Research Inspired

Literacy Findings

Activities were developed with current research and evidence-based practice in mind.  The National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) conducted an extensive synthesis of research (a meta-analysis of approximately 500 research articles) and identified six variables that correlated with later literacy success. 

Two of the six variables identified were: 

  1. Alphabet knowledge (i.e., knowledge of sound symbol association)
  2. Phonological awareness (i.e., identifying and manipulating the spoken units of language such as segmenting words, syllables or sounds, rhyming, and blending) 

Other important variables included, but were not limited to:

  • Print Knowledge: a combination of elements of Alphabet Knowledge, concepts about print, and early decoding 
  • Reading Readiness: usually a combination of Alphabet Knowledge, concepts of print, vocabulary, memory, and Phonemic Awareness 
  • Oral Language: the ability to produce or comprehend spoken language, including vocabulary and grammar” (Report of the National Early Literacy Panel, 2008)

The NELP also noted that frequent, adult-directed interventions conducted in one-on-one or in small-groups produced the largest and most positive effects on children’s foundational early literacy skills.  

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The Foundations for Literacy: An Evidence-based Toolkit for the Effective Reading and Writing Teacher, through the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, also indicated that “Children with greater knowledge of the alphabet tend to have better phonological awareness skills" (Johnston, Anderson, & Holligan, 1996).  “Children with advanced phonological awareness skills have better reading development than their peers" (Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998).  


The Art of Conversation

Literacy Lane provides opportunities throughout to practice extended conversations that improves language AND executive function skills. Going beyond the "here and the now" to encourage prediction, visualization, questions, comments, opinions, and ideas is key to developing language, and more importantly, relationships.


Movement Findings

Movement, a universal strategy, is a key component of Literacy Lane. Studies show that exercise improves brain plasticity and learning. Movement is well known to benefit children to help them gain control over their behaviour, to improve their ability to engage in learning, and to retain information (i.e., executive function skills). These improvements can last 2-3 hours following exercise.   

Literacy Lane provides the opportunity for physical exercise and engaged learning through a kinesthetic, multi-sensory approach. Small group instruction and individual explicit instruction are recommended whenever possible. Activities in Literacy Lane are ideally designed to be adult-directed with either individual children or with small groups to enhance emergent literacy skills. However, the Lane may also be used for children to independently follow, engage in, and complete the Lane. At the conclusion of the Lane, children arrive at the rainbow and are prompted to return to class. Literacy Lane is the perfect extension to supplement any preschool, daycare or classroom.

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Literacy Lane offers sensory input needed to improve self-regulation. Children who perform within their optimal state demonstrate increased learning (focus and attention) and decreased meltdowns and/or shutdowns. Heavy work, proprioceptive input, is reinforced throughout Literacy Lane using bear walks, frog hops, wall pushes, crab walks, push ups, and bunny hops. 

Consistent breaks throughout the day are recommended to provide regulatory strategies to help calm and organize a child who may be overwhelmed or stressed.   


Executive Function

Literacy Lane would not be complete without acknowledging the importance of Executive Function (EF) skills.  EF and self-regulation are critical for school success and life learning.  EF refers to inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.  This group of skills supports attending, organizing and planning, task initiation, emotional regulation,  and self-monitoring.  Within the "Branching Out Expansion" Activities, suggestions specifically target EF skills.

Simple conversations with a child help to support EF by encouraging him or her to attend to the topic, while inhibiting the impulse to create a new topic. Topic maintenance also supports working memory (hanging onto a piece of information, to relate to or expand on, to keep the conversation going).

Further, the Lane supports the use of predictable nursery rhymes and finger plays to target working memory, self-control and language. Engagement along the Lane reinforces selective attention. The child must hold the activity in mind to complete the task, while avoiding environmental visual and auditory distractions and inhibiting the impulse to do other things.