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!

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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!

A New Collaboration!

We are excited to announce a new collaboration with the Canton Repository!

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Laugh, Play, Read is now a weekly feature of games, stories, puzzles, arts, and information designed to foster early literacy and enrich children’s lives. Find a copy every Sunday in the Lifestyle section of The Canton Repository or visit this page to download and print your own for free.

Everything you love about the Laugh, Play, Read blog now delivered through our local newspaper and our website. Each week you will find activities you can do with your child as you read and learn about a new topic, laugh with characters in a comic strip, and play fun games. You’ll also see content highlighting the StartSmart initiative at your local Stark County District Library!

Make sure you stop by and tell us your favorite activity each week.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Thirty Million Words

Remember this post from two years ago (almost to the day!)? Well, talking to your child is still a trending topic. Last week, NPR posted an article based on the book Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain by Dana Suskind, MD.

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Read the article here. And check out Thirty Million Words the website here.

Secrets of a Library Storytime…

Shhh…what you are about to read is top secret. Very top secret. I’m about to de-mystify storytime at the library. But you can’t tell anyone.

Librarians are people. There I said it. Storytellers are just ordinary people reading children’s books and singing songs in what might seem like extraordinary ways. Have you ever wondered how your librarian tells those stories and sings those songs so flawlessly? It takes practice. Lots of practice. Trial and error. Flexibility. Research. Flexibility. Trial and error. And did I mention practice?

So when you attend storytime with your child, keep in mind, these literacy tips, songs, stories, rhymes, and activities are for your benefit. For baby storytime, it’s entertainment for the child and modeling literacy skills for the parents. For the toddler and preschoolers, it’s entertainment and learning for the child, in addition to modeling the literacy skills for parents.

If you are looking for some storytelling ideas to try at home, visit some of my favorite storytime websites from some very talented librarians. Keep in mind these are written for librarians, but I think some of the activities, songs, and books could be translated very easily in a classroom or home setting:

Before I wrap up this post, let’s talk briefly about why libraries provide storytime to children and their families and why you should be attending:

Remember when we discussed the early literacy skills: Loving Books, Using Books, Sounds, Storytelling, Vocabulary, ABCs

  • It will help instill a love of books
  • Your children will learn how to use a book
  • Children will practice rhyming
  • You’ll learn new ways to tell stories and sing songs with your children
  • Children will learn new vocabulary
  • It will increase letter and number knowledge
  • Good reason to visit the library
  • Meet and interact with other children and families
  • Free entertainment!

And…if you’ve never been to storytime, please click here —-> Story Time at the SCDL.

Great Apps for Children Part 3

Here are three more apps to keep your child entertained and learning all at the same time. Today’s apps are appropriate for children in preschool through about fifth grade, depending on their development.

 

imagesStoriesAlive – The Library App of Interactive and Award Winning Children Stories – Auryn Inc.
Ages: 3 to 6
Cost: Free with in-app purchases
Purpose: The free version comes with six stories and dozens more samples of stories to purchase. The stories can be read to the child with the words highlighted. Children can read it on their own or have it auto play for them. The app also features object identification as children press on different parts of the illustrations.

 

untitledNews-O-Matic, Daily Reading for Kids – Press4Kids
Ages: 5 to 9
Cost: Free!
Purpose: Features daily news stories written for children with many bonus features. Each page features a map of the globe to identify where the story is taking place, how far away it is, and a fun fact about the story or city. There are other features including ways to act on the story’s theme, photos and videos, extra facts about the story and ways to say “hello” in the language of the main person or setting of the story. The app also features three games: a puzzle using a photograph from one of the main stories, a hangman-like game called Mystery Word, and a guess the date game using a timeline.

BrainPOP-Icon-150x150BrainPOP Featured Movie – BrainPOP®
Ages: 5 to 10
Cost: Free with in-app subscription purchase available!
Purpose: Each week a new feature movie is added. Three movies are always available to teach topics in Science, English, Social Studies, Arts and Music, Math, Health, and Engineering and Technology. The animated short movies are based on questions students send in. Following the movie, a quiz to test what you know is also available. Subscriptions also give access to other features like encyclopedia references, photos, and more.

*Links take you to the Apple iTunes App Store.