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Costumes–your child does not need costumes.

Notice, I did not say he or she does not need dress-up clothes. I said pass on the costumes.

What’s the difference? Dress-up clothes are multi-purposed and the purpose changes with your child’s imagination. Your child is in charge. The plain cape can make him or her a superhero or a knight or Little Red Riding Hood or Zorro or a bad guy or a good guy or a princess traveling on a mission. A Superman cape with logo is only a Superman cape.

Dress-up play is immensely important.

  • Imaginary play develops a child’s language skills. Think about it: Whether your child does it silently or out loud, he or she can’t become part of a story unless and until they put words to it.
  • Thinking of multiple uses for an object is a trait of creativity.
  • Dress-up and imaginary play puts a child in charge. In a day to day existence where children are told so often what to do and when, imaginary play lets them be the boss.
  • It also helps children develop impulse control.
  • Finally, in imaginary play, children can tackle what’s frightening and overcome it, they can be aggressive and discover their limits, they can be powerful–and on and on. The agenda is theirs.

If you buy a Snow White or Spiderman costume, that’s the end of the story–literally. Save your money and buy oodles more of all purpose dress-up clothes instead (many can be picked up at your local thrift store).

What’s your favorite addition to the dress-up box?

Have fun,

Babette

Bears, horses, and sausages! Oh my! But it’s what I’ve been doing in storytime the last few weeks, and it’s immensely satisfying to see how much the kids enjoy this mix.

After our opening song, I read The Three Bears. I prefer the Barton version. It’s simply told and the pictures are clear and colorful. The Three Bears is a magical story. I’ve never had a group of kids (from toddlers up through age eight) that weren’t just enthralled with it.

I then tell them we are all going to tell the story again, a different way! That’s when we do the fingerplay, The Three Bears (click here). Because The Three Bears relies so much on sequence, it’s a great story for reinforcing narrative skills. So the second time through the fingerplay, I reinforce it even more by letting the kids “remember” what comes next (bowls, chairs, beds, and bears).

Next book up–Bear Wants More by Wilson followed by more food: Ten Fat Sausages (click here). Bear Wants More is in rhyme so it builds phonological awareness as does Sausages with its rhythm and alliteration. I do it as a chant with the kids clapping on the beat. I hold up my handy-dandy flannel board stand-in (a whiteboard with pieces stuck on with double-sided tape) during the chant.

On it is a frying pan, complements of free clip art, and ten sausages, also from clip art. I print the pictures off, trim them to shape, and add the tape to their backs. The sausages won’t all actually fit in the pan so I fan them across the space above the pan in two groups of five.

We clap, we chant, and on POP, I remove one sausage and on BAM, I remove another. Then I pause and count the sausages and we start again till we get to zero sausages. I always do it a second time (sometimes a third, the kids love it) and when I place the sausages back on the board, I also count aloud.

Finally, I tell the kids I’ve got one more puzzle for them (because the sausages have been a puzzle; you can just see their little wheels a-turnin’ during it). Then we read Are You A Horse by Rash. I try to get straight through this one the first time without too many questions so they can get as much of the flow as possible. And I always quietly hold the last page up for many, many seconds until someone finally gets it and the giggles begin.

It’s not your traditional springtime storytime (except for Bear Wants More) but the kids enjoy it sooooo much.

Hope you do too!

Babette

Winters are long here in the San Luis Valley. We get lots of cold weather but not much snow (it’s actually a desert up here at 7600 feet). So storytimes on winter, the cold, animals, and the exciting times when we do get snow tie right into a child’s daily experience here.

Here’s what I’m currently doing for wintertime storytime. The kids and I are enjoying it!

Books we are reading include:

  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep by Maureen Wright
  • Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

Before I start reading Tacky, I show the kids my penguin stick puppet. He’s simply made out of black and white foam with a yellow beak (some kids love pointing out that he has no eyes). We talk about his colors and what he is covered with–fur? feathers? scales? hair? Once we’ve figured out penguins have feathers, we can talk about other animals that have feathers–birds! And then we can talk about birds that fly–and birds that swim like penguins!

Lots of talking happening, and of course, only for as long as the kids are interested. It’s easy talking, though, and easy for the kids to join in with their thinking and ideas and words.

Then my puppet acts out this rhyme (pardon the bullet points, WordPress inserts double spacing otherwise):

  • Little penguin black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!
  • See them waddle, see them glide.
  • Watch them as they slip and slide.
  • Little penguins black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!

Then we read Tacky with lots and lots of expression! After Tacky we talk about what other animals do in the winter and bears and sleeping come up. Before reading Big Bear, though, I tell the kids I’m going to tell the same story two different ways (a great way to build narrative skills, btw).

First I do this rhyme to the tune ofย  “Up on the Housetop.” As a sing through it, I place first a picture of a brown bear, then of a blue cloud with a face drawn on it (like Old Winter in Big Bear), and finally a bear sleeping in a cave onto my makeshift flannel board (I use pictures printed in color from MS Publisher and place them on a white memo board with double sided tape).

  • There once was a bear who love to play (Put up brown bear)
  • In the woods most every day.
  • But then the winds began to blow (Put up winter wind picture)
  • And soon the ground was covered with snow.
  • Oh, oh, oh, ice and snow,
  • Oh, oh, oh, I better go-o
  • Into my cave to sleep all day (Put up bear in cave picture)
  • Until the cold winter winds go away.ย  Jean Warren

I’m amazed at how much the kids love this! Then on to the Big Bear book. We follow it with some snow fingerplays (see the left hand side bar for those) and wrap it up with Jack Frost. Don’t let this book fool you though! It looks far too simple to hold a bunch of squirmy kids attention but it works like a charm. And they love puzzling out the ending!

There you go, lots of conversation, vocabulary, print awareness (especially in the final pages of Big Bear, narrative skills,ย  and phonological awareness through rhymes. All wrapped up in one winter package.

Stay warm,

Babette

Some books are so amazingly put together that one can’t help but wonder if the author and illustrator were totally aware of what they were doing–or if they got a little lucky.

I know they most likely knew what they were doing; people who are great at what they do make it look so simple and easy.

Yet I am still blown away by the book Maggie’s Ball by Lindsay Barrett George for the seamless way it puts together a good story with several early literacy skills.

Maggie is a dog with a yellow ball who is looking for someone to play with. The ball gets away from her, though, and rolls into town. Here’s where the fun begins.

The double page spread of the town has four shops around a circle. Lots of people are in town, doing and carrying a variety of “things”–hoops, scooters, dumbbells, wheelchairs. There are poodles, balloons, drums, easels, lollipops, monkeys. These illustrations provide lots and lots of “things” to talk about, encouraging conversation and building vocabulary.

What makes the picture different, though, is that virtually every image involves circles.

What’s special about circles? A circle is a shape and letters are made of shapes. As a child plays with, talks about, and recognizes shapes, he or she lays the foundation for recognizing letters years down the road.

Maggie goes to town to look for her ball and visits each shop. At each one there are many more circular “things” to talk about and name. There’s cakes, cookies, clocks, pizzas, pets, balloons. There’s also practice with discrimination skills. Is the lemon her ball? It’s yellow, and it’s mostly round. How do we know a lemon is not a ball?

Print on these pages is very succinct and very clear, building print awareness on each page, until finally a girl finds the ball and asks Maggie to play.

Remember how I mentioned that shapes build the skill of letter knowledge? Here it’s masterful: The girl has the round yellow ball in her hand. She says “Go fetch” across four pages. The “O’s” in “Go” are stretched out though, each letter “O” set clearly and distinctly across the four pages, even bouncing like a ball until the last “O” turns into Maggie’s “O” shaped, yellow ball.

The girl and dog play ball, become friends, and end the story by sitting together reading a book, an ending tying it all up with a dash of print motivation. I mean, if I could play and read with a dog as darling and expressive as Maggie (pages where where she is sad about losing her ball and then the ones where she is happy finding her ball just tug at you), I’d certainly want to read!

So there you have it: five of the six early literacy skills effortlessly wrapped up in one fun book. (Recap of the skills included: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, narrative skills, and letter knowledge).

Maggie’s Ball works on so many levels. I hope you’re kids will enjoy too!

Babette

I don’t like rap. Never have. Before last week I would have said never will.

My mother always said, “Never say never.”

Take a look and listen here to what Lin-Manuel Miranda has done with what could be a dry as dust history lesson about the US’s first Secretary of the Treasury. A four and a half minute rap about an economist? All we usually remember about him is his death–he was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel.

You’ll remember much more about him after you give Miranda a listen. You may even find yourself (along with your kids) wanting to know more.

So why am I posting this on a literacy blog? Here’s a few reasons:

  • It involves language, lots of it, well chosen and carefully put together. Writing, communication, and creative expression don’t get much finer than this.
  • It’s well done. It’s so well done, it looks easy. But what he has created here is difficult to do. Kids need to see and hear the good stuff.
  • It demonstrates how the brain loves story. You learned most of this in school. How much did you remember before listening to Miranda? And how much do you remember now, now that you’ve heard about Hamilton through a narrative story, told in rhyme and rhythm? Quiz yourself in a few days. You’ll be surprised. Stories help us remember.

It’s an easy, fun history lesson as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Watch it more than once. It actually gets better with each viewing.

Enjoy!

Babette

The sun is shining here in the Valley but who knows when it might snow next! So it’s “Snow Time!”

We read:

  • Snow Bears by Waddell (the kids get soooo tickled with the baby bears)
  • Snowmen at Night by Buehner (this one always makes the kids think, hmmm, I wonder if….)
  • Listen, Listen by Gershator (covers all the seasons with lots of good sounds for phonological awareness building)
  • The Snowy Day by Keats (click here and give a listen for one reason why I love this story).

We also did these rhymes & fingerplays:

  • Here is a snowman
  • Snow is falling
  • The day is cloudy

I’ll record and post those late on Friday when it’s quiet here in the office. ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, the Early Lit TIP is:

  • Many fingerplays help with sequencing skills–and sequencing helps with telling and reading stories later.

Have fun and stay warm!

Babette

Want to share with parents and caregiver adults what encourages early literacy? Don’t quite know what to say?

The American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library website has taken all the work and worry out of the process for you!

Research based tips with scripts have been written for all six early literacy skill areas. They are available on the website free for your use. Stories, rhymes, and songs are suggested and tips are organized by age groups as well (babies to 2 year olds, two’s and three’s, four’s and five’s).

As with all teaching helps, you do not have to feel locked in by the script. Try it in your own words. Adapt it to your audience. And keep your eyes open for when “teachable TIP moments” happen–and point them out! They are some of the most exciting (oh, this stuff really happens! it really works!).

Now the bad news. I find them incredibly difficult to find on the website. So here are the links to take you there. ๐Ÿ™‚

What can I say? tips (all ages)

Early Talkers tips (birth to 2)

Talkers tips (2 to 3)

Pre-readers tips (4 to 5)

Happy Tipping!

Babette

 

 

 

If you look at the headers at the top of the page under Sunglass Gal or scroll down the left-hand column, you’ll see a new header for Storybox Special.

All info and articles about Storybox will located here for your convenience. ๐Ÿ™‚

The best part (I hope) is that I have posted the book lists for each box. They aren’t fancy looking, but each book is categorized by the early literacy skill that it encourages. There are also books to help children with development growth points (like potty training, new sibling) as well as bilingual books, seasonal books, and books to support the child care providers.

There are eight boxes now with more on the way so check back over the months for new ones (or subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed or email notification at the top of the page).

And as always, if you’d like more info on Storybox Special, feel free to contact me.

Happy Travels,

Babette

Three kids and dad review the new movie version of Sendak’s classic Wild ThingsWhere the Wild Things Are. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, it might help you decide whether it’s one for you and your kids.

What I like about the review, however, is how well it demonstrates conversation with kids. Better still is that it’s conversation with kids about books.

How much parents talk with children is one of the strongest predictors of reading ability years later. Yep, just conversation. But many of us have forgotten what conversation with children looks like.

  • It’s two-way, back and forth.
  • It’s free of no’s and commands and reprimands.
  • It’s respectful. It allows kids to say the way they see it and experience it. It’s not about right and wrong answers.
  • It’s unhurried. Children need time to talk. They have to hear, then figure out what they heard and what it means, then think of a response, then figure out the words for that response, and then actually produce the response. None of that is automatic for young children. We have to give them time.

So follow Z-Dad’s example and find a good book to read and talk about with your kids!

Babette

Despite having sleet here in the Valley this morning (sheesh!), we had “all things fall” storytime.

Here’s what was included:Pumpkins

  • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
  • I Know It’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli
  • Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond (not fall, just for fun)
  • Old Bear by Kevin Henkes (my extra, just in case book)

We did rhymes & fingerplays (scroll down left column for words and audio):

  • Whisky, Frisky Squirrel (displayed a picture of squirrel with nuts)
  • Five Little Leaves (five leaves taped to white board with tree trunk and branches drawn in)
  • I’m an Orange Pumpkin (sung to tune of I’m a Little Teapot).

Early Literacy TIP:ย  Changes happen almost daily in the fall. Help kids notice them and talk about them, building vocabulary and narrative skills.

Babette

We had fun with “Mouse and Mice” in storytime today!

We read:circle time

  • Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley has nice rhymes and lots of pictures to talk about.
  • A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker develops print awareness and narrative skills plus you can add fun voices and a suspenseful build-up.
  • Mouse Paint by Ellen Walsh is great for playing with colors afterwards.

We played and sang:

  • Hickory, Dickory, Dock stand-up game
  • Little Mousie fingerplay
  • and Buenos Dias and If You’re Happy and You Know It since it was a new group.

Rhymes, games, songs, and fingerplays are all available under Rhymes & Fingerplays; scroll down the left-hand column.

Have fun!

Babette

It was a quiet group today but raucous books!punk farm

On the reading list were books about sounds, music, and dancing.

  • Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka
  • Barn Dance by Bill Martin, Jr. and
  • Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin

Of course, we had to sing Old MacDonald with the kids picking the animals. And I did finally get them to be a little noisy, filling in the moo’s on click, clack, MOO!

Early literacy skills today included:

  • Print awareness (Click, clack, moo)
  • Narrative skills (sequencing) (Punk Farm and Old MacDonald)
  • Phonemic Awareness (rhymes) (Barn Dance, animal sounds, and Old Mac)

The school year’s still young. They’ll soon learn that it’s ok to talk about books with the librarian and sing and play along. They always do!

Babette

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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
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73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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