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.

The Braid of Literacy

Reading. Singing. Talking. Playing. Writing. Together all of these actions can help children become skilled readers. Weaving these practices together vocabulary, phonological awareness, narrative skills, print motivation, print awareness, and letter knowledge are acquired.

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Strands of early literacy development. Reprinted from Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice, by H. S. Scarborough, in S. B. Newman & D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), 2002, Handbook of early literacy research, p. 98, Copyright 2002, New York, NY: Guilford Press.

We are going to get technical for just a minute, so bear with us. In 2002, literacy researcher Hollis Scarborough released a study dealing with the Braid of Literacy. In the study, Scarborough found literacy could be broken into two simple parts: Language Comprehension and Word Recognition. But more importantly, it is within these two parts that more complex things are at work. As you can see in the illustration, when all of the pieces and parts of literacy come together, they form a tightly woven braid. But it is only when they are working together.

That was too technical. But what does that all mean?

Let’s go back to reading, talking, singing, playing, and writing. When you read with your child or talk with your child, when you play and sing together, and when you write and let your child use a paper and pencil, you are weaving together these different parts of literacy.

Spend a few minutes each day trying to do at least two of these simple practices with your child.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

It’s Kindergarten registration time! Each year around this time, schools set aside special times to have parents and children register for Kindergarten. Sometimes there is a special program attached to the registration day. Sometimes children get a tour of the school or get to meet the teacher. Sometimes there are also health and academic screenings offered during the day.

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Regardless of what your school offers for Kindergarten registration, it is important to make sure your child is on track and ready for school. Last year, we wrote about this same subject. You can check out that post here.

The Ohio Department of Education has put together a great little checklist of social, emotional, and physical skills you and your child can work on together to help get them ready for school and ready to learn!

DRA, AR, Lexile, Guided Reading, OH MY!

Depending on your child’s teacher, school, or school district, he might be using DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), AR (Accelerated Reader), Lexile, Guided Reading, etc…there are a number of ways to level books which can make labeling books and creating lists somewhat tricky. If you recall from this post last week, it is hard for a public library to label its books with so many different leveled reading programs.

One of our favorite resources to use at the Stark County District Library is the NoveList Plus database. (Click the link, and then scroll to the N section for NoveList Plus.)

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You can use this database to search for read alike books to popular children’s and teens’ titles. You can also search by Grade level, Lexile, and/or Accelerated Reading level.

Here are some other ways you can find books that fit the needs of students.

It’s important to keep this fact in mind as you search: Just because your child is in a specific grade level, does not mean he/she reads at that grade level. These reading systems are intended to help students find books within their reading levels.

It’s also important to remember children need to be able to find books that interest them. They are more likely to read the book and retain the information if it is something they have chosen and want to read. It is also important to note that reading with a friend, parent, or caregiver is also VERY beneficial!

Finding the Right Book

You may have noticed every school district or classroom uses some sort of leveled reading system to help students choose the “right” book based on fluency and comprehension. It is hard for a public library serving so many different school districts to provide this same support for readers–mostly because the books would have so many numbers or letters on them, it would be hard to find the title or author. Instead, we can use a slightly different system to help young readers find just the right book–and parents, you can use this, too!

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  • Find out what your child has enjoyed reading in the last year.
    • What are his two or three favorite books?
    • What does he know a lot about?
    • What are his favorite stories? authors? series?
    • What does he want to know more about?
  • It is important to get an idea of your child’s reading level and fluency rate. Choose one of the books he has read and enjoyed, ask him to tell you what it is about, and read a page from the book. Talking about the book gives you an idea on comprehension and reading aloud gives you an idea on how well he can read without making mistakes for this book. This gives you the opportunity to find something similar in vocabulary and reading level.
  • Once you have an idea about reading level and interests, you can begin searching for a book he might enjoy. It is important to find two or three choices. Browse the books together and talk about them. Get to know what he is thinking about as a reader through casual conversation. Talk about the pictures, the story, the characters, and point out interesting things in the book.
  • The storyline is the most important part during this casual conversation. Don’t get bogged down with vocabulary, yet.
  • Now that he has chosen a book or two, use the Five Finger Rule to determine if it would be a good independent read. Ask him to read aloud the first page, holding up one finger every time he gets to a word he doesn’t know. It’s okay to help him. But if he reaches five words before the end of the page, it’s probably going to be a harder book for him to read on his own. (Don’t put it away, though, as it might be a great choice for you to read aloud to him. Reading independently does not have to be the end goal! Reading together is very beneficial.)
  • Take the book home and read it over and over! Ask your child questions about it. Relate the book to his own life or interests. He is more likely to remember it.

Stay tuned for another blog post next week on how the library can help you find books using Accelerated Reader (AR), Lexile, DRA, and grade level.

Laughing is a Sign of Learning

Did you know having a sense of humor helps children develop self-esteem, learn to problem solve, foster creative thinking, and hone social skills? This is according to author Louis Franzini, who wrote the book Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor, in an article on Parents.com.

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The root of humor is taking something familiar and changing it in a unusual way. Typically, babies will start laughing around the age of 4 months. Up until this point, they are just beginning to learn how the world looks, feels, and sounds. As a child develops,  she learns to use humor as a way to build up self-esteem for a friend who may be feeling blue or for her own self if she makes a mistake. Laughter or a good sense of humor can help a person look at things in an unusual way.

So what are some ways you can encourage your child’s sense of humor? Read funny books, of course! Play with puppets! Make up stories! Sing silly songs together! Play dress up! Play Peek-a-Boo! Have fun with your food!

Here are some favorite laugh-out-loud picture books from our staff at the Stark County District Library.

  • Goldie Locks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
  • We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
  • The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak
  • This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Steve, Raised by Wolves by Jared Chapman
  • Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgans
  • John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith

Add to our list! Comment with your favorite laugh-out-loud books below!

 

3 Questions

Have you ever asked your child what his/her day was like? What is his/her response typically? Is it “fine” or perhaps “I didn’t do anything” or maybe even “I don’t know.” Well, I read an interesting blog post today about the three questions you should ask your child every night before bedtime. And these three questions will hopefully cure those “I don’t know” answers–but it may take a little time.

At the end of each day, as you are tucking in your little one, ask him/her these three questions. Put down your phone. Turn off the television remote. You may be surprised by the answers.

  • What is something that made you smile today?
  • What is something that made you cry today?
  • What is something that you learned today?

 

Children need three things as they develop: attention, bonding, and communication. These three questions help you give your child just that. You are giving him/her the one-on-one attention and focus they crave (even if they don’t say so). You are bonding with your child and learning about them in those little moments. And you are communicating with them…talking and discussing things. By talking to your child everyday, hopefully, you can teach them to talk to you about all things…happy, sad, confusing, scary, etc.

Reading Just 20 Minutes a Day…

Today’s post comes from a tidbit posted by Reading with Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers. Children learn new vocabulary by being exposed to new words, exploring new worlds, and experiencing new ideas.

IMG_3643Let’s do the math: If you read with your child for 20 minutes a day, you will have read 7,300 minutes over the course of a year. Let’s assume an average rate of 200 words per minute. Your child will have heard 1,460,000 words by the end of the year.

Multiply that by 5 years (birth to kindergarten) and your little one will have heard 7,300,000 words before entering grade school.

These are words your child may never have heard in his or her own environment and were likely coupled with images, concepts, and creative ideas your little one may also not have encountered.

Simply stated, reading is the easiest, and most entertaining (in our opinion), way to prepare your child for school – and life.

Be sure to visit the Reading with Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Facebook page for more great tips on reading with your child!