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Teachers

by: 
Barbara, Evergreen Library

We celebrate fatherhood in the month of June, and lately, I find myself reminiscing about my first and most favorite friend to play with, my Daddy. I'll never forget his amazing piggyback rides or learning that bad throws cost runs in baseball; or that on rainy days he'd spend hours, with me, playing checkers, dominoes, or just doing a puzzle.  Though, I didn't always win, I didn't care, I was having fun with my Dad and he was having fun with me. ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PLAY as one of their 5 practices designed to promote early literacy in young children.

How does playing with children help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states that:

Play can be a powerful boost to early literacy learning! The critical component of play that builds children’s literacy skills is oral language. This includes talking about their play, describing what they are doing, negotiating roles, and discussing props.

Narrative Skills

When children act stories they know, either as a play or with props or puppets, they practice sequencing events. They also are exploring and investigating story structure. Putting events in sequence and understanding how stories work are both skills that help children understand the new stories that they read.

Vocabulary

As children play, they can be encouraged to talk about their scenarios and describe their actions and props. (“I’m stirring the eggs because I’m cooking pancakes for dinner.” “This stick is the magic wand and I’m going to turn you into a butterfly.”) This gives them a chance to practice using the vocabulary words they are learning. If a word in a book is one children have spoken themselves (instead of just hearing it), they are more likely to be able to recognize it on the page. They also can learn new words when an adult introduces new ideas into the play. “What would you like for dessert? Would you like cake, or a sundae? A sundae is ice cream in a bowl with chocolate sauce and sprinkles on top.”

Print Motivation & Print Awareness

Play times can also be an opportunity to show children that print is used in a wide variety of ways. Delivery drivers use maps, chefs use recipes, shoppers use lists. The more children see lists, notepads, signs, letters, and other props with printed words on them, the more they learn that print is something that is all around them, not just in books. The more different kinds of texts children are exposed to, the more likely it is they will find a type of text or a purpose for reading that they can connect with and be motivated by.

Parents can also follow their child's interests and play preferences by bringing home books about the topics their children are interested in and like to act out. If a child has a favorite toy horse and likes to play vet, bringing home non-fiction about different breeds of horse or stories about vets can introduce both new ideas for future play as well as keep children intrigued about books in general.

Letter Knowledge

A milestone in children’s imaginative development is symbolic play, when they can use one prop or object to represent something else, as when a building block held to the ear becomes a cell phone. Dramatic play allows for many of these substitutions! Understanding that one object can stand for another object is a basic realization that leads to the more complicated understanding that a shape on the page can stand for a letter of the alphabet, and a word on the page can stand for a spoken word.

In addition, children learn through all their senses, so the kinesthetic exploration of shapes and letter forms via puzzles, play dough, sensory tables, and body movements all help children build their letter knowledge. Sorting games and matching activities directly involve shape recognition and prepare children to recognize small differences in letters.

Phonological Awareness

Singing isn’t the only way to build phonological awareness skills; chanting games (“Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?”), clapping games (“Miss Mary Mack,” call-and-response rhythm games), and rhyming games (“Down By the Bay,” “Willoughby Wallaby Woo”) all contribute to this awareness as well, by highlighting the rhythms and sounds of oral language, and involving the whole body.

If you are looking for something new to do check out, The Great Outdoors: 25 Outside Activities from Family Fun magazine.

So, get outside this weekend, dig out that old catchers mitt and make some lasting memories. Your kids will love you for it!

by: 
Barbara, Evergreen Library

I've always loved Bad Kitty! From her first mischevious adventures with Puppy, to her latest hijinks with creator and illustrator, Nick Bruel, Kitty has never disappointed. No dream of tuna is too tuna-y, no Puppy slobber is too slobbery, and no Uncle Murray Fun Fact is too fact-y, in fact, I just can't get enough.

Which made me ask myself, why? Why do I have this undying fascination with Kitty? Why do I care who wins the Kitty Cat Olympics? Why do I love playing What the Heck is That Thing? And, just how did that goofy cat get a refrigerator up a tree?

It wasn't until this week that I finally found the true reason...we both have May birthdays. YAY!!! Though she's a Taurus and I'm a Gemini, I have overcome that barrier and sworn to be her BIGGEST fan! Now it is my mission to make ALL of you her BIGGEST fans too! 

Let the adventure begin with Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel...

You'll be HOOKED!!!

 

To find out more about my favorite cat and her creator check out Bad Kitty Books, Uncle Murray will thank you.

Now, I'm off to play What the Heck is that Thing? Look out refrigerator!!!

 

by: 
Marcy, Arvada

I'm all for reusing found items and making something fabulous on the cheap. This is one of those crafts.

These eye spy bottles encourage problem solving, word building, letter recognition and best of all they can keep kids busy on a road trip or while waiting in line at the DMV. No batteries required.

1. Take a water bottle, Mason jar, anything clear with a lid that you can hot glue into place. 
2. Collect 20 or more small objects that will fit through the neck of the bottle. Look online for examples. Some people find objects around the house some buttons and trinkets from the craft store and some people use themes like Halloween Bottles or ABC's.
3. Take a photo of the objects that will go into the bottle.

4. Choose filler. This can be rice, bird seed, beans, dried peas, whatever you have around the house.
5. Alternate layers of filler with the objects leaving a little shakable room in the bottle.
6. Glue the lid in place and attach the photo. You may want to laminate the photo.
7. Give it to your little one for hours of fun.

Another option would be what is referred to as a discovery bottle. Skip the picture of what is inside and let the kids discover what they will. You could fill the bottles with water and oil liberally laced with glitter or tint the water. You could alphabet beads and encourage your child to make words like scrabble in a bottle. The possibilities are endless!

by: 
Barbara, Evergreen Library

Hi! I'm Barbara, and I have been asked to fill some VERY big shoes, here at JCPL, and continue the ongoing blog series entitled, Ready to Read Reminder.

Ready to Read Reminder, will focus on ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read), which has 5 practices designed to help you and your child build a life long love of reading: READ, TALK, SING, WRITE, and PLAY.

Each month I will highlight one of the 5 practices and share fun activities with you that you and your child can enjoy doing together. This month I will be exploring WRITING and the importance it plays in early literacy. 

How does writing with children help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states that,

By letting your child explore their world by coloring, drawing, and writing you are encouraging them to develop print motivation, expand narrative skills, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge. 

Print Motivation

We know that print motivation includes being excited about books and stories, wanting to read and be read to, and being interested in learning to read yourself. When children have a chance to do their own writing, whether it is a scribbled “list,” random letters on a label, or the initial of their first name, they have a chance to feel connected to print in an active, very different way than when they are listening to a story. It’s always powerful for children to have the opportunity to do things for themselves! Being an active participant in writing and telling stories helps keep children excited about reading stories, too.

Narrative Skills & Print Awareness

The very first writing that children do is connected to narrative skills: The first stage of writing development is when children draw pictures, then tell the stories that the pictures represent. When children do this, they have made the leap to understanding that marks on the page can carry meaning. When a child completes a drawing, caregivers can encourage the child's narrative skills by saying, “Tell me about this picture!” or “What's happening in this picture?” In addition, children's narrative skills can be expanded by providing them with opportunities to explore writing as a part of their dramatic play, such as creating menus while playing restaurant, or writing traffic tickets while playing police officers.

Vocabulary

We know that children whose caregivers talk with them more have larger vocabularies than children whose caregivers speak with them less often. Parents and caregivers can prompt discussions by modeling writing for their children, and then discussion what they are writing and why. Talking about grocery lists before and during shopping trips, or the content of family emails while sitting at the computer, or to-do lists when putting a sticky note on the refrigerator, all provide more opportunities for the child to hear new words in meaningful contexts.

Phonological Awareness

As preschool children begin to learn their letters and are able to make intentional marks on the page, writing “messages” as part of their play is one way they practice their knowledge of what sounds go with what letters. “Invented spelling” is what happens when children try to spell a word that they don’t yet know how to spell. The resulting “misspelled” words don’t mean that children aren’t learning well, instead it means children ARE learning—they are thinking very carefully about the sounds that they hear and the letters that they know.

Letter Knowledge

Even before children have the fine motor skills that allow them to draw or write letters on purpose, their growing understanding of the shapes of letters allows them to recognize these letters when they see them—on buildings, in books, and even in their own scribbles. As children practice making the lines and curves and circles they will later use to write letters, they sometimes will make marks or a scribble, look at it, and then identify letters that they see. “Look, I made a T!”

Every day is special with your little one but, who knew celebrating YOU, and the wonderful job you do every day, could also become an early literacy skill builder? Make Mother's Day cards for all the special "moms" in their lives and help your child create memories that you both will cherish for a lifetime. 

 

 

by: 
Marcy, Arvada

It's time to get out of the house! Spring has sprung and there is a whole lot of concrete out there in need of beautification. Sidewalk chalk has unlimited potential and you can even make your own.

What to do with this rainbow of possibilities?
Play a game! Here are 30 of the best ideas I've found:

Twister anyone?

Use chalk as a photography prop.

Chalk can even keep those literacy skills fresh over Summer break!

Cheap, easy, washable...what more could you ask for? In fact I think I will try some of these ideas here at the Arvada Library this summer so keep an eye out!

Get creative and let the Spring showers clear your canvas (or driveway.) 

by: 
Marcy, Arvada Library

They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

Make this fun loop craft and say, "Hello Spring!" Play with fluffy wooly cotton balls instead of snow. You may want to make a whole flock!

Supplies:
White Card Stock
Cotton Balls
Crayons/Markers 
Glue
Ribbon

Instructions:
Cut a 2" strip of card stock. Glue in a loop.
Cut ears out of card stock. Glue behind loop sticking out as shown in picture above.
Draw on a face.
Glue four cotton balls to the bottom for feet.
Break cotton up into 1/2" balls. Glue the little balls to the top of the head and down the back of the lamb completely covering the the paper loop except the face of the lamb.
If you are looking for a little playmate for this little creature, make a Paper Loop Chick to keep him company.

Try some fun sheep/lamb books to go along with this great craft!

by: 
Barbara and Robyn, Columbine Library

Toys have started to appear in all of the libraries. And with their arrival, patrons and staff are asking, “Why toys?” The answer is, toys lead to play and play leads to the development of literacy skills. Play is the way young children learn. 

There are three stages of play. Exploratory or Object play occurs with 0-3-year-olds. They love to chew on board books and everything else they can get their hands on. From there they move on to Imaginative play at 3-5 years. They are developing vocabulary and social skills, such as sharing. And, they love to pretend! All of this play leads to the last stage, Investigative play, for 6-8-year-olds, which includes physical play like riding a bike. They also love to build things, draw, paint, and explore.

Through play, children learn about their world. These activities help them understand language and stories. Play is so important that the United Nations High Commission has recognized it as a basic right of every child. Offering blocks, bricks, and other manipulatives increases STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skill building opportunities in our libraries. Our goal is to reinforce the importance of play by offering a variety of activities to children and caregivers.

The toys you see in the libraries are the result of a donation from the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation. Jerry Kline is the founder of Innovative Interfaces and has worked in and with libraries for more than 30 years.  A sizable portion of the Foundation's activities are offered to enhance libraries and their communities. 

We hope you’ll help us encourage play by spreading the word!

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Yesterday, Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) announced the winners of the first annual Bell Awards - an award that honors "five high-quality picture books that provide excellent support of early literacy development in young children." One book in each of the categories of READ, TALK, SING, WRITE and PLAY is chosen from hundreds of books published in 2013. The 5 categories have been identified as best practices to support early literacy learning in young children.

Each of these books is great for sharing with your young child, and lend themselves perfectly to extension activities that lead to even more fun and learning. The CLEL Bell website has activity sheets for each book that offer wonderful extension ideas! 

The winners are: 

READ:

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier; illustrated by Suzy Lee

TALK:

Moo! by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (coming soon to JCPL!)

SING:

Nighty-night, Cooper by Laura Numeroff; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

WRITE:

The Things I Can Do by Jeff Mack

PLAY:

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Check 'em out today!

by: 
Sarah, Golden Library

I love to play “pretend” games with kids, repurposing everyday objects for the purpose of creating new experiences. The capacity to use one’s imagination has increasingly been recognized as a vital skill that is honed in childhood. Time spent in imaginary play as a child translates into an adult capable of visionary thinking (like Steve Jobs!) 

Structured activities like music lessons and sports are valuable to children, but don’t forget to “schedule in” some time for your kids to spend powering simple objects with imaginary fuel.

Here’s an easy game that you can play at home with your kids to get those imaginations fired up: 

All you need is a scarf for each of you (any cloth or dish towel will also do.) Crumple the scarf up between your hands and tell your child that you are going to change this scarf into different objects with the power of your imagination. Encourage your child to scrunch up their scarf and follow along:

First, tell your child that the scarf has become a picnic blanket. Lay the scarf out on the ground and sit on top of it. Pretend to eat a picnic.

Next, scrunch up the scarf between your hands again. Tell your child that the scarf has now become a magic flying cape. Tie on the scarf as a cape and zoom around the room!

Scrunch that scarf up between your hands again for another transition. This time, tell your child that the scarf has now become a washcloth and it’s time for a bath. Pretend to fill up the bathtub, get inside and wash with your washcloth! Don’t forget to towel dry afterwards!

Scrunch up the scarf one last time and turn it into a blanket. Now it's time to act out getting pajamas on, brushing teeth and curling up under the blanket to sleep!

You can easily play many variations on this game at home using the most basic of objects. Next time, try playing the same game with a box or a stick as a prop!

Do you have any other great examples of pretend games that you already play at home? Please share them with us!

by: 
Mary, Kids and Families Outreach

Welcome to a new regular feature here on the JCPL Kids' Blog: the Ready to Read Reminder! Parents and caregivers, you know that learning to read begins at birth. Young children's brains are developing all the connections they need to be successful readers and we, the adults in their lives, can help them build those connections by doing simple things at home (or in the car, at the library, at daycare...wherever!). In this feature I'd like to share with you some of those simple ideas - many of which you may already be doing (but didn't necessarily know how they help a child get ready to read) - that help build the foundation for reading.

For this, our first post, I'd like to give you 5 words to remember. Just 5. Remember these 5 words, and that you should engage in these activities with your young child often, and you'll be an expert at helping your child get ready to read!

Here the are....(are you ready?)...drumroll please....

READ

TALK

SING

WRITE

PLAY

 

You can remember those 5 words, right? Of course you can. In future posts I'll elaborate on each of these words and why these activites are important, share with you some really cool stuff I've learned about babies brains and how reading develops, as well as give you some fun, simple activity ideas that help grow a reader.

And remember, the library is a GREAT place to visit with a growing reader! We've got  storytimes for all ages (even babies!) that are designed to help build early literacy skills, thousands of great books for kids of all ages to explore, and a literacy-rich environment with opportunities for learning and play! Our trained staff, too, is ready and willing to answer your questions and help you find the best books and media to take home! 

Stay tuned for next month's post! Just a reminder...

[photo via seandreilinger]

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