Posts Tagged ‘early learning’

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Posted on April 30th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal illustrated by Garcia LamAwake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam
Alphabet picture book published by McSweeny’s

In this fascinating picture book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses only words that begin with A, B or C to tell her story. The day begins as a young boy awakens and enjoys Apples, Bananas and Cantaloupe for breakfast before heading outside and finding Ants, Butterflies and Caterpillars. He later celebrates at a birthday party, explores a city and appreciates an artist. Older children will enjoy scouring debut picture book illustrator Gracia Lam’s detailed digital illustrations for an apron, bowling pins, binoculars, a castle, a cape, a church (and more!) that serve to broaden the appeal of the story and support the development of phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition.Awake Beautiful Child spread

It is worth mentioning that Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Lam do not limit the story or illustrations to the phoneme /K/, they also challenge readers to recognize the use of ‘C’ in words beginning with the /ch/ and soft ‘C’ sounds, as in church and city. the ‘A’ words that we detected use the short vowel sound.

We envision this picture book as a wonderful inspiration to young illustrators and writers. Great for classroom use, the clever take on the alphabet book genre could certainly be a jumping off point for children to create their own stories and illustrations using only two or three letters.

This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged 3 and up but that has great potential for exciting older children and adults.

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.com

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.ca


One Two That’s My Shoe by Alison Murray

Posted on January 17th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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One Two That's My Shoe by Alison Murray, reviewed by Storytime StandoutsOne Two That’s My Shoe written and illustrated by Alison Murray
Counting Picture Book published by Disney Hyperion Books

A delightful, cheery picture book, One Two That’s My Shoe by Alison Murray will have tremendous appeal for toddlers, preschoolers and older children. Beautiful illustrations feature a lovely palette and direct readers to notice numbers and what is to be counted in each two-page spread. Very well-suited to a classroom or a library read aloud session, the illustrations are bold and large enough for a group to enjoy.

One Two That's My Shoe spread

Georgie Dog picks up one of Grace’s shoes and within minutes a chase ensues. Georgie jumps over three teddy bears and races past four wooden blocks. Soon after, he rushes outside and into the garden. Grace chases after him. This is a playful pup with a winning personality. He is clearly having fun until he encounters ten upset chickens.

One Two That’s My Shoe is a special delight and highly recommended.

Young readers may recognize Georgie Dog and Grace from Apple Pie ABC

Cut and Colour Georgie Dog from Ms. Murray’s website

One Two That’s My Shoe! at Amazon.com

One, Two, That’s My Shoe! at Amazon.ca


Supporting a Child With Delayed Speech or Language Development

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Supporting a Child With Delayed Speech or Language Development





Since September 2013, I have been working twice a week with a four year old boy who has delayed speech. He lives in a bilingual household and he has one older sibling – a girl who also had delayed speech. It has been enormously rewarding to help this child find his voice. He is unfailingly happy and is always excited to welcome me and my “bag of tricks” into his home.

Here are some of the items that have been particularly helpful as we find ways to engage him verbally.

Alphabet by Matthew Van FleetAlphabet by Matthew Van Fleet has been our go-to alphabet book.

At almost every one of our sessions, my student has touched, lifted flaps and pulled the tabs of this cheerful and engaging alphabet book and accompanying (pop up) poster. Whether feeling the alligator’s scaly tail or the yak’s shaggy head, this is a book that children love to explore through touch.

Phonemic awareness is also supported as the author effectively uses alliteration, ‘Wet waddling Warthogs,’ rhyming and onomatopoeia, ‘Furry Lions roar, Whiskered Mice squeak, Hungry newborn Nightingales – cheep, cheep, cheep!‘ while introducing a variety of animals. Older children will notice that extra details have been added to the illustrations but not the text. Termed, Safari Sightings, these animals and plants are illustrated and listed in an afternote.

Alphabet won the following

2008 National Parenting Publications Gold Award
Parenting Favorite Book of the Month, April 2008
Top Ten Children’s Books of 2008, Time.com
A New York Times Children’s Bestseller (2008)

Alphabet at Amazon.com

Alphabet at Amazon.ca

Ravensburger See Inside Puzzle

I can’t tell you how many times we have solved this Ravensburger See Inside Puzzle together. My young student happily turns the puzzle upside down, and together we turn all the puzzle pieces over. We chat as we start with the corners and work towards the middle of the puzzle. There are so many ways to enrich a child’s vocabulary, understanding and problem solving as we talk about the puzzle pieces and their attributes while noticing the plants, insects, animals, birds and structures featured in the puzzle itself.

Echo Mic Used With Delayed Speech or Language DevelopmentRather than focusing on the enunciation of specific sounds or words, I want to encourage playing with sound and making a variety of sounds. It is amazing how an inexpensive plastic toy ‘Echo’ microphone can encourage a child to sing, make sound effects and speak. I pick up an Echo Mic and put the other one on the table. Before long, we are both singing The Alphabet Song or The Wheels on the Bus or Happy Birthday. I hate to think what we sound like but progress is progress and the plastic ‘Echo” microphone has helped us along the way.

10″ Echo Mic (Colors may vary) at Amazon.com

Magic Mic Novelty Toy Echo Microphone-Pack of 2 at Amazon.ca

As we work toward improved verbal communication, I want to ensure that my student has a rich listening or receptive vocabulary as well as a large speaking or expressive vocabulary so I want to provide him with repeated meaningful encounters with words. I want him to hear and know colors, numbers, positional words (over, under, beside, inside) and nouns (windows, doors, wheels, roof, trees, flowers, bricks, fences, house, car, truck, steering wheel). Of course, I turn to my favourite toy. Ever. Each day I arrive with a bucket of Lego . We build houses and towers, we look for small bricks and blue bricks and yellow, white, red, black and blue bricks. We add windows and doors, stairs and roofs. And I talk about everything we do. I chat constantly and now he chimes in.

From the start, we have played Tic Tac Toe. I made a laminated game board (that includes a letter of the alphabet in each square) and I use Xs and Os from a dollar store game. When we first played, his job was to say, “Your turn,” after he played his “O.” Now, he says the letter name in the box and a word that begins with the letter, “C is for Cat.” He also says, “Your turn, ” and “I win!” He has never tired of this simple game. When we first started, he said very little. Now, it is a constant exchange of short sentences and the joy of communicating about a shared activity.

Spot the Dot by David A CarterSpot the Dot created by David A. Carter
Novelty book published by Cartwheel Books, an Imprint of Scholastic

Spot the Dot is an appealing, brightly colored, interactive pop up book that includes flaps to lift, a wheel to turn and tabs to pull. Visual clues and predictable text encourage children – even those with delayed speech – to venture into ‘reading.’ My student thoroughly enjoys this book and now points to the words as he ‘reads’ each page and then pretends to ‘search’ for the dot.

Spot the Dot at Amazon.com

Spot the Dot at Amazon.ca

Working with a Speech Delayed Child

Posted on May 18th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Since late winter, I have been working with a speech delayed child.

She is five years old and she will start kindergarten in September. Initially, I worked with her for one hour each week. After a month or so, her parents were delighted with her progress and they asked me to double the frequency of our sessions. Currently we meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for one hour.

image of Vocabulary Development speech delayed childMy goals in working with her are to (1) expand her vocabulary (2) increase her speech from one or two word answers to full sentences (3) improve her phonemic awareness (4) increase her understanding of concepts (i.e. opposites, positional words).

Initially our sessions included (1) a wordless picture book (2) nine words that are related to a theme (i.e. Bedtime) (3) a rebus poem / chant ( i.e. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).

Now, our sessions also include (1) pictures of words that begin with the same sound (i.e. fish, flag, fingers, flower, five, fork) (2) concept books (3) puppets (4) stories for beginning readers (especially the Oxford Press Read At Home series)


So far, my sessions with my speech delayed student have included the following themes:

Birthdays, In the Neighbourhood, Valentine’s Day, Feelings, Weather, Clothing, Families, Farm, Bedtime, Music, Fruits and Vegetables, Colours, In the Kitchen, in the Bathroom, Toys and Counting. All of the themes are intended to introduce new and reinforce her existing vocabulary. Once the individual words are mastered, we add description: blue umbrella, brown blocks, green grass. image of words that begin with F used with a speech delayed child
More recently, we have added concepts to our sessions: Words that Are Opposites, Positional Words (in, beside, under, over, behind, in front of).

A typical session with my speech delayed student includes -

  • Chatting about a simple Wordless Picture Book. Breakfast with Jack created by Pat Schories has been a favourite.
  • Reviewing the vocabulary introduced in previous sessions. My young student proudly gives herself a “check” each time she correctly says a word.
  • Reviewing the rhymes and chants introduced in previous sessions. She tracks across each line, using rebus picture clues to ‘remember’ the words. She loves to ‘read’ Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Grandma’s Glasses all by herself.
  • Sorting pictures into words that begin with the /F/ sound, the /M/ sound, the /C/ sound and the /S/ sound.  I mix picture cards for two sounds, she sorts them and then we mix up two more sounds.

To further encourage speech, we play with puppets and we play Simon Says and we sing If You’re Happy and You Know It. My student loves to be Simon. She giggles and laughs as she tells me what to do.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it has been to work with this young girl.  Her vocabulary and her ability to converse has blossomed.  It has been so exciting to witness the transformation in this beautiful, funny, enthusiastic child.

Speech Delay and ESL – Making Progress

Posted on March 27th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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cover art for Breakfast for JackFor the past six weeks, I have been working with a four year old girl who is learning English as a second language and who has a speech delay. We meet once each week for one hour.

I have been using a variety of materials and techniques to support her learning. Today I thought I would highight a few of them.

Wordless Picture Books
During each of our sessions, we read one or two wordless picture books. These are books that have little or no text. Readers use picture clues to decide what is happening in the story. Wordless picture books invite discussion because, as you turn the pages, the story unfolds and there is plenty of opportunity for meaningful talk.

Although we have read several wordless picture books together, Breakfast for Jack has been our favourite. The book is a good size for sharing one on one. The story is relatively simple and yet the illustrator has included many interesting details. It is morning, the sun is rising. Jack wakes up and stretches. Soon Boy is awake. He and Jack go downstairs. Boy feeds the black and grey cat but, each time he starts to get Jack’s breakfast, he is distracted. Poor Jack is very hungry.

When my young student and I first started reading Breakfast for Jack together, she was only able to talk about small snippets of the story because of her speech delay and limited vocabulary. Now she explains that Jack is orange and white, the cat is black and grey, Boy wears purple pyjamas. We talk about the family’s breakfast of toast and cereal. We also talk about the cat enjoying a bowl of milk and then snoozing under the telephone table.

Breakfast for Jack is engaging. The illustrations ensure that the reader understands exactly what is happening. The story and illustrations draw young readers in and keep those same readers involved in telling the story.

Puppets
Since Breakfast for Jack has become a favourite, last week I added dog finger puppets to our session. You may be aware that hand puppets and finger puppets are frequently used for play therapy because children often feel safe using a puppet to express themselves. In working with a child with a speech delay, it seems very logical to include puppets and encourage her to play with them. On Thursday, our three little dogs played together, they talked and raced at the park.

Illustrated Vocabulary
Keeping in mind that my student is not only dealing with a speech delay, she is also learning English as a second language. Each week I prepare one page of vocabulary that is related to a theme. The page introdues nine words that are illustrated and related by theme. We have done ‘Weather Words,’ ‘Things Families Do,’ ‘Clothing Words,’ ‘In My Neighbourhood,’ ‘Valentine’s Day,’ etc. We review all of the vocabulary each week. As well, she reviews the vocabulary at home each week. Her progress with these words has been quite dramatic.

Rebus Poems
Each week we add a new rebus poem to our program. Usually the poem is related to the vocabulary we are learning. For example, when I introduced ‘Weather Words,’ I created a rebus version of ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider.’ When I introduced ‘Things Families Do,’ we learned ‘Grandma’s Glasses.’ I like using rebus poems with young children very much. We track the text with our fingers (reinforcing that we read left to right and top to bottom). When reading rebus poems, we use picture clues to help us remember the poem / chant, we hear rhyming and we learn new vocabulary.

My young student’s mom and I are thrilled with the progress she has made to date. She is an enthusiastic learner and she is happy to enjoy stories, chants and learning new words. Next week, I will write again about our session together.

Breakfast for Jack at Amazon.com

Breakfast for Jack at Amazon.ca

All things Seussical – Jody’s Favorite Dr. Seuss Books

Posted on March 3rd, 2013 by Jody

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image of cover art for Dr. Seuss book Hand, Hand, Fingers, ThumbIt was Dr. Seuss’ birthday this week. No matter how many kids books I read, middle age, young adult, or adult fiction, I love Dr. Seuss. I love the silliness and the seriousness. I love the rhymes and the made up words. I feel an unwarranted sense of pride when I can get through a book like “Oh say, can you say?” without messing up.

I love reading it to my children and love listening to them read it back to me. He writes the kind of books that remind us that reading needs to be fun. When I write my children’s stories, I can’t help but rhyme them. I think that it’s a lingering affect of my ‘Seuss-induced’ childhood. My mom rhymed everything. Names, random words, phrases. My earliest memory of a favourite book is One Fish, Two Fish. That and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. She must have read them to me endlessly, until I could read them myself. They were so ingrained that the first time I read Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb to my oldest daughter, I remembered all of the words.

Dr Seuss transends time. His books are timeless, enjoyable, and put together in a way that make you think they’d be easy to imitate but are actually quite the opposite. To be able to piece together rhyme, in a way that works, is a challenge of it’s own. To piece it together with non-sensical words and impart a moral? That’s impressive. So to celebrate my own love of rhyme and Dr. Seuss’ birthday (and because Top Tens are my thing this week), I’m going to share my Top Ten Favourite Seuss books. How many have you read?


10: Oh the Places You will Go
An impossible book to not like; it congratulates you for a job well done and tells you that you have so much more you can do, but to expect bumps along the way because that’s life.

(Quote) So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

9. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day

One of my very favourites, it was finished by Jack Pretlusky (who I consider amazing). As a teacher, I love that Miss Bonkers reminds the students of all the things they know and how well they learn.

(Quote) “We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink.
And something else that matters more -
We’ve taught you how to think.

8. Green Eggs and Ham

This book makes me smile every time I read it, think about it, or hear my kids read it. It’s just this sweet, adorable book about withholding judgement until you’re sure. You may think you know, but sometimes, you just don’t.

(Quote) “Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.


7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I just realized, as I typed the title, that my list of ten cannot be in order of preference because I LOVE this book.

(Quote) “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

6. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket

I’ll be honest, I just really like the word Wocket. It’s fun.

(Quote) “All those Nupboards in the Cupboards they’re good fun to have about. But that Nooth gush on my tooth brush…..Him I could do without.”


5. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

A great entry level Seuss for beginners. It has an easy rhyme pattern and is fun to read together.

(Quote) “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”

4. Horton Hatches the Egg

A book about doing what you say you will do, even if it’s inconvenient and someone has taken advantage.

(Quote) “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

3. The Cat in the Hat

It’s that wonderful, Seussical combination of rhyme, fun characters, and a moral. The moral being: use your imagination. That’s what it’s there for.

(Quote) “Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.”

2. The Foot Book

It’s another good, entry level Seuss. It identifies opposites with its easy rhyme pattern.

(Quote) “Wet foot. Dry foot. Low foot. High foot.”

1. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb

While my list might not be in order, this one is my favourite. Sometimes, we don’t know what makes something our favourites. Maybe it’s the one my mom read to me the most or maybe I just like the rhyme, but I really adore this book. Every time I cross the street with my daughters, we say “Hand, hand, fingers, thumb”.

(Quote) “Dum, ditty, dum, ditty, dum, dum, dum.”

Add Dr. Seuss books to your bookshelf


Learning Games for Beginning Readers

Posted on December 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Today we look at two popular learning games for beginning readers

I have used both spelling/reading games very successfully with four, five and six year olds. Neither is appropriate for younger children due to choking hazard caused by small parts.

image of learning games for beginning readers


We invite you to visit our page about beginning to read.


image of Melissa and Doug See and SpellMelissa and Doug See and Spell

I recently purchased a Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle set for my Let’s Read Together program. The set consists of 60 plus colorful wooden letters and eight, two-sided template bases. As shown in my photo (right), the sixteen words include long and short vowels as well as digraphs.

I selected the Melissa and Doug See and Spell puzzle set because it is self correcting and it lends itself well to a group setting. When not being used in the template bases, the letters could be used to spell other words, they could be sorted by attributes or they could be put into alphabetical order.

When one or more children play with See and Spell it is an opportunity to practice letter, object and word recognition, matching, fine motor skills and/or spelling.

Melissa & Doug See & Spell at Amazon.com

Melissa & Doug See & Spell at Amazon.ca

Image of Boggle JuniorBoggle Junior

I have used a Boggle Junior game in my Beginning to Read program for more than ten years. It is a great learning game for children who are learning to read and spell. The game consists of a series of illustrated three and four letter words. The words and illustrations are printed on durable cardstock. To play, a child selects a card and spells the word it illustrates using three or four letter cubes. The cubes fit into a sturdy base. The child has the option of seeing how the word is spelled (and simply matching the letters) or attempting to spell the word correctly and then checking to see if he is correct.

Boggle Junior can be enjoyed by one or more children. When one child plays with Boggle Junior it is an opportunity to practice letter, object and word recognition, fine motor skills, matching and/or spelling. When more than one child plays with Boggle Junior, playing the game becomes an opportunity to share and take turns. If two children are at different levels with respect to spelling and reading, one child could match the letters to correctly spell a word, another child could try to spell each word (without matching) and then flip a lever on the base to check the spelling.

The Boggle Junior word cards include short vowels, some long vowels and a few digraphs (i.e. fish).

Boggle Junior Game at Amazon.com

Boggle Junior Game at Amazon.ca

Jungle Bullies – anti bullying picture book for preschool

Posted on October 30th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Jungle Bullies written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen
Anti bullying picture book published by Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

One morning Elephant went down to the pond for his bath. But who was there first? Hippo, and he was taking up a lot of space.
Elephant glared at Hippo.
“Get out of the water, Hippo,” he said. “I want to bathe in peace.”

Jungle Bullies written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen

Hippo leaves the pond, only to find Lion on the path. Since Hippo is bigger than Lion, he nudges Lion. The bullying behavior moves from animal to animal until it finally reaches Monkey. Monkey complains to his mama and she replies, “Son, you have to stand up to bullies. You go back to Leopard, and you tell him there’s enough room for two on that branch.” Mama accompanies Monkey as he nervously approaches Leopard. Monkey reminds Leopard to share and to stop being mean. Leopard is taken aback, he is suddently much less comfortable on his branch. He decides Monkey can stay on the branch and then he gets an idea. As Monkey’s message moves from animal to animal, friendships are restored and the former bullies discover it is much more fun to share.

An ideal introduction to the topics of bullying and sharing, Jungle Bullies features predictable recurring text. It is a beautifully illustrated anti bullying picture book and will be enjoyed by preschool age children.

Dusty The Dragon from the Lewisville Fire Department (TX) reads Jungle Bullies and sings “Don’t Be Cruel to the Kids at School”

Lesson plan from Teacher Think Tank

Jungle Bullies at Amazon.com

Jungle Bullies at Amazon.ca


What Should Be Our Priority When Evaluating a Family Literacy Program?

Posted on October 19th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Family Literacy Program Learning Materials


When developing and evaluating family literacy programs, what should our goals be?

Last year, I enrolled in a Family Literacy program through Vancouver Community College’s Centre for Continuing Studies. The program is delivered annually and consists of six online courses My goal was to earn a Family Literacy Certificate to augment my Bachelor of Education. So far, I have completed four of the courses and have been introduced, virtually and personally, to other indviduals who share my passion for developing and delivering high quality family literacy programming.

As a direct result of my involvement in the Family Literacy courses, last spring I was contracted to present a program for preschool-age children and their caregivers at a neighbourhood library. The program began in April and was held once a week until the end of June. The program resumed in September and will be offered until the end of November of this year.

Participation in our neighbourhood family literacy program has exceeded expectations. Most weeks, twenty or more children arrive for the program, along with their adult caregivers. In all, we usually have thirty to thirty five people arrive at ten thirty and leave at noon. Each session includes a storytime and a healthy snack along with learning activities, games and printed materials for the children as well as the adults in attendance.

At every juncture, we have ensured that our program is low-barrier and family friendly. From the outset, it was my personal goal that the program would be so successful that funding would be renewed and we would be in a position to offer the program again in 2013.

It has been a great joy to be involved in delivering this family literacy program and, frankly, I am alarmed by the changes that have been deemed necessary by an administrator who has no experience developing or presenting programs of this kind. Unfortunately, as a result of a new administrator, we have been advised that funding for the family literacy program won’t be renewed unless substantive changes are made to it.

Family Literacy Program Learning Materials – On the Farm

The existing ninety minute program will become a two hour program. The April to June and September to November program will now start in November, February and June. Preregistration will likely be required and the healthy snack will likely be reduced to fruit juice.

In my opinion,

~ It is relatively easy to attract families to a neighbood program when the weather is nice (and dry), I firmly believe that it will be tough to draw people out of their homes consistently in February. This will be especially true those who don’t have access to cars. The folks who walk to the program or take the bus will be reluctant to attend regularly if it means walking through snow or rain.

~ Offering the program in Spring and Fall ensures that it does not compete with families’ summer vacation plans and that only preschoolers are available to attend. Having a program begin in June and end in mid August will draw school age children as well as preschoolers. As a means of excluding the older children, some sort of preregistration will likely be required. Preregistration means that the program will not be low barrier. It will be available only to those families who can navigate the registration process and it will exclude those who need it most. Excluding school age children will mean that some families will not attend because they will not have access to child minding for their older children.

~ Reducing a healthy snack to “just juice” ignores the fact that one of the program’s objectives is to model healthy snacking.

~ Lengthening the program to two hours will be stretch for a large, noisy and diverse group of three and four year olds. Without the structure of a classroom, it can be difficult to manage a group this size. I find it hard to believe that program quality can be sustained over two hours.

I am saddened by the fact that organizers are ignoring good sense and by their desire to compromise some of the best aspects of the existing program. I know their goal is to “check the boxes” mandated by the grant they received. I would much prefer that their goal and that of the funding body be to deliver excellent quality programming that is respectful of the participants’ needs and goals.

Family Literacy Program Development Part 2

Posted on October 8th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Family Literacy Program Development Part 2

Family Literacy Program format





Each session of our family literacy program began with a thirty minute “storytime” presented by a librarian. The storytime theme matched the weekly program theme. This ensured a good match between the librarian’s “storytime” and the program presented by the program facilitator. Following the “storytime,” the group learned a new rhyme or chant (in rebus form) and theme-related vocabulary. The group also reviewed material from previous sessions, sang the Alphabet Song and played learning games. For Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the children (enthusiastically) made cards to take home.

Most weeks, the children spent time with the child minders while the program facilitator presented information to the adults. During this portion of the program, the child minders served a healthy snack of fresh fruit and juice or water.

The adult portion of the program included ways to help children with alphabet recognition, the importance of phonemic awareness, the value of reading aloud, ways to help a child with comprehension, why wordless picture books support vocabulary development as well as an introduction to affordable recreation opportunities in the community. The presentation of rebus chants and vocabulary activities also provided learning opportunities for adults.

Weekly handouts were provided to both the children and the adult participants. As well, multilingual information about accessing emergency services (911) was offered.

Introducing a Homework Component

During June, the children who participated in the family literacy program received “homework” assignments which included borrowing a book from the library, reading environmental print, counting, printing, drawing, comparing, borrowing a theme box from the library and enjoying read alouds. Most of the participants completed and returned the homework to the facilitator.

Also in June, the Summer Reading Club was actively promoted and most of the children signed up to participate. By the time the program ended, virtually all of the adult participants had library cards and were using them.

The final family literacy program session included the usual storytime, chants, vocabulary, snack and adult learning. The children who attended regularly received Certificates of Attendance. At noon, most of the participants walked to a nearby park and played with sidewalk chalk, blew bubbles and enjoyed the playground equipment. It was a happy, friendly time.

Family Literacy Program Development Part 1

Posted on October 6th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Wrties About Family Literacy Program Development

This past year, I have been involved in developing a weekly Family Literacy program





Offered from April to June and September to November, the program is held at a neighbourhood library. It is intended to be a low-barrier family literacy program, especially appropriate for immigrant women who are caring for young children and who may be socially isolated. Initially intended to attract a maximum of twelve families to each session, the Spring 2012 program was enthusiastically attended by more than two dozen families each week. So far, our Fall numbers are almost as high.

As hoped, the program attracted a diverse population. The children in attendance range in age from one to five years. The adults who participate were almost all women; some are grandmothers and aunts however the majority are mothers, attending with their preschool-age children. Some participants have never been to the library prior to attending our family literacy program.

Many of the attending families are learning English as a Second Language. The group includes individuals who primarily speak Cantonese and others who speak Punjabi as their first language. As well, some families who attend regularly speak English fluently.

In keeping with the objective of making the program “low-barrier,” participants are not required to preregister and are welcome to join the program at any stage. For those who join the program partway through or who miss a session, handouts from the previous week(s) are easily obtained. The message is, “Whether you are able to attend every week, most weeks or some weeks, we are very happy to see you here.”

My team and I work to maintain a friendly, welcoming atmosphere for all participants. I am indeed fortunate to have multi-lingual child minders who assure participants that they were welcome to converse in their Mother Tongue during the program.

Thank you for being a Member of the Storytime Standouts Community

Posted on April 20th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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We hope you will enjoy Storytime Standouts’ free early childhood learning printables and that you will check out our articles about terrific new children’s books and how children learn to read.image of Carolyn Hart, teacher and Storytime Standouts website owner
 
We regularly add new content to Storytime Standouts and we are proud to say that we offer more than two hundred childhood learning printables for teachers and parents. A well, we have written hundreds of posts about special children’s books. We are especially interested in anti bullying picture books, picture books about caring for our environment , wordless picture books and picture books that celebrate diversity.

Once you become a member of Storytime Standouts, if you are having a problem signing in or downloading our early learning materials, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly, by email. Please use the email link on the website.
 
We hope you will enjoy StorytimeStandouts.com and we are especially grateful for referrals. Please let your friends and family know about the website.
 
Thank you and Happy Reading!
 
Carolyn Hart
 
Storytime Standouts
Raising Children Who Love to Read
Twitter @StoryStandouts

image of a printable alphabet

Free Printable Alphabets

Storytime Standouts offers a variety of free alphabets in PDF format for children in preschool, kindergarten and the early primary grades. We have grouped the alphabets together and you will find all of the free alphabets here. We suggest using the alphabets to make matching games, help a child to learn alphabetical order and/or letter sounds or decorate a bulletin board.


image of printable writing paper for kids

Writing Paper for Kids

Storytime Standouts offers free writing paper for children who are learning to print and write, visit our Writing Paper for Kids page to see the entire collection. We hope you will use the interlined paper to inspire young writers.

We have tried to match seasonal themes and the sort of topics a kindergarten or grade one child might write about. We regularly add writing paper to the website.



image of a printable nursery rhyme

Preschool and Kindergarten Songs, Rhymes, Chants and Fingerplays

Use these songs, rhymes, chants and fingerplays with children in preschool, kindergarten and early primary grades. We have grouped them together on our Songs, Rhymes, Chants and Fingerplays page. We regularly add new songs, rhymes and chants to the website. We try to anticipate your interests and early childhood classroom themes.

If you would like to suggest a song, rhyme or fingerplay, please contact us using the email link.


image of a printable word family

Word Family Printables

These word family printables are great for young children who are learning to read. We have grouped them together on our Word Family page.

For a beginning reader, discovering that cot, dot, hot, pot and rot are related is exciting. Children who are just learning to sound out words will be thrilled to learn that they can substitute the beginning sound and read three, four or more related words. We view word families as a great springboard for beginning readers.


image of printable picture dictionary

Picture Dictionaries

Helpful for beginning readers and writers, these picture dictionaries are all together on our Picture Dictionaries page. We know young children get a great sense of satisfaction from using pictures to help them decode words. With these picture dictionaries, they can read a series of related words or they use the words to write a story.


 

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at a stylish picture book, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet


Storytime Standouts looks at picture book, Paul Thurlby's Alphabet.Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet
created by Paul Thurlby
Alphabet book published by Templar Books an imprint of Candlewick Press



Featuring bright, bold retro illustrations, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet is a stylish tribute to graphic design and each of the letters of the alphabet. Young children will enjoy the dramatic and distinctive artwork while learning about letter shapes and sounds.

On the left side of each spread, we see a single letter in uppercase and lowercase form. The corresponding right side of each spread features an illustration that incorporates the shape of the uppercase letter and minimal text.

Older children and adults will particularly appreciate the aesthetics of Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet, possibly using his ideas as inspiration for their own graphic artwork. As well, removing the book jacket and opening it reveals a gorgeous poster that highlights each of the illustrations from the book. Lovely.

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet at Amazon.com

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet at Amazon.ca


Paul Thurlby’s PhotoStream on Flickr

Note: When selecting illustrations for the vowels, Thurlby uses a mix of short and long vowel sounds: A = awesome, I = island

Ten Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Child

Posted on March 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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10 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Child

Storytime Standouts shares ten great reasons to read aloud to your child





Reading aloud to my sons has been one of the highlights of being a parent. My boys are both teens now and have pretty much outgrown picture books (Christmas Eve is always an exception) but shared memories of trips to the library and hundreds of great bedtime stories read aloud will remain with us forever. Having said that, reading a couple of bedtime stories aloud, every night for seven or eight years is hard work. There were definitely nights where I would have happily ‘skipped’ and had a little more time to myself. I clearly remember, on more than one occasion, my younger son being wide awake at his bedtime while I was falling asleep as I attempted to read aloud to him. He would say, “Mommy, your voice sounds really strange.” I would rouse myself enough to finish the story and then head off to my own bed.

image of Curious George by H.A. Rey

Curious George written and illustrated by H.A. Rey shows us that bold, uppercase letters mean the words are loud.

Let’s take a look at ten great reasons to read aloud to your child(ren)

When we read aloud to children, they (1) get to know books. They learn that books have front covers and back covers. The covers can be hard or soft/flexible. Books have spines and sometimes they wear jackets.

Sharing stories with children also helps them learn (2) how to hold and manipulate a book. When we read aloud to children, they discover how a book “works.” They come to understand that a book written in English is read from front to back and that we (gently) turn the pages as the story unfolds. They discover that, if we want, we can go back and reread a page, we can also skip a page.

Occasionally running a finger along the printed text will also help children learn that (3) pages are read from top to bottom and the text is read from left to right. With a little help from us, children will discover that bold words are often important to the story and usually we think of bold words or words shown in uppercase letters as LOUD WORDS.

If we read lift the flap books or pop up books, children will learn that (4) sometimes books have flaps or other features that hide the solution to a riddle or some other surprise.

Reading aloud also exposes children to the (5) beauty and richness of our language. Children will also gain (6)phonemic awareness as they discover how to play with words and sounds through rhyming and alliteration.

When hearing books read aloud, children (and adults) learn (7) new words and all sorts of wonderful (8) facts (especially when the children are wild about dinosaurs!)

Hearing a selection of books gives children an understanding of (9) what a story is , how a fairy tale is different from a fable and how tall tales exaggerate.

Hearing picture books read aloud can also enable children to (10) safely explore worrisome or difficult topics like going to the hospital or coping with illness, disability, bullying, or even the death of a loved one while safe in a loving and comfortable environment.


Eggstra, Eggstra – Matching Upper and Lower Case Letters

Posted on February 8th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Children enjoy matching upper and lower case letters with this fun activity


This is a great time of year to pick up the makings of an inexpensive, colourful learning aid – at your neighbourhood dollar store. Easter merchandise is starting to appear and we want the multi-coloured two-part Easter eggs. Normally these are filled with candies but we are going to do something altogether different. We are going to use a permanent ink pen to print an upper case letter on one half of an egg and and the corresponding lower case letter on the other half. Children really enjoy searching through the ‘broken’ eggs. matching upper and lower case letters, ultimately assembling twenty-six whole eggs. I like the activity because using five or six colors makes finding a match fairly easy and also makes the activity somewhat self-checking.

For older children, compound words, rhyming words or antonyms could be used.

For more ways to help children learn the alphabet, check out our fee alphabet printables and our page about alphabet recognition.

A word of caution: This activity is not intended for children younger than age 3. Also, to ensure the activity is safe, please use eggs that are large enough to eliminate a risk of choking. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has determined: ‘Any ball with a diameter of 1.75 inches (44.4mm) or less that is intended for use by children younger than 3 years of age is banned.’ This is an excellent guideline – please check the size of the eggs before purchasing them.

Hover over the photo for a description of the activity. Click on the photo to read the full post

Storytime Standouts Free Printable Alphabets and Games for Learning LettersAlphabet Learning Game for Small Groups










If you appreciate our free early childhood literacy printables,
including these printable alphabets,
please support this site by visiting and purchasing from Amazon.comAmazon.com link or Amazon.ca.Amazon.ca link


We invite you to follow Storytime Standouts’ Alphabet Craft Board on Pinterest

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alphabet Crafts on Pinterest.

Reading Comprehension – 8 Ways to Reinforce Your Child’s Understanding

Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Try some of these strategies to help your child with reading comprehension

8 ways to reinforce understanding and reading comprehension

Here are eight ways to reinforce a young child’s reading comprehension…











You will also want to read our page about reading comprehension.

Please click on the book covers for information about each picture book.

  • image of cover art for Houndsley and CatinaBefore opening the cover of a book, take a moment to talk about the cover art and encourage your youngster to make some predictions. Do you suppose this will be a scary story or perhaps a silly one? Do you think this book will be like something else we have read together? Making predictions is a great way to help your child develop good reading comprehension skills.
  • Does your child recognize the illustrator’s style and/or the typeface? Savvy readers will recognize that Stella Fairy of the Forest and Houndsley and Catina are both illustrated by Marie- Louise Gay although the characters in the two books are not the same.
  • image of cover art for Stella Fairy of the Forest

  • Once you have read partway through a picture book, pause to talk about it. Involve your child in making predictions about what will happen next. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom offers more than a couple of opportunities to guess what will happen to the letters of the alphabet. If a character is facing a choice, ask your child what he would choose and why. Thinking and talking about the story will reinforce reading comprehension.
  • At the end of the story, take a moment to talk about the characters. Which character does your child like best? / least? Does this character remind him of a person he knows or another book you’ve read together?
  • image of cover art for The Three Snow Bears

  • Try reading more than one version of a fairy tale or other familiar story. Compare the illustrations and the author’s words. Which version of the story do you like best? / least?
  • Try reading wordless picture books. In these books, all or almost all of the story is told through the illustrations. Wordless and almost wordless books are great because they “level the playing field.” Your child becomes an equal participant in carefully “reading” the illustrations and deciding what is happening in the story. Wordless and almost wordless books are also great for young children to share with someone who does not read in English. They are also valuable because they offer an opportunity for your child to use visual clues when retelling a story to someone else.
  • image of cover art for The 3 Bears and Goldilocks

  • Speaking of “retelling,”  having an opportunity to retell a story is a great way for young children to develop her reading comprehension skills. Perhaps after you and your child enjoy a story together, your child could summarize the story for another adult.
  • Finally, matching a book to an upcoming event or experience will help your child to make connections between the story or information in the book and his own experience. Whether reading a story about a visit to the dentist prior to an appointment or laughing about No David’s misadventures, making connections is what it is all about.
  • Family Literacy and Family Literacy Programs

    Posted on October 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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    Family Literacy Program Development Part 3





    I have a firm belief that everyday experiences represent tremendous opportunities for children to learn and grow. Whether hearing a nursery rhyme during a diaper change, chatting while doing grocery shopping or laughing about a fun picture book, interactions between family members and with other caregivers provide many opportunities for language development and growth.

    Almost all parents and caregivers want their children to flourish, they want to be involved, effective parents and they want to create a healthy, nurturing environment for their children. In my opinion, a good family literacy program will support parents and caregivers without intruding. A good family literacy program will be responsive to the needs identified within the community. An important aspect of responsiveness is a willingness to listen to parents and other caregivers and to ensure that services are delivered when, where and how they are needed.

    A good family literacy program will be empowering, it will help adults understand the pivotal role they can and should play in developing their child(ren)’s literacy. It will encourage parents and other caregivers to make time for reading aloud, playing with and talking to children. A good family literacy program will encourage adults to consistently enrich the lives of young learners with a variety of spoken and written language and experiences.

    As an aside, learning does not need to be an expensive proposition but it does require commitment. It is easier to put a child to bed without reading a story, it is easier to let the child watch television than to sit and do a puzzle with him, it is easier to text with a friend than to chat about fire fighters and their equipment. for the tenth or twentieth time. A good family literacy program understands this and acknowledges it. A good family literacy program will encourage parents and caregivers to make the extra effort each and every day with their youngsters. A good family literacy program will ensure that participants understand how chatting about fire fighters, sharing a bedtime story and doing a puzzle can have a tremendous impact on young children.

    Songs for a Summertime Storytime

    Posted on September 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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    This summer I presented two different early literacy programs for Richmond Leisure Services. I enjoyed the opportunity to teach the children some traditional songs. Songs like these are great for preschool storytime.

    You’ll find many resources for a kindergarten or preschool storytime or circle time on our “printable downloads” page. You will find rhymes, songs, chants and fingerplays here.

    I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

    I’ve been working on the railroad,
    All the live long day,
    I’ve been working on the railroad,
    Just to pass the time away.

    Can’t you hear the whistle blowing?
    Rise up so early in the morn.
    Can’t you hear the captain shouting,
    “Dinah, blow your horn?”

    Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow your horn?
    Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow your horn?

    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah,
    Someone’s in the kitchen I know.

    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah,
    Strumming on the old banjo and singing,
    Fee–fi-fid–lee-i-o, Fee–fi-fid–lee-i-o,
    Fee–fi-fid–lee-i-o, Strumming on the old banjo

    She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

    She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes,
    Toot! Toot!
    She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes,
    Toot! Toot!
    She’ll be comin’ round the mountain, She’ll be comin’ round the mountain, She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes.
    Toot! Toot!

    She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes,
    Whoa back!
    She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes,
    Whoa back!
    She’ll be driving six white horses, She’ll be driving six white horses, She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes.
    Whoa back! Toot-toot!

    She’ll be wearing pink pajamas when she comes,
    Tee-Hee!
    She’ll be wearing pink pajamas when she comes,
    Tee-Hee!
    She’ll be wearing pink pajamas, She’ll be wearing pink pajamas, She’ll be wearing pink pajamas when she comes,
    Tee-Hee!Tee-Hee! Whoa Back! Toot-toot!

    We’ll all go out to meet her when she comes,
    Hi-Babe!
    We’ll all go out to meet her when she comes,
    Hi-Babe!
    We’ll all go out to meet her, We’ll all go out to meet her, We’ll all go out to meet her when she comes,
    Hi-Babe!

    The Bear Went Over the Mountain

    The bear went over the mountain,
    The bear went over the mountain,
    The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see,
    To see what he could see,
    To see what he could see.
    The other side of the mountain,
    The other side of the mountain,
    The other side of the mountain was all that he could see.

    Over in the Meadow
    Over in the meadow, in the sand, in the sun,
    Lived an old mother frog and her little froggie one.
    “Croak!” said the mother, “I’ll croak!” said the one,
    So they croaked and they croaked in the sand, in the sun.

    Over in the meadow, in the stream so blue,
    Lived an old mother fish and her little fishes two.
    “Swim!” said the mother, “We swim!” said the two,
    So they swam and they swam in the stream so blue.

    Over in the meadow, on the branch of a tree,
    Lived an old mother bird and her little birdies three.
    “Sing!” said the mother, “We sing!” said the three,
    So they sang and they sang on the branch of a tree.

    The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children

    Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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    The importance of reading aloud to children - even once they read independentlyIt is almost impossible to believe that the 2011/12 school year marks the tenth anniversary of Storytime Standouts. Indeed, I have been writing about the importance of reading aloud while introducing wonderful picture books for families for nearly a decade. My first column was dated April 2002 and included a review of Stella, Fairy of the Forest. I love letting parents and teachers know about wonderful children’s books just as much today as I did ten years ago. As well, I remain committed to sharing the importance of reading aloud to children whenever I have an opportunity to do so.

    Given that this is a special anniversary for Storytime Standouts and since it is the start of a new school year, I want to share my suggestions for ensuring that young children mature into young adults who love to read…





    Start ‘em young -
    Beginning at six months of age, every child should hear at least two picture books read aloud every day. If we begin when a child is still an infant, the baby gets used to the idea of snuggling close and enjoying a story. If we introduce stories when children are older and ‘on the move,’ it may be more difficult to entice them to cuddle with us, enjoy the story and the illustrations.

    Every day, no matter what -
    Making time for stories, whether at bedtime or during the day, should be sacred. Even on busy days, when we are on holiday or when a babysitter is involved, enjoying two picture books every day is essential for youngsters. It is for this reason that bedtime stories should never be withdrawn as a form of discipline.

    Help your child learn words, concepts and lessons -
    When children hear two stories a day, they will enjoy 730 stories in one year and 3650 stories in five years. Hearing more than three thousand stories in five years will introduce all sorts of delicious vocabulary, fascinating concepts, wonderful artwork and important lessons. If we delay reading aloud to our children, perhaps waiting until they are two years of age, we miss the opportunity to expose them to the vocabulary, concepts, artwork and lessons in more than one thousand picture books. If each story introduces just two new words… that means your child will have missed the opportunity to add more than two thousand words to her vocabulary.The Importance of Reading Aloud to Children - Keep Reading Even Once Children Are Able to Read Independently

    There is something for everyone -
    Exploring the vast array of children’s books will be fun and rewarding for both you and your child. Visit your local library or book store and dive into the wealth of fairy tales, fables, tall tales, concept books, alphabet books, nursery rhymes, poetry, humor, lift the flap, wordless, fiction and nonfiction picture books. There is truly a picture book for every occasion.

    Make connections -
    Encourage children to make connections with the books they hear read aloud. Whether starting school or visiting a pumpkin patch, dealing with a sibling or learning to ride a bike, there are picture books to match a young child’s experiences. Parents can enrich the read aloud experience by pausing to ask questions, “What do you think Little Red Riding Hood should do?” “Which version of The Three Bears did you like best?” “Which story book character do you like best? Lilly, Wemberly, Olivia…”

    Continue reading aloud -
    Even once children have become independent readers, they will benefit from sharing a great book with you. Although it may be tempting to step aside when your child is eight years old and is reading chapter books independently, there are all sorts of wonderful novels for you to enjoy together. You and your children will remember and reference these shared books for years to come.

    For additional information, read our 10 FAQs About Reading Aloud to Children and Why Sharing a Bedtime Story or Two is Not to Be Missed.

    Storytime Standouts Tips for Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

    Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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    Storytime Standouts Tips for Getting Ready to Read While in the CarSome of the keys to learning to read are noticing sounds in words (developing phonemic awareness), recognizing letters of the alphabet and understanding words.



    Next time you’re in the car with your preschool or kindergarten child, spend a few minutes talking about sounds and words. Informal chats like these, can have a huge impact on her phonemic awareness and readiness for formal reading instruction…

    Listening For Sounds at the Beginning of Words

    ‘Here are some words that begin with the /b/ sound’ (Note: you should use the letter sound rather than the letter name) ‘boy, ball, bicycle, bat.’ I am going to say three words to you, can you tell me which one does not begin with /b/?’

    (1) baby, ladybug, bumblebee
    (2) shovel, bucket, blanket
    (3) basket, apple, bird

    Listening For Rhyming

    ‘Here are some words that rhyme: bat & cat, ring & spring. Rhyming words are words whose endings sound the same. I am going to say two words to you, see if you can tell me if they rhyme.’

    (1) king & ring
    (2) up & down
    (3) black & stack


    Make a Substitution

    (1) Change the sound at the beginning of dog to /h/
    (2) Change the sound at the end of cat to /p/
    (3) Change the sound in the middle of hat to /i/

    Blend these sounds together

    (1) /d/ /o/ /g/
    (2) /b/ /a/ /t/
    (3) /h/ /u/ /g/

    For more ways to help your child develop phonemic awareness, follow this link to visit our Phonemic Awareness page.

    Discovering Meaning

    ‘These words are opposites; in & out, wet & dry, awake & asleep. Listen to my words. Are they opposites?’

    (1) black & white
    (2) yes & no
    (3) sad & crying

    For more ways to help your child with reading comprehension, follow this link.

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