Sharing Stories vs. Reading Stories

Fam_Lit044Here 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 are sharing a book, as opposed to reading it, it becomes interactive. It becomes much more than just reading the words on the page. Two ways to do this are:

  • 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 we like to 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 on the iTunes App store here!

 

Helping Children to Save Money

learning to save moneyMost parents would like to see their children grow up to have good money habits, which include regularly saving money. But how can we teach them, when most of us, as parents, struggle with the same issue? Some children seem born with the desire to save, and some want to spend every cent as soon as they get it. It is this latter group who needs our guidance if they are to learn how to save money.

You can help your children to develop this skill, and if learned young and practiced during the formative years, it can become a good habit that will benefit them throughout their lives. It will also benefit you as a parent when your children save for the things they want,  rather than ask you for the money.

Parents can start by playing games that include earning and saving points or rewards, and then redeeming them. Board games such as Monopoly Junior and apps that teach about earning and spending are ways for children to learn that money is limited and wants are limitless. As soon as your children start getting money for gifts and/or allowances, real savings should be encouraged. When you think your children are ready, you can get them a piggy bank, or a bank account with a passbook to watch their savings grow.

At what age should you start encouraging your children to save money? An article from Forbes Personal Finance reports that children as young as three can grasp financial concepts like saving and spending, and that kids’ money habits are formed by age 7.

What will your children be saving for? If they have something specific in mind and know how much it will cost, you can make a chart together, showing what’s already saved and the amount still needed.

Will you let your children spend their savings on whatever they want, even if it is something you think they will regret buying? This could be a learning opportunity, and these early mistakes might save them from more costly mistakes later in life.

How long should it take to save for what they want? The time frame should be short to begin with, and then can be lengthened as the children get older and their ability to delay gratification increases.

Once your children have reached a few of their short-term goals, it might be time to introduce long-term savings for a bigger purchase. There is no reason they cannot save for both long- and short-term at the same time.

If your children are saving to help pay for a bigger purchase, such as a more expensive bicycle, you may choose to match their savings amount, or contribute a portion when the goal is reached.

How much should your children save? A rule of thumb for adults is to save at least 10%. We should encourage our children to save at least that amount and they can save more if they want to reach their goal faster.

Should the money ever be taken out before the savings goal is reached? Wants, needs, and goals can change; is it prudent to stick to a goal that may not be relevant any longer? Depending on their age, you might want to discuss this with your children and resolve it before the situation arises. However, to build good savings habits, the general feeling is that the money should be left alone until the goal has been reached.

Let your children see you saving so they learn that saving is something you do as well.  For example, talk about how much you need to save each month for a family vacation, and discuss deferring or forgoing a purchase because you are saving instead. Young children want to be like their parents, so they will be further inspired to save.

As often happens when helping their children learn, parents might find they improve their own saving skills as well!

Further information and ideas can be found in this article on MoneyCrashers.com http://www.moneycrashers.com/teaching-kids-save-money/

Letting Your Child Lead

iStock_LTGT

At Learn Together Grow Together, we have been talking about learning through play. It is amazing to observe any child as they play! Everything is new and exciting and they want to soak up every experience they can. A lot of skills are being developed as your child plays: physical, fine motor, cognitive, language, and social skills.

As a parent, it is important that you take the time to play and interact with your child, to help them develop these skills. As your child continues to grow, you will find they develop their own likes and dislikes. Recognizing the interests of your child can be of great benefit to you both.

For example, you may notice that your child would rather pick the dandelions in the grass than kick a ball around. Or maybe your child wants to just play with their blocks, while you are trying to do a craft with them. Perhaps your child would rather read a cartoon strip in the newspaper than read a storybook.

In any of these situations, there is an opportunity to learn something new. As a parent, it may not be what you would like to do, but it is important to follow your child’s lead and recognize what they are interested in doing.

As a parent you know that you have your own likes and dislikes; there are activities you enjoy more than others. So guaranteed it will be the same for your child! Take the time to observe what your child’s interests are and engage with them in those activities. Have fun with them! By doing so, you will be creating positive learning experiences for your child. We all learn more when we are interested; build on the strengths you see in your child everyday and I’m sure their love of learning will continue for years to come.

Check the Centre for Family Literacy website for more about Learn Together – Grow Together

 

Early Years Numeracy… in Planting

iStock_gardenAt 3,2,1, Fun! we explore numbers through play, stories, and rhymes with children 3-5 years old and their parents. Learning about sequences is important to children’s ability to grasp the concept that numbers have a special order.

We can demonstrate sequences by using a recipe, or step-by-step instructions. Another way is to say, “first we do this,” using words to describe the first step, “then we do that.”

There are plenty of opportunities to use simple numeracy concepts in planting activities, whether you are planting in a pot, the ground, or seedlings from another method. Recently in 3,2,1, Fun! we planted a variety of seeds inside a plastic glove.

First we compared the seeds—discussing the different sizes, shapes, and colours, and how some represented more visually the food they grow into. For example, watermelon seeds are familiar to us because we see the seeds in the fruit we eat. We tried sorting the seeds into big, medium, and small, and by shape. How many big ones? Then we planted the seeds—squash, pumpkin, bean, marigold, cucumber, watermelon, carrot, and sunflower—in our garden gloves.

You can also use the opportunity to discuss what plants need to grow (water, sunlight, etc).

Supplies needed for a garden glove:

  • A plastic glove (the kind you would use in food preparation)
  • Cotton balls
  • Water
  • Variety of seeds
  • Twist tie
  • Marker

GLOVE-garden

Steps:

  1. Soak five cotton balls in water, squeeze out the excess water
  2. Put a wet cotton ball in each of the glove fingers and thumb
  3. Add a seed to each cotton ball
  4. Write down the name of each seed on the glove finger where it was planted; you can add the date if you like
  5. Twist tie it shut at the top
  6. Hang the glove in a window that gets a lot of sun
  7. Wait to see what grows

It really works! As plants grow, or germinate, we have more opportunities with the children to observe the changes and compare them. Some seedlings have more shoots than others; some grow quicker than others. Watch for changes and see what happens. Sometimes something goes wrong and nothing happens, but we can be scientists and repeat the experiment to see if the results change.

Try journaling what you observe. Your children can draw the pictures and you can scribe the words for them.

Later on, you can transplant your seedlings into pots of soil or into a garden. Some children have already planted their new seedlings into their home gardens.

Good luck growing!

The Spring 3,2,1,Fun! program will be ending mid-June, but please phone the Centre for Family Literacy in Edmonton at 780-421-7323 for more information or visit our website www.famlit.ca