Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Skin You Live In

I found the cutest little bookstore called the Children's Book Garden on my way home from a weekend at the Beach and I couldn't resist buying something. It didn't take long for me to find The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler and David Lee Csicsko. This book has a rhyming and flowing text that is enhanced by the beautiful color illustrations.

"Think how lucky you are
that the skin you live in,
so beautifully holds the
"You" who's within.

And like flowers in the fields
that make wonderful views,
when we stand side-by-side
in our wonderful hues...

We all make a beauty
so wonderfully true.
We are special and different
and just the same, too!"

Classroom Activities:

  • Add skin-toned paper and paint to the art area.

  • At the easel provide children with brown, orange, pink, and white paint and let them experiment with creating colors that are similar to their own skin tone.

  • Place a mirror near your art area or easel to encourage children to paint self portraits.

  • Make self portraits using collage materials

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Refreshed, Renewed, and Rejuvinated

I took an impromptu trip to Ocean City for a few days. The peace and serenity of the nearly empty beach gave me just the amount of relaxation and rejuvenation I needed. I came back with a refreshed spirit and a determination to work even harder on behalf of children, families, and early childhood educators. This week I will be spending time updating my blog; I can't wait to reveal the new site!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of my mini-vacation to the Beach:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Room to Grow: Making Early Childhood Count!: Meet Susan Stockdale

Room to Grow: Making Early Childhood Count!: Meet Susan Stockdale

Meet Susan Stockdale

Susan Stockdale might have begun her career painting landscapes and designing fabric, but her love of art soon turned her into a children’s author/illustrator. One day, in the early 1990s, Susan was visiting the zoo with her children, who were intrigued by a flamingo sleeping while standing on one leg. This everyday occurrence was the inspiration for her fist book, Some Sleep Standing Up.
Susan’s first book was soon followed by books such as the award-winning Fabulous Fishes, a beautifully illustrated story that takes young readers on an amazing underworld journey. Ms. Stockdale was also awarded a Parent’s Choice Award and Best Children’s Book of the Year Award for Carry Me! Animal Babies on the Move. This delightful book illustrates how some animals carry babies on their backs, others in pouches, and others on their shoulders. Interdisciplinary teacher guides are available for both of these award-winning books.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dolphin Daze

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is celebrating the birth of a new baby dolphin! In honor of our new local celebrity, here are a few dolphin activities that preschoolers and kindergartners (and their grown-ups) might enjoy!
  • D is for Dolphin: Click here for dolphin coloring pages and printables.
  • Whale and Dolphin crafts.
  • Make a Venn Diagram and compare dolphins babies and human babies. Dolphin and human babies both grow inside of a mother's body, drink milk, breathe air, and depend on their mother.
  • Visit the Dolphin Place: Just for Kids.
  • Visit National Geographic's Secret Life of Dolphins.
  • Explore Bottlenose Dolphins on National Geographic's Creature Feature.
  • Crayon Resist: Have children draw/color a dolphin on water color paper (or white construction paper). Encourage them to color heavily. Using a large paint brush and blue water color paint (watered down tempera paint will work as well), paint the whole page varying shades of ocean blue.
  • Find more dolphin facts, pictures, and projects at Dolphinkind.
  • Learn to sign dolphin using American Sign Language.
  • Learn about how bats and dolphins use echolocation.

Great books budding scientists:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Peeking In On Poetry: 7 Tips for Using Poetry with Young Children

  1. According to Debbie Levy, author of Maybe I'll Sleep in the Bathtub and Other Funny Bedtime Poems, "poems are short enough to hold the attention of even the most distractible child. Read one, take a break to talk about it or explore the illustration. Read another, do the same. Stop with a few poems, or read the whole book--either way, you have a satisfying reading experience.
  2. Read a short silly poem and have the children illustrate it. This helps children listen to the text and show their comprehension and interpretation.
  3. Encourage children to make up silly rhymes. Who cares if the words are made-up and will never be found in a dictionary? Where would Dr. Seuss be if he wasn't making up words? Would we ever know about the wocket in my pocket or the quimeny in the chimney? Having children make up rhymes encourages them to experiment with phonemic awareness which will form the groundwork for future reading skills.
  4. Record yourself reading poems on a CD. If you are a classroom teacher, enlist parents to help with this and have them each record one poem. All you need is a computer with a microphone and audio recording software such as Audacity and then burn the files to a CD. Place the CDs in your classroom listening area, in your car, or play them at naptime!
  5. Have Poetry Theater where children act out short poems.
  6. Write Rebus Rhymes on chart paper and encourage children to make up their own Rebus Rhymes.
  7. Create simple poetry starters for young children to complete. For example, children can start with the words, "Mothers are..." and finish by making a list of characteristics. Here is an example:

Mothers are





That's what mothers are.

More Poetry Resources

Great Poetry Books for Young Children

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reverse, Backward, and Upside Down: When to Worry When About Your Child's Writing

Some parents may worry when their preschoolers begin to reverse letters, write words from right to left, or confuse letters like b, d, and p in their writing. Even preschoolers who previously "got it right" might begin to reverse letters and words. But not to worry! This is a normal stage in learning to write. Between the ages of three and seven, it is quite common for children to write some or all of their letters and words backwards. Sometimes called mirror writing, research shows that this phenomenon is not only normal, but is likely the result of normal brain development.
As a former preschool and kindergarten teacher, I can tell you that such writing does not worry me and in fact it lets me know that often children have moved on to the next stage in their literacy development. Often, children "get it right" in the beginning because they have learned to write by copying something that a grown-up has written for them. When children start to write on their own without an example, they will make more errors. They are using their brains to figure things out and that is a good thing! When you watch a preschooler write, you can often see a level of concentration that says, "My brain is working OVERTIME over here!"

What should parents of preschoolers do?

  1. Avoid making a big deal and correcting your child. Over corrections may discourage your child from future attempts at writing.
  2. Model writing for your child. For example, when he or she asks you to write their name or a sentence on their artwork, start in the upper left corner so children see the direction of print.
  3. Sometimes (but not always) point to the words books that you are reading so children learn that text is read from left to write and from top to bottom
  4. Relax and don't worry! This is an awesome stage in your child's development and if they are taking an interest in writing, NURTURE it rather than over-analyzing it!

What if my child is in Kindergarten and is still writing backwards?

The same rules apply. Up until age seven or eight, children may continue to display mirror writing. Most of the time, children will learn the correct way with lots of practice that they are likely to get when they enter elementary school. If you are still concerned, speak to your child's teacher and your child's pediatrician.

Two Great Resources for Parents and Teachers

Recommended Reading for Parents and Teachers


Supporting Research

Cornell, J.M. (1985). Spontaneous mirror writing in children. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 39(1), 174-179.

Cubelli, R. (2009). Mirror writing in preschool - A pilot study. Cognitive Processing, 10 (2), 101-104.

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