Talking Holiday Catalogs: Recycle in a new way!

If the world is really going paperless, then why did I receive a ton of holiday catalogs this year? No, that's not accurate - TWO tons.

Before you throw your hands up in frustration - or break your back in taking out the recycling - reconsider what to do with the catalogs. Did you know they can be used as a FREE way to support your child's literacy skills!

Depending on the ages of your child(ren), here are a few ideas of what to do with catalogs and other junk mail...

  • Babies: Babies' brains are oriented to look first at faces, and the faces they love the most besides yours are other babies. One great way to use this orientation in infants is to look through catalogs together with the sole purpose of finding babies. Talk to your baby as you do this: "Let's see if we can find the babies! Oh, look, there's one! What is he doing? He has a red rattle in one hand!" Describing things with as many words as possible helps your baby build vocabulary and attention.
  • Toddlers: Toddlers who are busy and always on the move might still be persuaded to organize catalogs according to size or color. "Let's put all of the blue catalogs here! Can you make a pile with people on the cover?" Again, it's the talking that matters most, so be sure to ask lots of questions and solicit answers as you do this.
  • 4 & 5 Year Olds: At this age, most children are ready to start identifying letters and engaging in skills of print awareness, so go on a letter hunt! If your child's name is Taylor, for example, set a game of finding 100 "T"s in 10 minutes, or all of the "T"s on one page.
  • School-aged: Older children, particularly starting in 3rd grade, are starting to think in more sophisticated ways about other people. Catalogs and junk mail are a great way to start a conversation about audience. Specifically, "What kind of person do you think this catalog maker is trying to appeal to? How do you know? What about this catalog? Do they have a different person in mind?" Point out features that might help them with answers, such as "Look at all of the pink and soft colors here. Do you see a lot of ads for men that use pink colors?" 

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