the sidewalk itself! Varying the writing medium will create excitement around the literacy experience.
Day 10 - Create Picture Stories
Take a photo or draw a picture of your child doing a favorite activity. Write a story together, using the pictures as illustrations. Picture books help children develop critical thinking skills, as their brains take in the picture and the text and make connections between the two.
Day 11 - Family Fairytale Fun
Start a story together as a family. One person starts the story and tells one to three lines. Then the next person takes over and adds the next one to three lines. See how everyone weaves their own interests and imagination into the plot.
Day 12 - Around the World
Find a newspaper article or book about someone who lives in a different part of the U.S. or world. Research and discuss as a family how that person’s everyday reality may differ because of where they were born. What do they wear? What do they eat? What games do they play? Learning to understand and respect cultural differences is important in our global and ever-growing diverse world.
Day 13 - Fun with Family History
Did Grandpa fight in a World War? Was your grandma born in a different country? Write a story together about an important event in your family’s history. Illustrate the story and fasten it together into a book for the family library. Knowing where you came from is important to gaining a strong sense of identity.
Day 14 - Listen to Your Children’s Stories
Ask your child to tell you a favorite story. It can be a new story or an old one with new twists and characters. Write down what your child says. Read it back to your child. Save the story to read it again. Let your child’s imagination inspire you to come up with your own adult stories to write down and later share.
Day 15 - Wake up, Word Up: Letter of the Day
Over breakfast, work together to choose a letter of the day. Everyone looks for objects that begin with that letter during the day. You may see this letter everywhere! Or, you may only notice it in a few places. Talk about all the things your family observed that day, and marvel at the world around you.
Day 16 - Gratitude Posters
Our days get busy, and sometimes we forget to say “thank you” to the people who make our lives so very special. Make a list in words and/or pictures of three great things you like about each person in your family. Hang your lists up for everyone to see (this also works great in classrooms).
Day 17 - Family Stretches
Unwind together as a family before bedtime, and try out a few beginner yoga poses or deep stretching. Spending time relaxing together can be just as important as staying active.
Day 18 - Shape Up with Dinner Geometry
Shapes are everywhere, even on your dinner plate. Look at your dinner table and name all the shapes you see as a way to practice recognizing shapes. See who can find the most!
Day 19 - Who’s Important To You?
Tell or write a story about an adult who is or was important in your life. Ask your child to do the same. Share your stories out loud, and see if you can think of all the important people who make up your life.
Day 20 - Tasty Togetherness
Take your taste buds on an adventure and try different foods from all over the world. Keep a journal of what you’re trying. Note how the food tastes (salty, sweet, sour, etc.). What did you like about it? Did it remind you of another food? How would you describe it to your friends? Learning to eat different foods is not only healthy, but can be fun for the whole family.
Day 21 - Head in the Clouds
Take the time to stare at the clouds and see if there are any interesting shapes in the sky. Wonder what it would be like to fly. Where would you go? What would you do? Imagine the possibilities with your child
Day 22 - Mystery Dinner Guests
Before dinner, have everyone choose a famous person from history and research the person’s life. While eating, take turns asking each other questions to learn more about the other “famous people” at the table. Try to guess each other’s identity!
Day 23 - Flashlight Stories
Pretend you’re camping and there’s no electricity for a reading light, and read by flashlight! Take turns reading to experience how different it is to read in the dark. Talk about what it would be like to go back in time and read without electricity. You could even go to the library and pick out a story about the discovery of electricity!
Day 24 - Get Cooking
Bring math into the kitchen and include the whole family when preparing a recipe. Practice measuring out ingredients using different sizes of measuring cups. How many ⅓ scoops does it take to make 1 cup? How many ¼ cups? How would you prepare the recipe for 24 guests? You don’t need to be a professional chef to share the joys of cooking and learning with your friends and family members.
Day 25 - School Days
Share stories about what your schooldays were like, and compare your experience with everyone in your family. We think you’ll find the learning process and in-school gadgets have changed quite a bit over the years. Together make a list of the top five things you love about school and why learning will always be important.
Day 26 - What a Gem
When is your birthday? What is your birthstone? Look up where the gemstone comes from and learn about its special powers! Do you like your birth gem’s special powers? Which stone is your favorite?
Day 27 - Dreamland
What’s the craziest dream you’ve ever had? Sit down with your family members and talk about dreams. Which dreams can you remember? What’s the funniest dream you’ve ever had? The scariest? As a family, have everyone keep a dream journal and compare notes. And, if you have a pet, you can even imagine what he or she dreams about!
Day 28 - Over the Moon
Take the time to observe the night sky together. Notice the moon and how it changes size (and even color) from day to day, or map out a constellation or cluster of stars on aluminum foil by poking holes with a tooth pick. Inside, put a light behind the aluminum sheet to make your own night sky.
Day 29 - Mary Had a Little Rhyme
Recite nursery rhymes you know by heart, or learn a popular lullaby from another culture. Encourage your toddler to sing them with you. You can even change around the words to make the songs about your family! Nursery rhymes are important to the process of learning early language skills.
Day 30 - Imagination Vacation
Imagine that you were going on vacation today, instead of school or work. Where would you go? How long would you stay? What is the weather like and what will you do? More importantly, what should you pack? This is a great way to practice giving descriptions and thinking about important information, like weather and things to do.
Visit familieslearning.org to learn more about our many family learning opportunities, and donate now to help us inspire and engage learning across the country, one family at a time. By making a tax deductible donation to NCFL, you ensure another family will gain essential literacy and learning skills that empower them to succeed in school, in work, and in the community.