Friends, Sun, Sand & Sea; That sounds like a Summer to me. ~ Lily Ross
Depending on where you live or are, August can be the HOTTEST month of the year……
The breeze is hot. Swim water is warm (except the Pacific Ocean). You sweat in the shade. Ice ….what ice !?!
What do I do in August? Wish, wish, wish for RAIN!!!! And stay indoors near a fan and air co…..
Yes, staying indoors for hours during the day seems to solve the TOO HOT problem…..but it can, also, create another problem, too……
Here are a few Solutions: invite your family & friends to showcase their talents in a Show; daydream & create using your imagination; study great inventions as an inspiration for constructing a robot; and/or cook up some Edible Insects (with food stuff NOT bugs).
Opportunities for creative expressions in art, science, math, social studies, and writing are included in the four units of August’s activities.
Each and Every Unit of the Literacy Enrichment Collection
The Components of each Unit include:
colorful Front & Back covers
a Contents list
an Introduction Sequence
a Master Materials List
a Thematic Literature List of fiction& nonfiction trade books
an overall Lesson Plan
Projects/Activities with Construction Instructions written on an Independent Reading Level for Grades 3 ~ 6
Ready, Set and Go!
Preparation for each of these units can be done by following this sequence:
Read over the Materials & Tools needed for each project in the Master Materials List ~ a component included with each Unit.
Gather the Materials & Tools together specific for each Activity ~ card-stock, printing paper, scissors, glue, pencil, colors, etc.
Protect your work space with a plastic, washable tablecloth, newspaper, or butcher paper ~ the latter invites doodling & checklists.
Read all the steps included in the Sequence part of the Instructions provided for each Project/Activity BEFORE beginning.
Keep a copy of these Construction Instructions close by, so you can re-read as you create.
Clean up your work space when you have completed what you wanted to do.
What Is the CLAMDiggers’ Literacy Enrichment Program?
Click on this link for more information on CLAMDiggers’ Literacy Enrichment Program:
And I have created several interactive, hands-on Games and Activities for learning the Vocabulary Words your child will be seeing, hearing, reading, and writing according to his/her current Grade Level.
CLAMDIGGER’S Summer Games for Boosting Vocabulary
Each of these Summer-themed Games contains Grade-Level Specific Vocabulary Word Lists collected from frequently cited reading texts ~ fictional and informational as well as academic terms used in the classroom on a daily basis.
The 7 games included follow Bloom’s Taxonomy sequence for increasing Critical Thinking Skills:
The Vocabulary Guide presents a review of grammatical terms used to identify the components of Words ~ KNOWLEDGE.
Specific Game Sorts allows the learner to understand how each word follows certain rules ~ COMPREHENSION by organizing, summarizing, translating & describing the wide range of categories Vocabulary Words can share.
Specific Word Activities provides opportunities for the learner to take what s/he knows & use it ~ APPLICATION of learned content to produce solutions in a variety of problems.
Word Part Specific Charts, Lists & Tables enables the learner to use Critical Thinking Skills for ~ ANALYSIS of learned Vocabulary Words into components by recognizing the relationships of their different and/or similar elements.
Additional Vocabulary List gives the learner connections for making unknown words known ~SYNTHESIS of these diverse elements for building and strengthening Vocabulary acquisition.
And prepares the learner for ~ EVALUATION, then, provides opportunities for making judgements on newer, unknown Words by using the Skills attained from following the above sequence.
A Grade-Level Specific Literature List ~ see above BLB Resource Library link~ along with a general Lesson Plan are included.
A variety of Word categories are explored with each Vocabulary Word groups.
Vocabulary Word Groupings
These Summer-themed Vocabulary-Boosting Games cover the following Word Elements:
Summer Blooms: Nouns & Verbs
Pool Party: Adjectives & Adverbs
Summer Fruit Basket: Prefixes, Suffixes & Root Words
Under The Sea: Synonyms & Antonyms
Sandcastles: Summer Compound Words
Summer Vocabulary Words Study: Third-30 words/Fourth-40 words/Fifth-50 words
CLAMDIGGERS’ Summer Literacy Enrichment Collection is a HUGE combination of my Product Units, Resources from my Resource Library, and Freebies guaranteed to engage your youngster(s) with lots of entertaining activities and projects ~ involving LOTS of too-busy-to-be-bored time….
But, before I begin & you read on, let me share some things my many Summers with Kids of various ages taught me:
a DAILY routine is a SANITY ~ SAVER for you & the kids
Outdoor time EVERY DAY is a MUST, especially if it’s water-related
Multiple opportunities for arts, crafts & projects is a NECESSITY
Click on this link for some wonderful website helpers:
If you need something more organized and day-to-day, I’ve created Celebration Calendars for June, July & August. This project-unit consists of a monthly-themed activity list and a daily celebration list with over 65 specific activities. Recipes & Activity Sheets are , also, included. Here’s the TpT link:
Read on for Social Studies, Geography & History Resources & Activities are coming up next….
Studying Our World
If you’re not barefoot, then, you’re overdressed. ~Unknown
Studying Our World ~ to me, anyway ~ is ABSOLUTELY fascinating. If your youngster (or three) loves finding out how the civilizations of Our World have affected us today, I have a few drops in that bucket to hold his/her (their) interest.
The categories I’ve listed, of course, have cross-over elements and events.
If your youngster(s) need a little boost in Reading & Writing this Summer, keep reading for LOTS of Resources, Product Units & Freebies. Your Home-School efforts just got a little easier !
Your Home-School Summer School
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it in summer school. ~ Josh Stern
My son, a smart as he is, was NOT an avid reader `like his mom, the school teacher. However, during the Summer Vacation months, a 30 minute DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time was NOT an option. He chose when to spend those reading minutes during the daylight hours. Hottest time, preferably….
So, if you need some Home-Summer-School action and need some additional assistance, I’ve got some support for you & yours.
Hope these tips, ideas & resources help to make your Home Summer School a success!
And make sure you take some “do nothing” time ~ it’s important….
Taking Some “Do Nothing” Time
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~ Sam Keen
On August 11, 2017, Parent Co. published an article on their site entitled, “Why the Lazy Days of Summer Are Actually the Most Memorable for Kids”.
Podcast host/writer Shauna Niequist & writer Tish Oxenreider traveled extensively with their children. When they asked them to cite the most memorable events of the vacations, the extraordinary was not expressed. What was shared were the ordinary things like “swimming in the hotel pool, wandering through fields, playing with new friends, and eating”.
Consequently, both moms came to the same conclusion ~”When everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.” Their children remembered everyday, ordinary events when they had their parents’ undivided attention.
“Uh huh”….. I mused. So, I created a little 18-page Freebie with Lots of Together activities and a Scrapbook template for capturing, recording, and keeping those Summer Memory Makers.
Hopefully, this CLAMDiggers Summer Literacy Enrichment Collection of Resources , Product Units & Freebies will keep you & yours engaged all Summer long with its new ideas for your Family Literacy Circle.
Let me hear from you with questions, concerns, comments.
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A family in harmony will prosper in everything. ~Chinese Proverb
Week One of CLAMDiggers: February’s Literacy Enrichment Collection is a 15-page unit entitled Asian New Year. It contains the following Projects/Activities:
Lion Dance Mask with Lion Dance Mask Tracers Template
Celebration Lantern with Gung Hei Fat Choy Characters & Asian New Year Animal Images
General Supply List: card-stock, construction paper, paper plates, glitter, large craft stick, red paper ribbon, yellow crepe streamers, pipe cleaners, ruler, scissors, glue, hole punch, markers, stapler
You can access the Asian New Year unit by clicking on the link below:
This is the CLAMDiggers’ Enrichment Program Overview!
A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his/her might that which s/he desires. ~Paulo Coelho
I am very excited to share CLAMDiggers: a 52~week, cross-curricular, enrichment, and interactive program I developed from my teaching and learning experiences with children, ages 8~11 years-old.
They always encouraged and inspired hands-on activities with readily available materials. Producing projects, such as games, books, sculptures, puppets, skits, paintings, food, keepsakes, etc. enhanced not only the learning process propelled by children’s love of an engaging read, but also, stimulated their creative skills in critical thinking, problem solving, visual & spatial reasoning, etc.
In the Beginning…
CLAMDiggers was originally developed as a classroom enrichment program and/or an after-school activity club for children, ages 8-11, integrating fiction and nonfiction literature with craft-making, role-play and artistic expression.
However, given the changing landscape of education, I tweaked and edited each Unit’s activities to make them more tech-friendly and accessible. Their priority remains as an interactive, hands-on learning experience.
Initially formatted for a classroom teacher, I re-worded Activity Directions into an Upper Elementary Independent Reading Level. The Lesson Plan is written as a guide for teaching reading comprehension within the thematic trade book selection list.
An Educational Overview
CLAMDiggers is designed to build Cognitive Skills through Critical Thinking.
While promoting the ongoing development of a child’s eagerness to explore the accomplishments of creative production through manipulative experiences, CLAMdiggers:
cultivates an appreciation for appropriate children’s literature using a thematic approach
addresses cross-curriculum objectives throughout each lesson for analysis, synthesis and evaluation
inspires creative production using a variety of art media
provides opportunities for extension and enrichment within the framework of each session
increases an understanding of the global community on both physical and cultural levels
The impact of CLAMDiggers is immediate and expansive, as each child internalizes the confidence to express imaginative responses.
This labor of love of mine is assembled into seasonal / monthly / weekly collections (Summer, too) and formatted to correspond with educational guidelines. Each session includes:
An Introduction with an Instructional Sequence
The Unit’s Introductory Overview includes a suggested Instructional Sequence for integrating the fiction and nonfiction, Thematic Literature, grade-level trade books listed with the Haptic Activities included.
Master Materials & Literature Books Lists
The Unit’s Master Materials List is a complete inventory of each Activity’s necessary supplies for completion. Substitution ideas are, also, included. The Unit’s Thematic Literature List is compiled of titles I successfully used in the classroom. Children predictably and positively responded to these 10-12 reads. There are spaces for you to lists your choices as well.
A Lesson Plan with Curriculum Objectives
Each Lesson Plan generally focuses on ideas for utilizing a variety of Comprehension Elements within the Literature reads. It, also, provides the Objectives the specific session will address. These Curriculum guidelines are designated in abbreviations: LA (Language Arts), MTH (Math), SS (Social Studies), SC (Science), HLTH (Health), A (Art), M (Music) & PE (Physical Education). The Activities/Projects are listed as well.
Activities/Projects with Directions, Illustrations, Templates & Extensions
Directions for the Activity or Project have been sequentially tested for understanding. I know how LITERAL children can be, especially with Hands-On tasks. Some illustrations and templates may be included for, hopefully, easier modelling and tracer accessibility. Extension ideas at the conclusion of each Activity/Project will give you and your child more possibilities for enrichment.
Seasonal & Monthly Studies
Each Seasonal collection of Literature Study & Activity/Project options includes opportunities to:
celebrate Nature’s seasonal changes
investigate weather patterns
observe the sky’s phenomena
explore a variety of animals
Monthly Units have a collection of mini- poetry posters to introduce a focus on the content of the different lessons within each weekly session. They may include connections to:
celebrate holidays & special occasions
examine historical events
research social environments
create plays & games
apply critical thinking skills for problem solving
use imagination for expression
Here’s Condensed Contents List of the CLAMDiggers’ Seasonal & Monthly Main Ideas:
JANUARY: Nature in Winter/Snow/Civil Rights/Hibernation
FEBRUARY: Asian New Year/Valentines/Friendship/US Presidents
MARCH: Dr Seuss & Imagination/Windy Weather/A Wee Bit O’ Green/Spring Into Spring/Humor
APRIL: Fairy Tales/Clouds & Rain/Earth Day Everyday/Arbor Day: A Celebration of Trees
MAY: Mothers’ Day/Baby Animals/Bicycles & Safety/Neighbors in the Neighborhood/Let’s Have a Picnic
JUNE: The Sun/Fathers’ Day/Backyard Summer Fun/Going on Vacation
JULY: Independence Day/Summer Nights: Moon & Stars/Tall Tales & Legends/Fun in the Water: Oceans, Lakes & Rivers
DECEMBER: An Early American Christmas/Oh! Christmas Tree!/ Santa & His Reindeer/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/New Year
Weekly Unit Components
Each weekly unit, or session includes the following components:
front & back covers
a contents list
introductory sequence overview
master materials activities list
thematic literature book list
one-four activities with sequential instructions & extension ideas
Crafts, Literature & More
You can utilize CLAMDiggers’ enrichment program in a variety of ways:
a Home-School enrichment program
an hour after-school club session introduced with a teacher-read trade book and guided activity
a several hours mini “workshop” with your child or several children partner-reading several trade books, electing a teacher-read book and producing activity (ies)
an on-going classroom, thematic DEAR with an independent and/or partner-student read, promoting a book-share, a teacher-read encouraging comprehension and culminating in project production with usage for evaluation
center-based tasks to include student-generated comprehension assessments in conjunction with activity production
cooperative group preparation of book and project presentation
multi-grade level student partnerships for book-shares and activity production
extra-credit or homework assignments to encourage parental involvement
Laminating a pocketed folder with brads or providing a notebook with dividers will help your child or children keep lessons and materials organized. A permanent black marker will enable them to title the cover.
Book Reviews & Comprehension activities with Project Directions can be part of the folder’s contents.
Encourage your students to anecdote the Directions with questions & thoughts. It will help generate Critical Thinking and, hopefully, facilitate Brainstorming and Creativity for Extension Activities .
Whether selecting a few weekly units individually and/or a monthly bundle (which will include a 30-page booklet of Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension, Brainstorming & Writing), CLAMDiggers’ enrichment program for Upper Elementary Learners will be available ~hopefully~ for purchase on Mz. Bizzy Lizzy Biz’s Teachers Pay Teachers Shop several weeks before the Month’s due date. September’s Monthly/Weekly Units are first. Access to the Monthly Poetry Posters will be in the Shop as well. Here’s the link to my Shop:
Planning the Family Literacy Circle During Your Pregnancy
Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.~ from Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
WOOHOO!!!! You’re a parent! A mommy! And in less than 9 months your outer body mommy-hands, arms, legs & feet (not to mention your chest) will be filled with a small, soft, beautiful life. That sleeps, eats, yawns, coos, and, well, you know what else the precious little darlin’ does…..
But for now, your little seedling of life is safely tucked away….for the next 36 weeks, giving you time to plan.
When you have some awake-time during these first few months (I, like other moms, was constantly in need of a nap), you’ll probably dream about:
Who your baby will favor in looks? Eye/hair color? Your dimples? Daddy’s cleft chin? Grandma’s curly hair? Grandpa’s long, slender body? Your sister’s smile? Your brother’s freckles? Your cousin’s big feet & hands? Your Great-Aunt’s nose?
What will your baby’s personality be like? Your mom’s love of gardening? Your dad’s love of fishing? Your aunt’s love of books? Your uncle’s love of travel? Daddy’s love of humor? Your love of long walks on the beach?
It’s, also, okay to worry about, well, what pregnant parents worry about. Don’t scare yourself. Take care of the 2 of you with good nutrition, fresh air and lots of laughter, rest & pampering.
You are planning the Family Literacy Circle during your pregnancy.
Begin the Family Literacy Circle with “Dear Baby of Mine……”
Starting a journal during this time will make a wonderful memory gift for you to give your child later in life. Reading some of these entries will answer questions your child will have about when s/he was “growing in your tummy.” Here are some thoughts you may want to include in this keepsake:
names you are considering for your baby and why
a list of your favorite songs, stories, rhymes, books
activities you want to share with your baby
places you want to take your baby
things you are doing to prepare for your baby’s arrival
special traditions your family celebrates, especially birthdays
important lessons you want to teach your baby
little bios of all the people your baby will meet
Your feelings and reflections, especially when spoken out loud to share with your baby, will begin the literacy circle of bonding. Connecting with your little swimmer this way helps you to prepare for your growing family through language-the first MAJOR step in forming the Literacy Family Circle.
BLB Shop may have just the journal you are looking for ~
The Waiting Womb Journal : 36 Gestation Meditations
Dr. John Medina, a brain scientist, stated in his book, Brain Rules For Baby , you should leave your little embryo/fetus alone during the first 4-5 months of your pregnancy. S/he can’t hear you until then, anyway. Of course, not to contradict the experts and/or cause harm to your unborn child, but most mothers (including myself) start chatting with Baby as soon as they find out they are pregnant.
I guess the “disclaimer” here would be…. your baby’s brain is not actually listening/understanding what you’re saying during the first half of your pregnancy.
Dr. Medina does go on to say scientific research has tested and evaluated several activities parents can do to help with their baby’s brain development during pregnancy.
Helping with the Growth & Development of Your Baby’s Brain
Here are Dr. Medina’s “Four Things Proven to Help Baby’s Brain”:
Eat LOTS of fruits & veggies
Make sure your prenatal vitamin has folic acid
Take iron which is necessary for your baby’s proper brain development & normal functioning
Eat foods with omega3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, cod, haddock & sardines
Disclaimer- scientists don’t know why pregnant women have “random cravings” (I personally had to have ice cream every day after my DAILY intake of Mexican food. I was unable to eat my favorite food- peanut butter because it gave me heartburn, which I had never experienced until pregnancy)
Baby’s Birth Weight
Your baby’s brain size is related to the birth weight of up to 8 pounds (so, a 10-pound baby doesn’t mean a larger brain)
Snacking on the right foods will secure that desired weight (for me – it kept headaches away, which I experienced during pregnancy if I didn’t eat when I /we were hungry….and had never experienced until then. I put away a hefty sum of granola bars, especially during the last trimester).
Look into swimming, dance, stretch, and/or yoga classes especially formatted for pregnancy
Walk as much as you can everyday and breathe deep
Moderate exercise helps during labor
Don’t over do it because you can overheat your baby
Moderate exercise can, also, reduce stress
Some people, as part of their genetics, are more sensitive than others to stressful situations- if that is you- keep it to a minimum
Your stress hormone- cortisol- slips through the placenta & enters your baby’s brain
Avoid too much stress – especially during the 3rd trimester – because it can “profoundly influence your prenatal baby’s development”
I’ve dedicated a section in this blog to “Stress Tamers”
Your First Trimester with Your Baby
Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.~ by Dr. Seuss from The Cat in the Hat
In Kathy Kinsner’s May 16th, 2016 article, “Bonding With Your Baby Before Birth” for the website http://www.zerotothree.org , she tells us your baby’s brain starts to form just three weeks after conception. It continues to develop in many different ways throughout a lifetime.
During the beginnings of your baby’s brain development, it starts storing information – new skills and memories- to keep and use during her/his life.
Infogrades Infographic: “Guide to Pregnancy: Week to Week” lists some helpful data on what is happening to you and your baby during this first trimester:
Grows from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a lime
Develops brain cells at a rate of over 100 per minute
Begins to form major organs
Starts to wriggle inside your womb
Produces pregnancy hormones
Feels your body (and emotions) rapidly changing
Needs to nap because you’re more tired than usual
Needs to eat lots of fruits & veggies
Literacy Plan During Your First Trimester
Although most experts will tell you to leave your little embryo in peace for the first four to five months of your pregnancy, there are several Literacy Planning and Brain Development Support can activities you can do:
Visualize & start to prepare Baby’s room
Write a letter to your newest little family member
Start your daily 2 mile walk & find different, non-strenuous places to explore
Relax & drift into a light nap
Visit the children’s section in your local library & look for books you’ll want to share with your baby
Write down the titles & remember some of your childhood favorites
Call some of the surrounding elementary schools, learning centers and/or churches to see if they’re having a children’s book sale.
Check out this book list in BLB’s Resources to help you plan your Family Literacy Circle’s library:
Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.~Dr. Seuss
Exercise Benefits for Both of Your Brains
Unitypoint.org’s infographic “Get Moving, Baby!” is filled with specifics regarding the effects of exercising during the 3 trimesters of pregnancy. You should always check with your obstetrician before beginning a workout plan even it is listed as specific for “Pregnancy”.
Here are some Exercise Benefits:
helps with your sleep & daily rest
increases your energy levels
improves your mood
eases aches & pains, especially in your back
reduces your risk for pregnancy complications
prepares your body for childbirth
“Walk This Way”
I found this short article in the February 2017 issue of AARP magazine’s section Healthy You (yes, I’m of the age) titled “Walk This Way”. Author Sara Altshul suggests a variety of “motivational” strolls & their benefits:
The Family Time Walk
Talking, laughing, debating, planning, and/or holding hands together while stepping outdoors for a mile or 2 is very healthy for you and yours. It can calm your overactive brain as well as restore your attention span.
The Tree Hugger’s Walk
Nature walks through parks and on forest trails can be healing. Researchers found it improved lung & heart functions. You can always park yourself on a bench or under a tree for a shaded rest.
The Meditation Master’s Walk
You don’t need to be seated on a meditation mat to reap its goodness. Allowing your mind to rest in a quiet, peaceful way has the ability to ease high blood pressure, digestion woes, anxiety, depression & insomnia.
The Socializer’s Walk
Joining a “walk group” with friends and/or other waiting mommies is not only fun, but also, helps keep you and your baby on a healthy track. One study showed group walks can lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
The Philosopher’s Walk
Deep thinking during your daily stroll is a great brain booster. It improves your memory and reasoning skills. “Brainstorming” opportunities and solutions to troublesome problems are additional perks to this type of meandering.
For me – a nice, long walk on the beach combines several of these “types” of walks. Must be why everyone always feel so GREAT after one of them!
Onward to Your Second Trimester with Your Baby
How are we doing? I LOVED this part of my pregnancy! Feeling your baby’s first “kick” is magical and powerful! Bonding with your baby with chats, songs & laughter is SO important for your baby’s brain development. By the end of this trimester, your baby has millions of brain cells!
Dr. Medina of Brain Rules and Infogrades Infographic: “Guide to Pregnancy: Week to Week” share some useful data on what is happening to you and your baby during the critical second trimester:
Grows from the size of an avocado to the size of a coconut
Has its own fingerprints
Develops ears & can hear by 20 weeks
Becomes sensitive to smells, temperature & bright light
Responds & prefers your voice
Wriggles, yawns, hiccups & burps
Feels more aches especially in back, ankles & feet
Your belly button might pop out
Has more energy than in the first trimester
Eats lots and lots (Thanksgiving dinner is a fun food fest!)
May crave certain foods
Literacy Plan During Your Second Trimester
Studies have found your voice has a calming effect on your baby because when you speak, his/her heart rate slows down. Daily chats, reads and songs boost your baby’s brain power.
Listening to language is a HUGE Literacy step inviting your baby into the verbal world. Your baby’s brain needs to hear the different tones, pitches, vibrations, accents & basic sounds commonly spoken every day.
Although your voice is the most familiar and soothing to your baby, make sure Daddy, siblings and other loved ones talk, read, and sing with Baby, too. Your baby will connect their voices as a bond of love, comfort, and security.
The Power of Oral Language in Literacy
How do we bring our new, little acrobatic gymnast into the Family Literacy Circle? Communicate with daily oral language.
Chats & Conversations
Baby’s Family: Daddy, brother, sister, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, other loved ones, and pets
Special Occasions: traditions, holidays, celebrations
Your favorites: places, activities, things, memories
Baby’s Name Choices (my baby actually kicked on a specific name when I read the list of choices)
Books, Stories & Songs
Read from your Pregnancy journal
Read some of your favorite childhood books
Read rhyming books you have just for your new baby
Read some of your favorite recipes
Have loved ones read to your baby
Create stories about your adventures
Create family-memory stories
Create stories with invented characters
Sing songs & lullabies
Talk and sing to your baby every day. Find time during the day or in the evening right before you go to sleep to read and/or tell a story to your baby. You will notice her/him physically reacting to your voice(s). S/he might even remember some of the rhyming and rhythmic verses and stories you’ve read while in utero. Babies have been known to remember music as well.
Beware of Stress Producers
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. ~ from Winnie the Pooh by AAMilne
The word stress was coined over 50 years ago by researcher Hans Selye. a Doctor of Medicine & Chemistry. He was studying the effects of “noxious agents” on people.
Dr. John Medina cites Three Different Types of Toxic Stress in his book, Brain Rules for Baby that will hurt your baby’s brain development:
Too Frequent happens every day and is continuing & unrelenting stress, such as -an overly demanding job, chronic illness, no social support, poverty
Too Severe is a loss of control during traumatic circumstances in one’s life, such as – marital separation, divorce, death of a loved one, especially a spouse. loss of a job, criminal assault
Too Much for You is an overwhelming feeling of despair & depression brought about by unexpected or overpowering events.
Staying in the “Happy-Go-Preggo” World
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do during a stress attack is massage that big, beautiful baby carrier of yours. It decreases excessive baby jumping (I thought my ribs were permanently stretched). Your baby will jump or kick during sudden loud noises. A gentle belly rub will help lessen prenatal complications and lower a premature birth rate.
Here are Seven Simple Stress Busters during pregnancy suggested on the website Sparkle People. Here’s the link:
the lack of sleep (crankiness) due to the discomforting expansion,
the sometime nagging worries (what if…),
the wait (Good Grief! Another MONTH!!!),
the anticipation (I’m SO ready),
the preparation (do we have enough…)…….
NOT trying to stress you out here…… Stress isn’t good for you AND it hurts your baby’s brain development.
20 Stress Tamers
So, here’s a little freebie I created for you to put on the fridge when even your favorite snack doesn’t help. If “OMG! How Am I Going to Get Through This!!!!!” is taking a hold of your usually happy-go-preggo day, read through this list of 20 Stress Tamers. Then, choose one , several or all suggestions to help calm yourself (and your little angel). You can do the list in a sequence, small grouping, or if you’re having a particularly “Enough Already!!!!” day, repeat the entire Tamers list until you’re once again – “happy-go-preggo”.
And remember, as we remind ourselves in the nation of TeacherLand- “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts”.
Literally…The Home Stretch (or the Third & FINAL Trimester)
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. ~ A. Einstein
YIPPEEEEEE! Now for the FUN months!!! Here’s what’s happening to you & your little swimmer, I mean, diver:
Grows from the size of an eggplant to the size of a pineapple
Can smell your perfume
Smiles during calm music & scowls at loud, raucous music
Practices breathing air
Begins its descent into the birth canal at 36 weeks
Can hear & feel Baby’s heartbeat
Can count Baby’s kicks
Can see & feel Baby’s movements
Needs more rest & Stress Tamers (especially foot & back massages)
Needs to practice birth-breathing
I know you’re tired, but walking those 2 miles EVERY DAY is SOOOOOO VERY GOOD and important for you & your baby now.
Literacy Plan During Your Third Trimester
Your baby is responding more and more to you and his/her loved ones’ voices. Continue speaking, reading, (especially rhyming verses) storytelling, singing & humming with your baby. You’ll be resting more these last few months, so make sure you have a stack of Baby’s books, joke books & magazines, as well as your journal, doodle/drawing paper, pens, pencils & colors near by. Although my rib-swinger and I were very found of classical music during this time; my visiting family & friends tried not to fall asleep mid-sentence. But, baby & I were calm, relaxed, and breathing deeply.
YOU GOT THIS!!!!!
Want to share your pregnancy stories? Have some helpful tips & info? I would love to hear them.
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Our children will teach how to love, how to forgive, and how to be full expressions of our deepest selves, if we only let them. ~Ann Ruethling & Patti Pitcher
When I first “organized” this series on The Family Literacy Circle, I thought “Nurturing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Newborn” would be its own post. However, after completing the research, I knew one post wasn’t going to be enough.
Your baby’s first year is HUGE ! Continuing with the Literacy Circle is one of the most important gifts you can share with your newest family member.
Learning to control the physical world with her/his body is your baby’s primary focus: eating, grabbing, rolling over, sitting up, babbling/talking, crawling, walking, climbing, “toddling”. These skills are gained through imitation and repetition. You can see your baby’s personality begin to emerge while “working” on these accomplishments.
How To Make a Nurturing, Literacy-Friendly Home
Cynthia Aldinger, founder of Lifeways North America & author of Home Away from Home , coined the phrase “Living Arts”. Creating a supportive and caring home has 4 major elements, according to Ms. Aldinger:
Domestic Activity– Model the work necessary to keep a home safe, healthy & secure. Include your child(ren) so they have opportunities to imitate what is being done and, then, participate with the family.
Domestic Activity’s Literacy Value: oral language, sequential order, following directions, cause & effect, problem/solutions, details
Nurturing Care – Share your life experiences while focusing on your child(ren) as major contributors to the family’s history.
Social Ability – Build confidence in your child(ren) that will help grow & nurture relationships with others outside the family’s sphere, such as friends, schoolmates, clubs, teams.
Social Ability’s Literacy Value : inference, prediction, character, settings, generalizations
Your Newborn’s BrainPower
Did you know ?
Newborns have about 100 BILLION brain cells at birth
75% of your newborn’s brain develops AFTER birth
Your baby’s brain DOUBLES in size within her/his first year
Your newborn can feel pleasure, fear & distress
Your newborn’s 5 senses quickly develop once outside the womb
His/her hearing is not fully developed, but s/he recognizes & prefers mother’s voice
S/he recognizes mother’s smell at birth
S/he is sensitive to sounds, light & temperature
S/he can distinguish light from dark, but not different shades of color (pastels), which will develop later
Your newborn’s sensitivity to bright light does not affect his/her need to sleep 15-17 hours a day. During the first few weeks, s/he usually doesn’t know the difference between night and day.
How Smart Is My Baby?
Dr. John Medina, a brain scientist & author of the book, Brain Rules For Baby , shares a few facts about intelligence:
No intelligence gene has been isolated
IQ (intelligence quota) measures one’s ability to take IQ tests
Researchers can’t agree on what IQ tests measure
IQ can change throughout one’s life & is affected by stress, age & cultural environment
Family life affects a child’s IQ
He, also, says the human intelligence has 2 “essential ingredients”:
The ability to record & keep information-the memory
The capacity to use that information – reasoning & problem solving
You and your loved ones can support & nurture your newborn’s brain development in several ways.
How To Boost Your Newborn’s BrainPower for Literacy
Babies enter the world with a lot of love and trust. Bonding between parents and child is a major key to the healthy growth and development of your baby’s brain.
Rahima Dancy, an internationally- known early childhood educator & author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher and Susan Sloop from the University of Illinois Extension (I combined the lists) offered some suggestions:
Touching, cuddling & rocking your baby a lot promotes brain growth and a sense of security & well-being
Responding quickly to your baby’s cries or fussiness with a soothing & calming voice builds positive brain circuitry in her/his brain as well as emotional security
Giving your newborn some peace & quiet time so s/he will adjust to her/his physical life
Spending time face-to-face & being attentive with your baby gives her/him the confidence to explore, discover & learn about the world BUT DO NOT overstimulate or force physical development
Talking, humming & singing with your newborn stimulates his/her brain for understanding speech, producing language, & gaining skills for reasoning as well as planning
Your Newborn’s Oral Language Development & Literacy
Yes, talking, singing & humming with your newborn helps develop language & literacy. Believe it or not, s/he is communicating with you, too!
Another way to communicate with your newborn is through sign language. “Between 6 to 8 months, babies’ long term memories are developmentally ready to retain the words they hear and the signs they see.” (White & Harper: Signs of a Happy Baby 2017)
Pathways.org, who is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings, provides some great information on early childhood growth & development abilities & milestones.
Quiets and/or smiles in response to sound and/or voice
Turns head towards sound and/or voice
Shows interest in faces
Makes eye contact
Cries differently for different needs: hungry, tired, uncomfortable
Chuckles, gurgles & coos
Talk about everything you are doing: washing your hands, getting dressed, cooking food, feeding baby & family, putting away toys
Use short sentences
Stress important words
Speak slowly & vary your tone
Use pictures and/or objects to help your baby understand
Read books (more on that later)
Reacts to sudden sounds and/or noises
Listens and responds when spoken to
Begins to to use consonants when babbling: da da; ma ma; ba ba
Makes different kinds of sounds to express feelings
Notices toys that make sounds
Uses babbling to get attention
Hum, chant, rock & bounce in a rhythmic way
Give your baby a rattle to shake while you sing and/or listen to music together
Use a mirror to play “who” & “where” games
Play “Peek-A-Boo” games
Make sure your newborn has musical toys
Give your newborn toys with a variety of textures
Baby Talk: The Communication of Crying
You’ve probably noticed your infant:
playing with saliva (spit spray is fun)
raspberry-tongues (always a favorite)
blowing bubbles (they LOVE to do this)
vocalizations (yells, shouts, growls, howls)
cah-rrrryyyy-ing ( yes, it’s baby talk)
A few words about the Communication of Crying – As a new mother, I was nervous about “understanding” the different cries my baby “spoke”. Very quickly, I learned to recognize what his cry-speak (just made up that term) was communicating. My Mother-Sense alerted me to what he was loudly “saying”. Believe me, they’re not ALL distress signals. Your tired-self will clue you in. And, you, like I, will be amazed at the variety of wails.
Here’s What I Discovered
The Distress Calls were no-brainers for me, as with many parents. My body went into immediate, reflex action. The other cries’ solutions came with a trial-and-error approach. No one wants to hear a baby’s mournful moans, but, sometimes, s/he is just expressing a feeling and/or thought of the moment. Listen closely to your little one and you will be able to distinguish the difference between a cry for help and a cry of frustration. It’s the language of babies-your baby- so, interpreting his/her cries will strengthen the bond between you. “Yay! S/he gets me!”
Here’s How I Discovered What To Do
Distress Calls or Pain: hunger, indigestion, teething, injury, sickness Mother-Sense: hair-raise on the back of my neck, increased heartbeat, stomach-clench, cool sweat, drop every & any thing to address the call, uh- alarm
Annoyance Alerts: diaper duty, clothing adjustment, sucking &/or attention need, toy access desired Mother-Sense: respond & assist in a timely manner or escalation is imminent
Grumble Yowls: dissatisfaction, discomfort, irritation, moodiness Mother-Sense: distract with silliness or fake crying, change of scenery-going outdoors works great, everyone has days like this
Whimper Whines: confusion, tiredness, boredom, mild frustration, lonely, sound exploration, maybe some aches due to growing pains Mother-Sense: wait a short while to see if Baby will self-soothe (IMPORTANT), if not- talk to Baby calmly, offer toy to distract, give teething biscuit or ring, pick up & rock when big tears occur
Disclaimer: I am not a child expert – just a loving parent & elementary educator. well, that was more than “a few words” now, wasn’t it ?!
Literacy Needs Playtime
Watching your baby play is one of the most fascinating and revealing activities you can do. Listen to his/her babbling while at play. You may recognize some of your tones and expressions (in babblese). Not only will you learn how & what your baby is learning, but also, what keeps his/her interests. Seeing glimpses of your baby’s emerging personality and the way problem solving happens is a treasure. Try not to interfere too much when you hear groans or wails of frustration. These, what I call “growing pains”, are helpful to your baby’s brain growth & development.
Kallokyri’s “Importance of Play”
In June 2016 Anastasia Kalokyri created a whimsical infographic : “Facts About the importance of Play in Early Childhood” for shoptwinkie.com.
Within the 8 Stages of Play, from birth to ages 6 & 7, she describes several stages of your newborn’s play.
During Unoccupied Play from birth -3months, your baby’s movements seem to be random without a clear purpose. However, researchers have found these movements are an important first step in the early stages of play.
Constructive Play, which also begins at birth, starts with infants putting things in their mouths to see how they feel & taste.
Beginning at 3 months your newborn may not notice others sitting & playing nearby. During Solitary Play your baby is exploring the world by watching, grabbing & rattling objects.
How Play Affects A Child’s Development
Here are some other facts Ms. Kalokyri shared:
How s/he learns & works out who s/he is
How the world works & how s/he fits into it
Helps build confidence
Helps to feel love, happy & safe
Helps to develop social skills, language & communication
Helps connect & refine pathways in her/his brain
Helps him/her learn about caring for others & the environment
Helps her/him learn physical skills
Playing with your newborn is a very important part of her/his literacy development because it stimulates brain and oral language growth & development. Remember to encourage quiet, solo playtime in your newborn because it is just as important to her/him.
Games, Toys & Literacy
Playing games with your newborn is a wonderful way to bond and stimulate brain health. Learning through our 5 senses is the human way to make contact with the physical world.
Choose toys that encourage creative and interactive play. Toys made with bright colors and a variety of textures, especially wood , wool, cotton, help your baby connect with the real world.
Talking, humming & singing during play is a great way to boost literacy. Oral language is an important building block when nurturing the Family Literacy Circle. encourage loved ones to participate.
When your baby is tired of playing & needs some quiet time, s/he may: begin sucking, wrinkle face, stare vacantly, yawn, squirm, cry.
Developmental Play for Your Newborn
Because games, toys & books are the POWER tools of your baby’s Literacy World, I researched several different sources to help bring this information to you. It was encouraging to read the repetition within the variety of authorities, scientists & specialists. Here are a few I used and combined their findings.
Dr. Glade Curtis, a pediatritian, and Judith Schuler, MS, co-authored 2010’s Your Baby’s First Year. They help parents understand how they can help their baby’s first year of growth & development with a week-by-week approach.They divide play into: stimulate vision, talk & sing, and vocabulary & language.
Of The Hearth.com cited ZerotoThree.com & Maternal Child Nursing Care as sources to help her create her “Developmentally appropriate Play for Babies ” chart. It is divided into 4 types of play: visual, auditory, tactile & kinetic.
I created tables to share the information. Remember to continue and build on each activity every week.
Developmental Play for Your Newborn (Birth to 1 Month)
SEE & PLAY
HEAR & PLAY
TOUCH & PLAY
GRAB & PLAY
*Show bold-patterned objects
*Show pictures of loved one's
*Talk & sing to baby
*Play soothing music
*Hold, caress & cuddle baby
*Rock baby in a rocking chair
*Look closely into baby's face
*Look closely into baby's eyes
*Sing nursery rhymes
*Play lullaby CDs
*Put baby on his/her back
*Take baby for a stroller walk
*Move simple bright pics and
see if baby tracks
*Show bright toys close
*Vary the tone of your voice
*Say baby's name often
*Keep baby warm
*Wear baby in a carrier
*Show pictures of loved one's
*Read anything aloud
*Dance with toys while you sing
*Give butterfly kisses
*Gently shake a rattle
*Show bright toys close
*Take baby on a house tour, pointing out objects
*Place baby on tummy with bright toys
*Roll a ball while baby is in your lap or in a carrier
*Hang a mobile above baby
*Describe what your doing when doing chores & caring for her/him
*Play with baby & a mirror
*See if baby will grab colorful rings
*Make funny faces
*Take baby outside & point out trees, plants, sky, clouds, etc
*Touch baby"s parts & name them
*Shake toy keys & move them
Developmental Play for Your Newborn (2-3 Months)
SEE & PLAY
HEAR & PLAY
TOUCH & PLAY
GRAB & PLAY
* Make room bright with high contrast colors
* Tell baby what you're doing while dressing him/her
* Give baby a gentle massage
*Use an infant swing or bouncer
*Show baby bright toys & slowly move them right/left
* Laugh when baby laughs
* Comb baby's hair with a soft brush
*Place baby on tummy with a mirror
*Show baby bright toys & slowly move them up/down
* Dance with toys while you sing
* Help baby touch different textures
*Place baby on tummy with toys
*Show baby bright toys & slowly move them in a circle
* Play CDs with nature sounds
* Play "Little Piggies"
*Utilize toy bars
*Show baby a small doll in the mirror
*Make up a story to tell baby
*Point to one of your body parts & then touch baby's same part
*Utilize infant mats
*Show baby how to shake a rattle in the mirror
*Talk to baby about using 4-5 word sentences
*Hold up a variety of toys to see which ones baby reaches for
*Wave bye-bye with baby in the mirror
*Ask baby short questions: "Are you ready to eat?"
"Do a gentle horsey-rock
*Hold a toy in each hand to see which one gets grabbed
*Read wordless books with bright, simple pictures
*Expose baby to home sounds & different outdoor sounds
*Blow on baby's fingers
*Gently move baby's arms & legs in a swimming motion
Copy of Developmental Play for Your Newborn (4-6 Months)
SEE & PLAY
HEAR & PLAY
TOUCH & PLAY
GRAB & PLAY
* You might need to remove mobile or place out of baby's reach
* Expose baby to classical, jazz & pop music as well as different languages
* Look for toys with multiple sensory feels
* Bounce baby in lap while holding in a standing position
*Make a family & frequent friends photo display
* Tell stories about the people in the photo display
*Show baby the real person next to the photo & touch the person
* Make sure loved ones are playing on the floor with baby
*Hang prisms to "catch" rainbows
*Talk about the colors of the prism rainbows
* Place your hand in the prism rainbow & then baby's hand
* Place prism in baby's grasp
* Blow bubbles
* Pop blown bubbles
* Touch & hold blown bubbles
*Catch a blown bubble & place on baby's hand
*Play peek-a-boo in the mirror
*Look in the mirror with baby & make faces
* Introduce wooden & plastic kitchen utensils
*Put kitchen utensils on baby's play mat with baby
*Place some fruits & veggies in a variety of shapes & colors in front of baby
*Talk about the fruits & veggies shapes & colors
*Pick each one up & place in baby's hand using texture & temperature words
*Place a few fruits & veggies in baby's reach
*Have baby see you make a bubble bath
*Drop some toys to hear different splashes
"See if baby will imitate your drop & splash play
*Hold a bath toy in each hand to see which one gets grabbed
*Show baby a few books & see which one gets chosen
*Change your voice when talking about different images in the book
*Talk about the different textures of books: board, cloth, plastic, felt
*See if baby will hold book & read to you
It might be fun to record some of the changes you see in your baby’s play. How’s the babblese progressing? Any new sounds? Preferences? I’m sure you’ve noticed a few books your baby likes to hold & eat.
Reading with Your Newborn in the Family Literacy Circle
Reading to a Newborn? Really?
Remember, you’ve already introduced reading to your baby-in utero. Reading aloud to your newborn has many benefits:
presents a perfect bonding opportunity: snuggle & read
watch & learn what interests your baby
interaction teaches your baby reading is fun
teaches your newborn new vocabulary & ideas
encourages different sound expressions for oral language
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended reading to newborns. Evidence supports the fact your baby actually understands what your are reading, unless, of course, it’s The Theory of Realitivity or War and Peace .
Your baby’s brain is still developing; and reading stimulates the brain’s growth & development. Reading books with your Newborn nurtures the Literacy Circle, preparing and developing the habit of lifetime reading.
When & Where Do I Read to My Newborn ?
Yes, your baby is spending most of her/his time eating. sleeping & trying to master the physical world. Reading can be done during the day and for a few minutes at a time. Make it part of your daily routine.Try “weaving” some pages or a short book throughout each day and/or evening:
when your newborn wakes up in the morning or from a nap
right before a nap or nightly bedtime
repeat some of the rhymes you’ve read during bath time
Or you can change up the reading routine:
while you are waiting in a restaurant, doctor’s office, the car
choose different places to read: the floor, at the table, on the bed, outside in the hammock, on a park bench
have loved ones read to the baby
How Do I Read to My Newborn ?
Read with expression, changing your tone & pitch
Read slowly, pointing & describing the images
Pause in-between the pages so your baby can have time to look
Look to your baby for clues on interest /focus
Maybe you need to share a different book or read at another time
Re-read favorites often
Give your baby a chew toy while you read
Be interactive with your baby during the read: ask questions
What Kind of Books Should We Read to a Newborn?
There’s no substitute for books in the life of a child. ~Mary Ellen Chase
So many books! So little time! Fear not!
Many of my Third graders continued to read wordless books as source of enjoyment to themselves & others. They created vocabulary-rich stories around the pictures.
Parent & child development sites will give you “tried & true” recommendations. Siblings, relatives & loved ones will share their favorites, too. Mommy & Daddy can probably recite their favorites from memory.
Your child will let you know which books are the “preferred” reads. You’ll hear them being shared with friends, dolls, pets & stuffed animals in another year or two..
Some experts say select books with black & white images for babies under 6 months of age. Just a thought… Some other suggestions for book choices are:
Books with large, simple pictures
Thick, sturdy board books
Cloth & soft, vinyl books
Remember books will first be explored in your baby’s mouth. Make sure your baby knows s/he is more important than the chewed & shredded book. It is well-loved!
Here’s a list of several of my “tried & true” board book choices from the BLB Resource Library:
Go to your local library, elementary school library and/or bookstore to “check” them out.
A Little P.S. Note
While researching more sources, tips & ideas to add to this Family Literacy Circle Series, I came across Elizabeth of Frugal Mom Eh!’s post ” 20 Things to Do with Your Baby Before They Turn One.” Here’s a few suggestions for the 0-6 months window:
Capture your newborn’s hand & foot prints. Looking at my adult son’s newborn “prints” still brings a gulp to by heart.
Learn and/or compose some songs to sing to your baby. Remember “rhyme, rhythm & repetition.”
Take TONS of pictures. You’ll be amazed how much your little one changes in a matter of days. Seriously!
Go swimming in water if weather permits. Your baby will sigh with the memory.
Fill in that Baby Milestone Book while your emotions are present. You will absolutely LOVE re-reading it. Your growing child will love hearing about it, too!
Baby Milestone Book suggestions: bottle to high chair food, baby bath to bath tub, cradle or bassinet to crib, baby food to finger food, major movements, favorite toys & showing teeth
Need a Baby Milestone Book ? BLB Shop has one you may like.
Baby’s First Year of Firsts : A Memory Keepsake Book
I’m sure you have some wonderful tips & ideas to share. Are there any questions and/or concerns you have about your newborn’s first 6 months-regarding Literacy, of course? Isn’t it amazing how our everyday lives affect our children’s? Fill in the Contact Me form below, but you don’t want to subscribe….yet. I’d love to hear from you!
Otherwise, fill in the BLB Exclusive form as a FREE subscriber!
The only time I ever felt qualified to be a parent was before I had kids. ~ Father in comic strip “Baby Blues”
Infancy, the first year of a child’s life, comes from the Latin for “without words.” Watching your infant’s glee when s/he begins to independently roll over is one of many physical feats s/he is working hard to master. Pulling up, sitting alone, and crawling opens your baby’s world in a new way.
Now, learning to walk is what all these efforts your infant is guiding him/her self towards. How your baby achieves these physical goals can give you some understanding of her/his personality.
Rahima Dancy, who authored You Are Your Child’s First Teacher offers some insightful observations.
Does your baby:
Constantly “work” at moving his/her body along OR is s/he content to stay in a seated position?
Seem to understand falling is part of the process & “forge” ahead OR become discouraged & seem hesitant to keep trying?
Use her/his arms & hands to reach for things OR just pick up things close by?
Howl & continue with his/her efforts OR stop & whine?
Praising and encouraging your striving infant will definitely help, but remember- it is her/his body that s/he needs to conquer. Sooner or later, the will to JUST DO IT overcomes the frustration and “growing pains.” Your infant’s growing brain is an important part of this process.
Curious about what the brain does? I found an interesting brain image listing some of the separate brain functions scientists have discovered. The “corpus callosum”, the Latin word for the brain, is divided into 2 parts – the right side & the left side.
The Right side of the brain is labeled the Creative and controls:
the left side of the body
gross motor skills (large body movements)
visualization: the big picture, images & symbols
long term & visual memory
“outside of the box” & spontaneous thinking
feelings & encoding (creating secretive messages)
The Left side of the brain is labeled the Logical and controls:
Which brain-side rules you? Some people’s brain-sides have equal control or an interweaving of skills from both sides. For example, I love language , but numbers-not so much.
Gifts of the Brain
In Dr. John Medina’s book Brain Rules for Baby , he shares 5 of the intellectual gifts with their characteristics your baby has nestled within her/his brain:
The Visionary: Desire to Explore
loves & needs to experiment, test & “tinker”
asks extraordinary questions about ordinary things
sees connections between unrelated ideas, problems or questions
asks “what if” “why not” “how come you’re doing it this way”
does not value “right” answers over challenging questions
The Planner: Self-Control
loves to plans & problem-solve
has the ability to shut out distracting thoughts
sets goals with the foresight to complete them
The Creative: Power to Invent
copes with puzzling situations
sees new relationships between “old” things
thinks up ideas & things not currently existing
engages in healthy “risk-taking”
Stirs positive and/or negative emotions in others
The Orator: Influence of Language
communicates using a variety of vocabulary & sounds
understands the social meanings of words
born with the ability to learn & speak any language
The Mime: Silent Messages
interprets nonverbal communication
uses facial expressions to communicate
uses body gestures to communicate
Some brain gifts are stronger than others in each person. Sometimes a little “exercise” will encourage and strengthen quieter gifts. Which ones do you feel particularly “gifted” with in your life? How will you nurture these gifts in your infant?
Nurturing Your Infant’s Brain Growth & Development
Remember your infant will grow & develop in her/his own way at his/her own pace. S/he will progress in a sequential, or orderly, way & build on the skills s/he has already learned.
Depending on your baby’s personality, s/he may focus on only one task/goal at a time. So, if s/he is working hard on walking, language may be slower. Once the walking goal is met, you may hear an increase in babblese.
My son walked very early ( at 8 months) and didn’t start speaking until much later. He was enamored with his physical world and how he was able to “grasp” it!
Dr. Margot Sunderland, a child psychotherapist & author of The Science of Parenting, wrote ” your baby’s frontal lobes are in front of her/his brain. Their many important functions give us the following abilities:
to pay attention
to plan & problem-solve
to manage stress
to control impulses
Those frontal lobes need a lot of stimulation from relationship interaction to increase social, emotional & intellectual growth & development”.
Dr. Sunderland goes on to offer several strategies & techniques for nurturing the growth & development of your infant’s brain:
talk to you infant ALOT, using “normal” , yet simple language
always make eye contact & smile
use words with body gestures for everyday language: eat, drink, I love you, hug, sad, happy, hurt, mad, scared
Talk to your infant during the day when s/he is with you. Pretend you are his/her Tour Guide to a new world. S/he is ready to learn & be a part of your world because you are the most important part of his/her world.
Brain Boosters for Your Infant
Talking & playing with your infant are necessary to help his/her brain grow & develop. Child research supports this interaction as a major key to a healthy & responsive intellect.
Words of Caution: Dr. John Medina listed a few major Early Learning Stunters in his book, Brain Rules for Baby:
Keep the TV, video games & computer off
Keep your baby physically active
Keep giving your baby lots of face-to-face interaction
In July 2016 Mom of 11 Kids posted an infographic: “Seven Ways to Boost Baby Brain Development”. They are simple, daily activities you will do without much “to-do”:
Play peek-a-boo & other hiding games
Play patty-cake & other hand games
Read together every day
Play with toys that teach, like blocks
Get messy with water, mud, puddles
Sing songs & verses together with repetition, rhythm & rhyme
Teach as you eat different foods – taste, touch, smell, colors, shapes, cold, sweet
These brain boosters build vocabulary as well as oral language. Both are strong literacy elements. Don’t forget to ask questions. You might get your first nod and/or head-shake.
How To Use Oral Language for Your Infant’s Literacy Growth
Continuing with Dr. Sunderland’s techniques for brain growth, she has specific strategies for parents to use when communicating with their child(ren):
Watch, wait & listen after giving your infant a toy
Copy & comment on her/his responses
Use comments & choices instead of commands
Use lots of facial expressions & touch
Go Out into Nature Everyday for At Least 20 Minutes
It will calm your baby
It positively impacts your infant’s brain wave patterns
It lowers the frequency of stress
The variety of textures, sights, sounds & smells are wonderful for your baby’s senses. Tasting can be , well you know……
My children ALWAYS loved being outdoors, regardless of the weather. When my son was an infant, I would settle him under the trees while I hung up his daily dozen diapers. His babblese was joyful and expressive!
Yes! Your Infant Is Talking to You (in Babblese)
Responding to infant’s language is one of the most important things people can do to encourage & increase more talk. Having conversations with your infant is a major pathway to literacy.
Oral language has 2 parts: Expressive Language – actual speech and Receptive Language – hearing & understanding what you hear. Between the ages of 9 and 12 months, you may see & hear a steady increase in both what your infant is saying and understanding.
Remember each child learns in her/his own way. Some are listeners, some are talkers; some have a lot to say, some have a few special words; some love to talk, some not so much. Know any grown-ups like that?!
FYI-here’s a chart (love making these!) with some Expressive & Receptive Language milestones your infant may have met:
Infant Oral Language Milestones (7 - 12 Months)
AGE IN MONTHS
By 9 months
*4+ sounds in babblese
*Takes turns in vocalizations
*Begins using hands to communicate wants/needs (reaches to be picked up)
*Consistently responds to own name
*Looks at familiar objects & people when named
*Follows some routine directions when paired with gestures
*Not fearful of everyday sounds
By 12 months
*Says 1 or 2 words
*Begins speech sounds
*Babblese has "strings"of speech
*May nod "yes"
*May shake head "no"
*Babblese has the sounds & rhythms of speech
*Understands up to 50 common words-baby, bottle
*Responds to simple directions- "come here"
*Follows your gaze & points
*Notices when hurt
If you and your loved ones are looking into your infants eyes and talking to her/him every day, oral language will continue to grow. Playing with your infant is a great time to have conversations. Encourage loved ones to participate daily.
Literacy Needs Playtime
Your infant is probably no longer in an Unoccupied Stage of play (Kalokyri’s “Facts About the Importance of Play”), but comfortably immersed in the Solitary & Constructive Stages of play.
Having mastered some movement goals-sitting up, pulling up, crawling- means your Infant is ready to discover his/her world. Make sure your home is a safe place for your crawler (and those babies can pick up some speed!) to explore. Get low on your hands & knees (with padding, of course) for a dust bunny view (I mean…..).
Try not to “teach” too much, but help her/him find out what’s making the world around him/her come into his/her experience. Again, instead of you all the time, have older siblings and/or loved ones attend to your infant’s fussiness or frustration when it happens – and it will! Taking your grumpy cub outside is usually a great soother and/or distraction.
When playing with your infant, remember to See & Play, Hear & Play, Touch & Play, and Grab & Play. Involving as many of the 5 senses as you can during playtime encourages literacy through language, interaction and experience. Building on the skills your baby knows will give her/him confidence to try new activities and make the physical world more familiar and exciting.
The Game Play of Literacy
Interactive games are your infants (and most children’s) favorite ways to play. They promote language, discovery, surprise, fun & laughter. Games using hands and feet bring giggles. Hiding games bring loud laughter (and hiccups). Make sure to maintain eye contact. Use rhyming & repetitive language.
Interactive Game Ideas
clapping to rhymes & songs
song & dance
The Power of Music
During your pregnancy and your newborn’s first 6 months of life, I’m sure you used the power of music to soothe, calm & entertain the 2 of you. Lullabies, classical music, new age, jazz, and, even some soft rock were/are great ways to communicate with each other.
Now, you may notice a little rhythmic wiggling when certain songs & music is played. Using music as a fun way to “teach & play” with your infant. Try some of these musical activities:
Sing songs with rhymes, like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in the tub.
Sing songs with body play, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.
Sing songs using your infant’s name while doing activities together, like “This is the way we…”.
Use toys as instruments while you sing songs, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star & Mary (or baby’s name) Had A Little Lamb”.
Sing or hum (make up some words) while you dance with your baby.
You can, also, sing while creating interactive games with toys. It is lots of fun! Listen to how siblings & other loved ones talk, sing and play with the “new baby bird in the nest”.
Games with Toys as a Power Strategy for Literacy
A few words about toy selection- Gender Stereotype Freedom. Make sure all kinds of toys are available for your baby. Girls need to know about cars & trucks -how else will they learn to drive & maintain them. Boys need to know about dolls -how else will they learn to care & nurture their own children. Believe it or not, this can be a literacy opportunity-stretching both sides of the brain.
In my Home-Care & Day-School for children (yes, it’s going to be more than a few words-but this is true-life data), my toddler girls loved playing with cars, trucks, blocks. Think engineers, architects & designers. My toddler boys loved playing with stuffed animals, kitchen sets, dollhouses. Think veterinarians, chefs & designers. Not to mention what great partners they will be in a marriage. I’m just saying……
Does your infant have TOO MANY TOYS? Think your infant is feeling overwhelmed and/or overstimulated to the point of boredom?????
Try putting away some of the toys. Hold several choices in your hands to see which ones s/he reaches for. After a few weeks, bring out the “new” toys and see if s/he has an interest in them.
Babies usually enjoy playing with toys that:
Have different textures
Are very bright & colorful
Have knobs, pushers, etc (reaction toys)
Can be banged on to make music
Can be easily grasped
Can be chewed on
Check out the Six Games with Toys activity list with directions I created for some play ideas:
Don’t be too surprised if that $100 toy you absolutely had to have because you knew it would be your baby’s favorite toy is ignored for the box it came in. Your home is packed with “toys” your baby will love and play with all the time.
Your Home Is A Toy Land
Although there was a playroom in my Home-Care/Day-School, the toys were always dragged out of the playroom and into the living room and/or dining room.
Couches & chairs became stages, platforms, building sites & race tracks. The kitchen table – the same- with additional puzzles, papers, play-doh, & crayons.
So, I tucked toy bins in these areas for clean-up time. Those filled carriers, then, were stacked in the playroom at the end of each day.
Scarves, towels, socks, & pieces of colorful, textured fabrics become capes, hats, doll blankets, animal tents, meadows, ponds, puppets, beds, & rooftops-once they pass the taste test, of course.
Putting on & taking off hats, socks & shoes can entertain your older infant for quite a few minutes-over & over & over again. Day after day after day….
A favorite Toy Land spot-the kitchen!
Baby’s Kitchen Play Land
Keep in mind – play is your baby’s work. Where ever you are, s/he wants to be near. My baby’s food was handmade as well as our daily bread (I love to cook!). I spent quite a few hours a day in the kitchen. I discovered, as did my baby, the kitchen is a full of toys.
When my son began his search-and-see, I made sure the bottom kitchen cabinet had large bright plastic & wooden spoons, measuring cups, a colander, some pots & pans with their lids, plastic mixing bowls, & some storage containers with lids. His clang- bang music was quite a dinner bell!
Sturdy empty boxes in a variety of sizes , especially those large, appliance ones, are worth the trees that donated their lives to make them. Be ready to cut out some windows & doors. Creativity & exploration will last longer than the boxes will!
Sounds like lots of messes every day, you say?!?
Creativity + Discovery = A Learning Mess For Literacy
Personally, I would be considered a Master Messer. Not in a destructive way, but messes are part of the “creative & productive process.” Making a mess and, then, cleaning or putting things away teaches cause & effect, freedom of expression, etc. The way I see it-” making a mess is part of success!” For me & children, anyway…..
When children are busy having fun & learning – be ready & hope for- a mess. Listen & participate in the language of exploration, sequence, cause & effect, details, etc. All the “story” elements are present. The Story of Discovery!
Of course, some are bigger than others…..
Try these messes on for size:
Water play in the tub: splash, squirt, pour, fill, sink, float, full, empty & bubbles (say the words to match the action)
Water play in the sink (see above)
Water play outside in the pool, water bucket, wagon, wash tub
Fill &Dump with water, toys, sand, dirt, mud (stay very close)
Finger-painting- find an edible recipe, like one made with cornstarch
Scribble with large pieces of paper & fat crayons (talk about color, shapes & pictures/stories)
Paint with a large paintbrush & colored water
BTW-Those plastic kitchen utensils make great water toys , sand, mud & dirt toys, too. A word of caution– use big rocks, pebbles are too temptingly taste-worthy!
Sing a “Clean -Up” song. Wipe your baby down & maybe change clothes. Have a drink & a snack. Settle in for Book Time!
Book Time & Infant Literacy
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. ~ Emily Buchwald
“Brain Wonders” is a joint project by Boston University Medical Center, Erikson Institute & Zero To Three (see link).
Their 2003 study on Early Literacy supports, not only the “new understanding of early literacy development”, but also, “its critical influence in shaping brain development.”
The research states:
Language, reading & writing (early scribbling in infants) develop at the same time , making them interconnected.
This development process that begins in the first 3 years of life is continuous.
Real life settings through positive interactions with people, books, stories, paper & crayons are important factors in literacy skills development.
Please note: early literacy does NOT mean early reading. Trying to teach infants & toddlers to read before they are developmentally ready can cause more harm than good. The frustrations and failures will have a negative impact on their motivation to read.
How To Create Your Infant’s Love of Books & Stories
Believe it or not, chewing on a book page is part of early literacy behaviors. So, plastic, vinyl, cloth & sturdy board books need to be part of your infant’s hands, feet & mouth-on library.
Place them in the crib, playpen (if you use one), tub, diaper bag & a floor bin/basket for ready-access. Don’t forget to put a few books in the kitchen play-cabinet- fruits & veggies, breads & milk, pasta shapes & kitchen tools.
Include books with bright colored real-life images of everyday, familiar objects & toys, shapes, colors, animals, other babies’ faces & faces of loved ones, including pets.
Handmade books will become well-loved. Get your camera ready for “Baby Book Time Publication”. Click & slip photos into a mini-foto book with plastic sleeves. Here are some Book Titles:
My Family At Home
Other Family & Friends
In My Bedroom
In the Kitchen
Play Time Outside
If your infant has become a curious crawler, make sure you have a basket of books as part of his/her path. Cloth, plastic & sturdy board books will suit your infant’s “taste” at this time.
How To Read Wordless Books
Bright, bold colored picture books without words are a wonderful beginning into her/his discovery of the book world. You & loved ones can make the “stories” personal & suitable for your young learner.
Whether you’re inventing a story to go with the pictures or just talking about the actual pictures, think about using these few tips:
Make sure there are no more than 3 images per page
Trace the images with your finger and, then, your baby’s finger
It’s okay to skip pages if your baby’s interest seems to lag
Talk about the images using short, simple sentences
Try to use rhyming words: cat, hat, mat, bat
Sing the book
Wordless picture books will inspire a story for many years into your child’s life, even after s/he becomes a reader of words. It will amaze you how many different stories can be told about the same pictures as s/he gets older. And the story being told can depend upon who & when it’s being told. If only stuffed animals could talk…….
Picture books without words encourage many literacy development skills, while answering the following questions:
What is happening in this picture? comprehension/understanding
Why is this picture important to the story? vocabulary, oral language
What makes you think this picture is important? inference. drawing conclusions
What do you think will happen next? prediction
Well if you’ve made it to the end of this post-
Thank You so much for reading!
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A person’s a person no matter how small. ~ Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss
Can you believe your tiny, cuddly Newborn, though still pretty new, especially to you & yours, is already A YEAR OLD!?!
Have a fun party? Take LOTS of pictures for that interactive Literacy book?
Crawling? Walking? Running? If not yet, your Pre-Toddler will soon be moving faster it seems than, at times, the speed of light!
Physical Mobility & Sensory Exploration with these newly acquired skills is the name of his/her action plan! And when those gleeful giggles & babblings become quiet, “UH-OH”……
S/he is SO ready to get hands & lips on all those previously unattainable & exciting discoveries. Cabinet doors are the most inviting. Pulling up on everything is fair game. Grabbing & mouthing anything within reach is a given (think pet food on the floor….). Childproofing is a definite MUST! My little cub could be found foraging in the refrigerator unless he was asleep!
Wondering Why I Name This Age Group “Pre-Toddler”?
My Pre-Toddler seldom crawled on hands & knees. He preferred the “bear-crawl”, cub that he was,or moving on his hands & feet together. He was upright & run-walking before 12 months. A mixed blessing for me -immature access, but easier on my back!
Not all babies are toddling by the first year. Some personalities love to sit and, if the mood strikes them, crawl. Some crawlers are very happy, and very fast, moving on hands & knees for quite a while into their mobility development. They’ll pull up and, maybe, even stand solo for a while. But, to travel, crawling is preferable.
Some Pre-Toddlers will pull out of a walkers’ hands to get down on the ground. For a lot of babies, a walking/running comfort-zone is usually by 24 months, or 2 years old.
Then, there’s the “attitude”…..
Briefly, Pre-Toddlers are too busy happily traveling, exploring & inspecting the premises. Scrutiny, confusion & willful decisions are too time consuming. This mental & emotional probing, I feel, belongs to the emerging & resolute Toddler. More on the teeny adolescent in the next, upcoming blog: “Managing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Toddler”.
Have You & Your Pre-Toddler……..
been counting fingers & toes? #This little piggy…
been naming body parts? #Hands, shoulders, knees & toes…
been swimming at a big pool? #Rec center
been to a petting zoo, park and/or playscape? # neighborhood map
been on a playdate with other children? # Mothers’ Day Out
been exercising with your baby? #Airplane take-offs & landings
Are You & Your Pre-Toddler……
playing together without screen time?
reading together for a period of time everyday?
having fun together being silly & goofy?
talking about the shapes & colors of things?
singing & dancing together?
Are you and/or loved ones remembering to document your baby’s Milestones in that beautiful baby book someone gifted to you?
The article, “It’s All Connected” posted on the website, Sesame Street in Communities states the brain creates 700 new connections EACH SECOND in the first few years of your baby’s life. By the age of 3, your child’s brain is 80% as big as an adult’s.
Important fact to remember~
No two brains grow & develop at the same rate.
Interactive movement using the 5 senses is critical to your pre-toddler’s healthy brain growth and development. Yes, taste-feeling is still a natural response at this age, so monitor closely because everything is “fair game”. Seriously.
Indoor & outdoor exploration is exhilarating for your baby, especially now s/he is moving with some independence. However, as Dr. John Medina of Brain Rules cautions, “over-stimulation can be just as hazardous as under-stimulation.”
Building Your Baby’s Brain Power
Grover, a Sesame Street character, narrates a video-book for children, ages 2-6, on the Sesame Street in Communities site. YOUR AMAZING BRAIN shares these tips:
The brain is your body’s first organ to absorb nutrients.
Brain food for kids are – salmon, eggs, peanut butter, whole grains, oats, berries, beans & colorful veggies.
Use all the 5 senses when- reading, coloring, talking, listening, moving & playing games.
Repeated physical activities – banging, throwing & choosing help develop the reasoning skills of cause & effect, compare & contrast, and predictions. (from “It’s All Connected”)
Remember – some babies pour ALL their energy & curiosity into Movement & Manipulative Mastery. In other words- “No time for talk! Gotta go! Places to see! Objects to taste!”
So. if you are waiting anxiously for Baby’s first words-other than babblese- it might be a while. And it’ll be worth the wait. Just keep stimulating your pre-toddler’s brain with meaningful oral language.
Learning The Language of Speech & Literacy
The only place you find perfection is in a dictionary ~ Old Saying
New, advanced research is helping scientists understand more about the mysterious workings of the brain and how we, as humans, learn language.
In Dr. Sandra Crosser’s article, “Enhancing the Language Development of Young Children” contributed to the website, Early Childhood News.com , she states the young child’s developing brain is very flexible, or open to new knowledge. The critical time for learning language occurs before the age of 8 or 9.
If your infant has been hearing the same sound combinations repeatedly, the brain forms a response map to those specific sounds. So, then, a child “usually” tends to understand and speak the language of her/his environment with reasonable fluency by the age of 3. Clarity, on the other hand, will sometimes come and go with “baby” and permanent teeth.
However, the rate that children learn and speak language is strongly influenced by his/her surroundings. Trauma, neglect, stress, or abuse can interfere with normal language development.
How Is Normal Language & Speech Learned ?
Communication is interactive experience between two people. It involves listening, understanding & expressing.
There are several theories offered by Dr. Crosser’s article to help explain how children learn to understand and, then, speak their native language.
The Nativist Theory states that children are born with the desire to make sense of the world and can understand the different sounds in any language. By 12 months their babblings will only use familiar sound combinations.
Social Learning Theory says children imitate words & language patterns they hear by watching & listening to the familiar people in their environment. They repeat sounds that are rewarded with smiles & praise, dropping sounds that are not rewarded.
Finally, the Interactionist Theory proposes that children need more than their inborn traits and desire to speak. “They need to speak and be spoken to. Neither one, alone, is enough.” (Bohannon & Bonvillian, 1997)
Personally, I think, depending on the child, and her/his environment, a combination of all these theories contributes to language & speech development. But, I’m not an expert linguist or speech pathologist….
What Are the Signs That My Baby Is Learning Language?
Remember~each child learns at her/his own pace. Some pre-toddlers are too busy exploring their physical world to talk about anything. Some are very ready and motivated to talk, talk, talk. These are personality traits NOT signs of intelligence.
Babblese , a baby’s first language, is a sure sign your baby is learning language. Keep talking with your baby about everything, looking directly into those beautiful eyes and responding to the responses you’re receiving.
Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, who has authored several successful parenting books, offers this explanation for the physical side of speaking:
To “say” words, you have to perfectly coordinate your lips, tongue, throat & diaphragm. The first bunch of words are gestures. The second bunch of words are invented. The third of words are learned from you.
Some experts support the practice of teaching & using sign language (hand & arm gestures as words) to encourage language skills. Sign language, which strengthens the same area of the brain used in speaking, can bridge the communication distance between listening & speaking. (White & Harper: Signs of A Happy Child 2017)
A Listening & Speaking Development Chart
In the ” Language Acquisition” world, the words Receptive & Expressive describe the major players. Receptive is how language is being received, or understood. Expressive is how language is being expressed, or spoken. Here’s another one of my charts:
Pre-Toddler Oral Language Milestones (12-24 Months)
AGE IN MONTHS
By 15 months
*Combines sounds & gestures
*Imitates simple words & actions
*May use 4-10 words
*Consistently follows simple directions
*Shows interest in pictures
*Can ID 1-2 body parts when named
*Understands 50 words
By 18 months
*May use 10- 20 words (mostly nouns) for favorite things
*Responds to ?s
*Continues to produce babblese
*Repeats words overheard in conversation
*Understands early direction words-in/out/on
*Understands & responds to simple directions
*Points at familiar objects & people in pictures
*Responds to yes/no ?s with a nod or head shake
*Enjoys music, rhythm & tries to dance
By 21 months
*Uses words more than gestures
*Consistently imitates new words
*Names objects & pictures
*May have a vocabulary of 20-50 words
*Understands some emotion words-happy/sad
*Understands some pronouns-me, you, my
*Can ID 3-5 body parts when named
By 24 months
*Uses at least 50 words
*Begins to use 2 word phrases
*Uses gestures & words during pretend play
*Understands more than 50 words
*Understands action words
*Can follow 2 step-related directions
*Enjoys listening to stories
How You Can Help Your Child’s Language & Speech
Studies show that children at 16 months can speak an average of 40 words, but understand over 300 words. However, children can experience a “language burst” around 18 months or later. (White & Harper: Signs of A Happy Child 2017)
According to new (2016) research provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “every additional 30 minutes a day children under the age of 2 spent using handheld screens, like smartphones & tablets, meant they were 49% more likely to have speech delays.”(Time Books:The Science of Childhood “Tips for Toddlers” p.29)
Many people of many different cultures & languages, including ours, use a style of speech called “parentese” when speaking to very young children. (Gelman & Shatz, 1977; Pine, 1994)
Parentese is NOT baby talk. The speaker:
uses a slightly higher than normal pitch
exaggerates vowel sounds
speaks in short, simple sentences
stresses/accents certain words
pauses between sentences
Other Tips for Your Child’s Language Literacy
Annabelle Humanes stated in her March 2016 article, “A Few Simple Little Things You Can Do to Increase the Amount of Language Your Child Hears, and In Turn, Help Them Learn” for The PiriPiriLexicon that researchers have found children who can say the most words by the age of 24 months were the children who heard the most child-directed speech at 19 months (during that “language burst”).
Talking with & to your child (interactive) is not the same as talking at your child (commands & discipline).
Here are her helpful tips:
Describe & label EVERYTHING. Repeat.
Tell stories, using your imagination about every day objects.
Ask questions, wait for a response & answer it, especially if your child doesn’t (or can’t)reply.
Be positive, repeat what they say & add to it.
Use simple but real language-no baby talk (googoogaga).
Pair gestures with your words.
Stop & Listen.
Just a note from me: Don’t be afraid to play with sounds. Be silly. Make up words & try to give them a meaning. This activity not only exercises their speech patterns & physical skills, but also, encourages their creativity. Besides all that, it’s biggley, tiggley & giggley fun!
Need more info? Check out this list in my Resource Library:
What I Learned About Language, Playtime & Literacy
Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn. ~ O. Fred Donaldson
Decades ago when I had a Home Day School for infants through 8 years, interviews with parents & child(ren) were part of my “acceptance” process. A few parents, not many, were curious about the structure, or schedule of the day.
“What time was art/reading/numbers/puzzles/ etc?”
“Is there a nap or quiet time?” “When & for how long” “My 2 year old doesn’t take naps……(oh yeah ?!)”
“Will my child have instruction time ? What will s/he be taught & for how long throughout the day?” (7am-5pm ?!)
My responses to these questions were, basically- “Your child will receive enough structure in a few years when they attend kindergarten. Although all these activities are available, your child must make those choices. I encourage coloring/drawing, making puzzles/play-doh sculptures & building with blocks every day. Your child will play outside a lot because they LOVE to be in nature. I do, however, read a story during the daily ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch. ”
Very few of those few parents wanted their child to attend.
I learned SO MUCH about children during those years (and I had a degree in Education). Listening to children’s literacy grow through interactive language with each other & with their toys (tools, really) is absolutely fascinating. I never had a child who didn’t want to hear a story read. Observing & listening with the occasional, necessary interaction will give you great insight into what they are reacting to and absorbing from you, others, and their environment.
“Old School” Becomes “New School”
Interestingly enough, “Old School” thinking has returned as today’s “Modern School” thinking regarding the Importance & Power of Play in Childhood Growth & Development.
In fact (Gopnik, Alison: The Philosophical Baby 2009) “psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered that babies, not only know more and learn more, but also, imagine more and experience more than we would ever have thought.”
In the “Hurray for Play” section of Dr. Medina’s book, Brain Rules, he states open-ended activities during play partnered with (monitored, of course) free play increases:
Whether indoors or outdoors, children play to learn and make sense of the real world. They will choose ToyTools to help them explore and discover how to understand their environment.
The Wonderment of Nature Play
Except for toy vehicles for outside use (low-riders, wagons, scooters, bubble lawnmowers), my Home Day School children stayed very engaged using Nature Toys: grassy hills, rocks, nuts, pine cones, seedpods, sticks, leaves, flowers. Amazingly, they even found fossilized shells, large & small, to include in their play!!!!
Speaking of playing outside, unless the weather is very hot, bitter cold or pouring down rain, my children & I bundled up to go into Nature for however long we (mostly me) decided. Summer weather is especially fun because water play is a HUGE favorite! Lots of different household items can become water toys: spoons, bowls, cups, colanders (a good one). But, toys are optional because water itself is a GREAT toy. Ahhhhh! Such is the life of ducklings!
Simple Nature walks around the neighborhood is oxygen-food for the brain & body. It will, also, give you the opportunity to engage children in the Language Literacy growth of new vocabulary. Although I used this time to introduce different words, I preferred to ask questions. This allowed them to ponder and discover answers independently – an important step for critical thinking. Nice food for thought during Quiet Time…..
Pre-Toddler Developmental Toy ~ Tools & Activities
Right now at 12 months, your Pre-Toddler is enjoying Solitary Play. Around 18 months, or so s/he might begin to play along side others without interacting with them, also known as Parallel Play. However, as a child nears the 2 year old mark, the pronoun “mine” becomes an expression of property rights. Constructive Play (Explore & Discovery through the Senses) continues to develop & grow. (Kalokyri, “Facts About the Importance of Play in Early Childhood” June 2016)
Although role play is a frequent & popular part of Child’s Play, there are developmental activities to encourage Literacy Growth & Development cited in the article, ” 20 Fun Activities for a Toddler, 12-18 Months”on the website chicklink.com. Here’s a few of them, along with the skills these activities encourage:
sorting into container with holes / skill: hand-eye coordination
hiding hand-sized objects in sand, torn paper, etc / skills: sensory, language, gross motor
painting with water, brushes, sponges & fingers on construction paper / skills: creativity, sensory, fine motor
using sticky notes to create object flaps for peek-a-boo book play / skills: fine motor, vocabulary
blowing games using bubbles, whistle, straw in water / skill: speech muscles
making a cardboard house / skills: LOTS
Growth & Development Toy Ideas for Your Pre-Toddler
Rahina Dancy, author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, supports choosing these toys to encourage growth & development in your child. They :
represent the real world
are aesthetically pleasing
have large components
encourage exploration & discovery
open & closing containers with lids
balls for kicking & throwing
bubbles for blowing & chasing
Your Home As One Big Playhouse
As toy tools dribbled out of the playroom (HA HA) & their boxes, landing (and hiding) in every nook & cranny of my Home Day School, the only source of irritation for me was an unprepared barefoot discovery (OUCH). Puzzles, play-doh, crayons & paper managed to stay on the table (safety issues-little ones & “because I said so”- not afraid to use that one). I was definitely outnumbered in the work / play domain of my children.
Couch cushions & pillows (sometimes with draping sheets) became a variety of structures. The kitchen, with its utensils, plastic bowls & pots / pans (with their lids, of course,) became the music room & its instruments. Dining room chairs & table became an obstacle course. Thank goodness the bedrooms were upstairs. The playroom was just a holding tank for unused toys. The bathroom wasn’t particularly inviting for play….only serious business went on in there.
WHAT’S A TEACHING MOTHER TO DO ?!?!?!!!!!
Believe me, in my public school classroom, children picked up (part of their jobs). They liked & appreciated an organized, neat environment. Even their desks (well, most of the desks-mine not included) were arranged for quick materials access-no digging needed. But I digress…
Every Toy in Its Place & A Place for Every Toy
Organizing is a pleasure for me and an important learning activity for children-young & old (maybe not teens). They enjoyed it, at first (most of the time for them / all of the time for me).
Rahina Dancy, author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacherprovides support for this project. “Giving each toy a ‘home’ or place teaches:
sequential thought processes
order in the larger world arena
work habits (putting things away where they belong).”
Felicia Sklamberg, a clinical specialist in pediatric occupational therapy, added, “Babies are easily overstimulated, which makes a catchall toy box overwhelming.”
And so, we created toy baskets, bins & boxes. Nothing fancy that required additional funding-wooden boxes, fruit baskets, milk crates, etc. Some parents even donated some bins for the cause.
Here’s The Scoop !
Nature’s Treasures (some of these might need to be washed before coming into the house)
Art Basket: pencils, crayons, markers (for older kids only- too many young, rainbow-colored lips), finger paint, water colors, brushes, sponges, stickers, paper, play-doh, cookie cutters, alphabet tracers, old magazines, scissors, glues, craft stuff
Puzzles Box: including a smaller, lidded container for wandering pieces (a good rainy or too hot/freezing day activity)
Motor Vehicles Garage
Legos & Duplos
Work Tool Box: hammers, screwdrivers, etc
Dress-Up Trunk (still a box)
Talk & Media Mix (a must-have): phones, microphone, walkie/talkies
“Role” Play Basket (a must-have): dolls, action figures, animals, puppets
Book Box (oh yeah!)
Ready to go indoors? Park the vehicles and store the outdoor toys in their own plastic, outside storage (a large clothes basket). The children “enjoyed” hosing & soaping them down, though I put them in the dishwasher for a sterilizing blast, as needed-usually once a week.
Older children are great supervisors & helpers for this end-of-the-day exercise. Here’s a little ditty to go with Clean Up Time:
It’s Clean Up Time! Clean Up Time!
Let’s go, Everybody! Clean Up Time!
Toys in baskets, boxes & bins!
We know where they’re landing (or going /sleeping /resting) in!
If you put this practice into play, I’m curious to know if & how this works out for you & yours. Let me know in the Contact Me form at the end of this post (just have to talk about books, of course).
Time for Book Talk & Literacy with Your Pre-Toddler !!!
There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is best of all. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy
For many children at this age, books are a very important ToyTool for them. If reading a book with loved ones has been a pleasant, common, every day experience, they will continue to want easy access to meaningful ones they can enjoy again & again.
Teaching Early Literacy & Behaviors are skills that will continue to benefit your child as well as your Family Literacy Circle.
Dr. Judith Schickedanz, a professor of Education at Boston University & author of the book: Much More than the ABCs, was the first to describe early literacy behaviors of very young children. How children interact with & respond to books are building blocks of the literacy growth & development.
She lists these categories with their skills as links to language, reading & writing process of Literacy:
the physical handling of books- chewing & page-turning
the interaction with books – looking, recognizing, pointing & laughing at pictures of familiar pictures
the understanding the pictures & story of books – talking & imitating about events / actions
the reading behaviors of stories – talking to the story, babbling imitations of the story & running fingers under the printed words
Book Reading Habits & Routines with Your Pre-Toddler
Besides being a great bonding experience and increasing her/his knowledge of the world, reading with your Pre-Toddler has many Literacy Building benefits (Hamilton Reads/Ontario, “The Early BIRD Program Manual”). You are helping your child to:
learn early book-handling habits-holding it the correct way & turning pages
Choose books with a bit more text that tell a simple story.
Talk about the pictures instead of the text if child is squirmy.
Connect the story & pictures to real life.
Reading for Meaning/Understanding with Your Pre-Toddler
Reading for pleasure is one of life’s rewards, once you know how to read. Understanding what you read gives that pleasure meaning.
When reading with your pre-toddler, especially after s/he reaches 18 months, try to follow this sequence with a few interactive questions about the story:
read & talk about the book’s title & its cover (what do you think this book is going to be about)
do a “picture-walk” from the beginning pages to the last page (now, what do you think this story is going to be about)
track your finger under the words & encourage your pre-toddler to do it, too
point to the pictures that have words to match (can you point to the dog)
ask prediction questions before turning the page (what do you think will happen next)
encourage him/her to ask questions about the story (do you want to ask me about something in the story)
ask some questions at the end of the story (what do you think will happen now; did you like the story; what did you like about the story; does this story sound like something else you know about)
Of course, you don’t need to ask every single question I’ve included. Sometimes your pre-Toddler will just want to hear the story (hand-over- your-questioning-mouth signal).
This is the reading sequence I used with my beginning, reluctant, and, even, my independent readers. Conversations greatly increase the understanding of what is being read, as well as the vocabulary being used to tell the story.
“I Want Us to Read This Book !”
A house without books is like a room without windows. ~ Heinrich Mann
First of all, the stories need to be “short”. Books with rhyming words are usually favorites. Pre-Toddlers over the age of 16 months enjoy “me” books. After 24 months, make-believe books are understood & fun to read. Here are a few suggestions from Brain Wonders of the website, zerotothree.org:
sturdy board books that can be carried
books with real-life photos of children doing every day things, like eating, playing, moving, sleeping
simple books about animals
beginning alphabet books
hello & goodbye books
good night books for bedtime
You can, also, make a book:
of words your pre-toddler is saying with pictures
of drawings s/he has made, writing words &/or a sentence about it
Children’s natural love of animals & the sounds they make (which children love to imitate) inspired me to create a little, make & take downloadable book entitled :
Animal Talk : Exploring 20 Common Animal Sounds
You can find it in BLB Shop or click on the link below to check it out:
Reading a wordless picture book is one of the most enjoyable ways to share a story. Listeners get to tell the story using their creativity, imagination & perceptions. It’s a GREAT way to build the literacy skills of listening, oral language, vocabulary, words with picture connections, and understanding the flow elements of a story. I absolutely LOVE them!
“But you don’t have to take my word for it!” ~ Levar Burton on PBS’ Reading Rainbow
Click on the link below for a list of some of my favorite Wordless Picture Books for children, ages 0-3 years.
I am talking about your three year-old, NOT you…..
Well then (BIG sigh), your Post-Toddler has arrived.
S/he appears less frantic & can sit still for longer periods of time when engaged in an interesting activity. S/he is using words more & “body” less when expressing feelings.
S/he is showing more interest & patience with exploration & discovery. Notice how s/he is spending more time observing & imitating others.
That is why I named this stage of growth & development: Post-Toddler. Still some Toddler-stuff present, but outbursts & frustrations are less frequent. Unless s/he is tired, sick, hungry, and/or just having one of those days (don’t we all?!?).
And sometimes those “growing pains” can be….well, you know…
Some “Changes” You May Be Seeing
Body & Movement Skills
appears taller & leaner
puts on shoes & dresses with some help
feeds oneself with a spoon
throws overhand & tries to catch
jumps & climbs
pedals a trike or low-rider
holds a crayon with thumb & first 2 fingers
enjoys manipulating play-doh/clay, sand & water
YOU CAN: show your child how to hop, tiptoe, waddle, slither
Brain Growth & Expression
understands “now”, “soon” & “later”
asks who, what, where & when questions
shows an interest in alike & different
identifies the colors red, blue, yellow & green
talks in 3-5 word sentences
may stumble over some words, but is NOT stuttering
YOU CAN: add small, new bits of information to your child’s sentences
Emotional & Social Development
follows simple directions
makes choices between 2 different things
enjoys making others laugh & being silly
enjoys playing with other for short periods of time
wants adult attention & approval
likes looking at “when you were a baby” pictures
YOU CAN: ask for help with simple household tasks
Now that wasn’t your three year-old a year ago, was it?
Need more info? PBS Parents is a great site loaded with specifics. Click on the link below.
Your Post-Toddler’s Language Literacy continues to develop & grow.
S/he can enunciate most consonants & vowels with a few consonant blends, too, like “tw” & “kw”.
With over 300 words in his/her expressive vocabulary, s/he is talking A LOT more – to you, toys, pets, nature. Although your child, at this stage, still thinks each word has only one meaning, s/he is, also, spending much of the day asking A LOT of questions.
Think “who, did what, when & where”. These questions/answers are actually the building blocks of reading comprehension’s Main Idea. You are finally discovering what is in that hard little head of hers/his.
Your 3 year-old believes there is an answer to every question asked (isn’t there?!?). Even “Magic !” is a reasonable answer to him/her.
Be ready, though, s/he may answer your question with a question. Or water the dog to make it grow…..
Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician who wrote The Happiest Toddler on the Block, suggests using “Okay?” at the end of ideas, directions, etc. This simple word shows your child you, not only, have an interest in her/his point of view, but also, hope s/he agrees with yours……possibly…..
How You Can Continue to Encourage Your Post-Toddler’s Language Literacy Growth
Iowa State University Extension & Outreach’s Info-Sheet on Developmental Milestones, “Ages & Stages at 3 Years”, offers these suggestions:
Use directional words, such as “in/on/under” when explaining &/or answering.
Use comparison words, like “big/little, same/different, front/behind”.
Sing songs, rhymes, sounds, words & simple sentences.
Ask your child to tell you a story.
Have many back-and-forth conversations, using short sentences, asking questions & listening.
Talk about colors, shapes & numbers everyday.
Take a Nature Walk. Look for & talk about shapes, sizes, colors, textures, smells & sounds.
Teach your child to memorize his/her first & last name.
Play Power = Brain Power
A mind once stretched to a new idea never returns to its original size. ~ Oliver Wendall Holmes
Play is the essential tool we use, as humans, to develop our 5 senses, gross & fine motor skills, receptive & expressive language, as well as emotional & social skills.
It, also, influences the amount of brain cells we produce.
Exploration, curiosity & determination are the necessary paths we use to discover how to understand our world, whether large or small.
Nothing child-like about it!
It’s a survival skill we use everyday and all day long. Well, most of us anyway…..
Currently, your Post-Toddler’s brain continues to develop in 2 areas: the Limbic, or emotional part of the brain & the Cortical, or thinking part of the brain.
Emotional/Social growth begins around 12 months and continues until 48 months. This stage of development can be encouraged with play involving teams: winning, losing, taking turns & sharing.
The growth of concrete & abstract thinking begins around 36 months and continues until 6 years old. Play involving humor, language, arts & games will encourage this stage of development.
Serious Play Is Hard Work
And hard work can not be successfully accomplished without serious play….
So, if you equate play with fun ~ it doesn’t always work that way. Play is the action, or process used during creation, exploration, & experimentation until we reach the destination, or discovery.
A bit wordy, I know, but synchronizing work with play is “how I roll”.
I combined Kristina @ Planes & Balloons’ 2016 article, “Some of the Many Benefits of Play” with Perry, Hogan & Marlin’s 2000 article, “Curiosity, Pleasure & Play: Skills Developed Through Play” to create an info-table explaining the impact of play on your child’s brain development.
Play & Your Child's Brain Development
Emotional & Social
Additionally, your child’s desire & ability to Role Play, I feel, is developed within all 3 of these brain areas. Creativity & self-expression may influence the particular role s/he is “playing”. Is s/he fantasizing, imitating, and/or coping ?
Be Your Child’s Play Promoter
Although your Post-Toddler still enjoys playing beside others & watching them play, soon, s/he will have the tools to play WITH other children.
The ability to share, take turns and cooperate continues to grow & develop with each passing day.
Remember, some people are more socially-driven than others.
In 2016 NourishBaby displayed Shoptwinkie.com’s infographic, “The Importance of Play in Early Childhood”. Learning through discovery will happen if you:
don’t take over (Here, let me….)
ask questions (How are you going to….)
allow him/her to find the answers independently (Oh, I see…….)
Interactive Talk & Play
If your child enjoys interactive language while playing, another part of the material included script suggestions for supporting the different stages in your child’s play:
What will you need ?
Let’s think about what you are going to do.
Tell me how you will start. What will happen then?
I wonder what this is.
What do you think that is for?
Why do you think that happened?
Tell me how it all started.
Can you remember what happened when….?
How did that feel?
Can you guess what will happen next?
What do you think will happen if you….?
What do you think will happen if you don’t….?
Providing A Defined Play Space At Home
Not all parents want to turn their homes into a giant playground. Many children enjoy having a “space of their own”. This “office of play” is part of your child’s growth & development.
Keep an ear out though. Too quiet for an extended period of time and you may need to “step into the office….”
Creating an area with sturdy (so you can sit in them, too), child-sized chairs & a table encourages your child to sit and focus on independent play. Building with blocks, having a tea party, working puzzles, making a race track or construction site, creating art, and even reading a book can become a part of your Post-Toddler’s learning.
Any amount of time, even a minute or two, during which children sit and entertain themselves with one thing helps them grow. ~ Felicia Sklamberg, a clinical specialist in pediatric occupational therapy at New York University Langone Medical Center
With Open-Ended Toys & Free Play
Open-ended toys are really the discovery tools of learning & growing. By definition they are “things” that can be used in a variety of ways to encourage:
Does your child like to stack block towers, sort objects by size & colors, and/or put a 3-6-piece puzzle together? Play outside with large wheeled toys, all sizes of balls, and/or sticks & rocks ?
Are you wondering what other kinds of toys will encourage your child’s brain health, growth & development ?
Will these toy-tools encourage discovery within the Family Literacy Circle ?
“Yes” to all questions?
Here’s a list of some other open-ended, free play tools (with their skill sets), your 3 year old will probably enjoy :
music for song & dance
play-doh & clay
any large-wheeled toy
medium & large blocks
nesting & stacking toys
crayons, paint/brushes, glue & paper
community helper hats & tools
tents & teepees
castles & houses
barns & fences
street signs & stores
puppets & dolls
habitat animals: farm, jungle, forest, water
building blocks with a variety of colors, sizes & shapes
construction toys (needed to be put together)
And BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS !!!
Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would never read yourself. ~ George Bernard Shaw
By now some of those well-loved books might need to be replaced with a second copy. Some of those “baby books” may need to be tucked away for another time & place.
Are you taking your Post-Toddler to a StoryTime at your local library, play group, elementary school or rec center? If so, observe what kinds of books are holding your child’s interest.
Many 3 year-olds love to hear stories about other places and people.
Pull some age-appropriate books from the library shelves in the children’s Picture Books, or Easy Books section.
Sit down & spread them out. See which ones will get “checked out” for home reading.
Have your 3 year-old try these 10 books on for size:
DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS! ~ Mo Willens
THE OLIVIA SERIES ~ Ian Falconer
A FISH OUT OF WATER ~ Helen Palmer
WHOEVER YOU ARE ~ Mem Fox
THE MIXED-UP CHAMELEON ~ Eric Carle
GREEN EGGS AND HAM ~ Dr. Seuss
CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO ~ Richard Scarry
THE INCREDIBLE BOOK EATING BOY ~ Oliver Jeffers
BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT ~ Sandra Boynton
GO, DOG, GO ! ~ PD Eastman
Be forewarned – I had to replace most of these books at home and in my classroom…….several times….
On – The – Go Reading Nooks With Your Post-Toddler
Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift. ~ Kate DiCamillo
If you have been steadily reading to your Post-Toddler since s/he was in-utero, you probably have a little bookworm in your home.
Some children love being read to until they can hop off the cuddly lap of story-land.
Catch ‘Em & Read:
before or during quiet time
under a tree outside
in a hammock outside
in the tent or teepee
under some covers with a flashlight
Some children would rather hear a story-telling instead of a book-story. “Stories can and should be part of your household routines & schedules. They can be as short or long as your listener’s attention.” Lisa Lipkin, Bringing the Story Home
Non-Book Literacy Stories
Make sure to include the story elements: beginning (characters & setting), middle (action & problem), ending (solution & prediction)
Ask & answer interactive questions throughout the story
Invite your child to contribute to the story-telling
Capture your child’s attention while on a drive or a walk, in a waiting room or line, at the bus or train stop, during bathtime or before bedtime
Use fantasy, humor & family history as part of the story
Dress-up in role-play clothing & ask your child to tell you a story about the character you are
Include simple props & toys for settings, characters & dialogue
Every Time We Read A Book…..
Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, here are some tips for building literacy while reading aloud at this age & older:
Encourage solid pre-reading habits- daily reads, book handling, word tracking, time & order (first/middle/last), retelling with complete sentences.
Ask interactive questions while reading a story- what will happen next/how does the character feel/has this ever happened to you.
Read slowly & wait for her/him to turn the pages.
Answer your listener’s questions.
Make up rhyming words with some of the simpler words.
Use the story’s pictures to make up more stories.
Let the listener “read” the story.
I Think My Child Is Ready To Read…..
The first time my son (at 3 years-old) said, “I can read this book to you!”, my wide eyes glistened with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to hear my little genius read ME a story….at 3 YEARS OLD!!!!!
Sure enough, he proudly held the book and carefully “read” each page of The Little Red Car, one of his favorite boardbooks.
He didn’t miss a word. I clapped with glee!
Over the next few weeks, he read & read this book to me….faster & faster. I guess he was becoming one with the little red car.
One day I asked him to point to the words as he read them…….uh huh…..
Smiling, I never said a word, and he continued to read the story to me everyday for the next few years.
We, also, continued playing colors, shapes, letters, sounds & word-picture rhyming games.
Learning, knowing , and applying the concepts of same & different shapes is a major step for success in letter recognition. Seeing the same & different shapes in the world prepares your child to make sense of “visual discrimination”.
BLB Shop has a collection of Interactive Color & Shape games created to prepare your child to recognize these pre-reading concepts:
I became more consistent tracking words with their pictures when I read simple sentence stories.
What Are Pre-Reading Behaviors?
Is your child showing you some of these Pre-Reading behaviors :
Makes comments about language & unusual words
Makes up word games
Creates & plays with words using rhyme
Invents “silly” words
Plays with sounds
Plays with magnetic letters
Likes to read alphabet books
Sings the alphabet song
Points out “environmental print”, like the S in a stop sign
Knows it is the print that is read in stories
Hmmmm, Not Quite Ready….How Can I Help ?
Bookoola Ink from Australia produced a wonderful infographic, explaining what your child needs to know before learning to read:
Rhyme the sounds that letters make
Track / follow objects with eyes
Talk with an increasing vocabulary
Build things using fingers & hands independently to hold books & turn pages
Do puzzles to differentiate sizes, shapes, lines & directions
Look at books frequently for discovery & fun
Listen to someone read every day
The 5 Must-Know Skills for Reading Readiness
First of all, how is your child’s vocabulary progressing ? S/he has learned most words indirectly through your daily conversations, interactive read-alouds, both fiction & nonfiction as well as movies/screen time. Build his/her vocabulary for understanding in these 4 areas:
Listening Vocabulary are words we hear & understand when hearing directions & a story
Speaking Vocabulary are words we use when we talk about our day & ask/answer questions
Reading Vocabulary are words we understand when we read, retell stories or create story from pictures we see
Writing Vocabulary are words we use when we write & draw pictures to tell a story
All About Learning Press, Inc has a concise list with tips for your eager-to-read child. Do be sure your Post-Toddler is comfortable and consistent with these skills:
Motivation to Read
Enjoys being read to
Pretends to read or write
Often asks for read-aloud time
Is enthusiastic about books
Thinks reading is fun
Realizes print on a page are words with meaning when spoken
Holds book correctly
Understands the direction that books are read-front to back
Knows print is read top to bottom
Recognizes sentences are read from left to right
Understands story sequence
Can retell a familiar story with accuracy
Answers simple questions about a story
Asks questions during read-alouds
Understands the meaning of words being read
Relates to the words being read in some way
Understands both verbal & visual information
Can sing the Alphabet song with help
Recognizes upper & lowercase letters
Begins to associate letters with sounds
Can hear & identify different sounds in spoken words
Can rhyme words
Knows a sentence has multiple , individual words
Can blend sounds to make a word
Can identify the beginning & ending sound of a word
How Do I Teach the Alphabet
If your child is is ready, you might want to begin with her/his name. You can try to use upper & lowercase letters, but for beginning readers & writers, uppercase letters are not only easier to differentiate & recognize, but also, easier to write.
Read lots of engaging alphabet books ~ here’s a few my children & I have enjoyed:
ABC ANIMAL RHYMES ~ G. Andreae
ABC AT HOME ~ A. Hawthorne & D. Zawada
CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM ~ J.Archambault
DR. SEUSS’ ABC ~ Dr. Seuss
MY FIRST RHYMING PICTURE ABC ~ B. Miles
BRUNO MUNARI’S ABC ~ B. Munari
MISS SPIDER’S ABC ~ D. Kirk
THE PHONICS ABC ~ K. Dare
ALPHABET CITY ~ S.T. Johnson
FARM ALPHABET BOOK ~ J. Miller
Playing alphabet games is another way to continue the learning process. It is a process, so let your ABC learner set the pace. Several five-minute lessons each day may be good. So will skipping some days.
Don’t forget to repeat, maybe with a different lesson for review.
Let your child select the letters. Unless ABC order is insisted upon by your Post-Toddler, here are a few sequences to consider:
Many of my Reluctant Readers learned to read NOT by reading books, but through their own writings. They were always ready to read their own words instead of another’s words.
Their stories, surprisingly, with a few prompts, usually included all the elements of a fluid tale: beginning (characters & setting), middle (problem & solution), and ending. Another follow-up story was always in the tank, so to speak. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here….
Drawing, painting, coloring & writing are all very powerful expressions. For parents & educators, they offer magical windows into the heart, mind & soul of anyone, especially a child.
But holding & controlling a paintbrush, crayon and/or pencil is a developmental feat for your young child. It takes a lot of practice with some determination, usually.
Fine Motor Skills Mastery
The mastery of fine motor skills, paired with the ability to create images in your head, is an incredible accomplishment for anyone, especially a child.
I am always amazed when watching a child in the creative zone!
In 2011 Katie Norris @ Mommy with Selective Memory and her friend Susan Case, an experienced Kindergarten teacher, created a GREAT list of Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills :
pouring elements using funnels, tubes, colanders
sorting small objects
pushing objects through a slot
picking up marbles
building with blocks, logs, legos
lacing with lacing cards
grasping & placing puzzle pieces
arranging a variety of objects
picking up & placing stickers
playing with play-doh: pulling, pressing, stretching, rolling, pounding, squeezing, pinching
beading with yarn & string
marking with fat pencils, fat crayons, sidewalk chalk
cutting with safety scissors
Writing & Drawing : Same But Different
Although your child is using the same physical skills to write & draw – the brain has other ideas. Your Post-Toddler needs to understand that writing & drawing are different.
Print carries a message. Show your beginning writer the many ways to use writing:
names & addresses
Put big dots with a connecting line in a column on paper. Encourage your Post-Toddler’s “scribblings” for making a list of :
Write in large, traceable letters what the words are underneath or beside each entry.
Bookoola Ink from Australia produced a wonderful infographic, explaining what your child needs to know before learning to write:
Imagine – make up stories when painting & creating
Scribble & Draw – make marks & shapes to communicate messages
Climb – need strong arms & body muscles to sit up & write
Someone to show me how important writing is everyday
What Is Pre – Writing
Learning to write in a legible way can be very challenging (see a note from your doctor). Muscle control is key as well as grasp & flexibility.
Doodling & pathway lines are good ways to prepare your child’s fingers & hand for handwriting. There are pages you can find at teacher stores & on line with fun ways to get to the “treasure”.
Anna Luther @ CincinnatiChildrens.org has a few pre-writing activity suggestions for your 3-year-old:
Name Tracing with your child using a highlighter on paper; try using upper & lowercase letters
Cutting Practice out of magazines & catalogs; glue on paper & write the simple names underneath
Play Doh Rope Letters formed on top of a large chosen letter you have written on paper
Dot – To – Dot Letters written on paper for your child to connect
Please remember to keep in mind every child grows & develops at his/her own pace. These ideas are suggestions for creating Literacy opportunities when your child is ready. And s/he will let you know as long as the activities are available & FUN!
Isn’t this an exciting time for you & your Post-Toddler?
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And Now for the Second Part of the Family Literacy Circle’s Kindergarten Series…
Play continues to be a significant part of your child’s growth & development. Free Play, which is highly recommended by brain & child experts as well as children themselves and Pretend Play, which is the natural-occurring form of daily learning, are both important parts influencing the Brain’s wiring for Thinking & Learning skills as well as Creative & Social skills.
Even the toys, or tools, your child chooses to include in his/her play are essential. They influence creativity & imagination everyday.
ACT TWO : Play Power
Free Play, Toys as Tools, and Pretend Play all are important parts of your 5-year-old’s ability to problem solve, brainstorm & understand her/his immediate world as well as explore & discover new & different ones.
You can encourage how your child participates in & learns from these ongoing adventures in a variety of ways.
Guidance without too much interference will strengthen in your child’s decision-making abilities, confidence & independence.
Of course, there will be times when issues of safety (and sanity ) have definite boundaries…. I mean, risk-taking has its limits in the REAL world…..
Yes, Your 5 Year Old Is A BRAINIAC !
Teach a child how to think, not what to think. ~ Sidney Sugarman
Her/his brain is almost the size of an adult’s. It will continue to develop for the next 20 years. And just a “heads-up”…. you’re in for some REAL brain-wave excitement in about 10 years time….
Some these Cognitive, or Thinking & Learning Skills your child may be displaying are:
creating more imaginative ways to complete a task
asking more analytical questions while weighing the choices
understanding & using concepts like: big, bigger & biggest; first, middle & last; yesterday, today & tomorrow; first, then & next; more, less, same; before & after; above & below
asking & answering a variety of questions, including “how many”
inventing games with simple rules
identifying basic colors of blue, yellow, red, green & orange
beginning to understand how to sort & classify objects by size, shape or type
showing interest in cause & effect
Promoting Your Child’s Brain Growth & Development
Your continued interaction with your child, not only strengthens brain cell connections, but, also, builds skills in language, cognition & socialization as well as self-help skills. Specifically:
Encourage independent problem solving; however make suggestions & decide on solutions together
Suggest your child use all 5 senses for more in-depth observations
Allow for an extra “get ready” window to promote independence during time-sensitive preparations
Promote Literacy through drawings, pictures & lots of questions
Make sure your child plays OUTSIDE a lot, especially with other children because, yes, s/he is preferring activities that involve others
Free Play and The Brain
When my children become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out. ~ Erma Bombeck
Whether alone in her/his “hide-away” place or playing with peers, child development and brain experts agree on the significant power of free, unstructured play.
During free play, children express their emotions & feelings, which helps them to identify who they are.
Unorganized play without lots of rules promotes the development and growth of creativity, flexibility , and adaptation to future challenges.
Sergio Pellis, a neuroscientist from Alberta, Canada, observed that “the brain rewires itself under the positive stress of play, as children figure out how to navigate the world and each other.”
As part of a peer-play group, children learn to share, resolve conflicts, make decisions, and be assertive.
“If You Play with Me, I’ll Be Your Best Friend….”
Your 5-year-old wonder has moved quite comfortably into the Social stage of play partnered with the Expressive stage of play. S/he enjoys playing with others in his/her age group, seeking and creating opportunities to engage in this type of play.
S/he is interested in exploring new playgrounds, parks and friends’ houses. Community play-spaces can have a positive effect on youngsters, making them feel more connected to their neighborhoods.
Swinging on playground swings & trying out new jungle gyms are especially enjoyable to your 5-year-old. You may notice her/him initiate conversations & play in a familiar way with other children, even though they’ve never met.
Free, physical play is SO important for your child’s development of his/her body awareness. It stimulates growth as well as strengthens her/his fine & gross motor skills. S/he may bring toys to the play area and invite some peersto play with them. Together, of course !
YAY ! What A FUN Toy !
Your child’s toys should stimulate & engage his/her imagination, communication, collaboration, creativity, and cognition, as well as her/his gross & fine motor skills.
You’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. It may have been created while watching children at play. Believe me when I tell you, I have seen & heard children create amazing worlds with little and/ or nothing but their incredible imaginations, a few pebbles, sticks, leaves, and a pile of dirt……
So, What Are Some Brain~Food Toys ?
Open-ended toys, or play tools can used in many, many ways, depending in your child’s imagination or learning-needs.
Here are a few ideas child development experts suggest for your child’s growth in these areas:
board games for pre-readers, like Chutes & Ladders, Connect Four
card games, like Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid
memory & match games
puzzles with 15-20 pieces
large & small wooden/plastic blocks
Arts & Crafts
play-dough & clays
scissors & glue
pencils. crayons, washable markers & watercolors
drawing & construction papers
high bouncing ball (utility rubber ball)
bicycle with training wheels
Dramatic & Pretend
puppets, dolls, stuffed animals
action & animal figures (Play-mobiles)
trucks, cars, train sets/race tracks
pretend walkie-talkies, phones & cameras
dress-up clothes & costumes
LARGE cardboard boxes
I know I repeat myself, but at my Home Day School, I observed my children create everything from blocks, rocks & sticks. And there were HUGE crates of toys readily available in their playroom !
Powerful Pretend Play
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination. ~ Albert Einstein
At the age of 5, your child is becoming more & more project-minded. S/he is planning play scenarios that include buildings, different roles, materials & tools with the drawings to implement them. A script may not be in writing, but the appropriate dialogue is in place…..with assignments for each person, animal & object.
Not only are your child’s Pretend Play plans “elaborate”, they will be enacted for long periods of time with new (and improved) details added each time.
Feel like your child is ready to try some new & different Pretend Plays ? Visit my Resource Library for a Pretend Play website collection: Pretend Play Power : 8 Helpful Websites.
How You Can Contribute to Your Child’s Pretend Play
During Pretend Play, especially with others, your child is engaging in problem solving and building new understandings about the world , other people & oneself. New ideas are tested, many questions are asked (and some answered), and discoveries through exploration are numerous.
Although your 5-year-old has some definite ideas & plans regarding his/her Pretend Play, you can make some “suggestions” on what s/he might want to include into the setting. Ask questions, like “How will you….., What if the……, When will you….., Where are the……?” to promote details, cause/effect and expansion.
Six (or Seven) Simple Pretend Plays
As children we LOVED to play House, Mommy, Daddy, Baby, Cook, etc. Dressing up in our parents’ old clothes & accessories, including humongous shoes delighted us for hours, days, months, and, yes, years.
You might like to view a collection of 6 Simple Pretend Play ideas in a quick-read, table format, so I cheerfully created one (LOVE those info-tables). I included materials you will find around the house in the attic, basement, recycle bin or closets; at yard sales (gold mines); or neighborhood discount stores.
Six (or Seven) Simple Pretend Play Scenarios & Material Lists
To promote additional Literacy skills in these 6 Pretend Plays, I created signs, bin labels, hat symbols, forms and lists to accompany each scenario. They are gathered together in a DIY Collection Manual : Prop~Templates for 6 Simple Pretend Playscomplete with Construction Instructions as well as Tips & Idea Suggestions. Here’s the link to this product in BLB Shop:
This is Part Three of Your Family’s Literacy Circle Kindergarten Series
Preparing your 5-year-old for Kindergarten can be a daunting task. There are so many questions and concerns parents have regarding the groundwork needed for your child to enter in this totally new learning environment. Academic & social skill abilities usually top the list of worries.
Is my child really ready to enter Kindergarten?!?
ACT THREE: Learning & Teaching Styles
When one teaches, two learn. ~ Robert Heinlein
Hopefully, this post will address some of your concerns. It explores the different Learning Styles of your child as well as the variety of Teaching Styles available to help you & yours decide on the best learning environment for your Kindergartner.
Your Five-Year-Old Wonder Child
Remember last year…around 12 months ago… when your child was 4? Toddlerland was in the distance with fewer & fewer bouts of frustration….S/he was building & planning & talking about it….a lot, but, still experienced some….well, you know.
Did you notice the closer s/he came to his/her 5th birthday, some pretty big changes were beginning to occur? Or should I say evolve? Like a larger understanding & speaking vocabulary? Completing tasks without being told and, maybe, in a “different” way? Longer focus & concentration? Some serious debating going on?
Hmmm… let’s see what else you’ve observed in this young child, who is now only a baby to you and anyone else your age….
Does your child:
show eagerness to learn new things?
like to solve problems & puzzles in creative ways?
use her/his imagination when doing most activities?
ask a lot of “analytical ” questions?
consider a variety of options before making a decision?
enjoy challenges that require “long-term” thinking?
like to participate in a variety of new experiences?
prefer activities that involve other children?
S/he is DEFINITELY a 5-year-old, bursting with exuberant enthusiasm and an abundance of creativity.
Kind of….weird…and oh, so, refreshing…Not that this stage of growth & development doesn’t come with its own set of challenges…. But you got this! Your parenting teaching skills are preparing for this next HUGE adventure…..
I Got This, You Say ????
If your child is displaying some, if not all, of those above mentioned characteristics, here are some of the learning skills with confidence building blocks you have successfully and diligently put into play:
given her/him chances to make simple choices
helped him/her complete something new without too much interference
fostered creativity with new experiences with tools & adventures
exhibited patience during your child’s activity involvements
recognized her/his achievements
encouraged his/her progress
PBS Parents’ Child Development Tracker/Approaches to Learning offers a more in-depth study of your 5-year-old’s growth in these areas. Click on the link below:
I recently (today) read an article in my daily feed regarding people’s learning styles. It was debunking the theory, stating there was no significant data to support using this as a teaching tool ~ even though 90% of teachers continue to inventory their students as a basis for diversifying their lessons……
As an educator, I tried to design my lessons with the 3 major Learning Styles in mind. However, I found most Early & Primary students are Hands-On, or Kinesthetic, learners. Most students showed a preference for listening or seeing. Again, a lot of Visual learners.
Even as learning teachers going to workshops/ professional development seminars, we preferred “Make & Take” sessions instead of lectures with power points. The “hand-outs” served as our “hands-on” tools, which we used for…..
What IS My Child’s Learning Style ?
Anywho ~ there are numerous informal inventories you can do to help you “discover” your child’s Learning Style as you prepare for his/her “Going-To-Kindergarten” journey. Your observations are probably enough, but here are a few ideas I gathered from a variety of simple surveys:
My child learns best when:
watching someone else
listening to someone
touching or building
When in a new place, s/he :
notices the people & sights
listens to the new & different sounds
moves around a lot, wiggles & taps
While waiting somewhere, s/he:
looks around, reads or doodles
talks or listens to others
walks around, touching things
My child enjoys:
reading & drawing
talking & singing
running & building
When I read to him/her, s/he:
loves to point to & talk about the pictures
repeats the words I am saying
fidgets & squirms
S/he remembers things more easily when:
pictures are involved
verbal repetitions are made
movement is present
When my child writes or draws, s/he:
worries how it looks
talks to self
pushes hard on the pencil/crayon
S/he needs a learning environment that is:
free from clutter & lots of movement
free from a lot of noise
free from sitting still too long
Now, your child probably does ALL of these things at some time or another. Think in terms of “most of the time”. First choice is a Visual Learner, second choice is an Auditory Learner & choice three is a Kinesthetic Learner.
Want a few more characteristics? Visit the link below for Dr. Molly Pennington’s 2015 article:
Does My Child’s Learning Style Equal Intelligence?
First of all ~ Major NO !
Intelligence is one’s ABILITY to learn, solve and/or create. Learning Style is the WAY one prefers to learn, solve and/or create. Some experts say these are “personality traits” instead of learning styles and intelligence. Your call.
I think being aware of people’s “learning” preferences is an effective way to teach AND learn. I wonder if that’s a smart, er-intelligent way to approach life…..
As a matter of discussion, there are “multiple intelligences”, according to several experts.
In particular, Howard Gardner’s Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, states there are at least 7 (8, if you count Naturalistic). SOOO, how about a Table of these “Smarts” & their characteristics?!?
Gardner's 8 Multiple Intelligences
Word Smart: Verbal-Linguistic
words & language
read, write, tell stories, speak other languages
books, writing tools, journals, word games, puns, tongue twisters, multimedia
There are a few strategies you can put in place to assist with your child’s learning skills. You may need to mix it up depending on the subjects s/he is trying to understand.
Left Brain Needs
a quiet, well-lit space with an individual desk
structured, independent work
step-by-step with exact details
some assistance with defining Main Ideas & Inferences
Right Brain Needs
a softly-lit group work space
open-ended, group work
manipulatives & experimentation
And there are a FEW things your 5-year-old needs to know how to do before entering a Kindergarten classroom that have little to do with his/her smarts…..
Ready (or Not) for Kindergarten Class
You don’t remember the times your parent held your handle bars. You remember the day s/he let go. ~ Lenore Skenazy
If you enter “Kindergarten Readiness Skills” in a search engine, you will receive a LOT of responses. My advice ~ choose one written by a Kindergarten teacher. S/he not only is a voice of experience, but tips & strategies will, also, be included on how to fill in some gaps your child may have before the BIG day.
So, some of the lists are quite lengthy…. Education.com lists 10 Kindergarten Readiness Skills with some tips & strategies. I’ve combined it with other ideas, which you can access in the BLB Resource Library. Just click on the link below for Kindergarten Readiness Skills: A Parent & Child Checklist:
In addition to a healthy number of Literacy skills your 5-year-old needs in preparation for Kindergarten, s/he will be, well, bombarded with a KAZILLION classroom & school routines. To be fair, these can change according to school district policy, campus policy and/or teacher preferences.
Karen Jones, an elementary educator with 12 years experience & a parent came up with this lengthy, but accurate inventory of “Routines & Procedures”. Sit down with a snack & a tall drink while you check out this list…..
One of the most popular Primary classroom activities with children is the Daily Calendar. Students gather as a group around a colorful board to interactively participate while learning some life skill concepts, such as time, weather & vocabulary. I have created one for you & yours ~ My Calendar Corner ~ in BLB’s Shop. Just click on the link below & let me know what you think:
The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see. ~ Alexandra K. Trenfor
As your child’s first teacher, you are very aware of how s/he learns, successfully. Kindergarten is a critical year and can set the stage for many years to come. Expectations & curriculum may vary with school/district policy, but most schools, regardless of classification, want your child reading, writing & problem solving with math computations before entering First Grade.
Here are a few of the 10 Factors to consider when selecting a school for your child, according to publicschoolreviews/2017:
Finding a Good Fit
Will the school provide a specific, rigorous course of study ?
Will the school accommodate my child’s learning style and/or special needs ?
What is the level of social contact with peers ?
How do scheduling & extracurricular activities fit with our family’s ?
Choosing a Focus
Does the school offer a second language study ?
Does the school offer opportunities in the Fine and/or Performing Arts ?
How important is Science & Math ?
Is new & innovative Technology used as part of the curriculum ?
Looking At Basic Campus Effectiveness
Great teachers & staff
Engaged, visible children
Active parent participation
Visiting the School
Meet teachers, staff & principal
Talk to other parents & students
Check out a PTA meeting
Have A Few More Questions ?
Speaking of questions, readingrockets.org has an article, “Four Steps to Selecting a School for Your Child”, written by the US Department of Education & other websites offering an EXTENSIVE list of questions to address your concerns. You can even download a booklet. Connect with the link below:
There are lots of options including Homeschools, Private Schools & Online Public Schools. The options I will offer in this post are Neighborhood Public Schools & Alternative, or Non-Traditional Schools, which can be considered private.
As an parent & educator, I found the regular availability of Free Play, or Recess was just as important to learning as Nutrition & Academics. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other studies, children, who had indoor or outdoor Free Play/Recess as a regular part of their school day:
were more attentive & more productive in the classroom
developed the thinking skills that are positively linked to learning & academic performance
created fantasies to help them cope with difficult situations
There are several types of Neighborhood Public Schools to consider:
the one around the corner or across the street from your home that your child(ren) can walk or ride their bikes to
a Charter School that may offer an unique, smaller class-size, learning environment and are free from many traditional public school regulations
a Magnet School that exists outside of “zoned school boundaries”, but is part of the local public school system with alternative methods of instruction
Read below for several other Alternative Schools with unique approaches to educating minds.
Is A Non~Traditional School Right for My Child ?
Several effective methods of teaching do NOT include lectures, homework, report cards or formal assessments. I have only listed these 3 : Montessori, Steiner, and Reggio Emilia, but there are more.
The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn. ~ Maria Montessori, M.D.
Children select learning activities independently each day.
Learning tools are tactile.
Teachers observe, not direct.
Classes are grouped for 3-year movement.
Methods are usually found in preschool & elementary schools.
Several hundred US public schools utilize Montessori practices.
As an educator in Primary & Intermediate classrooms, I discovered one of the most important ways to ensure a student’s success was the parent’s involvement with his/her child’s school activities & academic engagement. Putting habits and expectations in place during this first year will lay the foundation for self-motivation and responsibility in the future (until adolescence…..). You will see a resurgence, usually, during Senior-itis & college, hopefully.
Your child will benefit by your involvement in his/her education at school. Send him/her ready for school by:
Making sure s/he is well-fed & rested
Checking s/he is dressed appropriately
Has the necessary school supplies
Has completed homework and/or projects
I created a mini~picture “Ready For School” poster help your Kindergartner each school morning & evening before. Post it at eye level in your child’s room or by the front door. Click on the link below to print the PDF:
In spite of my child “doing nothing” at school everyday (because I always asked) for 12 years, or let’s just say the last 8 years of K~HS, he was able to graduate from college with honors and go on to graduate school…..
Fear not, Liz Evans @simplesimon&company offers some creative, answerable questions to ask your child each day after school. Click on the link below:
This is Part 4 of the Family Literacy Circle’s Five ~ Part Kindergarten Series
This post’s main focus is on developing & engaging the Reading Skills of your 5-year-old, Part One of this Series ~ Your Kindergartner’s Language Skills ~ offers key content regarding the growth & development of your child’s Phonological Awareness Skills, which is a major component for pre-reading skills. You can read the Language post by clicking on the link below:
ACT FOUR : Encouraging Your Kindergartner’s Reading Skills
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~ Richard Steele
As I stated in the first few sentences, your child’s oral language skills in both understanding, or receptive, and speaking, or expressive, is beginning to extend into the written language of reading. Rhyming words play a big part in this progression. I put together a 50-word rhyming list for you & yours. Click on the PDF link below:
Understanding a variety of letters in words represent a variety of sounds helps your child comprehend the purpose of the written language in stories & books.
Environmental print has given her/him clues for several years now. Still working on matching uppercase letters to lowercase letters? Here’s a PDF Literacy Game for learning that skill. Click on the link below:
This specific understanding is how s/he learns how to “sound out” letters and “smush” them into printed words ~ READING!!!!! It is such an exciting accomplishment for your child and kudos to you, their First teacher, who has been the springboard of this New World!!
WOW ! How Did I Do That?!?
Reading with your child since the beginning of his/her life ~ maybe in utero? ~ has provided a great many stepping-stones onto the path of learning how to be an independent reader. Here are just a few of the lessons taught by example that your child has learned through your patient, gentle, fun & interactive persistence:
Books have a title, author & illustrator.
Books are read from left to right & top to bottom.
Stories have a beginning, middle & ending.
Some stories are make-believe, or fiction & some stories are real-life, or non-fiction.
Words in stories are made up of letters & sounds, some of which your child may be able to identify.
S/he loves to retell some favorite stories.
S/he wants to “read” picture books from memory.
S/he might be able to recognize some words by sight.
However, learning to read is not a natural skill. Our five senses can help, but the brain does not have a “reading area”.
Reading & The Brain
Jan Bernard@dragonsdencurriculum.blogspot.com has some suggestions for brain-based reading instruction in her blog post: “Seven Ways to Use the Brain to Make Reading Easier”.
National Reading Panel
Research supports that good phonics development is critical to effective reading. Playing with words, knowing the sounds of letters, and manipulating these sounds are the foundation skills of understanding print.
Using memories and personal life experiences to relate with the text increases the comprehension of the text being read.
Engaging your reader in hands-on activities centered around the read gives him/her time to process the content and discover meaning within it.
Teaching several points instead of many will ensure your reader is understanding the content s/he is reading.
Fun & Movement
Making the lesson entertaining and providing opportunities for physical change, such as group work, partner activities and/or games helps the brain retain information.
Turn & Talk, group discussions, and student-teaches are all effective ways to engage readers when learning the content.
These ideas, also, promote Critical Thinking skills.
What Are Critical Thinking Skills?
Asking “what if” & “why” questions are great ways to encourage and inspire expansive, creative thinking. For example, what if you found a dragon’s egg? What if you found a genie in a lamp? What if a neighbor of the 3 Bears knocked on the door while Goldilocks was there?
You may already ask “big thinking” questions during a read with your child. Heidi Butkus @ heidisongs does a nice job of presenting how to engage critical thinking in young children.
Some of the beginning interactive questions are:
Connecting Text to Self : Has anything like _________ ever happened to you or someone you know?
Compare & Contrast: How are _______&_______the same? How are they different?
Form an Opinion: How did you feel when________?
Evaluate: Do you think __________was a good or bad idea?
Prediction: What do you think will happen next?
The next set of questions are a bit more “thought-provoking”.
Cause & Effect: Because ________began, ___________is what happened next.
Hypothesize: Since__________is always happening, __________is probably why it happens.
Develop a Logical Argument: I think___________is true/not true, because_____________and____________.
Infer: What is happening and why?
Draw a Conclusion: What do you think about the WHOLE story?
How about using these questions with a story you’ve read to your child a few hundred times, like…….?
Critically Thinking About Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
This author & illustrator of numerous award-winning books has created many well-loved picture books as well as a “cast” of mice characters for his mouse stories collection. I’m sure you’ve heard of Owen, Julius, Chrysanthemum & Sheila Rae. Chester & Wilson, two of the main mice in Chester’s Way, like to do things a certain way everyday, until Lily moves into the neighborhood with her own way of doing things every day…..
Connecting Text to Self : Do you like to do some things the same way every time you do it?
Compare & Contrast: How are Chester / Wilson & Lily the same? How are they different?
Form an Opinion: How did you feel when the older mouse boys circled Chester & Wilson ?
Evaluate: Do you think Lily squirting those boys away was a good or bad idea?
Prediction: What do you think will happen when Victor moves into the neighborhood?
Cause & Effect: Because Lily “squirted” those big boy mice way, ___________is what happened next.
Hypothesize: Since Chester & Wilson are always playing together, __________is probably why it happens.
Develop a Logical Argument: I think Victor will/will not become friends with them because_____________and____________.
Infer: Although Chester & Wilson enjoy doing things differently from Lily, they still enjoy her differences because____________? Will they feel the same way about Victor?
Draw a Conclusion: What do you think about the WHOLE story?
Are you and/or your child Visual Learners/Teachers? Check out your “Style” in the FLC post: Choosing A School for Your Kindergartner: Learning & Teaching Stylesby clicking on the link below:
Certain common concepts can be woven throughout a story. Does your 5-year-old understand near/far, same/different, through/over/under? Here’s a PDF checklist to help review positional & directional words.
Understanding, using, and applying Time concepts continues to be developmental since the “language of time” is such an abstract idea. Emphasizing words such as soon, later, early, yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week, morning, noon and evening when doing concrete activities will help to give meaning to these ideas. Even my Third Graders struggled with defining “when” in the Setting story element.
BLB Shop has a Calendar Kit you can use as a daily activity lesson at home. You can view it by clicking on the link below:
The expectations for Kindergartners has changed A LOT within the last 15 years. Previously, objectives revolved around interactive, hands-on learning centers, like blocks, kitchen, painting, etc. Currently, those are preK objectives with Kindergartners expected to be emerging readers, writers & math problem solvers. Here’s a list of pre-reading skills your 5-year-old needs to know when ENTERING Kindergarten.
Beginnings : A Book Tells A Story
If you & yours are a family of readers, these book skills are already in place:
Books have parts: front & back covers with a title page.
Books are held safely & pages are turned from left to right.
Books’ words are read from left to right & top to bottom.
Groups of letters can make words.
There are spaces in between complete words.
A sentence is a group of words “strung” together with different ending marks that are not letters.
Letters & words on a book’s page are spoken with meaning & messages.
You have taught these skills by:
Making read-alouds a routine part of each day
Promoting the above skills & concepts each time a book is read
Finger-pointing the words as you read.
Helping your child become aware of environmental print, such as building & road signs, food labels, billboards, etc
Reading interactively with your child by asking questions, making connections, explaining unknown words, & having her/him retell the story
Identifying story elements, such as beginning, middle & end; characters & setting; main idea & details; problems & solutions
During your child’s Kindergarten year, s/he will learn many more specifics about books being read.
Kindergarten & Book Growth
Your child’s “book knowledge” will include several new aspects as well as preferences.
As non-fiction books become a more important tool when teaching curriculum objectives, s/he will learn about the Table of Contents, a glossary & an index. Engaging in longer discussions as content is being shared will, also, be part of your child’s growing knowledge within books.
Having extensive libraries in the classroom & as a media center available to your 5-year-old will provide opportunities for growing interests in specific authors, fiction verses non-fiction, and entertainment independence.
The attention span of your young listener will expand into chapter books, more in-depth discussions & responses, and greater comprehension of specific content details.
You will notice your child pointing to words as s/he “reads”. This strong characteristic shows a progression from his/her Phonological Awareness to Phonemic Awareness ~ yes, READING!!!!
What Are Phonemic Awareness Skills ?
S0, is your child ready to master the Phonemic Awareness Skills? This set of skills includes your child’s ability to hear, identify & manipulate the sounds letters make.
BLB Shop has two games ready to help your child learn these powerful reading skills. S Says SSSSSS has Beginning Letter & Sound Games. M Says MMMM has games for learning the Ending Letter & its Sound.Just click on the links below to access a view:
Let us read and let us dance ~ two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. ~ Voltaire
Throughout the years you have read countless books countless times. Your little pupil wants to read how you have been reading to him/her for the past 5 years. You have probably noticed how dear this time is with your loved one, even if s/he is squirmy. Benefits of read-alouds are: sharing quality time, especially at night; being a book resource for sharing different stories; thinking together; and getting an insider view into your child’s interests, humor & comprehension.
There are a few Read-Aloud Tips, courtesy of readingeggs.com, heatherhaupt.com & I to further your modeling/teaching tools when reading aloud to your young listener.
Make time to read interactively every day without distractions.
Choose well-written & beautifully illustrated books (not too easy/difficult) with your child’s interests in mind without a lot of dialogue.
Be ready to read favorite books again & again & again because your child is learning sounds and words through repetition.
Try to read using lots of expression & animation without imposing your own thoughts onto your child.
Opt for books related to your child’s current learning experiences.
Finish a book once you have started it unless you discover your child is not engaged in the story/subject.
The Complex Worth of Simple Wordless Picture Books
Their amazing, detailed illustrations offer numerous opportunities for imaginative & creative thinking. Not only do they emphasize the power of illustration, but they, also, encourage verbal & vocabulary skills, promote point of view recognition, and develop your child’s confidence as s/he “tells” the story.
Spend some time asking comprehension questions about the Story Elements:
Setting – place, time, unusual/familiar, things to do
Characters – thinking, feelings, desires/needs
Plot – problems/solutions
Predictions – next, opinions, choices
Lessons – themes, if/then, symbols
As a Family Literacy Circle activity, have each family member and/or friend , choose a page to tell the story and, then, pass the book to the next person.
Need some Wordless Picture Book ideas for your older “reader”? Check out More Wonderful Wordless Picture Books for Readers, Ages 5-8 in BLB’s Resource Library. Just click on the link below:
The greatest good you can do for another is not to share your riches, but to reveal to him/her his/her own. ~ Disraeli
Your 5-year-old is becoming aware of book type diversity. S/he knows the difference between real & make-believe stories. S/he realizes some made-up stories that could really happen, or realistic fiction. Some books are all about facts, or nonfiction. Some are ABC books & some are song books.
Making sure your child has immediate access to books -everywhere at home- s/he enjoys will encourage lots of reading. Bring books on car trips, the store & visits. Hand him/her a book instead of a device. Ask teachers, librarians & other parents for book suggestions.
Create an “I Am A Reader” poster together to hang up in his/her room. Or use the one I created for you to make with your budding reader. Just click, download & print on the link below:
Before beginning to teach someone to read, it is important to administer a Reading Inventory. Throughout my decades as an educator, I have given a wide variety of assessments. Click on the Reading Rockets link below for an example:
My successful tried & true method of teaching a child -who wants to learn how to read- how to read consists of 5 major elements:
a solid Sight Words, or High Frequency Words base
a strong, developmental phonics program
an ongoing receptive & expressive vocabulary list
a reliable group of comprehension strategies for fiction & nonfiction reads
a daily opportunity for reading aloud to improve fluency
You can work with your child’s teacher to assist in your child’s reading progression. S/he will know specifically in which of these 5 areas your beginning reader needs more practice.
Otherwise, continue reading interactively with your child every day.
HELP!!!! My Child Is A NON-Reader!
If a child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in a way the child learns. ~ Rita Dunn
Your bright, energetic 5-year-old has waited all summer to enter the exciting new world of Kindergarten with all of his/her friends. New clothes, shoes & a cheerful lunchbox have been carefully selected. Lots of colorful school supplies have been purchased & tucked away into his/her new, hand-picked backpack. The first few weeks of school, s/he comes home happy & exhausted. By week 3, s/he is not as thrilled with Kindergarten. S/he is becoming more confused & almost reluctant to go to school…..
During Meet the Teacher night, her/his teacher gently pulls you to the side and quietly urges you to schedule a conference as soon as possible. You swallow back some tears, replying, “Of course…” as the teacher reassures you, “We can work this out together.”
Do I Have a Resource for you!!!!
Just click on this link below for Guiding Your NonReader Into The Reader’s World:
Yes, like last year, this year is another HUGE one for your 6-year-old. First Grade is filled with incredible LEAPS & BOUNDS! Your child’s growth & development intellectually, physically AND emotionally is almost approaching “light year” speed.
Five of the major Literacy Arenas influencing his/her ground-breaking discoveries are: Learning & Language Skills, Creative Arts & Play Shills, Inquiry Power, Reading Skills , and Writing Skills. So, I am dividing this incredibly important year into a series of 4 or 5 separate blog posts.
PART ONE : Learning & Language Skills
Children always learn, but not necessarily what you want them to learn. ~ Dr. L. Katz
Somewhere during the summer, before your 6-year-old enters First Grade, you’ll notice your somewhat-round child became all arms and legs. No way are last year’s clothes & shoes going to fit! This growth will continue for a few years ~an average of 2 to 2.5 inches per year. Remember the thumbprint-measure at the end of new shoes.…. Ignore the “This is TOO BIG for ME!” comments…. And cross your fingers to prolong another wardrobe upgrade before next Summer…..hopefully, Fall……
Must have been all the new physical skills~fine & gross motor~ s/he kept practicing all Summer…. running & jumping & skipping & hopping & skipping & skipping & hopping….EVERYWHERE!!!!! Oh.. and, purposely, rolling & spinning ’round & ’round…..
Indoors found him/her drawing lots of pictures & cutting out lots of pictures to accompany lots of newly written stories….drawing & cutting & gluing (“Teacher says ‘Just a dot, not a lot’ “) & writing….Yes, s/he needs more paper & magazines & glue…..
Although the hand-eye coordination is improving….s/he will probably fall out of chairs several times in the next year and baby teeth will fall out of her/his mouth. Pencils can become “teething sticks”. As a First Grade teacher, I was asked to “pop-out” many front teeth and scooped up many “plopped-on-the-floor” bodies…
BIG NEWS FLASH!!!! S/he is TYING her/his own shoes laces!!!!!!
How does s/he have enough energy to ask SSSSOOOOO many questions?!?!?!?
Your Budding Brainiac
Even at rest, your soon-to-be First Grader spends hours upon hours pondering the great questions of the Universe and her/his place in it. The Age of Reason has arrived in your child’s brain development, stimulated by the opportunities received at school to learn new concepts and ideas.
Curiosity encourages exploration and discovery. PBSParents offers a few tips on how you can help build these Learning Skills:
Allow him/her to make simple choices, such as what to wear, what to eat for snack, where to eat out for a meal, which shoes to buy (of the several options you’ve okayed), what present to buy for whom (within your budget).
Give your child some support when needed to finish a new task or activity, but don’t take over or rush him/her to complete it.
Encourage creativity in your child’s expressions by offering new material & experiences without influencing her/his decisions.
Praise achievements, progress & eagerness to take risks (safely, of course).
“Inside the First Grader’s Brain”
Although I have taught many First Graders ~ and what an absolutely FASCINATING bunch they are ~ I, myself was curious to know what makes those incredibly interesting 6-year-old brains tick. Hank Pellissier, founder of the Brighter Brains Institute, contributed an article in June 2018 to greatschools.org with the above title.
Scientifically, this is what is happening inside your First Grader’s brain:
The sensory lobes that recognize & analyze challenges are maturing at a rapid rate.
There is rapid brain growth in vocabulary, grammar & pronunciation.
Your child is probably “leaping” from magical thinking to logical, rational mental processing.
S/he may become fixed on rules & regulations.
You can “nuture” your child’s logical mental processing & satisfy his/her Rules & Regulations focus with a small activity game I created : “Choose A Category”. You’ll find it in BLB Shop by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for some suggestions on nurturing this brain stage.
Pellissier’s Parenting Your First Grader’s Brain Tips
Included in his article are some tips (with some comments from yours truly) on how you can help your child’s brain during this stage of growth & development:
Set high expectations ~ they will be welcomed, met & exceeded
Provide a relaxed & emotionally secure environment ~ so effective for his/her explosive world of intellectual adventures
Contribute PATIENCE during her/his dramatics ~ enrollment in the Creative Arts, especially music will help temper some of these behaviors-6-year-olds can be quite a “serious” bunch and “talking about feelings” is still too confusing for them….too busy emoting
Make SURE s/he runs & plays outside EVERYDAY for at least 30 minutes ~ non-negotiable, rain or shine, in addition to school recess
Focus your child’s attention with board games & limit TV/video games time ~ yes. yes. yes- you will notice BIG behavior changes
Include lots of vocabulary exploration because s/he can acquire 10 NEW WORDS A DAY, plus now would be a good time to expose your child to another language ~ I retained lots of another language I learned as a child as well as many First Grade ESL students exit into mainstream
Encourage your young reader to pay attention to ALL letter sounds in words ~ s/he can’t WAIT to get to the next word……
SO MANY QUESTIONS !!!!
Children must be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think. ~ Margaret Mead
Or you can click on this pdf link to download, copy & print “A Short List of Critical Thinking Question Stems” I created to get you started: A Short List of CT Questions
And What Is Critical Thinking?
“Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well-thought out. It is a way of thinking in which you don’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions you are exposed to but rather have an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions.” ~ study.com
You will notice your VERY curious & engaged 6-year-old studying things intensely. S/he will, then, describe a thing (or 20) using its characteristics, and, then, find similarities & differences between a variety of things. These are his/her growing & developing cognitive skills at work!
These “working” words will show up at the most surprising times……correctly,too!
Favorite First Grader phrases include:
“You’re not the boss of me!” (I still use that one…)
“I didn’t do it!” (use that one, too)
“S/he told me to……”
“S/he did it, too!”
And tho’ your First Grader “hates” tattle tales, s/he is quite the tattler…. such talkers….
The rate your child is learning to understand and speak new words is growing, quite literally, by leaps & bounds ~ about 3000 within the school year! S/he is even talking ABOUT words, not just using them during expression.
S/he is starting conversations, using defining & describing words more frequently, staying on topic, taking turns during the conversation, and ~ this is a jewel~ giving directions to others. S/he is, also, able to re-state ideas using different words if what was expressed is not understood by the listener.
And how did all this happen, you may ask?? Some of those high expectations coupled with lots of “world” knowledge being shared in school are definitely factors influencing this language growth.
The “Common Core” Standard Expectations for Language
By the completion of First Grade, your child is expected to show mastery in quite a few grammatical conventions as well as a number of other areas in the English language. I’m just going to list some general ones, because, quite frankly, college graduates haven’t mastered some of these……really….., so, maybe, this is why these Standards are being implemented in so many states’ public school districts.
There are 10 “command”, or mastery expectations for speaking & writing, but I’m just listing a few of the main ones :
common, proper & possessive nouns
singular & plural nouns with matching verb agreement
The National PTA has written a “Parents’ Guide to Student Success” regarding the Common Core Standards. It lists the main Mastery expectations for ELA Literacy & Mathematics as well as some ELA Literacy Parent Involvement at Home tips for your First Grader:
Read books together with your child & help him/her sound out difficult words.
Act out stories together from books, TV and your child’s imagination.
Pick a “Word of the Day” every day, beginning with a different letter. Have your child write the word & look for other things beginning with the same letter.
Have your child sign up for a Public Library card & visit the with your child every week, checking a variety of books ~ fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays.
Literacy Language Lifters
Here are a few additional suggestions for promoting your First Grader’s listening & speaking skills:
Continue playing with language through rhymes, songs & word games, especially when new nonsense words can be created
Invent meanings for those new nonsense words
Increase verbal directions from one & two-step to three-step
Ask your child to repeat those directions back to you
Promote the understanding of game rules
Include Time (before/after) & Distance (close/far) concepts in your interactive conversations
Ask her/him to repeat stories that have a series of events to relate in order
Continue asking the “wh” questions for comprehension: who, what, when, where, why
Introduce your child to a different language ~ s/he will absolutely LOVE learning words in another language AND 6-years-old is an optimal time in his/her language development for this skill.
Learning Another Language Benefits
There are more than a few advantages to having a access to another language. Learning another language increases your child’s literacy, analytical,and problem-solving skills. It boosts your child’s confidence, self-image, and tolerance.
According to pandatree.com, a multilingual teaching website, your child will experience 15 or more benefits. Among them are:
speaking, understanding & connecting with more people.
stimulating his/her brain growth.
boosting first language abilities
training one’s ear for music
increasing out-of-the-box thinking
And in my experience as an educator~ all my students thought it was great fun and were always eager to learn MORE!
So, if you would like to teach your child a few common vocabulary words and phrases in another language ~ say Spanish~ BLB Shop has just the product for you and yours: Let’s Learn A Little Spanish has 10 mini-lessons with easy-to-use instructions. Just click on the link below:
Just a little postscript: Your First Grader’s Learning & Language Skills is the first part of this 4, maybe 5 part series for First Graders. Play, Inquiry, Reading & Writing are in the mix as well. Stay tuned!
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Welcome to Part Three of The FLC First Grader’s Series
Your 6-year-old is asking MORE questions than s/he usually does.
And even though s/he LOVES rules and boundaries in his/her expanding world, those very important inquiries are giving you clues to the puzzles being solved in her/his broadening brain.
Your First Grader’s Inquiry Skills are growing. They are becoming an important part of his/her brain development and academic success.
A “How-To……” book of instructions for everything in life right now would be just fine with her/him!
PART THREE : Inquiry Skills
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. ~ Eugene Ionesco
There is a philosophy that an answer can be found within the context of its question…..or at least its beginning is….
Your First Grader comes home with many new & wonderful ideas to share. S/he LOVES explaining how explorations became discoveries.
And, THEN, “what if…..?” Oh, the imagination of the inquiring mind!!!!
This state of inquiry, however, is not satisfied with thinking about things.
Your 6-year-old and his/her longer attention span likes to learn & problem solve by doing: experimenting, planning, building, collecting, and, maybe even , performing magic tricks just to solve what “appears” to be unsolvable.
You can promote these Critical Thinking questions. BLB’s Library has several ideas for you to use in an interactive resource:
Although it can be time-consuming, I found a KWL chart to be a very valuable exploration & discovery tool. Used interactively, it provided me, and my students, with knowledge already in place~no wasted time on redundancy~ and ownership of what was to be learned ~ with a few prompted questions, ideas, & vocabulary clues from me.
When Do We Use A KWL ?
You can use this tool with your child in a variety of scenarios:
to enrich & reinforce a variety of science, social studies & geography topics being taught in school
to increase reading comprehension elements in fiction & nonfiction reads at home and for school
to use as a home-management builder in a number of arenas: chores, safety, nutrition, clothing/weather, etc.
SO~I’ve created something a little different that includes a Resource section in this discovery chat titled KQRL. Here’s a downloadable 8.5×11″ PDF template you can print, laminate & re-use during you & yours’ Inquiry Investigations: KQRL Template
Wondering what science, social studies & geography concepts your First Grader will be learning in the classroom?
Your child’s school district can provide you with a list of objectives & expectations. Ask her/his teacher for assistance and explanations.
Science Explorations in First Grade
Your child will engage his/her 5 Senses to observe, ask questions, and, then, record what s/he is learning. Entering data on graphs (pictographs & bar graphs), hand-drawings as well as written words are products used to show what s/he understands.
This is a “general” list of science concepts your child may (or may not) be learning throughout his/her year in First Grade:
Forces in Motion: push & pull, balance, magnetism, electricity
Changes in States of Matter (solid, liquid & gas)
Properties of Liquids
Sound Production & Travel
Properties of Air
The Universe: day & night sky, moon, stars, sun
Weather: seasons, temperature measurement
Properties & Uses of Earth Materials: soil, rocks, minerals, water
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. ~ Mary Lou Cook
PBSParents offers some very useful suggestions on how to explore science concepts with your child in everyday scenarios. And just for you, I created a table -YIPEE- to help with that!
Home~Grown Science Explorations & Discoveries
PHYSICAL SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
EARTH SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
LIFE SCIENCE INVESTIGATIONS
Forces in Motion: trikes, bikes, scooter, wagon; playground equipment
Matter: solids, liquids, gases
Sound:different machines in the air/on the ground
Properties of Air: balloons, paper airplanes, Frisbee, kites, leaves
Light/Dark: day & night sky elements, moon phases, shadows, shade, self-reflection in water
Weather: clouds, temperature, precipitation
Materials:different rocks, soil varieties, waters(lake, pond, brook, river, mud puddles)
Different Plant & Animal Ecosystems
Stages of growth in plants & animals
In the Car
On the Bus/Train
Forces in Motion: Push / Pull
Sound: Machines at work
Light/Dark: self-reflection in window, vision adjustments to sight, building sights, day vs night sky visibility in different environments
Weather: cloud formations in open sky, visibility during precipitation at different speeds
Materials: landforms, bodies of water
Different Plant & Animal Ecosystems: city/country, desert/plains/forest/seaside
In the Kitchen
At the Market
Forces in Motion: push/pull of different utensils, float/sink of different food elements
Matter: changing states from solid to liquid to gas
Liquid Properties: changes with heat, cold, mixtures
Properties of Air: forces of air when applied to different foods, like meringues
Weather: on foods' stability, spoilage, growth in the garden
Materials: how rocks, soil, water affect foods
Human Body: nutrition, food groups, menu/recipe combinations, extra foods
Plant & Animal Ecosystems: growth, food sources, omnivores/herbivores/carnivores
Life Cycles: plants from seed, growth/harvest, preparation
I don’t know about you, but, there are questions children ask that defy an explanation…..So, instead of trying to give reason that might not be understandable or accurate, a more “scientific” approach will probably satisfy those questions. Wonder, inquire & investigate along with your child, encouraging him/her to explain why s/he thinks the way s/he does. Yes~answer a question with another question.
Ready to Set Up A Home~Grown Science Lab ?
Your Primary learner LOVES to investigate his/her Inquiries!
I’ve created 4 of them for you & yours, addressing several of the objectives found in the Physical, Earth, Life & Ecology Sciences. Each contain several investigations with sequential activities for observations, predictions, explorations, experiments & discoveries appropriate for children, ages 5-8. You can visit these “Labs” in BLB’s Shop by clicking on the links below:
Your First grader will, also, be learning about the diverse cultures & countries of the world. Using the Inquiry approach to these studies is a great interactive way to engage her/his learning.
Navigating the World Through Investigations
I found Social Studies & Geography an easy way to integrate reading & writing. Not only are they inter-related, they are incredibly relevant & engaging for most children. Who doesn’t want to explore his/her home country, ancestral roots, holiday traditions, and, then, navigate the way there?!
Here’s a general, sequential inquiry map several fellow teachers & I used in our classrooms before the curriculum timeline rules changed. It’s a thematic approach that blended & covered all required objectives, including some Math, Health & Science expectations. We began at the beginning~the Home.
Family & Home
Where do you live: apartment, house, duplex, trailer, shelter?
Can you draw a map of the inside of your home?
Who is part of your family at home?
What are the needs of most families?
How do families meet those needs?
Are chores & shared responsibilities part of your family?
What other buildings are in your neighborhood?
How is an apartment complex like a neighborhood?
Do your friends and/or relatives live nearby?
Is there a park or playscape in your neighborhood?
Are these other places in your neighborhood: school, gas station, restaurants, markets?
Can you draw a map of your neighborhood, using a few symbols & a compass rose for directions?
The Communities in A Town or City
What is a community?
How are neighborhoods & communities the same? Different?
Do you know where these buildings are in your community: retail shops, restaurants, fire & police stations, schools, churches, hospitals, clinics/offices, athletic fields, cinemas?
Who are the community helpers in these places?
How do you know ( uniforms, special jobs)?
When do you need these community helpers?
How do some of them keep communities safe?
What are “goods” and “services”?
Which community helpers provide services? Goods?
What is the difference between a town & a city?
Do you know how many people live in our town/city?
How many of these places have you visited: concert hall, opera house, theater, museum, historical sites, sports arena, transportation hubs ~ bus terminal, train station, airport?
How did you travel to those places?
Where can you find a major waterway in our town/city? What is its name?
Have you ever traveled to a different town or city?
Was it in our state or a different state?
Can you locate our town/city on this map?
Widening the Scope
A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils. ~ Ever Garrison
What is the name of the state we live in?
Is a state larger or smaller than a city?
Are there only towns & cities in our state?
Do you know the names of some other towns or cities in our state?
Do you know the names of any other states?
Have you ever traveled to any other state?
What did you see/do there?
Where is it on this map?
How did you travel there?
Can you locate our state on this map?
What are those other names a part of on the map?
What is famous about our state?
These states are all part of a what?
What is a country?
Do you know the names of any other countries?
What is the name of our country?
Why is our country called “The United States of America”?
Click on the link below to download, copy & print a PFD I created for celebrating USA Symbols, Citizenship & National Holidays:
There is another, more in-depth way to encourage your child’s Inquiry Skills. It’s a technique called UbD.
Big Ideas & Essential Questions
An idea is “big” if it helps us make sense of lots of confusing experience and seemingly isolated facts. It’s like the picture that connects the dots or a simple rule of thumb in a complex field. ~ Grant Wiggins
Your child’s classroom teacher may, also, (or maybe not) be using a learning technique called UbD~Understanding by Design ~ especially during science, geography & social studies units, which are, then, coordinated thematically with fiction & nonfiction reads. Projects & knowledge are student-driven through exploration & discovery guided by questions the students have formed regarding the subject.
The “Essential Questions” will usually help define the “Big Idea”, which is usually a general, or abstract statement.
When forming the Questions, keep these insights in mind:
They have no right or wrong answers
They promote inquiry to help learn the Big Idea.
They encourage critical thinking, curiosity & real life problem solving.
Basically~ What do you see? What do you think about what you see? What do you wonder about when you see it? How & where can you find out more?
Need more info and tips on how to provide your child with inquiry-based explorations? George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia is a great site to visit. Just click on the link below:
Greetings! You have arrived at Part Four of The FLC First Grader’s Series: Enriching the FLC with Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
Depending on the expectations of your First Grader’s campus, s/he may or may not be reading grade level text.
Most public school systems want their Kindergartners reading at a certain level before going into First Grade. Some private schools feel the same way.
Other schools offer a different approach entirely when preparing a child to read. There are MANY different methods you can try, especially if your child is a reluctant reader.
Reading Rockets cited Understood.org’s article, which listed 11 Methods for teaching reading, especially if your child is struggling with this all-important skill. You can check them out by clicking on the link below:
As a trained Special Education teacher, I used a variety of methods, even when I was teaching in the Gen Ed classroom.
PART FOUR: Enriching Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well:They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. ~ William James
I was, and am, a book eater, I mean reader. I have been devouring books since I was 5 or 6 years old. Not that I didn’t enjoy other recreations as most children do, but reading is a Passion for me. It is one I love to share, especially with children. Teaching a child how to read is one of the most exhilarating things in the world that I can share…..
And like Mr. James says, it’s not just about the actual reading & understanding of the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs & pages. It’s more about the participation in and the inspiration of thoughts, imaginations, inventions, and, yes, “worlds”.
As a child, and now, as an adult, my inquiring nose can usually be found in one of many genres of books.
How I Learned to Read
The other day I read an interesting & nostalgic memory shared by Theresa, a teacher & fellow-lover of reading. She has a site called Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits. While introducing her great nephew’s reading progressions, she, also, offered her ” Becoming A Reader” experiences as a child. Here’s the link to her post:
It sparked some recollections in me as well. My parents were both avid readers. My mother, especially, loved reading to us ~ we, who could sit still long enough, loved it, too. She read patiently, deliberately, interactively, and always with lots of expression. Lots of books, both novels & informative as well as STACKS of comic books were always in our home. Saturday trips to the library (a favorite of mine) were a frequent part of our errands.
And let me be clear……this reader-nurturing environment does NOT guarantee you’ll raise a Book-Lover. Several of my siblings (and my child), bright as they are, had “better things to do than sit around and read a book!”
However, college & life influenced changes in that opinion…….
Reading at my school was taught with the Dick, Jane, Puff & Spot primers (yes, I’m that old) in small reading groups named Bluebirds, Red Robins, etc. ; spelling lists with sentences & book reports~written with oral presentation (YIKES!).
My parents’ expectations & participation with teachers ensured all of their children were reading on or above grade level. No foolishness allowed!
Teaching methods have changes A LOT since then (more on that later), except, of course, within the setting of your child’s First Classroom ~ at home.
My Child Can Read……When S/He HAS TO DO IT
Feel fortunate s/he can read. Promoting ENJOYMENT during the read, especially with a very, physically-active child & the instant gratification of tech EVERYWHERE can be a challenge….
To quote Dr. Frank Serafini, a professor of Literacy Education & Children’s Literature~
There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who haven’t found the right book.
In addition to reading with your child since in utero, having lots of different types of reading material (yes, magazines & comic books count) lying around, visiting the library, and reading yourself (WHEW!!), there are a few other things you can do (as if that’s not enough…). Dr. Tiffani Chen, the author of School Sense & creator of the site edboost.org has some other suggestions (with a few of my ideas thrown in). Just click on the PDF link below:
You know you can always ask your child’s classroom teacher and/or your school’s media specialist for some assistance as well.
well….I Don’t Always Understand What the Teacher’s Reading Terms Mean…
As teachers we get very comfortable with our “environmental language.” Met with the blanks stares of our students usually gives us the visual clues we need to re-state and/or define some of the vocabulary words we educators use constantly all day long.
Do NOT hesitate to ask your child’s teacher to do the same for you. There are quite a few of them, like Fluency, Tracking, High Frequency Words, etc. So, instead of being shy and/or confused during a parent-teacher conference regarding his/he reading progress…..
I created a PDF list of the Literacy terms educators use to define reading elements with explanations for you, written in the sequence I use in my Reading Program. Click on the link below:
Your First Grader has a long, on-going list of Reading Goals to achieve by the end of the year…….
TARGET: Your Child As An Independent Reader
If your child attends a school, public or private, that has adopted the Common Core, you’re probably familiar with the academic objectives & expectations his/her teacher uses to guide instruction.
Although your BIG First Grader continues to enjoy being read to, s/he is becoming more interested in the actual skill of how-to read. Soon, you will be read to by her/him!
His/her listening & speaking language skills are growing at an almost accelerated pace. S/he understands opposite concepts & how things are the same & different. S/he uses adjectives, adverbs & prepositions when expressing thoughts.
LinguiSystems, Inc. compiled a Communication Milestones Guide as a general growth & developmental reference for reading & writing during your child’s year in First Grade.
Beginning of First Grade
Identifies more & more sight words with accuracy
Begins to decode new words with more independence
Uses a variety of reading strategies to increase comprehension
Reads aloud & retells familiar stories easily
End of First Grade
Recognizes 100 sight words
Understands words make up sentences
Reads & comprehends grade level material fluently
Common Core basics for Reading is divided into 3 areas:
Understanding & locating Key Ideas & Details when reading grade level Literature (Fiction) & Informational Text (Nonfiction)
Identifying & explaining the content structure of Literature & Informational Text
Knowing & applying the reading skills of phonological awareness, phonics (spelling), word recognition & fluency
The National PTA has written a downloadable PDF Parents’ Guide to Student Success, which you can access by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for how~my~students~learn~to~read “skeleton” formula……
My “Skeleton” Reading Skills Formula Sequence
Reading a book is like looking through a window. ~ Zetta Hupf
Or the “bare bones”……. in baseball lingo:
The Warm-Up/On Deck
Sight Words & Phrases
The Pitch/In the Box
Silent Read with Vocabulary Search
At Bat/The Swing
In Scoring Position
Student Retell/Key Elements included?
Comprehension Q & A if any missed on the retell
Independent, Hands-on project
Sound like a lot???? Actually it depends on the levels of each reader. After assessment, I use the areas of strength to support & promote the areas that need more stability.
A Quick Beginning
Prepare your emergent reader’s brain with his/her current, leveled Sight Word review. Whether you’re pointing to the word(s) or s/he is handing you known Sight Word cards, this “warm up” activity is a effective way to begin the Reading Circle. Each word should be recognized in seconds without needing to be decoded. I use Dolch’s Sight Words & Phrases. This PDF link includes Sentences as well.
The Curriculum Corner offers reading-leveled Fluency sentences choices, using Fry’s 500 High Frequency Words list as a downloadable PDF. An assessment tracker is included. Here’s the link to this very helpful resource:
The accuracy of words being read is built on your child’s ability to use these 2 skills: decoding & context clues.
What Are Decoding Skills & How Are They Used?
Your child’s Decoding Skills rely heavily on her/his PhonologicalAwarenessSkills. How s/he tries to figure out a new, unknown word during reading depends on what s/he has mastered regarding the letters & their sounds.
Need to know what your child knows in the phonological realm?
An educational site, Heggerty, has created a group of serious, Phonemic Awareness Assessments, complete with how-to-administer instructions. It has downloads for grade levels PreK and above. Just click on the link below to select a downloadable PDF:
I know this sounds like A LOT of prep before getting to the book, but all this groundwork is building confidence in your young reader.
Once you form a “getting ’round to reading” routine, this predictable~prep pattern will become a successful stepping stone your beginning reader expects. S/he, even, looks forward to its repetition & will remind you if you forget something.
Okay…….time for a Picture Walk. This is a confidence & comprehension builder. Your child will actually delight in his/her ability to predict & understand a new story just by carefully studying the pictures. Here’s downloadable PDF guide for Going on A Picture Walk with Your Child: A Pre-Reading Tool :
Onto understanding & defining the Vocabulary element……
Solving the Mystery of Those New Vocabulary Words
A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese Proverb
Many new vocabulary words can be understood using context clues, that is, reading the understood words before & after the unknown word to solve its meaning.
I have found that after the Picture Walk, some readers enjoy reading silently to see if the predictions they made are true.
As another pre-reading strategy for understanding, I make a list of vocabulary words I think may be new & challenging. Of course, a new word in isolation can be difficult to define, but you’d be surprised to learn what your First Grader knows.
A vocabulary word can be heard & correctly understood, spoken with accuracy, and, even, read exactly. Applying, or using the word during writing or as an answer to comprehension questions is another skill altogether.
Organizing words into groups can be an effective way to understand vocabulary words. BLB Shop has a game for learning this Critical Thinking skill. Check it out by clicking on the link below:
Reading a new story is a very exciting activity. Using picture clues & context clues gives your beginning reader the tools s/he need to recognize words accurately, fluently & with understanding.
Decoding Skills play a huge part in the flow and comprehension of the text. Like a mystery, a new, unknown word can be daunting (YIKES!) or challenging (WAIT~I GOT THIS!). There are several ways your young (and older) reader can “attack” and succeed.
And, YES, I created a downloadable PDF Parent Guide for Helping Your Child Use Decoding Skills:
Does your child want to reread the story? How about taking turns, page by page? This activity will reinforce the understanding of the text as well as give you the opportunity to model fluency & expression.
Was S/he Thinking About What S/he Was Reading?
Understanding the question is half the answer. ~ Socrates
WOW! What a beautiful read!
Most emergent readers take great pride in the ability to “read” & decode all the words in a story. However……
Some readers struggle with Thinking While Reading….
Is your child asking questions before, during & after reading the story? If so, YAY! That means s/he is Thinking While Reading.
If s/he has been thinking & understanding what s/he is reading, his/her re-tell of the story should be fairly accurate.
Re-telling the story in a sequence might be a little difficult, so, listen, first. Jumping into the plot, or actions of the story may be where s/he begins.
You can use prompting questions, such as: What happened at the beginning of the story? Then, what happened? Why did that happen? and so on.
Need a little guidance? Here’s a downloadable PDF you can use to help your child understand what s/he is reading:
If you’ve read to the end of this post ~ Thank You! I hope you found some information that was helpful. Your First Grader deserves every opportunity to continue his/her education in the excited way s/he has approached learning this year. Reading is a MAJOR key to his/her success ! Let me know if I can help!
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Upgrading the Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
In Second Grade ALREADY!!!!! Prepare for Academic Acceleration in Learning & Language Literacy Skills. Listening & Speaking Vocabulary become increasingly…complex. Reading & Writing expectations approach independence. And the ongoing Research Projects….
Yes, there’s a TON of Academic Acceleration happening during your 7 year-old’s Second Grade year! And, yours truly is here to try & offer some helpful strategies & tips for “dealing” with this “BLOW OUT” year, which, BTW, will set the tone for next year’s “I Totally Got This !” Third Grade year….
So, Faithful Reader, I’m, again, writing a 5 ~ part Series. This time for Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grade: Language Skills, Celebrations (Part 2), Research Skills (Part 3), and the ever-ongoing Literacy Skills of Reading (Part 4) & Writing (Part 5).
This is Part One :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Learning & Language Skills
Your Second Grader’s Learning & Language Skills
There are no seven wonders in the eyes of a child. There are seven million. ~ Walt Streighttiff
Notice anything different about the way your 7 year-old looks? Some of that “baby-ness” may be slowly melting away as his/her motor skills continue to mature. S/he may even grow a few inches taller. Ready to take the training wheels off that two-wheeler?
Not only is his/her curiosity continuing to increase, the abilities to investigate & analyze the mysteries of the world are growing as well.
Those limitless questions are part of the excitement s/he is feeling about the exploration and discoveries of new environments as well as all those social situations. (OMG ~ did s/he just ask me THAT question?!?)
S/he is beginning to prefer playing with friends instead of adults, although family outings are still very enjoyable.
Once answered, s/he is eager to share the new knowledge s/he has learned with others, making your child a perfect candidate as a Peer-Mediator for a school-wide program called “PMII”, or Peer-Mediated Instruction & Intervention.
Yes, I’ve Heard About That Program
As a Peer-Instructor, s/he may act as an assistant during classroom instruction, cooperative learning, and/or peer-tutoring.
S/he may, also, be asked to help as a peer-supporter with social skills connections, such as easing reluctant students into group-share situations (cafeteria, recess, activities).
One of the most successful roles s/he will participate in is as a peer-interventionist during conflict resolution scenarios. As an educator of the young, I can tell you these youngsters work wonders with their peers as situational problem solvers without the company of an adult or teacher. Here’s a sample of an effective dialogue a Peer Mediator may use. This PDF includes strategies with options as well as typical student conflicts.
However, because your Second Grader is beginning to show concerns about what others (especially peers) think of him/her~ growing self-criticism & some confidence-shrinking may become an issue occasionally. And then, there’s the Worry-Wartness symptoms….
What’s to Worry About?
That malady called “Peer Pressure” is beginning to take hold now. Longing to be part of a group, your 7 year-old does not appreciate having attention called to his/her actions and/or accomplishments…. unlike the last few years…..oh dear…
Your child may worry about things that never seemed bothersome in the past, like clothes (“Too babyish!”), homework (“I’ll NEVER get all this done !”), physical irritations (“I think I have a deadly disease!”), bedtime (“I know there’s something hiding in my closet…”).
According to Hank Pellissier, founder & director of the Brighter Brains Institute, many Second Graders ” HATE making mistakes, not finishing tasks, and losing at anything. They have to be first, correct, punctual, best & perfect.” Sound familiar???
He further states that all this particular area of angst is part of your child’s brain growth. Understanding concepts like time, space, direction, distance & time are influencing the expectations s/he has on the completion of activities.
You Can Learn from Your Mistakes
You must never feel badly about making mistakes…as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons that you do by being right for the wrong reasons. ~The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
I came across this great piece of helpful information when trying to boost a child’s confidence, especially when s/he is feeling insecure during the learning process. It is an anchor chart, Jen of Runde’s Room discovered created by a group of elementary school teachers. I did some editing, so please feel to use it with your little WorryWart:
So, of course, a safe, reliable, predictable & reassuring environment is necessary for maximum learning to occur. Keep those routines in place!
Your Child’s Classroom Learning Environment
Although having high expectations for your child may seem a bit harsh, they are, in fact, a match for those s/he and her/his classroom teacher has already put into play. Your Second Grader loves a good challenge ~ even thrives on it ~ as long as the limits are not too stressful. Rigor is a part of the curriculum.
The Second Grade classroom is filled with SEVERAL libraries: fiction readers ~ Picture & beginning Chapter trade books; nonfiction readers ~ earth, physical, ecology & life science concepts; social studies concepts ~ world culture, community helpers, economics, historical biographies, & atlases; math concepts ~ measurement, computation, fractions, money, geometry. There are bins of manipulatives, tools, instruments, notebooks, writing supplies, art supplies, etc. Center nooks are usually in place : reading, writing, science, math, social studies, a large, interactive calendar, maps, and, maybe even, a globe.
Your Child’s Home Learning Environment
Your Home Learning Environment probably shares many of the same elements. My Resource Library has some information for you regarding Your Educational Home Environment. Here’s the link:
And, then, there’s your Brain’s favorite Learning environment ~ the Great Outdoors! Nothing like fresh oxygen!
Your Seven Year-Old’s Brain
Call for brain power. ~Barbara Jordan
Outdoor play is critical to all children’s growth & development. They need to walk, run, jump, twist, turn, spin & play. Not only are 7 year-olds ready for free physical play, they are, also, ready get those training wheels off their speed racers, skateboard (YIKES) and participate in organized sports as well as back yard games. You remember these, right?!
Hide ‘n Seek
Red Light, Green Light
Mother/Father/Granny/Granpa/Auntie/Uncle, May I ?
Multiple Tag Games
In a recent article “Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature”, written by Danielle Cohen & published on the Child Mind Institute website, research supports what we humans, have known all along.
As educators, we all agree indoor recess is just not the same as being outside on the playground. Being outdoors is beneficial, not only to your physical health, but also, to your mental wellness.
“Most of the studies agree that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.”
Here are links to the complete article with an additional link for Ideas:
Lots of research, also, suggests students who engage in physical, outdoor play are able to learn more easily in academic environments. Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist & author of the book, Spark : The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain states exercise elevates a brain-building chemical he calls “Miracle-Gro for the Brain” because it encourages its growth & development.
And there are lots of indoor Brain exercises you can do.
Inside the Brain Activities
Second Grade requires students to participate in a more rigorous learning environment. Their Critical Thinking skills are engaging them in more complex reading, longer writing compositions, and greater problem solving concepts.
Because they are improving their brains’ processing skills, creating & presenting research projects become a significant part of their everyday classroom expectations. Technology will be used for these investigations, but…..go easy on Screen Time….it’s a Brain ~ Eater, but more on that in Part 2…..
Memory & rational brain areas are growing, giving them more impulse control, independence & planning power. Three-step directions should be easier for your child to follow ~ clothes in the hamper, bath with soap, pajamas on. Oh, and brush teeth & hair….guess that’s more than 3….
Numerous brain scientists & nutritionists agree ~ there are certain foods, when part of our daily diet, actually help brains grow, develop & function more effectively. I created a little PDF reminder you can put on the fridge next to your grocery shopping list. It’s a broad, general list, so Go Julia (Child) ! Brain Foods Poster
Many lists I read, listed Oatmeal, Blueberries & Eggs as the top 3 foods, especially for children. Hmmm…sounds like Breakfast & Cookies…… And because I LOVE to cook, especially with children, I adapted a few recipes using these ingredients for you to make and eat with your child (ren). They’re in a PDF, recipe card format with front & back covers, so you can download, copy, print & cut apart to include as a section in your kitchen recipe box or notebook :
Upgrading the Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
Notice how many different activities your Second Grader is curious about exploring, and, maybe, yes, maybe, even, trying ?
Is s/he bringing home lots of celebration ideas ? 100th Day!?!
And you’re ready to jump in ~ ALL in !?!
But you see some hesitation and, then, some reluctance, surprisingly enough, when it wasn’t even your idea….
Uh…it’s not you…
Your seven, soon to be eight year old, may be experiencing a bit of.. ah…gulp.. an identity crisis…(EGADS! ALREADY?!?!)
Seven can be a difficult time for your child’s self-assurance. Not really a baby-baby, but not really a confident eight year old either (think how independent you were in Third Grade).
Unfortunately some Second Graders are already concerned with what their peers think of them and how they “fit in”…..(OMG!!! NOT YET!!!)
Encouraging and engaging your child with a celebration or 20 will help build his/her confidence, self-esteem, and, most importantly, critical & risk-taking skills. I’ve come up with some (ha!) ideas that might help move the process along….
This is Part Two :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Celebrations
Where Is My Bright, Confident Child?
Don’t educate your child to become something or someone, educate them to explore and celebrate who they already are. ~ Vince Gowmon
If your seven-year old appears to be a bit shaky at times regarding who s/he is, it may just be a “bad hair” day….or not.
Second grade can definitely be overwhelming for some children. It seems like the expectations are either too high or too numerous to fulfill successfully.
All the new content in school may be coming at your child too quickly for him/her to process in a solid way. Learning strategies for reading comprehension, math problem solving, writing elaboration is only the beginning.
And, if that’s not enough…..there’s research and science fair projects…..but I’ll get into that arena in my next post….”Second Grade Research”.
Oh yeah… and the 3000 new vocabulary words s/he is expected to learn, understand, and, maybe even use, is huge. Some of them are pretty big, too ~ think…..”analyze, transform, reflect, collaborate…” to mention a few…
I did create a product with activities to help your child learn those WOW Words. Just click on the link below:
Share this experience as special You & Me time or pull out your scrapbook/memories to work on the “hobby” together.
Happiness Is Having A Hobby
Creativity is intelligence having fun. ~ Albert Einstein
“Find something to do or…..” was a very effective catchphrase my mother used as an anti-boredom technique.
There were always colors, papers, scissors & glue to encourage idle hands as well as building tools, pretend play clothes, puppets, etc. Designing paper dolls, paper puzzles, costume additions, etc filled many rainy or too-hot-to-play-outside days.
I usually had my nose in a book ~ historical fiction was/is a fav. I, also, loved to cut out articles & pictures to organize into notebooks ~for future reference, of course.
We seldom got bored during outdoor play….. Lots of things to collect & make out there.
Hobbies ~ I have numerous ones ~ are fabulous avenues into who you are explorations & discoveries. Expose your child to the limitless possibilities.
Studies have shown hobbies & collections can benefit your child in many ways. Hobbies can increase focus, time management skills & self-awareness. Collections are great for teaching organization & detail. The website altiusdirectory listed some important ones :
help develop motor skills & bilateral coordination
encourage self-discipline & personal accomplishment
act as educational tools for critical thinking & cognitive skills
build creativity, imagination & guessing skills
engage in goal setting, decision-making & problem solving
grow into career paths
continue to be lifelong interests
Need a few Hobby & Collection ideas ? BLB’s Library has a Resource for you:
Oh, and video games,television & web-surfing are not hobbies, though I will watch my favorite shows WHILE doing a hobby.
Smile….You’re on Candid Camera
Turning off Screen Time (while eyes are glued to it) is an invitation to the creation of a House of Horrors with the sound effects magnified through rock concert-caliper amps…..yes, oh, the HORROR!!!!!
The worst & best consequence I could dole out as a parent was NO SCREEN TIME. Within a week, I watched my child transform from a , uh, growling meanie to a cheerful, nice person. Seriously….it was kind scary and oh, so enlightening.
PBS & other educational programing-only (I wasn’t a Monster Mom) – did little to soothe the savage beast……at first….
Current & past studies confirm the negative effects too much screen time has on your child’s growth & development in ALL areas ~ physical, mental & emotional.
Stepping Away from Screen Time
Dr. Michael Gurian, a family therapist, brain scientist & author of the book, Nurture the Nature , offers a few guidelines for how much media is too much:
Notice your child’s social behaviors ~ unrealistic screen & virtual relationships? isolation from others? withdrawal from interactions?
FYI ~ The National Parks Service offers an AWESOME Junior Ranger program packed with a variety of interests, like fishing, bats, archaeology, caves, historic preservation and MUCH more. Here’s the link for more info:
You can, also, create some screen time filming, and, then, watching a variety of Pretend Play scenarios, explorations, vacations, holiday gatherings ~ you know ~ good ol’ Home Movies !
Children find everything in nothing. ~ Giacomo Leopardi
Who doesn’t love a good movie !?! Believe me ~ I am a MAJOR fan !
As children, my sisters, friends & I loved to build stages for our variety acts & alternative environments when preparing our role play scenarios. Our parents were always entertained and encouraged sequels.
Your Second Grader’s improved learning & memory skills are encouraging a lot of growth in her/his creativity. Toys without specific instructions & boundaries will engage your child’s imagination & cognitive skills.
Pretend Play is beginning to look & sound like a Reality Show with its detail, dialogue & “sets”.
This downloadable freebie has several Invitation Templates for your child’s Pretend Play scenarios:
Or, maybe, you have an aspiring Social Butterfly and/or Party Planner on your hands…. After all, who doesn’t love a PARTY!?!?!
Oh Yeah ! Let’s Partaaay!
Does your child love to go to parties? Is his/her Pretend Play involve making parties (think tea parties, swim parties, sleepovers) & inviting others?
Your Party Planner may have a career plan in her/his future….for now. It may be time to take your Social Director to the next level.
Talking & fantasizing are definitely the beginnings of what is called ~in your seven-year old’s mind~ the pre-planning stages. You can help reality set in with a brainstorming, Q&A session, especially when the Budget enters the equation:
Who is the party for & Why?
When & Where?
Is there a Theme?
How Many People will be invited?
What Kind of party is it: brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks only, dessert, buffet?
What kind of Food & Drinks will be served ?
Entertainment: games/contests, prizes, music?
Cost / Budget?
Here’s a pair of PDF templates (Party Organizer & Budget Worksheet) to get you & yours started : Party Planner
And your child is stretching out: neighbors, school & community.
Celebrating Your Child’s Out~of~the~Door Places
Since Kindergarten you’ve been hearing “My teacher says…” “At school we….” “S/he’s my friend at school…” Your youngster is, hopefully, a proud & eager participant in all things School. Get out your pompoms & join in !
This “School Rocks !” PDF , fill-in-the-blanks, mini-poster freebie will let you know why your Second Grader is so enamored with her home-away-from-home :
How well does s/he know the neighborhood & community? Has s/he been studying maps at school ? Make one together that starts with your home & branches out to nearby places you visit together, including shops, the library & fire station.
The study of Community Helpers has been part of your child’s classroom since Kindergarten. This PDF freebie will give you some clues about how familiar your Second Grader is with his/her town, city, state & country. An interview sheet is included in case s/he wants to find out more about specific community workers : Community Helpers
So, speaking of the USA…..
Celebrating Major USA Holidays
There are 10 Federal, or Public holidays we, as a Nation, celebrate together. They are days to recognition & honor our accomplishments throughout the history of the USA.
Usually included as a 3-day weekend, many businesses, especially banks, some state & federal offices, the post office & maybe, your child’s school will close to enjoy the long weekend.
Those 10 Federal Holidays are:
New Year’s Day ~ January 1
Martin Luther King Day ~ third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day ~ third Monday in February
Memorial Day ~ last Monday in May
Independence Day ~ July 4
Labor Day ~ first Monday in September
Columbus Day ~ second Monday in October
Veterans’ Day ~ November 11
Thanksgiving Day ~ fourth Thursday in November
Christmas ~ December 25
Here’s a 6-page, PDF freebie with Family Activity Ideas for celebrating each of these Holidays plus 5 more including Valentine’s Day, Earth Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, and Halloween : 15 USA Holidays
We, also, as a Country of many diverse cultures, celebrate the many different countries’ customs & heritages so many of us brought with us when we arrived to live here.
Celebrating Our Multiculturalism
The future of our world lies in the hands, hearts, and minds of our children. ~ David Decker
Many schools across the USA hold an International Day for families & friends to share their different customs, foods, heritage, clothing, handwork & language.
Some schools celebrate their diverse cultures with an International Night. Families set up tables & booths to showcase their different customs, foods, heritage, clothing, handwork & language as a mini community festival.
I taught on a campus with so many international children, we hung flags from the hallway ceilings, representing each one. We were like a small United Nations !
BLB Shop has a 77-page PDF product ~ USA Multicultural Celebrations ~ with information, book lists, activities & recipes for you & your family to experience while celebrating our Multicultural Nation. Just click on the link below:
Of course, there are 100s of festivals across the USA, including 10 Major Global Celebrations. These special days are celebrated by millions of people.
Ten Major Global Celebrations
These ancient Holidays are shared by millions & millions of cultures around the world. Most are based on religious beliefs. However, not all who participate in the festivities are necessarily followers of the religion.
How many of them do you know?
COUNTRIES MOST LIVE IN
Americas, Europe & Oceania
Easter & Christmas
North Africa, Asia & Middle East
Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr
Diwali & Holi
South & Southeast Asia
Vesak & Obon
USA, Israel & Europe
Passover & Hanukkah
To learn more about these celebrations, check out the Resource in BLB Library : Ten Major Global Celebrations. It includes information on traditions & symbols with a book list for each culture :
Did you know there are days on the calendar for celebrating peanut butter, spaghetti, dragons & daydreamers ? Months & weeks have specials celebrations, too, like Frog Month & Pizza Week. Holiday Insights on the site The Spruce is LOADED with Family Fun Celebration Ideas. Here’s the link:
Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader’s Research Project Skills
Within the first few weeks of school, I’m sure you (and your Second Grader) tried not to be too overwhelmed by :
the amount of content in ALL subject areas being covered ~ ALREADY!?!
the amount of Homework being given ~ where’s that WEEKLY checklist?!?
the amount of classroom expectations with their accountability ~ REALLY!?!
the amount of changes your child seems to be going through ~ QUICKLY!?!
With you celebrating these changes with your seven-year-old, s/he will be preparing to embrace an even bigger change in what your young Scholar will achieve ~ the successful completion of…. THE RESEARCH PROJECT!!!
This is Part Three :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Research Skills
Your Second Grade Scholar
The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation. ~ Ray L Wilbur
By now you & yours have created a “work-space” for getting those academics done. Homework has been coming home for most students since Kindergarten, even if it was just reading together for minutes every night and a weekly spelling list and, oh yeah, some math problems…..
Yes, the Homework load will definitely increase, following your district’s guidelines for Second Grade. It should be a review of content to be done independently by your child. It will, usually, include independent reading for a certain amount of time with a a few sentences about comprehension to be written, a weekly spelling list with a daily study activity, and a few math computations with a word problem or two to solve. S/he should be able to complete these assignments independently in under 30 minutes, including the read time…. Issues?
Until…..it’s time for the Research Project, but that’s in the future (and not so distant…)
So…. your BIG Second Grader may be ready to move away from the kitchen table and into a more private, “serious ” study space. It may require some research….
A Private Study Space of My Own
I came across a helpful little article, “Quick Study” by Caylin Harris in the September 2017 edition of FAMILY CIRCLE. She collected some ideas from Amanda Titchenal, Leslie Josel & Kate Varness and offers these suggestions:
Make the creation & design a “joint effort”. The sense of ownership will encourage use & maintenance of the work-space.
Choose furniture with the flexibility to “grow” with your child, physically & aesthetically.
Keep going through that “Goes Home” folder together. Is there a separate Homework folder? They may be color-coded.
Music ? Yes/No ? Some types of music is actually beneficial for studying. Check out what moves, motivates or distracts your child’s focus & concentration. Headphones ? Maybe not….
Use organizational boxes, bins & racks. Have your child label them. I used dividers in drawers for easy, quick access to tools & materials. Not a fan of Junk drawers, myself…..
Open shelving on pegboard allows for easy access & visual organization. Big fan of that option especially in a closed space.
Make sure a Celebration Board is part of the work-space ~ cork, magnetic, plexiglass with ribbon.
Don’t really have space for a work-space?
A Home Project….and Some Research
Actually, you do. Josel suggests making a tri-fold privacy shield out of a presentation board. It does need to stand on its own and the height may need a trim. Your child can decorate & stick on pockets for organizing. When the shield has done its work, your child can fold it up and slide it under the bed, beside a chest of drawers or inside the closet.
Setting up a Home Learning Environment can be challenging, especially if space is limited and other “stuff” is taking up space ~ DO NOT get rid of the dishwasher…. This BLB Resource may have some helpful ideas for you & yours:
You know your child has not only been engaged in research at school since Kindergarten, but, s/he has, also, been conducting informal Research Projects at home. They may be totally verbal, but…”Here’s why we need a dog..”; “There’s tons of stuff to do at….”; “I really need to join….”~ to mention a very few…
Collecting and ~ yes ~ writing down the information is an entirely different “project”. So, I thought I would create a few Family Fun Home~Grown Project Templates with an idea list :Home Research Projects
Of course, you obviously are an important partner for developing those Critical Thinking Skills your child so readily uses to “present” a potential Family Research Project…
And speaking of Academic Vocabulary, did you know there are 4 types of Knowledge & 6 Cognitive Processes (Bloom’s Taxonomy ~ remember him…) !?!
Yes…There Are 6 Levels of Thinking within Those 4 Kinds of Knowledge…
And now for some 25-cent words to include in this SHORT explanation of Knowledge & Thinking… which, believe it or not, your Second Grader is already hearing in the classroom…
FOUR TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE
terminology (specific words/vocabulary)
specific details & elements
classifications & categories
principles & generalizations
theories, models & structures
subject’s specific skills & algorithms (rules of process)
subject’s specific techniques & methods
criteria for determining when to use appropriate procedures
strategic (careful design/plan)
appropriate cognitive tasks
SIX COGNITIVE SKILLS
Again ~ not only does your young Scholar understand many of this “terminology”, but s/he will, also, be (if not already) using this Knowledge and Cognitive Thinking Skills during the Research Project Process. UH HUH!!!
There are a few things you can do at home to help build the skills s/he needs to successfully & accurately produce a Research Project.
Home ~ Grown Research Project Prep
You can not open a book without learning something. ~Confucius
You are probably already doing this if you and yours are Nonfiction book readers ~ you have taught your child the value of learning how to use Informational Text Features like: the Table of Contents, the Glossary, Captions under images, Labels, Diagrams, Bold & Colored Print, etc.
Second Graders learn how to use at least 17 of these helpful clues when trying to understand and discover which pieces of information will be necessary to include in the Research of a Topic. Here’s a little workbook you can use for reviewing and/or reteaching these all important Research Skills:
I, also, painstakingly, created a fun and very concise Literacy Learning Tool for teaching Informational Text Features that includes an interactive Nonfiction book I wrote ~ THE TINY GIANT: A True Story About Watermelons~ with a mini comprehension workbook. Here is the BLB Shop link:
Your beach-loving boy has just caught a crab of some kind. A nonfiction book about Ocean Animals needs to be found because he needs to know EVERYTHING about this small, interesting creature. Wherever you decide to look for a book, it needs to have the right information. “So, where’s the first place you should look in the book?” you ask your eager learner.
He quickly opens to the Table of Contents, but doesn’t want to read that much yet. “Where else could you find what you’re looking for ?” If he doesn’t know about the Index ~ here’s your teaching moment~ and “SO, you know you want to find out about…” “A crab!” he exclaims. “Look! Here it is on page…!” Well, it’s a Section with all the different crabs found in the ocean. Guess, he’ll have to do a little more……research.
If there are pictures of different crabs, encourage him to study the photo and think about what he already knows. Then, it’s time to read the Caption underneath it to see if this crab could be the same, or a similar one. Is there a Map or some other Location image ? Ask your child to look for them.
Kind of like a Treasure Hunt, huh!?!
These interactive questions mirror how your Second Grader is learning how to use Informational Text Features in the classroom.
The Teacher ~ Parent Connection
Have you connected with your child’s school and the teachers ? We Are Teachers created a short PDF loaded with tips and ideas regarding the relationship between you, your child & school. Just click on the link:
Although author and book studies can be part of a Research Topic, Geography, Social Studies & Science are heavy hitters in this category.
The “I Wonder…” phase of the Inquiry is usually begun in a KQRL template. Here’s an example : KQRL Template
Your Scholar is participating in a monthly Research Project which usually begins as a whole class lesson presented in sequential mini-lessons. Peer editing is usually part of this Process with a final, strongly visual Presentation piece, such as a flyer, poster, or even a sculpture.
His/her teacher may assign cooperative groups of 3-4 classmates a variety of Topics for them to discuss and, then decide on a specific Topic Question / Sentence.
A partner Project may be next with an independent Project as a cumulative study towards the end of the year. One, or several may be given periodically as an ongoing homework task with a deadline schedule for the different parts of Project research until its Presentation due date.
The Topic usually starts out BIG : Animals to a Smaller Topic: Birds to a specific, simple Topic: The Life Cycle of a Robin.
Possible Second Grade Science Topics
These Topics may, also, be part of a Science Fair Project ~ again, Big to Small to Specific:
Animals: traits & characteristics as in diet, habitat, seasons, life cycle
And, if you need an easy-to-use, step-by-step Instruction Handbook with Templates & Reference Checklists for The Research Project AND The Science Fair Project, you can find this Guide in BLB’s Shop. Just click on the link below :
As a parent and educator, it’s really difficult for me to know where to “draw the assistance line” .
There are so many “variables” to consider when your child, especially your Second Grader, comes home with The Project to complete.
So, again, I did some research, and, I think I found a few pieces of sound advice to share with you.
Diane Divecha of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines too much help basically tells your child s/he is not capable of doing the work. Instead, she recommends support your child by helping him/her develop the skills to do the projects independently with experiencing the stress big projects can bring.
Teach those organizational skills needed for effectively completing all the parts of a Research Project ~ to-do list, materials list, task schedule
Show how time management can help make the Project advance more efficiently, even if it means s/he needs to modify some of the product.
Review, if necessary, how to use some of the tools, materials & supplies.
Act as a sounding board for ideas and a discussion resource to encourage your child’s ownership of his/her work efforts.
I’m sure you’re not surprised by the length of this post, but there was a lot of ground to cover….Believe me ~ I did the Research…
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