Asking the “right” Questions Matters in Dialogues about Learning

Originally posted on Dialogue About Language, Literacy and Learning:

Here’s an example/excerpt from

Curiosity: It Helps Us Learn, But Why? By Maanvi Singh, Published Oct 24, 2014

http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/10/24/357811146/curiosity-it-may-have-killed-the-cat-but-it-helps-us-learn

“How does a sunset work? We love to look at one, but Jolanda Blackwell wanted her eighth-graders to really think about it, to wonder and question.

So Blackwell, who teaches science at Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High in Davis, Calif., had her students watch a video of a sunset on YouTube as part of a physics lesson on motion.

“I asked them: ‘So what’s moving? And why?’ ” Blackwell says. The students had a lot of ideas. Some thought the sun was moving; others, of course, knew that a sunset is the result of the Earth spinning around on its axis.”

Once she got the discussion going, the questions came rapid-fire. “My biggest challenge usually is trying to keep them patient,” she says. “They just have so many burning questions.”

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Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Raise your hand if you have more than five stuffed animals in your house. Raise both hands if you have more than 10 stuffed animals in your house. Raise both hands and both feet if you are reading this while buried under a pile of teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Don’t worry; you are not alone. Today, we are going to share some ways to use those teddy bears and bring them to life!

bearreading

One of my favorite stories is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen. There are so many options for telling this story. You could read it directly from the book, but here are some more exciting ways to tell this story:

  • Add hand motions to the story.
    • If you are waiting for a meal to finish cooking or you have a few minutes and need to occupy the attention of your child, act out the story using the motions as presented by Michael Rosen.
  • Hide your child’s teddy bears in one spot in the house. Tell them you are going on a bear hunt. Bring the story to life as you make  your way through your house or backyard chanting the rhymes of the story. Let your child make up things that he or she “sees” along the way.
  • Let your child retell the story in his or her own way.

After you read a selection of books about bears, have a teddy bear tea party picnic. Set out a blanket on the floor in your house. Let your child set out dishes and cups. Serve small cookies like Teddy Grams and juice. Make sure the serve the teddy bears something.

Lastly, here is another of my favorite teddy bear story is Cordoruy by Don Freeman. As a preschool teacher, this was one of my favorite books to read with my class. Normally, I don’t promote watching movies on this blog, but in the 1980s they made this book into a movie. After you read the book to your child, it’s worth watching. Cordoruy actually comes to life in the movie–make sure you are watching your child’s face at this point.

Bringing the Library Home

Question: How old do you have to be to sign up for a library card?
Answer: Newborn to age infinity!

That’s right. There is no set age for a person to qualify for a card at the Stark County District Library. So what’s stopping you? Sign up your child for a card. You can stop by one of our 10 locations throughout Stark County or find a Bookmobile stop. Just go to http://www.thesmartstore.org to find a location near you.

And while if you get stuck inside on one of those cold and snowy wintery days, have fun creating a library at home with your child. Click here to download and print your own set of library pretend play materials from Learn, Create, Love. It even has a printable “scanner” to scan books and check them out.

Homemade Mondays: Painted Snow

On days like today, it’s easy to stay inside, put on a movie and watch television or play video games all day–especially, if weren’t planning to stay inside all day. But when it’s too cold and icy to go outside for extended periods of time, here is an easy activity you can do with your children while you try to stay busy inside. You need to things: watercolors and snow. That’s right: snow.

painted snowGive your child a bowl or container filled with snow. Let them explore the snow for what it is. Describe it. Cold. Slippery. Wet. Icy. White. Clumpy. Smooth. Sandy. Then give them a set of watercolors or colored water if you don’t have watercolors (just add a couple drops of food coloring to water–be careful though…it’s not as washable as watercolors). Then let them have fun painting the snow. Ask them what they are painting or what happens when the colors mix as they paint. Talk about the rainbow they create.

As an extension, read books about snow and/or rainbows.

 

Letter Knowledge: ABCs

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. Today, we wrap up our series on the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

kindergarten clipart

Our final topic is LETTER KNOWLEDGE, or knowing the ABCs:

  • Make finding letters and sounds fun.
  • Play spelling games.
  • Use materials like magnetic letters, sand and glue, stamps, flashcards and stickers to practice spelling.
  • Explain what is the “same” and “different” between objects.
  • Read alphabet books with clear letters and pictures.

As children begin to learn the letters of the alphabet, it is also important they learn to identify shapes, colors, and numbers. Our letters are made up of many different shapes–the capital A has a triangle, the lower case d has a circle, the s looks like a snake. Many of our letters have similarities, but they also have big differences. When children learn these concepts, it makes identifying letters easier. Remember, you can use almost any book to teach letter knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a book strictly about the ABCs.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Sue MacDonald Had a Book by Jim Tobin
If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
A You’re Adorable by Martha Alexander
Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming

Phonological Awareness: Sounds

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. For the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

Teaching Phonological Awareness

Today’s topic is PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS, or the ability to recognize the sounds that make up words:

  • Say silly tongue twisters.
  • Sing songs, read poetry and picture books, and make up silly rhymes together.
  • Point out the link between letters and sounds.
  • Play word games such as “What sounds like ran?”.

Being able to identify and recognize letter sounds is very important. Children are more likely to understand and identify words in print when they already know that letters are simply symbols that stand for a specific sound and when you put those sounds together they make up words. Making up silly, nonsense words is okay at a young age because you are helping your child determine sounds letters make. As your children get older, reading and saying tongue twisters over and over again also helps with fluency–or the ability to read easily and accurately.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes by Brian P. Cleary
This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrdhart
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia
Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein
Tanka Tanka Skunk! by Steve Webb

Year In Review!

Thanks to all of our readers for such a great year in the blogosphere! :) Stay tuned for more great posts!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Narrative Skills: Storytelling

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. For the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

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Today’s topic is NARRATIVE SKILLS, or the ability to tell stories:

  • Tell your child stories, real or make-believe, written in a book or not.
  • Read favorite books again and again and again.
  • Encourage interaction by asking “What” or “Why” questions and create real life connections to the story.
  • Ask your child to tell you something that happened today–and don’t settle for “nothing.”

Storytelling is a very important skill. It helps with imagination and creativity. It can help your child remember a lesson from social studies or science. Learning about the Constitution or Declaration of Independence? Create a story using the events that happened in the time periods to help remember the information better. Learning about the water cycle? Make up a story or song about a cloud and a water droplet. This is also an important skill to learn for sequencing–something children struggle with throughout early childhood.

Cooking/baking, making playdough, and doing other tasks together with your child can help them learn to sequence because these things need to be done in a specific order.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Little Red Hen by Byron Barton
Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton