Posts Tagged ‘early learning’

Reading Aloud to Children and Why It is Very Important

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


The importance of reading aloud to children - even once they can 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 It is for this reason that bedtime stories should never be withdrawn as a form of discipline.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.

Bolstering Phonemic Awareness, Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


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.

b d confusion: Is it ‘b’ or ‘d’ ? Helping young readers decide

Posted on September 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Ways you can help children with b d confusion

Storytime Standouts suggests ways to help children with b d confusion #prek #kindergarten #letterrecognition #alphabetI made a presentation last night to a preschool parent group. One of the topics of discussion was how we can help children avoid reading a “b” as a “d” and vice versa. At the presentation, I was not addressing serious learning challenges like Developmental Dyslexia ( a condition / learning disability which causes difficulty with reading and writing). We were discussing ways to assist children with letter recognition and b d confusion. We talked about a few ways to help children correctly identify “d” and “b”.


Method #1: Bat, Ball, Dog, Tail

One mom mentioned that in their household they used the following:

“This is the bat, and this is the ball, together they make a “b”. (Visualize: l + o = b, where “l” is a bat and “o” is a ball)

“This is the dog, and this is the tail, together they make a “d”. (Visualize c+ l = d, where “c” is a dog and “l” is its tail).

Method #2: Printing a ‘d’

The technique involves examining how we print the letter “d”. It looks much like a “c” with a “l” added to it. Using this method, we discuss the fact that c + l = d and “d” is after “c” in the alphabet.

b sees d  - One way for young children to avoid b d confusionMethod #3: ‘b’ sees ‘d’

Relying on alphabetical order (and a little play on words)





Method #4: Bulldozing a b works!

If your child knows that bulldozer begins with ‘b,’ he can use a toy bulldozer to push a letter ‘b.’ Letter ‘d’ is not nearly as cooperative because of its shape.







Method #5: bed

My favourite memory device is to make a “bed” with the child’s fingers. Imagine making two small circles with the thumbs and forefingers, and pointing the remaining fingers upward. Push the two circles together to make a “bed” (minus the “e”). The left hand makes the “b” and the right hand makes the “d.” It looks like this: “bd.” “b” is at the beginning of “bed,” “d” is at the end of bed.

Note, these methods will not work with very young children. With Method 3 especially, the child needs to know how to spell ‘bed’ in order for this device to be effective. From my perspective, with very young children, we should not worry about the occasional reversal. We can simply say, ‘That is a b. It makes the /b/ sound.’ With children who are starting to read, I find Method #3 to be very effective and easy to remember. I have seen children as old as seven do a quick check (underneath a desktop or tabletop) and then read a word with confidence.b d confusion - Storytime Standouts suggests ways for your child to know if it is a b or d including imagining a bed. #prek #letterrecognition #alphabet







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

Alphabet Learning Game for Small GroupsFree printable for helping children match uppercase and lowercase lettersMake-it-yourself tactile alphabet learning activityFree printable letter matching activity


Small group activity for learning letters or sight wordsStorytime Standouts Free Printable Alphabets and Games for Learning LettersStorytime Standouts shares learning activities for magnetic lettersStorytime Standouts shares a colorful letter matching activity













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

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alphabet Activities including b d confusion on Pinterest.

b and d (bed) poster from Activity Village



If you know memory devices for b c confusion, I’d love to hear from you. Please jump in with a comment.

Really reading – Effective Reading Strategies for Your Child

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Jody


What Does Reading Involve - Effective Reading Strategies for Your Child

Looking at effective reading strategies for your child
















Being able to read encompasses more than you think. With your child getting ready to go back to school, it’s good for parents to know exactly what it means to be a ‘good reader’

The benefit of being a ‘good reader’ is that you don’t even think about all of the actual strategies and tools you are employing to make sense of the words on the page.

When I ask my students “What do good readers do?” they can state any or all of the following: Read ahead, Read back, Look at the pictures, Ask questions, Make Predictions, Summarize, and Re-Read. All of these are powerful strategies that ‘good readers’ use naturally. For a student that doesn’t naturally use these tools, reading is more difficult.

Each of these strategies is taught both independently and with the other strategies until students don’t even realize they are using them. You can reinforce your child’s reading by supporting these tools at home. Reading is the ultimate example of multitasking. For the child that is missing certain tools however, they will feel overwhelmed. Obviously, this is addressed at the classroom level, but at home, reading every day is essential to helping your child become a solid, fluent reader. Ask your child to summarize what is happening, pose questions of your own about what you are wondering, and make guesses with your child about what could happen and why you think that.

You can make these book talks fun and brief; basically just a check in that your child understands what they have read. These strategies can be applied at any reading level, including pre-kindergarten books with no words. When looking at books like these, I’ll ask my youngest daughter what she thinks is happening or if the character seems happy or sad. Start these talks young so your child feels comfortable talking about what they are reading. Oral language is a huge part of reading successfully.

You should be able to tell if your child has picked a book within their reading range by asking them to read aloud to you. Can they read the words without getting stuck on more than five on a page? Do they self-correct when they make mistakes? Do they seem engaged and curious about what they are reading? Do they want to know more? Do they ask questions and make predictions?

Reading is more than identifying words on a page. Books are meant to be read, enjoyed, and understood. Working with your child’s teacher, you can make reading more than acquiring information; you can make it a journey, an adventure, an escape and a lifelong pleasure.

Make Your Own Classroom or Homeschool Reading Games

Posted on August 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Making reading games is a fun, inexpensive way to support young learners

Last month I was invited to make a presentation for the parents at a local preschool. Unlike most of my presentations, this was a hands-on workshop. We used alphabet stampsMake Your Own Classroom or Homeschool Reading Games, pencil crayons, alphabet stickers and alphabet foam shapes to make reading games. This sort of workshop becomes very social – the adults get to play with the craft supplies for a change!

Over the years, I have made many, many pre-reading and reading games. Apart from the fact that the games can be customized with respect to theme and difficulty, from a cost perspective, homemade can’t be beaten!

Storytime Standouts recommends Games for ReadingWhenever possible, I like to make activities self-correcting. For example, for some matching activities I put small marks on the back of the playing pieces so that the children can double-check their “matches.”

I’ve also tried to ensure that many of the games allow children to be active and move while they play and learn. For one of the games, I used green mesh placemats. I cut out lily pads (beige works for elephant footprints) and then painted letters onto each lily pad / footprint. The clingy nature of the placemat material ensures that the lily pads are not slippery when placed in ABC order on the floor. The children love to hop from one lily pad or one elephant footprint to the next, singing the ABC song.

Storytime Standouts recommends Kathy Ross bookGift wrap is another great source for learning games. I’ve made games to used with many, many themes – everything from birthday cupcakes to balloons, pond life, western, sports, truck theme and the circus. From time to time, you can find a licensed gift wrap that matches something you are doing in the classroom. I’ve used Cat in the Hat gift wrap.

My favourite resource for pre-reading craft activities is Kathy Ross. For learners who are a bit older and in need of assistance with reading, Peggy Kaye has great ideas.

Storytime Standouts offers a free compound word printable PDFDon’t forget to check out our free, printable reading games.

Our printable early literacy resources for making reading games are in PDF format, if you don’t already have Adobe Reader, you will need to download it to access the reading game download.


image of PDF icon  Match the Ending Consonant Sound

Another way to help children develop phonemic awareness. Matching the ending consonant sound is more difficult than matching the beginning consonant sound.

image of PDF icon  Compound Word Riddles

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 1

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 2

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 3

image of PDF icon  Match Upper and Lower Case Letters Part One

Use with Part Two to create a matching activity

image of PDF icon  Match Upper and Lower Case Letters Part Two

image of PDF icon  Consonant Game Board

Use a die and markers, move along the "star" path from one star to another. When you land on a star, say the letter name or say the letter sound or say a word that starts with the letter.

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Tic Tac Toe

image of PDF icon  Short Vowel Word Match Game

Pictures to match with words.

image of PDF icon  Animal / Alphabet Match

Free printable animal-theme alphabet for preschool and kindergarten.

image of PDF icon  Match the Beginning Consonant Sound

Cut the pictures apart and have children match the initial consonant sound - a great way to support the development of phonemic awareness.

Storytime Standouts’ early literacy resources download page

Peggy Kaye’s Games for Reading at Amazon.com

Peggy Kaye’s Games for Reading at Amazon.ca

Kathy Ross Crafts Letter Shapes at Amazon.com

Kathy Ross Crafts Letter Shapes at Amazon.ca


Developing Phonemic Awareness: How’s Your Nose, Rose?

Posted on August 27th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Using this Fun Wordplay Game to support Phonemic Awareness



You won’t regret using wordplay to support your child’s phonemic awareness – good phonemic awareness will help a young child with reading readiness and spelling.

At one of my Parent Education programs at a preschool last Fall, I talked about the importance of helping children to develop phonemic awareness. I explained that, together with alphabet recognition, good phonemic awareness is critically important for young learners. We want children to understand that words are made up of sounds and we’d like them to learn to play with the sounds in words. Developing a good understanding of rhyming is one element of this. Children who ‘get’ the concept of rhyming are gaining phonemic awareness.

After my presentation, one of the moms in the audience told me that she’s been playing, “How’s Your Nose, Rose?” with her young son. The game begins with one of them asking, “How’s Your Nose, Rose?”   The other replies with, “How’s Your Back, Jack?”  and the game continues until every possible body part rhyme has been exploited;  “How’s your toe, Joe?”,  “”How’s your arm, Parm?”,  “How’s your leg, Peg?”, “How’s your brain, Jane?” etc.

What great fun and what a marvelous learning opportunity; it doesn’t cost a penny, it can be done anywhere, and asking, “How’s your nose, Rose?” just might make waiting in a long line a tiny bit easier.    If you have a great idea for an inexpensive, portable reading lesson, I hope you’ll share it with us.

So, how’s your tummy, Mommy?

Rhyming Words, Phonemic Awareness at Storytime StandoutsFor more information, visit our page about phonemic awareness.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

Helping someone learn to read? Do you know the five finger rule?

Posted on August 21st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Deciding if a book is too difficult for a child to read

If you are helping a child learn to read, this simple trick might be the easiest way to decide if the chapter book is a good match for his or her reading level

Ask your child to read a page aloud. Each time he struggles with a word, he should raise one finger. If he raises five or more fingers per page, the book is too difficult. However, if he raises fewer than five fingers, the book is probably a good choice.

Ideally, we would like our children to choose books the same way Goldilocks would; we’d like them to select books that are ‘just right’ rather than ‘too difficult’ or ‘too easy.’ Having said that, ‘easy’ can be relaxing – a bit like browsing through a magazine – something we all enjoy doing from time to time.
Deciding if a book is too difficult for a child to read including chapter book, The Legend of Spud Murphy
Remember, if a chapter book is too difficult for your child to read independently, it might be a perfect choice for you to read aloud to your child.

When your child gets stuck on an unfamiliar word, here are some strategies we’d like her to use…

 Begin by using the first letter(s) as a clue, then move further into the unfamiliar word. Try to “sound out” the word and then blend the sounds together.
 Look at the pictures for clues. Especially in books for early readers, the pictures are intended to help tell the story.
 Look at the “chunks” within the unfamiliar word. Perhaps part of the word is known and can act as a clue.
 Consider what is happening in the story and what decide what might make sense.
 Go back and read the sentence (or even the paragraph) from the beginning. Think about the story and what decide what might fit.
 Listen to the words and decide if they sound ‘right.’

If you are helping someone learn to read, you may also be interested in our Beginning to Read page

Phonemic Awareness – Questions for Your Child (2)

Posted on July 18th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

The focus of our last few posts has been phonemic awareness, an important element of readiness for reading and spelling. Here are some more ways you can assess your child’s phonemic awareness

Check your child's phonemic awareness and readiness for reading and spelling with these questionsCan your child break a word apart by syllable? If you say “carpet” can your child hear and say “car – pet”?

Can your child mush sounds together (to make a word)? If you say “r – a – t” can your child hear and say “rat”?

Could your child hear whether two words begin with the same sound?

When asked to listen for a sound, can your child distinguish whether the sound is at the beginning, middle or end of a word? For example, when asked to listen for the /S/ sound, can your child hear it at the beginning of “skunk”, in the middle of “listen” and at the end of “tents”?

Could your child tell you the sound at the beginning of a word? Could he say which sound is at the end of a word? And, most difficult of all, could your child correctly identify the sound in the middle of a word?

It is not difficult to understand why, a child with above average phonemic awareness will probably be a very good speller. If you can hear the sounds in words, you are more likely to spell the words correctly.
Storytime Standouts free phonemic awareness printable Match the Beginning Consonant Sound

image of PDF icon  Match the Ending Consonant Sound

Another way to help children develop phonemic awareness. Matching the ending consonant sound is more difficult than matching the beginning consonant sound.

image of PDF icon  Match the Beginning Consonant Sound

Cut the pictures apart and have children match the initial consonant sound - a great way to support the development of phonemic awareness.

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

Phonemic Awareness – Questions for Your Child (1)

Posted on July 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Our recent posts have provided some ways to help your child gain phonemic awareness. Here are some ways you can assess your child’s phonemic awareness

Can your child hear whether two words are the same or different? “duck” and “duck” or “frog” and “fog”

Can your child hear whether two words rhyme? “pig” and “wig” or “black” and “bat”

Could your child think of a rhyming word for “boy” or “hot”?

Could your child say how many syllables are in a word like “west” or “under” or “amazing” ?

Phonemic Awareness – Hink Pink Riddle Fun Answers

Posted on July 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Here are the solutions to yesterday’s Hink Pink riddles

an overweight kitten (fat cat)
a very large hog (big pig)
a damp dog (wet pet)
a large stick (big twig)
a disappointed father (sad dad)
being startled by a grizzly (bear scare)
a turquise sandle (blue shoe)
how rabbits pay for things (bunny money)
24 hours without any work (play day)
mama bear massages her baby (cub rub)
use one to catch your goldfish (pet net)
rosy sheets and blankets (red bed)
rockers at the beach (sand band)

Hink Pink Riddles at Amazon.com

Hink Pink Riddles at Amazon.ca

Supporting Phonemic Awareness: Try Playing Around with Hink Pinks

Posted on July 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends using Hink Pinks to support the development of phonemic awareness in children



What do you call a rabbit who tells jokes?

If you are playing around with Hink Pinks, the answer is a funny bunny.

Solving and making up Hink Pink riddles will help your child to develop phonemic awareness and, since phonemic awareness is a key to reading success will bolster early reading and spelling.

So, here are some Hink Pinks for you to try…

an overweight kitten
a very large hog
a damp dog
a large stick
a disappointed father
being startled by a grizzly
a turquoise sandle
what rabbits use to pay for things
24 hours without any work
mama bear massages her baby
use one to catch your goldfish
crimson sheets and blankets
rockers at the beach

And here are the solutions

an overweight kitten (fat cat)
a very large hog (big pig)
a damp dog (wet pet)
a large stick (big twig)
a disappointed father (sad dad)
being startled by a grizzly (bear scare)
a turquise sandle (blue shoe)
how rabbits pay for things (bunny money)
24 hours without any work (play day)
mama bear massages her baby (cub rub)
use one to catch your goldfish (pet net)
rosy sheets and blankets (red bed)
rockers at the beach (sand band)

Hink Pink Riddles at Amazon.com

Hink Pink Riddles at Amazon.ca

Websites Featuring Hink Pinks

Hink Pinks online

Trotter Math’s Hink Pinks

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

Dazzling Felt Stories, Puppets and an Amazing Feel-Good Opportunity

Posted on June 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Craftworks offers Dazzling Felt Stories, Puppets and an Amazing Feel-Good Opportunity Last Friday morning, I spent well over an hour exploring a wonderful shop in Vancouver that is both inspiring and uplifting. I rediscovered the delightful items available for purchase at 4th Avenue’s Craftworks.

Since 1966, 3H Craftworks Society has provided a craft-therapy program for adults with physical disabilities and/or mental health challenges. Member clients gain confidence and self esteem while participating, creating, and socializing with other members of the community. Member clients are renumerated monthly for the projects they complete. Products are then sold through a store at 2208 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In addition, products are available through mail order and via email: [email protected]

For teachers, the array of colourful and high quality felt board stories and (finger and hand) puppets is absolutely dazzling. What a selection! Parents, grandparents, and friends will find all sorts of beautiful gifts and toys. Don’t miss The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly – she’s absolutely great.

Be sure to “like” 3H Craftworks: Creations by Artisans with Disabilities on Facebook, check out their Twitter feed as well @craftworkson4th Best of all, investigate their wonderful products for yourself. I guarantee, you will leave with a smile on your face.

We’ve Just Added Free Printable Summer Writing Paper

Posted on May 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts offers interlined paper for (almost) every occasion, check out the entire collection by visiting our Interlined Paper page.

Our early literacy printables, including our interlined paper, are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.


You will find our selection of free printable alphabets here and all of our early literacy printables here.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids

Interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Half Interlined Paper

Plain, half interlined writing paper for beginning writers.


Free Printable Snowman Writing Paper for Homeschool and ClassroomWinter Interlined Paper for Preschool, Kindergarten, Grade One

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Christmas Tree

Christmas theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Snowman

Snow theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Groundhog Day

Groundhog day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Valentine's Day Swirling Hearts

Valentine's Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


If you appreciate our interlined paper printables, please support this site by visiting and purchasing from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.


Free Printable Sandcastle Writing Paper for Homeschool and ClassroomSummer Interlined Paper for Preschool, Kindergarten, Grade One

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Canada Day

Canada theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Camping

Camping theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - July 4th, Independence Day

Independence Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Watermelon

Watermelon, Summer theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Sunflower

Sunflower theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Sandcastle

Beach theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Roadtrip

Roadtrip theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Picnic

Picnic theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


Five Ways to Support a Beginning Reader – Helpful Tips for Homeschool

Posted on May 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

5 Ways to Support a Beginning Reader from StorytimeStandouts.com

Following these steps when your child is a beginning reader will help him to become fluent and will enable you and your child to enjoy the learning to read experience together.











Click on the book covers for our post about using word families with a beginning reader.

Bug in a Rug, a good book for a beginning reader1. Make reading part of every day. Without exception. Committing to share this special time with your child each and every day will help your child to see reading as valuable. Have your child read to you and make sure that you continue to read aloud to your child.

Remember: becoming a great reader requires practice and some children need more practice than others do. Don’t despair when reading doesn’t happen quickly or easily, learning to read is like learning to ride a bike or becoming a swimmer. If you choose to make reading a priority, your efforts will be rewarded.

2. Keep the read aloud experience happy, relaxed and comfortable. Cozy up near a good light and enjoy a snuggle. If your child is too tired to read aloud, let it go (for one day) and spend a couple of extra minutes reading aloud to her.
Dog in the Fog, a good book for a beginning reader
3. Help your child to find appealing books to read. Be sure to check out the selection at your public library or stop by your child’s classroom for suggestions. Do your best to find books that are “just right” for your child. You will be better at evaluating books than your child is so take an active role in assessing the level of difficulty.

In my experience, some of the “best” books are the ones that other children recommend. Positive “word of mouth” advertising can be a great motivator for a young reader.

4. Celebrate your child’s success with reading. Being able to read twenty words or a chapter book is a big deal! How about celebrating with a book worm cupcake or a trip to the library or a special bookmark or a new bookshelf? Perhaps the readers in your household are allowed to stay up fifteen minutes later than the non readers…
Fat Cat, a good book for a beginning reader

5. Remain patient and supportive. When your child encounters a tricky word, help with some strategies. If your child can’t manage the word, tell her the word and move on.

You will also be interested in our page about beginning to read


Some of our Favourite Posts About Supporting Beginning Readers

Hover over the picture to read the post title. Click on the picture to read the entire post

Learning games for beginning readers6 Ways to help a child read an unfamiliar word from Storytime StandoutsBeginning Readers should use these strategies to read difficult words15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from StorytimeStandouts.com

Print Awareness – 5 Ways to Help Your Child with Printed Language

Posted on May 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart



Print Awareness - 5 Ways to Help Your Child with Printed Language

Here are five ways to help your child gain familiarity with printed language





1. Encourage your child to be the page turner when you read aloud to her.

2. Ask your child to hold the book while you enjoy it together.

Print Awareness includes reading words like ABRACADABRA!

3. When reading aloud, point to some of the words or trace from left to right as your read. Watch for books that use interesting fonts to express emotion – encourage your child to read exciting words (like ABRACADABRA or FEE FI FO FUM) with you.

Print Awareness includes FEE FI FO FUM

4. Explore the world of environmental print. Encourage your child to notice lists, labels, packaging, signs, menus, mail, newspapers and magazines. Help your child to notice the many ways you use print: checking instructions for medication, reading a recipe, laughing at a comic in the newspaper, assembling a toy or learning a new game.

5. Make a mistake and see if your child corrects you. Hold a book upside down or try to read it from back to front.


Picture books that promote print awareness

Exclamation Mark outstanding 2013 picture bookExclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Picture Book that promotes print awareness published by Scholastic Press

Exclamation Mark is just not like anyone else. As much as he’d like to look the same, he’s always a standout in a crowd.

He was confused, flummoxed, and deflated.
He even thought about running away.
.

Clever wordplay and fun, expressive illustrations will captivate children old enough to understand punctuation and the important role it plays in our language. Older readers will enjoy the double entendre and will celebrate Exclamation Mark’s voyage of self discovery.

Why oh why is he different? He wants nothing more than to look just like the periods around him. It is only when Question Mark arrives on the scene that Exclamation Mark discovers something deep within – he discovers why and how he has an important role to play – despite his rather unique upright appearance.

An outstanding 2013 picture book, Exclamation Mark is highly recommended for readers aged five years and up.

Exclamation Mark at Amazon.com

Exclamation Mark at Amazon.ca



Storytime Standouts Looks at Click Clack Moo Cows That TypeClick, Clack, Moo Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Picture Book that promotes print awareness published by Simon and Schuster

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a fun story that does a great job of introducing print awareness. The story draws the reader’s attention to letters and words and one way of conveying messages. As well, Farmer Brown’s body language is great to watch. The illustrations in the story encourage children to “read between the lines.”

A 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is a terrific book for children aged three years and up.

2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title
2002 Vermont’s Picture Book Awards: Red Clover
A 2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book for Younger Readers
2002 Charlotte Award (New York State Reading Association)
2001 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Picture Book
2001 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book for Children’s Illustrated

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type at Amazon.com

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type at Amazon.ca


Links to four posts we think you’ll find interesting

Using Environmental Print with Beginning Readers15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts Explains How to Help a Child Read Unfamiliar Words9 Ways to Help a Beginning Reader Succeed from StorytimeStandouts.com




Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Kites – it must be May

Posted on May 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Free printable kite theme writing paper for kidsWe’ve just added three new downloads to the site to help youngsters celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and kite flying.

image of PDF icon  Things You Can Learn From Mom

Wordsearch

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Mother's Day

Mother's Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Kite

Kite theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

Storytime Standouts offers writing paper for (almost) every occasion, check out the entire collection by visiting our writing paper for kids page.

Free printable planing a flower garden sequencing activityYou will also be interested in our new page about gardening with children. It highlights our Planting a Flower Garden sequencing activity and many other great resources for enjoying Spring with young children.

image of PDF icon  Planting a Flower Garden Sequencing Activity

Our early learning printables, including our spring theme printables for kids are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.


Some of our early learning printables are available to Storytime Standouts members only. To become a member of the website, please click on the “Members” tab and register as a user.


You will find our selection of free printable alphabets here and all of our early learning printables here.

If you appreciate our early learning printables, please support this site by visiting and purchasing from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

A Ball for Daisy is a Wordless Picturebook Delight by Chris Raschka

Posted on May 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Those of us who “know” picture books are very familiar with the wordless and almost wordless variety. I’m not convinced, however, that “non bookies” are aware of the genre or that they understand the important role a wordless picture book can play in early literacy.

Wordless picture books “tell” a story using illustrations only. They encourage active participation and, as a result, are super for stimulating language development. Wordless picture books also move children and adults to a level playing field; a young child is equally able to “read” a well-designed story because there are no words to be decoded. A wordless picture book is great for multilingual families because stories can be discussed in any language. Perhaps most importantly, wordless picture books provide a great platform for story retelling. A youngster who enjoys a wordless picture book with an adult, should be encouraged to retell the story, using his own words, to another adult – a great way to improve the child’s ability to retell a story and thus helping to prepare the child for formal reading instruction.

Every kindergarten and early primary classroom ought to be stocked with some wordless picture books. Here is a brand new title you will want to consider:
Latest Chris Raschka Treat is a Wordless Picturebook Delight:  A Ball for Daisy A Ball for Daisy – created by Chris Raschka
Wordless picture book published by Schwartz and Wade Books, an imprint of Random House





Have you ever suffered the loss of favorite toy? Perhaps it was broken beyond repair? Daisy is an adorable little dog, oozing with personality. She loves her beautiful red ball. Daisy kicks it and bounces it and snuggles with it on the sofa. One day, while enjoying a walk, Daisy encounters a doggy friend who is too exuberant and accidentally punctures the red ball. Daisy is inconsolable; she can’t believe what she sees and she tries everything to make her red ball whole again. Unfortunately, the ball has been destroyed.

Thankfully, Daisy’s friend understands her distress and, when she next visits the park, a lovely new blue ball is waiting. Breezy, bright illustrations, perfect for sharing with a group, guide readers (and non “readers”) through A Ball for Daisy.

Updated January 2012A Ball for Daisy – created by Chris Raschka is the winner of the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Medal

A Ball for Daisy at Amazon.com

A Ball for Daisy at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books



What’s So Great About Play? Discover the Wonder of Free Play

Posted on April 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Asks, What's so great about play?

What sort of skills do children learn when given an opportunity to play by themselves and with others?

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. – Educator and television host, Fred Rogers





Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning. – Author Diane Ackerman

Children learn to express themselves artistically and verbally. They also learn ways to create, invent, discover, investigate, explore, imagine, build (and wreck!), construct, move, share and negotiate. Children have opportunities to enjoy a sense of accomplishment, to learn how to join a group and make friends. When playing with others, they learn to participate, communicate, deal with conflict, cooperate and have fun. They become curious and excited, they overcome fears, deal with disappointments (when the castle collapses) and they discover and develop talents. Children become more socially responsible, they may help others with projects and with tidying up. Their intellect develops and they become more confident physically.

It seems to me that we all need less structure in our days and more time to play. We need time, space and materials. Why not make playtime a priority this weekend? I’m going to and I would love to hear your favorite ways to encourage and support your child’s play.

15 Tips for Parents and Homeschoolers of Young Readers and Writers

Posted on April 27th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

15 tips for Parents of Young Readers and Writers from Storytime Standouts

Raising a child who reads well and loves to pick up a book is a team effort. Parents can support young readers’ and writers’ formal learning by being involved and enthusiastic, providing encouragement and tools. Here are some ways you can help set the stage for reading success.

Download a free, printable PDF of this information

image of PDF icon  15 Tips for Supporting Young Readers and Writers

Storytime Standouts shares tips for parents who want to help children with reading and writing.





    Be a reader and a writer – make sure your children see you reading books for pleasure and information as well as writing letters or making lists.

    Read aloud to your children every day – even once they have learned how to read.  Make it a priority to find great articles and engaging books to share with your family.

    Be flexible.  Read when, where and how it suits your child.  If your child won’t sit still, it is okay to play quietly or color a picture while listening.

    Write silly notes to your children.  Print out  riddles and add them to a  lunch bag or hide them under a pillow.

    • Have Grandma or Grandpa send emails, encourage your child to reply.

    • Try a new recipe, read a map, solve a mystery, check out the comics or learn magic tricks together.  Help your child realize the value of being a good reader.

    • Hook your child with wonderful series books or look for more books by a favourite author or illustrator.


    • Encourage your child to notice and read environmental print (stop signs, entrance,  exit, push and pull signs as well as labels on groceries or names of familiar stores).

    Listen to your children when they read (or when they pretend to read).  Offer lots of encouragement to readers and writers of every age.

    • If possible, have a basket of  books, a well-placed reading light and a comfortable chair inviting young readers to curl up and enjoy a story.

    Keep writing implements; coloured pencils, erasers, rulers and paper handy.  A stapler is also great for children who want to make their own books.

    Visit your public library regularly.  Encourage your children to borrow fiction and non fiction books.

    Get to know your child’s school librarian and make sure the librarian knows your child’s ability and interests.

    Explore your community with your child.  Background experiences help readers to understand.  A child who has been to an aquarium or a farm will make connections when reading about sea creatures or baby piglets.

    Ask for recommendations and suggestions.  Most libraries have lists of book recommendations.  Check with friends and teachers and look at our picture book and chapter book recommendations.   If you need help, send an email. We will gladly give you suggestions.

For further information, check out our page on early literacy.

Six ways for a beginning reader to read an unfamiliar word

Posted on April 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

6 Ways to help a child read an unfamiliar word from Storytime Standouts



When your beginning reader is faced with a new word to read, here are six ways she can approach it

(1) Sound it out. Have the beginning reader say each letter sound and “mush” the letter sounds together until they make a word.

/c/ — /a/ — /t/
/c/ – /a/ – /t/
/c/ /a/ /t/

(2) Use the first letters as hints and then guess. The farmer drove the /t/. Your child might guess ‘truck’ or ‘tractor’ – either of these words will probably fit within the context of the story. If your child guesses ‘tiger’ or ‘trampoline,’ we would want to ask if the word really makes sense.

(3) Look at the pictures for clues. This approach might mean a child substitutes “kitten” for “cat” or “bike” for “bicycle.” A mistake like this does not change the meaning significantly. The word the child ‘reads’ still works within the context of the story.

(4) Read the sentence again. Sometimes backing up will help a child gain momentum and get over the hurdles.

(5) Skip the mystery word and continue reading. Once your child has read further, the mystery word may become obvious

(6) Ask someone for help. Usually when a young reader asks me for help, I simply provide the word. I really do not want to ruin a great story for the sake of one or two words.

If you are a parent who is working with a beginning reader, it may be tempting to correct every mistake he or she makes. However, especially with a beginning reader, as parents, we need to be cautious about our demands. We need to take a non judgemental, supportive approach and avoid having our child embarrassed by his or her mistakes. Our role is to be cheerleaders. Our job is to applaud and encourage success and to provide assistance when needed. In fact, one might say that our job is to be like a family pet. We should sit happily with the child and wag our tails from time to time. If we can resist correcting our child, our child will reap the benefits provided by Reading Education Assistance Dogs.


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