Friday, June 28, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Here is a fun old English children's rhyme that works fantastic as a baby lap bounce: Bell Horses

Bell Horses

Bell horses, bell horses (bounce baby)
What's the time of day?
One o'clock, two o'clock (lift one of baby's arm, then the other)
It's time to run away!!
Clippety-cloppety-clippety-cloppety (bounce baby faster and faster)
Whee!!! (lift baby into the air)

This is a great lap bounce to help little kids work on building patience.  After doing the rhyme a few times, your child will begin to understand that the quick bouncing and lift are coming up.  This generally makes them super-excited and wiggly with anticipation.  You can extend and prolong the "clippety-cloppety" bouncing to get them even more eager!

Learning to self-regulate and wait for a reward is an essential life skill that kids need before they get to school.  As with many things in life, waiting is the hardest part... and it takes a lot of practice to master!  When kids have meaningful opportunities to work on waiting, they slowly find that it gets easier and easier.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Do you need to update your workout routine?  We've got you covered! 

Check out this week's nursery rhyme: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Here We Go Up, Up, Up
(sitting on the floor with baby resting on your foot)

Here we go up, up, up (lift baby up)
Here we go down, down, down (lower baby)
Here we go backward (push baby toward you)
And forward (bring baby toward you)
And here we go round and around!!! (rotate baby around in circles)

I can't think of a more fun way to work on your abs than with this wild little rhyme.  Pair this with Let's Go Riding In an Elevator and you've got yourself a full-body workout.  P90X has nothing on nursery games!!

When we do rhymes like this we are helping kids build a better understanding of spatial relationships.  "Up" and "down" are concepts that kids figure into the bigger early literacy skill we call print awareness.  Print awareness is a child's understanding of how printed words works.  When kids begin to learn how to read, they need to understand that, in English, we typically read from left to right, top to bottom (or UP to DOWN). 

Spatial understanding and awareness is also a very important part of a child's early math and science knowledge.  Follow our recent blog posts on early numeracy for more early math information.

So much learning is involved in such a silly little nursery game.  How cool is that?!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Early Numeracy: Big & Little

The concepts of greater than and less than are very important within the field of mathematics.  Surprisingly, children almost instinctively understand these ideas from early on.  Kids see that one group of things is bigger than another.  They easily recognize that having two cookies is better than having one cookie (unless, of course, the one cookie is the world’s largest cookie).

But sometimes we need to stop and count or measure things to figure out exactly which is bigger.  When we follow through by counting or measuring, we are verifying what we may have only guessed.  This is how the scientific method works!  See how math and science work together?  When we help kids by modeling this behavior and talking with them about the math ideas, we are helping them grow a bigger understanding of how things work.

Here’s a fun little family activity for building an understanding of greater than and less than:
  1. Gather everybody in your home and measure heights along a wall by putting up a piece of masking tape for each person.  (you can measure pets or stuffed animals, too)
  2. Write each person's name and age on the tape using a marker.
  3. Work together to figure out:
    a. Who is the tallest person?
    b. Are any people the same height?
    c. Is the oldest person the tallest?
    d. Is the youngest person the shortest?
Here are some fun ways to figure out the answers to the last two questions: First, rearrange the pieces of tape in order from shortest to tallest and then have each person stand in front of their name.  Then, rearrange the pieces of tape in order from youngest to oldest and then have each person stand in front of their name.  Did the order change when you sorted by size or by age?

There are so many opportunities for introducing the concepts of greater than and less than during daily conversations.  Next time you are at the dinner table, try counting the pieces of food on each plate and figure out who has the most pieces.  Or, try counting the number of pockets on you and your child’s clothes to determine who has the fewest.  When kids play around with measurement and amount ideas, they are able to make meaningful connections that will help them master harder math concepts once they are in school.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite books dealing with size and quantity:

Title: Bear Wants More
Author: Karma Wilson
Illustrator: Jane Chapman

Bear wakes up after his long hibernation and he is hungry!  He keeps eating more and more, but he is still hungry.  The idea of more is one of the first math ideas kids grasp.  Here's a great followup question for this book: Who ate more, Bear or his friends?
Title: Big, Bigger, Biggest!
Author: Nancy Coffelt

This is a fantastic introduction to greater than and less than!  A series of animals help describe all sorts of measurement ideas like "big" and "small," "fast" and "slow."
 Title: Biggest, Strongest, Fastest
Author: Steve Jenkins

Superlatives like "fastest" and "strongest" are detailed along with really cool little charts that show how the animals stack up in comparison with humans.

Title: Guess How Much I Love You
Author: Sam McBratney
Illustrator: Anita Jeram
Find this book at your library

"I wish I had a million dollars!" ... "Oh yeah... I wish I had a billion dollars!" ... "Well, I wish I had a billion plus one!"  This adorable book wrote the story on one-upping!
Title: Higher! Higher!
Author: Leslie Patricelli
Find this book at your library

A little girl swings higher and higher, exploring many different heights until she flies right out of this world!!
Title: I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
Author: Kevin Sherry
Find this book at your library

A giant squid shows off all of the things that he is bigger than before declaring himself the biggest thing in the ocean.  Unfortunately, he hasn't met the whale yet!
Title: Just a Little Bit
Author: Ann Tompert
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger
Find this book at your library

Elephant wants to try out the seesaw, but nothing seems to happen when his friend Mouse sits on the other side.  A whole zooful of animals help out until Elephant finally rises.  A great introduction to the idea that one can be greater than many (in this case, Elephant weighs more than lots of his friends together).
Title: More
Author: I. C. Springman
Illustrator: Brian Lies
Find this book at your library

A magpie keeps filling his nest(s) with more and more junk!  His friends finally help him learn when enough is enough.
Title: Stuck in the Mud
Author: Jane Clarke
Illustrator: Garry Parsons
Find this book at your library

A farmyard tries to pull a little chick out of the mud.  But just how many animals does it take to get him free?
Title: Tall
Author: Jez Alborough
Find this book at your library

A small chimp gets a little help from his friends in order to become tall.  This is a terribly fun introduction to ideas of relativity.

photo by Ellen Levy Finch

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Here is a silly little song about a bossy duck: Six Little Ducks

Six Little Ducks

Six little ducks
That I once knew
Fat ones, skinny ones,
Fair ones, too
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He ruled the others
With a quack, quack, quack

Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
He ruled the others
With a quack, quack, quack

Down to the river
They would go
Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble
To and fro
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He ruled the others
With a quack, quack, quack

Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
He ruled the others
With a quack, quack, quack

Back from the river
They would come
Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble
Ho, hum, hum
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He ruled the others
With a quack, quack, quack

Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
He ruled the others
With a quack, quack, quack

This rhyme is really quite goofy.  It has a nice bouncy cadence and is super-fun to sing.  The idea of one little duck leading (or ruling) the others is interesting, as well.  This is a great conversation-starter.  "Why do all of the other ducks follow the little one with the feather on his back?"

There is an awful lot of strange content in nursery rhymes.  Having a conversation with kids about what is happening in rhymes (and books) is a great way to help them make connections between what they hear and/or read and what they know from their own life.  Having the ability to look at things with a critical eye and make sense out of what they read will benefit kids greatly after they have mastered the decoding side of reading.  Comprehension is a major component of all future reading and education success!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Early Numeracy: Count Me In!!

STEM” has been a huge education buzz-word in recent years.  S.T.E.M. is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  These concepts have been driving an awful lot of national education policy lately.  And they are steadily trickling down into the world of early childhood education. 

Public libraries have been sharing information and tips on early literacy and what you can do to help get your kids ready to read for years.  We are now stepping up our game in other important areas, like sharing information about early numeracy!

Early numeracy is a child’s early knowledge of mathematical reasoning.  It includes concepts like numbers and patterns, measurements and shapes.  Children’s books are packed with opportunities for kids to practice math concepts in fun and meaningful ways, so it’s natural that libraries are standing up and sharing.

In the coming weeks, we will explore some of the major early numeracy concepts.  We will start with counting!

Counting is one of the earliest math concepts kids are introduced to.  There are countless nursery rhymes that encourage kids to count on their fingers (and toes).  Here is the Beehive and Five Green and Speckled Frogs are a couple of my favorites.  As kids count up and down with these fun little games, they are making a meaningful connection between abstract numbers and real-life amounts.  They are also learning the idea of sequence, that number one comes before number two, etc.

Counting is such a natural game that can be incorporated into any daily activity.  Whenever you have the chance, stop and ask your child to help you count something.  “How many cups are on the table?  Let’s count them!”  Kids love to count things!

Here is a huge collection of some of my favorite counting books:

Title: Counting Crocodiles
Author: Judy Sierra
Illustrator: Will Hillenbrand
Find this book at your library

A clever little monkey tricks her way across the Sillabobble Sea by offering to count the crocodiles that infest its waters!  Lots of fun counting up and down.
Title: Dinner for Eight
Author: Roger De Muth
Find this book at your library

A super-cool lift-the-flap book showing the delicious dinners octopus has cooked up for his friends.  It is fun to help kids count the guests and discover that octopus is one of the eight being served!
 Title: Doggies
Author: Sandra Boynton
Find this book at your library

Ten dogs sound off (each with a voice different from the others) in this hilariously fun counting book.
Title: Let's Count
Author: Tana Hoban
Find this book at your library

Beautiful photographs invite the reader to pick out objects and count from 1 to 100.
Title: Let's Count Goats!
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Jan Thomas
Find this book at your library

There are all kinds of silly goats to be counted in this wonderfully bright book that simply begs to be read aloud!
 Title: Minnie's Diner: A Multiplying Menu
Author: Dayle Ann Dodds
Illustrator: John Manders
Find this book at your library

The boys on the McFay farm are hungry and Minnie's Diner smells awful good.  Each older brother is exactly twice the size of his younger brother and each meal order is twice as big.  From 1 soup to 2 soups to 4 soups and on and on.  This is crazy fun with counting and an awesome introduction to the concept of multiplication.
Title: Mother Goose Numbers On the Loose
Author: Leo & Diane Dillon
Find this book at your library

A great collection of Mother Goose rhymes featuring numbers from "Baa Baa Black Sheep" to "1, 2 Buckle My Shoe"
Title: My Little Sister Ate One Hare
Author: Bill Grossman
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Find this book at your library

Quite possibly the grossest (and funniest) counting books ever written!  Little sister eats everything imaginable, exhibiting a stomach of iron... until she swallows a pea.
Title: One Is a Drummer
Author: Roseanne Thong
Illustrator: Grace Lin
Find this book at your library

A young girl identifies the many numbers that surround her each and every day.
Title: One Little Chicken: A Counting Book
Author: David Elliott
Illustrator: Ethan Long
Find this book at your library

Counting dancing chickens doesn't get any better than this! 
Title: One Ted Falls Out of Bed
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Anna Currey
Find this book at your library

One teddy bear falls out of bed and has an adventure through the numbers, finally working his way back into bed.  Numbers and counting weave through this story in such a beautiful, seamless way.
Title: 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe
Author: Anna Grossnickle Hines
Find this book at your library

Quilted panels helps show the familiar nursery rhyme as the reader counts buttons.  A very simple and fun introduction to the art of counting!
 Title: One, Two, Three!
Author: Sandra Boynton
Find this book at your library

Bouncy and rhythmic text makes counting from 1 to 10 tons and tons of fun!
Title: Seven Hungry Babies
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin
Find this book at your library

A mama bird is run ragged trying to feed her seven hungry babies.  This is a great and meaningful chance for kids to practice counting down from seven to one.
Title: Ten Apples Up On Top!
Author: Dr. Seuss
Illustrator: Roy McKie
Find this book at your library

A classic tale of one-upmanship!  Three animals keep adding more and more apples up on top until they are all balancing ten.
Title: Ten Black Dots
Author: Donald Crews
Find this book at your library

Black dots can make lots of things.  From 1 to 10, black dots help complete all sorts of pictures.  Cut your own black dots out of construction paper and imagine all of the many things black dots can be!
Title: 20 Hungry Piggies
Author: Trudy Harris
Illustrator: Andrew N. Harris
Find this book at your library

This funny book captures the adventures of twenty piggies from trips to the market and roast beef sandwiches to a hungry wolf who wants to eat all twenty piggies at his picnic.  But, where is the 20th piggie?
Title: Two at the Zoo
Author: Danna Smith
Illustrator: Valeria Petrone
Find this book at your library

A little boy and his grandfather take a trip to the zoo and count all kind of animals in this adorable counting book!

picture by: Onderwijsgek

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Happy Friday!  Here's a fun little movement game to get you ready for the weekend ahead: Looby Loo

Looby Loo

Here we go looby loo,
Here we go looby light,
Here we go looby loo,
All on a Saturday night.

You put your right hand in.
Your take your right hand out.
You give your right hand a shake, shake, shake,
And turn yourself about.

(continue with left hand, right foot, left foot, then end with whole self)

This rhyme will likely remind folks of the remarkably similar "Hokey Pokey."  The history of these game songs is really quite fascinating.  You may be surprised to learn that Sony/ATV Music Publishing currently holds a copyright to "The Hokey Pokey."  Our rhyme, "Looby Loo," is quite a bit older.  It may be found in print as early as Halliwell's 1886 edition of The Nursery Rhymes of England

What I like best about this rhyme is that it gives kids lots of opportunities for moving around and engaging in big body play.  At the same time, there are repeated chances for practicing the concepts of left and right.  As I have previously mentioned, concepts like left and right are part of the early literacy skill we call print awareness.  Print awareness is a child's understanding of how the printed word works.  For example, the fact that in English we typically read words from left to right and top to bottom.  When kids have a strong understanding of these spatial references, they are better equipped to learn how to both read and write!

This rhyme can work equally well as a baby lap bounce.  Simply bounce your child on your lap and gently grab the appropriate body part and give it a little shake, shake, shake!