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But this might just be better! With over 3 million hits on YouTube, maybe you’ve already seen Matt and I’m just behind the times. But then maybe you haven’t.
Where the Hell is Matt? follows Matt as he dances with folks all around the world. It’s way better than it sounds. It’s a total feel-good.
What is it about these dance videos that grabs my heart so? Perhaps it’s that
- they show everyone, no matter who they are in life or how different they are from one another, doing something together,
- they knit people together; you can all but feel the community that’s being built, however briefly,
- they are fun; it’s hard to feel sad or angry or bitter when you are dancing or when you watch others dance,
- they engage us deeply even if we can only watch,
- they connect us to something bigger and better than our individual selves.
What about groups dancing together touches you?
Yeah, you can sing that to Aretha’s RESPECT and I won’t tell.
But DEAR and TCH really are not the latest in pop tunes. They are two great websites I discovered and wanted to pass on to you.
DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) has been around a while and is officially celebrated on Beverly Cleary’s birthday, April 12. But this video (1 minutes long) does a great job of showing how it can become a regular part of a school day–and the same can be done at home, of course!
Some of the things I love about this video are:
- it’s noisy: reading and storytimes do not need to be quiet; reading aloud and the conversation that goes with it is a noisy kind of learning;
- it’s wiggly: reading and storytimes do not need to be still; some kids like to sit and some like to move around or stand; they are all soaking it up;
- it’s fairly unstructured: while reading (and more so storytimes) sometimes need planning and care, just as often all it takes is to pick up a book; some kids are read to solo, some are in pairs, some are in groups and these “reading groups” are not assigned or planned;
- it’s easy: anyone can pick up a book and read to a child (and even if you can’t read, you can talk about the pictures or make up a story to go along with the pictures–it’s still “reading” for young children).
Finally, TCH Teaching Channel is one of the best sites for teaching and education ideas I’ve run across. Quality stuff! It’s worth exploring.
How could you adapt DEAR in your school, home, or library? Share your ideas with others!
I’m on the run today so I may not get a chance to post.
Here’s 3 minutes of extreme cuteness to tide you over though: NPR dad interviews daughters about “the haircut.”
Give it a bit; they get easier to understand and cuter by the seconds! And if you listen a second time, it’s even better.
Really, this one will make you smile all day,
Teach Your Monster to Read is a free online game for beginning readers. It starts with individual letter sounds, first consonants, then vowels, and then blending into words. Kids who are drawn to learning on the computer will likely enjoy the game. Each player creates his or her own monster who crash lands his space ship in a land of islands. Each island king helps to repair a part of the space ship if the monster can find the king’s missing letters.
Things that work well:
- Graphics and sounds are fun and colorful without being obnoxious or overwhelming.
- Tasks are fairly intuitive if you have played any other computer games.
- You can stop and start the game; it will re-start you where you last stopped.
- If a child makes a mistake, the game allows him or her to repeat the activity until it is correct.
Things that didn’t work so well:
- Many of the letters sounds demonstrated were too soft even though other sounds were plenty loud enough.
- I didn’t work all the way through the game but I did make it to the second island. The routine and the activities were getting a bit repetitive. You seven year old’s mileage might vary.
- The prizes were on the odd side–clothing pieces for your monster, oh-kay, but underwear? And I really have a thing against good as prizes even if it’s pretend molded jello.
- And some child (read–boy) is probably going to point out to great hilarity all around that the monsters seem to “poop” their stars. (Play, you’ll see what I mean. Or maybe it’s just me!) Not a prob at home but if you had your whole classroom playing, this observation could lead to a bit of a class management struggle!
It’s hard to find really excellent computer games and Teach Your Monster to Read is certainly not a bad one–but neither is it an outstanding one. It won’t really teach a child to read but it is free and it may help some children who need a bit more practice and need it in a novel format.
If you try it with your children, post here and let us know what you think.
I don’t usually post on the weekends but this is how I started my Saturday, listening to this wonderful song. I didn’t want anyone to miss it.
Librarians promote summer reading programs with research and statistics that show that summer reading prevents “summer slide, ” the loss that children experience in reading and other academics if they “do nothing” during the summer.
If you want visuals to demonstrate the effects of “summer slide” year after year, this video is tremendous.
Two points to remember:
- We’re not just talking about losses in reading. This happens in all subject and learning areas.
- And this is not a promotional for summer schools. Every kid needs downtime and free play and a break from very “schooly” activities and routines. But they also need exposure to new things, and constructive, developmentally appropriate activities, and fun enrichments– things that are not very often present for children in lower income or poverty families. The video shows how these things make a difference over the years.
So support summer programs for all kids but especially those who do without so much.
Share the video!
Leave it to the BBC to post a treasure trove of resources for early learning! Rhymes, audio, video, lyrics & pictures! What more could you ask for! It’s called School Radio, and it’s all free. The website is a little tricky to navigate (I’ll walk you through, though), some items are posted only for a limited time, and of course, some materials might not be as applicable for you depending on cultural differences (like accents).
The good parts, though, are very, very good. Here’s a brief tour of what I found, liked, and will use myself.
Opening the link, you’ll find a menu list on the left. Clicking on Early Learning, you’ll see five choices. The best are Nursery Rhymes and Stimulus Sounds. I’ve actually linked you (above) to the Nursery Rhymes page so it’s already open for you. Rhymes are mid-screen and grouped alphabetically. Click on “Baa, baa black sheep” for starters, and take a listen. Pretty snazzy, huh? (I’ll be using this one at the SLV Fiber Fest in July!). Scroll down and you can click on a link to print out the photo and the lyrics.
If you are in the U.S. like me, some of the rhymes will be unfamiliar–but that can be a nice way to freshen up your storytimes. Most of the songs and rhymes are repeated twice, always a nice feature. I found that the British accents were not overwhelming in the nursery rhymes but were probably too much in the “Listen and Play” and “Playtime” story links for early learners here in the U.S.
Finally, if you select the “Stimulus Sounds” link, you’ll find audio files for sounds that children can listen to and then identify. Hearing individual sounds is absolutely key to being able to read later. It is one of the two skills (the other is vocabulary) that is almost always missing in elementary aged children who are struggling to read. (Want to know more? Click on the “phonological awareness” tag in the left column on my site.) So this is a great resource especially on days when you can’t get outdoors to listen for “real” sounds. And kids think this is really fun! Be patient though. It is a skill that has to be learned and it takes time so give lots of encouragement and keep it fun.
Have fun exploring!
I was only eight when Mr. Rogers went to Washington and spoke at this Senate hearing concerning children and television. I was mostly too old to watch him (except when nothing else was on TV) and it wasn’t many years before I joined the ranks of folks who loved to make fun of him. He did have a very distinctive speaking style.
His sincerity, integrity, and authenticity could not be beat though. He was as real in front of the Senate and a grumpy Pastore as he was in front of a Hollywood award crowd, his own show’s TV cameras, or a flesh and blood child. His manner overshadowed everything else that one might initially want to poke fun at–his speech, his slow style, his puppets, his focus on the simple (but ever so important) events of children’s lives.
I was “reintroduced” to Mr. Rogers in grad school and then later when I had children. He informed my attitude about and understanding of children immensely–especially concerning their feelings and lives.
The first video clip of the Senate hearing is a bit long at 6 minutes, but it really is worth a watch. It starts slowly (just like the man speaking) and then the passion begins to come through–and as a bonus, you get to see Pastore melt.
The second one is a couple of the best minutes of true humility you will ever witness.
These clips will renew your faith in what one person can do and inspire you to be your best in your neighborhood. Grab a cuppa and visit for a few minutes with Mr. Rogers.
Take care, Neighbor!
This video is mostly for adults (nothing objectionable for kids but the youngest won’t “get it”) and I post it because it’s really well done! (It reminds me of a Pixar short.) And it will give you a smile today.
I, for one, will never look at socks and jeans the same again!
The parents in this video have done a stupendously good thing. They have given their child a book for a Christmas present. Books being part of every gift giving occasion is a great way to build a love for books and encourage literacy. The positive experience and emotions get paired with the books, thereby “teaching” that books are good and fun and enjoyable.
But what happens when the best laid plan goes awry? When the giftee hasn’t quite made the connection yet? What then?
First, you keep a straight face and you are quiet. The more you react, especially in a positive manner such as laughing and making a fuss about “how cute,” the more you reinforce the behavior you don’t want!
Second, this principle applies to most behaviors. If you want the behavior repeated, pay attention to it. If you don’t want it repeated, ignore it. It’s a simple rule of human learning that works throughout our lives.
Finally, maybe that particular Christmas morning wasn’t the time for whatever reasons, but at some point, a child needs to hear that “it” is a gift, gifts are given because someone thought you would like it, and even if you don’t like it, you smile and say thank you.
Remember, though, stifle the giggles when a kiddo does something you don’t want to see repeated, no matter how funny or cute it is. You’re doing you both a favor–and you can always laugh about it later, out of sight and hearing!
Hope your holidays were blessed,
I know it happens at our house. And we do have a good time with it. And believe it or not, it can be good family time between generations and even good literacy building time.
How, when there is no reading going on? Family building and literacy building can both happen if the viewings spur conversation.
So here are a few that are fun, intergenerational, and sure to get everyone talking.
Laurel and Hardy Meet Santana: Oh my, how this made me laugh! What a generational mash-up!
Around the Corner: Motorcycle acrobatists and differential gears? What? Just watch it; honest, it’s worth the minutes.
Why the Other Line Moves Faster: If you’ve found yourself stuck in impossible lines this season, this will throw a whole ‘nother light on it. (I make no promises that it will make the experience better though.)
Star Wars vs. Star Trek: On oldie but a goodie.
Twelve Days of Christmas/Africa: My favorite holiday or anytime group and one of my favorites of their songs. This is the original 1998 version.
Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, may your holidays be blessed! See you in the new year!