Let’s Play!

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Play is the work of the child.
~ Maria Montessori, educator

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. ~ Fred Rogers, TV personality

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.
~Diane Ackerman, author

It is a happy talent to know how to play. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer

If you search for “importance of play” on Google, you come up with 451,000,000 results. That is quite the number of pages to sift through and read. To make it easier, I’ve linked to a few of the videos, websites, and interesting graphics highlighting the importance of play from the adult/research perspective as well as the child’s perspective. Just click the links above.

Why Reading the Same Book Over and Over Again is a Good Thing…

This is something I talk about whenever I give a presentation on literacy or the benefits of reading. It’s a question that comes up often. “Is it okay to keep reading the same book over and over again?” OR “I’m so tired of reading the same book to my child.”

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Credit: Real Teacher of NY

But there are significant reasons why it is important to keep reading those favorite books again and again. Check out this link for a great summarized list of reasons:

http://www.readbrightly.com/why-reading-the-same-book-repeatedly-is-good-for-kids/?ref=B3D59C1A614B

Homemade Monday: Spelling Words

I stumbled up on this fun idea today while checking out a blog/tumblr. This blog has nothing to do with literacy, but the writer posts fun photos. And it fits in so well with our Start Smart initiative.

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We will probably debate the effects of technology on children for years and years to come, but in the meantime, let’s agree moderation is key! But this post isn’t about the good and bad habits that form from using technology. This post is about a fun idea you can use with your preschooler, Kindergartner, and even first or second grader!

All you need is a laptop or computer. Check out the post by Emphasis Added for more details!

 Tonight we played a game – “Type on the Computer Game.”  
(Riveting.  For real.)

It started as a desperate attempt to distract the girls from a series of ridiculous squabbles- but it quickly proved to be one of my more successful diversions ever.

Hazel is suuuuuper into words & letters, right now.  She wants to know how to spell every word that pops into her head.  It is nonstop….yet endearing.   This march to literacy has been my favorite mama-milestone yet.

As Simon & Felix worked on dinner, Hazel & I sat together on the couch.  My computer perched on her lap.  She gave me a word (first one:  stroller).  We worked together to figure out the letters and I let her hunt and peck them out on the keyboard.  She’d then think up the next word and we’d repeat the sequence of action.  Tonight, Hazel learned to hit the Shift Button after each word and how to employ the backspace when lingering on a key too long.  We even dabbled with Caps Lock when spelling their names.

She belly laughed at least a dozen times during the activity (usually when finding an out of reach letter on the keyboard) – a perfect reminder of how much joy little ones seem to find in every task they undertake.

This was her list.  And the name she gave the doc.  It took us probably 20 minutes to get it all typed up.  I know this exchange could be easily dismissed as nothing more than…um, typing….but I wanted it documented here as a peek into the mind of my 4 yr old.

 What words does your child ask you to spell often?

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.