Colorado summers are so beautiful and children enjoy being outside. So, let's take our books outside and read under the shade of a tree. What if we enhanced this outdoor reading by adding an activity that will help our early readers retell the story?
Retelling a story is an early literacy skill that builds their reading comprehension confidence. This confidence will keep kids excited and motivated to keep reading. This outdoor storytime won't require much.
Here is what you will need:
- A blanket to sit on
- A book of your choice
- Some crayons or a set of paints, brushes, and cup of water
- Something hard to color on such as a piece of cardboard, and;
- A few sheets of blank paper.
Once you've found the perfect shady spot in your yard, explain to your children that they can draw the story as you read it. They may need 3-5 sheets of paper in order to continue drawing throughout the entire story.
After you finish reading the book, ask your child this question: "Tell me about your picture". Asking them to tell you about their picture will encourage them to retell the story in their own words.
Stay away from questions like "What is that?" or "Is that a dog?". These questions can be limiting. You could ask: "Who is in this story?","Where did this story take place?","What happened next?", or "How did the story end?" Your child might end up drawing the butterfly that flew over you as you read. That is okay. The idea here is to create a positive experience with you and a book.
Here are a few suggestions of picture books and chapter books that are great for this reading comprehension skill:
The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
Otis by Loren Long
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Do you want more than picture books? Check out these chapter books.
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
Image Credit: Jeff Golden
One of the most difficult things for parents to manage is witnessing their children experience intense emotions. How do we help our children manage these powerful and sometimes upsetting experiences?
Parents don't need to go through lenghty, verbal explanations of emotions. We can help our kids explore self identification using books that show emotions simply through pictures. With my own 5-year-old son, I find that many picture books help connect him with characters and scenarios he can relate to and empathize with.
From my experience, one of the best books I have seen that helps kids focus on and identify emotions is:
How are You Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann
I have read this book to groups of kids spanning a pretty big range of ages: from 15 months to 6 years old. Each time I read it to a group, I notice that the kids become very quiet and focused. Since kids are so very observant of the world around them, I think this particular book grabs their attention. The pictures are intruiging to look at because they are so uniquely expressive. The author creatively transforms a variety of fruits and vegetables into creatures who show a range of emotional facial expressions. It is kind of strange but it works! Kids really focus their attention on this book.
Check it out at the library and see how your kids respond to these creative pictures! You can also try to incorporate crafting, drawing and painting to tie into this book. Try your hand at creating your own expressive fruit and veggie creatures with your kids. Freymann's other books are full of great ideas.
Image credit: Flipsen&Gaabstra on Flickr
Look for books with some of these attributes:
Large, bright images pictures as babies vision isn't great yet
Books that you can sing
Books that rhyme
Concept books; ABC's, 1,2,3's
Books with animal noise
High contrast images
Very simple stories
One to two sentences per page
Interactive stories; movement, animal noises, etc.
Books you can sing and move to
Books with repeated phrases
Humorous books without sarcasm, especially about underwear
Books with simple plots
Books with predictive plots
Fiction and non-fiction books
Books with real baby faces
Sturdy books that babies can chew on
Lift-the-flap and other interactive elements, like textures
First word books
Concept books; ABC's, 1,2,3's
Books about your child's favorite interests
Books with large fun pictures
Books you loved as a kid
Concept books; ABC's 1,2,3's
Books you and your child enjoy (you will have to read them a million times)
Books that relate to your child's life
Longer books with more in depth stories
Search and Find books
Bubbles! Fun to chase, fun to catch, fun to POP! I love bubbles! When I was a teacher, one of my favorite field trips was to the Children's Museum in Denver. The year the "bubble room" was added, I was esctatic! The kids, families, and teachers had SO much fun doing bubble experiments, making giant bubbles and trapping each other inside of a bubble.
Some people may see bubbles only as entertainment, but did you know playing with bubbles actually can help build hand/eye coordination in babies and small children? Catching and popping bubbles encourages concentration and physical movement as well as strengthens our eyes ability to track motion. Here is a list activities and benefits associated with bubble play:
- Sing songs to baby or play music while you blow bubbles. Music engages the brain. Bubbles provide amusement AND eye tracking practice.
- Ask you child questions like "Where did the bubble go after it popped?" or "Why is the bubble colored like a rainbow?" to stimulate scientific thinking.
- Challenge your child to pop 5 bubbles, 10 bubbles, 20 bubbles...and count out loud along with your child.
- Let your child blow the bubbles. This helps strengthen mouth muscles and concentration skills.
Storytime Katie is a great resource for children's book and activity ideas. I love these BUBBLE activity suggestions!
- Bubble Bounce- a different kind of bubble. Throw balloons into the air and have your child keep the “bubbles” afloat.
- Bubble Art. Add 2 teaspoons of paint to bubble solution. Have your child blow the paint bubbles onto white construction paper. You can provide lots of different kinds of tools to make bubbles. Try straws, bubbles wands, bubble pipes, etc...
I can't leave out a good bubble themed book!
Go to the website Preschool Express by Jean Warren to find bubble themed songs and rhymes. This one is great for rhyming and math skills.
FIVE BIG BUBBLES
Five big bubbles floating all around.
Until one popped when it landed on the ground.
Four big bubbles floating high and free.
Until one popped when it landed in a tree.
Three big bubbles floating quiet as a mouse.
Until one popped when it landed on the house.
Two big bubbles floating down to land.
Until one popped when it landed in my hand.
One big bubble still floating in the air.
Until it popped when it landed in my hair.
Remember to log singing, rhyming and bubble play as Summer Reading minutes for your 0-5 year olds!
This year, Jefferson County Public Library's Summer Reading goal is to read 1,000,001 minutes.
One million (and one) is a huge number and is difficult to visualize for many people, including kids. How much is a million, anyway?
- If you counted from zero to one million and one, it would take you almost two weeks!
- A million grains of rice weigh approximately 62 pounds.
Explore big numbers like millions and billions at the library with author David M. Schwartz. He's written some great books that make it easy for kids to put a million into context. These books are illustrated by Stephen Kellogg and are a treat for the eyes as well as a workout for the brain!
How Much is a Million?
If You Made a Million
Millions to Measure
Exposing kids to STEM (or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) from an early age better prepares them excel in these subjects one they start school. Make sure your kids earliest experiences with math are a ton of fun with these cute titles!
And don't forget to sign up for Summer Reading and log those minutes!
School is over. Now what can we do to help our little pre-readers and readers to keep from getting bored? How about putting together a Story Telling Basket?
1) Choose a familiar story your child enjoys. I'll use Goldilocks and the Three Bears for my example.
2) Collect a few items from around the house that relate to the story. Three stuffed animals to represent the three bears and a doll or action figure to play the role of Goldilocks. Three plastic bowls, spoons, and three various size "blankets". These blankets could be easily substituted for washcloths. Keep in mind kids really don't care if the objects match the story. Your objects don't even have to be the right scale or size. (Goldilocks could be bigger than Papa Bear.)
3) Lastly, add the correspondingbook from your local library or your home library. Toss these items into a basket (or box) and you've got your very own Story Telling Basket! Quick-and-easy, right? Yet you'll soon be tapping into a couple of important pre-literacy skills and practices: talking and playing.
Use this Story Telling Basket to TALK and PLAY with your child and watch as their imagination takes them away. Listen how they create and retell their own story. Interacting with the Story Telling Basket will give them a chance to practice their new vocabulary. You might even get some insight to things they are experiencing, curious about, or interested in. Let it be their story no matter how far it strays from the actual story in the book. Have fun and don't forget to log those minutes and get your chance to win prizes in our summer reading program.
Photo Credit: Daniel Rocal
Ever feel rushed? I have a bad back, which constantly reminds me to stop and take care of myself. If only I got a text before the twinge of pain! But wait! Texts and tweets for healthy living are out there. And, there are texts and tweets for fun things to do with your child to help stimulate their brains. Perfect for those days when you are not feeling creative or are just plain rushed.
I love this tag line from the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Baby Coalition: "Your baby has you. You have text4baby." Text BABY to 511411 and get free messages during pregnancy and your baby's first year.
A local organization, Bright By Three, sends weekly texts in English or Spanish about ways to support healthy development in babies and toddlers. Just text 'BRIGHT' for English or 'BRILLANTE' for Spanish to 444999.
Does Jeffco Public Library offer Early Literacy tips? Oh yes! Follow us on Twitter: #EarlyLiteracyTips or follow us on Facebook. To access our past Early Literacy posts, click on this link. Some are simple like, "Sing along with your favorite song" or "Snuggle up with a good book". Here is one I really love to share:
My Early Literacy tip for this summer? Register you, your family and your baby for Summer Reading '15! It's for all ages, 0 to 100 and beyond. Doing learning activities with baby counts as brain exercise and reading minutes. When you read books, magazines, whatever you fancy, in front of baby, you are modeling that reading is important as well as enjoyable to your baby. Help us reach 1,000,001 minutes in Jefferson County! You can register online or at the library starting May 29. Log minutes online weekly and win prizes!
It may sound silly to have to remind ourselves to sing a song or snuggle up with a book. But, let's face it. We are busy people! A little nudge to take 5 minutes to stretch my back saves me lots of time (not to mention money;) that I would otherwise spend at the chiropractor's office. Happy texting and tweeting!!!
Image credit: Flickr
VOCABULARY: knowing all kinds of words
Did you know?
That the average 1 to 1 1/2 year old child has a vocabulary consisting of around 20 words.
Fast forward one year to age 2, and this same child will have a 200–300-word vocabulary.
Add one more year and by the time they reach the age of 3, their vocabulary has grown to be about 900–1,000 words!!!
This means that by the age of 3, the average child's vocabulary is 50 times larger than it was just two years before...that's astounding!
According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights VOCABULARY as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
It's much easier to read a word when it's a word you already know. Children with bigger vocabularies have an easier time when they start to read, since it's much easier for them to make sense of what they're sounding out.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Encourage children to learn their native or home language first; this makes learning another language (speaking and reading) easier later.
Talk with children in positive and conversational ways; commands and “no’s” do not encourage language development.
Carry on lots of conversations with children.
Explain the meanings of new words.
Read books! Picture books use a different vocabulary than casual spoken conversation.
Think your toddler isn't listening to what you say? THINK AGAIN!
When my son was around 3 years old and started showing an interest in super heroes and Star Wars, I became one very excited parent!
All of a sudden, I realized that I was going to be able to introduce him to Yoda and to explain Thor the Mighty's origin story.
My son is now 5 years old and we both share a love for super heroes and Star Wars. In fact, I think he might know more details about various characters and realms than I do! I have been using graphic novels specifically targeted at preschool kids, to bond with my son over a common interest, to nurture a love for reading and to have fun learning about super heroes together.
Not so many years ago, comic books in school were considered the enemy. Kids caught sneaking comics between the pages of bulky—and less engaging—textbooks were likely sent to the principal! Don't let that happen!
Sharing graphic novels can be a lot of fun for parents and their preschool aged kids. Don't worry about the long held assumption that they aren't good enough because they aren't considered serious literature. Have fun and enjoy!
And if you are worried about it, recent research has suggested that:
- Reluctant readers might pay more attention to graphic novels: The visual component can help kids imagine the story better and may help them become better writers and readers
- Providing a variety of formats to those already hooked on reading enhances the love of reading
- Reading graphic novels may enhance creativity and promote literacy by fostering a love for reading
With Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 2nd and the Denver ComiCon right around the corner on May 23-25, take an opportunity to check out how much fun you and your child can have together exploring graphic novels!
Here are some great titles that are available at the library:
5 Minute Marvel Stories
The Mighty Thor: an Origin Story
DC Superheroes Storybook Collection
Wonder Woman: the Story of the Amazon Princess
Star Wars The Adventures of Luke Skywalker
I'm an advocate for children with learning disabilities and children who aren't comfortable in front of a book. According to a National Institutes of Health study, one in seven people struggle with some kind of learning disability.
Learning disabilities are difficult to discover in young children. However, it is important for us as parents to be aware of the early warning sign of a learning disability. If you are not sure what these warning signs are read this article by Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the second grade. I learned to overcome it and your child can too. I'm convinced reading humorous books will help children who have learning disabilities and children who don't learn to love reading!
Have you ever had the chance to read the book Moo! with your kids? My 3 year old, 5 year old, and I love it! The illustrations are amusing, brightly colored, and that cow is just adorable! In two turns of the page, you and your children will relate to the cow and farmer as their interactions parallel that of a parent-child relationship.
Surprisingly, "moo" is the only word in the book, so you'll have to use your voice to distinguish and describe the story. I enjoy asking my boys their interpretation of the story. It's a book they can read. The word "moo" turns into a sight word; which means they see the word, remember what it looks like, and read it. To encourage your child to learn how to read the word moo, or any word, pass your finger under the word as you read it out loud. This book has won a CLEL Bell award for its focus on Early Child Literacy. You and your children are guaranteed to enjoy it.
Peanut Butter and Cupcake is another book my boys and I enjoy! The characters in this book are food. They are photographs of actual, tasty-looking food! One time, after reading this book with my boys, they immediately asked for a snack after we closed the book. That is how appetizing the pictures are in this book.
The story is about a piece of peanut butter toast who is trying to make a new friend. Peanut Butter has to be brave and invite other "kids" to play with him. Not all of the "kids" want to play, but Peanut Butter doesn't give up. Terry Border, the author, chose a nice use of repetition in the story. Soon your child will be reading it along with you. There are a couple of jokes for parents too! I love it when authors do that for the adults! I hope you LOL with your children when you read! Enjoy!
Image credit a4gpa