Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Playful Literacy

Playful Literacy

At Opal School, we have spent years asking ourselves– What is the relationship between play and language? In Reggio Emilia a decade ago I heard Jerome Bruner state that we learn the syntax of our language to tell stories. I’m sure we are born driven to do this: to connect, express, relate, inquire, research, discover, explore. I’m sure this is true no matter what circumstance we happen to be born within. I’m sure that as joyfully and naturally as we learn to speak our stories we can be supported to write them down, and to desire to read the stories of others. And I’m sure that school can be a particularly rich place for these things to happen. Because at school we get to encounter the stories we might otherwise never know.

Maybe these are the stories of distant authors that a teacher we wouldn’t otherwise know brings to share. And maybe these are stories of the others in the room, from the neighborhood or from across town, who bring with them experiences we wouldn’t otherwise know. And as they share, and as we share, we get to know more about our own selves. How are our own experiences, and our ideas about those experiences special, unique, interesting, original? And do I have the language I need to get it right? The more clearly you show me how well you see me, the better I know who I am.

This is literacy. And it happens through play.

Take a look at this video collection of images of children developing the skills of literacy at Opal School:

The Power of Playful Literacy

Louise Cadwell has reflected on some of these approaches in the following post:

Reading the World and the Word

The 5-year-old in the following pictures is fully immersed in her own journey of literacy development:


Literacy is a process of merging who we are with what we show we can do. – Karen Gallas