Wednesday, December 3, 2014

StORytime Oregon

The State of Oregon recently launched a new early literacy initiative:

stORytime: every day. everywhere.

It's built on the understanding that parents are a child's first teacher and they can grow the skills needed to become successful in school through these simple, every day activities:

(and we would throw in WRITING)

When parents interact with their children in fun and meaningful ways, learning happens!

I like to compare the act of raising a reader with growing a flower. 4 basic needs must be met if the flower is going to grow:
1) SUN
3) AIR

Think of the SUN as TALKING. If you surround your child with the warm glow of words, stories and conversations, their vocabularies will bloom, reaching always higher and higher.

Think of the WATER as SINGING. If you feed a melodious stream of song to your child, they will grow to respond to the rhythms and sounds that make up our language.

Think of the AIR as WRITING. If you draw and engage in fingerplays with your child, they will build the motor skills needed to put their own thoughts into the shape of the written word.

Think of the SOIL as READING. If you plant your child firmly in a ground of reading, they will grow rooted to a world of books and learning.

There is one last ingredient that keeps flowers blooming year in, year out: BEES!

Think of the BEES as PLAYING. Through a steady pollination of play, children go from being potential readers to actual readers. Children must enjoy reading and see its benefits firsthand. It is critical that we keep all early learning activities buzzing with fun!

If you follow these 5 basic practices in your daily interactions with your children, you will help them blossom into beautiful readers and eager learners!

We encourage you to learn more about Oregon's stORytime initiative by visiting them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Also, check out this activity sheet for some fun ideas and download this bookmark.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Print Motivation for Diverse Learners

This article originally appeared in Resource News (Vol. 30. Ed. 6), a publication of Child Care Resource & Referral in Washington & Columbia Counties.

The key to turning children into enthusiastic and curious readers starts with matching the right book with the right child. We call a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books their print motivation.

When a child connects with a book, he or she is motivated to seek out more books and put in the hard work it takes to learn to read.

Some psychologists and educators have argued that children learn best in one of three different ways:
Visual Learners find images and other visual representations help them learn
Auditory Learners respond best through listening and sounds
Kinesthetic Learners prefer to engage in physical experiences when learning.

It can be helpful to think along these lines when connecting children with books. Some children respond best to books that are packed with rich pictures. Others are drawn by books with rhythmic and musical qualities. Still others need books that get them moving and interacting in a physical way.

Here are a handful of books for toddlers and preschoolers sorted out by the learning style they support best.

Visual Learner Books

Title: Where's Walrus?
Author: Stephen Savage
Find this book at your library

Walrus has escaped from the zoo! Help the zookeeper find track him down in this wordless book.

Title: The World Is Waiting for You
Author: Barbara Kerley
Find this book at your library

Gorgeous photographs invite the reader to dive in and explore the world.

Title: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
Author: Steve Jenkins
Illustrator: Robin Page
Find this book at your library

A visual guessing game about animal body parts and their many uses.

Auditory Learner Books

Title: My Very First Mother Goose
Editor: Iona Opie
Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
Find this book at your library

A lovely collection of nursery rhymes, filled with rhyme and beautiful language.

Title: Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!
Author: Wynton Marsalis
Illustrator: Paul Rogers
Find this book at your library

A little boy describes the sounds that surround him in a rhythmic and entertaining way.

Title: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?
Author: Rita Gray
Illustrator: Kenard Pak
Find this book at your library

Children discover the calls of common backyard birds while puzzling over the silence of a nesting robin.

Kinesthetic Learner Books

Title: Can You Make a Scary Face?
Author: Jan Thomas
Find this book at your library

A silly bug invites kids to make a variety of fun faces.
Title: Bounce
Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Scott Menchin
Find this book at your library

Rhyming text encourages kids to bounce their way through this engaging picture book.
Title: Don't Push the Button!
Author: Bill Cotter
Find this book at your library

A monster entices kids to push a mysterious button, leading to some wild results.

It is important to expose children to as many types of books as possible. This will help you identify their book preferences and possible learning style(s). Not all children will fall squarely within one learning style category. One child may show an early connection with sound books and then will grow to love exploring picture-heavy and interaction books.

Your Washington County libraries love helping you get your children ready to read!  For more book recommendations, please visit our website or stop by your local library:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: When I Was One!

Here's a counting song for all the four-year-olds out there: When I Was One

When I Was One

When I was one I was so small
I could not speak a word at all

When I was two, I learned to talk
I learned to sing, I learned to walk

When I was three, I grew and grew
Now I'm four and so are you!

I like this one because it is a nice little counting game that helps build a solid foundation for beginning counters.

We count to the manageable number 4 and each number is described in a way that makes it distinct from from the others. Best of all, it is so natural to count by referring to our fingers. When kids count on their fingers, they are making a 1-to-1 correspondence between their physical finger(s) and the abstract idea of a number.

As with all skills, counting takes practice and it is best to begin with small steps. After kids arrive at the "aha moment" when they understand the connection between the amount of fingers and the abstract idea of a number, they will be better prepared for bigger counting exercises, counting backwards and other higher level math operations.

The ability to make the connection between the physical amount of fingers and the abstract idea of a number is not very different from the skill it takes a child to associate a sound with a letter or combination of letters (a word) with the idea that it represents. When we share rhymes and fingerplays that help kids make meaning out of the world, we're better equipping them for future school success!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Hickory Dickory Dock!

After a bit of a break, we're back!!! This week we feature an interactive take on a familiar old mother goose rhyme: Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck two,
Away the mouse flew,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck three,
The mouse went "whee!!!"
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck four,
The mouse fell to the floor,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck five,
The mouse took a dive,
Hickory dickory dock.

It is very easy to turn this action rhyme into a two-person game. One person gets to be the clock and the other gets to be the mouse.

With babies and young toddlers, I would recommend that you be the mouse and they be the clock. With older toddlers and preschoolers, you can be the clock while they take on the more challenging role of the mouse.

As you recite the rhyme, encourage a playful interaction by making the mouse squeak and scamper about. The clock can chime out the time, as well.

When children engage in imaginative play, they learn a great deal about how the world works. Play helps children think symbolically. In this case, an upraised arm becomes a clock and a hand becomes a mouse. The ability to think symbolically is critical to learning how to read. When we read, we must understand that written words stand for real objects and experiences.

In addition, two-person play helps children work on important social skills, like the ability to cooperate with others. As with most things, this takes practice. By playing little games like this, you can ensure your child is be ready to start school and "play well with others."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Best Books for Babies

It’s never too early to begin sharing books with the baby in your life. Research has shown that reading to a child on a regular basis is one of the most important activities toward building a successful reader.

Finding a book that is just right for your baby is easy.

Here are a few features that make books great for babies:

  • Bright, high-contrast images – geometric shapes and black & white illustrations for newborns, photographs and bold-line drawings for older infants
  • Familiar subject matter – things and activities that are familiar to the baby
  • Fun sounds – animal noises, car & train sounds and other silly sounds
  • Nursery rhymes – playful language for you to read aloud
  • Easy to handle – cardboard books and fabric books that little hands can grab

Every year a group of educators and librarians from Western Pennsylvania selects a list of the Best Books for Babies that were published in the previous year.

Here is the 2014 list of the Best Books for Babies (descriptions provided by Best Books for Babies):

Title: Baby Parade
Author: Rebecca O'Connell
Illustrator: Susie Poole
Find this book at your library

Smiling babies and their caretakers promenade through a cheerful landscape that combines realistic elements with unusual patterns and textures.
Title: Diggers Go
Author: Steve Light
Find this book at your library

Energetic painting of various kinds of heavy equipment stretch across the pages of this sturdy board book accompanied by amusing interpretations of the noises they make.

Title: Farm
Author: James Brown
Find this book at your library

High contrast illustrations present stylized images of familiar animals and objects; slight changes in texture add tactile appeal.
Title: Global Baby Girls
Author: Global Fund for Children
Find this book at your library

Crisp photos showcase baby girls from around the world who are “beautiful, strong, bold and bright” and sure to capture the interest of the very youngest listeners.
Title: Good Night, Trucks: A Bedtime Book
Author: Brian Biggs
Find this book at your library

Colorful cartoon-style pictures feature eleven different kinds of trucks, focusing on what they do and where they go at the end of the day.
Title: Healthy Baby: Cuddle, Eat, Move, Reach
Author: Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisovskis
Find these books at your library

Soft black-and-white photos of babies face pages that combine playful pastel illustrations with short sentences describing the babies’ actions.
Title: It's Time to Sleep
Author: Priddy Books
Find this book at your library

Brief and basic, this colorful point-and-say board book shows photos of babies, blankets, books and bears among other familiar items associated with daily activities and bedtime routines.
Title: Maisy's First Colors
Author: Lucy Cousins
Find this book at your library

Maisy and her friends enjoy their favorite yummy foods, featured in simple drawings with bright colors and described with brief rhymes.
Title: My Mother Goose
Author: David McPhail (ed. and illus.)
Find this book at your library

A treasure trove of traditional rhymes and original content, this collection is decorated with old-fashioned watercolor illustrations.
Title: Thumpy Feet
Author: Betsy Lewin
Find this book at your library

A goofy-looking orange cat with big green eyes, Thumpy Feet is interested in the same kinds of things that absorb babies’ attention: eating, playing, stretching and sleeping.

Best Books for Babies is a project of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Fred Rogers Company and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children.

Friday, March 21, 2014

WiserKids: a New Early Literacy Blog from Cedar Mill Community Library

Hi gang!

We're super-excited to announce a brand new early learning blog from our very own Cedar Mill Community Library: WiserKids: grow, learn, read, play, explore at your library

WiserKids will feature "information and activities about early literacy, reading recommendations, programs, special events and more!"  It is brought to you by the hard-working youth services team at the Cedar Mill Community Library and the Cedar Mill Library at Bethany.

We hope you will take the time to follow what promises to be a great library resource for families with young children!!

Also, in case you didn't already know, the Tigard Public Library has their own library blog for families (Family Book Bag) and the Garden Home Community Library has developed a fantastic set of Pinterest boards to help you connect with great books (Garden Home Library Youth Reads).  We highly suggest you check out these vast treasure troves.

We hope you can tell that the public libraries of Washington County love sharing tips with families to help kids get ready to learn and read!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Fe Fi Fo Fum!

Here is a silly little fingerplay: Fe Fi Fo Fum

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum

Fe, fi, fo, fum
See my fingers,
See my thumb.

Fe, fi, fo fum,
Goodbye fingers,
Goodbye thumb!

I like how simple this one is.  It is a perfect gateway to more complicated fingerplays like last week's I Saw a Little Rabbit or The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  

When little kids work on moving their fingers individually, they are preparing themselves for future writing success!

Please note that our Fingerplay Fun Fridays will be on a minor hiatus beginning next week.  The program will start back up on April 18th.  We apologize for this inconvenience but promise to return with more fun rhymes soon!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: I Saw a Little Rabbit!

Here's a cute little rhyme about a bunny: I Saw a Little Rabbit

I Saw a Little Rabbit

I saw a little rabbit
Go hop, hop, hop

I saw his long ears
Go flop, flop, flop

I saw his little nose
Go twink, twink, twink

I saw his little eyes
Go blink, blink, blink

I said, “Little rabbit,
Won’t you stay?”

He just looked at me,
And hopped away

I like this one because it encourages imaginative play. When you make your hand into a little bunny by extending your index and middle fingers, you're engaging in symbolic play.  Your hand isn't really a rabbit, you're just pretend that it is.  This makes perfect sense to adults, but to little kids it takes time.

There is a growing body of research about the importance of play in the early years.  From a literacy standpoint, when children recognize that something is a representation of an actual object, they begin to understand how books work.  The pictures and words on the page of a book stand for ideas and objects.  We use these symbols to communicate.  We call this understanding print awareness.  Children who understand how books work have an easier time learning how to read.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Form the Orange!

Here is one of our older videos: Form the Orange

Form The Orange

Form the orange,
Form, form the orange.
(hold hands apart in half circles, slowly bring together)

Peel the orange,
Peel, peel the orange.
(keep thumbs together, slowly separate finger-tips)

Squeeze the orange,
Squeeze, squeeze the orange.
(give yourself a great big hug)

Form the banana,
Form, form the banana.
(slowly bring palms together over your head)

Peel the banana,
Peel, peel the banana.
(slowly separate palms)

Go bananas,
Go, go bananas!
(dance any way you please)

I like this one because it's super-catchy and loads of fun for kids.  Best of all, it is a great opportunity for kids to practice coordinating their big body movements.  You start by making your hands into two half-circles, which you slowly bring together into one full-circle.  Making your fingers and thumbs meet takes some degree of focus.

Kids who are able to control their body movements will have an easier time learning how to write.  Writing requires a considerable amount of focus and precision.  When kids play with and practice their big body movements, they are working on important pre-writing skills!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink!

Happy Valentine's Day everybody!  Here is one of my favorite love-themed songs: Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink

Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky dinky doo
Skinnamarinky dinky dink
I love you!

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky dinky doo
Skinnamarinky dinky dink
I love you!

I love you in the morning
And in the afternoon
I love you in the evening
And underneath the moon

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky dinky doo
Skinnamarinky dinky dink
I love you!

I like this one because, in addition to being a great bonding opportunity for a child and the adult in their life, you can suit your actions to call attention to the homonyms "I" and "eye".  A homonym is a word that sounds exactly the same as another word but has a different meaning.

This rhyme can serve as a great conversation starter about homonyms.  After you have done the action rhyme with your preschooler, write out the words "I" and "eye" on paper and show them the difference.  This will help your child begin to understand how words in the written form work and how we can make the same sounds with different letter combinations.  We call a child's ability to understand how written words work Print Awareness and their ability to connect letters with sounds Letter Knowledge.

When you help your child understand how homonyms work, you also help them realize that much of our language depends on context.  Here is a silly little chant you can share to drive home the point:

I, I, I (point to self)
Me, me, me!!!

Eye, eye, eye (point to eye)
See, see, see!!!

Or, for all the sailors out there:

Aye, aye, aye (nod three times)
Yes, yes, yes!!!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Pease Porridge Hot!

Here is an old Mother Goose rhyme that introduces kids to the concepts of hot and cold: Pease Porridge Hot

Pease Porridge Hot

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old.

Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot,
Nine days old.

I like this one because it does a nice job of describing the opposites hot and cold.  When children understand how opposites work, they begin to see how one thing can have different qualities.  The porridge (or oatmeal) can be hot or it can be cold.  We use the adjectives "hot" and "cold" to describe or attribute specific qualities of heat to the object "porridge".

Kids who have a broad understanding of adjectives and opposites have an easier time making sense out of what they read once they begin learning.  Knowing the names of opposites helps them to make guesses, as well.

When you share books with your child, try taking a little extra time to describe the pictures on the page.  Use as many different words as you can to describe the objects and ask your kids to help describe.  You don't even need a book to help your child learn more adjectives and opposite words.  Simply describe the things you see throughout your day.

There are many excellent picture books that help kids master the concepts of opposite.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Title: Big Dog... Little Dog
Author: P.D. Eastman
Find this book at your library

Fred and Ted are best friends who are very different.  This delightful book uses a humorous story to introduce kids to opposite concepts.

Title: Biggest, Strongest, Fastest
Author: Steve Jenkins
Find this book at your library

The animal kingdom is explored with an eye to extremes.  While not an "opposite" book, the author does a nice job of including the opposing superlatives.
Title: Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!
Author: Sandra Boynton
Find this book at your library

Dinosaur lovers will enjoy this prehistoric book of opposites!
Title: Tall
Author: Jez Alborough
Find this book at your library

The concepts of tall and small are on display as a lovable and small chimp becomes tall with the help of friends!
Title: You and Me: We're Opposites
Author: Harriet Ziefert
Illustrator: Ethan Long
Find this book at your library

Zoo animals tell each other how their opposites.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CLEL Bell Awards Announced!!

The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) announced the winners of their Bell Picture Book Awards this morning!!

These awards have been given to recognize five picture books from 2013 that provide excellent support for early literacy development in children around five key practices: Read, Talk, Sing, Write and Play.

Without any further ado, here are the 2014 CLEL Bell Awards!!!
(click on each title to see Early Literacy Activity Ideas from CLEL)

Title: Open This Little Book
Author: Jesse Klausmeier
Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Find this book at your library

"Readers open the cover to discover five characters, each with their own little book, all within the pages of the first. Open This Little Book celebrates the pleasures of reading, sharing stories, and having a book of your own."
- Synopsis by CLEL
Title: Moo!
Author: David LaRochelle
Illustrator: Mike Wohnoutka

"A very vocal cow commandeers the farmer’s car and sets off on an adventure. The entire story is told with just two words: Moo! and Baa! The speech bubbles and the very limited vocabulary help children make the critical connection between the words we say and the print on the page."
- Synopsis by CLEL
Author: Laura Numeroff
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger

"A small kangaroo requests song after song to help him fall asleep, and his mother obliges by making up her own words to familiar tunes. Singing songs together is a powerful way to build phonological awareness skills and vocabulary, and Nighty-Night, Cooper models how a parent can use songs to create a comforting bedtime routine with a child."
-Synopsis by CLEL
Author: Jeff Mack

"Hand-written text and exuberant collages illustrate this story of a boy who takes great pride in his accomplishments. Reading skills and writing skills develop together, and the format of The Things I Can Do invites children to see themselves as authors as well as readers."
- Synopsis by CLEL
Author: Yuyi Morales

"Niño takes on all the toys in his room with an amazing series of lucha libre wrestling moves. When his sisters wake up from their nap, they challenge him to a match, too! Who will be victorious? Niño Wrestles the World joyfully demonstrates the language-rich, open-ended play that contributes to a child’s narrative skills."
- Synopsis by CLEL

Friday, January 31, 2014

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Jack Be Nimble!

This week's rhyme is presented as a three-for-one: Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack jump over
the candle stick

Jack jump high
Jack jump low
Jack jump over
And burn his toe!

I like this one because it shows a perfect example how a rhyme can be shared in many different ways.

In the video, I share it as:

  1. A baby lap-bounce 
  2. A fingerplay using American Sign Language
  3. A full-body action rhyme

Just because your child grows into a new stage of development, you don't need to throw out all of your old rhymes.  In fact, you can modify rhymes to suit the age and development of your child.  Just as many words have different meanings, rhymes can take on different forms.  Children who have playful experiences with different meanings and ways of doing things will have an easier time adapting and comprehending what they read once they begin learning.

Languages are extremely complex.  Idioms are a great example of how meaning can be quite elastic.  When a new reader encounters the sentence "it is raining cats and dogs," they will be extremely confused unless they have previously heard the idiom.

When we show kids how to play with language & generate different outcomes, we help them build the flexibility they will need to succeed academically!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Youth Book Award Time!!

This morning at 5 am, the American Library Association announced its annual Youth Media Awards!  Numerous awards were handed out, including best picture book (Randolph Caldecott Medal), best beginning reader (Geisel Award), best young adult book (Michael L. Printz Award) and best book for children (John Newbery Medal).

Stop by your local library and check out one of these award-winners!!

For more ALA Youth Media Awards and more information, visit the Association for Library Services to Children's website here.

Award: Newbery Medal
Title: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: K.G. Campbell
Find this book at your library

Award: Caldecott Medal
Title: Locomotive
Author: Brian Floca
Find this book at your library

Award: Geisel Award
Title: The Watermelon Seed
Author: Greg Pizzoli
Find this book at your library

Award: Paula Belpré Award - Illustrations
Title: Niño Wrestles the World
Author: Yuri Morales
Find this book at your library

Award: Paula Belpré Award - Text
Title: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Find this book at your library

Award: Coretta Scott King - Illustrations
Title: Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me
Author: Daniel Beaty
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Find this book at your library

Award: Coretta Scott King - Text
Title: P.S. Be Eleven
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Find this book at your library

Award: Sibert Medal
Title: Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Author: Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore
Find this book at your library

Award: Odyssey Award
Title: Scowler
Author: Daniel Kraus
Produced by: Listening Library
Find this book at your library

Award: Printz Medal
Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Find this book at your library