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).
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.
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.
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.
- Observe what your child is doing or what books a child has to check out.
- 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?
- Give your child time to respond.
- Expand the conversation by asking another question, expanding on your child’s comment, or confirming/repeating what the child said.
- Give your child time to respond.
- Repeat these steps until you have reached five exchanges.
- 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.
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.
You 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!
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.
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.
1. 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.
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 some 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.
4. 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, but 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!
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.
Read the article here. And check out Thirty Million Words the website here.