Put on a Show

“Come one, come all! The show is about to begin!”

These words echo through your backyard, inviting families of neighbourhood children to come and watch the production they’ve created. It will be a night of fun and memories as the performance unfolds.

It may sound a little daunting, but dramatic play is something kids do naturally. When they get together, they’re often making up stories and acting them out. Putting on an actual play or puppet show is just a different way to capture their creativity so everyone can enjoy it.

It can be as simple or complex as they want it to be. They can use a story or rhyme they know as the base for their play, or make one up. It could be a shadow play, puppet show, reader’s theatre (just Google it and a number of scripts will come up), or any other format they want.

They may want props — the crafty ones in the group will be excited to paint boxes or make puppets (sock and paper bag puppets are quick and easy). Costumes can also be made out of craft materials or old clothes and Halloween costumes. If it’s a night production, glow sticks and flashlights might be a good choice — a white blanket and a flashlight can create a shadow play.

Advertising a show is sometimes just as important as the performance and if they are a little entrepreneurial, they may even think to sell tickets and buy a treat for themselves afterwards.

There are many different ways a project like this can come to life. If you act as a guide instead of the director, you will be amazed at what kids come up with and they will be excited to show their families what they’ve done.

It’s a task that keeps them busy and having fun, and working with other kids in the community builds connections and helps people meet and get to know each other. How can you go wrong with that?

Family Storytelling

In family literacy, we often talk about the importance of oral storytelling. One way to support this is to encourage parents to tell children the story of their birth. This not only encourages their language development, but also creates the bond that comes from sharing experiences and memories together. It can quickly become a family tradition with children asking, “Mommy, please tell me about when I was born again.”

As a twist on this, I called my mother today to wish her a Happy 71st Birthday and realized that I had heard stories about her childhood before but never the story of when she was born.  So I asked her and we spent the next hour sharing this and many other stories about her time growing up.  This rich history and memory sharing is so valuable to all of our families.

Have you talked to your mother about the story of her birth?  I encourage you to do so.  We made many memories today during our sharing!

12 days of Holiday Books for Children

The CFL is getting ready for the holidays by compiling a list of our favorite holiday books for kids! Whether reading to a child about your own traditions, or exposing them to different ways of celebrating the holidays, reading together is a great way to have fun and get into the holiday spirit!

The 12 Days of Holiday Books:

1 ) A Porcupine in a Pine Tree- A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas, by Helaine Becker

2 ) Bear Stays up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson and Jan Brett

3 ) Happy Hanukkah Corduroy, by Don Freeman

4 ) The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

5 ) Seven Spools of Thread- A Kwanzaa Story, by Angela Shelf Medearis

6 ) How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

7 ) A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

8 ) The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore

9 ) The Latke who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, by Lemony Snicket

10 ) The Mitten, by Jan Brett

11 ) Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas, by Melanie Watt

12 ) The Little Fir Tree, by Margaret Wise Brown

What are your favorite books to read during the holidays?

Rhyming Anytime!

I have been teaching families over the past year a rhyme that I had just learned in the springtime. I love it, kids love it and parents quickly fall in love with it as soon as their wee ones utter the words tap tap tap.
It goes like this:
One little finger, one little finger, one little finger, tap tap tap
Put your fingers UP
put your fingers DOWN
Put them on your NOSE (and you repeat changing body parts)
A mom shared their version this past week, she is a mom of 2 girls that LOVE their barbies.
While driving in their vehicle she heard the girls make up their own version, it goes like this:
One little barbie, one little barbie, one little barbie, tap tap tap (as they hold up their barbies and tap them together)
Put your Barbies up
Put your Barbies down
Put them on your toes…  (repeat with a different body part)
hashtag: #RTB_Edm

Fall Rhymes

Fall brings the return of many things that fill our schedules, making life hectic once again. There is back to school, back to work, back to daycares, sports, piano lessons, etc.
Here is a favorite rhyme I share with the families in our programs. I’ve done this with my children since they were small to wind them down when they needed to get ready for bed, or even just needed some cuddle time (they still enjoyed it as they grew older and would not turn down an offer for a “treasure hunt”).
TREASURE HUNT
(Start by lying down next to your child, and gently rubbing their backs. then you trace your fingers up their spine as if they are “walking” fingers while saying)
We’re going on a treasure hunt,
X marks the spot (trace a giant X on child’s back)
Boulder here, boulder there (make a small circle on one side, then repeat on other)
Dot, dot, dot (trace 3 tiny circles across their back)
Crabs crawling up your back (now run hands up gently up their back like a walking crab)
Bubbles rolling down (roll hands and fingers down their back)
Tight squeeze (give them a hug)
Cool Breeze (gently blow on the top of their heads or on their backs)
Now you have the shivereeze ( now rub their whole backs like giving them goosebumps)
You will hear “again, again” every time!!!
 
And just for fun, here’s a Thanksgiving themed rhyme!
CHICKENS IN THE BARNYARD
(this one can be similar to Round and Round the Garden)
Chickens in the barnyard (make your fingers like the chickens running circles around your childs tummy)
Staying out of trouble
Along comes the turkey(now use pointer finger and thumb like they are creeping up to get the child)
ANDDD, Gobble Gobble Gobble!! (tickle your child while saying gobble gobble-what a turkey sounds like)
hashtag: #RTB_Edm

In The Old Days…

I have always loved when someone takes the time to tell me a story about “the old days”.  You know, the ones where people walked to school uphill both ways through 10-foot snow drifts?  It’s especially meaningful to me when the storyteller is someone from my family – it’s amazing what I learn!!

This past weekend, my family was over.  I’m not sure how it even started, but my mom started telling stories of her childhood.  She didn’t have electricity or running water until she was a teenager – and this really wasn’t that long ago!  I won’t tell you her exact age, but it was within the last 50 years.  She told me things I had never known in my thirty some years, but were so interesting to hear.

In school this past year, my son had an assignment to find out more about his heritage.  He interviewed his great grandma who told him that our family has been in Canada for over 300 years!  I had no idea and we thought that was a pretty cool thing to learn.

Oral storytelling is one of those things – with the evolution of technology and just the way families are spread out these days – that has lost its appeal and practice.  People are often scared to try it, thinking they have to be elaborate stories that are told perfectly.  What they don’t realize is that the best told stories are really about them and their family’s own experiences and are told in their own way.

Children love to hear stories about the past.  Topics like how they got their name, where they lived, what school was like for their parents or grandparents, the fact that there was a time when everyone did not carry a computer in their hands (and yes, there was a time like this – try explaining that to young kids today), really interest them and is an important way to share information.

Children also like to tell stories.  Encourage them to do it – let them tell about an experience in their own way, without any prompts.  They usually won’t tell it like you, but listen carefully to let them know how important it is so they can practice this skill.  Not only will it build their oral skills, but also help with reading, as they understand the order and “rules” of stories.

Oral storytelling needs to make a come back.  There are games that you can play that help people get comfortable telling a story out loud, by making it silly, funny and safe.  This one I did with my team at a retreat and with my kids around a campfire.

The first person starts a line of the story and ends at a point where the next person has to decide what will happen.  For example:

“I was walking down a forest path when all of a sudden…”

The next person might say:

A huge bat jumped out in front of me waving a…”

As you can imagine, the story keeps going until it becomes too silly to continue (my team says I can’t write what ours looked like – they were embarrassed).   I have to say though; my team couldn’t hold a candle to what my kids came up with!!

A little more complicated is a game where you start a rhythm that everyone does the entire time and each person takes a turn to give one word (or syllable) for each snap.  The rhythm goes:

Slap (your leg with one hand)

Slap (your other leg with the other hand)

Snap (with one hand)

Snap (with the other hand)

For example the first person would do the slaps and then on each snap say a word like “One day”.

The next person would do the slaps and say on each snap “there were”.

The next person would do the same and say “horse-s”.  And on it would go until the rhythm gets mixed up.

Both these games are great fun and practice for oral storytelling.  Have fun with it and don’t forget to pass what you know to the next generation and encourage them to do the same.

Goats + Apples= Sleepy Goats

This rhyme is one of my new favorites!   It is a Kevin McKenzie rhyme which my colleague Lisa shared with me.   It is so fun and promotes many opportunities for numeracy learning.

Numeracy learning includes the early concepts that children learn at home which prepare them for future math learning.  Conversations that include language such as: bigger, smaller, heavier, lighter are all important in developing numeracy thinking.

Here are some numeracy actives you can do at home:

  • Get your child to set the table: each person gets one fork, one plate one glass etc.
  • Sort toys or laundry together while comparing and describing the difference between items.
  • Count everything together: steps, crackers, apples etc. to help children learn to count accurately. Point to objects as you say each number. Help them learn to count their fingers, putting up one finger at a time as you count it. (Fingers are tools you always have with you!)
  • Look for shapes in your home or neighborhood: “Our window is a square, our clock is a circle”
  • Talk about your day: what are you going to do first?  Second? Third?
  • Say a rhyme or sing a song together.

You can find more ideas here:

http://familychildcareacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/10-Experiences-to-Promote-Early-Math-Development.pdf

See this fun rhyme below and let me know what you think!

The Gates all open:

(Begin with arms crossed in front of you)

The gates all open (open arms up)

And the goats run through (say trit trot trit trot while making motions with hands)

They climb the branches of the apple tree (make tree climbing motions)

They fall asleep (pretend to sleep, making the sleeping noise that the animal would make),

From the apples that they ate (munch munch munch)

So we carry them home (pretend to carry the animal home, if it’s a big one carry over shoulder i.e goat, horse, pig, if its small carry in hands i.e. mouse, rabbit, cat).

And shut the gate! (Arms crossed again in front of you)

Add any animals you want.  Here are some suggestions:

Rabbits-hop

Butterflies-fly

Cows-stomp

Horses-trot

Snakes-slither

Mice-run (tiny steps with fingers)

Enjoy and have fun!

Kevin McKenzie is a Canadian storyteller who shares his fun and creative rhymes and stories all over the world.  His rhymes and finger plays are fun for children and adults and are wonderful for language and numeracy development. 

 His website is: http://www.storiesbykevin.com

What other rhymes or songs can you think of that teach counting or sequencing?

Road Trip Rhymes and Songs

Summertime is filled with fun and adventures!  However, sometimes with kids in the car, getting to the adventure becomes an adventure in itself!  Not all vehicles come equipped with DVD players so what can you do to make traveling bearable?

Before you pull the car over and leave your darling children behind, consider a family rhyme and song time as an option.  Rhymes and songs are a wonderful tool to distract and soothe children (and parents!)  They also promote language development and prepare your child for reading.

Here are some songs and rhymes that you and your family can do while strapped in!

Song: Monday Night The Banjo

(Teaches first letters to words and builds vocabulary)

Monday night the banjo,

Playing on the radio,

I like the radio and I like “L”.

“L” is for Lisa, lovely, lovely Lisa.

All the children adore her

Give her a kiss good night,

(Kiss, kiss) Sleep tight!

(Continue with all children’s names, as well as “Mommy” and “Daddy”, “Grandma”, pets’ names etc).

 

Song: My fingers are starting to wiggle

(To the tune of: The Bear went over the Mountain)

 Great song for learning body parts! Wiggle whatever body part you are singing about.

My fingers are starting to wiggle,

My fingers are starting to wiggle,

My fingers are starting to wiggle,

Around and around and around!

 

My elbows are starting to wiggle,

My elbows starting to wiggle,

My elbows are starting to wiggle,

Around and around and around!

 

Continue with other body parts; let you child suggest some parts.  Silly suggestions:  tongue, nose, ears etc.

 

Rhyme: Cuckoo Clock

(Wonderful counting song!  Count back down with older kids.)

 

Tick, tock, tick, tock,

I’m a little cuckoo clock. (Sway head side to side)

Tick, tock, tick, tock

Now I’ m striking one o’clock!

CUCKOO! (Show 1 with your finger and lean head forward)

(Continue to count as high as you like).

 

Song: Roly Poly

(To the tune of Frère Jacques)

This is a fantastic song for teaching opposites and building vocabulary.

 

Roly poly, roly poly (move your hands in a circle motion over each other)

Up, up, up,  (move hands in an upward motion )

Roly, poly roly poly

Down, down down (move hands in a downward motion)

Roly, poly. roly, poly

Clap, Clap, clap

 

Continue with other opposites:  in-out, fast slow, loud-soft, etc.

 

What are your family’s favorite songs or rhymes for riding in the car?