2015 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Thanks to everyone who read, commented, and liked our posts this year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Homemade Monday: Boxes Revisited

It’s the season of boxes and wrapping paper. And the toys that are inside the boxes and wrapping paper–although, let’s be honest…the boxes are often more attractive and exciting for your children.

Don’t throw away the boxes just yet! We’ve talked about boxes over the last few years. Just click here for a few ideas.

Here is one more idea for you:

Just take an oversized box, poke holes in the top carefully, place white or colored Christmas lights in the holes, and add some pillows, books, and a blanket or two for a cozy reading nook.

Start Smart @ Your Library: Ready Rosie

Remember when we talked about children needing to hear 30,000 words? Have you been wondering exactly what you should say to your baby, toddler, or preschooler to reach that lofty goal? Well, I’m very excited to announce a brand new service at the Stark County District Library!

 

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As part of our Start Smart early literacy initiative, we are offering all of our card-carrying patrons a simple and fun parent engagement and preschool learning tool called Ready Rosie. (And you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to sign up!) Simply click on the link, and then choose “sign up” in the top left corner. You’ll need to enter your Stark County zip code to gain access, but once you do, just complete the form and click “Submit.” (If you need a Stark County District Library card number, click here to sign up for a digital card for FREE!)

Once a day, you’ll receive a text message, email, or both (depending on your settings) with a one- to two-minute video of a parent and child engaging in a fun activity. The activities and conversations that take place are realistic and occur in every day environments.

Going to the grocery store? There’s a video to give you ideas on making the experience more fun and sensory based. Standing in line? There’s a game you can play to keep your child busy and teach him to follow directions. There are over 700 videos–you won’t see a repeat for quite a while!

The videos are appropriate for parents and caregivers with children ages birth to 5 years old. For a sample, click here.

Homemade Mondays: Story in a Basket

Looking for a fun way to bring a favorite story to life without spending tons of money? Try a Story in a Basket. This is a great activity that helps reinforce sequencing and comprehension skills.

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Start by choosing your child’s favorite story. Next, look through the story and make a list of the main characters and objects you will need to tell the story without the book. Then, look around your house for a big bowl, basket, or box to keep all of the items. Once you have a basket, you and your child can make a game of hunting around your house for the items on your list. If you are in need of something, check your local library for a list of puppets or toys you can borrow and use in your basket.

IMG_6752You’ll see in my basket for Jack and the Beanstalk, I had to think outside the box as I sorted through our many puppets and items in the library. For the Giant, I used the Count. For the Giant’s house, I found an unused takeout container from a local restaurant. We didn’t have a harp, so instead I used some bells from our instrument box.

It doesn’t have to be a perfect representation of the story. It just needs to help your child tell the story and bring the words to life.

Homemade Monday: Story Stones

Here is a simple, fun idea to make storytelling just a little bit different: Story Stones.

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As you can see in the picture above, story stones are nothing more than a stone or small rock with a picture on them used to help tell stories. This is a great activity for sequencing and comprehension.

For my story stones, I found clipart through Google, sized it very small, printed it on a color printer, cut the pieces out, and then glued them using Rubber Cement. Eventually, I’m going to use a little Mod Podge on top to make sure every piece is secure and the pictures do not get ruined.

You can find rocks/stones in the floral area of a craft store for just a couple of dollars. Or go on a scavenger hunt in your backyard with your child. No color printer? No worries. If you have paint or paint markers, you can create your own illustrations on the rocks like they did here. You can use magazine or junk mail pictures. You can even create your own illustrations using fun scrapbooking paper or fabric. The possibilities are almost endless.

Once you have the story stones created, place them in a bowl or basket. Let your child pull out the stones and place them in order (either based on the specific story they are telling or the story he/she wants to tell).

In addition to the materials you use to create them, the possibilities for storytelling with these stones is almost just as endless. Create rhyming rocks with pictures that rhyme and tell a story with the rocks as if you are Dr. Seuss. Create a fractured fairy tale with your child’s favorite fairy tale characters. Ask your child for input on what characters or pictures should be on each rock/stone.

Speech Development

Let me preface this post by saying I am not a speech therapist, nor do I have a background in speech therapy or speech development. I do, however, know speech therapists and have done some research. Therefore, I hope you will find today’s post as a starting point to learning more information. If you have more questions or would like to know more information, please check with your child’s pediatrician or contact your local school district.

In the chart below, you will find a general guide depicting when children typically master each of the letter sounds. Keep in mind, though, every child is different and develops in his or her own time.

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You will notice that boys and girls develop sound articulation at various times during early development. In general, about 50% of children have the sounds mastered by the beginning of the line at each age and about 90% of children have it mastered by the end of the line.

Take a look at the chart…you’ll notice that some sounds aren’t learned until almost 8 years old, and for some children, it takes several years to master sounds like “ing,” “r,” or “z.” To help children practice letter sounds and identify them, it is important to speak clearly to them. Baby talk is cute (words like lellow, skissors, or pasghetti), but they don’t help children articulate and learn letter sounds. Point to letters and words as you read them in books and ask your child to repeat you.

Book Review: Red Hat

red hatRed Hat by Lita Judge is one of my favorite (almost) wordless picture books. It’s a story about forest animals who find a knitted red hat and play with it all day long. Eventually, the hat becomes unraveled. The animals put the hat (or string) back where they found it and hide unsure what the owner might do. The owner of the hat finds the string and realizes what has happened. She ends up knitting hats for all of the animals.

The only words in the book are sounds like “wooo” and “swish swash.” The watercolor illustrations are beautifully done. And fans of Lita Judge may recognize the hat from Red Sled.

Making up the story to go with the illustrations is a great reason to read wordless picture books with your children. While the pictures dictate what will happen in the story, children can make up the words to go with the pictures by using creativity and prior knowledge–two topics that are very important when it comes to comprehension and storytelling.