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WHAT IS EARLY LITERACY?

Early literacy is everything children know about reading, writing, speaking, listening and visual representations, before they know how to perform these skills. Early literacy  experiences form the building blocks for
language, reading and writing development during elementary school and beyond.

EARLY LITERACY IS NOT:

Early literacy is not the “teaching of reading” or a “teaching of writing”. It is a growing understanding of listening, speaking, reading and writing exposures and experiences, not the reading and writing itself.
 Your child will “formally” learn how to read and write in school.
Reading and writing skills are important for our children, but from birth to five years of age, it is not the main focus of literacy experiences.
The main focus of promoting early literacy at home should be on providing everyday, ordinary and natural experiences involving the use of language, writing and reading, which builds early literacy development.

WAYS TO PROMOTE EARLY  LITERACY AT HOME:

  • Brain development research shows that reading aloud to your child every day increases his brain’s capacity for language and literacy skills and is one of the most important things you can do to prepare him for learning to read later.
  • When you read, talk or play with your child, you’re stimulating the growth of your child’s brain and building the connections that will become the building blocks for reading.
  • Another important thing you can do to foster early literacy is provide an atmosphere that’s fun, verbal and stimulating, not school-like. The focus should not be on teaching, but on the
    fun you’re having with your child.
  • Offer your child plenty of opportunities to talk and be listened to, to read and be read to, and to sing and be sung to.

WAYS TO PROMOTE EARLY LITERACY AT HOME ALSO INCLUDE:

Provide a print rich environment- Simply put, have lots of reading, writing, and real life materials where your child can see it and get to it. It does not have to cost a fortune. You can use common household items that you may have lying around, such as:
•Notebook paper and clipboards
•Pencils, crayons, markers and other writing tools
•Stationary, greeting cards, note pads, and index cards
•Shopping lists, envelopes, order forms, and phone memo pads
•Alphabet books and magnetic letters
•Various items for tracing
•White board or chalk board
•Grocery store ads and sales flyers
•Cereal boxes and other food labels
•If you have a home computer, allow your child to use it, but only occasionally
•Encourage your child to draw pictures of their favorite stories and of things they have seen, heard and done.
•Encourage the use of rhyming words and word play.
•Take it a step further by making a rhyme or poem out of an experience, such as: I sat on the rug and saw a bug. It made me shrug, so mom gave me a hug.
•Provide opportunities to experience new things and to  ask questions.- Going on a trip to the store, going to the library, or going to a museum.
•Use good literature, both of fiction and non-fiction.
•Make a game of identifying pictures in books
•Find out what’s at your local Smart Start Resource center
There are so many other ways to promote early literacy in everyday situations and interactions with your child. Examples include:

Playing games

Talk about traffic signs and billboards when in the car

Use descriptive words (larger, smaller, more than, less than, etc)

Sing songs together (made up, nursery rhymes, or songs from cassettes or the radio)

Encourage copying letters and words from the environment

Encourage your child to re-tell their favorite story to you

Display their drawings, scribbling and writings

Print your child’s name on their belongings

SPECIAL NEEDS MODIFICATIONS INCLUDE:

To help children with disabilities acquire literacy skills, the following modifications have been suggested by experts:

•Slow down the pace of instruction, use simple language, and give explicit instructions.
•Provide many opportunities to experience reading and books, even if a child is not ready for reading. An example is to make books at home, using photos of your child doing activities.
•Use a variety of books. Lots of pictures and large print are very helpful. Board books are a good idea for children with fine motor difficulties.
•Use visual prompts to capture children’s attention and teach story sequence.
•Use lots of hands-on activities, such as clapping or jumping along with syllable counts.

SIX SKILLS TO KEEP IN MIND:

1) Print Motivation: Enjoying books
2) Vocabulary: Knowing the names of things and concepts in the world.
3) Letter Knowledge: Knowing letter names and sounds.
4) Narrative Skills: The ability to describe things and events and to tell stories.
5) Print Awareness: Noticing print and knowing how a book works.
6) Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words, such as rhymes and syllables.
When you talk, sing, and read with your  child in a fun, relaxed environment, you are helping your child develop these skills. Establishing positive associations with books, by making reading time fun for your child, will help him or her become motivated to learn to read.

SOME GOOD BOOKS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER:

  1. Dr. Seuss Board Books. Children will love the rhyming words.
  2. Goodnight Moon, By Margaret W. Brown. A bedtime classic
  3. Baby Faces Series, By Scholastic. Diverse photos of babies doing familiar games.
  4. Flower in the Garden, and others by Lucy Cousins. Cloth and vinyl books that can be washed and have easily recognizable objects.
  5. Friends Together, More Alike Than Different, By Rochelle Burnett. Has lovely photos of children with and without special needs having fun together.
  6. The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister. This story has a good moral, and is beautifully illustrated.
  7. Five Little Monkeys Sitting In The Tree and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow. This rhyming book is also a song, so the children can sing it to you.
  8. Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Illustrated by Carol Jones. A classic song, in the form of a book, to provide a “picture” of the words to the beloved nursery rhyme.
  9. I Spy books by Jean Marzollo. Riddles and rhymes, as well as an object hunt!

 

 

 

ADVICE FOR PARENTS:

•Partnerships between families and educators is vital to the success and development of children. Parents and teachers must work together to positively influence and
mold our children. It is my belief that good communication is key to building a positive and purposeful relationship between families and educators.
•Teachers are concerned about your child’s growth and development. It makes sense that teachers and parents would work together in the best interest of the children.
•Parents, please feel free to communicate with your child’s teacher by means of notes, phone calls, messages, share emails or come by for a visit. Families are welcome at the center, at all times.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Please contact me for more references.
To see the video version of this: http://youtu.be/7IBbpt71R-4

Technological Toys,

A Special Needs
Reflection

Play provides a fun, care free means to learning and developing cognitive,
language, social-emotional,and perceptual motor skills. For some children with
disabilities, technology makes play possible (Lewis). Disabilities can often
times hinder such play with technology, because many electronic toys in
circulation require children to push, pull, or wind a switch. There are many
electronic toys that also require children to walk, run and manipulate it in
order to get it to work. This is not developmentally appropriate, especially for
children with certain exceptionalities. Switches or buttons on electronic toys
can discourage and frustrate some children. The best types of toys for children
with special needs are those that are typically switchless, which are called
“ALD” automated learning devices. This simply means it has been adapted to allow
children with exceptionalities to control these electrical and battery powered
toys. The most common type of electronic switchless toys are battery operated
and are designed to be activated by a simple touch or sound. When the child
makes a sound or movement, the toy is triggered to activate, eliminating the
frustration and complication of switch manipulations.

There are several factors to consider when purchasing electronic toys for
children with exceptionalities. The electronic toys you choose for children with
exceptionalities should be inviting, educational, rewarding and appropriate for
each child that is using them (Lekotek Resources). Electronic toys should
encourage child interaction and provide a stress free challenge to help develop
needed skills. The electronic toys should be adaptable to each
child’sindividuality and ability. It should reflect children’s interests,
sizes,capabilities, strength, and age. It should also encourage social
engagement with others as well.

You can find some of these toys throught the Lekotek website, linked
below.

Works Cited


Lekotek Resources. Lekotek: The country’s centra lsource on
toys and play for children with special needs. 30 October 2010

<http://www.lekotek.org/resources/informationontoys/tentips.html>.

Lewis, Rena B. “Toys for Young Children.” Special Education
Technology: Classroom Applications (1993): 5.

Outdoor Play

Outdoor Learning  Environments


Outdoor play is a very important part of a child’s learning experience and life in general. Research indicates increased outdoor play time has been shown to reduce outbursts by children with behavior issues. Children with Autism are calmed and do better with given tasks when provided with outdoor play time. I think there’s a positive, healthy outcome to outdoor play time. Children are able to release tension, get out the wiggles and release their excess energy. Also vigorous play helps to reduce stress levels as an effect of releasing built up energy and tension. A child needs opportunities for vigorous outdoor activities each day. According to state requirements a child should have at least a recommended minimum of thirty minutes per day of vigorous outdoor play time.

Not only is outdoor play beneficial for a child’s stress level, energy level and concentration, but it also benefits the gross motor skills development. Running, jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing and chase games are all helping with gross motor skills development. Grasping small, natural objects like leaves, twigs and seeds help with fine motor skills development.

The outdoor play environment should be designed in a way that encourages inquiry, examination, and invites running, jumping, and climbing. It should also challenge and stimulate children and create a sense of belonging. The teacher can create effective outdoor learning programs and improve the physical environment based on developmental and individual needs of the children in his or her care. Teachers who are willing to explore, have a sense of wonder with children will draw them into learning. The outdoor program and space should address the child as a whole- physical, emotional, cognitive and social development should be considered.

Some outdoor design considerations include providing curvy paths, open spaces, and places of solitude. Areas of play need to have lots of space and natural areas for gross motor skills development such as large rocks for climbing, tree roots for jumping and walking on. Natural experiment must be encouraged by the outdoor environment. A place for music or music garden, can be provided by hanging pots and pans for the children to beat with a stick. With this being outside, the children can play music as hard as they would like to express themselves! Also a place for a vegetable or flower garden would benefit children as it allows the kids to work together for a common goal, teaching social skills. Digging in the dirt releases endorphins in the brain which can reduce depression. Private spaces can be designed by placing lattice around a bench, giving a secluded feeling. The overall design and program of the outdoor learning environment should be focused on play with the intention of learning. We as educators must remember this as we plan the design of our outdoor environments.

Planting a Rainbow – TEACHER-TEACHER.

Planting a Rainbow

Lesson Plan Designed by Susan Armstrong

Using the following kindergarten standards for NC:

 http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/languagearts/scos/1999/09gradek

Competency Goal 3

The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.

3.01 Connect information and events in text to experience.

3.02 Discuss concepts and information in a text to clarify and extend knowledge.

3.03 Associate target words with prior knowledge and explore an author’s choice of words.

3.04 Use speaking and listening skills and media to connect experiences and text:

listening to and re-visiting stories. Discussing, illustrating, and dramatizing stories. Discovering relationships.

Planting a Rainbow 

This lesson focuses on reading comprehension, writing skills, and science curriculum materials. Many of these needed items have to be prepared before hand.

Purpose/Objectives of activity:

*Enhance creative thinking skills

*Broaden language skills

*Connecting information and content in text to experiences

*Discuss concepts and information in text to clarify and extend knowledge

*Use speaking and listening skills to connect experiences and text by listening to,  discussing, and discovering relationships between text and experiences

*Build awareness of the growth stages for plant life

*Compare and contrast the information in the text to experiences

*Learn to observe, list and document the plant growth observations

Space and materials needed:

*Book: Planting a Rainbow by LoisEhlert

*Various types of flower bulbs or seeds (The amount will depend on how may children are in your room, and how many types of flowers you want them to grow)

*Small Styrofoam cups

*Potting soil

*Large spoon for scooping dirt

*Watering canister

*Pre-made bulletin board or large paper on the wall- to document the growth processes and stages of the bulbs

*Pencils and markers for writing

Procedure:

1)     Read Planting a Rainbow  book to the class, emphasizing the names of and stages of the plants’ growth. As you call out the names of the flowers, have the children to try to say them as well.

2)     Discuss the colors of the rainbow of flowers, the stages of the growth of flowers, and the scents and fragrances that these flowers might radiate. Encourage the children to express their ideas and thoughts on these items for discussion.

3)     Discuss the various names and types of flowers listed in the text of the story. Ask children if they had ever seen any, and where? Ask the children to think of and try to name other types of flowers they have seen, or even been a part of planting.

4)     Have one of the children to pass out the cups, one to each child. Go to each child, with the potting soil, and put the appropriate amount of dirt into cups. Have one of the children to pass out the seeds or bulbs to each child.

5)     Before planting the bulbs, discuss the types of seeds or bulbs you are giving them and encourage each child to make a prediction about what color it might grow up to be. (Sometimes the plants grow a different color than what is pictured on the labels) Write the names of each child’s seeds or bulbs on the chart, and each child’s predictions on the bulletin you had already prepared. Now help the children to write their own name of their seeds or bulbs on the cup, along with their name, for easy identification.

6)     Have the children to plant their seeds or bulbs in the dirt, observing and engaging in helping as needed, to make sure it is covered enough to ensure its proper growth. Also help the children to water the seeds. As you go through the room, have discussions about the needed items to make seeds and bulbs grow: water, dirt, sunlight. Talk about the growth stages shown in the book, and have the children to predict how long they think their seeds or bulbs will take to show some greenery outside the dirt. Document these predictions as well.

7)     Place all the cups in the window sill, or near a naturally well lit area in the classroom.

8)     As the days go by, be sure to visit the plants often, and have the children to water them, and document how much the plant has grown. Continue processes until the plants are grown and flowers are blooming.

9)     Once you are finished with the growing process, the flowers would make a great gift for the child to give to someone they consider special! Compare and contrast the predictions made to the actual growth and colors of the plants.

Guidance:

This is an ongoing science lesson, and language and literacy lesson, so be prepared and prepare children for the duration of time it will take. Also, consider the season and amount of growth time for the seeds or bulbs that you choose. Try to choose some that will have a healthy and prosperous growth, and be mindful of the amount of care needed for each type of plant. As the days go by, revisit the book, and have the children to re-tell the story as well. Using a camera is a great way to enhance the excitement of the lesson, as you take pictures of the growth of the plant from day to day. As an extension, you can use this activity for other writing and charting ideas, such as charting the days it takes for growth, matching the pictures in the book to the actual plants or the pictures of the plants that are growing.

Hello world!

A little about me:

I love working with children, especially preschool aged children. I enjoy searching and sifting through early childhood websites and blogs. I also enjoy sharing important and relevant sites with people on my FaceBook page:      https://www.facebook.com/TeacherTeacherResources
I am always open to learning more effective and fun ways to teach. Please leave your own posts, suggestions and ideas!

I also have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and wish to continue to get an Undergraduate degree soon.