Posts Tagged ‘alphabet’

Meet Picture Book Author James Littlejohn (Interview)

Posted on January 12th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Photo of picture book author James Littlejohn

Today it is our pleasure to introduce picture book author, James Littlejohn. He is the author of B is for Baller

You can connect with James here…
Publisher: Triumph Books

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? James Littlejohn's B is for Baller

My book is “B is for Baller.” It’s a must for parents who love basketball and want to pass that love of the game along to their kids. I’m most proud hearing from parents who’ve told me it’s sparked conversations with their kids about players they grew up watching.

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Too many favorites to name, but Roald Dahl stands out. Loved the humor in his work.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

We successfully launched “B is for Baller” on Kickstarter before finding a publisher, and I think the positive response we got from crowdfunding helped the publisher see its potential.
That said, “B is for Baller” wasn’t my first, second or third book — those ones still haven’t been published and likely never will be. So yes, it is difficult! If becoming an author or illustrator is an aspiration of yours, I think you have to accept that rejection is inevitable. There are too many talented people, and too few opportunities, for everyone to succeed at once.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I enjoy the creative process — coming up with new ideas and seeing those ideas come to life on the page is really satisfying.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Other than finding a publisher… probably trying to write your own bio.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I work full-time as a writer at an advertising agency. Keeps me creatively engaged, but also requires me to think a lot about marketing — skills I need and use often making and selling books.

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at

James is available for school or library presentations. He is based in Los Angeles.

Discover B.C.R. Fegan and his latest picture book! (Interview)

Posted on November 15th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

B.C.R. Fegan is the author of The Day that A Ran AwayB.C.R. Fegan is a multi-award-winning author who has written a number of fairy tales and fantasies for children and young adults.

Raised on a small hobby farm only minutes from some of Australia’s greatest beaches, Fegan grew up inspired by the power of nature’s ambience. From the intensity of the frequent summer storms to the overwhelming serenity of a lonely beach in the early hours of the morning. His ravenous appetite for both reading and writing soon saw him drawing on the transformational influence of the world around him to craft short stories, poems and picture books.

As time wore on, Fegan also found inspiration in the magic and depth of authors and compositors like Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He was mesmerized by the potency of small but beautiful phrases that were carefully carved from the minds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost. He grew to appreciate the worlds meticulously created by David Eddings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Eventually, he began to forge his own complete works. Weaving his own magic, piecing together his own phrases and crafting his own worlds. Agonising over plots that would inspire, characters that would be loved and circumstances that would delight. In time, his efforts saw a number of children’s books and young adult fiction produced.

Twitter account – @bcrfegan

Website URL –

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? Storytime Standouts interviews the author of The Day that A Ran Away

My latest book is The Day That A Ran Away. It’s an alphabet book that follows the excuses of young Master Jet as he tries to wriggle out of not completing his homework.

My overriding focus for the story was to turn a traditional alphabet book into something that was a little more memorable and exciting for both the child and parent. I hope children who are beginning their journey into reading and writing will find the simple rhymes and colorful letters helpful in that journey. Older children and parents, on the other hand, may actually enjoy reading or listening to the story too, as there are a number of deeper layers that I hope will hold their interest.

I think what I’m most proud of about the book is that there is so much learning packed into it without it feeling overbearing. Of course, the primary learning concept is the alphabet, but it also introduces the concept of homework and every page contains a number of ‘Easter eggs’ for children to find. All of which has great learning value.

The Day That a Ran Away at

The Day That A Ran Away at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

It’s an interesting question because I read so many picture books as a child, but early on I didn’t really make the connection between the story and the writer behind it. To me, it was simply a great book! I probably had a number of favorite authors without realizing it.

When I eventually made the connection however, I was right into Graeme Base’s book ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Here was a book that wasn’t just a simple story, but was this spectacular maze of ideas and images to pour over and get lost in. It was actually a very clever book and as I soon found out, so were his others!

I think what I loved most about Base’s work (who is both an author and an illustrator), was that he built so much into the book. You could spend hours on each page – looking for clues, finding hidden objects and simply enjoying the artwork. I think his books really cemented for me two important things: Firstly, the connection between the text and the illustrations need to be more than complimentary, they have to elevate each other beyond anything they could do alone. Secondly, you want a narrative that pulls you along quickly, but with enough depth that you could just as happily dwell on a single page for hours.

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I think I realized early on in my life that I wanted to ‘write’. I may not have quite grasped the idea that I could turn it into a vocation, but for almost as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve been writing too.

When I eventually made the decision to begin publishing my manuscripts, I had incredible encouragement from my wife. She has continued to be an amazing pillar of support ever since, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am as an author without her.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

There are so many! In fact, I enjoy almost every aspect of writing – from the possibilities of a blank page to the satisfaction of a completed manuscript.

However – without a doubt – the greatest pleasure comes from the feedback I receive from children and parents who have enjoyed the book. It’s a little bit surreal when you hear children dressing up as characters from your books for World Book Day; or hearing parents talk about your books as their child’s favorite. It’s also those moments you hold on to when the occasional bad review threatens to dampen your day.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Only trying to swim in a surging ocean of marketing ideas and publicity essentials. I think I’m not the only author who wishes they could spend more time on writing and less time trying to gain exposure. Unfortunately, it’s simply a part of the business these days.

Does music play a part in your writing? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

It does sometimes. Given the choice, I’d prefer to listen to the rain or the wind outside while I write. Failing that, I might listen to recordings of storms to provide the right atmosphere (I know, sounds strange right?). However, I also don’t mind classical music on the odd occasion to play alongside the thoughts in my head while I furiously try to keep up with my pen.

Trees and Forests

Posted on September 20th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Tree and Forest Picture Books for Preschool, Kindergarten and Primary Grades

Picture books and free printables highlighting trees and forests

Sharing a selection of picture books about trees has led to some wonderful discoveries. The books we have included are respectful of trees and their impact on our environment, some using them metaphorically.

These picture books about trees and forests often include references to the seasons and to the cycle of life. Use these picture books about trees and forests in preschool, kindergarten and primary classrooms to share information and create environmental awareness.

Elsewhere on this site ~
– Children’s books about the environment
– Gardening Fun with Kids
– Children’s books about recycling

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about trees including A Grand Old Tree

A Grand Old Tree written and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma
Picture book about trees and ecosystems Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic

“Once there was a grand old tree. Her roots sank deep into the earth, her arms reached high into the sky. She was home to many creatures.”

Lovingly written and illustrated, A Grand Old Tree is a wonderful tribute to an ageing fruit tree. We watch as squirrels scamper, birds chirp and bees buzz in the branches of the tree. Through the seasons, we witness her bloom and produce seeds to blow from her branches. We consider how many leaves she has produced.

One moonlit winter night, she falls. Snow covers her weary trunk and branches. When spring arrives, we can see her offspring growing nearby and we know her decaying trunk is still home to raccoons, insects and lichen. We appreciate her legacy and understand that her children and grandchildren are now growing, flowering, and sowing.

Both informative and quietly reassuring, this is an eco-friendly picture book children will enjoy again and again.

Note: there is a concrete poem (the text is printed to represent the trunk of a tree) in the book.

Teaching suggestions from the author’s website

A Grand Old Tree at

A Grand Old Tree at

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni

the alphabet tree written and illustrated by Leo Lionni
Picture book about letters, words and a remarkable tree published by Dragonfly Books

A lovely tribute to the idea that there is strength in numbers. the alphabet tree opens with individual letters living happily in a large tree. When a very strong windstorm hits, some letters are blown out of the tree. The remaining letters retreat and huddle together. It is a word-bug that encourages the letters to work together to form words. Feeling stronger and more confident together, a caterpillar suggests forming phrases and, eventually, creating an important message for the president. An outstanding resource for encouraging print awareness, this picture book could also be interpreted as encouraging social or political activism.

The Alphabet Tree at

The Alphabet Tree at

Leo's Tree by Debora Pearson and Nora Hilb

Leo’s Tree written by Debora Pearson and illustrated by Nora Hilb
Picture book about trees, seasons and family published by Annick Press

A lovely picture book to share with preschool-age children, Leo’s Tree begins when Leo’s parents plant a tree just after Leo is born. We watch as both the tree and the baby grow, changing through the seasons. Gentle watercolor illustrations follow Baby Leo, Toddler Leo and, eventually Big Brother Leo, playing nearby as the tree grows tall and strong. Rhymes, repetitive text, and alliteration all contribute to a rich text that will appeal to young children.

Leo’s Tree at

Leo’s Tree at

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Magnificent Tree by Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King

The Magnificent Tree written by Nick Bland and illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Picture book about problem solving and creativity published by Scholastic

Bonny and Pop love creating things. Bonny takes a simple, straightforward approach. Pop is less conventional. they would both love to have birds stop and stay for a while but, instead, they just fly past. Bonny and Pop agree that the solution is to make a tree. In keeping with their personalities, Bonny approaches the tree problem simply. By contrast, Pop makes an elaborate plan and works day and night. Finally, Pop’s creation is ready and, on the first day of Spring, dozens of birds check it out before landing in Bonny’s project.

An exuberant tribute to finding more than one way to approach a challenge. Fun illustrations have lots of details that will have a special appeal for tinkerers.

The Magnificent Tree at

The Magnificent Tree at

Storytime Standouts shares a quote - The good man is the friend of all living things.
Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree by Anne Shelby and Cor Havelaar

The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree by Anne Shelby and Cor Hazelaar
Tall Tale about a man who decides to live in a tree published by Simon Says Kids

Beautifully illustrated and richly told in a storyteller’s voice, it is easy to imagine hearing this tall tale while sitting fireside on a winter evening. Harlan Burch lived in Appalachia long ago. He worked as a carpenter and spent time in the woods, choosing trees for his projects. Apart from cutting trees down, he also planted them – replacing each one that he cut with two saplings. One day, he came across a sycamore that was so large, there was room enough inside for Harlan to create a comfortable home.

Not long after moving into the sycamore, something strange happened. It was as though time had stopped and reversed. Harlan became more and more youthful. He soon married and had a family. The family thrived and grew, eventually populating all of Appalachia.

The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree at

The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree at

Storytime Standouts shares a selection of picture books about trees including Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf created by Lois Ehlert
Picture book about a Sugar Maple Tree published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Featuring dazzling collage illustrations, great for a group setting/read-aloud, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf shows readers real maple tree seeds (samaras), burlap, twine, wire, plant tags, and tree roots. Beautiful Fall colors are highlighted in the cover art and elsewhere in the book. The main text is large and tells the story of the origins of a maple tree, from the moment a seed falls in a forest through transfer to a garden center and eventual planting in a garden. In addition to showing readers the tree growing from seed to sprout to sapling, the illustrations also include unobtrusively labelled creatures that might live in and around a tree (squirrels, birds, earthworms) as well as other details that will promote learning.

A four-page appendix provides background information that will be helpful to young scientists and inquisitive researchers. An outstanding resource for kindergarten and primary-grade classrooms or for homeschool.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf at

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf at

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including Tess's Tree by Jess M. Brallier, pictures by Peter H. Reynolds

Tess’s Tree written by Jess M. Brallier and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Children’s book about coming to terms with loss published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Tess loves the tree in her yard. She loves to sit under it and read, she swings from it and, in Fall, she plays in the leaves beneath it. On a dark, blowy night, two of the large branches are damaged and fall to the ground. There is no choice, the old tree must be taken down.

Tess’s emotions are strong. She is angry and sad. She knows that she must do something to honor the tree. She plans a funeral service to celebrate the life of her tree.

It is not long before Tess learns that the tree is not just hers. There are others for whom the tree was important.

Tess’s Tree provides an opportunity to explore important themes of love and loss with children. I have read some reviews that suggest that the story ought to have ended with Tess planting another tree. My personal perspective is that might be an obvious “solution” to Tess’s grief, in some ways, this particular tree was irreplaceable. Much like the loss of a friend, family member or pet, dealing with loss is not always as simple as finding a replacement.

Tess’s appears to be part of a single-parent family.

Tess’s Tree at

Tess’s Tree at

We Planted a Tree and other picture books about trees and forests

We Planted a Tree – written by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake
Picture book about trees and ecosystems published by Golden Books an imprint of Random House

Young families in Brooklyn, New York and in Africa each plant a tree. As their trees grow, We Planted a Tree takes us to visit beautiful trees budding in Toyko and gorgeous bright, pink blossoms in Paris.

“The sun kept shining.
The pink blossoms dropped off,
But soon there were green leaves,
Green, green shiny leaves,
Which had food inside for the tree.

This joyous celebration of trees and the impact of planting just one, highlights that they can be a source of food and shade, they help to clean our air and they can prevent soil erosion. As well, readers learn that trees are home to birds and animals.

We Planted a Tree at

We Planted a Tree at

Free, Printable Tree-Theme Writing Paper for Home and Classroom

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree with bluebird

Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree including roots

Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

Storytime Standouts interviews author Michael Samulak

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews Michael SamulakMichael Samulak has almost twenty years of experience teaching, mentoring, and engaging youth both in and outside of the classroom. Mr. Samulak visits schools, learning centers, and daycares to read and present his stories and world adventures. His goal is to inspire youth to dream big. Michael’s teaching and classroom experience help him to fill his award-winning picture books with fun opportunities for learning.

Michael resides in the City of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Michigan State University (’96) and finished his Master’s in Education at Cleveland State University (’12). He has been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for close to 20 years.

Author Facebook Page

Author website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

A Wonderful Day! is my latest picture book about going to the zoo. This is actually my first traditionally published title and I am so excited to be able to share it with everyone! It is an early reader, great for emerging readers, or those who are working toward fluency and need that extra support from a fun book that can reinforce those early sight words and phonics skills that they have been working on.A Wonderful Day! by Michael Samulak

I generally recommend a target audience to be 3-6 years old, but as many of the educators and parents will tell you, this totally depends on your reader. My nephew is 2 and he loves to make all the animal sounds as he flips excitedly through the pages. My brother sent me a picture of him sneaking a read after he had “thought” he put him to bed. He was “reading” under the covers, flashlight and all. I couldn’t have been more happy to see someone getting that kind of joy from one of my books.

I am probably most proud of the way the book has been put together with little learning moments laced throughout the manuscript. Besides being written with a gender-neutral text, you also have a good amount of questions and statements that can be thought-provoking and interactive. This kind of anticipatory exercise is very important for young readers as they are learning and beginning to understand that text has meaning. I love that the book helps young readers make text-to-self-reflections; putting their own experiences and prior knowledge front and center while reading in order to develop and expand the whole experience of reading. We all do this as accomplished readers, and generally forget that somewhere along the line we were helped to understand and realize that reading is so much more than decoding and applying the known rules of phonics.

A Wonderful Day! was recently Awarded the Gold Medal for Children’s Picture Books (Animals) by the Mom’s Choice Awards.

A Wonderful Day! at

A Wonderful Day! at

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

This would have to be when I would ask my mom if I could stay home from Jr. High school, maybe about 6th or 7th grade so I could keep working on my first chapter book.

I think that it is safe to say that I still consider myself to be a work-in-progress, and so it is crazy to think that my books can now be found in libraries, schools, and peoples’ homes.

For those still-aspiring writers I always have the same words, “Don’t ever give up!” That choice has a guaranteed outcome. Don’t stop. Keep going, keep writing, keep up the inquiring: There is story that you have that the world needs to read. Keep putting yourself and your work out there and it will happen, even if it seems that things are tough or impossible, as long as you are moving and working on your dream, something can happen.

A is for Africa by Michael Samulak

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing process look like?

Generally speaking, one of my five children climbing on my back or sitting in my lap. Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the kids. They are a big source of inspirations for many of my books, so I can’t complain, but finding that quality, uninterrupted time is tough.

I am always writing, or at least thinking about writing. My note app on my phone is filled with bits and pieces, lines, thoughts: unpublished titles, I’m always trying to think of what may be a good title for a book. I think that has replaced a lot of my early days of notebooks, scrap paper, napkins from a dinner table, whatever was there really: Crayon, pencil, that piece of fruit my daughter had finished with…whatever worked to get that word down before it was gone. I’m sure some out there can relate.

I suppose once it is time put all of those bits and pieces into something “final” that I then print out or send to an actual human being, my laptop and a local coffee shop are where I land. But, the process, yeah, that’s a lot messy for me.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

What hasn’t happened? Tears, fears, in appropriate laughing; farting, burping, teasing, and a lot of smiles and wide-eye stares that keep me coming back for more.

I love reading my work and interacting with the children at schools and learning centers the most. I think it is the father and educator parts of me. I have come to expect the unexpected and it is this color and variety of the trip that make it so worthwhile.

If I had to pick one particular event I am particularly found of, it would be that one I often remember this one time when I visited one schools and one of the students in the sea of faces piped up matter-of-factly after I held up my book, “Hey! I have that book at home! I love that book! Oh Boy!, this is gonna be awesome.” I had to take a moment to hold back the tears on that one. It was one of the first times that I really felt accomplished as an author: Like my dreams of being able to write for children were coming true.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

Everything goes when it comes to connecting, networking, and staying engaged with readers. So, yes to all!

I love to network and feel that it is so important to staying relevant to my audience. I often will bring “finished” works to the schools and classrooms that I visit to get fresh feed back from the audience that I feel matters most – the one that I am writing for. I try to stay active on social media platforms, but since I write for a younger audience, like, they aren’t quite there yet when it comes to literacy fluency, let alone responding to a FaceBook post; I generally am reaching out and interacting with parents, other writers, educators, etc. on those platforms. With that in mind, I am generally looking for opportunities related to a visit or to network, or generally showing off my beautiful family and our recent life adventures together.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Juggling work, family, wife, kids — oh yeah, and then there is writing. I would have to say time – quality time to get to the end part of that process of writing in order to cross that finished line where an actual tangible piece is produced that then can be reworked, critiqued, rejected, reworked again…really, do I need to go on.

I know others may have other struggles, and I’m not at all saying that those aren’t real or deep, but for myself it would have to be finding the time to “gett’er done”.

“Just keep swimming” often does become my own encouraging theme song on those days when I feel like throwing in the towel. And so I try to just keep moving, even if it is just one sentence or phrase that I can work on; not even finish per say, but to mark progress. Yes, seeing progress helps to keep me going and eventually cross that finish line.

When I go to schools or libraries I love to read my picture books and share my inspirations and experiences that they are based on. Generally speaking, this makes for great laughs as I share my adventures with my children. I also have brought back some native items from Africa and do a sort of “Show and Tell”. The kids love to see and feel these native artifacts. The African Drum is usually the biggest “hit”.

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Posted on April 30th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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

Awake Beautiful Child at

Classic Picture Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Posted on August 19th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book, Chicka Chicka Boom BoomChicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Classic Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster

It sounds like fun when lowercase letters A, B, and C decide to meet at the top of a tall coconut tree but the message spreads like wildfire and they are not the only letters scrambling up the tree trunk and hiding among the palm fronds. Before long, the entire lowercase alphabet is weighing down the tree branches and trunk. Slowly the heavily laden tree bends until it cannot support another thing.

Still more – W
And X Y Z!
The whole alphabet up the – Oh, no!
Chicka chicka…

Two coconuts crash to the ground and then all the lower case letters are thrown from the tree and land in a twisted heap. Moments later, adults (uppercase letters) rush to the scene, embracing their offspring and offering reassurance.

Bright, distinctive, bold illustrations nicely compliment the rhythmic, repetitious text. This is a alphabet book with many possible extension activities. It belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Kentucky Bluegrass Award for K-3 (1991),
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Picture Book – Honor Book (1990)
School Library Journal Top 100 Picture Book
New York Public Library 100 Great Children’s Books

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by John Archambault on Pinterest.

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

Supporting a Child With Delayed Speech or Language Development

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

My experiences working with a child with delayed speech

Great ways to support 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,
A New York Times Children’s Bestseller (2008)

Alphabet at

Alphabet at

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.

Download Song Sheets

image of PDF icon  The Wheels on the Bus

Free printable lyrics for The Wheels on the Bus

image of PDF icon  The Alphabet Song

Free printable lyrics for The Alphabet Song

image of PDF icon  Monkey Fun Alphabet Song

10″ Echo Mic (Colors may vary) at

Magic Mic Novelty Toy Echo Microphone-Pack of 2 at

Using Lego to support a child with delayed speechAs 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. 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, and black bricks. We add windows and doors, stairs and roofs. And I talk about everything we do. I chat constantly and now he chimes in.

Playing Tic Tac Toe with a Speech-Delayed ChildFrom 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 Carter is a great book to use with a speech delayed childSpot 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

Spot the Dot at

7 Winning Ice Hockey-Theme Picture Books with Free Printables

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares ice hockey-theme picture books for preschool and kindergarten

My youngest son has played hockey since he was five years old. For years, bedtime stories included books about playing hockey. Many of these stories include great messages about friendship, teamwork, bullying and working together toward a common goal.

Hockey Theme Picture Books including Clancy with the Puck
Clancy With the Puck written and illustrated by Chris Mizzoni
Hockey-theme picture book (adaptation of a traditional story) published by Raincoast Books

Just as Casey could hit a baseball, Clancy is a star when it comes to hockey. When Clancy Cooke joins the Hogtown Maple Buds, hopes are raised for a Stanley Cup win. Alas, in the final moments of a playoff game, when Clancy takes a penalty shot, “The puck deflected off the post, like a comet to the sky. The Buds had lost the Stanley Cup – and the fans went home to cry.” A sure winner, especially for hockey fans and those familiar with the classic story of Casey at the Bat.

Clancy with the Puck at

Clancy with the Puck at

Hockey-Theme Picture Book The Hockey CardThe Hockey Card Written by Jack Siemiatycki & Avi Slodovnick and illustrated by Doris Barrette
Hockey-theme picture book published by Lobster Press

When Uncle Jack shares the story of the best hockey card he ever had, we take pleasure in a glimpse of the great Maurice Richard and a schoolyard duel against a tough hockey card shark. This is a book that made a lasting impression in our household – my youngest son is now a 13 year old bantam hockey player and just noticed me working on this post. He remarked, “Now that was a good book.”

The Hockey Card at

The Hockey Card at

Hockey Picture Books including The Hockey TreeThe Hockey Tree written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines
Hockey-theme picture book published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

This is a favourite wintertime picture book that beautifully captures a Canadian winter day. Set in Saskatchewan, Owen and Holly are excited because Humboldt Lake has finally frozen over and it is a perfect morning for a spirited game of pond hockey. The two children are excited to drive to the lake with their dad and before long their skates are laced and the three are laughing and playing together. Unfortunately, just as the family starts to talk about taking a break and enjoying a mug of steaming hot chocolate, Holly smacks at the puck and it flies across the frozen lake and disappears into an ice fishing hole.

The children are terribly disappointed that they’ve lost their puck and assume that the game will have to end. Dad is not quite so willing to concede. He helps Owen and Holly to find a fallen poplar tree near the lake. Once a suitable tree is found, dad saws a piece from the trunk to create a wooden puck and the hockey game resumes.

Brian Deines’ luminous illustrations include icy cold winter scenes that are made warm by his depiction of the joy of playing a favourite sport with friends and family.

A lovely book to share with young children, this is one of my favourite wintertime picture books.

The Hockey Tree at

The Hockey Tree at

Hockey-Theme Picture Books including The Moccasin GoalieThe Moccasin Goalie written and illustrated by William Roy Brownridge
Hockey-theme picture book published by Orca Book Publishers

Danny, Petou, Anita and Marcel live in a small, prairie town and they love to play hockey. They play road hockey when the weather is warm and ice hockey when the temperature cools and their outdoor rink is flooded. Everything changes when a new team is organized for their town. The four friends can’t wait to be part of the fun. They are devastated when only Marcel is selected to play for the Wolves. Anita is refused a spot because she is a girl, Petou is considered too small for the team and Danny is refused a place on the team because his disability means that he cannot wear skates.

All three children are terribly disappointed to be left out but, as the end of the hockey season approaches, the Wolves’ goalie is injured and the coach asks Danny to play.

The Moccasin Goalie is the first of a three book series. The Final Game is the second book. Victory at Paradise Hill is the third. Gorgeous illustrations – many using a pointillist technique – beautifully depict the joy of outdoor wintertime play. The story itself invites discussion of fairness, friendship and overcoming challenges.

Highly recommended for children five years and older.

The Moccasin Goalie at

The Moccasin Goalie at

Hockey-Theme Picture Book  Over at the RinkOver at the Rink – A Hockey Counting Book written by Stella Parthenhiou Grasso and illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Hockey-theme picture book (adaptation of a familiar song) published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

Exuberant fun awaits in this hockey-theme adaption of Over in the Meadow. Young hockey fans will enjoy discovering all the elements of a great game – anthem singing, on ice- officials, a close score, players defending and scoring, earnest coaching, an enthusiastic mascot and excited fans. The wintry outdoor rink setting adds to the festive atmosphere.

Good fun for children four years and older.

Over at the Rink: A Hockey Counting Book at

Splinters is a Hockey-Theme Picture Book Reviewed by Storytime StandoutsSplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Hockey-theme picture book published by Tundra Books

Cindy loves to play hockey but it is an expensive sport to play and her family is poor.   Showing great determination and resourcefulness, Cindy is excited to finally earn enough money to join a neighbourhood team.  Unfortunately, at the rink, Cindy encounters three nasty Blister Sisters who make playing hockey very unpleasant. 

At her very first practice, she met the Blister Sisters. They could tell she was one good hockey player, and they were jealous.

They insulted her old equipment… Then they made her look bad on the ice… They could do this because their mom was the coach

Thank goodness Cindy has a fairy goaltender watching out for her. The fairy’s magic provides Cindy with a dazzling new uniform, gleaming skates and a Zamboni – to transport her to the all-star team tryouts. Cindy rushes to the rink and does not disappoint – she is a star.

Knowing that the magic spell will end once the final buzzer has sounded, Cindy rushes away from the rink, leaving a shiny skate behind.

Coach Prince is determined to match the shiny skate to the player who wore it during the tryouts.

Coach Prince went from locker room to locker room, trying the skate on every girl she could find. Finally she arrived at Cindy’s rink ensuring a happy ending for Cindy and her new team.

Splinters will have greatest appeal for children who are familiar with Cinderella. We love the idea of taking a familiar story, like Cinderella and retelling it with new characters and a contemporary setting. In a primary classroom, we suggest using Splinters as a jumping off point, inspiring young writers to imagine other situations for Cinderella to encounter.

Splinters at

Splinters at

Hockey-Theme Picture Book Z is For ZamboniZ is for Zamboni – A Hockey Alphabet Written by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose
Hockey-theme alphabet book published by Sleeping Bear Press

If hockey plays a part in your household, this enticing hockey alphabet book will appeal to the entire family. Young children will enjoy the simple rhymes while older children and adults will appreciate the more detailed information bordering the charming illustrations.

Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet at

Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet at

Free Hockey-Theme Printables for Kids

Free Printable Ice Hockey-Theme Writing Paper

image of PDF icon  Hockey Theme Writing Paper for Kids

Hockey-theme interlined writing paper for penmanship practice and story writing.

image of PDF icon  Ice Hockey Picture Dictionary

Free printable ice hockey theme picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one. Also great for English Language Learners.

Make-Your-Own Alphabet Recognition Learning Game for Preschool

Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Help Kids learn letters of the alphabet with this fun and easy-to-make alphabet recognition learning game for preschool or kindergarten

Storytime Standouts shares an easy to make alphabet recognition learning game.

Diecuts With A View Alphabet Scrapbook Paper + A Canning Seal = An easy-to-make Alphabet Recognition Learning Game

This is a very simple-to-make yet effective letter recognition game. I use this activity with small groups (of up to twelve children). Each child receives one canning ring and one page of laminated scrapbook paper. The scrapbook paper has a fairly large alphabet motif on it. In the pictured game, I used DCWV scrapbook paper. I am guessing that it has since been discontinued because I can’t find an example of it on their website.

A Great Alphabet Recognition Learning Game Activity for Small Groups from

My Scotch® Laminating Dispenser is 8.5″ wide so I cut the paper to fit the laminator and I put Y and Z on the back of the game.

The children sit in a circle and the preschool or kindergarten teacher shows the children a letter or calls out a letter (or letter sound). The children put their rings around the correct letter. It is very easy for a teacher to quickly survey the rings and correct any that are in the wrong place.

If you can’t find scrapbook paper, you could use these

This game alphabet learning game could be adapted to show the children an uppercase letter and have them locate the corresponding lowercase letter. Alternatively, the teacher could make the letter sound and the children could locate the corresponding letter.

I like the fact that it is easy to scan all of the children’s rings and quickly identify children who have chosen the wrong letter.

Viceroy Rubber & Plastics 12Pk Red Jar Rubber at

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

Easy to make letter matching game from Storytime StandoutsStorytime Standouts Free Printable Alphabets and Games for Learning LettersHomemade tactile alphabet learning game from Storytime Standouts

Helping children distinguish between b and daGreat alphabet learning game for homeschool or preschoolActivities for learning with magnetic letters, great for homeschool and preschoolHomemade letter matching activity

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

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alphabet Crafts on Pinterest.

Popular Home and Classroom Learning Games for Beginning Readers

Posted on December 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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.

Storytime Standouts looks at Popular Home and Classroom 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

Melissa & Doug See & Spell at

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

Boggle Junior Game at

Getting Ready to Read Plus – Community Centre Program Day Two

Posted on July 10th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Today was our second session of Getting Ready to Read Plus. Today’s theme was “Boats Afloat” and the letter of the day was “B.” The children were able to come up with all sorts of words that begin with the /b/ sound – bumblebee, bear, brown, blue, black, boat, boy, baby and more.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Rowboat

Boating theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Letter B - pictures and words

Our story today was The Deep Cold River Story, written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor. This is a very good read aloud for four and five year olds. I like using it with the “boats afloat” theme because there are several rowboats in the illustrations.

The Deep Cold River story was part of our community centre literacy program todayThe Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor

Imagine a deep, cold river running through a small town. One day, for no apparent reason, the river overflows its banks and floods the entire community. Many possible solutions to the unrelenting flooding are proposed but it takes a little girl to solve the problem and save the town. The Deep Cold River Story features a positive message about bedtime stories and offers a great opportunity for children to propose their own creative solutions to the problem.

A charming story featuring a young heroine and appealing illustrations, The Deep Cold River Story is 28 pages and will be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 6.

The Deep Cold River Story at

The Deep Cold River Story at

Paul Thurlby’s Stylish Alphabet

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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

Storytime Standouts looks at inspiring 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.Storytime Standouts recommend's Paul Thurlby's alphabet book

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. 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

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet at

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

Match Upper and Lower Case Letters with this easy-to-make game

Posted on February 8th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Match Upper and Lower Case Letters with this easy-to-make game

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

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

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alphabet Crafts on Pinterest.

b d confusion: Is it ‘b’ or ‘d’ ? 5 Ways to Help 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 preschool and kindergarten children with b d confusionI 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 confusion

Method #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.

Help Children Who Are Confused by B and D

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.

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.

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

Download and print Part 1 of our Sight Word Domino game for beginning readers. This can be used to help new readers to read high-frequency sight words confidently and fluently.

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 2

Download and print Part 2 of our Sight Word Domino game for beginning readers. This can be used to help new readers to read high-frequency sight words confidently and fluently.

image of PDF icon  Sight Word Domino Game Part 3

Download and print Part 3 of our Sight Word Domino game for beginning readers. This can be used to help new readers to read high-frequency sight words confidently and fluently.

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

Download and print our Sight Word Tic Tac Toe game for beginning readers. This can be used to help new readers to read high-frequency sight words confidently and fluently.

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 matching activity for preschool and kindergarten. Match the sound at the start of the animal name with the letter. A - Anteater B - Bear C - Cow D - Donkey

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

Peggy Kaye’s Games for Reading at

Kathy Ross Crafts Letter Shapes at

Kathy Ross Crafts Letter Shapes at

Fall Printables – Back to School, Autumn Leaves and More

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Highlighting our Fall Printables…

We have all sorts of goodies lined up for September but thought we would give you a taste today. Our Fall printables include interlined paper (Back to School and Fall themes), a special alphabet, “school” vocabulary and some “Squirrel” goodies.

Free fall theme homeschool and classroom printables including writing paper We are currently pulling together our favourite picture books for autumn – colourful leaves, and crisp, cool days are not far away.

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

Please note: some of our early literacy printables are available to Storytime Standouts members only. To become a member of the website (without cost or obligation), 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 literacy printables here.

If you appreciate our free early literacy printables,
including these Fall-theme early learning materials,
please support this site by visiting and purchasing from or

Enjoy these Fall printables and be sure to let your friends and colleagues know about Storytime Standouts.

image of PDF icon  A Fall Leaves Alphabet

Attractive free alphabet printable features multi coloured Fall leaves

image of PDF icon  School Picture Dictionary

Free printable school picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one. Also a great resource for ELL / ESL

image of PDF icon  Brown Squirrel

An action rhyme celebrating squirrels

image of PDF icon  Five Little Squirrels

Use Five Little Squirrels as a fingerplay or a felt board story (or both)

image of PDF icon  I'm A Little Acorn Brown

A fun addition to a squirrel circle time

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Back to School

Free printable Back to school theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Fall Theme incl. Tire Swing

Fall theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Remembrance Day Poppy

Remembrance Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Fall Picture Dictionary

Free printable Fall picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

5 Special Alphabet Books For Preschool, Kindergarten and Homeschool

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

5 Special Alphabet Books for Preschool and Kindergarten

Alphabet books come in an amazing array of themes and formats. Whether your child loves rescue vehicles, solving puzzles, cooking or nonsense rhymes, there are alphabets books to explore and enjoy.

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture booksNote: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page and our Printable Alphabets page.

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture books including Alphabet Explosion
Alphabet Explosion! Search and Count from Alien to Zebra by John Nickle

Alphabet Explosion presents 26 challenging visual puzzles that will appeal to both youngsters and adults. With a full-page illustration and the number of things to ‘spy’ for each letter, you and your child(ren) could spend hours with this book. On the page for ‘S’, we are told to look for 47 things that begin with ‘S’. You might expect a snake – but would you recognize ‘slithering’ as well? Good luck!

Alphabet Explosion!: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra at

Alphabet Explosion!: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra at

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture books including Alphabet RescueAlphabet Rescue – written by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Bruce Wood

Fans of Audrey and Bruce Wood’s Alphabet Adventure and Alphabet Mystery will be delighted to know about this new concept book. The creators could not have picked a more appealing storyline than to have the ‘little letters’ build their own fire truck. When the ‘big’ fire truck breaks down, it is up to the ‘little letters’ to come to the rescue and put out a fire in the letter-making factory. Beautiful illustrations have so much to offer those learning the alphabet.

Alphabet Rescue at

Alphabet Rescue at

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture books including Eating the AlphabetEating the Alphabet Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z By Lois Ehlert

Here’s a serving of veggies that will appeal to even the pickiest eater. Big, bold illustrations of familiar (apple) and not-so-familiar (jicama) fruits and vegetables make for a delightful alphabet book. Reading it might convince your child to sample something new and vitamin-rich, possibly the whole alphabet!

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z at

Eating The Alphabet at

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture books including G is for One Gzonk!G is for One Gzonk! An Alpha-Number-Bet Book written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi (a.k.a. Tiny Diterlizzi)

In the Style of Dr. Seuss, here we meet Tiny DiTerlooney. He warns us that we ought to “say good-bye to boring books where bears can bounce a ball.” Instead, he uses delightful watercolor illustrations to introduce twenty-six highly original ‘Creachlings.’ Lots of fun – especially for older children who will relish an all-new take on the alphabet.

G Is for One Gzonk!: An Alpha-number-bet Book at

G Is for One Gzonk!: An Alpha-number-bet Book at

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture books including Read Sing Play ABC Sing-AlongRead Sing Play ABC Sing-Along – written by Teddy Slater, illustrated by Liisa Chauncy Guida

Twenty-six sing-along songs, with mostly familiar tunes offer a fun introduction to letter sounds and rhyming. Fun illustrations (including ten touch and feel textures & four pull-tabs) together with a pleasing CD make this a great resource for families and classrooms.

Abc Sing-along at

ABC Sing-Along at

Alphabet Book

More excellent picture books you will want to check out!

Getting Ready to Read Plus – Day Five

Posted on July 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Our story today was one of my favourite alphabet books. Alphabet Adventure written by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Bruce Wood

Alphabet Adventure is the story of Charley’s alphabet. The little letters are getting ready for Charley’s first day of school when Little I stumbles and falls. Although not immedicately noticed, Little I’s dot is missing. All the little letters scour Alphabet Island as they try to find the missing dot. An excellent choice for children who will soon be attending kindergarten, Alphabet Adventure’s bright, bold illustrations are great in a group setting but the hidden dot makes the book equally special for sharing one on one.

Once you’ve enjoyed Alphabet Adventure, be sure to look for the equally engaging Alphabet Mystery and Alphabet Rescue.

Alphabet Adventure at

Alphabet Adventure at

Our final Getting Ready to Read class featured many different letters. The children personalized Alphabet Tic Tac Toe games (made using True Type 3000 Fonts)

This week our featured songs were

image of PDF icon  The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Add actions when you sing this song

image of PDF icon  Over in the Meadow

Can be adapted for a felt board story

If Rocks Could Sing, an alphbet book by Leslie McGuirk

Posted on May 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

An alphbet book by Leslie McGuirk, If Rocks Could SingI consider myself fortunate to live not far from the Pacific Ocean. Every summer we camp on the shore of Howe Sound and, even while at home, I am close to fresh salt air and pounding surf.

It is almost impossible to walk along an oceanside beach without noticing something special. We’ve seen all sorts of shells, crabs, barnacles, mussels and the occasional tiny fish. When we venture further afield, we’ve been excited to spot starfish, sand dollars, jellyfish and more. I love beachcombing – especially with young children.

In If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet , Leslie McGuirk shows us treats that many of us could completely overlook when exploring a shoreline. Ms. McGuirk is an avid observer and, over many years, has amassed an exciting collection. She has gathered together all sorts of eye-catching and intriguing rocks. She has one for every letter of the alphabet as well as a bird, a couch potato, a dog, an elephant…

Young children will thoroughly enjoy exploring If Rocks Could Sing and are certain to want their own collection of intriguing rocks. Share this with children aged three and up and you’re sure to be setting off on your own quest for rocks that sing.
If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet at

If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet at

Note – photo was taken (by me) at Porteau Cove campground on the Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia.

Reading Readiness – Tips For Working With Very Young Children

Posted on March 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

7 Reading Readiness Tips For Working With Very Young Children

The process of learning to read begins long before children begin kindergarten. Learning to read begins when children are babies.

Very young children love to learn new words and they especially like to use their voices to play with sounds. When spending time with very young children, chatting, sharing rhymes and reading aloud all contribute to reading readiness. If we take time to examine what we would like youngsters to know before they start kindergarten, we will be guided in our choices about stories to share and the importance of engaging young children in conversation and wordplay.
  • Before starting kindergarten, we would like children to know some nursery rhymes.  Why not use our printable nursery rhymes or visit your public library and borrow a nursery rhyme book or two?
  • We would also like youngsters to know how to re-tell a favorite story.  I suggest ‘reading’ wordless picture books with your child and then ask her to re-tell the story. Dinner table conversation can also be an opportunity to share stories. As well, rides in the car are a great opportunity for storytelling.
  • Also, before beginning school, we would like to children to understand that when we read a story, it is very much like being able to see the same words we speak
  • Hopefully, before starting school, children to know some or even most of theStorytime Standouts shares a free printable alphabet game board letters of the alphabet. You will find lots of free, printable alphabets on this site for children who are learning to read. Use the alphabets to create matching and memory games, or an alphabet strip or spell your child’s name with them.
  • Ideally, children beginning kindergarten should understand that letters each have at least one sound associated with them. Help your child to learn this by explaining the sounds made by “P,” “F,” “M” and “S” because these sounds are very distinctive.
  •  We’d also like children who are learning to read to understand that books written in English are read from front to back and pages written in English are read from left to right. When enjoying a read-aloud, talk with youngsters about the cover and the spine of a book. Notice whether a book is a paperback or hardcover and point out a book jacket if there is one. Ask your child to open the book and find the title page. Remember to look for information about the author and/or the illustrator.
  • Once you start to read aloud, casually point out the words you are reading and move your finger from left to right as you read a story. This will help your child to gain print awareness. Usually when I read a book that uses LARGE, BOLD letters for some especially great words, I make a point of repeating the best passages and I encourage my audience to “read” the words with me when I read them a second (or third) time!

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