Posts Tagged ‘phonological awareness’

Can you hear that?

Friday, April 8th, 2011


April is National Poetry Month! Poetry is fun to read and fun to write, but to really enjoy poetry many feel it must be HEARD. Listening to poems can help kids develop important literacy skills like phonological awareness, the ability to hear and play with smaller sounds in words, and vocabulary, or knowing the names of things. Here are a few books that are not only beautiful to look at, but also come with CDs so that the poems come alive at home, in the car–anywhere you are!

Launching Young Readers

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

We just got a video series that I am SO excited about I can’t wait another minute to share it with you.  Please allow me to introduce Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers.

Each 30 minute episode of this series designed just for parents and  caregivers like you is bursting with useful and accessible information about early literacy and childhood development.  Although they’re incredibly informative, the shows are far from boring — guest hosts like Jaime Lee Curtis, LeVar Burton (you remember Reading Rainbow, right?), and Mr. Rogers keep it entertaining, and tips you can take home and use with your kids right away provide instant gratification.

I can’t really express how much I love this series.  It does such a great job of explaining just how crucial reading, rhyming, and early literacy based activities are to a child’s development and school readiness without being overwhelming or overly technical.

The following clip is a great example.  Did you know that pontential reading difficulties can be discovered literally days after a child is born?  Check out the video to learn more:

Research has shown the earlier we can intervene with children who are having a hard time learning to read, the more effective the interverntion is.  Approximately 90-95% of poor readers can reach average reading skills with early intervention.  But, when intervention is delayed until 9 years of age, 75% of those children will still have reading problems in 12th grade.  Can you imagine what an amazing head start a child would have if pontential reading disorders were discovered this early?

And I love that nursery rhymes are specifically mentioned.  Phonological awareness, or the ability to hear and play with the smaller parts of words, is an essential skill for decoding the written word.  Kids who have a hard time rhyming in Kindergarten tend to have much more difficulty learning to read than those who are proficient rhymers.  So when you recite nursery rhymes to your sleepy newborn or sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider with your active toddler, you’re helping to build a skill that will be crucial to her future reading success!

Check out the videos and if you love them as much as I do, spend some time on the Launching Young Readers website.  It provides complete overviews of each episode, as well as tons of tips and additional resources.  I feel like I need to write these guys a thank you card.

Gather ‘Round the Fire!

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Some of my favorite childhood memories include my family and a big bonfire.  Sometimes we’d make s’mores, sometimes we’d sing or tell stories, and sometimes we’d just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. 

Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I learned that those fun times had a hand in building literacy skills.  As you probably know from many previous posts, singing is a great tool for building phonological awareness because the different notes break words down into smaller parts.  And telling stories is a great way to work on narrative skills, which are an essential first step towards reading comprehension.

So there’s your excuse for some good ol’ quality time around the fire with the kids.  It’s not only fun, it’s a learning experience in disguise.  So break out your guitar (or just check out some CDs with great songs for kids), check out some great books for reading aloud or storytelling, and wait for sun down.

And don’t forget about Family Campfire at the library — we’ve got the stories, songs, and (fake) fire, with none of the bugs!

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!

Read This! All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon

“Rock, stone, pebble, sand
Body, shoulder, arm, hand
A moat to dig, a shell to keep
All the world is wide and deep.”

This charming story, told in a lilting, singsong rhyme, walks us through a single day of one family’s beach vacation. Each stanza offers a mini vignette: an unexpected rain storm teaches us that sometimes things we don’t want to happen, do; a grumbly tummy wait at a restaurant illustrates that patience is indeed a virtue.

Nearly every page of this seemingly simple story, either the text or the nostalgic illustration, invites further discussion. That makes this a great book for developing narrative skills, and the rhythmic rhyme naturally enhances phonological awareness. Take this with you on vacation for a relaxing and timely bedtime read!

More new picture books!

Early Literacy Tip: Best Books for Phonological Awareness

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

This early literacy skill might sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite fun!   Phonological awareness is simply the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.  There are so many easy ways help your child develop phonological awareness!  Singing is great because words are broken into smaller chunks when the pitch moves up and down.  Rhyming is also great, and clapping on every syllable of a word is surprisingly fun for the kiddies.  Try this fun chant:

Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
Who took the cookies from the cookie jar?
{Insert child’s name} took the cookies from the cookie jar! (clap on each syllable of child’s name)
Who, me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be!
Then who?
{Insert sibling’s name/mom/grandma, etc.} Took the cookies from the cookie jar!
Who, me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be!
Then who?
Continue with as many names as you want, then end with someone funny — daddy, or cookie monster, or Santa — taking all the cookies!

More great phonological awareness, rhyming, and nursery rhyme books!

More info on the six early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and narrative skills.