I love the fall! From the changing leaves to drinking hot apple cider on chilly evenings, the fall brings a rich variety of things to do and to make. When I was a teacher, we would go on nature walks and talk about the season changes while collecting leaves for crafts and games. I thought I would share a couple of my favorite craft activities as well as some fall themed books. I savor this season as long as I can before the snow flies!
*I found instructions for these activities and more on www.kidsactivities.net. Make sure to check out 'Stained Glass Leaves with crayons'. Another one of my favorites!
1. Sun Prints
You will need: Colored construction paper (that can fade in the sun), leaves gathered outside, glue stick or liquid glue, tape
- Dab a bit of glue into the back of a leaf. I suggest using leaves that are not too crunchy.
- Glue the leaf to a piece of construction paper.
- Tape the paper to a sunny window with the leaf facing outside. Leave for 3-4 days or until you notice the paper color has faded.
- Remove from window and gently peal the leaf off to reveal the print.
- Talk science with your child! Why did the paper around the leaf fade? (bleaching) Why didn't the paper under the leaf fade? (not exposed to the light or shadowed)
2. Leaf Animals, People, Cars...
You will need: A variety of leaf types- different shapes, sizes and colors, construction paper, liquid glue, tape, crayons or markers
- Gather different kinds of leaves outside- make sure they aren't too dry! Talk about sizes, shapes, colors.
- Arrange leaves on paper to make an animal or person or car. What other things can your child think of?
- Glue each piece on the paper. Let your creation dry. Tape can help hold leaf edges down.
- Use crayons or markers to draw eyes, other body parts and details. Make a fall scene!
Fall themed books to inspire you!
Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland. Gorgeous Illustrations light up each page!
Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston. See the fall through the little girl's eyes as she returns to same place to watch autumn change to winter.
Photo credit: Flickr
I recently heard Rae Pica speak on the importance of moving while learning. This is active learning; engaging the body and mind. Research shows children learn best when they experience new ideas and concepts through play and movment. In an article Pica wrote titled In Defense of Active Learning, she explains that moving our bodies helps activate our brains. She had a few cute pre-writing movement ideas I thought would be fun to do at home with your little ones.
- Hand and Finger Activities: Sing "Open, Shut Them". Many libraries sing this song to begin their Storytimes. This song activates the brains of our babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as they practice their hand-eye coordination; a must-have pre-writing skill.
- Sky Writers: Use your index finger to "write" a letter, word, or a name in the sky. This will help your child practice the feeling of straight and curvy. You could take this a step further and pretend to put your sky writer in your belly button or on the tip of your nose while writing the word in the air. Kids love the belly button writer and it's super cute to watch too!
- The Above, Below, and On movement: Tape a line on the floor, use the straight edge of a rug or strech a ribbon across the floor and jump above the line, below the line, or on the line. This will help your child understand where to start and where to finish writing lower case and upper case letters. After playing this game, practice writing letters, words, or names on paper.
- Build a Story: Start a story and take turns adding to the plot creating the beginning, middle, and end of a story. For example, you could start this activity by saying, " Once there was a dog who..." and let your child add the next idea. Then you, or another family member contributes the following part of the story. This activity demonstrates the beginning, middle, and end of a story. It's a great way to pass the time in the car too!
-The Mirror Game: This game is important for replicating what the eye sees. This replication is what learning to write is all about. Stand infront of your child and take turns mimicing each others' movements. You and your child should try to move as if you were seeing a reflection of yourself in the mirror. Lucy does it best in this video clip below. Lucy is a crack up and I think this should have you and your child smiling too! Go ahead, throw on that Halloween costume while you do this!
Come to one of our 'Movin and Grovin' Fests'. The next fest is this Saturday, October 24th, at the Arvada Library and the Evergreen Library from 11:00am-4:00pm. We will have crafts!
Photo Credit: Neville Nel
I’m almost too late to wish a Happy 150th Birthday to Alice, the curious, determined heroine from Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Published in 1865, the children’s book was unique because it did not teach a moral lesson, but led readers on a grand adventure.
Lewis Carroll made up the story for Alice Liddell and her sisters when on a boating trip in 1862. Alice begged Lewis Carroll to write it down for her, and he did in his own handwriting and with his own illustrations. 150 years later, we can read and listen to Alice Liddell’s copy of the book, thanks to generous Americans who donated it to the British Library.
Make your own Alice paper doll while you listen, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, and illustrator Charlotte Whatley.
Celebrate "Alice's Day" with enthusiasts from Oxford, England (video).
Take a moment, and think about our literary friend Alice, and what she means to you. Don’t miss your chance to wish her “Happy Birthday.”
Photo credit: Creative Commons
My three year old loves this app ($2.99 apple/android) but I was hesitant to recommend it, at first. It doesn't SEEM like an early literacy app. It seems like a cute diversion for waiting rooms and restaurants (and it is that!), but the more I thought about it, and I thought about WHY she likes it, I figured I should share with you.
Jinga the cat is going on a road trip to visit your child's choice of 3 friends: a dog, a rabbit, and a bird. Each friend lives in a exotic locale: mountains, pyramids or beach. You tap a friend to get started on your trip.
Next, you must pack Jinga's suitcase. And this is where I started to realize that Road Trip is an excellent app for teaching narrative skills. We talk about where Jinga is headed: "Do you think she's going to need her swimsuit in the snowy mountains?" "What else do you think she should bring?"
Then, you choose a car. There are normal cars, sure, but the ice cream truck, pickle car, and shoe car are big favorites in our house. All you have to do to get Jinga going is tap her car. The more aggressively you drag Jinga, the faster she goes - much to her dismay at times. She has wonderful expressions for bumpy roads and hard landings. My daughter's favorite part is making Jinga look positively terrified.
Other features include the ability to stop for a car wash and gas. Once Jinga reaches her destination, you're back to the map and ready to choose another friend to visit! There aren't any levels or time limits, it's just a child-driven road trip adventure with fun cartoon friends.
As is, this is a great addition to a "first app" collection for 2-4 year olds. Talking about the story and the choices your child makes for Jinga along the way (the middle) from Point A (the beginning) to Point B (the end) also makes it a fantastic app for practicing Narrative Skills.
Bonus: no in-app purchases! No ads! No Wifi needed to use the app once its downloaded!
Caveat: it's kind of expensive for what it is, but it's offered for free fairly regularly. We've also got Sago Mini Boats (pretty much the same, but with boats!) and Friends (an animal friends playdate) and didn't pay for any of them. Try Apps Gone Free (apple) or App of the Day (Google Play).
As the weather turns colder, we find ourselves spending more and more time indoors. Why not turn cooking with your kids into a fun, healthy experience which helps reinforce elements of early literacy too?
Recently, my 5 year old son came home and asked me “Mommy, what is lasagna?” I used this opportunity to have a lot of fun! I found a cookbook with attractive photographs and showed him how to use the index to look for “L” for lasagna. After we found a great recipe, we grabbed some paper and pencils to create our shopping list. I had him do a combination of drawing pictures of food and writing words. We headed to the store, looked for our ingredients together, brought them home and got everything ready to go. We had a lot of fun reading the recipe together and following the different steps on our way to making our fantastic lasagna dish. My son had so much fun with this cooking adventure and felt very proud for helping make such a yummy creation. To top it off, he got to practice reading and writing activities AND we got to spend some wonderful, fun, quality time together.
Check out your local library for some great cookbooks. Be sure to look for ones that focus on cooking with kids to find simple, fun recipes with colorful photographs to really attract your kids’ attention. Here are a few I would recommend:
READ: look at and comprehend the meaning of (written or printed matter) by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.
I had a WOOHOO moment last week! Not an Oprah A-HA moment but, an Early Literacy Librarian WOOHOO moment! They come few and far between but, when they hit, the stars align, the angels sing and all is right with the world!
Last week I attended the CLEL Annual Conference (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy) here in Denver, with the hope that I would find inspiration for my Ready to Read Reminders. I use CLEL's website, as my bible, when it comes to finding information to share with parents and caregivers about ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read). I thought I knew it ALL, had done it ALL, and therefore had shared it ALL with my readers. I WAS WRONG!
I discovered that the tireless volunteers at CLEL have been very busy putting together Early literacy activity ideas for each of their past CLEL Silver Bell Book Winners. Each Silver Bell has been placed in a category based on their contribution to ECRR's Five Early Literacy Practices, READ, WRITE, TALK, SING, PLAY.
This month I want to share with you the CLEL Silver Bells for READ and their activity suggestions. This is just one of the five titles you can find on CLEL.org for strengthening your child's use of READ as an early literacy skill.
Backseat A-B-See - A CLEL Silver Bell Award Book for READ by Maria Van Lieshout
From the backseat, what do you see? Backseat A-B-See showcases a different road sign for each letter of the alphabet as a parent and a child drive in a car. Recognizing and reading road signs is one of the first ways children begin to understand that print is all around us, and that it carries meaning.
Activity Ideas for Backseat A-B-See:
- Share other books about cars or trucks with the children, both nonfiction and fiction. Are there road signs in the pictures? What do the signs mean? What facts do they learn about cars or trucks from the books? Talking about objects like signs and books lets children know that we read for many different purposes (for directions from signs, for information from nonfiction books, for stories from picture books), and gives them many reasons to learn to read themselves.
- Go on a scavenger hunt in your house, classroom, or library with the children. Where can they recognize letters, numbers, or words? On labels, books, computers, containers, T-shirts, advertisements? Talk about why all these different objects have print on them. Before they can learn to read, children need to be able to see that print is different than pictures and be able to recognize it wherever it appears.
- Sing the “ABC Song” slowly as you turn the pages of the book. Point to each letter as you sing it, or have the children point to it. Pointing to the letter as you sing or say its name helps children realize that each sound in the “ABC Song” corresponds to a specific letter, and that each letter has a different shape. Knowing that letters have names, and shapes, and sounds is a first step to learning to read.
Photo credit: carnagenyc on Flickr
With the Rae Pica Movin' and Groovin event coming up on October 14 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, I just had to write about movement. Moving our bodies strengthens our brain and reading skills. Did you know the simple act of touching your left foot with your right hand and vice versa (or crossing the midline) activates each side of your brain? Crossing the midline powerfully impacts reading, writing and physical development.
- Read this article from North Shore Pediatrics. It gives detailed information about the importance of 'crossing the midline' as it pertains to brain development and future learning. There are activity suggestions like 'Pop bubbles with only one hand' and 'Reach for a bean bag across the midline and throw it' to get you and your child started.
The video from Clamber Club shows children participating in different activities that encourage 'bilateral intergration' or using both sides of the brain.
Have you ever moved to familiar songs like 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' or 'We're Goin' on a Bear Hunt'? These songs use TPR or Total Physical Response. TPR is fantastic for first and second language learning. Like showing a picture to represent a word, the meaning becomes clear when one sees it in action (ie. moving your arms like the wheels on the bus). Matching actions to words helps children (and adults;) see, feel and hear the meaning. Did you know you were already an expert in such a sophisticated concept?!
You will notice we move a lot in Storytime. Try Storytime songs and movement at home!
Image credit: Flickr
Did you know singing with your child is one way to prepare your child to read? How does singing help with reading?
- Songs introduce new words. Song lyrics often use different vocabulary than our everyday spoken language.
-Also, the different musical notes couple with the different syllables of a word. Singing and listening to you sing will help your child understand the structure and sounds of a word.
-Reading books that can be sung is a great way to show children that words are everywhere, even in songs. Words are not just in books!
Children learn about the world around them when you talk to them. Honestly, I run out of things to talk about with my three year old and five year old. So when I can't think of a thing to say to my boys, I sing. I don't have a great singing voice, but my children don't care! Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy has some fantastic rhyming and singing videos in a few different languages. I turn to these videos when I need new songs to sing to my boys or in my Storytimes. If you haven't visited the library for a Storytime, you should come! We sing, dance, read picture books, and sometimes we do a craft. We offer bilingual Storytimes too! Spanish and English storytimes at the Belmar and Wheat Ridge Libraries and American Sign Language and English Storytimes at the Belmar Library.
Check out some of these music and book suggestions.
Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Video "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"
Photo Credit: Henti Smith
Cinderella - is there any little girl in America who hasn't heard of Cinderella? Is there a female of any age in American who hasn't heard of Cinderella? Who hasn't, even if just for a minute, imagined what it would be like to BE Cinderella?
Well, there's a brand new Cinderella movie from Disney coming out September 13!
The library is the perfect place for little (and big) girls to discover - or re-discover - the magic of Cinderella. And there's a whole WORLD of Cinderellas out there!
Besides the new movie version, there are many other movie versions you can check out from the library.
And while Disney's Cinderella may be the most familiar for many people, it's fun to check out the many other versions of Cinderella with their fascinating variety of illustrations.
You might also be surprised to learn that the basic Cinderella tale can be found in different cultures all over the world.
Last but not least, there are the numerous adaptations and take-offs on the Cinderella story to check out and enjoy.
So....let's not focus on the "marriage solves everything" aspect of Cinderella - let's focus on the magic of the Cinderella tale:
a) it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor
b) anyone can have a magic godmother
c) one special night can lead to a special lifetime
and of course, d) anyone can live happily ever after!
Photo credit: Ted Silveira on Flickr
It's that time of year again, that little nip of Fall is in the air and school children everywhere are asking:
"What did you bring?"
"PB&J and an apple, wanna trade?"
Don't let this happen again. Check out some of these fun and inovative books, with creative and delicious lunch box ideas, and take your kid's lunch from drab to fab!
Your kids will thank you!!!