Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quick Early Literacy Tips for Parents & Caregivers

Early Literacy Tips for Parents & Caregivers

Getting stuck giving Early Literacy Tips to Parents and Caregivers during storytime?

You feel like you don't know what to say or
feel like your tips are too wordy?

Give these quick tips a try!

For Babies (0 - 2 years of age):

Print Motivation (Love Books): The interest in and enjoyment of books and reading
  • "Babies have short attention spans. Unless your baby really wants to, you don't have to read for more than 2 - 3 minutes at a time."
  • "Keep the reading sessions short and fun! When they lose interest, go on to another activity and read more later."
  • "Babies and toddlers who grow up with books around them become more motivated to learn to read."
  • "Keep books everywhere -- in the diaper bag, in the car, in their bedrooms, all over the house."
Phonological Awareness (Play with Sounds): Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  • "Hearing and making animal sounds helps your child hear different kinds of sounds in language."
  • "Babies can start to tell the difference between sounds, which helps them hear the smaller sounds in words."
  • "Songs have a note for every syllable, so when you sing songs to your baby, you're helping them hear that words can 'come apart' into syllables."
  • "Understanding 'parts of words' will help them sound out words they are ready to learn to read."
Vocabulary (Learn New Words): Knowing the names of things
  • "Sing song like 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes' and point to the body parts as you sing them."
  • "Active songs like 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes' are a great way to increase vocabulary!"
  • "Talk to your baby and toddler all the time -- even before they can answer you!"
  • "The more words a child hears, the bigger their vocabulary will be. The more words they know, the easier it is to recognize words when they start to read."
Narrative Skills (Tell Stories): Being able to describe things and events, and tell stories
  • "Talk about what you're doing, out loud, while you're doing it."
  • "Understanding how stories work helps with reading comprehension when they start to read. Tell stories often and your baby or toddler will soak up your words and start learning about how stories work!"
  • "When your baby babbles at you, say something back! Then pause and wait for an answer."
  • "Don't worry if your child can't say anything back, or that you're not understanding each other -- your baby is learning how conversations work."
Print Awareness (Use Books): Knowing how to handle books, noticing print all around us
  • "Children love their own names!"
  • "Write their name on the pictures they draw, then put your finger under the letters and say their name out loud. This will help them start to learn that print represents the words they hear."
  • "In order to start learning how books work, babies need to be able to play with them."
  • "Keep some board books in the toy box and let them use all their senses to explore them -- touching, seeing, and even tasting!"
Letter Knowledge (Know Letters): Knowing the names, sounds, and shapes of the letters
  • "Let your child explore different shapes, different textures, different tastes. Talk to them about what is the same and different."
  • "Practicing figuring out what is the same and what is different will help them later when they try to figure out all the letters of the alphabet."
  • "Being able to tell letters apart is basically a shape recognition skill."
  • "Talk about shapes with your baby! Tell them that their rattle is round or that their book is square. You are helping them get ready to learn their letters!"

For Toddlers (2 - 3 years of age):

Print Motivation (Love Books):
The interest in and enjoyment of books and reading
  • "We are important role models to our children. They want to do the things they see us doing!"
  • "Let them see you reading -- tell them when you're reading recipes, or grocery lists, or magazines, or e-mails."
  • "Spend time everyday reading and experiencing books with your child!"
  • "Always keep it positive and fun. If your child gets restless, just put the book aside and come back to it later."
Phonological Awareness (Play with Sounds): Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  • "Play a rhyming game of 'I Spy' with your child -- 'I spy something that rhymes with sock'."
  • "Playing games with rhymes helps children get ready to read."
  • "We know that kids who know some nursery rhymes by heart have an easier time learning to read. This is because rhyming is one way kids learn to hear the smaller parts of words."
  • "Check out a Mother Goose collection and read one or two rhymes every day!"
Vocabulary (Learn New Words): Knowing the names of things
  • "As you're reading to your child talk about words that may be unfamiliar by giving a simple definition."
  • "A big vocabulary is a big help when it comes time to learn to read!"
  • "Ask your child lots of questions that don't have a 'yes' or 'no' answer. These are called 'open-ended' questions and they give toddlers a chance to use all the words they hear for themselves."
  • "Ask your child to 'use their words' instead of just pointing to an object or picture."
Narrative Skills (Tell Stories): Being able to describe things and events, and tell stories
  • "When your child tells you something, ask them lots of questions that don't have a 'yes' or 'no' answer. These are called 'open-ended' questions, and they give young children a chance to build their storytelling skills."
  • "When you're playing with your child, describe their toys for them -- 'This ball is round, blue, and bouncy.' or 'This teddy bear is brown and soft'."
  • "Being able to describe things helps build comprehension skills."
  • "Encourage your child to tell their own stories!"
Print Awareness (Use Books): Knowing how to handle books, noticing print all around us
  • "Be silly! Sometimes when you read with your child, hold the book upside down or backward and see if your child notices."
  • "If your child does not know the proper way to hold a book and turn the pages -- talk about it."
  • "Point out the words on a cereal box and signs on the street to your child, so they become aware that print is all around us!"
  • "Write their name on the pictures they draw, then put your finger under the letters and say their name out loud. This will help them start to learn that print represents the words they hear."
Letter Knowledge (Know Letters): Knowing the names, sounds, and shapes of the letters
  • "ABC books are a great way to share letters with your child."
  • "Look for ABC books with big, clear letters, and simple pictures."
  • "The most important letter to a child is the first letter of his or her name!"
  • "Look for a child's first letter in their name and point it out anywhere you might find it -- in books, on signs, or on cookies!"

For Preschoolers (4 - 5 years of age):

Print Motivation (Love Books):
The interest in and enjoyment of books and reading
  • "To really help your preschooler get excited about books, bring home books about the things they love and are interested in."
  • "Have your child say repeated phrases with you as you read -- like 'just right' in Goldilocks or 'chicka chicka boom boom'."
  • "This helps get them involved in the story, which makes reading more fun and enjoyable for them."
Phonological Awareness (Play with Sounds): Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
  • "Kids love their own names! Have your child help you think of other words that start with the same sound as the first letter in their name -- like for Megan; Milk, Moon or Mug."
  • "When you hear your preschooler use a cool new word, clap it out with them -- clap once for every syllable."
  • "Clapping out the syllables in words helps your child learn to hear them, which will help them sound out words when they're ready to read."
Vocabulary (Learn New Words): Knowing the names of things
  • "Reading books together is a great way to expand your child's vocabulary, since children's picture books have more 'rare' words in them than regular conversation."
  • "When you're talking with your preschooler, look for opportunities to use different words to help build their vocabulary."
  • "To help build their vocabulary, instead of saying 'car', you might say 'SUV', 'convertible', 'pick up truck', 'station wagon', or 'limo'."
Narrative Skills (Tell Stories): Being able to describe things and events, and tell stories
  • "Being able to tell stories is a skill that helps children understand what they're reading."
  • "After you read a story together a few times, let your child 'read' it to you!"
  • "When children understand how stories work, it helps their comprehension when they read."
  • "Use things you have around the house as props while reading a story. Then let your child play with the props -- this helps your child remember the story and retell it by themselves!"
Print Awareness (Use Books): Knowing how to handle books, noticing print all around us
  • "Learning to write and learning to read go hand in hand. Making little books with your preschooler is a powerful way to help them learn about print."
  • "Have your child draw pictures, then write down the story they tell you, and read it back to them!"
  • "Every now and then while you're reading a book to your child, run your finger under the words of the title or words that repeat. This helps your child learn you are reading the words on the page, and not the pictures."
Letter Knowledge (Know Letters): Knowing the names, sounds, and shapes of the letters
  • "Children learn better when they are interested in something."
  • "If your child loves princesses talk about the letter P. If you have Batman fans at home, draw the letter B for them on a piece of paper."
  • "Kids learn best by playing, not by flashcards, workbooks, or quizzes."
  • "Look for ways to play with letters -- keep foam letters in the bathtub and magnetic letters on the fridge. Draw letters with sidewalk chalk or make them out of play dough!"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Helpful Websites

Here's a list of websites to check out:

Born to Read

Through Born to Read, libraries partner with local health care providers and other community agencies to provide new and expectant parents with library cards, reading materials, incentives, and resources to help them raise children who are “Born to Read”.

Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy

Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy is passionately committed to strengthening children’s literacy through library services and community advocacy.

ELSIE: Early Literacy Storytime Ideas Exchange

Search ELSIE to find books that help children develop the early literacy skills necessary for learning success. Presentation notes show how to emphasize skills in a fun, interactive story sharing experience.

Every Child Ready to Read @ your Library

Every Child Ready to Read is a joint project of the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children that seeks to incorporate “the latest research into a series of parent and caregiver workshops to provide public libraries with vital tools to help prepare parents for their critical role as their child’s first teacher.”

Healthy Minds: Nurturing Your Child’s Development

Developmental milestones handouts produced by Zero to Three organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Hummingbird Educational Resources

This site is filled with preschool themes and storytime extension activities.

Important Milestones

Developmental checklists at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The checklist information is from Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, by Steven Shelov and Robert E Hannermann (American Academy of Pediatrics).

National Association for the Education of Young Children

“The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8.”

National Institute for Early Education Research

“The National Institute for Early Education Research supports early childhood education initiatives by providing objective, nonpartisan, information based on research. The goal of NIEER is to produce and communicate the knowledge base required to ensure that every American child can receive a good education at ages three and four.”

National Network for Childcare: Fingerplays Plus

“In this collection, we have included fingerplays with a variety of concepts and movements. We have also included some suggestions for related activities. Children learn best when they can experience or practice new concepts in several different ways. We hope these fingerplays and verses will become favorites.”

Reach Out and Read

“Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a national non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud in pediatric exam rooms across the nation.”

Reading Is Fundamental

Reading Is Fundamental offers resources, prepares and motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most.

Reading Rockets

“Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.”

Zero To Three

“ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Benefits of Traditional Storytimes

All Positive!

Libraries around the world offer storytime for their young patrons. Storytime provides many benefits to children:
  • Stories help develop a child's imagination.
  • Stories help a child discover new ideas.
  • Stories help nurture a child's listening abilities.
  • Stories help children comprehend the world around them.
  • Stories expose children to a larger vocabulary than the spoken word.
  • Stories introduce and reinforce concepts such as colors, shapes, letters, etc.
  • Stories encourage a love of reading.
  • Storytime encourages families to come to the library and check out materials.
  • Storytime introduces authors and illustrators to families in a fun way.
  • Storytime models good oral reading skills for parents and caregivers to follow.
  • Storytime can help children become successful readers and learners.
  • Storytime introduces songs, finger plays and nursery rhymes to parents that can be enjoyed at home.
  • Story time creates a social opportunity for parents and caregivers.
More Positives!

Traditional storytimes almost always incorporate fingerplays and songs as well as books. Benefits of these components include:

  • Songs can add fun, variety and movement to storytime.
  • Song help break up words into syllables for children to hear.
  • Songs allow children the opportunity to get up and move.
  • Songs help children stay focused.
  • Listening skills are sharpened.
  • Fingerplays help children learn about concepts such as numbers, size, shapes, direction, and color.
  • Fingerplays teach sequencing.
  • Fingerplays build coordination and strength in small and large muscle groups.
  • Fingerplays help create a positive self-image for children. Children learn that their minds and bodies contain a whole world of possibilities.
  • Fingerplays help children socialize with one another. They are a way of doing something "separately together".
  • Fingerplays are multicultural and have been passed down from generation to generation.
  • Fingerplays can be adapted to other activities such as flannel board stories, puppet shows, and music.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Storytime Sample

Here's a sample Storytime Plan from Granby Public Library for the Preschool Story Hour on April 15, 2009.

Storytime Plan
Spring Time

Welcome and Closing Song: "The More We Get Together"

  • Bear Wants More; by Karma Wilson [Narrative Skills, Print Motivation, Print Awareness, & Vocabulary]
  • Flora's Surprise!; by Debi Gliori [Narrative Skills, Vocabulary, & Print Motivation]
  • Muddigush; by Kimberley Knutson [Phonological Awareness]
  • Spring an Alphabet Acrostic; by Steven Schnur [Print Awareness, Phonological Awareness, Letter Knowledge, & Vocabulary]
  • Spring is Here Grumpy Bunny!; by Justine Korman [Narrative Skills & Vocabulary]
  • Spring's Sprung; by Lynn Plourde [Phonological Awareness]
  • Splish, Splash, Spring; by Jan Carr [Print Motivation, Phonological Awareness, & Vocabulary]
  • Stuck in the Mud; by Jane Clarke [Narrative Skills, Vocabulary, Print Awareness, & Print Motivation]
  • When will it be Spring?; by Catherine Walters [Narrative Skills, Print Awareness, & Vocabulary]
  • Did you ever see a bunny hop so......(fast, slow, backward, & on one foot)
  • 10 Little Bunnies (Counting on fingers ending in claps or bunny hop)
  • Open Shut Them
  • Itsy, Bitsy, Spider
  • Bear Hunt
  • Bunny Hokey Pokey (with Bunny Puppets)

Early Literacy Tip for Parents & Caregivers:
  • Helping children get involved in the story makes reading more fun. They can guess what will happen next, count, or repeat phrases.
  • Paper bag Bunny Puppets
  • Hop Parade with Bunny Puppets

Observations and Feedback:

  • Books Read:
  1. Spring Sprung (illustrations are beautiful, but the concept of Mother Nature in a human/nature form was hard for preschoolers to grasp; however, great questions were asked, "Why is the mother green?" and "She looks like the hill.")
  2. Bear Wants More (was followed by a successful Bear Hunt, which the children loved! The children got involved in the story and repeated the phrase, "but bear wants more" with little prompting.
  3. Stuck in the Mud (Relate our Mud Season with spring. Great book for Print Motivation! Children liked the animals and repeated who was stuck with the appropriate animal sounds, plus counting the baby chickens and animals stuck.)
  4. Flora's Surprise! (Parents liked this story a lot. It's cute and it's a great lead into the bunny puppets or in the future a lead into a gardening project. Children repeated "It's a house".)
  • Fingerplays/Songs:
  1. As always the Bear Hunt is successful.
  2. "Did You Ever See a Bunny" and the "Bunny Hokey Pokey" were also great ways to expend energy.
  • Crafts/Activities:
  1. Paper bag Bunny Puppets were a hit! Pieces were already cut out, so they could focus on gluing and decorating their bunnies. A demonstration of assembling a puppet was very helpful to the children.
  2. In the Bunny Parade we use the skills we learned in the "Did You Ever See a Bunny" hopping slowly, fast, backward, and on one foot around the room.

Storytime Components

Storytime Components recommend by
Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy

Effective storytimes don't "just happen". They take time to prepare, require practice by the librarian and have basic ingredients regardless of the storytime theme or subject. They also require flexibility to adapt books, fingerplays and songs to the attention span of the children.

The basics of a good storytime incorporate the following components:
  • Opening or Welcoming Song. (This song should be the same every week.) Like: "The More We Get Together", "If You're Happy and You Know It", "Here We Are Together"
  • Age appropriate books. Things to remember when choosing your storytime books:
  1. Don't use long or complicated books with preschoolers
  2. Use eye contact, voice inflection, and enunciate loudly and clearly
  3. Always note who the author and illustrator are
  • Songs and fingerplays. These transitional activities engage the children, keep them involved and help them be ready to listen to another book.
  • A variety of materials such as puppets, flannel-board storied, cut and tell stories or draw and tell stories. (But not all of these every time--change it up.)
  • Closing Song. (This song should be the same every week.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Storytelling Techniques

A simple review of Storytelling Techniques:

  • Enthusiasm - enjoy what you are doing!
  • Hold the book so all children can see.
  • Read clearly and expressively and not too fast.
  • Interactive - involving the children in the stories and activities. (Dialogic Reading, crafts, etc.)
  • Adjusting stories and activities to the needs of the children.
  • Have fun - If you're not having fun, your audience is probably not having much fun either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dialogic Reading

"How we read to children is as important as how frequently we read to them."
-Multnomah County Library

Dialogic Reading is an important method developed by researchers to get children more activity involved when a story is read to them. Children learn more when they participate. With Dialogic Reading the adult helps the children become the tellers of the story. The adult becomes the listener, the questioner, and the audience for the children. Think of it as children and adults having a conversation about the book.

Dialogic Reading is based upon three techniques:
  • Asking "What" Questions:
  1. Point to the item in the book and say "What's this?" or "What's this called?".
  2. Avoid questions that the children can answer with a "yes" or "no" or by pointing.
  3. Repeat what the children say. Let them know the answer is correct by repeating it back: "Yes, that's a cow."
  • Expand on what the children say:
  1. Keep expansion short and simple.
  2. Make sure to build on your child's phrases just a little so that your child is able to imitate what you've said. Add, "Yes, you're right! That's a truck, a yellow dump truck."
  3. Continue the conversation by following the answers with questions. "What is that truck doing?" "Yes, it looks like he is dumping dirt into the hole."
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions:
  1. Open-ended questions do not have right or wrong answers and send the message, "I want to know what you think."
  2. Open-ended questions require more thought to answer and encourage children to use their imaginations and more words. "What do you see on this page?" "What's happening here?"
  3. Ask the children to say more, "What else do you see?" Open-ended questions allow children to say whatever they're thinking which often leads to interesting conversations.
Other questions could be:
  • "What else do you see?" "Tell me about." and "What if." and "I wonder how." or "How did that happen?" or "What do you think?"
  • If a child doesn't know what to say about a picture, you may need to help by answering the question yourself, "I think he may be..."

These three techniques are designed to encourage children to talk more and give descriptions of what they see. Dialogic Reading can be used for children of all ages but is most effective when a child has at least 50 words of expressive vocabulary.

When sharing books with babies:

  • The adult asks a question, pauses, and then answers the question. This helps babies learn new vocabulary, plus he learns that conversation involves "taking turns."
  • Example: "Where's the baby's nose?" Then, pointing to the picture, "There's the baby's nose!"
From 19-24 months, toddlers who have learned about 50 words experience an explosive period of vocabulary growth. In this "vocabulary-spurt" toddlers learn about nine new words a day or 63 per week! Dialogic reading can make the most of this stage by continuing the development of vocabulary and language skills when language learning is at a peak.

On tests of language development, children who have been read to dialogically are substantially ahead of children who have been read to traditionally. Children can jump ahead by several months in just a few weeks of Dialogic Reading.

Remember to:

  • Praise and Encourage: Tell the children when they are doing well by saying things like: "Good talking" or "That's right. Good job!"
  • Help the children as needed: If the children are unable to answer your question, give the correct answer and ask them to repeat what you have said. "The duck is swimming. Now you say 'The duck is swimming.'"
  • Follow their interests: If a child shows an interest in a picture either by talking or pointing to it, follow it up immediately by asking questions to let the child talk.
  • Have Fun! Keep reading fun and like a game. Switch between asking questions and just reading. For example read one page and then have the children tell you about the next page.
This is just one way to share a book. Children also benefit when adults read a book all the way through without stopping, which helps them understand the continuity of the story and enjoy the pleasing rhythms of language used well.

Early Literacy Storytime

We've got the Six Pre-Reading Skills under our belt and we know a bit about child development, but how can we create an Early Literacy Storytime?

What is Early Literacy Storytimes?

Early Literacy Storytimes or Literacy-Enhanced Sotrytimes or Literacy-Based Storytimes are a response to brain research. They are storytimes that model for parents and caregivers ways they can help a child develop the Six Pre-Reading Skills.

Key elements in a Early Literacy Storytime are:
  • Parents and caregivers are strongly encouraged to attend storytimes with their children and have fun.
  • At least one Early Literacy Skill is highlighted during each storytime.
  • The storytime leader models activities during the storytime that builds Early Literacy Skills.
  • Books and activities selected promote the use of Early Literacy Skills.
  • Information is given to parents and caregivers either verbally, through a handout or both about ways they can build Early Literacy Skills with their child/children at home.

"There is substantial data proving that programs which promote the growth and development of young children are the best investment for developing human capital necessary for economic growth."
- World Bank Symposium, 2005

Children's Developmental Milestones

Children's Development Milestones

Now that Six Early Literacy Skills have been broken down, I thought I'd share the development milestones in children that will help us understand how a child is developing. This information will assist us in enhancing our storytimes with activities, books, and crafts accordingly.

From 0 - 12 Months
  • Has full color vision (6 months for eyes sight to fully develop with color vision - high contrast books recommended)
  • Socializes by watching faces
  • Becomes interested in pictures
  • Stands for a moment without support
  • Looks at correct picture when image is named
  • Begins to use objects correctly

By 24 Months
  • More excited about the company of other children
  • Separation anxiety increases towards midyear, then fades
  • Begins to sort by shapes and colors
  • Begins make-believe play
  • Recognizes names or familiar people, objects, and body parts
  • Scribbles on his or her own

By 3 Years
  • Objects to major changes in routine
  • Matches an object in hand or the room to a picture in a book
  • Vision nears 20/20
  • Understands most sentences
  • Bends over easily without falling
  • Turns book pages one at a time

By 4 Years
  • Cooperates with other children
  • Often can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality
  • Recalls parts of a story
  • Understands the concepts of "same" and "different"
  • Begins to copy some capital letters

By 5 Years
  • Abel to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Can count 10 or more objects
  • Understands books are read left to right, top to bottom
  • Hops, somersaults, stands on one foot
  • Understands that stories have a beginning, middle, and end
  • Draws pictures that represent animals, people, and objects

Monday, April 20, 2009

Letter Knowledge

"The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Communities ranking high in achievement tests have several factors in common: an abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large, and a large number of textbooks per student."
- Newman, Sanford, et. All. "Americana's Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000.

Letter Knowledge "Know Letters"
is a very common school readiness sk
ill. Most kindergarten teachers expect that children will know their letters by the time they enter kindergarten. It involves:
  • Recognizing and naming letters of the alphabet
  • Recognizing similarities and differences between letters
  • Recognizing that there are upper- and lower- case letters
  • Recognizing that specific sounds go with specific letters
Children who know their letters and understand that letters represent sounds are better prepared to "crack the code" (figure out the letter-sound relationship that becomes words). They understand that specific letter symbols can result in specific words and can start to predict the letters in words with some success.
  • Young children can quickly learn the alphabet song, but they are primarily learning it as a song, rather than understanding that the song refers to a list of letters.
  • By the age of 3, most children will start to show an interest in letters - especially the letters in their names. They may also recognize letters from their names in the words they see around them, also known as "environmental print".
  • Generally, 3 and 4 year-olds start to show interest in writing their names. It can be easier for young children to begin to write their names using all uppercase letters. Lowercase letters typically require greater fine motor skill.
  • By the age of 5, many children have expanded the letters they recognize and write to include letters in words that are familiar or meaningful to them.
  • Although even young children can be taught to recognize and write all the letters in the alphabet, understanding the function or purpose of those letters comes from meaningful experiences producing the letters (such as singing one's name and writing notes to people).
  • When children start to write their letters, the letters may be upside down or backwards. When writing their names or a word, the letters may be all over the page. They may skip letters or only write their favorite letters. They may just make marks on paper and claim the marks are letters. This is quite normal.

Letter Knowledge in Storytime:
  • When making nametags, talk about the letters in children's name. Point out when a child's name is written on something such as a list or the child's backpack.
  • Sing the alphabet song. There are many versions of the alphabet set to music, too. Carole King sings "A, Alligators All Around" on Really Rosie. John Litgow sings "A - You're Adorable" on Singin' In The Bathtub.
  • Talk with children about the shapes of letters. Look for things with similar shapes in the world around them. Ask children to create letters with their fingers or bodies.
  • Using large letters, create a sign-in sheet for the children with a line next to each name. Each time a child arrives, encourage him or her to sign in.
  • Talk with children about environmental print - the words they see around them, such as the EXIT sign above the door and the words on a child's T-shirt.
  • If possible, make writing materials available for play and exploration. Children need experiences with writing materials on a regular basis in order to find writing letter interesting.
Letter Knowledge Comments for Adults at Storytime:
  • Babies and younger toddlers: "Children under 2 do not need to know about letters. Letters are symbols that stand for specific sounds of speech, which is inappropriate for babies because it's intangible. It's much more important that babies and toddlers have real objects to play with and an engaged adult."
  • "Playing with shapes - balls, blocks, and sorting toys - is the beginning of shape awareness, which will lead to letter knowledge in later years."
  • Toddlers 30 months and older: "A fun game to play with your child is to go on a treasure hunt for his or her own letter - the first letter of your child's name. Show your child the letter and write it down; then, as you go though the day, see how many of that letter you both can find. Once that letter is mastered, move on to other letters, such as M for Mom, G for Grandpa."
  • "There are some great alphabet books that are more fun for children than the typical alphabet books with pictures and words labels. Try Albert's Alphabet by Leslie Tryon or SuperHero ABC by Bob McLeod."


What Can We Do for Letter Knowledge?
  • Flannels, props or stick stories containing large clear letters. For example: C is for Carrot and car, castle, and coin.
  • Songs and games using the beginning and rhyming letters in words
  • Large letters to use in play
  • Stick pictures, props or games using shapes
  • Using shapes in stories: Tell and Draw of flannel guessing shapes, such as Guess the Shadow

What Can Parents and Caregivers Do for Letter Knowledge?
  • Write the child's name often, spelling each letter out loud as you go along
  • Encourage your child to make letters with clay or in sand
  • Sing the alphabet song together

Suggested Books:
  • Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
  • A, B, See! by Marilyn Janovitz
  • Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
  • Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book by Brian P. Cleary
  • Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack! by Doreen Cronin
  • B is Bulldozer by June Sobel

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Print Awareness

"The earlier in a child's educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects." -Cotton, K. Wikelund, K., Northwest Regional Education Laboratory School Improvement Research Series, In Parent Involvement in Education.

Print Awareness "Use Books"
understanding how a book or a piece of writing works. When children go to school understanding how print (books and other written materials) works, they are more likely to be ready to learn other things about reading.
  • The symbols on a page are called letters; when all together, they are called words; and words have meaning
  • The series of words on the front of a book is the title and, likely, the name of the author and illustrator
  • A book has a front and a back, a top and a bottom
  • We turn the pages of the book
    from right to left, but we read the words from left to right. (This applies to English)
  • We start at the top of the page (or paragraph) when reading
  • We read the words in a book (rather than "reading" the pictures)
  • Books and other written material contain information
  • People use books and other written materials to help them in their daily lives (writing and using lists, looking things up, enjoying a story, reading the newspaper, figuring out which bus to take, writing letters and e-mail, and more)
Print Awareness can occur as early as 18 months of age. Children will imitate or pretend to read The book may be upside down, they may turn the pages the "wrong way", and they may use a "reading voice" while pretending.

Gradually, the children will hold the book properly, turn the pages one at a time, and even run their fingers along the print as though they were reading it.

Children may recognize familiar signs in their neighborhood, such as STOP signs. This is called
environmental print.

They may point out some printed words and then "read" them. A child may insist that they are reading the words correctly, even though they say
something different.

Print Awareness in Storytime
  • Each time you open a book, show the children the cover. Open the book as it is facing the children. Point to the printed title and author's and illustrator's names on the cover.
  • Talk with children about the specific elements of a book - title, author, and illustrator.
  • Occasionally, run your finger along the text as you read (particularly when words repeat or are otherwise interesting).
  • With preschoolers, you can read a book in a mixed-up manner and see if the children can correct you. Hold the book upside-down, or try to read the book from the back to the front. Be silly; have FUN!
  • If your storytime includes craft time, make books with children about topics of interest to them (such as dinosaurs, trucks, or birds). It may take several weeks, but if your group is fairly consistent, the process of making a book will help children learn the parts of the book and how a book works in English (the story goes from front to back, the writing goes from left to right, and title goes on the front cover).
  • Read books that highlight print of the characters engaged in writing.
  • Model how you use print in everyday life. Some ideas include making nametags for the children attending storytime or making a list of characters in a book while reading with children.
  • After sharing a flannel-board story, show the children the book it came from. You may want to open the book and show them how the character looks in the book.
  • Make large print copies of the songs or rhymes you are sharing and post them in a visible location. Occasionally point to a word or phrase on the posted sheet as you sing or recite those words.
Print Awareness Comments for Adults in Storytime:
  • "When you read to your baby, he begins to learn so many things about books, including how a book works. The knowledge of how books work is called print awareness, one of the six early literacy skills researchers have identified as crucial to reading success."
  • "Sometimes reading looks like chewing. That's okay because your baby is learning to feel comfortable with books. Babies who play with books find it easier to learn to read later on."
  • For Older toddlers and preschoolers: "To build your child's print awareness, help your child discover how to hold a book and turn the pages."
  • "When reading to your child, occasionally point out words in the book and talk about them. This helps your child distinguish between the pictures and the words and builds print awareness."
  • "At home, try holding the book upside down or backward and pretend to start to read. If your child recognizes your mistake, praise her and talk about the parts of the book. If your child doesn't understand, simply explain, "Oh, I made a mistake. Look, the book is upside down!" Then talk about the book. Gradually build on your child's knowledge of how a book works."
  • " As you are going about your day, point out words in your child's environment, like the word "STOP" on a stop sign, "bus" at the bus stop, or "apples" in the grocery store. This builds your child's print awareness, one of the six early literacy skills."


What Can We Do for Print Awareness?
  • Variety of books, including pop ups and toy books
  • Word strips, pictures for flannel board or on sentence strips, keep it simple
  • Training for storytime presenters to illustrate book skills like holding right side up, reading left to right, reading top to bottom etc.
  • Ways to put words and pictures together. For example; STAR is another way to say:

What Can Parents and Caregivers Do for Print Awareness?
  • Run a finger under the words as they are read
  • Call attention to signs and print on the road, at the store, in restaurants
  • Write messages to your children to show that print is useful and carries meaning

Suggested Books
  • Yes by Jez Alborough
  • Wiggle by Doreen Cronin
  • What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas
  • A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Susanne Bloom
  • Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • I Stink! by Kate McMullan
  • Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka
  • Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting