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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.
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.
Writing is a very important skill for children to master. Writing involves creativity, comprehension, fine motor skills, sometimes the ability to follow directions, reading, and so much more. Writing is one of the five early literacy practices helping prepare children for school.
Here is a simple activity you can do with your child to incorporate writing into your day.
For my example, we read the story Orange Bear Apple Pear by Emily Gravett. It is a simple story with four words: orange, bear, apple, pear. The author uses the words in fun ways through her illustrations.
After we read the story, I asked my group of children to think of four words. They could use any four words. When they had a little trouble thinking of words, I asked them to name their favorite color, fruit, and animal.
We moved to the table. I gave them each a large piece of paper, and I told them to use their four words to write a story and draw a picture to go with it.
The most important part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. The hardest part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. Yes, you read that correctly. As adults, we have a tendency to want to make our children’s work perfect or help them the entire way. For this project, it’s important to let them figure it out on their own. Let them sound out the words and “kid spell.” Let them draw an animal the way they “see” it.
We did this with a mixture of age groups from 3 to 8 years old.
This mixes a little bit of process art (letting them create on their own) with a little bit of product art (there’s a specific end result with a few instructions). You will be surprised what your child comes up with!
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.)
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!
Have you ever left the baby wipe container sitting out where your child can reach it only to find all of the wipes scattered all over the floor? Or perhaps the tissue box was left on a table within the reach of your toddler and now it looks like it may have snowed on your living room floor? Here is an inexpensive (virtually free!) and quick way to solve this problem–at least when you remember to keep the tissues and wipes in a hard to reach place.
Peek-a-Boo boxes are a great way to let your child have fun pulling out scraps of fabric or scarves from a box without using up all the tissues or wipes. I found these great little treat boxes after the holidays for pennies, but you can use a Kleenex box (the kind with a hole on top not on the side) or an old baby wipes container. Simply stuff the box with scraps of fabric or lightweight scarves.
You can use scraps of fabric to play matching games as well as build vocabulary. I found fabric swatches at a local fabric store. They usually have them in the upholstery section precut. Often times they are free (just ask before taking). I cut the fabric in to two pieces. For toddlers and preschoolers, hide one piece of the fabric in a bedroom or living room or other child-friendly space in your house. Show your child its matching piece, and then send them around the room to look for its mate.
You can also use the fabric to talk about texture, size, color, and shape. Ask questions about how it feels using words like soft, stretchy, heavy, light, and rough in addition to color or shape names.