NARRATIVE SKILLS: describing things and events, telling stories, knowing the order of events, and making predictions
Once Upon a Time...in a far away land, there lived a beautiful princess and her toad, Fred. Fred was no ordinary toad...no, Fred was a magical toad!!! Fred could sing showtunes, and not just one showtune but, any showtune ever sung, and when he sang he danced, and when he danced he wore a tiny tophat upon his head. People would travel far and wide to gaze upon Fred, the magical and musical toad, for just one glimpse of Fred, in his tophat, would bring great joy and happiness. One day an evil witch visited the kingdom to see this magical and musical toad for herself and...
That's how the magic of stories begin, with four little words. It's these four little words along with a multitude of others that encourage our children to explore their creatvity and foster their love of reading.
According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights NARRATIVE SKILLS as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
When children can describe something or retell stories, it shows that they are comprehending what they are reading. Understanding what they're reading is crucial to helping them stay motivated to keep reading.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Ask open-ended questions that encourage conversations rather than yes/no or right/wrong answers.
Talk about your day and its series of events.
Mix up the events in a story; make it silly!
Guess what comes next—or come up with a different ending.
Read stories without words; they really help focus on this skill.
Name objects, feelings, and events.
Now it's your turn to have fun, be creative and start your own story.
Once Upon a Time...
This month, we are celebrating One Book 4 Colorado (OB4CO). The winning title, "How do Dinosaurs get well soon?" or "¿Cómo se curan los dinosaurios?" by Jane Yolen (with awesome illustrations by Mark Teague) was announced on April 13. Have a four year old? Bring your child to the library to pick up a free copy and add the book to your collection at home!
In the spirit of the dino themed book series, I thought it would be fun to share how I have been incorporating dinosaurs into my bilingual storytimes. Reading about dinosaurs is a fabulous way to introduce new vocabulary in English and Spanish.
First off, my puppet, Tommy T-Rex, gets the kids excited. We talk about his sharp teeth or 'dientes afilados' and how they are used to only eat meat or 'carne'. Tommy cracks the kids up as he adamantly describes himself as a meat-eating CAR-NI-VORE or 'carnívoro' and not a plant-eating HER-BI-VORE or 'herbívoro'. Nope, no herbivores here, just a meat loving carnivore. Then, we read the book by Jane Yolen. What is so great about the series is that many of her books have been translated into Spanish, including the more recent title "How do dinosaurs stay safe?" or "¿Cómo se cuidan los dinosaurios?".
I came across a series of bilingual books at the library like this in the 'Español Reader' section:
And I found a Spanish version of a 'Harry and the dinosaurs' book! His name is 'Dani' in the Spanish editions.
Moving and singing are great for learning new words! I came up with 'T-Rex, T-Rex turn around' (instead of Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear) and translated it into Spanish.
T-Rex, T-Rex turn around (da una vuelta)
T-Rex, T-Rex, touch the ground (toca la tierra)
T-Rex, T-Rex, stomp your feet (pisan los pies)
T-Rex, T-Rex, eat some meat (come la carne)
T-Rex, T-Rex, roar with all your might (ruge con todas tus fuerzas)
T-Rex, T-Rex, say goodnight (di buenas noches)!
It can be tough to engage children in learning new things. Ask what they are interested in and go with it. Remember, when it stops being fun, try something else or try again later!
Photo credit: flickr
In my last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned the importance of knowing your child’s learning style. Understanding how your child learns will help them gain confidence in their ability to tackle a new idea they are introduced to at school or home. If you’ve read my posts before, you know I’m always thinking about those of us with learning disabilities like dyslexia. If your child has a learning disability, they could use a confidence boost more than anyone! So, if you don’t know your child’s learning style take this test to find a brief description of each learning style. Let’s focus on the visual learner.
Visual learners can see or imagine what they are learning. They like to listen to descriptive stories. I thought this next one was interesting. Visual learners might have trouble with spoken directions. Maybe that’s why I have to tell my four year old to brush his teeth 8 times before he actually gets the toothbrush out! Tonight, when it’s time to brush teeth, I’ll just give him a visual. I’ll brush my teeth with my index finger. That’s a good visual for teeth brushing, right?
Anyway, back to other characteristics of a visual learner. Their mind creates illustrations or "movies" if you will. They like color. Use a color system to learn how to read or write. What’s an example of a color system? When your child learns the alphabet, have him/her write uppercase letters blue and lower case letters red. Let’s turn reading into a craft time. Grab a magazine, glue, and scissors. Choose a letter, for example “T”. Together, with your child, cut out words that begin with “T” like "table" or "trampoline" Next, cut out a picture of a table or trampolie. Glue the picture of the table or trampline next to the letter "T". Later, when you child sees the letter “T”, they will also visualize a table or trampoline. I wonder if their minds will even imagine a person jumping on the trampoline.
You Tube is the visual learner's best friend. It has great flash cards. Below is one I like that focuses on the letter “B”.
You Tube also has sight words or high frequency words flash cards. I liked this video because of the use of color.
So, what are some book suggestions for a visual learner? Comic books or fantasy books might be a hit with your visual learner!
Robot, go Bot! a comic reader
Calvin and Hobbes are always great!
Journey by Aaron Becker
Photo Credit: Cheryl Colan
If you have been following my last three blogs, you may already be engaging your little one with a second language! But, what happens when you get stuck on a phrase or cannot pronounce a word in another language? Do you give up?
One of the things I found myself doing in the past was holding back because I was afraid to make mistakes. I learned from many people whose second language is English to just let go and try. So, I make a mistake. Who cares?
I have Spanish speaking friends who sometimes misuse a phrase or mispronounce a word in English. Does that stop us from talking? No way! It becomes a teachable moment between us. I might teach the correct phrase or pronunciation and they might share a way to express that phrase or word in Spanish. And vice versa when I make an error. Let's face it, no one can be a true master of any language, including his or her own native language. For example, do I know every medical term known to my physician? Even more, I am learning new technology terms and phrases from our Digital Experience team all the time. Talk about another language! All I can do is keep learning and trying.
Still edgy about pronouncing words in another language? Try uniteforliteracy.com. There are 100 digital or ebooks created right here in Colorado. The books have been translated into over 20 different languages. Let the books do the reading for you! The best part is, because the books were locally designed, the topics are relevant to your child and his or her daily experiences. There is even one called 'Who lives at the Denver Zoo?'
And never forget our own library. Check out audiobooks in Spanish:
And find a few titles on Hoopla:
Mistakes? Errores? Don't give up! Carry on mis amigos, carry on...
Photo credit: flickr
My son loves monsters. We have monster puppets, monster books, monster toys, shirts with wacky monster designs, monster socks etc. These are goofy, silly, harmless monsters. Sometimes at night, however, he is afraid of the scarier kind of monsters. Recently, he had a couple of nights where he was afraid there was a monster under his bed. So, I was inspired to track down some books and ideas to help him battle his nighttime monsters. I discovered a fantastic book called:
Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin
This book is hilarious AND it makes scary monsters look totally silly! These monsters are actually terrified of tiny, harmless bubbles! This book really helped my son to laugh at these silly monsters and it made him feel brave, too.
Extend the storytime experience by blowing bubbles after reading the story. This way, your child can show how brave they are by popping the bubbles eagerly. They aren't afraid of bubbles like those super silly monsters are! Also, take a look on Pinterest to find fun ideas and recipes for making a "monster repellent" or "monster spray" to let your child use in their room. You could also ask your child to use washable markers to draw a picture of a scary monster. Tape the drawing up outside. Hand your child a squirt bottle full of water and let your child "wash" away the scary monster!
Did you know that you can gain free entry to some popular museums in Denver and along the Front Range, merely by virtue of being a JCPL cardholder? I know! Awesome, right?!?
You can book your tickets online - using your library card number - up to 30 days in advance. Chances are you'll be happier with the overall experience of using your Culture Pass if you have a fair amount of flexibility in your schedule. For instance, if you want to visit the Butterfly Pavilion on a Saturday, you'll almost certainly want to plan it 30 days out - it's far and away the most popular Culture Pass destination.
Other destinations include:
- Byers-Evans House Museum
- Denver Firefighters Museum
- Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls & Toys
- Dinosaur Ridge
- Foothills Art Center
- Golden History Museums
- MCA Denver
- Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
When it opens in May, don't forget to use your Culture Pass to take a ride on the Platte Valley Trolley.
Where will the Culture Pass take you?
Plan your trip today!
Image credit: flickr
Make some noise!!!!
Making silly sounds for storytime is fuuuuun! More importantly, hearing a variety of sounds and noises helps a child develop the ability to hear the sounds that make up words in spoken language.
Otherwise known as phonological awarenss, this ability is one of the foundations of developing early literacy in infants and young children. Plus, the more engaged, excited and silly you are with your sounds the more your child will enjoy the story!
Here are some great books that give you as the storyteller an excellent opportunity to give your vocal cords a good workout, get silly and boost your child's early literacy skills:
Trains Go By Steve Light
Planes Go By Steve Light
Diggers Go By Steve Light
The Book with No Pictures By B.J. Novak
And now, to show how fun phonological awareness can be, I will end with one of my all time favorite silly songs: Apples and Bananas!
Sing with me!
Print Awareness: noticing print everywhere, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how to follow the written word on the page
Words, words, WORDS, wOrds...everywhere words...
words in a BOOK, just take a LOOK
words in a CAR, both NEAR and FAR
words are BLACK, BLUE and READ
words are everywhere you will SEE
words are everywhere for YOU and ME
Can pointing out printed words help your child get ready to read? YES, and according to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PRINT AWARENESS as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
Children have to be aware of words before they can read them. They need to know how books work--the front cover, what's upside down, which page to start on, how to look from left to right.
When kids are comfortable with books, from knowing how to open a book to understanding what those black squiggles are, they can concentrate on starting to read the words.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Read board books that your child can handle on his/her own; let him/her turn the pages as you read together.
Sometimes point to the words as you read.
Talk about print even when you are not reading together. Look for letters and words on signs, labels, and lists.
Words, words, WORDS, wOrds...everywhere words...OH beautiful WORDS!
I really love February!
The holidays are over...the children's award books from the previous year have been named, and it's time to look forward to another year of great reading.
As my daughter gets older, I love using books not only for entertaiment, but also as an amazing way of teaching life lessons.
February is Black History Month, and I have found two amazing new books to add to my list of captivating portraits of African American life, both past and present:
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
National Book Award Winner
Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Running out of night, Sharon Lovejoy
A Children’s Book Review Seven Middle Grade Books for African American History Month Pick
Fans of Elijah of Buxton, Trouble Don’t Last, and Stealing Freedom will be drawn to this tale of the incredible journey of an abused twelve-year-old white girl and an escaped slave girl who run away together and form a bond of friendship while seeking freedom.
Every day is a misery for a nameless, motherless Southern girl who is treated cruelly by her pa and brothers. Her life changes forever when a runaway slave named Zenobia turns to her for help and shelter. Longing for her own freedom, the girl decides to run away, and she and Zenobia set off on a harrowing journey. Along the way, Zenobia names the girl Lark, after the bird, for her ability to mimic its song.
Running by night, hiding by day, the girls are pursued by Lark’s pa and brothers and by ruthless slave catchers. Brightwell, another runaway slave, joins them, and the three follow secret signs to a stop on the Underground Railroad. When the hideout is raided and Zenobia and Brightwell are captured, Lark sets out alone to rescue her friends.
Books give us reason to celebrate and to cry...what better life lesson can we share with our children?
Why yes, I do have manners, gracias.
A great approach to find out more about other languages and cultures is learning about greetings and customs. What better way to incorporate a second language into your day than to learn to say 'hello' and 'goodbye' or 'please' and 'thank you' in another language?
When I was a teacher, I got into the habit and still say 'yes, please' in daily interactions. I had to model what I wanted to teach my students. Once the students got some manners down in English, I would start to incorporate other languages into our day. They loved it and would surprise me by saying 'sí, por favor' and 'no, gracias' during meal times. After I subbed at the 'Había Una Vez' bilingual story time at Belmar Library, I was delighted by the children whose parents encouraged them to personally thank me in Spanish!
Here is a link to digital dialects. On it, you will encounter 70 different language games. When you click on the language you would like to practice, the following page has several learning topics. The first learning topic is 'phrases and greetings'. Languages like Spanish, French and Chinese have an audio learning feature. First, you practice the phrases and then you can play the matching game.
Check out books about baby sign or American Sign Language (ASL) like this one by Sara Bingham at the library.
Or, try 21 word or phrase signs to practice with your child, courtesy of parenting.com.
And, my newest discovery! 'El Perro y El Gato' from HBO Latino! Look for these funny, yet educational videos about a cartoon cat and dog practicing Spanish on youtube. The following video is about 'manners' or 'modales'.
Signing 'thank you'? Saying it in Chinese? Have fun and use the words right along with your child!
¡Buen día! Have a great day!
Photo credit: flickr.com