Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peter Penguin

Meet my friend Peter Penguin. He is a very picky eater and he will only eat things that begin with the sound /p/. Can you help me feed him?

Doing activities like this with your child will help them develop phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is hearing the small sounds in words. In this case, it's the /p/ sound. You can make this activity suit any sound you would like to work on with your child.

Can you think of any other animal friends who are picky eaters?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Letters to Santa

Canada Post is in its 29th year of the Santa Letter-Writing program. This offers a fantastic opportunity for you to practice writing and mailing letters with your child. Please visit the link below to find out how you can write a letter or email to Santa with your child.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Baking!

Looking back to my younger days, I fondly remember the time I spent with my aunt making cookies on Sunday afternoons. Baking is an excellent activity you can do with your child to help them prepare to learn to read, among other things.

For younger children, pouring ingredients into bowls and mixing help them understand the concept of cause and effect. They learn to understand the concept of "hot" when something hot comes out of the oven.

Baking helps children learn new vocabulary. Your child can try new foods to expand their palate. Also, baking serves as a fun way to explore mathematical concepts like quantity through measuring and counting. Your child will learn about the concepts "more" and "less". They can learn to read print by matching words in recipes to words on store containers like "eggs", "baking powder", "suagr", and so on.

Bake something special with your child today. The recipe can be as simple as rice krispy squares. Spending time with your child doing something they will enjoy is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Do you have a simple recipe you can share?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mitten Weather

Thumb in the thumb hole, fingers all together.
This is the song we sing in mitten weather.

It's the time of year that we begin wearing heavier layers to keep warm. Talking, singing, and reading about layering our clothing will help children understand how to stay warm. This time of year brings out many new vocabulary words.

As a simple activity, make a paper mitten in each colour from construction paper. Children can help you tell the story, "Red Mitten, Red Mitten" which models Eric Carle's story Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fostering creativity in children

Here is an interesting story...

The Little Boy
Adapted from Helen E. Buckley

Once a little boy went to school. He was quite a little boy and it was quite a big school.

One morning, when the little boy had been in school a while the teacher said, "Today we are going to make a picture". The little boy was happy. He liked to make pictures. He could make all kinds: lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats. He took out his box of crayons and he began to draw.

But the teacher said, "Wait, it is not time to begin" and she waited until everyone looked ready. "Now", said the teacher, "We are going to make flowers". The little boy was happy. He liked to make flowers so he began to make beautiful ones with his pink, orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said "Wait, I will show you how." She drew a flower on the board. It was red, with a green stem. "There, now you may begin", said the teacher.

The little boy looked at the teacher's flower, then he looked at his own flower. He liked his flower better than the teacher's, but he did not say anything. He just turned his paper over and made a flower like the teacher's. It was red with a green stem.

On another day, the teacher said, "Today we are going to make something with clay". The little boy was happy. He liked clay. He could make all kinds of things with clay: snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice, cars and trucks. He began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.

But the teacher said, "Wait, it is not time to begin". She waited until everyone looked ready. "Now, we are going to make a dish," said the teacher. The little boy was happy. He liked to make dishes. He began to make some that were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said, "Wait, I will show you how". She showed everyone how to make one deep dish. "There, now you may begin," said the teacher.

The little boy looked at the teacher's dish. Then he looked at his own dish. He liked his better than the teacher's, but he did not say anything. He just rolled his clay into a big ball again and made a dish like the teacher's. It was a deep dish.

Pretty soon the little boy learned to wait, to watch, and to make things just like the teacher.

Then, it happened that the boy's family moved to another city. On the first day at his new school, the teacher said, "Today we are going to make a picture." The boy thought about how much fun it would be to draw a picture, and he waited.

The teacher didn't say anything. She just walked around the room. When she came to the little boy, she asked him if he wanted to draw a picture. He said yes and asked her what he should draw. She said he could draw anything he wanted to. He asked her what colour he should use. She said he could use any colour he wanted to.

The little boy looked at his blank paper and thought hard for several moments. Then, he picked up his crayons and started to draw.

Can you guess what he drew?

For more information on children and creativity, please visit:

Children and Creativity

Process, Not Product

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sparkle Box!

Are you looking for a great website with free resources that you can use with children? I suggest you try

I have given you link to the literacy page on stories, rhymes, and reading, but there is lots more for you to browse once you get to the website.

Please post a comment if you find something worth sharing!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Storytelling for Babies and Toddlers

"Children need lots of experience listening to many kinds of stories such as stories about people's real life experiences, and stories that are made up. Stories that are never written down as just as valuable as stories told from books. Experience with stories helps children understand how words go together, both in sound and in print, to help build meaning".

Source: Macaulay Child Development Centre, From Lullabies to Literacy

We all know that younger children have smaller attention spans. Expecting an infant or toddler to sit through a long fairy tale is setting oneself up for failure. Instead, try developmentally appropriate stories to HELP THEM develop their attention span.

Stories for babies can be as simple as nursery rhymes such as "Hickory Dickory Dock" or "Jack and Jill". You can also tell your baby what you are doing while you do it, "First we'll get the diaper, and then we'll put it on".

Stories for toddlers can be repetitive songs or stories such as "Eensy Weensy Spider" or "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" Alternatively, you can tell stories about when your child was born and how you felt, something you did or liked when you were very young, or when you learned to do something such as tie your shoelaces.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What is Print Motivation?

Print motivation is an interest in and enjoyment of books. Researchers suggest that children who are more fluent and positive about reading came from parent-child pairs who viewed reading as fun and encouraged questions and humour while reading. Children who learn that reading can be fun despite its challenges may be more motivated to persist in their efforts in learning to read.

Family influence carries a lot of weight in literacy. A study of parents reading with toddlers found that when the interaction with the parent in negative, it carries over to the activity of reading. Children will avoid reading because of the negative experiences they associate with it (Bus et al., 1997). This tells us that it is important to promote a fun, positive, and stress-free environment when sharing books with our children.

A child with print motivation enjoys being read to, plays with books, pretends to write, asks to be read to, and enjoys visiting the local library.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Early Childhood Brain Insights

This blog provides information on the importance of brain development in the early years and how easy it is to provide for your children. Check it out!


Monday, November 15, 2010

STORY EXTENSION: 10 Little Rubber Ducks

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle is based on a news story that the author saw in a newspaper about rubber ducks falling off a container ship during a storm. Each of the 10 rubber ducks in the story follow their own unique path.

Here are some activities you can use to extend this book:

- Put rubber ducks into you water play area

- Sing 5 Little Ducks at Circle Time - provide a felt board in your reading area with 5 little ducks and a mother duck

- Encourage counting and matching by asking children to match the number of loose ducks to the number of ducks on enveloppes.

Click here for more ideas!

Do you have an idea you can share in the comments?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Let's Pretend...

The connection between pretending and literacy is strong. When pretending, children learn to use imaginary objects or simple objects to stand for real objects (e.g., a child may pretend a broom is a horse, or pretend that a paper towel roll is a fire hose).

In addition, children learn that words are symbols that represent what we want to communicate when first learning to talk. It's similar to learning to read in that a child must understand that letters are symbols that represent the sounds in words.

Children learn reading skills when we encourage them to “make believe”. For example, when children pretend play, they learn how to use their imagination. This will be an important tool for your child to use when they are older and they begin to read chapter books that don't have pictures.

Research has also found that children who pretend on a regular basis have a better understanding of stories, develop more complex language skills, get along better with their friends, solve problems more easily, develop better self– control, and are more creative.

Did you know that children start pretending between 13-18 months? They begin by pretending on themself. You may notice a child at this age who will feed themself with cup/spoon and pretends by making eating actions and sounds. Alternatively, you may notice your child pretending by sleeping on doll’s bed/pillow, sitting on doll’s chair, or dressing themself with doll’s clothes!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Understanding Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. We will honour those who have risked their lives and those who give so much to serve our country. To help your young child understand Remembrance Day, read books. Soldiers fight for peace. Talk about what peace means with your children.

Here are some good books to read for Remembrance Day:

- A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson

- In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield (suitable for older children)

- The Peace Book by Todd Parr

The poppy is worn over the heart as a symbol of tribute and support for war veterans. Here is a song and a poem to teach your children:

Poppy Song
(Tune: BINGO)

There is a flower that we wear to show that we remember:
P-O-P-P-Y, P-O-P-P-Y, P-O-P-P-Y
and poppy is its name-o.

Little Poppy

Little poppy given to me,
help keep Canada safe and free.
I'll wear a poppy as red as can be,
to show that I remember those who fought for me.

Remembrance Day facts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Tips for Talking Together

1. Read and talk about books with your children.

2. Tell your children the names of things and describe how they look, feel, smell or sound.

3. Take turns talking about the things you do.

4. Take turns talking about the places you go.

5. Take turns talking out the things you see.

6. Tell stories together.

7. Talk about how things are the same and different.

8. Give reasons for what is happening.

9. Take turns talking about feelings and opinions.

10. Take turns talking about the future and what may happen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stories are Gifts...Share!

This past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up a drink at Starbucks for two reasons:

(1) the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha is back!

(2) the cup is a vessel for tasty drinks and LITERACY!

Above is a picture of the sleeve on my cup. It is so wonderful because it reminds us that people can be brought together through simple conversation. Conversation is where literacy starts. Children do not learn to use and understand language on their own - they learn by listening and speaking to their parents and other people around them. Conversations make meaning from everything we see in the world.

When we spend time taking turns talking about the people, places, and things in our world, we are teaching our children new words (vocabulary) to add to their sentences, how to talk about the past and the future, and how to concentrate and stay on topic!

Research is clear—learning becomes easier when children have strong vocabulary skills and strong oral skills.

In today’s fast-paced world where electronics are everywhere we turn, there are many forces that can keep us from having daily conversations with our children. Sit down, get cozy, and talk with your child over a nice warm hot chocolate. Tell them something real about your childhood. The cup below says,

"My sister and I would just stare up at the sky, trying to see where the snowflakes were born."

10 Tips for Talking Together

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Resilience (part 2)

"Developmental neuroscience is telling us that we have a special window to enhance the development of self-regulation between the ages of three and five when the part of the brain that supports executive functions is undergoing a critical growth spurt" (Posner and Rothbart, 2006).

Yesterday I wrote about resilience. After posting, I found another reference to the importance of developing this skill in children.

According to Every Child, Every Opportunity: Curriculum and Pedagogy for the Early Learning Program (A compendium report to "With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario),

"Over the past decade, scientists have begun to acquire a much better understanding of why it has been so difficult to change educational trajectories, and it turns out that the explanation to this phenomenon has little to do with IQ; rather, the reason lies primarily in the child's ability to self-regulate: to monitor and modify emotions, focus or shift attention, control impulses, tolerate frustration, delay gratification, do-regulate in social interactions" (p. ii - Blair and Diamond, 2008).

Charles E. Pascal, the Special Advisor to the Premier on Early Learning, stresses the principle that early development launches children's trajectories for learning. On pages 4 and 5 of the Every Child, Every Opportunity, he explains the concept of self-regulation and its relevance in the early years.

As a parent or educator, one way to promote resilience in your children is by reading picture books with them. Highlight storybook characters' resiliency abilities by commenting as you read.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"Resilient" people have been shown to have happier relationships and are less prone to depression, more successful in school and jobs, and even live healthier and longer lives (from "The Resilence Factor" by K. Reivich and A.J. Shatte). Research shows that children can start to develop resilience skills as early as 2-3 years old, so why not start early?

In Spring 2008, Ontario's Ministry of Child and Youth Services published a document called Realizing Our Potential: Our Children, Our Youth, Our Future. This document identifies several strategic goals for our province. Goal number 4 is as follows: Every Child and Youth is Resilient.

Resiliency is also highlighted in the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program. Page 2 indicates that the program aims to provide each child with the support they will need to develop self-regulation. Self-regulation is a critical skill in resilience.

Resilience is not something we are born with - it is developped through practice. Some critical abilities associated with resilience include:

- emotional regulation
- impulse control
- causal analysis
- realistic optimism
- empathy
- self-efficacy
- reaching out

One way for children to learn these abilities is to see them modelled through the adults in their lives. In order to be good role models, we must develop our own resilency abilities. Please follow the links below to find out more about how you can do to support resilence in children. Start with Reaching IN...Reaching OUT (RIRO) is an evidence-based program that teaches resiliency thinking skills to young children so they can Reach IN to face life's challenges and Reach OUT to others and opportunities that encourage healthy development.

Resilence in Development: The Importance of Early Childhood

Play and Self-Regulation in Preschool

Developing Self-Regulation in Kindergarten

Resilence Bounce Back

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fine Motor Skills (3 1/2 - 5 1/2 years)

Below is a list of developmental milestones related to fine motor skills for 3 1/2 - 5 1/2 year olds. Please see yesterday's entry if you are looking for information on younger children.

Your child from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years.

Typically can:
- Put large jigsaws together
- Cut with children's scissors
- Paint with a paint brush on large paper
- Manipulate clay
- Draw a person with three parts
- Fold paper

Emerging skills:
- Buttons and unbuttons buttons
- Cuts on line with scissors
- Carries cup without spilling liquid in it
- Strings small beads to make a necklace

Your child from 4 ½ to 5 ½ years.

Typically can:
- Draw a person with most parts included
- Copy, square, circle and rectangle
- Building 10 cube tower
- Do seven- to eight-piece puzzle
- Hold pencil between thumb and forefinger
- Use same hand consistently
- Draw letters and numbers
- Cut and paste
- Wash hands and face
- Dress if he or she has plenty of time
- Print name
- Feed self with little mess using fork and spoon

Emerging skills:
- Ties shoelaces and bows
- Does up buttons and fastners
- Copies triangles

SOURCE: Invest in Kids: What a chilg will be depends on you and me: A resource kit for a child's first five years

Developmental Milestones (Ages 3 Through 5)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fine Motor Skills (birth - 3 1/2 years)

In order to be able to write, children need to develop their fine motor skills. Here is a developmental continuum which describes a predictable sequence of fine motor development.

Your child from 6 to 18 months.

Typically can:
- Place 10 cubes in a cup
- Grasp items with thumb and forefinger
- Target small objects
- Stack three to four blocks
- Turn page of a book
- Scribble
- Fill and empty containers

Emerging skills:
- Folds paper
- Attempts Simple Puzzles
- Copies simple lines drawn on paper

Your child from 1 ½ to 2 ½ years.

Typically can:
- Take lids off jars
- Fit jars and squares inside of each other
- Draw vertical line
- Build tower of five blocks
- Complete simple puzzle

Emerging skills:
- Clutches pencil with whole hand
- Holds brush and paints on paper
- Uses small scissors to cut
- Strings beads
- Imitates folding paper in half

Your child from 2 ½ to 3 ½ years.

Typically can:
- Copy a circle from a drawing
- Build a tower of nine blocks
- Place round, square and triangular blocks in a form board
- Complete easy puzzle
- Copy bridge of blocks from model

Emerging skills:
- Handles scissors and cuts out
- Copies a cross
- Pulls up a zipper but can not do buttons
- Screws lids on jars
- Carries liquids in a cup
- Puts on shoes by can not tie laces

TOMORROW: 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 years & 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 years

SOURCE: Invest In Kids: What a child will be depends on you and me: A resource kit for a child's first five years.

For activity ideas, explore the websites below.

Developing Fine Motor Skills

Activities for Fine Motor Skills

Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

Friday, October 29, 2010

Best Halloween Book: Haunted House!

This book highlights most of the six ready to read skills . Visally, the book is appealing because of the shiny orange colour on the cover. The cover is also covered in a fuzzy purple material, which makes it fun to touch. The story itself is written in rhyme and features many favourite Halloween spooks. In the end, children will be surprised by a shrieking witch! Don't worry though, it's not scary.

Find it at your local public library or check in out in a bookstore this weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perfect Read Alouds for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner! Yesterday I mentioned some ideas to incorporate literacy into Halloween celebrations from ABC Life Literacy Canada. Below, I have listed some Halloween books that build literacy skills.

Winnie the Witch by Korky Paul and Valerie Thomas: This story is very funny. Winnie the Witch has a problem. Everything in her house is black, including her cat. She is always tripping on her cat, so she decides to wave her wand and make him a different colour. This book offers lots of opportunities to develop vocabulary by discussing colours and how to think of solutions to problems.

Boo! by Robert Munsch: This is a funny story about a boy who paints his face instead of wearing a costume for Halloween, but his face is too scary! This story has lots of repetition which will help your child develop their narrative skills.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro: Find out why an old lady would swallow a bat. This silly story will help children develop their narrative skills and vocabulary!

The Three Bears' Halloween by Kathy Duval: This story is a spin off of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is a great story for retelling because of the repetition. Compare it to the original classic story with your child.

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler: This story is about a skeleton with hiccups. Skeleton's friend Ghost helps him get rid of his hiccups using a very creative solution that will give children a laugh.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda White: This is a spectacular spooky story with lots of repetition and actions for children to follow along with.

Are there any other great Halloween books you have read lately?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Literacy Fun

Last Friday, ABC Life Literacy Canada released an article with tips to incorporate literacy into Halloween celebrations. Here are their suggested tricks and treats to practice literacy skills:

1.Tell ghost stories on Halloween night. Make up your own stories or read a classic scary book together.

2.Have a costume party and write your own unique invitations. Once guests have arrived, why not play a word game using only Halloween-related words!

3.Organize Halloween candy in different ways. Organize by shape, size, candy name, or even candy type, and then trade! This activity helps to reinforce the importance of math in everyday life.

4.Bake a pumpkin pie. Following recipes is a great way to improve both reading and math skills. Children can read the instructions out loud to help measure the ingredients when making a treat for the family.

5.Research the history of Halloween, and share spooky statistics!

SOURCE: Life Literacy Canada

What other ways can you bring integrate literacy in your Halloween celebrations?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Free Resources at Wintergreen

Go to Wintergreen's website for free printable teaching resources. Most seem to apply to school-aged children, but maybe you will find something worthwhile.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Halloween is just around the corner. If you celebrate Halloween, and even if you don't I would like to suggest the book Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley as a read aloud to your child.

Go Away,Big Green Monster! is a book of cut-out pages that page by page reveal a monster and then page by page make it disappear. The simple cuts and the bold colors appeal to both young children and old. It is as much of a delight to read to groups of children as it is to just one child snuggled up on your lap.

You can get a free printable pattern here that you can use to make pieces for a craft, or to create your own feltboard story. See craft example below.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Telling stories to children helps them to be ready to learn to read at school. Children need lots of experience listening to stories of many different varieties. Stories can be made up or true. They can be written down to told orally. Either way, they are a valuable component of early literacy development. They help children learn to:

- concentrate and focus their attention
- make predictions and comparisons - how does this story compare to other stories your child has heard or their real life experiences?
- use their imagination - they may need to picture the story in their mind if there are no props
- recognize new words - build vocabulary

Here are some tips you can use to keep your child's interest while you're reading:

- be enthusiastic
- use facial expressions
- give voices to characters
- change the tone in your voice (quiet, loud)
- use gestures
- add dramatic sounds ("and the door shut, BANG!"
- pause for effect
- ask your child to help you tell the story by filling in spots or making sounds
- add a surpirse to the ending
- keep it short
- make the story about your child or something they are interested in

Here is the story of The Gingerbread Boy. It is a perfect story for oral storytelling!

SOURCE: Macaulay Child Development Centre, Lullabies to Literacy

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hearing Individual Sounds in Words

I recently recieved an email from one of my readers:

"I am noticing that my students often know the beginning sounds and end sounds of words but nothing in between...how do you develop this skill?"

Becoming aware of individual sounds in words is the most difficult level of phonological awareness. However, it is also the area of phonological awareness that research infdicates is the most predictive of success in using sound knowledge in reading.

Here are some activities I suggest:

1) Word of the day/week. As an oral activity, ask children to listen to a simple work. For example, sat. Say listen to each sound /s/ /a/ /t/. How many sounds do you hear? (3)

2) Using Songs
For example, “If you know my Word” to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”

The sounds in my word are /f/ /i/ /sh/, /f/ /i/ /sh/, /f/ /i/ /sh/,
The sounds in my word are /f/ /i/ /sh/
Do you know my word?

3) Say It Slow, Say It Fast game

Choose three letter words (e.g., cat). Show your child a picture that represents the word so that they have a visual. Have your child say the word with you, normally. Then say, “I’m going to say his word slowly. I’m going to break it apart.” Slow down and say each sound in the word. Ask your child to repeat after you e.g. /c/ /a/ /t/). Once they say it slowly, ask them to speed up the word and say it normally again. Once they succeed, give them the picture to hold onto as a reward.

4) Penny Push Directions
During the activity the children say, hear and push a penny for each sound they hear in a word. There are no symbols or letters involved. Research shows that the more senses you use to teach something, the more likely it is that the learner will grasp the concept.

Follow this link to a video that gives an example of how to segment words into individual sounds.

Here is a video of a child using coloured tiles to represent sounds in words.

Does anyone have any additional suggestions?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Growing Vegetable Soup

Fall is the time of year where we harvest food. Once the weather starts to cool down, it's natural to grab for a sweater and start up a pot of soup for warmth. Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert presents the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that we naturally do at this time of year. Children benefit by learning from relevant events in their lives. Read this book with your child. There are SO MANY ways that you can extend this book into so much more than it is alone. You can develop vocabulary by talking about the names of vegetables, develop tastebuds by sampling different kinds of vegetables, develop narrative skills and numeracy skills by making a pot of soup, and so on.

More information on skills addressed in this book:

Print motivation – at the end of the story there is a recipe for vegetable soup (shows children practical use of books – they show us how to do things)

Print awareness – not all sentences finish on the same page they started on. This could start up conversations on how we know when a sentence is done (along with other aspects of punctuation) with older children.

Vocabulary – vegetables, gardening tools and kitchen supplies are labeled throughout the book, including when they are seeds

Narrative skills – tells children the process of making vegetable soup from seeds.

Here is an activity you can do with this book:

From the Garden to Soup

o Create vegetables using craft foam.

o Place vegetables in some dirt you may have left over from your garden. You can also use a blanket to simulate earth.

o Invite one child to be a “sounder” and another to be a “matcher”. Have the sounder secretly choose an item from the “dirt” and say the first sound of the item. For example, say “C-c-c” for carrot. Depending on your children’s ability level, you should be the sounder for the first few times that you model the game.

o Once the sound has been heard, the matcher finds an item in the “dirt” that starts with the same sound. If that item is not the item the sounder has chosen, you can help the matcher by giving clues. Continue until the matcher holds up the correct item. When the matcher selects the correct item, he can put it into a soup pot. Play again using another set of children as a sounder and a matcher.

o This activity can help younger children label things that grow in a garden. If you are working with younger children, you could ask them to find colours, “Can you please find me the white onion, orange carrot, red tomato…..

o You could also add some foam alphabet letters to the soup to work on letter recognition. Say, “Can anyone find me a letter “A” and or the letter that starts with the sound /a/ to add to our soup?”

What else would you do with this book?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Grouchy Ladybug

This Eric Carle book is about an arrogant ladybug who challenges another ladybug to a fight over some aphids. Then, he decides his opponent isn't large enough to be worth fighting, so the ladybug travels around the world looking for larger animals to fight. Eventually, he encounters a blue whale, who slaps him with his tail and sends him flying back to where he started. The ladybug decides to be nice and share the aphids with the fellow ladybug.

Throughout the book, the size of the pages starts small and get bigger as the size of the animals increase. Also, the blue whale's tail takes up a page in itself and turning it is meant to represent the slapping motion. The time of day is also shown at the side of each page. Note: Many children will not be prepared to graps the complex concept of time until they are approximately 7-10 years old.

Here is a link if you would like to browse the inside of the book.

The ladybug above was made using black and red felt. First, I cut out a body, then, the wings, then the spots. The wings were secured on using hot glue. Here are two ways you can use the ladybug:

1) Phonemic Awareness: At age fix to six years children can identify different sounds at the beginnings of words (rock, sock), as well as different sounds at the ends of words (stem, step). Give each child a black dot. Say a word that begins or ends with a letter (e.g., the letter “g”). If they hear the /g/ in the beginning of the word, they put their dot on one half of the ladybug. If they hear the /g/ at the end of the word, they put the dot on the other half of the ladybug. When each child has had a turn, they can remove the dots and listen for a sound in another word.

2) Mathematics: Between age two and three years children know that when one candy is taken away from two candies, one candy is left. Similarly, they know that when one candy is added to two candies, there should be three candies altogether. Roll a number cube with your child and have them match the number of spot on ladybug to the number of spots on the cube. This will help them build a foundation for 1:1 correspondance of numbers.


Let's Talk about the Grouchy Ladybug

Website full of resources and ideas to use with this book

Ideas for Using the Grouchy Ladybug in the Classroom

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Introducing Wonderopolis...the National Centre for Family Literacy's (NCFL) latest contribution to family literacy. Wonderopolis is a place where parents nurture a brighter world for their children through discovery, creativity, learning and imagination.

Wonderopolis is new website that offers families a Wonder of the Day. Each day. Every day. Educational success comes from a little learning every day. And now, NCFL helps bring learning into the home on a daily basis in bite-size bits that fit into everyday life.

Each Wonder of the Day sparks parents to ignite their child’s curiosity and love of learning.
• Have you ever wondered why flamingos are pink?
• Have you ever wondered what ice cream headaches are really all about?
• Have you ever wondered why bees buzz?

Visit www.wonderopolis.org to find out!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Old Lady is Indulging Again...

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson is a cumulative book that mirrors the story I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. This book differs in that it is centred around the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Remember to explain the rich vocabulary offered along with the rich foods in this story to your child.

Here is a video of a boy reading the story.

Here is a link to the words in the story so you can recite it without the book.

Enjoy the long weekend! Don't eat as much as the old lady!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Terrific Turkey Book

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston isn't really a Thanksgiving book in itself, but I am featuring it this week because many families will sit down and enjoy a tasty turkey feast this weekend. This simple subtraction book counts down from 10 to 0 turkeys with funny rhyming text and playful illustrations.

Here is an example of a kit created to link math and literature which uses this book:

If you are looking for some additional activities to accompany this book, try these:

Do the turkey pokey - Sing the Hokey Pokey like normal, but then the last line goes as follows: "You do the Turkey Pokey and you gobble all around, that's what it's all about."

Handprint Turkey with Poem

Interesting Turkey Facts

Turkey Cut-Out Pattern - can be used with some of the rhymes below or to help retell the story. I would resize them to 1/2 the size of the paper.

Songs and Rhymes

One little, two little, three little turkeys
Four little, five little, six little turkeys
Seven little, eight little, nine little turkeys
Out in the barnyard.

Gobble, gobble, little turkeys
Gobble, gobble, little turkeys,
Gobble, gobble, little turkeys.
Out in the barnyard.
by Jean Warren

TURKEY, TURKEY (A Number & Color Rhyme)
Turkey, turkey number one
Strutting under the yellow sun.

Turkey, turkey number two
Strutting under skies of blue.

Turkey, turkey number three
Strutting under a big green tree.

Turkey, turkey number four
Strutting past the red barn door.
by Jean Warren

Mr. Turkey's tail is big and wide. (spread hands)
He swings it when he walks. (swing hands)
His neck is long, his chin is red. (point)
He gobbles when he talks. (open and close hand like a mouth)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grateful for great books!

Lately, I spent some time reviewing my collection of Thanksgiving books. Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Here's why:

- families get together
- there is no gift giving expectation
- fantastic fall weather
- delicious food

The book Thanks for Thanksgiving by Heather Patterson really captures the beauty of Thanksgiving, which is really just being mindful of all simple things that bring us pleasure at this wonderful time of year.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Thanks for the warm fall sun.

Thanks for the outdoor fun.

Thanks for the blue fall sky

and the sound of the birds' good-bye.

Thanks for the golden trees.

Thanks for the crunch of leaves.

Borrow it from your local public library and share it with your child today :)

Does anyone have any other great suggestions for Thanksgiving books?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly is a great song/poem for children. It is super silly with plenty of repetition for children to join in. All the talking that children do during songs helps prepare them develop their oral language skills, which in turn help them become amazing readers.

I made the resource below using a felt board story pattern I found on the Preschool Printables website. I modified it a bit though. Instead of making a felt board story, I turned it into more of a puppet. I photocopied the patterns onto thick cardstock and coloured them with markers. Then I coloured them in and laminated all the pieces. I changed the old lady by enlarging then cutting her roughly in half where her arms fall. I taped half of a milk bag to her upper half and lower half to make a stomach (it is a bit hard to see with the glare). Children can feed the old lady as they sing the song!

Thanks for this great idea, Peggy! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Something from Nothing

Recently, I have started a storytime at Indigo Books for children birth to six years old. Our first story together was Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

For those of you who arent' familiar with the story...it's the retelling of a Jewish folktale. A boy recieves a blanket from his grandfather when he is born. Eventually, it starts to wear so grandpa fixes it by making it into a jacket. When the jacket gets worn it becomes a vest, then a tie, then a handkerchief, and finally a button. One day Joseph loses his button. He is so sad. Even his amazing grandfather can't make something from nothing. The next day Joseph goes to school and writes a story (presumably about his blanket and its many transformations).

It is a truly a beautiful story with plenty of repetition for youngsters to join in. To make my storytime interesting, I tried to provide many opportunities for children to interact with the book. I brought a measuring tape for them to touch (just like the one on the grandfather's neck on the cover of the book and related the book to their lives by asking if they have something special like Joseph's blanket.

I used feltboard pieces to help tell the story and encourage children to fill in the blanks, "There's just enough material here to make...a wonderful jacket".

After the story, I made a connection to the book Owen by Kevin Henkes, but we did not have time to read it. This book is somewhat similar because both have a blanket that carry a lot of sentiment. It differs in that Owen is not allowed to bring his blanet to school because he is too old. The resolution is that they make a handkerchief for him to keep in his pocket.

Before leaving, I pulled out a bunch of items I am recycling (a tin can, mesh from oranges, a piece of cardboard) and asked the children if they could make "something from nothing". There were some very creative ideas! The CCCF handout Creating Toys and Activities for Children from Beautiful Junk was given to parents to give suggestions that can be used at home.

Here is a suggestion on how you can use this story in big book format to teach.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We're Going on a Leaf Hunt...

Follow this link to the story/song/rhyme, "We're Going on a Leaf Hunt"!

Take your child outside to hunt for some leaves today!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are you Leafing Around for a Great Fall Book???

If you find yourself leafing around for a great fall book, look no further than one of the beautiful books above all about LEAVES!

When the Leaf Blew In by Steve Metzger

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Season by Quintan B. Lee

The Leaves are Falling One by One by Steve Metzger

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves by Melvin and Gilda Berger

Of course, there are likely many other great leaf books out there. I have merely listed are ones that I own. When looking for books consider a few things: do you want fiction or non-fiction? Children may not understand that books are about the world we live in because they get used to seeing illustrations instead of pictures. Does the book have a great rhyme? Does it have rich vocabulary? Does your child enjoy it?

Please share the names of any other great fall books. I will have more fall book lists as the weeks pass.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Home-made Fall Book

Here is a book you can make with your child to celebrate the arrival of fall (or even use the fancier word...autumn!) This book is made using shapes cut from fall colours, as well as the letter that each shape begins with. This book can be used to teach colours, vocabulary, letter sounds, and so on.

You can even extend the activity with your child by making a complete alphabet book. Find fall pictures with your child using magazines, the newspaper, and flyers.