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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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.
Characters and moral development, as well as spiritual reflection and moments of joy, are crucial for fully developing the nature of each child. ~ Michael Gurian PhD Nurture the Nature
And how is your little angel doing? Flying, Landing?
Climbing up & down? Up & down? Stairs? Furniture? You? Trees are next (OMG)!!!!
Doesn’t need or want help walking (holding your hand ANYWHERE can be a struggle)? Running, and, oh, yes, the newest favorite- JUMPING, JUMPING, JUMPING ?!?
S/he has worked very hard during the last year or so to master upright movement (I DO IT!!!- is a favorite phrase now-more on that later).
Balance & coordination are improving, so prepare for some physical risk-taking. Think tricycles ( we called them low-riders), lots of throwing (FORE!!! INCOMING!!!!), and galloping (yes, like a herd of wild horses). With sound effects….
So ~ have you re-baby-proofed your home? S/he is a lot taller and more-much more-mobile now. Still loving to get into EVERYTHING!!! Cabinets, drawers, hampers, refrigerator doors, and, yes, toilets. Moving a chair to reach a door knob and/or latch can be expected in the near future. So, time to upgrade those knobs, handles & latches.
“No, no, no!” is pretty much meaningless. Exploration is being driven by confident mobility and boundless curiosity. YES !!!! It’s a good thing ~ a GREAT thing, actually.
Understanding Your Toddler’s Brain
If you’re like me, you’re thinking the brain’s the brain. I, however, did a little research to help me (and you) understand our most powerful & mysterious “organ”.
Dr. Bruce D. Perry, an American psychiatrist with a PhD in Behavioral Sciences, has written several books on children in crisis. Here’s what he taught me, thanks to the article – “Using Play to Build the Brain” @ gooeybrains.com.
Our brains grow from conception in a sequence/order, beginning with the most basic areas first. Then, the other more complex areas start to develop. Each area (there are 4 broad brain areas) needs to grow in a healthy, functioning way before we can move on and focus on building the next area- in order.
Ready to Know More?
The most basic building block in the brain is the brain stem, which keeps the body functioning-heart rate, temperature, sleep & fear states, etc. It develops in us as infants during 0-9 months of age.
Between 6 until 24 months of age, the midbrain is developing. This area helps to build movement, or motor skills- both gross & fine. Our 5 senses are, also, combining and fine-tuning at this time within our bodies.
The limbic area is all about emotions. We can gain the skills of tolerance, empathy, belonging & social relationships during the ages of 12 to 24 months.
The most complex area of the brain is the cortical area. Developing between the ages of 3 until 6 years of age, this part of the brain controls concrete (factual) and abstract (creative) thought. Language skills, imagination, morality & respect are gains at this time of growth.
Since the brain grows & develops each of these sections in order, don’t ask or expect your toddler to do something s/he is not ready to do. S/he is a “work-in-progress”. Remember each child develops in his/her own time/rate.
Keep reading for a few tips you don’t have to be a brain specialist to use.
Encouraging Your Toddler Brain’s Growth & Development
Did you know by the age of 3, your child’s brain is 80% as big as an adult’s brain?
Keep in mind your toddler continues to experience the world through all 5 of her/his senses. You & loved ones can encourage your toddler brain’s healthy growth & development everyday with a few things you are probably already doing. Dr. Gurian, a brain scientist, family therapist & author of Nurture the Nature, provides these guidelines for parents:
Nutrition: eating right means avoid junk food or sugary snacks & try not to have long lag times between meals
Rest: increasing sleep might help ease cranky/whiny behaviors
Discovery: exploring nature is an easy way to use all 5 senses
Readiness: teaching every “little” thing is “big” to your toddler, so not too much at once and only when s/he is developmentally ready
Independence: hovering will interfere with your child’s need to develop, play & learn as an individual
Behaviors: providing lessons in “right & wrong” whenever you can
Now, just a few thoughts about video screens : television, computer, tablet, game console & phone……
Your Toddler’s Brain & Screen Time
More & more early child development studies are supporting the negative effects of too much screen time. Dr. Gurian and other developmental brain specialists shared some of the recent findings:
It can affect: behaviors, sleep, future obesity & mood development.
It can increase behavior problems: even after 1 hour of educational programs-is your child more aggressive, more passive and/or more lethargic?
It can translate into lower reading & short term memory scores.
When I had my Home School, the TV was never on until the end of the day for PBS’ Reading Rainbow, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood & Sesame Street. The children, ages 1-5, wandered in & out of the room during Reading Rainbow & Sesame Street, watching for 2-3 minutes at a time. Mr. Rogers, however, held their attention for much longer periods of time. Often, they responded to his soft, calm questions earnestly, sitting very still and focused……
As my child grew up, television privileges were a sure-fire way to achieve behavior adjustments. It usually took about a week or so (withdrawal period-seriously) before my lovable, communicative & creative son returned.
Environment Matters in Brain Growth & Development
Once your Toddler has mastered many mobility skills (first building block), s/he will continue to use that movement & begin working/playing on the next building blocks. Early childhood authorities generally agree your young one is working on these 4 areas of growth & development at the same time:
Physical-gross motor skills (the big muscles of crawling, walking, climbing, etc) & fine motor skills (hand-eye coordination of holding, coloring, cutting, throwing, catching, etc)
Language & Speech-understanding & expressing thought (vocabulary, sentence structure, etc)
Cognitive, or reasoning, develops later, usually beginning around 3 years old.So, now, you (and I) understand why our toddlers (and we) suffered misunderstandings…..
According to Dr. Margot Sunderland, a child psychotherapist with more than 30 years of experience working with families, creating an engaging environment for your growing child needs to involve all 5 of the senses, movement, social interaction & thought-at the same time. The benefits to your child’s brain health are:
lower levels of stress chemicals
decreased anxiety in an anxious child
new brain cell growth
“What I’m Trying So Hard To Say!!!”
If I accept the sunshine & warmth, then, I must also accept the thunder & lightning. ~ Kahlil Gibran
One minute your dimpled darling is full of giggles, hugs & kisses and within seconds (it seems), your red-faced toddler is crying, yelling & (yikes!) biting with an almost-full set of teeth. Try to remain calm because your puzzled frustration is small (maybe) compared to the large tantrum going on now (AGAIN!!).
A major contributor to this repetitious scenario is your toddler’s inability to speak in words. Those articulation muscles are not keeping up with what your child is able to think & understand.
Although s/he understands A LOT of words, your Toddler continues to work on the actual physical components of speech:
Articulation- how we make sounds
Voicing- how we use our vocal cords
Fluency- tone & rhythm
Your toddler’s slower, physical ability to express may not be keeping pace with what s/he is thinking & understanding. However, here’s a little chart on what may be happening and/or what is to come.
Speech & Language Chart of Growth & Development
Age in Months
Receptive / Understanding
Expressive / Speaking
By 30 months
*Follows 2-step directions
*Consistently understands basic nouns, verbs, pronouns
*Understands "mine" & "yours"
*Can point to many body parts when asked
*Consistently uses 2-3 word phrases
*Knows & says own name
*Produces direction words, like in, out, on, off
*Begins to name requested objects
*Can say 400 words
*Participates in simple. take/turns conversation
*Repeats words heard in conversation
By 36 months
*Understands opposites like hot/cold, big/small
*Simple understanding of colors, space, time
*Recognizes how objects are used
*Understands "why" questions
*Understands most simple sentences
*Produces 4-5 word sentences
*Answers simple "who, what, where" questions
*Answers more "yes/no" questions
*Can say almost 900 words
*May begin telling stories about experiences
*Able to express some simple feelings
*Sings favorite songs
*Likes to make up silly words
*Talks aloud to self & in imaginary play
Special thanks to North Shore Pediatric Therapy 4 Kids Infographic: “Speech & Language Milestones” and Katie’s October 2012 article: “Your Child’s Speech & Language-24-36 Months @ Playing with Words 365 for sharing their information.
And by age 3, WHOA!!! Be prepared for an explosion of brain-fueled questions, answers & anything else needing to be expressed. You’re going to be amazed !!!
You Can Boost Your Toddler’s Language Literacy
The ability to think, reason & problem solve grows out of language. ~ Rudolf Steiner
You can help grow your mini Powerhouse’s ability to speak, using some of these tips collected from The Early Bird Program Manual, “Boosting Your Toddler’s Speech & Language” @ the piri-pirilexicon & Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Toddler on the Block :
Point out interesting sights & sounds at home, outside, on errands, trips
Use simple, but real language-no baby talk
Repeat words a lot, so your child will remember them
Describe everything your child is interested in
Ask questions in a questioning way, but don’t push for an answer
Sing songs, especially rhyming ones
Let your child hear you talking to other people, pets, birds, etc
Stop & listen
Be positive & fun
Rhyming, interactive poems are very enjoyable to your Toddler. Remember “Itsy Bitsy Spider” & “Hickory Dickory Dock” ?
I have create 5 games using 5 short, simple rhymes to play with your child to encourage speech while having fun:
Toddler Talk : 5 Interactive Body & Picture Play Rhymes
I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~ Louisa May Alcott Little Women
Yes, the Family Literacy Circle would not be complete unless the “personality” of your toddler is included. Believe it or not, this part of the growth & development is very important to understanding how learning is taking place as well as the communication being shared.
Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician & author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, offers a humorous & unique approach for meeting the challenges of your “cave-kid”.
Many toddlers are a blend of easy, cautious & spirited, depending on their mood of the moment. Dr. Karp provides 9 behavior traits for parents to observe while trying to solve the “problems” s/he is gleefully creating. They are:
Activity – Does your child enjoy playing quietly OR is s/he fidgety & constantly moving?
Regularity – Do you have a daily, predictable routine?
First Reaction – How does your child react to new situations?
Adaptability – How does your child handle change or unexpected events?
Intensity – Is your child mild/gentle OR boisterous/passionate?
Mood – Is your child usually happy/easy-going OR grumpy/easily frustrated?
Persistence – Does your child “go with the flow” OR fight all the way?
Attention Span – Is s/he focused during play OR easily distracted?
Sensitivity – Is s/he unaware of small changes OR reactive to them?
Karp estimated 40% of toddlers are easy-going/flexible, 15% are cautious/sensitive & 10% are spirited/challenging. He goes on to say that about one-third of toddlers don’t fit into any category.
My toddler was very spirited, could be cautious with some flexibility sprinkled in, but most of the time, he “steam-rolled over limits”. YAY…… What an eye-opener for adolescence-to-come!!!
What’s A Parent To Do ?!?!?
I’m not saying those few years were easy because I understood what was going on with my Mighty Mite……. However, there were a few strategies that worked for us, most of the time……
Having a Home School, my children & I relied on 3 of my Four Rs: Routine, Repetition & Ritual. Relax-not so much….
If you’re interested in some schedule-planning tips…..
Even though your 2 year old toddler continues to play along side not with, others, s/he may imitate some of their play movements. Parallel Play builds non-verbal & observation skills.
S/he will begin to notice patterns in the world, identify things that match & label, sort & organize things using color words. I observed toddlers at this age lining up their toys according to size & color or putting them in groups.
Around 2 1/2 years old, you may overhear your toddler engaging in fantasy, or pretend play. S/he might play simple games that require taking turns. S/he is preparing to be interested in Cooperative, or Associative Play, which usually occurs as a 3 year old.
The article, “Using Play to Build the Brain” @ gooeybrains.com, included an infographic by Bruce Perry, a leading psychiatrist at the Child Trauma Academy, explaining the developmental skills children gain through play. Here’s my version.
Encouraging & Nurturing Your Toddler’s Imagination
Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~ Albert Einstein
Listening to Pretend Play is one of the most enlightening ways to gain a glimpse into your child’s heart, mind, and spirit. It is fascinating! Even with minimal dialogue, his/her gestures, facial expressions & body language will communicate what s/he is saying during the serious work of play.
In the past 40 years, there’s been a revolution in our scientific understanding of babies & young children. Long before they can read or write, they have extraordinary powers of imagination and creativity, and long before they go to school, they have remarkable learning abilities. ~ Alison Gopnik “The Start of Thinking” for Time Magazine’s The Science of Childhood
Ann Ruethling & Patti Pitcher, who co-authored Under the Chinaberry Tree, observed that creativity is necessary to imagine new solutions with new ways of living to solve the world’s problems. They offer suggestions that really work for engaging your budding critical thinker.
Allow time for your child to experience hours of fantasy & outdoor play with very few toys that have only one answer & are prepackaged.
Allow your child to be bored without rescuing him/her because it stimulates creativity.
Always have materials to make things available at home, like string, sticks & boxes.
Limit structured daily time because it closes opportunities for open-ended play.
Make messes & mistakes
For centuries, children have created their toy-tools out of whatever they can find around them. They model for us-who have forgotten- how to synchronize work with play !
Your Toddler Is A Toy Maker
My parents , who raised 5, yes 5 giggly girls, love to tell the story of the rocking horse we received one Christmas. “Red” was a large, wooden, hand-painted, red horse, accented with black detail. He had heavy, coiled springs attached to a frame and lived in our living room for almost 10 years until the youngest had her last ride.
The huge box Red arrived in received most of the attention-for days-until it couldn’t stand anymore.
With nothing more than a little imagination, boxes can be transformed into forts or houses, spaceships or submarines, castles or caves. Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his/her own, where anything is possible. ~ National Toy Hall of Fame
Your toddler enjoys playing with a variety of toys. Until around 3 years old s/he will continue to “mouth” them. The list is simple:
push & pull toys
large & shaped blocks
cars & trucks
tricycle or low-rider
small & large balls
dolls & stuffed animals
table, chairs & play dishes
Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles ! A Perfect Toy!
Do we ever “outgrow” our love of bubbles?!? Hmmmm, let’s see… bubble baths, bubbly drinks, bubble gum, foam, froth, frolic…
Bubbles are fascinating fun, especially to your toddler. Chasing them can engage him/her for a while, especially if those bubbly “toys” make a landing before popping.
Oh yes, and popping them is fun, too! Big ones, small ones, wiggly ones, windy ones!
Learning to make & blow bubbles is a proud moment for her/him. Added bonus-speech muscles are being worked & new vocabulary is being learned.
Besides being introduced to a few scientific facts & skills, your child is, also, learning about:
cause & effect
imagination & creativity
Here’s a wonderful “bubble” website you can link to connect on:
You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me. ~ Strickland Gillilan
Your toddler’s brain is like sponge, soaking up enormous amounts of information. However, s/he needs constant repetition because s/he forgets most of what s/he is absorbing.
What Research Has Discovered
Reading is a crucial part of bonding and brain development. Although s/he is not understanding many of the words yet, his/her future depends on the number of words heard when spoken & read. (Dr. Michael Gurian, author of Nurture the Nature, 2007)
The first three years of exploring & playing with books, singing nursery rhymes, listening to stories, recognizing words & scribbling (more on this topic later on in this blog) are truly the building blocks for language & literacy development. (“Early Literacy” @zerotothree.org/BrainWonders, 2003)
When parents & loved ones show their young children how positive the reading experience is while sharing books, they play a powerful role in their children’s reading achievement. (Strickland & Denny, 1989)
Children who have had many loving, enjoyable reading experiences before coming to school “feel the joy of making sense of the mystery of print”. (Cullinen, 1989)
Research has discovered, reading favorite stories again & again (be ready to purchase several copies of several, well-loved books-I did), is very important to the literacy development of children. After repeated readings, children will “respond more frequently to questions in more complex ways”. (Teale &Sulzby 1987)
Discovering Your Toddler’s Favorite Books
Does your toddler carry around some of his/her books?
Have you noticed her/him reading them to stuffed animals & dolls?
Good job, Parents! Reading & books are part of your child’s life.
Ready to introduce more books into your Toddler’s library?
Choose books with simple, realistic life images; touchy/textured parts & look-and-see discovery flaps. S/he will begin turning the pages back & forth. Soon, s/he will noticed the print and ask you what it says.
Here are some suggestions from “BrainWonders & Sharing Books with Babies” @zerotothree.com:
books with simple stories
rhyming books that can be memorized
books about: shapes. sizes, numbers & the alphabet
books about: animals, vehicles, playtime
books about saying hello & goodbye
Need a few actual book titles? Check out these book lists in BLB’s Resource Library:
Draw a book with your Toddler watching. Make books with photos. Including your Toddler’s life in these photo books is fun and a great ways to build language, literacy & self-esteem. Here’s some ideas for (Baby’s Name) Helps At Home:
Cooking in the Kitchen – Mommy mixes in a bowl / I can mix in a bowl; I put water in a pot / Daddy makes pasta; etc
Cleaning Around the House – Mommy & I dust; Daddy & I vacuum; I help Mommy & Daddy wash, dry, fold & put away clothes
Playing Together – We read together; we sing & dance together; we build together; we walk the dog together
A Few Words About Literacy & Wordless Picture Books
Sharing wordless picture books with your Toddler is a great way to encourage the growth of important Literacy skills. It builds oral language, vocabulary, comprehension & listening skills. Since you are creating the story, be sure to include a beginning, middle & end.
Spend time looking at the cover and talking about the book’s title. Enjoy the pictures, point out a few things, and stay on one page as long as your Toddler is interested. Here is a Wordless Picture Book reference list from BLB’s Resource Library:
How to encourage Your Toddler’s Literacy with Reading
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child. ~ Dr. Seuss
Interactive reading- talking with your child about the story while the story is being read- encourages language development. Questions about the pictures & the story engage your Toddler’s attention. Comments & predictions will soon follow.
Your 2 year old Toddler may want the story s/he has heard before to be read exactly like you’ve read it the previous 10 times. You may hear him/her reading this same story to pets & toys.
S/he will not only be pointing & identifying objects in the pictures, s/he will begin identifying the actions, too. S/he may want to hear longer and more complex stories read at different times.
When reading a book with your Toddler, encourage good reading habits by using this sequence:
reading the title/author/illustrator
looking at the book cover, ask your child to make a prediction about the story before opening the book
occasionally asking your child “what is happening” by looking at the pictures, especially if s/he seems “fixed” on a picture
tracking the words as you read
occasionally asking “recall” questions – what/how/do you think
using expression as you read/changing voices for characters
reading the story again
enjoying the story with your child & make it entertaining
NOTE: If your wiggly Toddler is not interested in reading a book together, please do not push it. S/he will bring a book to you soon. Just make sure s/he sees you & loved ones reading & writing. Yes, maybe, s/he is more interested in writing…..
A Writer or Artist In Your Family Literacy Circle?
Your Toddler’s fine motor skills are becoming more defined. S/he is able to stack block towers, string beads, hold a spoon when eating & turn the pages of a book.
Include your child when writing short messages- phone, greeting cards, love notes. Show your child the difference between writing & drawing. When you write the grocery shopping list, include some drawings- apples, milk jug, macaroni.
Make sure fat pencils, crayons & sidewalk chalk are available for your Toddler to use at home.
If your child likes to draw on paper, you can make a very special “book” together. After her/his drawing is completed, ask about it. Write the sentence, or words, on a sticky note. Ask if you can write it on the front or back of the picture. Make a collection of these in a book you can read together.
Your Toddler’s oral and written expressions are important ways to build growth in literacy. There are no rules-just opportunities!
If you’ve read to the end of this (WHEW!) long post about your child’s BIG year, I have a little something for you & yours. Click, download & print on the link below for some PlayDay ideas with your Toddler.
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:
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’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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