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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!
Got it? The most important. Read it here: Study Sheds Light on Auditory Role in Dyslexia.
It’s extremely hard to find just one quote to highlight. The article is chock full of outstanding points. Here’s one though:
“Dr. Gabrieli said the findings underscored a critical problem for dyslexic children learning to read: the ability of a child hearing, say, a parent or teacher speak to connect the auditory bits that make up words, called phonemes, with the sight of written words. If a child has trouble grasping the sounds that make up language, he said, acquiring reading skills will be harder.”
Isn’t that just so cool? If you’re a children’s librarian, and especially if you are one that’s worked with Every Child Ready to Read over the years, you are jumping up and down just like I am.
They are talking about phonological awareness, that mouthful of a skill that we encourage every time we sing, say a rhyme, or do a fingerplay with kids. Every time we talk, sing, and play with language with kids, we help them develop the ability to hear individual sounds and pieces of words.
Just think about singing, “Down by the station, early in the morning.” The words “station,” “early,” and “morning” are broken apart and each part gets its own musical note. To sing the song, you have to hear each part. Sing it enough, and say enough rhymes with ending “ing’s,” and you can read it years later because you can connect those squiggles on the page with the sound the teacher says and the sound you have heard and know.
It’s the beginning of a new school year. Go forth with confidence, knowing the silliness you do has a tremendous influence on a child’s ability to learn to read later and therefore, his or her future.
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!
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 of “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. 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, and phonological awareness through rhymes. All wrapped up in one winter package.
- Most of the rhymes are “new” ones that you probably don’t know.
- Each double page spread includes the words and directions for bouncing and playing with baby during the rhyme.
- There’s a CD included so no worries about the ones you don’t know.
- Each rhyme builds phonological awareness and fun times shared with this book will build print motivation as well.
- Babies and parents are multicultural–AND there’s a daddy included!
- The last two pages give a developmental guide to playing, dancing, and moving with baby.
This will check out well in any children’s collection, but it would also be a marvelous book to give to new parents and to parents who are not quite sure what to do with baby and how to play with them.
- 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.🙂
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!
Here’s a collection of songs, rhymes, and fingerplays for the holidays coming up; click here to listen and for directions. (You’ll have to scroll towards the bottom).
The “Holiday” podcast includes “The Lights on the Tree” (to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”) and “Ring the Bells.”
You’ll also find on the podcast page a set of rhymes and fingerplays having to do with Santa: “Eight Little Reindeer,” “There’s a Little Elf,” and “Here is the Chimney.”
I’ll add the words later this week under the Rhymes & Fingerplays header in the left column. And I’ll do my best to add some for other winter holidays as the month goes on.
Baby Gym is a fairly new series of board books for babies and toddlers that I stumbled across recently. There are four books in the series and come in about an 8×8 size.
My favorite is Touch & Tickle. Each double page spread is a rhyme, and four of the five rhymes are new ones to me. Illustrations are bright and colorful, and the babies all look like they are having fun with their grown-up. Families are multicultural, there’s one parent in a wheelchair, and one child is wearing a hearing aid.
The best part though? The words are followed by directions for actions–and the actions are based on baby massage! What a marvelous idea!
Others in the series includes Wiggle & Move, Calm & Soothe, and Bounce & Jiggle. (They also have movements with their rhymes but the movements are not specifically massage based.)
Have lovely time with your little one!
We have used Johnny Appleseed as our table blessing since the boys were old enough to sit up in a high chair. We still use it (the oldest is a junior in college). Before we sing it, we go around the table, and we each say something we are thankful for, big or small. Click on the above link for the tune; click here for the words.
The second one, Let’s Be Thankful, is shorter and simpler, and for those of you who need a blessing without a direct reference to God, this one fills the bill. Click on the previous link for the tune; click here for the words.