The Power of Singing

Today’s blog was written by one of our very own children’s storytellers: Miss Alex. You’ll find Miss Alex sharing stories with children of all ages as well as creating wonderful children’s programs at a couple of our branches.

Singing is fitting for the “Libraries Rock!” summer reading theme (are you signed up?)! Singing is a popular activity in story times too. As the post, “Sing to Your Baby,” said, “Sharing stories, songs and rhymes with your child has many wonderful benefits.” What do those benefits look like in your life?

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I can think of many personal benefits in my own – I once signed up for a continuing education graduate class without knowing it was basically a choir, which was such a wonderful adventure in confidence and perseverance.

As a librarian,

I recently used this printed “board game” on my school visits to promote the Día program;  when children landed on the “nursery rhyme” square, so many of the elementary students remembered and loved “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” as much as the babies and toddlers I work with do, too.  At one elementary school, w

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hen groups landed on the “sing a funny song” square I used my latest joke, “The Itsy Bitsy Spiderman,” to great success! One boy in particular was inspired to make up an entirely new song about a superhero and had more confidence to try to sing it as he created it.

I totally believe in the power of singing to not only “start smart” but “stay smart.” Check out Ready Rosie videos of ways to sing with the children in your life, as well as one of my favorite songs from the Scottish Book Trust’s Song and Rhyme Library, below. Let us know in the comments or at your next library visit what you think about them, how you feel about singing, and your favorite songs!

Resources:

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Hear and Say Reading

How we read to children is just as important as what we read to them. How we read can make a big difference in their attention, their comprehension, and their interest. We use several methods for reading books during storytime. One of the easiest methods is Hear and Say Reading (or Dialogic Reading).

generatedtext (1)Simply take your cues from your child. Find a book he/she is interested in. The book should have a simple story, clear illustrations, pictures of familiar things, illustrations with action and detail, and shorter in length.

The child takes the lead when it comes to reading the book. You will be talking about the pictures–not reading the words. This will help build oral language and comprehension. Once you do it a few times, it may even become part of your everyday conversations with your child–no book required!

  • Start by asking simple what questions. (What do you see on this page? What else do you see? What is happening?)*
    Build on your child’s answers. (Child: I see an elephant. Parent: That is a large elephant!)
    Follow your child’s words with simple questions. (What is the elephant doing? Why does the elephant have a sad face?)
    Repeat. (Child: I see an elephant. Parent: That is a large, gray elephant! What color is the elephant? Child: Gray.)
    Help your child as needed.
    PRAISE your child’s answers and observations.
    Follow your child’s interest.

*Once you have started asking simple what questions, transition into open-ended questions that require more than a one-word answer.

 

Strive for Five

Oral language is one of the most basic forms of early literacy. Children hear words and begin to talk before they begin to read and recognize print. Language is all around them. As we have talked about before, the more words children hear, the more prepared they will be to begin reading. But it is more than just the number of words. It is also the quality of the words they are hearing.

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Strive for Five is just one way you can increase oral language with your children. Strive for Five is just a simple conversation with your child in five exchanges.

  1. Observe what your child is doing or what books a child has to check out.
  2. Initiate the conversation by asking a question or stating an observation.
    • What are you building?
    • Look at the picture. What do you think that character is doing?
    • How does that character feel in the picture?
  3. Give your child time to respond.
  4. Expand the conversation by asking another question, expanding on your child’s comment, or confirming/repeating what the child said.
  5. Give your child time to respond.
  6. Repeat these steps until you have reached five exchanges.
  7. This can be done as a child initiated conversation as well.

The Strive for Five model encourages more talking and expanding a conversation, so your child can hear more words. The more quality words they hear, the more words they will be familiar with when they eventually start reading.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Books

Today’s blog was written by one of our very own children’s storytellers: Miss Alex. You’ll find Miss Alex sharing stories with children of all ages as well as creating wonderful children’s programs at a couple of our branches.

This week, I am thankful to be a children’s librarian. I got to get hoarse reading Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich-Smith to a group of 49 kids and get peaceful reading Julie Flett’s Wild Berries to a smaller group. I chose these activities to promote literacy around 51tDYvMpZML._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Thanksgiving because, as Debbie Reese suggests (2014), “for very young kids, I’d stay away from historical contexts and focus on Native people of the present.” There are links leaf_man_coverbelow to a few interesting reads if you want to explore this topic further. Since I am thankful for this opportunity to share my own post and for your attention as well, I will keep the rest short and sweet.

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During my November school visits, I was also blown away by how enthusiastically the kids practiced how to write thank you cards, and I was happy to crack a “Thank You” card joke similar to this quote. Laughing with the kids was a fantastic mood-booster in this time of sniffles and shorter days. 51fKqT-Ze5L._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

As we did in my storytimes, I also found it was great to focus on shared small joys like crunching on leaves as we walk outside or play pretend. I am sharing my story time handout on fall and winter as well, in case you feel like singing and reading, too. You are always invited to our library 6174fX8kYwL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_and our programs and always welcome to share your feedback and ideas.

Preschool Winter-Seasons Story Time Handout 1

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Constant creativity and encouragement are so important when working with kids. Thank you to my colleagues and students and to the parents, teachers, and others who may be reading for your infectious openness, curiosity, and support. I am going to follow this blog’s title and “laugh, play, read” all fall and winter, listen to my kids, look for gifts and resources from others, and share my own. Thank you.

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Homemade Mondays: Mirror Games

Mirrors are a simple way to entertain your child and help their development, too! Mirrors help strengthen social/emotional development, image tracking, body awareness, bonding, focus, and object permanence. They are a great way to practice writing skills as well as your child grows.

img_9581You will want to use a non-breakable, child safe mirror for these games.

For your preschoolers and school-age children, use a dry erase marker to have them practice writing their name, sight words, vocabulary words, and spelling words. Have them practice words that interest them. They can practice writing letters of the alphabet or their numbers. They can even draw pictures–ask questions about what they are drawing to help increase their vocabulary.

For younger children, use the mirror to play peek-a-boo. Point to different parts of baby’s body like the nose, ears, eyes, hand, etc. Say their names out loud. Make a face and ask baby to imitate your face. These are great games to get siblings involved by letting them hold a hand-held mirror.

For more fun activities with mirrors, check out Mirror Play for Infants and Why Babies Love Mirrors.

Here are some great books for you to read with your child about playing peekaboo!

Sing a Little Song, Recite a Little Rhyme: Part Two

Over the next few months, we will be sharing our staff’s favorite songs and rhymes. These can be heard during storytime at many of our locations. (Here’s part one in case you missed it.)

Singing and rhyming are great ways to develop sound awareness for children. This sound awareness can lead to better reading as children develop a better understanding of the sounds that make up words!kt8aqxgtr

So, here are a couple of rhymes and songs you can sing with your child when they wake up in the morning or after naptime, in the bathtub, when it is time to change a diaper, when it is time for bed, in the car…and remember, you do not have to be an American Idol to sing a song to your child.

Magic Finger
Magic finger in the air
Magic finger in my hair
Magic finger on my hips
Magic finger on my lips

Hello Song
(to the tune of Hot Cross Buns)
My hands say hello, my hands say hello
Every time I see my friends, my hands say hello.
(then feet, ears, head, whatever the your child wants!)

Two Little Feet
Two little feet go tap, tap, tap
Two little hands go clap, clap, clap.
Two little fists go thump, thump, thump,
Two little legs go jump, jump, jump!

For more fun rhymes, make sure you visit your local storytime.

Five Activities for the Fall

It’s starting to feel like Fall around here. The air feels cool and crisp. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. You can find pumpkins and mums everywhere. So I want to share some outside of the box games you can play with your children right now.

img_95311. Friendly monsters. This is an easy project using materials you already have at home. I used felt and cut out random shapes and pieces. You could use old cereal boxes for a sturdy base. You could use construction paper or old fabric, feathers, pipe cleaners–whatever you might have on hand. Then the fun begins. As your children design the monster faces talk to them about what they look like and why. Ask your children to tell you a story about their monsters. Have fun with this activity. Let your child be creative. If you can record them telling you about their monster or write down the story.

 

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2. Where the Wild Things Are. After reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, use up your craft supplies and create your own wild thing. Ask your child questions relating to the story to help with story recall. Ask your child what it would be like to be Max. Talk to your child about the wild things in the story. Ask your child what would it be like if they went to their room and dreamed of a faraway place with “wild things.”

 

3. Stacking Pumpkin Towers. This is a great STEM activity. You will need toothpicks and img_9529-2some kind of gummy candy. We used pumpkin candy. Give your children the materials (making sure to tell them to be careful with the toothpicks), and then let theme have fun trying to build the tallest tower. If their tower falls, let them figure out what went wrong. Guide them with clues. This is a great activity to teach problem solving. You can also include counting and measuring.

 

 

img_95304. Pumpkin Hammering. This is a great game to use a pumpkin if you do not want to carve it or if you have an extra pumpkin. Using plastic nails or large push pins and a plastic hammer, let your child hammer the nails/pins into the pumpkin. Add rubber bands around the nails or pins to create shapes. Talk about what shapes you created. Ask your child to identify the colors of the pins or the names of the shapes.

 

 

 

5. Fall Leaf Prints. This is a work of art for your refrigerator. It works best with watercolor paper, img_9549but you can use regular paper as well. Have your child gather three to four leaves–different shapes work well, if possible. Place the leaves flat under the paper. Rub the side of a white crayon over the paper pressing hard where the leaves are. (For younger children, you could do this before the children come to the table to make it a surprise.) Then let your child use watercolors to paint on the paper, allowing colors to mix. Watch your child’s face as the leaf shapes appear! And I recommend reading Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley.

Don’t forget to stop by the library and tell us which activity was your favorite this month!

Sing a Little Song, Recite a Little Rhyme: Part One

The next couple of week we will be sharing our staff’s favorite songs and rhymes. These can be heard during storytime at many of our locations.

Singing and rhyming can have a very positive impact on young children. Singing helps break up the syllables in words, which makes identifying the parts of words easier. Rhymes help children hear the sounds that make up words, which makes reading easier as children are able to identify parts of words quicker. For instance, say the words “Twinkle, Twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are…” out loud. Now sing those lyrics out loud. Chances are you slowed down a little bit to sing the lyrics. This made hearing the parts of the word simpler. It also allowed you to hear the rhymes better.

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Fun fact: If children can identify all of the words in a word family (-at, -an, -ig, -it, etc…), they will know more than 500 words! How cool is that?!

So, here are a couple of rhymes and songs you can sing with your child when they wake up in the morning or after naptime, in the bathtub, when it is time to change a diaper, when it is time for bed, in the car…and remember, you do not have to be an American Idol to sing a song to your child.

Sunshine, Sunshine
(use a scarf to “dance” around your child–a Miss Elizabeth original)
Sunshine, sunshine warms my nose,
Sunshine, sunshine warms my toes.
Sunshine, sunshine warms my chin,
Sunshine, sunshine makes me grin.
Sunshine, sunshine at my side,
Sunshine, sunshine time to hide.
Sunshine, sunshine warms my head,
Sunshine, sunshine goes to bed.
(can be used with bubble, flower, raindrop, and snowflake)

A Hunting We Will Go
(change out the words mouse/house, dragon/wagon with your own fun rhyming words)
A hunting we will go, A hunting we will go
We found a mouse, and put him in a house
A hunting we will go.

A hunting we will go, A hunting we will go
We found a dragon, and put him in a wagon
A hunting we will go.

Stay tuned for more fun rhymes this month!

 

Homemade Monday: Puzzle of Opposites

Here’s a new way to look at any of those wooden/board puzzles you might have in your toy chest, closet, or playroom floor your children are tired of putting together.

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Instead of putting the puzzles together based on the actual picture on the front of each piece, write and/or draw opposite pairs on each piece and the board onto which they fit. Turn the pieces so they are face side down. Then your children can match the opposites.

Tall Blocks, Small Animals

Books become more meaningful when you can expand the story to a hands-on activity. Here is one extension activity you can do with very little supplies.

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You’ll need to read the book Tall by Jez Alborough. (Hint: Stop by your local library and pick up a copy if you don’t own it.) Tall is about a few jungle animals who help a little monkey feel taller than he really is. This is a great book with very few words. You can use the illustrations to talk about what is happening on each page.

Next, get out the blocks or the LEGOs. You will also need a couple small animals or action figures. Now let your child’s imagination go wild. Let he/she build towers as tall as can be (just make sure no one is on the other side in case it falls!). When he/she is done building, place the small animal on top of the tower. Just how tall can the tower be before it falls over? Experiment with different shapes.

This is a great opportunity to talk with your child about the tower he/she is building. Ask questions like how tall do you think it can go before it will fall? What kind of tower is it? Why is the animal or action figure climbing so high? What is it the animal is trying to see?

Try to avoid yes/no questions as they require no other answer. To help expand your child’s vocabulary and comprehension of the story, you want to ask open ended questions.

Credit for activity idea: Teach Preschool.