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

Narrative Skills

"One out of five school children is reading impaired by the time he reaches 4th grade. 38% of our nation's fourth-grade children are reading below a basic level of proficiency."
-U.S. Department of Education, National Center
for Education Statistics. The Nations Report Card: Reading Highlights 2003

Narrative Skills
"Tell Stories" is the ability to understand stories (comprehension) and the ability to tell stories or describe events (production). Narrative Skills help children learn to read because when children understand story structure (beginning, middle, and end) and story components (who the characters are, what they do, and why they do what they do), they are better able to understand what they just read (comprehension) and predict what will happen next. When children do not understand a story, narrative skills can help children know what kinds of questions to ask in order to reach understanding.
  • 3 year old children can describe what happens during recurring events (What happens at lunch time? What happens when you get dressed?). These "event scripts" are an early form of narrative skill. As they grow older, they gradually add more detail to their scripts.
  • You may hear young children use story phrases like "once upon a time" or "the end".
  • Early on, children can tell stories about events that directly relate to their experience. As they grow older, they start to imagine and tell stories about things they have not experienced.

Narrative Skills in Storytime:
  • Include stories that are cumulative or sequential, and encourage children to guess what will happen next.
  • After reading, recall the main events of the story, asking them what happened next: "Then where did Spot go?" Or ask clarifying questions: "Why was Sally looking for Spot?"
  • Use flannel or magnet boards to tell stories. Allow children to participate in the telling of the story and the placement of the flannel pieces. Leave the flannel board and story pieces out after storytime for children over 3 to explore.
  • Retell a story with props, allowing the children to help.
  • Use fingerplays, action rhymes and songs that are cumulative or sequential.
  • Share some books without interrupting the reading, so children can hear the entire sequence and flow of the story; this helps them learn story structure. After reading, ask the children questions about what happened and why.
  • After storytime, ask children to draw pictures to go along with the book you read. Ask parents to write down the children's description of their picture.
  • Act out nursery rhymes or stories with children or encourage children to act out stories with puppets. Some children may become very interested in creating a puppet show.
  • Add on to favorite stories. What happened the day after Max visited the Wild Things? What else did the five little monkeys do?
  • Consider offering a favorite book sequel program to encourage children to write about what happens next in their favorite books. Record what the children say in their words. Ask clarifying questions ("Why did he do that?" "How did that happen?"). Ask the children to help illustrate the sequel. "Publish" the story for the children to take home, or post the story and pictures in the room.
Narrative Skills Comments for Adults at Storytime:
  • For babies and young toddlers: "When you pair a simple song with movement, such as 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider', you help build your baby's narrative skills. Seeing your child's hands come together to form the spider or his arms reach up to make the sun is evidence that he is beginning to understand the sequence of the story."
  • For older toddlers and preschoolers: "To build your child's narrative skills, encourage pretend play, and play along with her."
  • "Your child will understand stories and learn how to tell stories if you tell stories. Begin by narrating your day, and talking about what you are doing while you are doing it. Describe your actions using rich language and emotion."
  • "While sharing a book, let you child be the storyteller."
  • "After you read a book, use open-ended questions to help your child re-tell the sequence of the story. For example, "What happened when Max got sent to his room?" and "What did the monsters do?"
  • "Parents, encouraging your child to talk about daily routines is a great way to build narrative skills."
  • "Your child's ability to re-tell a story, or re-tell stories about special events, helps build narrative skills. Research show that this is a critical part of reading comprehension."


What Can We Do for Narrative Skills?
  • Use props for poems and stories
  • Have materials and do activities to extend discussion and learning from the books presented (games, puzzles, puppets, stuffed book characters, etc.)
What Can Parents and Caregivers Do for Narrative Skills?
  • Narrate your life activities as you go through the day and ask your child to describe what they are doing as well. Listen patiently and add details to their descriptions
  • Encourage prediction
  • Act out simple stories
Suggested Books:
  • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
  • Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
  • I Went Walking by Sue Williams
  • Dinosaur! by Peter Sis
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Chickens to the Rescue by John Hillelman


"When mothers frequently spoke to their infants, their children learned almost 300 more words by the age of 2 than did their peers whose mothers rarely spoke to them."
-Hare, B. & Risley, T.R., 1995. Meaningfull Differences in the everyday experiences of young American children.

Vocabulary "Learn New Words"
knowing the meaning of words and connecting the words to objects, events, or concepts in the world. (Words we must know to communicate effectively.)
  • Oral Vocabulary are the words we use in speaking or recognize when listening
  • Reading Vocabulary are the words we recognize or use in print
While developing vocabulary, children are also developing world knowledge, which is an understanding of how the world works and what is in the world.

Vocabulary is important to Reading Comprehension. Children use the words they know to make sense of the words they see in print. They cannot understand what they are reading without knowing what most of the words mean.

When children have more vocabulary, they can more easily make prediction about the words they are reading (Decoding), and apply their knowledge of the world as they try to understand what they are reading (Reading Comprehension).
  • Babies usually begin babbling by 6 months
  • Some babies say recognizable words by 12 months
  • It's estimated that from about 2 years of age on, a child learns approximately 9 - 12 words each day.
  • 3 year old children need to physically touch or explore something in order to learn the words that go along with the object or experience.
  • 4 - 5 year old children use their real life experiences to bring background knowledge to what they encounter in books. The real world and the world of books build on each other, so that their vocabulary grows even faster.
  • When children are very young, they may use a single word for all related objects. ("truck" may be used for all vehicles even bikes).
  • Children may combine two words together to create a word to describe a concept (saying "last day" for "yesterday").
Vocabulary in Storytime:
  • Talk about the meaning of words with children as they come up in books or conversation. "It's funny--the word 'flower' means two things. It can mean the pretty flowers growing outside in the garden. Or it can mean the white stuff people use to make cookies or bread." Children don't need to know that the two words are spelled differently, but understanding that there are two meanings to a word will enhance their understanding of words and the world.
  • Model you won interest in words. Don't dumb down you conversations with children.
  • Help children learn about the world by reading both fiction and informational books, especially about interesting places such as the zoo, park, or animal hospital.
  • Encourage children's interest in new words by asking questions like, "What is that?" "What do you use that for?" "What does that mean?"
Vocabulary Comments for Adults at Storytime:
  • "Did you know that hearing language actually changes the structure of babies' brains? Language builds more connections between neurons in the brain. So the more you talk with your baby, the more connections she will have in her brain."
  • "Toddlers understand many more words than they say, so be sure to talk to them using rich language."
  • "Books are a source of rich vocabulary that we may seldom use in everyday conversation. When you read to your child, you are building the vocabulary that will help her later when she's sounding out words, learning to read."
  • "Next time you're at the grocery store, take a moment to talk with your child about the names of different vegetables and fruits. You can also talk about the shapes and colors. These conversations help build vocabulary - one of the six early literacy skills. You can also encourage this activity at the park, at a construction site, working in the garden with plants and tools, all day long!"


What Can We Do for Vocabulary?
  • Words on sticks or for the flannel board
  • Pictures on sticks or for flannel board
  • Lots and lots of stuff (props, puppets, toys) and pictures of stuff to play with
  • Props for guessing games
What Can Parents and Caregivers Do?
  • Read different types of books; books are rich in vocabulary that may not be used in regular conversation
  • Ask lots of questions when talking and reading to the child
  • Talk, talk, talk to the child
Suggested Books:
  • Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
  • Dinosaur Roar! by Paul Stickland
  • A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
  • Napping House by Audrey Wood
  • I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges
  • Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae
  • Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor
  • In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phonological Awareness

"Most reading problems faced by today's adolescents and adults are the result of problems that might have been avoided or resolved in their early childhood years." -National Research Council, 2000.

Phonological Awareness "Play with Sounds"
understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds. It is an auditory skill rather than a visual skill. You don't need to see the word "d" to know that dog starts with the /d/ sound. Phonological Awareness comes before Phonics. Phonics is the predictable relationship between spoken language and written language. To understand phonics, a child must know the kinds of sounds a language makes (phonological awareness) and be able to identify the letters of the alphabet, and then link the two together. Phonological Awareness Includes:
  • Awareness of Syllables: Butterfly = Butt/er/fly
  • Awareness of Rhymes: The dog in the bog got lost in the fog.
  • Awareness of Phonemes (smallest speech sounds): Dog = D/aw/g
  • Awareness of the sounds that words start or end with: Dog starts with a /d/ sound and ends with a /g/ sound. If you take away the /d/ sound and add the /f/ sound, the word becomes fog.
When children achieve phonological awareness, they are able to think about how words sound, apart from what they mean. They know that bed and head rhyme, that kitchen and cat start with the same sound. Understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds helps children "break the code" between spoken language and written language. Children who are more aware of sounds that make up words and have played with or explored sounds they can:
  • Grasp that sounds can be represented by letters
  • Decode (read) words
  • Spell words
Check out the Language of Literacy Below by clicking on it:

Phonological Awareness does not develop "naturally". Children need to have lots of experience with different words (rhyming and those that do not) in order to become aware of sound similarities and differences (as opposed to seeing the differences in the meaning of the words).

Research has shown:
  • Babies seem to recognize when speech sounds are correctly organized and when they are mixed up.
  • Children (as young as 1 or 2) are able to recognize syllables in words as well as the sounds that words start with and a word's vowel sounds. They understand the difference between the words cat, hat, mat, and bat (words with the same vowel sounds but different beginning sounds and different meaning).
  • Children 3 - 4 may notice and point out when two words sound the same. They can memorize and recite rhyming songs and poems.
  • Children 4 - 5 may be able to tell what sound a word starts and ends with like "The word 'bat' starts with a /b/ sound". They appreciate a rhyming story, rhyme, or riddle. They might find a story funny because of the rhyme, not just because it's a funny story.
  • Children who are learning two languages at once, or who are learning a second language, have greater phonological awareness. They are required to sort language sounds and notice similarities and differences on a daily basis; in order to separate the two languages.
  • When asked to rhyme, children may make mistakes and come up with nonsense words rather than real words or claim two words rhyme when they don't. This is normal. The act of trying to find a rhyme shows that the children are becoming aware that language and words can be broken down into individual sounds.
Phonological Awareness in Storytime:
  • Play with words; especially ones that make you laugh! (hullaboloo, snickerdoodle, pollywog) Show children that words can make adults smile or laugh too; enjoy words with children.
  • A child's name is always a good place to start when looking for word sounds. "Hey your favorite food, mmmmacaroni, starts with the same sound as Mmmmolly, your name." Use shakers or rhythm stick to tap out the syllables in each child's name.
  • Clap along with the song; clap to the beat, with each word, or with the syllables in the word. Distribute noise and rhythm makers (shakers, rhythm sticks, maracas, or tambourines) for variety.
  • Recite rhyming poems. Add hand a body movements to rhymes to make them fun. Clap along with rhymes. Rhyming poems and songs don't need to make sense. In fact, the nonsense words created in these rhymes tend to bring on the giggles!
  • Keep a list of the poems, songs, and rhymes that the children have learned. Post the list for Print Awareness. Repeat favorite rhymes.
  • For children 4 - 5: when reciting familiar rhymes, substitute a non-rhyming word in place of the regular rhyming word (Jack and Jill went up the street..."). When the children stop you, ask what is wrong. See if anyone can identify that the substituted word does not rhyme. If not, explain to children that the poem does not sound right because a different word was used AND the poem does not sound right because the new word does not rhyme. Ask if anyone can think of other words that rhyme.
  • For children 4 - 5: talk to them about alliteration. Alliteration (when the first sounds of words are similar -- wee, Willie, Winkie or bye, baby, bunting) is another characteristic of language sounds that children will start to notice. Find alliteration phrases (silly, Sally) and ask children what would happen if they changed the first sound of each word (milly mally). Let the children suggest the sounds for the changes. See if the children can make the changes on their own. "What would happen if we changed the /s/ sound in silly Sally to the /m/ sound? Can anyone do it?"
Phonological Awareness Comments for Adults at Storytime:
  • After chanting a rhyme like "Heckety Peckety Bumblebee" share this message with parents: "Breaking words into syllables is an important part of Phonological Awareness. Playing with sounds now will make it easier to learn to read later."
  • "Chanting rhymes and singing with your children helps them understand that words can be broken down into smaller parts. That skill is called Phonological Awareness and it is an important part of learning to read."
  • "Sometimes people get confused between Phonological Awareness and Phonics. Phonological Awareness is an auditory skill. It's your child's ability to hear the smaller sounds in words. Phonics is a more complex skill that combines sounds with letters. That skill comes later."


What Can We Do for Phonological Awareness?
  • Rhymes to read and props to see
  • Clapping songs
  • Use Nursery Rhymes and other rhymes or poems
  • Use different sounds to make and hear like participation sounds; for example: farm animal sounds that are part of the story, so kids can identify the animal and become part of the story
What Parents and Caregivers Do for Phonological Awareness?
  • Sing songs, repeat rhymes, and play rhyming word games
  • Have fun with silly words
  • Read rhyming books
  • Say tongue twisters together
Suggested Books:
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
  • I'm Bad! by Kate and Jim McMullan
  • Over in the Garden by Jennifer Ward
  • My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie
  • I Ain't Gonna Pain No More! by Karen Beaumont
  • Can You Growl Like a Bear? by John Butler
  • Chuck's Truck by Peggy Perry Anderson
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Print Motivation

"When the interaction around a book is negative (harsh language), the young child likes reading and books less. He associates the negative interaction with the book!"
-Adam Payne, Grover Whitehurst, and Andrea Angell. The Role of Home Literacy Environment in the Development of Language Ability in Preschool Children for Low Income Families. Early Childhood Research Quarterly v. 9 issue 3-4 1994.

I thought I'd break down the Six Early Literacy Skills starting off with the foundation Print Motivation or "Love Books".

Print Motivation is a child's interest in and enjoyment of books. A child with good print motivation enjoys being read to, plays with books, pretends to write, asks to be read to, and likes trips to the library. Children who are motivated by print are excited about learning to read. They will be more likely to persist and succeed when they encounter difficulties or stumbling blocks while learning to read.

Print Motivation in Storytime:
  • Make storytime FUN! Let the children know that you think books are special and that the time you spend with them in storytime is special. Use funny books and get everyone laughing. Let the children know that you love to read and that one day they will know how to read books all by themselves.
  • Make storytime interactive. Involve the children as much as possible. Children learn the most from books when they are actively involved. Use participation books or books that have a repeated refrain or chant they can chime in on.
  • With babies: Include a book-sharing time by surrounding the babies with board books. Let them handle the books and don't worry if they chew on them! This is a baby's way of exploring and learning about books. Make a fuss over the books. Show the adults how to share books with babies: Point to the pictures and talk about them. Relate them to the child's world ("That bear has a red shirt, just like yours!")
  • Take book requests sometimes.
  • Put out books for the early birds to read while they are waiting for storytime.
  • Don't be afraid to stop reading a book that isn't working!
  • Give children access to writing materials, if possible.
  • Create positive memories by reading special books at certain times of the year (at the change of the season, after a snow storm, when the first flower emerges).
  • Follow the lead or the interests of the children.
  • Read with great expression, but be careful not to overdo it.
Print Motivation Comments for Adults at Storytime:

It is important to relay early literacy information to parents and caregivers. Providing a literacy tip to parents and caregivers is an essential part of a literacy-enhanced storytime. Here are a few comments you can try: (It might seem awkward at first, but you'll pick up a flow.)
  • "Researchers say that children learn more from books when they are actively involved, so be sure to ask questions while reading."
  • "Let your child see you reading and know that reading is fun. Find interesting child-friendly articles in the newspaper and read parts of a story aloud."
  • "It's important to let your child see that reading is functional. You can share maps, recipes, newspaper articles, or other useful bits of information with your child."
  • "The desire to read is an important factor in children becoming skilled readers, so be sure to follow your child's interests."
  • "Every positive experience with books builds the literacy foundation that will help your child achieve in school. So, make reading a fun and special time by reading funny books, cuddly, books, whatever your child likes."


What Can We Do for Print Motivation?
  • Enjoy the materials and the group: smile and laugh generously
  • Pop-ups, toy books, books of all sizes that are fun for kids to see and touch
  • Encourage parents to enjoy books and enjoy them with their kids
  • Storytime Signs: for example, using a stop sign when it is time to stop talking and pay attention to something else

What Can Parents and Caregivers Do for Print Motivation?
  • Make sharing stories a big deal; a pleasant, part of every day
  • Read with voice inflection and excitement
  • Let the child be a part of choosing books to read

Suggested Books:

  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Hor├ícek
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
  • Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
  • Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett

Monday, April 6, 2009

How the Six Early Literacy Skills Contribute to Skilled Reading

"The science is clear: children need responsive care and attention during their earliest weeks, months, and years to build cognitive, social and emotional skills necessary for healthy growth and development." - www.ounceofprevention.org

What is a "Skilled Reader"?

The two primary aspect of learning to read are:
  • Decoding: putting together letters and sounds to make a word. For example, the letters and sounds /c/ /a/ /t/ make the word "cat."
  • Comprehension: understanding the meanings of the works and the meaning of the story.

How do the Six Early Literacy Skills contribute to the concept of a "Skilled Reader"?

Foundation for Skilled Reading

  • Print Motivation

Contributes to Decoding:

  • Phonological Awareness
  • Print Awareness
  • Letter Knowledge

Builds Reading Comprehension:

  • Vocabulary
  • Narrative Skills

"In Colorado, in a 2001 Educare Survey of Kindergarten and First Grade teachers, it was found that teachers believed four out of 10 children (40%) entering the classroom were not prepared to learn." - Colorado Department of Education