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.

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!

 

Let’s Get Moving

Children are wiggly. Telling them to stand still or “stop it” doesn’t always work. (If it does, please comment below and share with us how you get your children to stop–we love tips and tricks!). In the meantime, I would like to share some of my favorite games you can play with your children when you are required to wait.

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I Spy

One of my favorite games to play while standing in line, sitting in the car, or waiting for dinner to finish cooking is I Spy. It’s such a simple game, but it can be played in so many different ways depending on the age and development of your child. You can spy colors, objects that rhyme with a certain word, objects that start with a specific letter, or even objects that are a special shape. Take turns “spying for an object” with your child. Let them pick the object you have to identify, and let them find the object you spy.

Twenty Questions
Similar to I Spy, pick a person, place, or thing, and have your child ask you “twenty” questions as he tries to identify the object you chose.

Grandma’s House
Grandma’s House is a simple game that can be played in many different ways. Each person takes a turn always beginning with the phrase, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing…” And what he brings depends on what everyone decides is going to be the rule. It can be an object that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet (the most common version), objects that are compound words, words that start with a specific letter of the alphabet, words with two vowels together, etc.

So you’ve probably noticed these games do not require much movement. Bambini Travel has some great ideas on how to let your children get the wiggles out without being too disruptive to others. Click here for ideas on teaching comparing, number recognition, balancing, counting, gross motor development, and patterning.

What are your favorite ways to keep your children from getting too fidgety when they have to wait?

Reading with Wiggly Children

IMG_3643In honor of Read Aloud Month, we will be doing a series of posts on storytelling, reading aloud to your child, and sharpening your child’s narrative skills. Today, we will be discussing how to read with a wiggly child.

Picture this: A six-month old sits quietly in the arms of her father while he reads her favorite picture book, Night, Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. She reaches her fingers to touch the colorful illustrations. She helps turn the pages. She is attentive. She can’t wait to see what happens next.

Now picture this: A six-month old wiggles restlessly in the arms of his father while he attempts to read a book. He cries as dad tries to read the rhymes and turn the pages. He won’t sit still. crying babyReading to a young infant, toddler, preschooler, or high schooler can be quite the task.

Sometimes you might experience the child who loves to sit quietly and listen to you read. Other times it may feel like you are reading to yourself.

Children, no matter what their age, are wiggly. And that’s okay. While there is no fool-proof way to keep your child sitting in your arms patiently while you read, here are some tips you can follow.

1. Read age appropriate books. While you may love The Polar Express, your two-year-old probably won’t appreciate it quite as much. Wait until they are in school before attempting a book of this length or stick to just talking about the pictures. Dr. Seuss is a great author…but wait until preschool. Babies and toddlers should experience books with colorful pages, simple illustrations, and basic vocabulary and rhymes.

2. Create a routine. Read at the same time every day whether it’s bed time, bath time, or playtime.

3. Change the sound of your voice as you read. This doesn’t mean you have to practice new voices, it just means reading with inflection. Read with a whisper. Read with a loud voice. Read with a silly voice.

4. Read while you are sitting in a waiting room or standing in line. Always have a book with you. Or point to the words around you and read them aloud.

5. Don’t worry if your child isn’t sitting with you for the whole book. If you have a toddler and she loses interest, let her. You can keep reading–chances are she is still listening. Or set the book down and try again a little later or the next day. The most important tip we can share is to make sure reading is a positive experience. We never want children to feel frustrated or upset that it’s time to read.