Books for Babies for Dads

Among the programs that we offer across the city, in partnership with an incredible group of community agencies, there are a few Books for Babies programs that we advertise as Dads groups. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that the rest of our programs are Moms groups, or that fathers aren’t welcome at all of our programs. We see dads in all of our locations, just not all of the time. Let me paint you a picture.

Imagine you are a new father looking for programs you can attend with your baby. Maybe you see a posting online or hear from a friend about a program that you would like to try out. You clear your schedule, bundle up your baby, and take a stroll down to your local library or community centre. You come into a room with blankets spread on the floor, snack ready on a side table, families with infants all around, and not another dad in sight.

We know there are dads who wouldn’t even blink before making themselves comfortable on the blankets and striking up a conversation with the people around them. They are outgoing people who thrive in any kind of social situation, and when the program wraps up they will probably invite everyone to meet at the park next week. And they’ll bring snack!

On the other hand, we know there are lots of dads who don’t want to be the only father in the room, and won’t come back a second time if they are. It can be uncomfortable in the same way that being the only mom in a room full of dads can be uncomfortable. As facilitators we try to make our programs welcoming and comfortable for everyone, but even though all parents have something in common and can learn from one another, sometimes dads just want to talk to other dads, just like moms will sometimes jump at the chance to talk with other moms.

That is why we offer these programs – so that all dads can come and feel comfortable in the group. It is the same Books for Babies program in the same format. And just like always, you can meet other families with young children, pick up a few tips about book sharing, sing some rhymes, get free books, and if you have any questions there are lots of us there to help.

We have a program for dads starting at the beginning of November and it is already close to capacity, but if you look at our program schedule (see link below), there are already a few booked for the new year. If you are a father with a baby, I hope to see you there.

http://www.famlit.ca/programs_and_projects/programs/babies.shtml

hashtag: #books_for_babies

A Learn Together – Grow Together Halloween

Learn Together – Grow Together is a family literacy program for parents and their children ages 3-6 years. The program is run in Edmonton in partnership with Edmonton Catholic Schools. More information about Learn Together – Grow Together at www.famlit.ca/programs_and_projects/programs/learn-GT.shtml

The program runs on Thursdays, so this year we will be meeting with the families the day before Halloween. There are many learning opportunities for parents to share with their children for Halloween (other than trick-or-treating), so we are going to spend time doing a few Halloween-themed activities together.

We will be sharing some children’s Halloween books. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley, and Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming, are just two of many interactive books that are easy for parents and children to share together.

Go_AwayHalloween_Eye

Rhyming is a fun and easy way to learn about rhythm and rhyme. Here are a couple that we will be sharing:

Go to Sleep Little Pumpkin

Go to sleep little pumpkin,
You must cover your toes.
If you sleep now my pumpkin,
You will turn to a rose.

Go to sleep little baby,
You must cover your feet.
When you wake in the morning,
They’ll be muffins to eat.

Go to sleep now (baby’s name),
You must cover your tum.
When you wake in the morning,
There’ll be kisses from Mom.

Jack-O-Lantern

I made a jack-o-lantern for Halloween night.
He has three crooked teeth, but he won’t bite.
He has two round eyes, but he cannot see.
He’s a jolly jack-o-lantern, as happy as can be.

Halloween_pumpkins2Carving jack-o-lanterns is a lot of fun, but since the children who participate in Learn Together – Grow Together are very young, we are going to decorate some smaller gourd pumpkins instead. The parents and children will be able to colour, paint, and glue decorations on them. This activity will give the adults and children a chance to communicate and work together, use their imaginations, and be creative.

We hope you have a safe and happy Halloween with your family! Enjoy the many learning opportunities for sharing stories, rhyming, and decorating pumpkins together.

 

hashtag: #LT_GT

Digital Technology

technology

“…New digital technologies have entered every aspect of our reality, including families and the lives of young people. They have already affected preschool children’s play and learning as well.”

UNESCO (2010)

I recently did a presentation on technology at the Alberta Early Years conference. I opened the session with a confession – I am not a technology expert and I have been a reluctant user of new technologies.

However, as the above quote from UNESCO states, technology is in every aspect of our lives. Families are using technology, and in family literacy we work with the strengths and tools that families are bringing. So the debate is no longer “do we use it,” it is “how do we use it.”

Major studies (“Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers” – Kaiser Family Foundation Report – 2006, American Academy of Pediatrics and Canadian Paediatric Society) have advised that 0-2 year olds should not have any “screen time” at all and it should be limited for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

In my session, we discussed the research versus the reality. Like anything, there has to be balance – between the use of technology (by both parents and children) and meaningful interactions (that promote positive family relationships and healthy development). I challenged participants to pick their favourite app, perhaps one they thought families would be using at home, and answer the following questions:

  1. Why are we using this technology or app? Is it for fun, for learning, or for some other purpose?
  1. What kind of time is being spent with it? Is it high quality and interactive (e.g. can we use the technology as we would use a board game) or is it time being spent alone?
  1. Is what we are doing developmentally appropriate for children?
  1. Do we have guidelines/rules about when and how long it’s used (for parents and children)? Do you have technology-free zones or times?
  1. What are we modelling? What are our children and families seeing?

There’s no “right” answer to any of these questions, but perhaps they can help us think more critically about our use of technology, both personally and professionally.

Ending the session, we talked about how it can be a challenge to start the discussion about technology use. Here are some great books that could help break the ice. Enjoy them and have fun as you explore how you are using technology!

Goodnight IPad by Ann Droyd

Hello, Hello by Matthew Cordell

3,2,1,FUN!

Let’s Make the Holidays COUNT!

holiday_baking

Holidays are a busy time for many families; there is so much to do! You might want to clean and decorate the house, plan and prepare the meal, and entertain guests. You might also travel to spend time with family. While the holidays are full of opportunities to share time and traditions with family and friends, they are also the perfect time to explore and encourage numeracy with your children.

For example, this Thanksgiving 3,2,1, Fun! focused on providing easy, meaningful and everyday ways to work on numeracy skills in the home and community over the holidays. We used inexpensive materials to create paper bag turkeys and numbered them 1-10. We used yellow beads for corn feed and glued feathers on clothes pins. Then each child picked a paper bag turkey and used the number on the front of the turkey to determine how many pieces of corn to feed their turkey and how many tail feathers to clip on. As each child built their turkeys 1-10, we sang about 5 fat turkeys as they gobbled and waddled their way through Thanksgiving!

(Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques. Count down from 5-1)

Five fat turkeys, five fat turkeys
In a barn, in a barn
Gobble, gobble, gobble
Waddle, waddle, waddle
Run away, it’s Thanksgiving Day

Holiday preparations and celebrations offer many opportunities to learn together as a family. Here are a few of the activities we share in 3,2,1, Fun! to encourage numeracy skills:

Planning and Preparing the Meal

  • Let your child look through the grocery store flyer and circle all of the holiday foods they see, cut them out and sort them into food groups.
  • Ask your child to help you number or sort the items while creating your shopping list.
  • Baking and cooking are wonderful occasions to work on numeracy. Recipes are full of opportunities for children to measure, count, order, and sort. When serving the meal, ask your children to help you carve the turkey or cut the pie. Talk to them about how many pieces of pie or turkey you will need for the number of guests you have. Ask them to help set the table. How many forks and napkins will we need?

Decorate the House

  • Create decorations from seasonal items outside. Instead of raking all those leaves and acorns, have your children collect some. They can create wonderful decorations from these items and in the process they will be identifying shapes, sorting, and creating patterns.

Travel

  • If you are travelling for the holiday, travel games will make the time fly by. Count the number of trucks/cars/bikes that you see, guess which colour of automobile you will see the most of on your trip or identify the shapes of traffic signs as you drive by them.
  • Sing a song!

The holidays are busy and hectic, fun and exciting, but above all else they are memorable. Have fun and be creative because the opportunities to learn as a family and explore numeracy will be COUNTLESS!

hashtag: #321_Fun

Rhymes that Bind is Growing!

At Rhymes that Bind, we use rhymes and rhythms to help build long-lasting language skills and understanding. The program is free to attend, an hour in length, and we offer a little snack midway. Children from birth to preschool, along with their caregiver, enjoy learning new songs and actions to repeat later in their daily activities.

This fall, our Rhymes that Bind program is growing in Edmonton. Not only by numbers of family participants, but by new site locations as well. We have added four new sites this year. Each of the sites are ready for more families to attend.

RTBmultGEN07 (27)2Two of the new locations are at Castle Downs and Londonderry Libraries. We are also excited to add two new intergenerational programs welcoming seniors (without children) to visit. We affectionately call them Grandmas and Grandpas. These new intergenerational sites are at Shepherd Care Kensington Campus, and at Ottwell Senior Centre. For a complete listing of locations and the schedule, visit our website at http://bit.ly/1dApWpt

Every fall it is so nice to return to our programs, as summer is our longest break. We welcome our returning families, some with their own new additions. We also welcome many new families to the program. It is always heartwarming to see how the children have grown and hear their stories of summer activities and achievements. Already we have friends joining their friends and loving the program.

Here in Edmonton, the weather is always a hot topic. Our seasons bring about drastic changes, and day to day the temperature can vary greatly. Even young children notice the change in the air, their faces and noses getting chilly. Leaves are falling everywhere; take the opportunity to sing a song about the seasonal changes!

This can be sung to the familiar tune of Jingle Bells:

Leaves2Leaves are falling, leaves are falling,
One fell on my nose
Leaves are falling, leaves are falling
One fell on my toes
Leaves are falling, leaves are falling
Falling on my head
Leaves are falling, leaves are falling
Yellow, orange and red

Alternatively, when the snow flies:

Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my nose
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my toes
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
Falling on my head
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
Now its time to sled!

hashtag: #RTB_Edm