Asking Questions…

Sharing a book with your young child can be a fun experience. (I realize it can also be stressful–especially if your child is having a wiggly kind of day!) Studies have shown that babies who are exposed to books and allowed the chance to touch and explore the book are more likely to appreciate them as they get older. So why not let your toddler and preschooler have the same experience? And by experience, I don’t mean letting your preschooler put a book in his mouth to explore it. No. By this age, preschoolers are more interested in the actual content of the book. And if they aren’t quite there, it’s okay. Maybe they haven’t found the right book, yet. (You can always ask your local librarian for a little help on that front!)

familySo what do I mean? During story time, read through the book one time just the way it was intended. But as you read it a second or third time, here are a few questions you can ask while reading:

1. Pause on each page. Point to an object on the page and ask your child what it is.
For instance, if you see an apple tree, point to it and ask, “What is that?”

2. Respond to your child’s answer by repeating what he said.
If your child says, “A tree!” you can respond by saying, “Yes that is a tree.”

3. Expand on your child’s answer if possible.
“Yes, that is a tree. It’s an apple tree!”

4. Have your child point to the object.
“Can you point to the apple tree?”

From there, you can also expand on other things that are the page (objects, colors, numbers, letters, shapes, etc.). Repetition is so important, so read the story over and over (not in one sitting). Start leaving words off at the end of a sentence. Let your child fill in the blank. Use the pictures as your guide and tell a story based on the illustrations and not the author’s words. Relate the words or pictures in the story to an event in your child’s life. Ask questions like who, what, where, why and when. If you read the story using more questions and relying less on the actual text, you’ll notice your child may start reading the story to you!

It may seem a little early in the life of a child to start practicing these reading techniques, but when he gets to Kindergarten, these are the same questions teachers will be asking. It’s never too early to start preparing–just keep it lighthearted and fun. When it becomes frustrating, stop and take a break.

For more information on reading techniques, visit http://www.readingrockets.org/article/dialogic-reading-effective-way-read-preschoolers.

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere

Today, we are going to share a fun activity you can do with your child any time of year. This comes from one of our favorite storytime themes: bubbles.

Bubbles are a great activity for any time of year. There are so many different kinds of bubbles available, too. You can find colored bubbles, bubbles that won’t pop, bubbles that are big, bubbles that are small, bubble machines that do all the work, etc. You can blow bubbles in the summer and watch them fly away. You can blow bubbles in the winter and watch what happens when they float through the cold air. You can read about bubbles, and then you can paint with bubbles–or a type of bubble.

Pairing a book with an extension activity is important because it helps make the book more memorable. It helps make the book come to life. Here are a few books we love about bubbles…

  • Bubbles Float, Bubbles Pop! by Mark Weakland
  • Bubbles, Bubbles by Kathi Appelt
  • Troubles with Bubbles by Frank B. Edwards
  • Pop! A Book about Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • Bubbles Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock
  • Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy

After you read the story or learn more about bubbles, you can do many activities including painting with bubbles, blowing bubbles, and making your own bubbles.

Painting with bubbles:

Credit: Family Fun Magazine

Credit: Family Fun Magazine

Add food coloring to a soapy mixture in a bowl, place a piece of paper on top of the bowl, and then blow through a straw into the liquid to make as many bubbles as you can. Remind younger children not to suck on the straw–only to blow. When you lift the paper, you will have a beautiful picture.

Credit: Family Fun Magazine

Credit: Family Fun Magazine

Add a little powdered paint or food coloring to your bubble mixture and blow bubbles on a large piece of paper.

paint 3Brush paint on to a small section of bubble wrap. Press a sheet of paper onto the bubble wrap. Let your child press hard to pop the bubbles. Lift the paper to reveal a new work of art!

photo56Wrap your child’s feet in bubble wrap. Paint the bubble wrap and let your child stomp around on a large sheet of paper.

Read, Sing, Talk, Play, and Write…

A few years ago, the Every Child Ready to Read program came out and encouraged parents to use five basic ideas to help increase early literacy at home. These skills are singing, reading, talking, playing, and writing. Seems simple enough. These are activities most children under 5 do all of the time, right?

If you are looking for ways to be more intentional about teaching the early literacy skills to your child, here is a great idea using a favorite picture book. Perhaps you could do one activity each day based on the same book.

Source: Ohio Ready to Read Facebook page

Source: Ohio Ready to Read Facebook page

 

Using Books…

One of the six early literacy skills we teach at the library is “using books.” The technical term is “print awareness,” which just means children are aware of how to read a book and the parts of a book. Today, we will focus on the outside of the book.parts_of_books

 

  • When you first pick up a book to read with your child, talk about the front cover and back cover. Ask prediction questions:
    • “What do you think this book is about?”
    • “Who do you think that little boy is?”
    • “What do you think that baby is doing?”
    • “Why is that dog doing that?”
  • Point out the title. Point to the letters in the title.
  • Show your child the author’s name. Describe what the author and illustrator do.
  • Use words like cover, illustrator, author, title, spine, etc. Let your child hear those words so he can become familiar with them.
  • Give your child the book, but hand it to them upside-down. See if they turn it the correct direction. Use your finger, or use your child’s finger, to point to the different objects, shapes, or letters on the cover.

Reading books together is important at an early age so your child can learn to appreciate the stories before they get to school. Knowing the parts of a book can help your child development a better appreciation for those books.

The New Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

If you have a child entering Kindergarten in Ohio this year or in the next couple of years, you have likely heard that schools are changing the assessment they use to determine a child’s school readiness. The original KRA-L only tested a child’s literacy and language development, but the new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment will look at the whole child.

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The new assessment will provide more information on the areas of physical well-being and motor development, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and social skills. This is exciting because a child’s school readiness is more than just his knowledge of the ABCs or 123s. It also includes how well he can sit still for periods of time, talk with friends, share, verbalize his needs, etc.

This will be done through formal and informal observations of everyday activities and responses to questions or other activities. According to the Ohio Department of Education’s website, the assessment will not prevent a child from entering Kindergarten, but it will help the teachers provide a baseline so they can customize the learning experience for each child.

Click here for a checklist of the physical, emotional, and social skills you can use as a guide to determine where your child is. But keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace. It’s important to give them guidance to help learn these skills, but if they aren’t doing an activity quite yet, give it a week or so to see how they progress. This checklist does not include the academic skills children may need to know.

Physical, Emotional and Social Checklist: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Guidance-About-Kindergarten/Kindergarten-Readiness-Checklist 

 

Learning to Sit Quietly and Be Patient

Sitting quietly and being patient are probably two of the hardest lessons to learn as a child adult human. Unfortunately, learning to read requires that we know how to sit still and for long periods of time. Sure, there are some great games we can play to help make the process more fun, but in the end, it’s the ability to sit still and sit quietly that can help the most.

So, how do you teach a three-year-old to sit and not make any noise? If you know the secret, please post in the comments below. I’m not writing to tell you all of the answers; however, I can share with you some tips to help your child learn these skills. These are just a few tips I have learned as a preschool and toddler teacher, a babysitter, and a librarian.

1. Make time each day or night to sit together in a comfortable place and read together. This can be the couch, a bean bag on the floor, a pile of pillows on the bed, or even at the kitchen table. Find a book your child likes and read it together. Let your child read to you (or make up the story as you turn the pages).

2. Limit screen time to a set amount of minutes a day or week. Promote quiet time–play quiet music in the background. It doesn’t have to be naptime. Let your child play quietly with puzzles, create a picture with art supplies, or read books by himself.

3. If you are in a room filled with people and your child starts to get fussy or restless, leave the room, but do not go far. Hold them (depending on their age)–the point here is that you do not want to teach them that if they cry or scream, they will get to leave the room and run around outside. Children are smarter than you might think. They catch on to these patterns incredibly quick!

4. Eat meals together at the table. Do not allow them to get up whenever they want. Just sit together, talk, and enjoy a meal together at least once a day.

5. Be patient. This is a habit learned over time, not over a few days.

Skills to Practice for Summertime Kindergarten Readiness

School will be starting before you know it, but we still have about one-half of our summer left–depending on when you start school. While summer is a time for relaxing and taking a break from studying, it’s also a great time to get your child ready for their first day of Kindergarten because there isn’t any pressure or deadlines.

School-Readiness-Activities-Top-10-Summer-Activities-for-Kindergarten-Readiness-on-Lalymom_com_

Lalymom has a great post on creative and fun ways to practice skills like learning personal information (phone numbers, address, name), following directions, getting dressed independently, strengthening those gross motor skills (running, jumping, etc.), understanding routines, writing and more! She has put together a great round-up of blog posts–so instead of duplicating her efforts, I’m going to post a link to her blog and ask you to stop by at some point this week.

And then I’m going to remind you to stop by your local library to check out a stack of books that you can read with your child to help get them ready to read and get them excited about school!