Fun ways to Read, Write and Count with your child

Fun ways to
Read, Write
and Count
with your child
For parents/carers
of P2 children
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We count the fruit and veg into the bag when we
are shopping in the supermarket. We use colours,
‘Find me the green milk, find me the butter with
the blue writing.’ We always make it a game,
which helps shopping seem fun too.
Jackie from Glasgow
We count the Eddie Stobart lorries
that pass us on our travels.
We have always read with our three-year-old
from day one, even before, to be honest, and
encouraged her imagination.
Norrie from Penicuik
Peter from Hamilton
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What is Read, Write, Count?
Read, Write, Count is a new campaign designed to
support parents of children in primaries 1 to 3.
Read, Write, Count gives you lots of simple ideas for
easily incorporating reading, writing and counting
activities into your everyday life with your child.
It could be things to do together in the supermarket,
on the way to school, at bedtime or when sitting
down for a meal.
You can have fun together and help your child to get
the best start in life.
Why are parents important?
Parents are the first, and most important,
teacher any child has. While schools in Scotland
give children a fantastic education, learning
doesn’t start and stop at the school gates.
Doing things with your children is one of the
great things about being a parent. It makes
you and your children happier and helps build
stronger relationships.
And the difference that you can make is
incredible. Research shows that children do
better at school and throughout life when
parents are involved in their learning. But we
know it is not always easy to know how to help.
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Where can I find out
more or get some help?
Read, Write, Count is here to help and support you.
This bag gives you and your child everything you
need to learn together at home.
There are books to read together and things to use
for writing and counting games.
If you’d like more information about getting
involved in your child’s learning, try visiting
these websites:
And it doesn’t end there. We have also created
an easy-to-use website where you can find more
simple and fun ideas for activities to do together. By
following us on Facebook and/or Twitter you’ll get
access to lots more ideas, competitions and fun stuff.
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Read, Write, Count – the official website for
this campaign, full of loads of videos, tips and
ideas for activities to do with your children.
If your child is in Gaelic Medium Education,
there is information to help you. There are
also links to other websites, such as The Big
Plus, if you’d like some help with your own
reading, writing and counting.
Scottish Book Trust – visit Scottish Book
Trust’s website for recommended book-lists
for all ages and interests, fun competitions
and information on free events.
Parentzone – a website for parents and carers
from early years to beyond school, including
learning. There is also information about
additional support needs, how to get involved
with your child’s school and about the schools
in your local area.
PlayTalkRead – if you have any younger
children not yet at school, this website gives
lots of ideas for activities you can do together.
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What’s in the bag
and what do I do with it?
In the bag, you will find:
Two books
An envelope containing card finger puppets
A booklet and writing pencil
Coloured pencils
Snakes and ladders game, with a bonus
game on the back, two dice and four
coloured counters
This parents’/carers’ guide to reading, writing
and counting with your child
Unpack the bag with your child and see
what’s inside. Lay out all the things and talk
about them, helping your child to get excited.
Everything you need is in the bag, including
instructions – you don’t need anything else!
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Reading with your children is great for both
of you and gives you time to relax together.
It’s never too early or late to start.
In the bag, you will find two books, chosen for
you and your child to read together. We hope
you both like them.
If you want to find more books to enjoy
together, visit your local library. The librarian
can help you get a library card if you don’t
have one and find other books you’ll love too.
Find a quiet place to read. Turn off mobile phones
and TVs to limit distractions for both of you.
Before you open the book, look at the front
and back covers together. Ask your child about
what they see and what they think the story
might be about.
Once you’ve opened the book, read the words
but talk about the pictures too. There are often
lots of details in the pictures which your child will
find interesting.
You can read to your child, they can read to you
or you can take turns reading a page or paragraph
each. Remember, even if your child can read
themselves, it’s still a great idea to read to them.
Ask your child questions while you are reading, like
why they think something is happening in the story
or how they feel about the story.
If your child is reading to you, help them with
words they’re not sure about. Encourage them
to sound out the word or work it out based on
the other words in the sentence and what is
happening in the story.
You can read together at any time of day, but
bedtime is a perfect opportunity.
If you’ve started a book but your child isn’t enjoying
it, just try a different book.
It’s OK to read the same book again and again too!
For more ideas on books you and your child might enjoy,
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by Tracey Corderoy
and Steven Lenton
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are robbers. But they’re
not very good at their job. After being caught red-handed,
they decide to change their ways and discover they have a
new talent! This book is written in rhyme, which makes it fun
to read aloud. You could put on different voices for each of
the characters. There are lots of detailed pictures which you
and your child can talk about, as well as reading the words.
Activities to do together
Look at the rhyming words in the story. Can you and your
child think of your own rhyme about Shifty and Sam? Help
your child to write it in their booklet.
Shifty and Sam go from being robbers to owning a café.
What other jobs could they have done? Talk to your child
about what they want to be when they grow up.
There are lots of different characters in this book, including
the dogs but also the other animals in the zoo. Ask your
child how many different dogs they can spot and whether
they can name the different animals in the zoo.
Look at the dogs’ and other animals’ faces – ask your child if
they can tell how the animals are feeling at different points
in the story and why they might feel that way.
Play I-Spy with the pictures – can your child find something
in the book beginning with ‘p’? Try other letters too.
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This book is all about being new at school. If your child
has been the ‘new boy’ or ‘new girl’, ask them how they
felt. If they haven’t, ask them whether they’ve ever had a
new classmate and how they felt about that.
by David Mackintosh
Marshall Armstrong is the new boy at school and he’s
different from everyone else. The other children in his class
aren’t too sure about him at first. But, once they get to know
him, they realise that Marshall is great after all.
This book is about what it means to be different from other
people. It asks us not to judge people on first impressions
and get to know them, learning to accept others and
their differences.
Activities to do together
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The person telling the story says that Marshall’s ‘ear
looks like a shell’ and he has ‘lips like my tropical fish,
Ninja’. These are unusual ways to describe someone. Can
you and your child think of unusual ways to describe
Marshall has different things in his pencil case to the other
children. Find the page where you can see Marshall’s desk
and look at some of the things he’s laid out. Can you or
your child name any of the items? Some of them are quite
Look at all the exciting things the children do at Marshall’s
house. Ask your child, if they could choose, what would
they do first and why?
On the very last page you’ll see a new girl is starting
at the school. The person telling the story seems to
feel differently about this new person than they did
about Marshall. Ask your child why they think they feel
differently about new people at the end of the story than
they did at the start.
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In the bag, we’ve included a booklet, a writing
pencil, a pack of coloured pencils and a set of five
finger puppets.
Talking and listening skills can help your child’s
writing. Many of the activities in this book start
with talking and listening and make it easier for
you and your child to begin to tell, write and draw
stories together.
Children really enjoy having something of their
own to write in. Encourage your child to write
their name on the front of their booklet and to use
it for the activities below (and anything else they
want to do). Inside the booklet, there are blank
and lined pages. It’s up to you and your child how
you use them.
Ask your child to choose a puppet and take
one yourself too. Make your puppet talk to your
child’s puppet and ask each other questions.
You can make this as funny or as silly as you like.
The important part is the talking and using your
imaginations. For each character, there are two
sides, each side with a different facial expression.
This means there are lots of ways you can use
the puppets.
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Here are some questions you could ask each
• What is your puppet’s name?
• Where does your puppet live?
• What is the best thing about where
your puppet lives?
• What is your puppet’s favourite colour?
• What is your puppet’s favourite game?
• How is your puppet feeling?
• Why do they feel like that?
Ask your child to draw their puppet using the
coloured pencils and write a sentence in their
booklet telling you something about it.
Describing the puppets
Ask your child to write down three sentences
to describe their puppet in their booklet.
You can do this too. Tell each other what you
have written.
I am a…
I have g reen eyes.
I feel…
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Talk to your child about what they think the
puppet likes about your house. Ask your child to
write a letter from their puppet to a puppet that
lives in a different house. Ask them to write three
sentences in their letter.
Dear Friend,
I now live with…
I live in…
I like my new home because…
Ask your child what else they could write a
letter about.
Clues might be:
• My puppet is in the room where we make dinner
• My puppet is somewhere cold
• My puppet is next to my favourite food
The puppet is in the fridge!
You can each take a turn of doing this a few
times. Try asking your child to read the clues out
one by one. Encourage them to tell you if you are
warm or cold as you search for the puppet.
Guess the puppet
Ask your child to write three clues about one of
the puppets using describing words (like colours,
size or features). When they have finished ask your
child to read out the clues to you – you have to
guess which puppet your child is describing.
Hide and seek
Hide your puppet behind the cushions on the sofa
or under the bed. While they are looking for it,
encourage your child to use words like ‘under’ or
‘behind’ to ask where your puppet is.
When they are close to finding the puppet,
tell your child they are ‘warm, getting warmer,
roasting’ or when they are far away, tell them they
are ‘cold, getting colder, freezing’.
Ask your child to hide the puppet in a different
place and ask them to write down three or four
sentences in their booklet to give clues about
where the puppet is now hiding.
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Telling stories
When you and your child have spent some time
getting to know the puppets, you could make up
a story together.
Using the puppets’ different expressions is a good
place to start. You could talk about a puppet’s two
different expressions, asking your child to make up
a story about how the puppet went from feeling
one way to feeling something different.
You could help your child with writing their story
by encouraging them to think of what happens at
the beginning, in the middle and at the end.
The story could be some short sentences or it
could be a comic strip or cartoon. Your child could
use the coloured pencils to draw pictures.
You can help by drawing some boxes for them
to use for their comic strip. One idea could be
something like this:
For example, ask them:
• How does the puppet feel at the start?
• What happened to the puppet?
• Why do they feel differently at the end?
Encourage them to make up stories about how
the different characters interact with each other.
You and your child could act out the story using
the puppets before writing it down.
How you and your child write the story is up to
you. If your child wants to write it all themselves,
that’s great. If they need a little help from you,
that’s OK too.
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Encourage your child to use the boxes to draw
different parts of their story, using the final box
(number four) for the ending. They can use
speech bubbles to show what their characters
are saying. At the end, ask your child to read
their story to you.
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In the bag, you’ll find a board game and a pack of
counters with two dice. On one side of the board,
there is Snakes and Ladders. On the other side,
there is a brand new game called Blast Off!
All the activities below can be done with the
games, the counters and the dice. They can be
played by two people, but there are four counters
in case anyone else in the house wants to play.
Here are some definitions of the words we use in
the activities. These use the kind of language your
child will be taught at school:
This means working out the total of two or more
numbers, such as 5 + 3 makes a total of 8.
This means working out the difference between
two numbers, such as 9 – 6 makes a difference of 3.
For example, 2 x 3 means the same as 2 + 2 + 2.
Here we are grouping numbers and in this case
there are 3 groups of 2.
This means splitting into equal parts or groups.
For example, 6 –: 3 means finding out how many
lots of 3 fit into 6 or sharing 6 between 3.
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1, 3, 5...
2, 4, 6...
These are numbers that cannot be divided
exactly by two, such as 1, 3, 5 and 7.
These are numbers that can be divided exactly
by two, such as 2, 4, 6 and 8.
DIE means
DICE means
more than one
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Snakes and Ladders
Look at how the numbers are laid out on the
board – it might look a bit different from what
you expect! Take the time to look at it with your
child so you both know how to move the counters
when you’re playing the game.
• To practise counting forwards and
backwards out loud
• To compare numbers by talking about
‘how much more’ and ‘how much less’
What you need
The Snakes and Ladders board, one die
and counters
• To recognise the patterns of dots on the dice
• To practise counting forwards and saying
numbers in order
What you need
The Snakes and Ladders board, one die
and counters
1. Each player throws a die. The one with the
highest score starts.
2. Start the game. Can your child recognise the
number of dots on the die by looking at the
pattern, without actually counting them?
3. Encourage your child to count through the
‘jumps’ as they move. The numbers on the board
can help them.
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1. If your child lands at a ladder and moves up, ask
them to count the number of spaces they have
jumped ahead by counting out loud pointing to
each space.
For example, if they land on a 4 and the ladder
takes them to 10 ask them to count how many
spaces or jumps from 4 to 10.
Ask ‘how much more is 10 than 4?’. The answer is
‘10 is 6 more than 4’.
2. If your child lands on a snake and has to move
back, ask them to count the number of spaces
they have moved back by counting out loud,
pointing to each space.
For example, if they land on 20 and the snake
takes them back to 12, ask them to count the
spaces back from 20 to 12.
Ask ‘how much less is 12 than 20?’. The answer is
‘12 is 8 less than 20’.
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• To practise counting backwards
• To practise subtraction
What you need
The Snakes and Ladders board, two dice and
1. Try beginning the game at the last square (99).
2. Throw the two dice and find the difference
between them – do a take away sum.
For example, a 3 and a 6 is thrown so the difference
is three (6 – 3 = 3).
3. Move backwards this number of squares. In this
example, the difference between the dice is three
so move back three squares.
4. This time go up the snakes and down the ladders.
5. The winner is the person who reaches the zero
(0) square first.
To practise addition
What you need
The Snakes and Ladders board, two dice
and counters
1. Using two dice ask the youngest player to
throw first.
2. Ask your child to say how many dots are on
each die (encourage your child to look at the
pattern and not count the dots).
3. Can your child add the two numbers to give
a total? For example, throwing
gives a total of 8.
Ask your child to move forward the correct
number of spaces on the board.
5. Continue the game in this way.
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To spot and talk about number patterns
What you need
The Snakes and Ladders board
1. Look at the numbers on the board with
your child.
2. Ask your child if they can see any patterns.
3. Talk together about:
• Odd and even numbers (odd and even
squares are shown as two different colours
on the board) – can your child identify all the
odd numbers between 0 and 9? All the even
numbers between 1 and 70?
• The patterns in the columns up and down the
board, e.g. ‘0, 10, 20’; ‘11, 21, 31’ and ‘86, 76, 66’.
Ask your child to tell you what is happening in
these patterns. Can they see that the pattern
is counting forward and backwards in 10s? Use
these squares to ask simple questions involving
addition and subtraction of 10, 20 and 30. For
example, ask them ‘21 + 10 = ?’; ‘54 – 10 = ?’;
‘86 – 20 = ?’. Encourage your child to use the
patterns on the board to help them.
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• Patterns across the diagonals, e.g. ‘11, 22, 33’.
Can your child work out what the pattern is
here? In this example, 11 is being added each
time. Look at the squares in the other diagonal.
Can your child spot the pattern here? In this
case, the digits in all the numbers add up to 9
(e.g. 27, 2 + 7 = 9 or 54, 5 + 4 = 9).
• Counting in 5s. Start counting in 5s starting at
0 – what does your child notice about the last
digit of each number? They either end in a 0 or
5. Talk about how these numbers (5, 10, 15, 20
etc) are all multiples of 5.
4. Try covering up a number on the board using
one of the counters and ask your child to work out
which number is under the counter.
• Can they do it by looking at the numbers
immediately before and after the hidden one?
• Can they do it by looking at the numbers
directly above and below the hidden one?
• If they are finding this easy, ask them if they can
work out the hidden number by looking at the
numbers in the spaces diagonal to it.
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For example, starting on 9, your child could give
instructions like ‘add 8’. The finishing square is 17.
When you think you’ve solved it, move the counter
to the finishing square to see and ask your child if
you are right.
5. Ask your child to try finding squares where the
numbers on it add up to 9. Once they’ve found
the right squares, can your child spot any patterns
these numbers make on the board? Try this game
with looking for totals of 10, 11 and 12.
6. Try finding pairs of squares that add up to 100,
e.g. 35 and 65. How many pairs can your child find
in two minutes?
7. Ask your child to make their own number
puzzle. Ask them to (in their head) choose a
number to start on and a number to finish on.
Ask them to put one of the counters on their
chosen starting square and write or give
instructions to help you find the finishing square.
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Try making a puzzle for your child too. You could
even make it a competition and get a point for each
puzzle you solve correctly, with the winner being
the person with the most points after each player
has had three turns. Remember, the puzzles can be
as easy or as hard as you and your child like.
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Blast Off!
In this game, players start at the bottom of the
rocket on the 0 square. When a player reaches
the very top of a rocket (square 12), they win
and blast off!
Look for opportunities
to talk about different sizes
(e.g. more than, less than,
bigger, smaller).
To recognise odd and even numbers
What you need
1 die, counters, board
2–4 (one rocket per person)
1. Roll the die.
2. If the number is odd, roll again. If it’s another
odd number, roll again. If you roll three odd
numbers in a row, you move up the number of
spaces shown on your last throw.
3. If you roll an even number, pass the die on to
the next player.
4. The winner is the first to reach the top of their
rocket and blast off!
You can change this game around to be ‘Even,
Even, Even’ where players try to roll three even
numbers to move on. You could also roll two dice
to get a two-digit number then work out if it is
odd or even.
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To add three numbers together in your head
To practise using doubles for quick addition
in your head
What you need
2 dice, counters, board
What you need
1 die, counters, board
2–4 (one rocket per person)
1. Throw one die.
2. Double the number on the die.
3. Throw the die again and add the number
shown on to the double.
4. If the answer is an odd number, you move up
one space. If the answer is an even number, you
remain on the same spot.
5. Pass the die on to the next player.
6. The winner is the first to reach the top of the
rocket and blast off!
2–4 (one rocket per person)
1. Throw two dice and add the numbers together.
2. Throw one die and add that number on to the
original total.
3. If the answer is an even number, you move up
one space. If the answer is an odd number, you
remain on the same spot.
4. Pass the dice on to the next player.
5. The winner is the first to reach the top of the
rocket and blast off!
If this is too easy, you can make this game a bit
harder by adding four numbers together, or
even five.
If this is too easy, you can make this game harder
by either subtracting the second die thrown from
the double or doubling the number twice e.g.
throw a 3, double it to make 6, then double again
to make 12, then add/subtract a number.
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To practise multiplying by 2, 5 and 10 by counting
in steps of 2s, 5s and 10s
What you need
1 die, counters, board
2–4 (one rocket per person)
1. Roll one die.
2. Multiply the number on the die by 2 by
counting in steps of 2. For example, if you roll a
3, you would count three lots of 2. If the answer
is correct, move up a space on the rocket.
Remember you can use the Snakes and Ladders
board to check answers.
3. Pass the dice to the next player who repeats
steps 1 and 2.
4. Once all players have had a turn at multiplying
by 2, repeat steps 1 and 2 but multiply by 5.
5. Once all players have had a turn at multiplying
by 5, repeat steps 1 and 2 but multiply by 10.
6. The winner is the first to reach the top of the
rocket and blast off.
If your child finds this activity a bit tricky, practise
counting in steps of 2s, 5s and 10s first. You could
use the squares on the Snakes and Ladders board
to help.
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To subtract a single digit number from a two-digit
number (e.g. 14 – 5)
What you need
1 die, counters, board
2–4 (one rocket per person)
1. Pick and say any number between 10 and 20,
14 for example. Tell the other players what your
number is.
2. Roll one die and subtract the number on the
die from the number you chose. If you rolled 5, for
example, it would be 14 – 5.
3. If the answer is correct, you move up one space.
If the answer is incorrect, you remain on the same
spot. You can use the Snakes and Ladders board
on the other side to check answers, e.g. start on 14
and count back five steps, landing on 9.
4. Pass the die on to the next player.
5. The winner is the first to reach the top of the
rocket and blast off.
If this is too easy, you can make this game a little
bit harder by picking larger numbers to subtract
from e.g. pick any number between 30 and 100.
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This bag is a gift for you
and your child to enjoy together
It was put together by Scottish Book Trust, working together
with Education Scotland and the Scottish Government.
Parentzone Scotland is a unique website which provides
education information for parents and carers in Scotland.
Discover what your child is learning from early learning
through to secondary school and how you can help.
You can find information on a range of topics including
literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing, science, practical
advice and ideas to support children’s learning at home.
Information is also available on Parentzone Scotland regarding
additional support needs, how to get involved in your child’s
school and education, and schools in your local area.
Additionally, parents and carers can sign up for the quarterly
e-bulletins which have links to events, resources and
information which will help parents and carers support their
children’s learning. You can sign up for the e-bulletins at:
If you would like further information or have any comments
please visit the Parentzone Scotland website:
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Scottish Book Trust believes that books and reading have the
power to change lives. As a national charity, we inspire and
support the people of Scotland to read and write. As well as
providing you with this bag, Scottish Book Trust does lots of
other work around promoting reading and writing.
We give free books to every child in Scotland to ensure families
of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home. We
work with teachers to inspire children to develop a lifelong love
of reading with innovative classroom resources, book awards,
reading initiatives and our touring authors programme. We
support the country’s dynamic writing talent, and fund all sorts
of author events with the public, including schools, libraries,
hospitals, festivals and reading/writing groups.
To support parents, we have lots of information about
reading, writing and learning together at home, plus book
recommendations on all kinds of topics, competitions, events
and much more for you and for children of all ages.
To find out more or to get in touch, visit us at
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