Sharing Stories vs. Reading Stories

Here at the Centre for Family Literacy we like to talk about sharing books with children as opposed to just reading books to them. When you share a book, it becomes interactive. It becomes much more than reading the words on the page.

Two ways to make a book interactive:

  • Ask open-ended questions such as “What are they doing in this picture?” or “What do you think is going to happen next?” This encourages children to stop and think about what is on the page, to make connections to real life, and to really step inside the story.
  • Find ways to extend the story.

What does it mean to extend a story?

To extend a story is to build on it—to add activities that are related to the subject of the story. But why should we extend stories?

Children learn best by doing—by being active. When they’re being active they are using all five senses to learn, and these multi-sensory experiences build neural connections in the brain. If they are having fun, they will want to do it again and again, and this repetition makes the connections even stronger. This is how children gain the confidence needed to learn new things.

Simple summertime story extender

one dog canoeA great book to share in the summer is one of our favourites, One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova.

In One-Dog Canoe, a girl and her dog set out on a canoe trip, just the two of them, when one by one they are approached by other creatures like Loon, Wolf and Moose, who want to join in on the fun.

I set off one morning in my little red canoe.
My dog wagged his tail.
“Can I come, too??
“You bet, I said.
“A trip for two – just me and you?”

It doesn’t take long before this canoe trip becomes a little more crowded!

“I swished past ferns,
where dragonflies flew.
Loon stretched her wings, “Can I come too?”

What you’ll need:

  • The book One-Dog Canoe
  • Stuffed animals or toys to match the characters: Beaver, Loon, Wolf, Bear, Moose, Frog, Dog, and Girl
  • A “canoe” made with construction paper or bark

(You can always improvise using what you have on hand.)

Give each child a character to hold on to (or multiple characters), and as each character comes up in the story, the child holding that character places it in the canoe. At the end of the story, there are too many animals in the canoe and it tips over, so act this out too by dumping out your canoe!

After the story pair it with a song. Rhymes and songs are critical for developing oral language, and oral language is at the root of all future learning.

Try singing “Row Your Boat”

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Row, row, row your boat,
Down a jungle stream.
If you see a crocodile,
Don’t forget to scream.
Ahh!

Row, row, row your boat,
Underneath a stream,
Ha, ha, fooled you,
I’m a submarine!
Bing!

Other ideas:

  • Act out the story using a big box, couch, or outdoor picnic table for the canoe
  • Bring a make-belief canoe into the bathtub
    • Experiment with what floats and what sinks
    • Ask “how many items will fit in your canoe before it tips over?”

Have fun sharing stories! For more ideas on how to make the most of your books, check out Flit, our family literacy app!

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

 

Parenting Young Children in a Digital World

Which one do you want daddy?

Digital technology in the home is a must for many of us since online schooling, even for kindergarten, has become common. Our family literacy programs (for ages 0-6) and those of other organizations, such as libraries, have also been forced online. So it’s understandable that children are being exposed to technology at an earlier age.

We do need to know how to use technology in today’s world—but we also need to remember it is just one “tool in the toolbox;” it’s not everything, and it’s not even the most important thing.

We know through research on brain development that learning happens in relationships through one-on-one interaction. We also know it’s not realistic for most families to totally remove technology from our homes. But what we can do is be mindful about how and when we use it by remembering this acronym: ORIM.

What does ORIM stand for?

Opportunity
Recognition
Interaction
Modelling

  • Is there an Opportunity to turn this into a learning experience? Learning takes place through interaction: talking, singing, rhymes, stories, and positive feedback.
  • Is there a way to Recognize and value your child and their efforts? This builds confidence and self-esteem. Is there a way to recognize when your child has made progress?
  • Does this activity have room for Interaction? Brain development takes place through “serve and return”—healthy back-and-forth communication.
  • Children absorb the behaviours and attitudes of the people they spend the most time with. Does the way you use technology Model a positive attitude about learning?

In short, since learning occurs within the relationship between child and caregiver, and through “serve and return interaction,” nothing compares to hands-on activities done with a real human. That said, family literacy is about making the most of your everyday activities, and for a lot of families those activities include digital technology. Think of ways you can add value to these experiences!

Try these:

  • Turn closed captioning on when watching TV.
  • Use your smartphone camera together to capture items on a scavenger hunt.
  • When playing games on a tablet, make it truly interactive by talking about what’s happening and asking questions.

Digital technology has its place, but it’s important to unplug and have boundaries. Try “tech time-outs” for the whole family! Go outside and play together; bake together; do a craft together.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote from Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd. It’s a parody of the classic book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and is a great story to read together as a way to transition into your “tech time-outs:”

“Goodnight remotes and Netflix streams, Androids, apps and glowing screens. Goodnight MacBook Air, goodnight gadgets everywhere.”

NOTE: 
You can download our free Flit app for literacy activities to do with your children 0-5 years old, without adding screen time for your children! The app for parents, which was completely upgraded last fall, has more than 125 activities under eight categories: books, rhymes, games, crafts, writing, numbers, cooking, and reading. With so many activities, you can use it to incorporate literacy into most of your daily routines for a long time to come. After awhile, you will learn to come up with your own activities.

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.