Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
To help beat the heat without being holed up inside, we've instituted Library Day. After my daughters AM nap, we head off!
If you don't utilize the library in your city/county often, chances are you are missing out! On a grading scale, our library is probably a C, maybe a C+, so it's not as though we have this fabulous resource that would leave you green with jealousy. Even if you live in the country (which is how our part of the city would be described), the library is still a great tool.
- Tons of books that you and your kids likely haven't read
- Free membership!
- Low fees if you keep track of the books (free is a pretty low fee, right?)
- Books you don't have to pay for!
- The possibility of good computer programs you can supervise but don't have to purchase
- A play area, possibly. Ours has a table set up with bins of blocks.
- Usually a separated children's area
- Free videos/DVDs
- A/C! Did I mention it's hot outside?!?!
- The possibility of online "shopping" for your books, or online renewal
- Exposure to lots of new books, genres, and authors
The Cons AND Solutions:
- You need to keep track of your books! Forgetting just that one can end up being an expensive slip of the memory. My solution: Keep all library books in ONE location, separate from other books. We have a special library book bin. I keep the printout list given in the bucket with the # of books circled at the top. That way it's easy to check to make sure all the books are there!
- Not a great selection of books. My solution: Keep digging. I usually check out about 2-3 "duds" each week. But what is a dud to me someone else may love. People donate books to the library weekly, so keep looking! You never know...that retired school teacher with a copy of every Caldecott book may have just donated this week!
- Noisy kids in a quiet library. I've been there. You can hear my daughter's squeaky voice all the way across the library. Even people in the restroom knew my daughter was looking for a Fancy Nancy book. My solution: Practice! If they don't have to use a quiet voice anywhere else, why should we expect them to all of a sudden know how to use one in the library. We practice quiet voices in the car. And if she doesn't listen? It's also important to note if the voice level is simply forgetting (you know, just being a kid) or disobedience to what you've asked them to do. If it's forgetting, I remind her. If it's disobedience, we pack up and leave, not checking out any books. But how you handle it is your decision....you are the mom! I will say that I've found that how I react to her behavior usually determines the tone and behavior of the next library trip. If I let her slide with being loud, she'll probably be loud again next time!
- More than one child to watch makes a trip difficult. This was the challenge for me, too. Sometimes it can be hard to look for books and watch your kids at the same time. You can't exactly handcuff them to the stroller to keep them from pulling off every book they see on the shelves. With that in mind, I have to have a game plan for trip out of the house. Where will they sit? What are the possible behavior issues? How will I handle them? What tips/reminders can I give them before we even get in the library? Is it close to nap or a mealtime?
Here's how I handle it with a 3 year old and a 1 year old:
I use the double stroller. My 3 year old is allowed to walk, provided she holds onto the stroller until I give her instructions to do otherwise. Before we go in, I talk with both girls about using quiet voices and keeping their hands to themselves (we practice this at home). We do a practice run of using quiet voices and what it sounds like. I have snacks packed in the bag because at 1 year, it's rare to find a time of the day that isn't close to a nap or snack/meal. I give myself a time limit. (Ex: We will stay for 30 minutes. If it's your first time, have a goal of checking out one book. Yup. Just one. It'll make it less stressful for you). If my 3 year old abuses the privilege of walking or cannot control her hands, she has to sit in the stroller or in a chair for a while. If you have aisles you have to go up and down, you can sit your child on the floor and give them a book or 2 to look at while you look, too. Or you can pull out a book and involve your child in the decision making process of choosing a few books.
Okay, younger kids. My 1 year old sits in the stroller with a book or toy while I choose a book. Then when I've chosen a few, she can walk around, holding the stroller. Then I give them a few minutes to play with blocks at the table. We clean up together. If she gets antsy (especially due to being hungry) I plop her in the stroller and give her a small, non-messy snack on the tray.
The biggest tip I can give? Don't give up after one hectic, tear-jerking experience at the library. I've had parents tell me that the library is just too stressful. In my mind, and perhaps I'm off-base, the solution is to minimize stress. Well, other than eliminating visits entirely. So instead of rarely going, try going weekly. (Sound crazy?) The library is a safe place to practice some of the skills you've been working on at home with your child. You don't really want to see if they'll stay with you while you walk through a crowded mall. And I don't really like to practice a skill when I'm grocery shopping. That's multi-tasking at it's best (or worst, in some cases). Keep practicing at the library (Remember, you can always leave!) but most importantly for us...practice at home. Teach the the skill ahead of time. Quiet voices, control over hands, waiting patiently, respect for others, sharing, sitting and reading when asked to, and listening to specific verbal commands are a few skills to practice. Don't feel like you have to tackle everything at once, either! As my husband says, "We're just trying to give them tools in their tool belts". If you don't give them the necessary tools ahead of time, it's hard to expect them to pull out the right tool when needed. Yes, even a 1 year old. :)
Have fun! Let the stress free outings begin!
Monday, June 28, 2010
I would say a child 12 months or older can participate in this activity. The 12-15 month old will need A WHOLE LOT of help, the 15-18 month old will need A LOT of help, and the 18 months and older will just need help. Assuming you have your patient hat on. Your "it is okay to get messy" hat on (some of you know just what I mean). But the book is written for 18 months and up.
- Cut the sponge into a star shape. If you aren't comfortable freehand-cutting a star shape (which would be me), try using a cookie cutter or a star shape out of paper and tracing it on the sponge with a marker. Then cut it out.
- Get painting surface ready. At my house this means a tablecloth on the table.
- Pour paint onto a paper plate.
Have your child dip the sponge in the paint and then press it onto the paper. Let dry and hang to decorate!
These photos are from last year. We did them the same week we learned about stars. Kaitlyn was 2 and Brayden was 4.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Glue? Melt into a weepy puddle. Even look at a letter of the alphabet? Chin quivering dispair.
I had in my head before she was born all the wonderful things we'd enjoy crafting together and, well, I'm still hoping. I'm thinking, hey, I'll teach her early on in life what she needs to know way before she needs to know it. Reading by Kindergarten? Of course! Pre-school, probably. Never did I think learning activities would be the equivalent to plucking out her nose hairs, one by one.
Why do I mention this? Because sometimes as parents we need to remember that it's about perspective. She just turned 3 this month and hasn't read War and Peace yet. It'll be okay. I felt so ill today this entire week that we haven't touched our learning activities. No harm. It looks like a tornado wrecked my house. Fine, but I spent some quality time getting to know the heart of my girls.
Sometimes as a parent I need to put activities and all the learning activities on hold long enough to learn about my little ones. And I need to remember that she's still learning even when she gets to make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That's when it hit me today, as she loaded her PB&J with an obscene amount of jelly, exclaiming "It's just like daddy's sandwich!" (so true)...she hears me when she pretends not to, she watches when I think she's not, and she's learning about her world by watching us.
So if today you are feeling guilty about not having homemade games galore, that the kid up the street knows more letters than your kiddo, or that you skipped learning time today for no real reason at all, or your child aches to get away from your activity that you spent all night cutting out, don't worry. It's a process. Sometimes we just need to change our perspective.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Most parents know to encourage reading over the summer, especially for their older kids, and some schools even have a summer reading list for students to guide their reading. For kids who are already strong readers simply allowing them to enjoy reading on their own is enough and it will not take much convincing to get them to spend some time each day reading independently. However, many kids are not yet strong readers or are reluctant readers and could benefit from more guidance. These suggestions are for students in the Preschool-3rd grade range.
**If any of our readers have children above 3rd grade please comment and I can post a second version of this for older children.
The Four Types of Reading:
Reading Aloud- the parent chooses a book and reads it aloud to their child(ren). This is a great time to read books that would be beyond your child’s reading level, such as lengthy chapter books. Some classic suggestions include:
Little House on the Prairie series
The Boxcar Children
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Bible or Children’s Bible
Swiss Family Robinson
Chronicles of Narnia
Tales of Peter Rabbit
Shared Reading-the parent reads aloud a book that is barely within their child’s reading capabilities and the child has a copy of the same book or sits on the parent’s lap where he/she can read the text. You can also copy and print the book as a small booklet for the child with the parts for them to say bolded in a bright color. At refrains or on repeated readings of the book the child joins in, reading the part he/she knows. This is a great chance to allow all your kids to join in as you read aloud and read some silly books and rhymes. Some suggestions include:
The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything
Don’t Wake Up the Bear
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Sandra Boynton’s books (many are written with a sing-songy part kids love to say)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
The Very Busy Spider
Today is Monday by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Who Stole The Cookie From the Cookie Jar?
Guided Reading-this requires one on one time with the parent and child. You can use the naptime for your little ones to lay down with your older child and cuddle and read together. In Guided Reading it is the child who is reading the story, but you are right there with them to help them as they struggle with a word and to observe and see where their reading level truly is. While with a younger child you might simply sound out the word for them, with older children your role is more mentor than assistant. You’ll want to refrain from jumping in and rescuing them from every difficult word, or becoming impatient if they take awhile to get it. You have many ways to guide your child during this time when they reach a word they cannot read, pronounce incorrectly, or do not understand the meaning of.
1. Remind them to sound out the word
2. Cover a portion of a long word to make it easier to sound out. (for example, if they struggle with the word butterfly you could cover up the ‘fly’ part and ask them to sound out the first part, then cover up ‘butter’ and ask them to sound our ‘fly’, then join the two together.)
3. Have them look at the whole sentence and see what makes sense in the word’s space. (this is looking at context for clues) You may need to model this by doing it yourself, thinking aloud, the first time and then ask them to do it themselves.
4. If they don’t know what it means, look up the meaning of the word in the dictionary, or tell the child the meaning.
5. Write the word down on a post-it-note or bookmark inside the book and practice it later.
Some book suggestions include:
Bob Books (these are leveled readers geared towards beginning readers that many libraries carry. You can also often find used copies inexpensively on www.amazon.com or www.half.com.)
Dr. Seuss books
Printable Booklets (http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/printable_booklets.html)
Online Stories (www.starfall.com)
Board Books geared towards babies/toddlers make for good beginning reader books for 4-6 year olds.
Fairy Tales (for 6-9 year olds)
Recipes--as you cook, ask your child to read the recipe or ingredients list aloud
Grocery List—have your child be your helper by reading each item off as you go through the grocery store, and they can check off each item that is put in the cart.
Guest List—when planning a party ask your child to read the guest list to you, or even to write it themselves. This is great for name recognition.
Letters or Cards—encourage grandparents and cousins to write letters to your child so they can practice their reading aloud.
Treasure Hunt—use written clues the child must read aloud to figure out where the next clue is hidden.
Any book your child finds that they are interested in reading. Sometimes they’ll surprise you with what books they can read!
Independent Reading-your child reads completely independently, preferably books of their own choosing. Be careful to monitor for content, some classic stories have a lot of inappropriate material in their original versions. Also, be sure your child is reading at their level, not too many ‘fast food’ books that they whiz through and not books that will frustrate them. A few ‘fast food’ books that are easy for them to read can serve a purpose, increasing confidence, fluency, and speed with reading. Just be sure your child isn’t only reading those books and refusing to deal with challenging books on their own.
A good test of whether a book is at your child’s reading level is to ask them to read aloud the first page of the book to you; if they read it and only struggle with 1-3 words on the page then it is likely within their capabilities. If it is a small board book for a 4-6 year old then they should not struggle with more than 1 word per page if they are to be left to read it independently, they have fewer tools to deal with confusing words and as new readers should have their confidence boosted during independent reading. Some suggestions include:
*Any book on the guided reading list that you know they can read easily (can read an entire page with no more than 1-3 words they struggle with)
American Girls Series
The Magic Treehouse Series
The Saddle Club Series
Comic Books (check for content)
Nonfiction Books About Favorite Topics (animals, cars, and truck-themed books are popular with kids)
Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Berenstein Bears Series
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
- The child listens carefully to books read aloud.
- The child knows the shapes and names of letters of the alphabet and writes many uppercase and lowercase letters on his own.
- The child knows that spoken words are made of separate sounds.
- The child recognizes and makes rhymes, can tell when words begin with the same sound, and can put together, or blend, spoken sounds.
- The child can sound out some letters.
- The child knows that the order of letters in a written word stands for the order of sounds in a spoken word.
- The child knows some common words, like a, the, I, and you on sight.
- The child knows how to hold a book and follows print from left to right and from top to bottom of a page when read to.
- The child asks and answers questions about stories and uses what she already knows to understand a story.
- The child knows the parts of a book and understands that authors write words and text and that illustrators create pictures.
- The child knows that in most books, the main message is in the print, not the pictures.
- The child predicts what will happen in stories.
- The child can retell or act out stories.
- The child knows the difference between made up fiction and real nonfiction books and the difference between stories and poems.
- The child uses what he knows about letters and sounds to write words.
- The child writes some letters and words as they are said to her and begins to spell some words correctly.
- The child writes his own first and last name and the first names of some family members and friends.
- The child plays with words and uses new words in her own speech.
- The child knows and uses words that are important for school work, like colors, shapes, and numbers.
- The child knows and uses words from daily life, like street names and names for community workers (teacher, mail carrier, etc.)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Now that your child is a preschooler, you can take these tips from the National Institute of Literacy for helping your preschooleer get ready to read.
- Help your child hear and say the first sound in words (Boat starts with "B")
- Help your child notice different words that also start wtih that sound (boat and book both start with B)
- Introduce your child to new words. Use new, interesting vocabulary. This means no baby talk and no "dumbing-down" your language for your child.
- Talk to your child about the alphabet
- Talk about the letters you see in books
- Point out signs and lables that have letters, like street signs and food signs in the grocery store
- Encourage your child to enjoy reading
- Allow your child to choose what book you read most of the time
- Let your child pretend to read parts of the book as you read together
- Talk about the stories you read and help make connections to things that happen in your own lives
- Ask "What," "When," "Where," and "How" questions as you read
- Help your child write notes or make books (like an alphabet book), even if his writing looks like nothing more than scribbles
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
- Read with your child every day, even if it is only for a few minutes.
- Encourage your child to bring his favorite books to you so you can read together.
- Point to pictures and name them out loud.
- Encourage your child to point to pictures while you read
- Make eye contact with your child as you read aloud. This tells you she is paying attention.
- Talk with your child throughout the day about things you are doing and things that are happening around you.
- Be patient when your child wants to read that same book over and over (and over again).
- Encourage your child to lay with books. Let her pick them up, flip them form front to back, and turn the pages.
- Listen as your child pretends to read a book. Watch for him to hold the book, go from page to page, and say words. Not necessarily the right words, just words.
- Allow your child to use paper and crayons to scribble, make pictures, and pretend to write.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The elementary school that my son will be attending this fall gave us parents a list of things to do to help promote reading and writing readiness in our children. Naturally, I will comment on each bullet :)
- Read aloud daily for at least 20 minutes. This is so simple to make happen. All you have to do is have reading stories part of your bedtime routine. This means you have to make sure you start getting ready for bed early enough to include this.
- Read expressively. Use different voices. Use and enjoy humor in the stories to engage your child.
- Re-read that favorite story. This is a powerful tool for fostering vocabulary growth. It also gets your child familiar with books and print. Children love repetition! I know, I know. Sometimes it almost seems painful to read that book again. I have felt giddy on library day, knowing we would soon have new books to read at night. But the kids love it, and it is beneficial for them.
- Have your child retell a familiar story. There have been nights that I have had Brayden "read" the story that we were reading for the twentieth night in a row. Even though, as a three year old, he couldn't read, he got every, single word right. It was amazing. If your child isn't prone to verbatim story telling, that's okay. Have her tell the story in her own words.
- Encourage word play, rhyme recognition, sentence completion, and word and phrase repetition as you read. You can also do this as fun learning activities in the day. Word play can be confusing on the surface sometimes, so I will do a separate post all on word play. Rhyming is pretty straight forward. You can read books full of rhymes and you could also ask your child what rhymes with a key word in the story. For sentence completion, this is where reading that story over and over can come in handy. You can start a sentence and then stop and let your child fill it in. Word and phrase repetition can be done by you, but there are also a lot of books out there that repeat things in the story. Boyton books come to mind (Barnyard Dance), as well as Seuss books (Green Eggs and Ham).
- Discuss the story with your child as you read. Note illustrations and story elements, such as characters, settings, and sequence of events. This helps develop strong comprehension and critical thinking skills. There are typically pictures in a story that are not spoken in the words. Ask your child if he noticed. One that comes to my mind is My Truck Is Stuck. The words of the story are about a man (well, a dog, but a man) whose truck is stuck. Different people try to help him and in the end a tow truck arrives. The pictures show that a bunch of little dogs dug a hole in the road that got him stuck. Then then emptied every last bone from his truck while he tried to get unstuck.
- Use your finger to track the words you are reading. This reinforces the connection between the words you are saying and the print on the page. It will also show your child that we read left to right and how to follow lines down a page.
- Continue reading to your child. Once your child starts to read on his own, he still needs to be read to each day.
- Use magazines and newspapers to cut out letters and pictures. Brayden did this often in preschool.
- Provide writing tools like large pencils, crayons, and markers. Your child won't learn to write unless he practices, and he can't practice without the necessary tools.
- Provide lined paper and blank paper. Again, your child needs tools to practice writing.
- Encourage drawing. Encourage your child to illustrate his thoughts and memories.
- Act as a scribe. Write sentences that your child dictates to you.
- Encourage your child to write and illustrate books.
- Encourage your child to write his first name. Now, this is very important, apparently. Have your child write his first letter capital with the following letters lowercase. The teachers said they spend at least half the school year teaching the children to write their names this way. It is so hard for them to get the children out of the habit of writing in all uppercase letters.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Materials: paper bags, items from around the house (ex: jelly beans, toys, silverware, socks, stuffed animals,etc)
- Fill your bags with 2 items. Start simple, like two jellybeans. Explain the words similar and different. Go first, giving an example.
- "See these things? What are they? How are the the same or similar? You're right! They are both jellybeans/candy/sweet/bad for your teeth/given in your Easter basket/etc. How are they different? Yes, this one is red and this one is yellow! They are also two different flavors and a different size, aren't they?
Try it with different objects. Once they get the hang of it, try it with two random objects, like a spoon and a stuffed animal. Once they really get the hang of it, try it with 3+ objects. You may be surprised what they come up with!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Container for sand if inside (like a cookie sheet or baking dish)
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
- Mini chocolate chips
- String licorice
- Wash strawberries and blueberries
- Remove stem and leaves from strawberries
- Push a toothpick into the top of the strawberry, leaving about half an inch sticking out.
- Press a blueberry onto the toothpick. This is the head.
- Push the pointed ends of the chocolate chips into the strawberry for spots.
- Push six small pieces of licorice into the strawberry for legs.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Materials Needed: Foam letters (I got my bathtub set from Target, and I also have a few sets from my teaching days), bucket or bag.
We took turns reaching in the bag, closing our eyes, and pulling out a letter. You have choices on what to say, depending on the skill level of your child. You can ask for the letter name, whether it's capital or lower case, the sound it makes, a word that starts with that letter, or if it's at the beginning/middle/end of the alphabet.
This was great practice for taking turns and to have a quick way to evaluate which letters you need to practice more with your child.
*Foam letters are a great resource for a parent to have! There are so many activities that can be done with them. If you don't have a set, I highly recommend them! They'll continue to be useful, even as your child grows and begins to read and write.