Friday, July 26, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Today, we feature a short little rhyme all about fruit: Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

Watermelon, watermelon (shape watermelon with hands)
Papaya, papaya (shape papaya with hands)
Slice up the banana (chop hand down one arm)
Slice up the banana (chop hand down other arm)
Fruit salad, fruit salad (hands on hips, rotate hips)

This super-short rhyme is sure to delight kids.  The hiccupy last line, complete with hip wiggles and all, is such a hilarious way to end the fun! 

I like how this rhyme gives kids a chance to practice making shapes with their bodies while learning about a few fruits at the same time.

Watermelons are great big ovals (and very delicious)...

Papayas are a little bumpy, with the top smaller than the bottom (and also delicious)...

and Bananas are nice and long, just like our arms (and... you guess it... delicious!).

The shapes that make up these familiar fruits also make up the letters that we read.  Kids who are comfortable playing with shapes are one step closer to mastering the pre-reading skill we call Letter Knowledge.   This refers to a child's understanding that letters are different from each other, that they have names and associated sounds, and that they combine to form printed words.

As with last week's rhyme, I picked this one up while attending the recent American Library Association annual conference.  I'm indebted to Ms. Anna for sharing this one.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Here's a new lap bounce that's sure to get your little one smiling: We're Going On a Smooth Road 

We’re Going On a Smooth Road

(Gently bounce child on your knees)
We’re going on a smooth road, 
a smooth road, a smooth road.
We’re going on a smooth road, 
a smooth road now.

(Bounce child a little higher)
We’re going on a bumpy road, 
a bumpy road, a bumpy road.
We’re going on a bumpy road, 
a bumpy road now.

(Bounce child erratically.. end with child falling between your knees)
We’re going on a rough road, 
a rough road, a rough road.
We’re going on a rough road
Whoa!! Oh no!  A pothole!

This lap bounce is very similar to This is the Way the Ladies Ride.   However, it's got a little added twist with the chance to drop your baby between your knees at the very end.  I highly recommend sitting on the ground with your legs outstretched for this one.  That way, when you drop your child for the final bump, they don't have very far to go.

The progression from smooth to bumpy to rough is tons of fun.  Little kids love anticipating the transitions.  You can pause between verses to help build the suspense.  The results are completely riotous!  When children have very fun experiences around songs and rhymes, they are drawn to the joy of language.  Having a love of language helps kids stay motivated when they learn how to read!  We call this print motivation.

I learned this rhyme while attending the recent American Library Association's annual conference.  A very nice librarian showed it off during a storytime share and I was immediately taken.  When I got home, it was the first thing I shared with my toddler and it passed the test!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Early Numeracy: Shaping Up!

Shapes are all around us!  Circles grow from a drop of water.  Hexagons make up the cells of beehives.  And traffic signs come in all kinds of shapes.

Shapes help us learn about the world around us.  You can discover exactly how big something is by doing a special kind of math called geometry.  This can be very useful when you want to know how much paint to buy before painting your walls.  But, long before you do any geometry, you need to be able to recognize shapes.

Recognizing shapes is another early numeracy concept that children naturally gravitate toward.  Toddlers and preschoolers love playing with shape sorters, blocks and other wooden stackable toys.  Who doesn't love building up a tower and knocking it down?

When kids identify and sort shapes, they develop important knowledge that will eventually help them when they begin to do math.  But, wait!  It gets better.  They will also have an easier time learning to read.  Letters are made up of shapes, after all.  A capital "A" is nothing more than a triangle on stilts and an "O" is a circle.  Pretty cool!

Here is a super-simple shape game to play with kids:
  1. Cut up construction paper into a wide variety of shapes - circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, etc.
  2. Using glue and a blank piece of paper for a background, ask your kids to make a picture with the shapes
  3. Challenge your child to make a specific picture with the shapes - a house, an animal or a self-portrait
  4. Add an extra challenge by asking your child if they can make the same picture using only one shape - for example, make a self-portrait using only triangles!
There are many excellent books that introduce kids to shapes in fun and meaningful ways.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Title: Circle Dogs
Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Find this book at your library

A very fun story about a pair of dachshunds who live in a square house, have triangle ears and form circles when they sleep.  The high contrast illustrations make spotting shapes nice and easy!
Title: Hockey Shapes
Author: Christopher Jordan
Find this book at your library

Sports are full of all kinds of shapes.  Hockey is no exception.  It's great showing kids how shapes can help us play games!
Title: My Heart Is Like a Zoo
Author: Michael Hall
Find this book at your library

Very bright and colorful, the heart shape helps to show off all of the animals at the zoo.
Title: Not a Box
Author: Antoinette Portis
Find this book at your library

A bunny imagines a box to be many different things.. everything but a box!
Title: Round Like a Ball!
Author: Lisa Campbell Ernst
Find this book at your library

A guessing game in a book!  Cut pages reveal a growing circle as the reader tries to guess what it is.
Title: Shape Capers
Author: Cathryn Falwell
Find this book at your library

Loads and loads of shapes.  What can we do with them?  Just about anything we want! 
Title: Shape Detectives
Author: Dawn Prochovnic
Illustrator: Stephanie Bauer
Find this book at your library

Pairing shape exploration with sign language makes perfect sense.  Signing involves so much spatial awareness.  This is a great way to introduce kinesthetic learners to shapes.
Title: The Shape of My Heart
Author: Mark Sperring
Illustrator: Alys Paterson
Find this book at your library

A super-cool exploration of the many shapes that surround us daily.
Title: Shapes that Roll
Author: Karen Nagel
Illustrator: Steve Wilson
Find this book at your library

One of the greatest shape books I have seen!  Shapes interact with each other and show off all of the things they can and can't do.  A very meaningful voyage into the world of shapes.
Title: The Wing On a Flea
Author: Ed Emberley
Find this book at your library

Another great book showing the possibilities of shapes and how they integrate into the objects around us!

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

There's nothing like combining household chores, tongue-twisters and nursery games!  This week's rhyme does it all: Wishy Washy Washer Woman

Wishy Washy Washer Woman

Way down in the valley where nobody goes (point downward.. then wag finger)
There's a wishy washy washer woman washing her clothes
She goes: ooh! aah! (using both hands scrub down then up)
She goes: ooh! aah!
She goes: ooh! aah!
She goes: ooh! aah!
That's how the wishy washy washer woman washes her clothes!

Way down in the valley where nobody goes
There's a wishy washy washer woman drying her clothes
She goes: (blow!) aah!
She goes: (blow!) aah!
She goes: (blow!) aah!
She goes: (blow!) aah!
That's how the wishy washy washer woman dries her clothes

Way down in the valley where nobody goes
There's a wishy washy washer woman folding her clothes
She goes: (slap hands!) (slap hands!)
She goes: (slap hands!) (slap hands!)
She goes: (slap hands!) (slap hands!)
She goes: (slap hands!) (slap hands!)
That's how the wishy washy washer woman folds her clothes!

This rhyme has been a long-time favorite among campers.  It works great for little kids as well! 

I like how it uses the tongue-twisting repetition of the "w" sound.  It is definitely not easy for little kids to say the first time.  But it has so much repetition that it gives kids the chance to practice over and over.  The cadence is so bouncy and fun that kids can't help but get swept up into the crazy movements.

The best part of all is how the rhyme takes us through the very practical process of washing clothes.  First, we wash the clothes.  Then, we dry the clothes.  Finally, we fold the clothes.  Understanding sequence and order is a very important part of the pre-reading skill that we call narrative skills.  A child with narrative skills understands that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.  This understanding helps kids comprehend what they read!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fingerplay Fun Friday!

Today we have another fun baby lap bounce: One Two Three

One Two Three

One, two, three
Baby's on my knee
Rooster crows
And away s/he goes!! (lift baby)

One, two, three
(insert your child's name) is on my kneee
Rooster crows
And away s/he goes (lift baby)

I almost didn't share this video.  My little lap bounce guest has clearly lost interest in being bounced (after sitting for quite a few additional recordings.. poor guy).  I couldn't resist, though.  It is such a great example of how quickly kids learn to identify patterns.  If you watch closely, you will notice that before I raise him the second time he looks upward in anticipation of the lift.

When children recognize patterns in language, they are developing important pre-reading skills.  Pattern recognition is such a critical part of learning how to decode and make sense out of what we read.  The more chances kids have to experience patterns in language, the easier it is for them to anticipate and make guesses when they are learning how to read.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

¡Hola! Bonjour! Little Pim!

The Washington County Cooperative Library Services is thrilled to announce a new online language learning resource: Little Pim!

Little Pim is a cute little panda bear who guides young children through an introduction to basic foreign words and phrases in a fun online learning experience.  Powered by Mango Languages, Little Pim builds upon quality early childhood language research and is specially designed for use by children ages 0-6.

Available languages include: Russian, German, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Hebrew, English (ESL), Spanish and French.

Little Pim uses an Entertainment Immersion Method® to introduce kids to familiar words and expressions.  Folks who are familiar with immersion methods of language instruction will quickly recognize the style of teaching.  Visual clues help to reinforce words or phrases being introduced.  In addition, a considerable amount of repetition allows kids the opportunity to build mastery at their own pace.

As our communities become increasing more global, we recognize that knowing a second or third language is a great asset for any child.  It is with this belief that we happily offer our library users the opportunity to enjoy the joy of learning along with Little Pim!

Visit our website to try out Little Pim (or Mango Languages):

Two words of note:
1) The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following recommendation: "Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens."
2) Researchers are discovering that direct interactions are more likely to generate language learning in very young children than passive media consumption. To this end, we recommend that you enjoy Little Pim in the company of your child.  That way, you can learn together and create a meaningful interaction through practice.