Posts Tagged ‘letter knowledge’

Get into Shape: Books & Activities about the Shapes Around Us

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Did you know that learning shapes is important for when your child is ready to read?

Learning shapes is a very early way to introduce your child to the concept of letter knowledge or learning the alphabet.

Photo courtesy of Crafty Couple blog

Photo courtesy of Crafty Couple blog

Knowing that a round shape is a circle and those three lines make a triangle is really only a short hop away from knowing that the circle with a tail is the letter P and the triangle with a belt is really the letter A!

Learn about shapes with some of these fun activities.

Talk about it! Describe the shapes you see all around you. Ask your child to point out balls and circles and boxes and squares.
Read about it!
Visit the library for colorful books about shapes.
Hang it up! Make a mobile for your child’s crib or bedroom that shows simple shapes.
Play with Puzzles! Check out some simple puzzles to teach your child to match shapes.
Eat your shapes! Make shape pancakes or cut a peanut butter sandwich into circles, squares or triangles. Cooked spaghetti noodles are especially fun to make shapes with.
Walk your shapes! Chalk shapes drawn on the sidewalk (in nice weather) or shapes on the carpet made from masking tape (in cold or rainy weather) make unusual balance beams for your child to hop, slide or walk backwards on.
Make a shape snake! Take a tip from the Crafty Couple blog and use some felt scraps and some ribbon to make a lacing shape toy for your older child (with buttons) or with knots on the end for a younger child.

Want more early literacy tips? Check out our Getting Ready to Read guide.

Born to Read: Letter Knowledge

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Learning how to read is not just about reciting the alphabet.

There are 6 early literacy skills that will help your child learn to read, including:

Letter knowledge is understanding that letters are different from one another and that they have different names and sounds. There are many different ways to encourage letter knowledge in your child.

  • Help your baby recognize simple shapes like circles and squares. When pointing out the shapes of toys, describe it out loud by saying, “This ball is round” and “This block has corners.”
  • Read alphabet books and sing alphabet songs to introduce your baby or toddler to letters.
  • When children are ready to learn about letters, start with letters that are the most interesting to them, such as the first letter of their name.

Check out this list of suggested books for developing letter knowledge skills.

How to Operate Your New Book

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I wasn’t going to do another picture book review for a while, but my Move with Music kids’ reaction this morning to My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall made me rethink my position.

I confess, I didn’t pick this book for storytime.  In fact, the first time I read it I thought, “Eh.”  It was cute, but I didn’t see anything special about it.  It’s just about a bunch of animals.  “My heart is like a zoo — eager as a beaver, steady as a yak,” etc., etc., etc., as the King of Siam would say.  That’s been done before.

But for reasons I cannot explain, the kids loved it.  Sometimes that just happens.  Even better, this also happens to be a great book for several of the early literacy skills.  The fact that the kids loved it, well there’s your print motivation (interest in and enjoyment of books) right there.

And all the animals are composed almost entirely of hearts.  As you may recall from this post, shape recognition is the first step of letter knowledge.  Kids need to be able to pick out the differences in shapes in order to recognize letters and subsequently assign meaning to them.  And of course the kids had so much fun pointing out all the different hearts in the pictures:  “The feet are hearts!  And the nose is a heart!  And look, the bee’s wings are hearts!”  That alone is super cute, once you get past the grown up tendency to shout, “Yes, they’re ALL hearts!”

The text is in rhyme, which is great for phonological awareness (hearing and playing with the smaller sounds in words).  That is, if you can hear the text over all the shouts of locating hearts all over the place.  All that talking, by the way, does great things for your kid’s narrative skills (ability to tell a story).

And finally, this is a great vocabulary book for several reasons.  You’ve got all the different animals, some of which are a bit unusual such as heron, yak and hornet.  And the text itself is a bit adventurous.  The fox is crafty.  There’s a gloomy lone coyote walking in the fog.  The peaceful portly walrus is lounging on a towel.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t use these words very frequently, and I don’t often see them in kids’ books.

So here’s this great, multi-faceted book that I would have completely overlooked had it not been for the programming prowess of Mr. Michael.  Which leads to the title of this post.  Although I often wish they did, books don’t come with owner’s manuals.  But with a little creativity, even seemingly simple books can offer big learning opportunities!

And by the way, Move with Music is just about over for the season.  If you just can’t wait until fall to get your groove on again, check out Get Musical this summer!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Letter Knowledge

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Gather ’round, ya’ll, it’s time for the next installment in our series of posts about the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.

Letter knowledge is understanding that letters are different from one another, and that they have different names and sounds.  Older kids can work on this skill by reading fun alphabet books, picking out favorite letters on signs, or playing a game to see how many words they can think of that start with the same sound/letter.  You can work on early literacy skills anywhere and anytime with a little creativity!

Babies start developing letter knowledge by learning about shapes.  Think of it this way — the only difference between a lower case “n” and a lower case “h” is the height of the stem.  If your child is used to looking at shapes and can differentiate one from another, it’ll be much easier for them to pick out different letter shapes when the time comes.

More books for developing letter knowledge!