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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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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?
In 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. Reading 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.
A few years ago, the Every Child Ready to Read program came out and encouraged parents to use five basic ideas to help increase early literacy at home. These skills are singing, reading, talking, playing, and writing. Seems simple enough. These are activities most children under 5 do all of the time, right?
If you are looking for ways to be more intentional about teaching the early literacy skills to your child, here is a great idea using a favorite picture book. Perhaps you could do one activity each day based on the same book.
One of the six early literacy skills we teach at the library is “using books.” The technical term is “print awareness,” which just means children are aware of how to read a book and the parts of a book. Today, we will focus on the outside of the book.
- When you first pick up a book to read with your child, talk about the front cover and back cover. Ask prediction questions:
- “What do you think this book is about?”
- “Who do you think that little boy is?”
- “What do you think that baby is doing?”
- “Why is that dog doing that?”
- Point out the title. Point to the letters in the title.
- Show your child the author’s name. Describe what the author and illustrator do.
- Use words like cover, illustrator, author, title, spine, etc. Let your child hear those words so he can become familiar with them.
- Give your child the book, but hand it to them upside-down. See if they turn it the correct direction. Use your finger, or use your child’s finger, to point to the different objects, shapes, or letters on the cover.
Reading books together is important at an early age so your child can learn to appreciate the stories before they get to school. Knowing the parts of a book can help your child development a better appreciation for those books.
As the last day of school approaches, children are going to find themselves with free time. Instead of sleeping, eat junk food, or watching too much television, keep them reading this summer. (As someone who works at a library, I’m supposed to say that.) But I really mean it.
The goal is not to force a child to read–we don’t want to use reading as a punishment. They will only see reading as a bad thing. Instead, we want to motivate them to read and help them learn to love books. So what do we do when a child says, “I’m a good reader, but I don’t like to read.” Or “I hate reading.” And my favorite, “Books are boring!”
Esme Raji Codell, author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, has some suggestions:
- You can stay up as late as you want tonight, as long as you are reading.
- I know you like _______. Here’s a book of _______.
- Here’s a flashlight. I’ve set a place for you in the closet/under the table/on those pillows over there, so you can have a private spot to read.
- I’ve been saving this present for a rainy day. Here’s a new book/my favorite book from when I was your age.
- It’s hard to wait! Here, read this, it’ll make the time fly by!
- Would you keep me company while I sort laundry by reading me an article that interests you from the newspaper/magazine?
- Tell me about that book you just finished. It looked interesting.
You could also start asking your child random questions about a book sitting on the table. Ask silly questions (things you know couldn’t possibly happen in the book) to get them interested in talking about it.