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!!!
I threw around all sorts of ideas for a blog this month: second language resources, school topics, etc... I will definitely post on those themes another time. Right now, I just want to have fun! More importantly, I have come across new 2015 titles about monsters that shouldn't be missed!
Worst in Show by William Bee
Funny illustrations and a sweet story about celebrating all kinds of winners.
Five Stinky Socks by Jim Benton
A rhyming story about why each of his five socks are so STINKY!
The Monsters Under My Bed by Rebecca J. Razo
Read this bedtime story and learn how to draw monsters! Monsters won't seem so scary when you draw them as cuddly creatures.
Tickle Monster by Édouard Manceau
Like 'Go Away Big Green Monster' by Ed Emberley, kids will love deconstructing this monster with tickles!
Monstruo, ¡Sé Bueno! by Natalie Marshall
A simple and silly book in español about how to behave or 'comportarse' in different situations.
There are so many new books with Monster themes for 2015 that I can't share them all here. A hint: To find more titles on jeffcolibrary.org, type '(Monster 2015) (Children's Easy Collection)' in the search. Using the parentheses or () is like doing an 'Advanced Search' without the added step!
Photo credit: Flickr
The nights are getting cooler, aren't they? But the days are HOT! How about some fun places to keep cool during these dog days of summer?
WHERE: Surfside Spray Park
5330 W 9th Ave (just west of 9th & Sheridan), Lakewood
WHEN: Aug 22-Sep 6: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Labor Day: Mon, Sep 7: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $1 per person (pre-walkers free)
We went to a birthday party at this park a few weeks ago and I was sure the GPS lady had lost her way until we were right on top of this hidden gem. Most of the park is a circle of sprayers of varying height and duration. My boy was enchanted by the aim-able water cannon, naturally. My daughter developed a game where she ran through the whole park without getting wet at all, so it is certainly what you make of it! There is a little-kids area with a water-way and movable obstacles so the children can explore the physics of water. And then they can stand on a fountain! The tables and shelters are set far enough back from the splash pads that you don't HAVE to get wet to have a good time here, although that is kind of the point, isn't it? Surfside used to be a swimming pool, which is evident from the facilities: lockers! changing areas! multiple stalls!
WHERE: Ralston Central Park
5850 Garrison St, Arvada
WHEN: Splash Pad hours through September 15: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Free!
When Ralston Central Park opened last summer, we couldn't wait to go. And neither could anyone else! It was like Thunderdome over there. We went one time, had fun, but the chaos was a bit much for me. It's still a very popular park, but it's calmed down a bit. I really like the layout of this park: there's a traditional, vaguely "Swiss Family Robinson" themed playground that's separate from the splash park - so, like at Surfside, you don't HAVE to get wet. The splash park has features for all ages: plenty of shade and tables for parents/caregivers; tall leaf-shaped showers, and buckets that dump for big kids; fountains that shoot up from the ground and cascade down from about 3ft for our littlest friends. The facilites are new, and - as far as park facilities go - delightful.
WHERE: Discovery Park
3701 Johnson St (38th & Kipling), Wheat Ridge
WHEN: Park hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Splash Pad hours May 1 - September 30: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Free!
I confess, Discovery is my favorite park right now. It has lots of little environments so it feels like more than one park. The splash pad is user-generated: if you want to get wet, you must stomp on the in-ground "buttons." My little one doesn't care for surprises, so she likes that she has some control over whether or not she gets soaked. Up the hill on the south east side of the park is a meandering "stream" for ankle-deep wading and paddling. There's a toddler playground near the splash pad, and a big kids playground across the way. There's a skatepark, a sculpture park with a "secret" tube slide, and even a dedicated sandbox (with water feature) for [getting really filthy] an extra special sensory experience. A bonus for Discovery Park is that there's a Port-o-Let available year round. I know, gross, but in Colorado it's a shame the bathrooms at most parks are only available during the summer. We like to be outside when the weather's nice - even in February, and when you gotta go...
I hope you've had an amazing summer. Stay cool, Jeffco!
Photo credits: Surfside - Design Concepts Community and Landscape Architects; Ralston Central Park - Westword.com; Discovery Park - Bobby T. at Yelp.com
As summer comes to a close and we get closer to Halloween and fall costume parties, many of us start to panic about which costume to make or buy for our children. Recently, I heard a mother talking about how she created a costume chest for her son when he was little. I thought to myself, that’s right! Why wait to have fun with costumes? Why not create a collection of costumes and extend dress-up play to enjoy during the entire year?! This would be a fantastic way to encourage my son to engage in another form of imaginative play. A recent Scholastic article points out that the benefits of pretend play include helping children develop strong social, emotional skills and thinking skills, while also nurturing the imagination.
I was delighted to bring this idea home for my son. I bought a large basket which we named "The Costume Chest." Then, he and I gathered up all of his old Halloween costumes and props. I immediately noticed how much he loves dressing up to act out scenarios and pretend to be certain characters even more, since he has easy access to his costumes. Great places to get cheap costumes, if you don’t feel like making them, are dollar stores and off season sale bins/end caps at various stores. Thrift stores and garage sales are also great places to hunt for costumes and props. Then, try to set up scenes in your house in simple ways. A fort could double as a pirate’s cave, or a blanket and some pillows on the floor could be a pirate ship. Most of all have fun!
Here are some additional suggestions to help create an imaginative play zone in your home:
- Large plastic crates, cardboard blocks, or a large, empty box for creating a "home"
- Old clothes, shoes, backpacks, hats
- Old telephones, phone books, magazines
- Cooking utensils, dishes, plastic food containers, table napkins, silk flowers
- Stuffed animals and dolls of all sizes
- Fabric pieces, blankets, or old sheets for making costumes or a fort
- Theme-appropriate materials such as postcards, used plane tickets, foreign coins, and photos for a pretend vacation trip
For some costume ideas, check out the library for costume books.
Photo credit: jasohill on Flickr