I’ve been asked a few times what i see as important when choosing a ‘good fit’ book for Carter.
At his current age (2) there are a few things I look for in particular.
- Rhyme: I consider this to be important for a number of reasons. Rhyme encourages participation through prediction. As parents read rhyming stories to their child, the level of engagement increases as the child begins to hear the pattern and starts to participate by predicting the next word. Rhyme also increases vocabulary by introducing word families.
- Detailed illustrations at this age are also important. Bright, colorful illustrations which compliment a story help to engage a child. At this age they cannot follow the words on the page so their focus is on illustrations. When they are looking at the pictures, a child is mentally ‘taking their own pictures’, good illustrations will encourage children to use their own imagination.
- Teaching points. Fiction stories are often used for teaching in the classroom, not only for literacy but also numeracy. Counting the animals, stories with a focus on telling the time, books are a great way to combine a love of reading with mathematical concepts.
As children get older, ‘good fit’ books change and books are chosen for a variety of different reasons. For toddlers, however, these three main things to keep an eye out for will assist you when choosing a book for your child.
This weeks book of the week is one that Carter and his daddy enjoy reading together.
Animalia is a fantastic book because it encourages children to use their imagination. The boys spend most of their time making up their own stories when they ‘read’ this book together. They look at the pictures, talk about what they can see and what might be happening to the creatures in the story. This helps to promote oral language skills through introducing new vocabulary and encouraging communication in the form of speaking, listening and responding.
This book is also great for teaching the initial letter of words and the sound that letter makes. The sentence on each page introduces the letter to be focused upon through clever alliteration and parents can continue to focus on this during reading time as the child points to the pictures. As children get older they can think of alternative pictures that could also be on each page and create their own stories about the creatures, telling those stories to parents.
Now the weather is starting to get cooler, it’s time to get creative with indoor activities. Stickers are a lot of fun, aren’t too messy and can be great for learning too!
These alphabet stickers were a cheap buy from Kmart and kept us very busy!
Carter chose the words he wanted to spell, I told him what letters he needed and he stuck them on. The focus was not only spelling the words but sticking them in the right order, the emphasis being on him learning that words are organised from left to right. This will further assist him when he is learning to read, recognizing that the starting point is to the left of the page and he reads towards the right.
The possibilities with this activity are endless. For children learning the alphabet you could stick letters on in alphabetical order, children in the lower years of primary school could use them to spell the words they are learning at school, parents could cut out pictures and children could label them using the stickers, for older children parents could challenge them to spell any word with 6 letters, 7 letters etc, the list goes on!
Reading for enjoyment is very important so this weeks ‘book of the week’ is in celebration of Easter this weekend.
Peter Rabbit is Carter’s best mate, he has had his Peter Rabbit comforter in his cot with him since just after he was born so choosing a book with his best mate in it got him interested straight away. There’s not too many teaching points with this one, but that’s ok too, sometimes it is great for children to simply enjoy reading a story with mum and dad with their favourite character in it.
We always try to choose books that relate to an event if there’s one approaching so this one’s a great one for Easter. New life is the central theme to this story so you could touch on that with older children too.
Happy Easter everyone!
Book of the week this week is actually a series of books, Alison Lester’s Talk to the Animals series.
We started reading these stories to Carter when he received them as a present when he was four months old and they quickly became a favourite! Why? The repetition became very familiar, and he began to join in when we would make the animal noises. They are also rhyming stories so he began to predict the words and it encouraged him to participate. Stories that allow children to get involved increases engagement and makes reading a fun activity that can be enjoyed by both toddler and parent.
Carter loves animals, so this was an added bonus for us!!
Get your animal voices ready mums and dads, you will love these books!
This is a quick, easy learning activity to prepare and water is involved so it keeps the little ones entertained!!
I showed Carter what a ‘full cup’, a ‘half full’ cup and an ’empty cup’ of water looked like.
He then had a go at filling each one according to my instruction e.g ‘fill that one halfway’ and we then compared it to the other two cups. Although informal, it has started the process of comparing different capacities and it has introduced him to new mathematical language.
For older children you could fill different shaped containers, asking them to estimate which would hold the most/least water before filling them and then comparing their results with their estimations.
We involve Carter when we are cooking and although it can get quite messy, he loves it and it’s been great for his language development. We make smoothies everyday, banana pancakes are a weekend tradition with Daddy and he loves making muffins with Grandpa when he comes to visit. When Grandma bought him his own food set and pots and pans this week and Carter started ‘cooking’ I noticed just how beneficial those cooking experiences have been for him. He has been introduced to a variety of vocabulary along the way and having his own set has allowed him to use his imagination and prior experiences to create his own play scenarios.
We have since created a menu and Carter uses this when he invites people into his cafe. You rarely get what you ordered and if he’s not happy with your choice he will recommend something different but he’s absolutely loving it and is using words such as ‘ingredients’ and ‘recipe’, naming different fruits and vegetables, and even experimenting with some mathematical concepts. Whilst cooking with us we talk him through the recipe and the quantities that are needed, so he is learning what 1 cup looks like as opposed to half a cup, he counts 3 eggs, he is looking at the different sizes of spoons (e.g 1 teaspoon of cinnamon/1 tablespoon of coconut oil) and he is beginning to verbalize this knowledge and use it in his own cafe.
Teaching developmental play in the first year of school is very important. Most Kinder programs are developed around structured play-alot of learning occurs during ‘play’ and in the first year of schooling us teachers always included lego as one of our play activities, so why not start at home?
Lego is a ‘hands on’ activity which means the child is in control of their learning- very often this is when the most valuable learning happens-through discovery. Not only does the child need to use problem solving skills but it increases their spatial awareness. Fine motor skills are developed as they pick up the pieces and manipulate them to learn which ones fit and their communication and oral language skills are required. It’s a great activity to do in a group situation as this also involves rules of play, encouraging sharing and will put their oral language skills to the test. Just find a great storage container for it all-those pieces of lego are easy to lose!!
This one’s an easy one! To help your child learn the names of shapes, draw them using chalk and then practice jumping from one to another.
‘I’m going to jump from the circle to the square.’
‘Why don’t you jump to the rectangle?’
To assist with learning the names of shapes we also bought a shapes puzzle. Each shape had its name on the base and was colour coded, further helping him identify the properties of each shape.
Every time we visit the zoo or aquarium, Carter gets to hold the map. It’s never too early to teach children spatial awareness and using real life experiences engages them and increases their ability to understand the concept of what a map is and how it enhances our ability to get to a specific location.
The great thing about the zoo map is that it has pictures of the animals, so for toddlers you could simply get them to point and say the name of the animal they would like to see and as you are walking to it, you verbalize the learning. E.g We are walking straight ahead to the lions, lets check the signs-we need to turn left at the bridge etc.
Primary aged children:
As the child’s capabilities increase, so does the learning. You could start by pointing to the direction you need to go to and getting them to say if it is left or right and then build upon it by asking them to choose an animal and be the tour guide, taking you to each animal.
By giving the child the map and letting them take control it allows them to take ownership and develops their confidence about navigating the world around them.
Follow up activities:
- Design a map for your own zoo. (You could give them the freedom to include anything they want or you could tell them there needs to be 1 cafe, 2 toilets etc. You could discuss placement of the toilets-why they need to be in different sections of the zoo- and by doing so, incorporate some logical design thinking into the activity as well!)
- Keep the map and get it out at home, discussing what you saw with your child, the directions the different animals were in-get them using appropriate location vocabulary to increase their oral language skills. They are taught this in primary school so give them a head start and use it as part of your everyday language.