I have been in the field of early childhood education for twenty years. I am a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Phi Kappa Phi.
I have a strong belief that exposing children to language and literacy at an early age will enhance their ability to become better students in school. It is my mission to expose parents and teachers to valuable early childhood activities in the hope of enriching the lives of as many children as I can.
Peace, Blessings, and Happy Reading,
Just last year, I was panicked at the thought of eBooks taking over the world replacing traditional books for children. Since I've written that post, I've had more first hand experience with ebooks for children. My three year old niece (who is almost 4 now!) has her own page of apps on my iPad. She loves The Monster at the End of this Book, Bob Books, I Like Books, and Olivia Acts Out. I am pretty impressed at her proficiency and at the interactive nature of some of these books. But while the iPad versions are fun and educational, at night, when her Dad tucks her in, she still reaches for traditional books (whew!). And her baby brother can't resist his own pile of books - soft books, cloth books, fuzzy books, and all of the books that he can safely pick up, touch, feel, and yes, even chew. So, I'm no longer worried that eBooks will take over the world... or WILL THEY...?
Early elementary-aged children will enjoy this rhyming and catchy tale about the food chain. A beetle is eaten by a snake. The snake is eaten by a hawk: He snatched that snake right off the ground. Gobbled him up without a sound and sang, "Hey diddle diddle - I don't ask why I've got feathers to help me fly." The book has a "For Creative Minds" section in the back that includes 4 pages of additional activities such as "Herbivore or Carnivore," "Predator or Prey" and many more. Even more related activities and links are found at the Sylvan Dell Publishing Website.
Animalogy is a book of, what else? Animal analogies of course! Beaver is to build as spider is to spin. Reptile is to snake, as insect is to bee. The detail in the illustrations is captivating. This is a great book to teach analogies as well as animal behavior. The book may also be helpful for young ESL students trying to learn the concept of analogies. The book concludes with a 6 page activity guide that extends the learning presented in the story. Sylvan Dell Publishing also has a free 48 page Teaching Guide available.
Make a "Fall Bingo" game (see sample) by making a blank Bingo Grids in a word processing program. Find pictures/images on the internet and insert fall pictures (such as acorns, leaves, pumpkins, etc). Depending on the size of the class, you will want to make 5-8 different cards. Print on cardstock and laminate.
Find many, many more Fall activities in these Autumn Posts:
According to a 2010 study, boys lag behind on standardized reading tests by as much as 10 percentage points. Because we know that reading skills are strongly linked to overall school success, we must not ignore this alarming trend. Some experts suggest that girls and boys are just wired differently with boys being more visually oriented and more responsive to physical activity. But there are many things that parents and teachers can do to encourage literacy development in boys.
Now consider this: In some states, as many of 20-30% of children are living in poverty. Poverty is one factor that potentially places children at risk for academic difficulty and/or failure. Children living in poverty may:
have limited time with adults (because they are working or because there is only one adult in the household);
live in dangerous neighborhoods;
have parents with limited education;
not have role models who read or value education;
have little awareness of or access to community resources (like libraries);
attend low-achieving schools with few resources;
not have access to books in the home because of the family's financial limitations; and/or
be more likely to experience difficulties such as abuse, neglect, homelessness, unstable households, or violence.
One of the keys to getting out of poverty is a good education and boys living in low-income situations have two hurdles to overcome if there is any hope to break the cycle. So what are the answers? I don't have a magic wand or a crystal ball. I also don't have the money to fund the programs that I think our boys need. But I do have a voice and I hope to spread the word. Here are some ideas that I think will help:
Libraries in low-income neighborhoods should continue to reach out to the community and provide some programs geared directly to boys. This may mean having more magazines and comic books in the children's areas. Keep in mind that there are differing opinions when it comes to the topics that interest boys.
Mentoring and after-school programs that cater to youth should provide reading and literacy opportunites that are specific to the interest of boys.
Schools and libraries in low-income areas can partner to help families understand the resources that are available.
Schools in low-income neighborhoods should try (when funds are available) to ensure that school libraries have books that boys will enjoy (comics, magazines, non-fiction books, graphic novels, audio books, etc).
I know in these times of school accountability and standardized testing, it's hard for teachers to tailor lesson plans and activities to the needs of their students. But when possible, teachers should provide boys with books that will interest them. They should consider that boys learn differently and allow more active learning and movement during reading activities.
Schools and Child Care Programs in low-income areas should connect with the families and provide parent education programs and parent tutoring programs. Parents may not understand the value of reading to children. They may also have limited reading skills themselves so they may need literacy training.
Encourage boys to read books that have been made into movies. One expert suggests that reading books AFTER seeing the movie may gain boys' interests and may aid in their comprehension of the story.
States should provide additional training for child care teachers on the importance of literacy. The early learning years are crucial and sometimes by the time children reach kindergarten, they are already lagging in necessary language and literacy skills.
Schools and teachers in at-risk areas can look for mentors and mentoring programs that may provide male volunteers to read to the class on a regular basis.
Alter (but NOT lower) expectations for boys when it comes to reading. Boys may need to read in shorter intervals. They may need to be more active while reading. They may not want to sit at a desk and read. Be flexible whenever possible.
Search for valuable computer language/literacy programs and games. Boys are usually more active learners and technology can be used to encourage literacy skills.
Find local organizations (in our area we have Baltimore Reads) that support literacy. Baltimore Reads also has a book bank that provides free books to schools and to families. They also have literacy training for adults.
Schools and Early Childhood Programs working with at-risk populations should seek out organizations that focus on boys and reading such as: