CLAMDiggers: November’s Literacy Enrichment Collection

 WELCOME

 TO:

CLAMDIGGERS: NOVEMBER’S LITERACY ENRICHMENT COLLECTION

You won’t be happy with more until you’re happy with what you’ve got. ~ V. King

Crisp November is a  month full of creativity, discovery, and gratitude. CLAMDiggers: November’s Literacy Enrichment Collection includes four of these events:

  • Engaging in an Autumn Fantasy
  • Exploring Long Ago to Modern Day
  • Discovering the Influence of Our Native Americans
  • Preparing for Giving Thanks

The Components of each Unit include:

  • colorful Front & Back covers
  • a Contents list
  • an Introduction Sequence
  • a Master Materials List
  • a Thematic Literature List of fiction& nonfiction trade books
  • an overall Lesson Plan
  • Projects/Activities with Construction Instructions written on an Independent Reading Level for Grades 3 ~ 6

Preparation for each of these units can be done  by following this sequence:

  • Read over the Materials & Tools needed for each project in the Master Materials List ~ a component included with each Unit.
  • Gather the Materials & Tools together specific for each Activity ~ card-stock, printing paper, scissors, glue, pencil, colors, etc.
  • Protect your work space with a plastic, washable tablecloth, newspaper, or butcher paper ~ the latter invites doodling & checklists.
  • Read all the steps included in the Sequence part of the Instructions provided for each Project/Activity BEFORE beginning.
  • Keep a copy of these Construction Instructions close by, so you can re-read as you create.
  • Clean up your work space when you have completed what you wanted to do.

Click on this link for more information on CLAMDiggers’ Literacy Enrichment Program:

CLAMDiggers: An Enrichment Program for Upper Elementary Learners

Read on for more Details on each Unit, but, first, take a look at November’s Poetry Posters to provide each Unit with a little focus.

CLAMDiggers’ November Poetry

During my years in the classroom, I discovered the best way to focus my students’ attention for new content was a choral read of thematic poetry written with colorful images.

November’s five poems are printed onto five thematic 8 ½ x 11″ images you can enlarge if needed. The font sizes are large as well.

You can access this PDF freebie in Mz. Bizzy Lizzy Biz’s TPT Shop by clicking on this link:

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/CLAMDIGGERS-November-Poetry-Posters-6120613

Autumn Fantasy

Let cheerfulness abound with industry. ~ R.L. Stevenson

CLMDgrsNov: Autumn Fantasy
CLMDgrsNov: Autumn Fantasy

 Week One of CLAMDiggers’ November Literacy Enrichment Collection is a 22-page unit entitled Autumn Fantasy . It contains the following Projects/Activities:

CLMDgrsNovUnit: AutumnFantasyProducts
Autumn Fantasy: Dancing Scarecrow, Barnyard Hoedown Diorama + Music Maker
  • DANCING SCARECROW: Template with Construction Instructions
  • MUSIC MAKER; Construction Instructions
  • BARNYARD HOE~DOWN DIORAMA: Farm Animal Templates with Construction Instructions

General Supply List: card-stock, printing paper, wallpaper, decorative papers, craft paper, construction paper, open diorama box, yarn, raffia, paper plates, large craft stick, dried beans, colors, glue, stapler, scissors

You can access the Autumn Fantasy unit by clicking on the link below:

  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Autumn-Fantasy-6120722

Then And Now

Change is the law of life. ~ J.F. Kennedy

CLMDgrsNov: Then and Now
CLMDgrsNov: Then and Now

Week Two of CLAMDigger’s November Literacy Enrichment Colllection is a  55-page unit entitled Then And Now . It contains the following Projects/Activities:

CLMDgrsNovUnit: Then and Now Products
Long Ago to Modern Day: Card Match and Vocabulary Game, Mini-Info Book Connecting the Past with the Present + Toys Will Be Toys Informational Text
  • LONG AGO TO MODERN DAY: A Card Match & Vocabulary Game
  • FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT: A Mini-Info Book Connecting the Past with the Present
  • TOYS WILL BE TOYS: Comparing & Contrasting Long Ago & Modern Day Toys Using Informative Text

General Supply List: card-stock, printing paper, binding material, pencil, colors,  rubber bands, scissors, highlighter, fine-point marker, dry-erase marker,

You can access the Then And Now unit by clicking on the link below:

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Then-and-Now-6120874

Native Americans

Teach us to walk the soft earth as relatives to all that live. ~Sioux Prayer

CLMDgrsNov: Native Americans
CLMDgrsNov: Native Americans

Week Three of CLAMDiggers’ November Literacy Enrichment Collection is a   25-page unit entitled Native Americans. It contains the following Projects/Activities:

CLMDgrsNovUnit:Native AmericansProducts
Native American Words We Use Match Game, Fill-In Comprehension, Sacred Animal Sand Painting + Dream Catcher
  • NATIVE AMERICAN WORDS WE USE: Photo & Vocabulary Match Game with Fill-In Comprehension Activity
  • SACRED ANIMAL TOTEM SAND PAINTING :Some Animal Images with Construction Instructions
  • DREAM CATCHER: Construction Instructions

General Supply List: card-stock, printing paper, pencil, colors, glues, scissors, dictionary, colored sand, paintbrushes, small bowls, beads, feathers, yarn, paper plate, glitz

You can access the Native Americans unit by clicking on the link below:

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Native-Americans-6120967

Giving Thanks

Take a rest; the field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. ~ Ovid

CLMDgrsNov: Giving Thanks
CLMDgrsNov: Giving Thanks

Week Four of CLAMDiggers’ November Literacy Enrichment Collection is a 20-page unit entitled Giving Thanks. It contains the following Projects/Activities:

CLMDgrsNovUnit: Giving Thanks Products2
Giving Thanks Wreath + Giving Thanks Placecards
  • LET US GIVE THANKS WREATH
  • LET US GIVE THANKS PLACE~CARDS
CLMDgrsNovUnit: Giving Thanks Products1
Giving Thanks Mini Poster + Placecards
  • LET US GIVE THANKS MINI POSTER

General Supply List: card-stock, printing paper, dry bean soup mix, heavy-weight paper plates, raffia, tacky glue, pencil, 8 X 10 picture frame, colors, scissors

You can access the Giving Thanks unit by clicking on the link below:

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Giving-Thanks-6121058

 

You can  access CLAMDiggers’  November Literacy Enrichment Collection units individually or as a 4-Unit bundle for your convenience & savings. Just click on the link below:

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/CLAMDIGGERS-November-A-4-Unit-Bundle-6121225

AND….as an added appreciation bonus…..

Here are two PDF freebies to thank you for reading!

A Home Reading and Writing Guide

Let Me Show You What I Learned-AltAssess

Questions? Concerns? Shares?

Just fill in the Contact Me form below. You will NOT be subscribing. 

Otherwise, fill in the BLB Exclusive form as a FREE subscriber!

 

Copyright©2020BizzyLizzyBiz

Nurturing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Newborn (0-6 mos.)

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. Nurturing the Family LiteracyCircle with Your Newborn (0-6 mos.)

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

There's No Place Like Home -Carlo Navarro
There’s No Place Like Home -Carlo Navarro

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.                           
  • Nurturing Care’s Literacy Value: oral language, main ideas, characters & setting, fact & opinion, compare/contrast
  • Creative Discovery – Recognize your child(ren)’s desire to be physically & mentally active while exploring & mastering new skills
  • Creative Discovery’s Literacy Value:   experimenting, risk-taking, brainstorming, problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking
  • 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

Grasp of New Life-Jelly
Grasp of New Life-Jelly

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”:

  1. The ability to record & keep information-the memory
  2. 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

Hello Baby!-Public Domain Pics
Hello Baby!-Public Domain Pic

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

Enough Talk Already -Tim Bish
Enough Talk Already -Tim Bish

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.

0-3 Months

  • 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

Literacy Boosters

  • 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)

4-6  Months

  • 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

Literacy Boosters

  • 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

BabyBlocks-BethL
BabyBlocks-BethL

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

I'm Playing! -Colin Maynard
I’m Playing! -Colin Maynard

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)

AGE SEE & PLAY HEAR & PLAY TOUCH & PLAY GRAB & PLAY
WEEK 1*Show bold-patterned objects
*Show pictures of loved one's
faces
*Talk & sing to baby
*Play soothing music
*Hold, caress & cuddle baby
*Rock baby in a rocking chair
WEEK 2*Look closely into baby's face
*Look closely into baby's eyes
*Sing nursery rhymes
*Play lullaby CDs
*Swaddle baby*Put baby on his/her back
*Take baby for a stroller walk
WEEK 3*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
WEEK 4*Show pictures of loved one's
faces
*Read anything aloud
*Dance with toys while you sing
*Give butterfly kisses*Gently shake a rattle
WEEK 5*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
WEEK 6*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
WEEK 7*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)

AGE SEE & PLAY HEAR & PLAY TOUCH & PLAY GRAB & PLAY
WEEK 8* 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
WEEK 9*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
WEEK 10*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
WEEK 11*Show baby bright toys & slowly move them in a circle * Play CDs with nature sounds* Play "Little Piggies"*Utilize toy bars
WEEK 12*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
WEEK 13*Show baby how to shake a rattle in the mirror*Talk to baby about using 4-5 word sentencesPlay "Pat-A-Cake"*Hold up a variety of toys to see which ones baby reaches for
WEEK 14*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
WEEK 15*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)

AGE SEE & PLAY HEAR & PLAY TOUCH & PLAY GRAB & PLAY
WEEK 16* 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
WEEK 17*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
WEEK 18*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
WEEK 19* Blow bubbles * Pop blown bubbles* Touch & hold blown bubbles*Catch a blown bubble & place on baby's hand
WEEK 20*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
WEEK 21*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
WEEK 22*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
WEEK 23*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 with My Feet-Iha21
Reading with My Feet-Iha21

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!  

I Remember This Picture! - Nickelbabe
I Remember This Picture! – Nickelbabe

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..

Book Choices

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
  • “Bath-time” 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: 

http://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/baby-board-booklist/

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

Click on the link below to check it out.

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/babys-first-year-of-firsts-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!

Copyright©2017BizzyLizzyBiz

 

Nurturing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Infant (7-12 Months)

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 Nurturing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Infant (7-12 mos.)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.

Our Brain

The 2-Sided Brain - Seanbatty
The 2-Sided Brain – Seanbatty

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:

  • the right side of the body
  • fine motor skills (hand tool control)
  • language: letters, numbers,  grammar, punctuation, detail
  • short term & hearing memory
  • rules, patterns & planned thinking
  • analysis & decoding ( solving secretive messages)

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

Baby in Thought-Amy Elizabeth Quinn
Baby in Thought-Amy Elizabeth Quinn

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 learn
  • to pay attention
  • to concentrate
  • 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

Baby Loves to Eat -Public Domain Pics
Baby Loves to Eat -Public Domain Pics

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

I Wonder How These Taste-PublicDomain Pics
I Wonder How These Taste – PublicDomain Pics

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)

The Language of Babblese-EME
The Language of Babblese-EME

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 MONTHSEXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE
( SPEECH)
RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE
(HEAR &UNDERSTAND)
By 9 months*Imitates sounds
*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

Wanna Play with Me? -Public Domain Pics
Wanna Play with Me? -Public Domain Pics

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
  • face-to-face play
  • lap movement
  • bathtime bubbles
  • 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
  • Are musical
  • Make noises
  • Have mirrors
  • 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:

 https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/infant-literacy-toy-games/

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

The Bliss of A Mess-Lubomirkin
The Bliss of A Mess-Lubomirkin

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).  

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1056-beginnings-of-literacy

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

InfantLiteracy-Public DomainPics
InfantLiteracy-Public DomainPics

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
  • My Pets
  • My Toys
  • 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
Take A Minute to Read-NickelBabe
Take A Minute to Read-NickelBabe

 

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
So, What Else Is New?-Yusuhyun
So, What Else Is New?-Yusuhyun

Well if you’ve made it to the end of this post-

Thank You so much for reading!

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P.S. Click on the link below for access to Your Baby’s First 12 Months of Growth & Development in the BLB Resource Library.

 https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/babys-first-12-months-growth-development/

 

 

 

Exploring the Family Literacy Circle with Your Pre-Toddler (12 – 24 months)

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!?!Exploring the Family Literacy Circle with Your Pre-Toddler

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?

Speaking of Baby Milestones in Growth & Development, check out  https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/babys-first-12-months-growth-development/ in my Resource Library for a quick overview. Remember your Baby’s brain continues to grow!

Your Pre-Toddler’s Brain

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.

bay brain power 12-24 months
Baby Brain Power-LuidmilaKot 12-24m

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.

pre toddler speak
Pre-Toddler & Language-tel13588006626

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.

Even when your pre-toddler begins to use words (“Use your words, dear.”), the communication of cries will still happen. Need a memory jog? Probably not, but if so- re-read the section titled “Baby Talk: The Communication of Crying” in this post: http://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/nurturing-your-newborns-literacy/

Understanding How Listening & Speaking Happen

Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, who has authored several successful parenting books, offers this explanation for the physical side of speaking:

pre-toddler language development
I’m Talking Here!-JFGagnon

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 MONTHSEXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE
( SPEECH)
RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE
(HEAR &UNDERSTAND)
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 pronouns-me,you,my
*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)

Parentese  

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
  • uses repetition
  • 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:

 https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/language-speech-development-sites/

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. 

play, language & literacy pre toddler
Outside for Play-Cuncon

“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:

  • memory
  • creativity
  • language
  • problem solving
  • less stress
  • social skills

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!!!!

pre-toddler water play
I Love Water!-Rujhan-Basir

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

Suggestions:

  • open & closing containers with lids
  • shape sorters
  • stacking cups
  • pop-up beads
  • blocks
  • push/pull toys
  • balls for kicking & throwing
  • bubbles for blowing & chasing
  • finger paints

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). 

the order of Toy tools
The Order of ToyTools-MarkusSpiske

Rahina Dancy, author of  You Are Your Child’s First Teacher provides 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
  • Blocks Building
  • 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
  • increase his/her attention span, listening skills & memory
  • access early brain exposure to letter shapes & forms
  • connect printed words to the spoken word & related pictures
  • be exposed to story frameworks & imagination
  • engage in beginning critical thinking skills- who, what, why, next

Daily Reading Time Tips (12-18 months)

Anita West contributed some very useful ideas to Ruethling & Pitcher’s wonderful book, Under The Chinaberry Tree:

  • Choose a time when your pre-toddler is “winding down”.
  • Let her/him choose the book(s) and/or  “read” to you.
  • Read the book the same way every time & with expression.
  • Talk about the pictures, but don’t stay on one page too long.
  • Start reading easy-to-read, simple books with bright pictures & few, large-print words.

Daily Reading Time Tips (18-24 months)

  • 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)
rdgonalap-stocksnapre-toddler reading on a lap
Reading on a Lap-StockSnap

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:

pre-toddler reading a book
I Can Read-Nickelbabe
  • 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:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/animal-talk-exploring-20-common-animal-sounds/

Need some board book ideas? Check out a list of my favorites in BLB’s Resource library. Just click on this link:

http://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/baby-board-booklist/

Reading for Literacy with Wordless Picture Books

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.

 https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/wordless-picture-books/

OMG!!!! This is my longest post yet! I thought about dividing it into 2 parts, but I couldn’t decide how….

Thanks for reading through it. I hope you found some useful & meaningful information.

Any questions &/or comments?  Just fill in the Contact Me form below……(and she’s still talking…..). You will NOT be subscribing. 

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Managing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Toddler (24-36 Months)

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? Managing the Family Literacy Circle with Your Toddler

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

Ready or Not !-Kazuend/toddler
Ready or Not !-Kazuend

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

Toddler's World of Wonder-Jennifer Wai Ting Tan
World of Wonder-Jennifer Wai Ting Tan

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:                                                                                                                             

Toddler Learning-Bessi
I Am Learning-Bessi
  • 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)
  • Social/Emotional- understanding self & others (playing, sharing, feelings, etc)
  • Self-Help/Adaptive-being independent (dressing, feeding, 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
*Uses plurals
*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
  • Gesture more
  • Ask questions in a questioning way, but don’t push for an answer
  • Tell stories
  • 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

Click on the BLB Shop below & check it out.

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/toddler-finger-picture-play-rhymes/

The 3 Stages of Speech Development

There are 3 stages of speech development once your child is speaking, according to Dr. Karl Konig, a therapeutic pediatrician:

  • Saying – Your child uses one-word sentences to communicate a desire (more)  or emotion (here).
  • Naming – Your child can label a thing and, then, be specific (toy/truck).
  • Talking – Your child is using whole sentences during dialogue.

Need more information? Click on this link from my Resource library:   https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/language-speech-development-sites/

Some Other Pieces to Your Toddler’s Puzzle

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~ Louisa May Alcott Little Women

Toddler-I Am Me!!
I Am Me!!

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…..

BLB’s 10 R’s Schedule

How About a Little Chat ?!?

And now a few thoughts about communicating with your toddler-

  • Deep breathes before you begin speaking in short, simple phrases

    I'm Listening...-BarunPatro/toddler
    I’m Listening…-BarunPatro
  • See & speak eye-to-eye
  • Use gestures & facial expressions
  • Ask (see key words & phrases)
  • Re-phrase your negatives-no, don’t, can’t- into positives
  • Help your child to use words, not actions
  • Give choices-this or that?
  • Follow through on consequences-“when you/then”
  • Pick your battles, especially with a strong-willed toddler, because if you don’t – that is all you will do all day long for months & months

Grab your Relaxation whenever you can- it is a little easier in the evening, but Quiet Time is Quiet Time. In the meantime, enjoy watching your Toddler during play. It’s a powerful thing!

Follow this website link for more Parenting Your Toddler Tips:

https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/growing-independence-tips-parents-toddlers-and-twos

The Power of Play & Literacy

Play is the work of the child. ~ Maria Montessori

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.

I Love To Play! -Kruszyyzna0
I Love To Play! -Kruszyyzna0

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.

BLB's Bruce Perry's Play Skills Model

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.

Funny Me! Frank-McKenna
Funny Me! Frank-McKenna

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
  • rocking horse
  • tricycle or low-rider
  • small & large balls
  • musical toys
  • dolls & stuffed animals
  • dress-up clothes
  • 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!!!!Leo-Rivas-Micoud/toddler
BUBBLES!!!!Leo-Rivas-Micoud

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
  • visual tracking
  • hand-eye coordination
  • shapes
  • imagination & creativity

Here’s a wonderful “bubble” website you can link to connect on:

https://leftbraincraftbrain.com/how-bubbles-work-20-things-to-do-with-them/

Bubbling with Excitement Over Books

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)

Toddler Reading- Public Domain Pictures
Toddler Reading- Public Domain Pictures

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?

My Very Own Library - Pexels/toddler
My Very Own Library – Pexels

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
  • bedtime books
  • 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:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/building-baby-and-toddlers-first-library-of-25-book-titles/

 Making Books Together

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

BLB Shop has a short e-book full of ideas:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/make-25- interactive-babylovephoto-books/

 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:

 https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/wordless-picture-books/

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

Let's Read Together -Dassel/toddler
Let’s Read Together -Dassel

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
  • introducing “surprise”
  • 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.

Toddler & Chalk-Debsch
Toddler & Chalk-Debsch

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.

Toddler Playday

 Fill out the Contact Me form if you have a question and/or concern, but don’t want to subscribe…..yet.

Otherwise, fill in the BLB Exclusive form as a FREE subscriber!

Copyright©2017BizzyLizzyBiz

Discovering the Family Literacy Circle with Your Post-Toddler (36-48 Months)

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Your precious darling is growing from a baby into a young child.Discovering the Family Literacy Circle with Your Post-Toddler(36-48 Months)

Look at the birthday party pictures last year and compare them to this years’ party. Notice anything different? (not you-your child)

Yes, some Toddler  expressions and behaviors are still present, but something else is taking place in your dear little one. 

With an almost full set of baby teeth, more body control, and a larger, spoken vocabulary, your three year-old is becoming more confident & comfortable in his/her world.

Does it feel like many (not all, of course) of the “Two” behaviors have calmed down?

Not as many fits, tantrums, & NOOOs?!?

Fewer bites, hits, kicks, spits & throws,  rather, launches ?!?

I am talking about your three year-old, NOT you…..

Well then (BIG sigh), your Post-Toddler has arrived.

Post-Toddler, Huh?!?

Life Is Good!-CrisCris1
Life Is Good!-CrisCris1

S/he appears less frantic & can sit still for longer periods of time when engaged in an interesting activity. S/he is using words more & “body” less when expressing feelings.

S/he is showing more interest & patience with exploration & discovery. Notice how s/he is spending more time observing & imitating others.

That is why I named this stage of growth & development: Post-Toddler. Still some Toddler-stuff present, but outbursts & frustrations are less frequent. Unless s/he is tired, sick, hungry, and/or just having one of those days (don’t we all?!?).

And sometimes those “growing pains” can be….well, you know…

Some “Changes” You May Be Seeing

Body & Movement Skills

  • appears taller & leaner
  •  puts on shoes & dresses with some help
  •  feeds oneself with a spoon
  • throws overhand & tries to catch
  • jumps & climbs
  • pedals a trike or low-rider
  • holds a crayon with thumb & first 2 fingers
  • enjoys manipulating play-doh/clay, sand & water
  • YOU CAN: show your child how to hop, tiptoe, waddle, slither

Brain Growth & Expression

  • understands “now”, “soon” & “later”
  • asks who, what, where & when questions
  • shows an interest in alike & different
  • identifies the colors red, blue, yellow & green
  • talks in 3-5 word sentences
  • may stumble over some words, but is NOT stuttering
  • YOU CAN: add small, new bits of information to your child’s sentences

Emotional & Social Development

  • follows simple directions
  • accepts suggestions
  • makes choices between 2 different things
  • enjoys making others laugh & being silly
  • enjoys playing with other for short periods of time
  • wants adult attention & approval
  • likes looking at “when you were a baby” pictures
  • YOU CAN: ask for help with simple household tasks

Now that wasn’t your three year-old a year ago, was it?

Need more info? PBS Parents is a great site loaded with specifics. Click on the link below.

http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopmenttracker/three/socialandemotionalgrowth.html

Speaking of Speaking….

How Does That Fit?BrunoNascimento
How Does That Fit?BrunoNascimento

Your Post-Toddler’s Language Literacy continues to develop & grow.

S/he can enunciate most consonants & vowels with a few consonant blends, too, like “tw” & “kw”.

With over 300 words in his/her expressive vocabulary, s/he is talking A LOT more – to you, toys, pets, nature. Although your child, at this stage, still thinks each word has only one meaning, s/he is, also, spending much of the day asking A LOT of questions.

Think “who, did what, when & where”. These questions/answers are actually the building blocks of reading comprehension’s Main Idea. You are finally discovering what is in that hard little head of hers/his.

Your 3 year-old believes there is an answer to every question asked (isn’t there?!?). Even “Magic !” is a reasonable answer to him/her.

Be ready, though, s/he may answer your question with a question. Or water the dog to make it grow…..

Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician who wrote The Happiest Toddler on the Block, suggests using “Okay?” at the end of ideas, directions, etc. This simple word shows your child you, not only, have an interest in her/his point of view, but also, hope s/he   agrees with yours……possibly…..

How You Can Continue to Encourage Your Post-Toddler’s Language Literacy Growth

Iowa State University Extension & Outreach’s Info-Sheet on Developmental Milestones, “Ages & Stages at 3 Years”, offers these suggestions:

  • Use directional words, such as “in/on/under” when explaining &/or answering.
  • Use comparison words, like “big/little, same/different, front/behind”.
  • Sing songs, rhymes, sounds, words & simple sentences.
  • Ask your child to tell you a story.
  • Have many back-and-forth conversations, using short sentences, asking questions & listening.
  • Talk about colors, shapes & numbers everyday.
  • Take a Nature Walk. Look for & talk about shapes, sizes, colors, textures, smells & sounds.
  • Teach your child to memorize his/her first & last name.

Play Power = Brain Power

A mind once stretched to a new idea never returns to its original size. ~ Oliver Wendall Holmes

Play is the essential tool we use, as humans, to develop our 5 senses, gross & fine motor skills, receptive & expressive language, as well as emotional & social skills.

It, also, influences the amount of brain cells we produce.

Hmmm, I Wonder....Bessi
Hmmm, I Wonder….Bessi

Exploration, curiosity & determination are the necessary paths we use to discover how to understand our world, whether large or small.

Nothing child-like about it!

It’s a survival skill we use everyday and all day long. Well, most of us anyway…..

Currently, your Post-Toddler’s brain continues to develop in 2 areas: the Limbic, or emotional part of the brain & the Cortical, or thinking part of the brain.

Emotional/Social growth begins around 12 months and continues until 48 months. This stage of development can be encouraged with play involving teams: winning, losing, taking turns & sharing.

The growth of concrete & abstract thinking begins around 36 months and continues until 6 years old. Play involving humor, language, arts & games will encourage this stage of development.

Serious Play Is Hard Work

And hard work can not be successfully accomplished without serious play….

So, if you equate play with fun ~ it doesn’t always work that way. Play is the action, or process used during creation, exploration, & experimentation until we reach the destination, or discovery.

A bit wordy, I know, but  synchronizing work with play is “how I roll”.

I combined Kristina @ Planes & Balloons’ 2016 article, “Some of the Many Benefits of Play”   with Perry, Hogan & Marlin’s 2000 article, “Curiosity, Pleasure & Play: Skills Developed Through Play”  to create an info-table explaining the impact of play on your child’s brain development.

Play & Your Child's Brain Development

BRAIN AREA BRAIN AREA BRAIN AREA
Emotional & Social
Development
Self Growth Thought Development
Empathy Control Problem Solving
Stress Management Expression Language
Negotiation Confidence Mathematics
Social Interaction Reliance Creativity
Teamwork Goal Setting Concentration
Follow Rules Memory

Additionally, your child’s desire & ability to Role Play, I feel, is developed within all 3 of these brain areas. Creativity & self-expression may influence the particular role s/he is “playing”. Is s/he fantasizing, imitating, and/or coping ?

Be Your Child’s Play Promoter

Tunnel Play-OmarMedina
Tunnel Play-OmarMedina

Although your Post-Toddler still enjoys playing beside others & watching them play, soon, s/he will have the tools to play WITH other children.

The ability to share, take turns and cooperate continues to grow & develop with each passing day.

Remember, some people are more socially-driven than others.

In 2016 NourishBaby displayed Shoptwinkie.com’s infographic, “The Importance of Play in Early Childhood”. Learning through discovery will happen if you:

  • don’t take over (Here, let me….)
  • ask questions (How are you going to….)
  • allow him/her to find the answers independently (Oh, I see…….)

Interactive Talk & Play

If your child enjoys interactive language while playing, another part of the material included script suggestions for supporting the different stages in your child’s play:

Planning

  • What will you need ?
  • Let’s think about what you are going to do.
  • Tell me how you will start. What will happen then?

Wondering

  • I wonder what this is.
  • What do you think that is for?
  • Why do you think that happened?

Remembering

  • Tell me how it all started.
  • Can you remember what happened when….?
  • How did that feel?

Predicting

  • Can you guess what will happen next?
  • What do you think will happen if you….?
  • What do you think will happen if you don’t….?

Providing A Defined Play Space At Home

Not all parents want to turn their homes into a giant playground. Many children enjoy having a “space of their own”.  This “office of play” is part of your child’s growth & development.

Keep an ear out though. Too quiet for an extended period of time and you may need to “step into the office….”

Creating an area with sturdy (so you can sit in them, too), child-sized chairs & a table encourages your child to sit and focus on independent play. Building with blocks, having a tea party, working puzzles, making a race track or construction site, creating art, and even reading a book can become a part of your Post-Toddler’s learning.

Any amount of time, even a minute or two, during which  children sit and entertain themselves with one thing helps them grow. ~ Felicia Sklamberg, a clinical specialist in pediatric occupational therapy at New York University Langone Medical Center

With Open-Ended Toys & Free Play

Open-ended toys are really the discovery tools of learning & growing. By definition they are “things” that can be used in a variety of ways to encourage:

  • play
  • creativity
  • imagination
  • problem solving
I Can Play A Lot with a Ball-CherylHolt
I Can Play A Lot with a Ball-CherylHolt

Does your child like to stack block towers, sort objects by size & colors, and/or put a 3-6-piece puzzle together? Play outside with large wheeled toys, all sizes of balls, and/or sticks & rocks ?

Are you wondering what other kinds of toys will encourage your child’s brain health, growth & development ?

Will these toy-tools encourage discovery within the Family Literacy Circle ?

“Yes” to all questions?

Here’s a list of some other open-ended, free play tools (with their skill sets), your 3 year old will probably enjoy :

Sensory

  • musical instruments
  • music for song & dance
  • play-doh & clay
  • sand
  • water

Gross Motor

  • tricycle/low-rider
  • slide
  • wagon
  • any large-wheeled toy
  • different-sized balls
  • medium & large blocks

Fine Motor

  • nesting & stacking toys
  • pegboard
  • 3-6-piece puzzles
  • crayons, paint/brushes, glue & paper

Role Play

  • dress-up clothes
  • pretend costumes
  • community helper hats & tools
  • tents & teepees
  • kitchen stuff
  • castles & houses
  • barns & fences
  • racetracks
  • street signs & stores
  • puppets & dolls
  • habitat animals: farm, jungle, forest, water

Problem Solving

  • matching games
  • building blocks with a variety of colors, sizes & shapes
  • construction toys (needed to be put together)

And BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS !!!

Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would never read yourself. ~ George Bernard Shaw

By now some of those well-loved books might need to be replaced with a second copy. Some of those “baby books” may need to be tucked away for another time & place.

Hmmm-This Book Looks Good!-Bies
Hmmm-This Book Looks Good!-Bies

Are you taking your Post-Toddler to a StoryTime at your local library, play group, elementary school or rec center? If so, observe what kinds of books are holding your child’s interest.

Many 3 year-olds love to hear stories about other places and people.

Pull some age-appropriate books from the library shelves in the children’s Picture Books, or Easy Books section.

Sit down & spread them out.  See which ones will get “checked out” for home reading.

Have your 3 year-old try these 10 books on for size:

  • DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS! ~ Mo Willens
  • THE OLIVIA SERIES ~ Ian Falconer
  • A FISH OUT OF WATER ~ Helen Palmer
  • WHOEVER YOU ARE ~ Mem Fox
  • THE MIXED-UP CHAMELEON ~ Eric Carle
  • GREEN EGGS AND HAM ~ Dr. Seuss
  • CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO ~ Richard Scarry
  • THE INCREDIBLE BOOK EATING BOY ~ Oliver Jeffers
  • BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT ~ Sandra Boynton
  • GO, DOG, GO ! ~ PD Eastman

Be forewarned – I had to replace most of these books at home and in my classroom…….several times….

Need a few more suggestions ?

Click on my Resource Library links below.

 https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/wordless-picture-books/

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/building-baby-and-toddlers-first-library-of-25-book-titles/

   On – The – Go Reading Nooks With  Your Post-Toddler

Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift. ~ Kate DiCamillo

If you have been steadily reading to your Post-Toddler since s/he was in-utero, you probably have a little bookworm in your home.

Alas…..Maybe not….

And Then What Happened?-DeeNurpalah
And Then What Happened?-DeeNurpalah

Some children love being read to until they can hop off  the cuddly lap of story-land.

Catch  ‘Em & Read:

  • before bedtime
  • during bathtime
  • before or during quiet time
  • during snacktime
  • under a tree outside
  • in a hammock outside
  • in the tent or teepee
  • under some covers with a flashlight

Some children would rather hear a story-telling instead of a book-story. “Stories can and should be part of your household routines & schedules. They can be as short or long as your listener’s attention.” Lisa Lipkin, Bringing the Story Home

Non-Book Literacy Stories

Spinning Tales:

What's Next?-Lichdinhtb
What’s Next?-Lichdinhtb
  • Make sure to include the story elements: beginning (characters & setting), middle (action & problem), ending (solution & prediction)
  • Ask & answer  interactive questions throughout the story
  • Invite your child to contribute to the story-telling
  • Capture your child’s attention while on a drive or a walk, in a waiting room or line, at the bus or train stop, during bathtime or before bedtime
  • Use fantasy, humor & family history as part of the story
  • Dress-up in role-play clothing  & ask your child to tell you a story about the character you are
  • Include simple props & toys for settings, characters & dialogue

Every Time We Read A Book…..

Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, here are some tips for building literacy while reading aloud at this age & older:

  • Encourage solid pre-reading habits- daily reads, book handling, word tracking, time & order (first/middle/last), retelling with complete sentences.
  • Ask interactive questions while reading a story- what will happen next/how does the character feel/has this ever happened to you.
  • Read slowly & wait for her/him to turn the pages.
  • Answer your listener’s questions.
  • Make up rhyming words with some of the simpler words.
  • Use the story’s pictures to make up more stories.
  • Let the listener “read” the story.

I Think My Child Is Ready To Read…..

The first time my son (at 3 years-old) said, “I can read this book to you!”, my wide eyes glistened with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to hear my little genius read ME a story….at 3 YEARS OLD!!!!!

Sure enough, he proudly held the book and  carefully “read” each page of  The  Little Red Car, one of his favorite boardbooks.

He didn’t miss a word. I clapped with glee!

Over the next few weeks, he read & read this book to me….faster & faster. I guess he was becoming one with the little red car.

One day I asked him to point to the words as he read them…….uh huh…..

Smiling, I never said a word, and he continued to read the story to me everyday for the next few years.

We, also, continued playing colors, shapes, letters, sounds & word-picture rhyming games.

Learning, knowing , and applying the concepts of same & different shapes is a major step for success in letter recognition. Seeing the same & different shapes in the world prepares your child to make sense of “visual discrimination”.

BLB Shop has a collection of Interactive Color & Shape games created to prepare your child to recognize these pre-reading concepts:

I Can Sort & Match: 15 Shape & Color Games

Click on the link below to check it out.

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/15-shape-color-games-ages-3-up/

I became more consistent tracking words with their pictures when I read simple sentence stories.

What Are Pre-Reading Behaviors?

Is your child  showing you some of these Pre-Reading behaviors :

  • Makes comments about language & unusual words
  • Makes up word games
  • Creates & plays with words using rhyme
  • Invents “silly” words
  • Plays with sounds
  • Plays with magnetic letters
  • Likes to read alphabet books
  • Sings the alphabet song
  • Points out “environmental print”, like the S in a stop sign
  • Knows it is the print that is read in stories

Hmmmm, Not Quite Ready….How Can I Help ?

What Will I Learn Today?-Tung
What Will I Learn Today?-Tung

Bookoola Ink from Australia produced a wonderful infographic, explaining what your child needs to know before learning to read:

  • Rhyme the sounds that letters make
  • Track / follow objects with eyes
  • Talk with an increasing vocabulary
  • Build things using fingers & hands independently to hold books & turn pages
  • Do puzzles to differentiate sizes, shapes, lines & directions
  • Look at books frequently for discovery & fun
  • Listen to someone read every day

The 5 Must-Know Skills for Reading Readiness

First of all, how is your child’s vocabulary progressing ? S/he has learned most words indirectly through your daily conversations, interactive read-alouds, both fiction & nonfiction as well as  movies/screen time. Build his/her vocabulary for understanding in these 4 areas:

Did You Know?-BenWhite@upsplash
Did You Know?-BenWhite@upsplash
  • Listening Vocabulary are words we hear & understand when hearing directions & a story
  • Speaking Vocabulary are words we use when we talk about our day & ask/answer questions
  • Reading Vocabulary are words we understand when we read, retell stories or create story from pictures we see
  • Writing Vocabulary are words we use when we write & draw pictures to tell a story

 

All About Learning Press, Inc has a concise list with tips for your eager-to-read child. Do be sure your Post-Toddler is comfortable and consistent with these skills:

Motivation to Read

  • Enjoys being read to
  • Pretends to read or write
  • Often asks for read-aloud time
  • Is enthusiastic about books
  • Thinks reading is fun

Print Awareness

  • Realizes print on a page are words with meaning when spoken
  • Holds  book correctly
  • Understands the direction that books are read-front to back
  • Knows print is read top to bottom
  • Recognizes sentences are read from left to right

Listening Comprehension

  • Understands story sequence
  • Can retell a familiar story with accuracy
  •  Answers simple questions about a story
  • Asks questions during read-alouds
  • Understands the meaning of words being read
  • Relates to the words being read in some way
  • Understands both verbal & visual information

Letter Recognition

  • Can sing the Alphabet song with help
  • Recognizes upper & lowercase letters
  • Begins to associate letters with sounds

Phonological Awareness

  • Can hear & identify different sounds in spoken words
  • Can rhyme words
  • Knows a sentence has multiple , individual words
  • Can blend sounds to make a word
  • Can identify the beginning & ending sound of a word

How Do I Teach the Alphabet

If your child is is ready, you might want to begin with her/his name. You can try to use upper & lowercase letters, but for beginning readers & writers, uppercase letters are not only easier to differentiate & recognize, but also, easier to write.

Read lots of engaging alphabet books ~ here’s a few my children & I have enjoyed:

Rhyming Text

  • ABC ANIMAL RHYMES ~ G. Andreae
  • ABC AT HOME ~ A. Hawthorne & D. Zawada
  • CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM ~ J.Archambault
  • DR. SEUSS’ ABC ~ Dr. Seuss
  • MY FIRST RHYMING PICTURE ABC ~ B. Miles

Vivid Illustrations

  • BRUNO MUNARI’S  ABC ~ B. Munari
  • MISS SPIDER’S ABC ~ D. Kirk
  • THE PHONICS ABC ~ K. Dare

Real-Life Photos

  • ALPHABET CITY ~ S.T. Johnson
  • FARM ALPHABET BOOK ~ J. Miller

Playing alphabet games is another way to continue the learning process. It is a process, so let your ABC learner set the pace. Several five-minute lessons each day may be good. So will skipping some days.

Don’t forget to repeat, maybe with a different lesson for review.

Let your child select the letters. Unless ABC order is insisted upon by your Post-Toddler, here are a few sequences to consider:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/teaching-alphabet-sequence-guide/

Make Alphabet Learning Fun!

Exploring each letter with hands-on activities is  definitely the way to keep your Post-Toddler engaged. Using the 5 senses and physical movement is necessary as well.

Change up the learning-approach with a variety of activities. Use your child’s interest (and attention span) to guide you.

Include lessons as part of your daily routine. Remember to review & repeat to build confidence & risk-taking when introducing a new letter & its sound.

Let your Post-Toddler be the teacher. It will help you know what s/he knows and needs to learn.

Click on my Resource Library link below for some great ABC activities websites:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/15-abc-activities-websites/

Literacy’s Secret Pathway: Writing to Read

Many of my Reluctant Readers learned to read NOT by reading books, but through their own writings. They were always ready to read their own words instead of another’s words.

Once A Huge Red Ship.....IIlcsuszka writing to read
Once A Huge Red Ship…..IIlcsuszka

Their stories, surprisingly, with a few  prompts, usually included all the elements of a fluid tale: beginning (characters & setting), middle (problem & solution), and ending. Another follow-up story was always in the tank, so to speak.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself here….

Drawing, painting, coloring & writing are all very powerful expressions. For parents &  educators, they offer magical windows into the heart, mind & soul of anyone, especially a child.

But holding & controlling a paintbrush, crayon and/or pencil is a developmental feat for your young child. It takes a lot of practice with some determination, usually.

Fine Motor Skills Mastery

The mastery of fine motor skills, paired with the ability to create images in your head, is an incredible accomplishment for anyone, especially a child.

I am always amazed when watching a child in the creative zone!

In 2011 Katie Norris @ Mommy with Selective Memory and her friend Susan Case, an experienced Kindergarten teacher, created a GREAT list of Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills  :

  • pouring elements using funnels, tubes, colanders
  • sorting small objects
  • pushing objects through a slot
  • picking up marbles
  • building with blocks, logs, legos
  • lacing with lacing cards
  • grasping & placing puzzle pieces
  • arranging a variety of objects
  • picking up & placing stickers
  • playing with play-doh: pulling, pressing, stretching, rolling, pounding, squeezing, pinching
  • squeezing
  • shaking
  • beading with yarn & string
  • marking with fat pencils, fat crayons, sidewalk chalk
  • cutting with safety scissors
Self-Portrait EfraimStachter writing to read 36-48m
Self-Portrait EfraimStachter

Writing & Drawing : Same But Different

Although  your child is using the same physical skills to write & draw – the brain has other ideas. Your Post-Toddler needs to understand that writing & drawing are different.

Print carries a message. Show your beginning writer the many ways to use writing:

  • names & addresses
  • shopping lists
  • greeting cards
  • love notes
  • phone messages
  • to-do lists

Put big dots with a connecting line in a column on paper. Encourage your Post-Toddler’s “scribblings” for making a list of :

  • favorite toys
  • favorite activities
  • wish list
  • favorite foods
  • favorite colors
  • favorite animals

Write in large, traceable letters what the words are underneath or beside each entry.

Bookoola Ink from Australia produced a wonderful infographic, explaining what your child needs to know before learning to write:

  • Imagine – make up stories when painting & creating
  • Scribble & Draw – make marks & shapes to communicate messages
  • Play with letters & words
  • Manipulate – paintbrushes, crayons, pencils & chalk
  • Build – use fingers independently
  • Climb – need strong arms & body muscles to sit up & write
  • Someone to show me how important writing is everyday

What Is Pre – Writing

Learning to write in a legible way can be very challenging (see a note from your doctor). Muscle control is key as well as grasp & flexibility.

Doodling & pathway lines are good ways to prepare your child’s fingers & hand for handwriting. There are pages you can find at teacher stores & on line with fun ways to get to the “treasure”.

Anna Luther @ CincinnatiChildrens.org has a few pre-writing activity suggestions for your 3-year-old:

  • Name Tracing with your child using a highlighter on paper; try using upper & lowercase letters
  • Cutting Practice out of magazines & catalogs; glue on paper & write the simple names underneath
  • Play Doh Rope Letters formed on top of a large chosen letter you have written on paper
  • Dot – To – Dot Letters written on paper for your child to connect

Please remember to keep in mind every child grows & develops at his/her own pace. These ideas are suggestions for creating Literacy opportunities when your child is ready. And s/he will let you know as long as the activities are available & FUN!

Isn’t this an exciting time for you & your Post-Toddler?

Please share any accomplishments, questions, comments and/or concerns by filling out the Contact Me form below. You will NOT be subscribing to BizzyLizzyBiz. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Building the Family Literacy Circle’s Language & Play with Your “I AM FOUR !”

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. ~ Angela Schwindt

WOW! Can you believe your baby is ALREADY 4 years old ?

And how DIFFERENT your child is from only a year ago ?

Way  too energetic, busy & imaginative to spend time with …..tantrums (most of the time….)?

Becoming a problem solver right before your very eyes?

Humorous? Very chatty, using LOTS of new words?

Wants to play WITH others?

I mean…. just the PHYSICAL accomplishments alone are HUGE:

  • runs, hops,  jumps & SKIPS (really worked hard on that one skill); leaps & balance are next…..
  • catches, throws & BOUNCES (whoa!) a ball; kicking & hitting on the horizon
  • pedals & steers a trike or lowrider; downhill racing….yikes!!!!
  • unzip, unsnap & unbutton clothing (yay?)
  • uses spoon, fork…….& knife (serrated butter) to feed, not propel, yet…….

SOOOOO, your (baby)child is performing these daily tasks solo with  A LOT of pride:

  • washing (with soap) & drying hands (on a towel….when reminded)
  • using utensils to eat (skillfully)
  • brushing teeth
  • combing hair
  • dressing in clothes ?!? (another whoa……)

Kindergarten is right around the corner (YIKES)…..

 Speaking of “Very Chatty”…..

Why & How ? MichaelMims
Why & How ? MichaelMims

Did you just hear your child say….”actually” and/or “as a matter of fact” ?!?!?

Here’s a fun & interesting activity ~ count how many times your four-year-old asks “WHY?” in a day, afternoon, hour….

I remember thinking to myself ~ after offering a reasonable, age-appropriate response to my little builder’s “why ?” ~ he is still asking “why”…. 

And “because I said so” never worked….

Oh, I did say, on several, well more than several occasions, “well, why do you think…..” and had my “mind blown” more than a few times as well !

“How?” questions are, also, favorites of the four-year-old inquiring & expanding mind.

Speaking of questions – asked & answered – you may want to find out which “wh-” questions your small inquisitor can understand & answer. for example, ask this series of related questions several hours after the fact:

  • What did you eat for snack?
  • Where did you eat your snack?
  • When did you eat your snack? ( a little more challenging because the concept of time is still developing)
  • How did you eat your snack?
  • Who did you eat your snack with ?
  • Why did you eat your snack ?

Building on what is known to acquire more answers is, in my opinion, what your “I AM FOUR!” child is exploring, discovering & constructing. Being able to verbalize so many thoughts & questions her/his brain has been working on for several years is especially gratifying. So, prepare to become the go-to Fountain of Knowledge for your preschooler.

These questioning marathons are wonderful opportunities as skill- builders:

  • responding in conversation-mode 
  • creating more complex sentences
  • sharing what is learned with others
  • critical thinking   (more on that later)
  • following sequential directions
  • storytelling- imagined & real
  • comprehending stories read/told
  • listening for important, relevant information
  • understanding new vocabulary

The Listening & Speaking Language of Literacy

Yes, right now, your four-year-old not only understands 3-4 THOUSAND words. s/he can, also, speak 1500 words…in complex sentences.

Don’t worry if you overhear your growing child “talking to her/himself”. S/he is just practicing conversation skills.

You may even hear him/her using a simpler sentence structure when speaking to younger children ! Amazing, huh ?!?

A word about enunciation – s, ch, sh, z, j, v, th, & zh are still difficult to produce and will probably continue to be for the next few years.

Is s/he creating words when a word needed for expressing a thought isn’t in his/her vocabulary? How wonderful is that?  Playing with words is a great building block for reading.  Keep those words in an “I AM FOUR!” dictionary.

Vocabulary Builders

There are many ways to help increase your child’s vocabulary:

  • Read aloud – often.
  • Use new, “big” words during daily conversations.
  • Make sure s/he understands the meanings of new words. Ask.
  • Add descriptive words to your stories & your child’s stories.
  • Create picture/word charts or word walls. review.
  • Use themes to grow vocabulary: Halloween, seasons, animals, foods, etc
  • Identify objects using color, number, same/different, size (big/little) 
  • Introduce quantity comparison words, like empty & full, more & less
  •  Teach positional & directional concept words

What Are Directional & Positional Concept Words ?

Both lists of these concept words answer where or  how objects & people are placed or arranged.

Directional & Positional concept words add dimension & more precise descriptors to your child’s  vocabulary. They, not only help define his/her world, but also, bring a greater understanding of order into it.

You can teach these vocabulary words everyday as part of your conversations with your child.

Building MsC
Building DirectionsMsC

Make it into a fun, interactive game using toys. Take turns putting the block in front of the bear and, then, behind the bear. Place the car near the ball and. then, far away from the ball.

Click on the link below to download & copy a list of these beginning concept words.

Beginning Directional & Positional Words

 If your child is struggling to learn these spatial concepts, here are a few teaching tips from Carrie Clark, a speech pathologist @ speechandlanguagekids.

  • Teach by demonstration & object, one pair of concept words at a time, ie up & down
  • Hand your child the object, telling him/her to hold it up in the air or down on the  floor
  • Ask a yes/no question while you demonstrate: Am I holding the (object) up in the air? Down on the floor?
  • Have your child tell you whether s/he is holding the (object) up in the air or down on the floor.

If the pair of concept words are too confusing, choose a different pair or just begin with one word of the pair.

Are You Following Directions ?

I cannot tell you how many 100s (uh-1000s) of times I asked this question as a classroom teacher ! OMG!!!!

Even when repeating the directions and, then, having students parrot back those same directions successfully, the follow – through lacked success….. Really- “Put your name on your paper.” Some of my FIFTH graders were not doing this, even with a prompt! GOOD GRIEF!!!

Perhaps some early childhood intervention will help prepare your pre-schooler for the onslaught of directions that will be part of the daily elementary school routine for every activity. AND from a  variety of teachers.

Developmentally, your four-year-old is not only understanding &  usually following 3 step directions, but also,  those directions do not have to be related.

Sidebar ~ when giving directions, try to say “please” & “thank you”. It is a good opportunity for modeling manners & showing appreciation. 

Does your child struggle with this skill? 

Click on the link below for access to The BLB Resource Library’s :

 Meeting the FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS Challenge

Let me know if the strategy works for you & yours !

Oh, and FYI, here’s the link to Carrie Clark’s great website for a ton of Speech & Language information, tips & games:

https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/

 Freedom to Play Promotes Brain Power

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. For children, play is serious learning! ~ Fred Rogers

By the age of four, 85% of  your child’s core brain structure is formed. This core brain structure is the basis for future health and academic success. 

Play = Brain Power MiPham
Play = Brain Power MiPham

Studies continue to pour in regarding the critical role free play has in the growth and development of the brain, as well as physical   and social skills.

In 2007  the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that play stimulates brain growth in the areas of:

  • attention span
  • focus
  • visual tracking
  • hand-eye coordination

A research team at the University of Arkansas linked play to   increases in cognitive & thinking skills at infancy,  3 years of age & again at 4.5 years of age.

Various studies have linked higher learning skills  to playing with blocks.

Pretend play increases language & vocabulary skills in both speaking & understanding.

Play promotes, not only, the mental health of your child, but also, his/her physical health:

  • gross & fine motor control
  • strength
  • endurance

The social development of your child during play is HUGE! (more on play stages & types later) Play, not only, teaches your child how to play, but also, how to play with others. Cooperative play promotes:

  • creative thinking
  • problem solving
  • decision making
  • communication skills of listening, cooperating & negotiating

Free play isn’t just something children like to do ~ free play is something they NEED to do.

The Price of Free Play

In 2011, Dr. Peter Gray, a Boston University psychology professor, published an article in the American Journal Of Play regarding the importance of play. Gray and other play experts have noted the relationship between the decline of free playtime and the rise of depression, anxiety & suicides.

As the average amount of time spent in highly structured play, such as organized sports, play dates, enrichment classes, etc, rises, so do these mental health issues.

Passive leisure spent on screen time, such as television, video games. texting, etc, is, also, impacting the mental health of our youngsters’ growth & development in a negative way.

How to encourage Quality Play Time

Oompah.com of “naturally brilliant toys” created a wonderful infographic with these simple, every-day tips you probably already include within your child’s play-scape.

Use everyday opportunities / schedules are not necessary

  • bathing time
  •  cooking a meal
  • setting the table
  • making home repairs
  • walking around the neighborhood
  • running errands
  • listening to music

Interactive Play

  • get on the floor
  • put together new puzzles
  • teach how to take turns during games
  • take an interest in your child’s games

Add “loose parts”  to encourage creativity during play

  •  make blankets, logs, ropes, buckets & boxes available
  • items that can be moves, changed, combined, manipulated

Go Outdoors

Water Play Frank-McKenna
Water Play Frank-McKenna
  • pitch a tent in the backyard
  • play & splash in the rain
  • plant a garden
  • make nature art
  • build a fort
  • collect rocks
  • watch wildlife
  •  go on a nature treasure hunt
  • blow bubbles

There’s Play & Then, There’s Play

Your preschooler is beginning to play WITH others more. S/he is learning the interactive lessons of give, take & cooperation ~ the Social stage of play.

Did you know within each of the stages of  play, there  are different types of play  ~ around 16 according to A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types by B. Hughes? Your child has been engaged in a variety of play “types” since birth. With the help of the website, thehealingpathwithchildren.com , I have listed 14 of them in alphabetical, NOT developmental order.

Check out this “Table of Play”.

PLAY TYPESDEFINITION AND/OR CHARACTERISTICSPLAY ACTIONS
Communicationusing words, suggestions & gesturesmime, charades, jokes, play acting, singing, whispering, pointing, poetry, ball games
Creativeusing self-expression & imagination to make & change things with an element of surprisedesign, explore, materials, tools, props, equipment, experiment
Deeptaking physical risks, developing survival skills & conquering fearclimb obstacles, lifting large objects, roller skating, gymnastics, lighting campfires
Exploratorymanipulating and/or moving objects for property, possibility & content informationhandling, throwing, banging, stacking, mouthing
Fantasyrearranging the world in an unlikely way ~ make-believetall as a skyscraper, tiny as an ant, go into outer-space, slay a dragon, climb Mt. Everest
Imaginativeignoring the rules of the physical worldbecome a tree, boat, animal, robot, alien, laser beam, teapot, hammer, spaceship
Locomotormoving in any or every physical directionchase, tag, hide & seek, tree climbing, hopping, skipping. turning around in circles
Masterycontrolling & using the materials of naturedigging holes, building a dam, constructing shelters, gathering food to eat
Objectusing hand-eye manipulation & movements on an objectpainting with brushes, coloring with crayons, drawing with chalk, pouring with a cup
Recapitulativeexploring family history & traditionsstories, folklore, culture, rituals, rhymes
Roleusing common, usual tools for interactionsweeping with a broom, talking on the phone, pushing the grocery cart, mixing the soup
Rough & Tumbleusing physical contact to discover flexibility & strengthtouching, tickling, wrestling, interactive exercising
Socio-Dramaticacting out real-life, personal experiencesbeing mommies & daddies, playing house, going shopping,
cooking meals, disciplining
Symbolicusing objects to represent other thingsa branch is a wand, a rock is a person, a string is a crown, a block is a cookie

See how busy your child has been synchronizing work with play ?!?

The Real Promise of Imagination

The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and, therefore, to foster civilization. ~ L. Frank Baum

One of the most endearing experiences I had during my years as an educator in my Home Day School involved listening to children’s creative role-play.

Whether indoors or in nature, they were always entertaining each other with make-believe on the real life stage or a fantasy world.

The perceptions they revealed were enlightening as well as fascinating !

Rocks became feasts, sticks became magic wands, leaves became messages, and acorns became magic spells.

Blankets were capes, pillows were tunnels, tables were caves, and chairs were obstacle courses.

Nicola, a mother of 5 & creator of the site – craftykidsathome, shared her insights in the blog, “Benefits of Imaginative Play”. 

  • develops creativity, especially for problem solving
  • grows imagination, especially for story-telling
  • encourages language skills, especially for vocabulary
  • improves social skills, especially for cooperation
  • introduces career research, especially for “when I grow up..”
  • teaches life skills, especially for home chore contributions
  • explains real life scenarios, especially for current events

Unless, of course, your youngster is a total realist….then, this natural childhood playtime will needs to be “taught” and encouraged. its value is ENORMOUS!

A Play Plan

What “make-believe play behaviors” do you notice your 4 year-old child displaying?

Dr. Shen-Li Lee, author of Brainchild and creator of the parenting website @ Figur8.net, shares some examples of “immature play” vs “mature play”:

Immature Play

  • repeats the same actions over & over
  • uses objects realistically NOT creatively
  • does not use toys or props in make-believe role-play
  • uses few words & dialogue to create play scenarios
  • interacts minimally with other children
  • cannot describe what will be played in advance
  • conflicts with others about props & roles
  • will play in scenarios for only 5-10 minutes

Mature Play

  • creates & acts out pretend scenarios
  • uses toys & props in symbolic ways to fit into the scenarios
  • uses a lot of language & includes imitative speech during role play
  • includes & interacts with others during role play
  • adds new ideas for multiple roles during the scenarios
  • discusses roles & actions before enacting scenarios
  • solves conflicts & invents props as problem solutions
  • can extend play scenarios for long periods of time, even days

There are several “schools of thought” regarding a preschool child’s growth and development through play:

Play Plans-Mufidpwt
Play Plans-Mufidpwt

Jean Piaget‘s theory states different stages of intelligence provide “self-initiated discovery” opportunities to develop independence and motivation. 

Lev Vygotsky‘s theory needs parent/teacher-guided social interactions to help the young child grow play from “immature to mature”.

Bizzy Lizzy‘s theory is a young, growing mind needs both: an engaging, stimulating environment to promote independent thought coupled with nurturing, interactive “teachers”.

If you want to assist your young builder with her/his play growth & development, check out ” Vygotsky’s Play Plan Guide for Parents & Teachers” in BLB’s Resource Library link below.

 Vygotsky’s Play Plan Guide for Parents & Teachers

Toys As Literacy & Pretend-Play Tools

“We all can dance,” he said, “if we find the music we love.”  ~       Giles Andreae Giraffes Can’t Dance

Does your “BIG” 4 year-old, who is trying to figure out the meaning of everything, want everything s/he sees on TV, in stores, at school, and, of course,  anything his/her friends have in their possession? See the relationship between the two? 

New studies show most preschoolers prefer to play with objects that will teach them the most. This spontaneous,  “active learning” of play gives them greater experiences about how those objects work. Alison Gopnik The Philosophical Baby 2009

Oompah Toys.com’s infographic “Playtime!” includes a toy list for Highest Quality Playtime. These toys are open-ended, which means they encourage creativity & imagination. They, also,  offer  multiple opportunities for a variety of pretend play scenarios.

Here’s their list (with some additions)  of what kinds of toys & tools encourage what types of play:

Learning

  • books (see my Resource Library for some suggestions)
  • alphabet toys
  • strategy & board games (click on the link below for some ideas)

https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/10-best-preschool-board-games/

Manipulative

  • blocks, Duplos, Legos, Lincoln logs
  • nature tools: sticks, rocks, shells
  • puzzles
  • dexterity toys (shape sorters, lacing, stringing beads, nuts & bolts, stacking, latching & connecting)

Active

  • balls (try an indoor bowling game)
  • trikes, low-riders & wagons
  • sand toys
  • trucks & cars

Make~Believe

  • puppets, dolls, action figures, stuffed animals
  • costumes & dress-up
  • play kitchens, fire stations, school, stores, eateries, health clinics

Creative

  • art supplies: glue, crayons, paints, paper, scissors, colored chalk, play dough
  • musical instruments (click on the link below for DIY ideas)

http://redtri.com/homemade-instruments/slide/6

Need a few  story “script” ideas ? 

BLB Shop has a collection of ready-to-use story scripts you can use while interacting with your child & her/his toys:

Toy~Telling Tales

Click on the link below to check it out.

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/toytelling-tales-scripts/

 Pardon My Wordiness

 Dear Reader:

This  post began as a 5000 word “tome” (YIKES). So I thought dividing it into 2 separate blogs would be an easier-on-the-eyes thing to do for a more enjoyable read.

Part 2 of the “I AM FOUR!” post discusses how to promote  Reading & Writing skills with your Pre-Schooler. It, too, is filled with lots of resources , tools & tips.

See you there!

Bizzy Lizzy

 

Please share any accomplishments, questions, comments and/or concerns by filling out the Contact Me form below. You will NOT be subscribing to BizzyLizzyBiz. I look forward to hearing from you!

However if you wish to join the BLB Exclusive for additional  tips, ideas, updates & resources, please fill out the form below as a FREE Subscriber!

COPYRIGHT2018BIZZYLIZZYBIZ

 

Encouraging the Family Literacy Circle with Your Kindergartner’s Play Power

And Now for the Second Part of the Family Literacy Circle’s Kindergarten Series…

Play continues to be a significant part of your child’s growth & development.   Free Play, which is highly recommended by brain & child experts as well as children themselves and  Pretend Play, which is the natural-occurring form  of daily learning, are both important parts influencing the Brain’s wiring for Thinking & Learning skills as well as Creative & Social skills.

Even the toys, or tools, your child chooses to include in his/her play are essential. They influence creativity & imagination everyday.

ACT TWO : Play Power

Free Play, Toys as Tools, and Pretend Play all are important parts of FLC K Play Poweryour 5-year-old’s ability to problem solve, brainstorm & understand her/his immediate world as well as explore & discover new & different ones.

You can encourage how your child participates in & learns from these ongoing  adventures in a variety of ways.

Guidance without too much interference will strengthen in your child’s decision-making abilities, confidence & independence.

Of course, there will be times when issues of safety (and sanity ) have definite boundaries…. I mean, risk-taking has its limits in the REAL world…..

 Yes, Your 5 Year Old Is A BRAINIAC !

Teach a child how to think, not what to think. ~ Sidney Sugarman

Her/his brain is almost the size of an adult’s. It will continue to develop for the next 20 years. And just a “heads-up”…. you’re in for some REAL brain-wave excitement in about  10 years time….

Some these Cognitive, or Thinking & Learning Skills your child may be displaying are:

  • creating more imaginative ways to complete a task
  • asking more analytical questions while weighing the choices
  • understanding & using concepts like: big, bigger & biggest; first, middle & last; yesterday, today & tomorrow; first, then & next; more, less, same; before & after; above & below
  • asking & answering a variety of questions, including “how many”
  • inventing games with simple rules
  • identifying basic colors of blue, yellow, red, green & orange
  • beginning to understand how to sort & classify objects by size, shape or type
  • showing interest in cause & effect

Promoting Your Child’s Brain Growth & Development

Your continued interaction with your child, not only strengthens brain cell connections, but, also, builds skills in language, cognition & socialization as  well as self-help skills. Specifically:

  • Encourage independent problem solving; however make suggestions & decide on solutions together
  • Suggest your child use all 5 senses for more in-depth observations
  • Allow for an  extra “get ready” window to promote independence during time-sensitive preparations 
  • Promote Literacy through drawings, pictures & lots of questions
  • Make sure your child plays OUTSIDE a lot, especially with other children because, yes, s/he is preferring activities that involve others

Free Play and The Brain

When my children become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out. ~ Erma Bombeck

Free Play-Justin Young
Free Play-Justin Young

Whether alone in her/his “hide-away” place or playing with peers, child development and brain experts agree on the significant power of free, unstructured play.

During free play, children express their emotions & feelings, which helps them to identify who they  are.

Unorganized play without lots of rules  promotes the development and growth of creativity, flexibility , and adaptation to future challenges.

Sergio Pellis, a neuroscientist from Alberta, Canada, observed that “the brain rewires itself under the positive stress of play, as children figure out how to navigate the world and each other.”

As part of a peer-play group, children learn to share, resolve conflicts, make decisions, and be assertive.

“If You Play with Me, I’ll Be Your Best Friend….”

Children Play Together-Ed Gregory
Children Play Together-Ed Gregory

Your 5-year-old wonder has moved quite comfortably into the Social stage of play partnered with the Expressive stage of play. S/he enjoys playing with others in his/her age group, seeking and creating opportunities to engage in this type of play.

S/he is interested in exploring new playgrounds, parks and friends’ houses. Community play-spaces can have a positive effect on youngsters, making them feel more connected to their neighborhoods.

Swinging on playground swings & trying out new jungle gyms are especially enjoyable to your 5-year-old. You may notice her/him initiate conversations & play in a familiar way with other children, even though they’ve never met.

Free, physical play is SO important for your child’s development of his/her body awareness. It stimulates growth  as well as strengthens her/his fine & gross motor skills. S/he may bring toys to the play area and invite some peers to play with them. Together, of course !

YAY ! What A FUN Toy !

Creating A Toy-Emma Roorda
Creating A Toy-Emma Roorda

Your child’s toys should  stimulate & engage his/her imagination, communication, collaboration, creativity, and cognition, as well as her/his gross & fine motor skills.

You’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. It may have been created while watching children at play. Believe me when I tell you, I have seen & heard children create amazing worlds with little and/ or nothing but their incredible  imaginations, a few pebbles, sticks, leaves, and a pile of dirt……

So, What Are Some Brain~Food Toys ?

Open-ended toys, or play tools can used in many, many ways, depending in your child’s imagination or learning-needs.

Here are a few ideas child development experts suggest for your child’s growth in these areas:

Games

  • board games for pre-readers, like Chutes & Ladders, Connect Four
  • card games, like Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid
  • dominoes
  • memory & match games
  • puzzles with 15-20 pieces

Construction

  • large & small wooden/plastic blocks
  • Duplos
  • Lincoln logs
  • tinker toys

Arts & Crafts

  • play-dough & clays
  • scissors & glue
  • pencils. crayons, washable markers & watercolors
  • drawing & construction papers

Outdoor

  • jump ropes
  • high bouncing ball (utility rubber ball)
  • wagon
  • 3-wheeler
  • bicycle with training wheels

Dramatic & Pretend

  • puppets, dolls, stuffed animals
  • action & animal figures (Play-mobiles)
  • trucks, cars, train sets/race tracks
  • pretend walkie-talkies, phones & cameras
  • dress-up clothes & costumes
  • play tools
  • LARGE cardboard boxes

I know I repeat myself, but at my Home Day School, I observed my children create everything from blocks, rocks & sticks. And there were HUGE crates of toys readily available in their playroom !

Powerful Pretend Play

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination. ~ Albert Einstein

A Castle of the Imagination
A Castle of the Imagination

At the age of 5, your child is becoming more & more project-minded. S/he is planning play scenarios that include buildings, different roles, materials & tools with the drawings to implement them. A script may not be in writing, but the appropriate dialogue is in place…..with assignments  for each person, animal & object.

Not only are your child’s Pretend Play plans “elaborate”, they will be enacted for long periods of time with new (and improved) details added each time.

Feel like your child is ready to try  some new & different Pretend Plays ?  Visit my Resource Library for a Pretend Play website collection: Pretend Play Power : 8 Helpful Websites.

Or click on the link below:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/resources/8-helpful-pretend-play-websites/

How You Can Contribute to Your Child’s Pretend Play

In The Play Kitchen-Shlomaster
In The Play Kitchen-Shlomaster

During Pretend Play, especially with others, your child is engaging in problem solving and building new understandings about the world , other people & oneself. New ideas are tested, many questions are asked (and some answered), and discoveries through exploration are numerous.

Although your 5-year-old has some definite ideas & plans regarding his/her Pretend Play, you can make some “suggestions” on what s/he might want to include into the setting. Ask questions, like “How will you….., What if the……, When will you….., Where are the……?” to promote details, cause/effect and expansion.

Six (or Seven) Simple Pretend Plays

As children we LOVED to play House, Mommy, Daddy, Baby, Cook, etc. Dressing up in our parents’ old clothes & accessories, including humongous shoes delighted us for hours, days, months, and, yes, years.

You might like to view a collection of 6 Simple Pretend Play ideas in a quick-read, table format, so I cheerfully created one (LOVE those info-tables). I included materials you will find around the house in the attic, basement, recycle bin or closets; at yard sales (gold mines); or neighborhood discount stores.

Six (or Seven) Simple Pretend Play Scenarios & Material Lists

SCENARIO
OR
ENVIRONMENT
LARGE-SIZED ITEMSMEDIUM-SIZED ITEMSSMALL-SIZED ITEMSCLOTHING & LINENS
Housebroom, mop, vacuum. ironing board, lawnmower, rake, washing machine, dryer, clothes baskettrash and/or leaf bags, feather duster, clothesline, cleaning spray bottles, cleaning caddy, phone, storage binsiron, cleaning & yard gloves, clothespins, drinking water bottle, message pad/pencil, small clipboards for listskerchief, cap, cleaning rags, sponges, laundry
Nurserycradle/crib, highchair, baby carrier, stroller, bathing tub, changing tabledolls, cuddly toys, diaper bag. storage binsbottles, rattles, chew toys, tub toys, board booksdoll clothes, diapers, wash & burb cloths, blankets, baby pillow
Kitchenstove/oven, sink, fridge, table, chairs, cabinet/shelves for kitchen stuffpots/pans, dishes,bowls,cups, mixing bowls, colander, dish rack, cookbooks, clipboards, storage bins cooking & eating utensils, food pictures, play fruits & veggies, play canned & boxed foodapron, wash cloths, dish towels, napkins, tablecloth, place-mats
People's Health Clinic
&
Vet's Office/Clinic
table & chairs, pet carriersscale,clipboards, medical bag, patients:dolls,stuffed animals, storage bins medical gloves, medical tools: stethoscope, thermometer, syringe, reflex hammer, bandages, gauze, band-aids, cotton ballslab coat, wash clothes, blankets, towels
Construction Site
wagon, table & chairs, trucks, earth movershardhats,tool box, shovels, clipboards, storage binstools: hammer, saw, screwdrivers, ruler, t-square, measuring tape, nuts, bolts,, screws, nails, vices, paper/pencils, phone, ropes, chains, safety goggleskerchief, boots, vests, work gloves, toolbelt
Restauranttables, chairs, stools, menu board, kitchen-to-server window, cash registerdishes, bowls, cups,vases & flowers, order wheel, trays, bus tub, storage bins eating utensils, play food, salt/pepper shakers, sugar & creamerpackets, ketchup/mustard containers, play money, order tickets/pencils, small clipboard, clothespins, phone, calculator, to-go bagsaprons, table settings: napkins, place-mats, tablecloths

To promote additional Literacy skills in these 6 Pretend Plays,  I created signs, bin labels, hat symbols, forms and lists to accompany each scenario. They are gathered together in a DIY Collection Manual : Prop~Templates for 6 Simple Pretend Plays complete with Construction Instructions as well as Tips & Idea Suggestions. Here’s the link to this product in BLB Shop:

https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/simple-pretend-plays-proptemplates/

 

I hope you found some useful Play Power tips & strategies  to help you & yours prepare for this eventful step in your family’s lives. Let me hear how you are ….

Any questions &/or comments?  Just fill in the Contact Me form below……(and she’s still talking…..). You will NOT be subscribing. 

Otherwise, fill in the BLB Exclusive form as a  FREE subscriber!

Copyright©2018BizzyLizzyBiz