Our Babies can Talk to Us?

Our babies can talk to us? What does that look like and how do we respond?

Serve and Return

Early forms of communication between parents and babies are referred to as serve and return. Babies serve by cooing, smiling, reaching, crying, etc. and we return by mimicking them or caring for them. We can also serve by making faces and sounds and waiting to see if they return by laughing, kicking, or mimicking us.

Research has been done in this field, and videos show that when the caregivers did not return their babies’ serve, the babies became uncomfortable and upset. Try this yourselves to see how important it is to acknowledge your babies and children this way.

Below are some fun songs we sing in our Rhymes that Bind programs. Try singing them at home with your babies (serve) and watch their reactions (return).

Benefits of talking with your babies:

  • The more we hear words and expressions, the more quickly we understand language.
  • The rhymes and songs we sing, plus the fun gestures we add, build new brain connections and strengthen old ones.
  • The more you sing with your babies, the larger their vocabulary and the better their foundation in literacy, education, and success later in life.

Peek-A-Boo
(Tune of Frere Jacques)

Peek a boo, peek a boo
I see you, I see you
I see your button nose
I see your tiny toes
Peek a boo, I see you.

Treasure Hunt
(You can do actions for this rhyme on baby’s tummy or back for fun, or while changing clothes and diapers)

We’re going on a treasure hunt
X marks the spot
Boulder here, boulder there
Dot. Dot. Dot.
Crabs crawling up your back
Bubbles rolling down
Tight squeeze, cool breeze
Now you’ve got the shivereeze.

One Little Finger

One little finger, one little finger, one little finger,
Tap, tap, tap,
Put your fingers up,
Put your fingers down,
Put your fingers on your _____. (body part)

One little finger, one little finger, one little finger,
Tap, tap, tap,
Put your fingers up high,
Put your fingers down low,
Put your fingers on your _____. (body part)

(Repeat with different body parts, and it’s fun to end with a tummy tickle)

Poor Old Horse
(A fun, bouncy lap song – put your child on your knees, facing you. Let him hold your
hands as if holding the reins to a horse)

Poor old horse, he goes so slow.
He never stops, in rain or snow.
(Say these two lines very slowly, while moving your knees
up and down slowly.)
Buuut…
(Draw this word out and look at your child with anticipation.)
Give him a kick, and there he goes,
There he goes, there he goes.
Give him a kick, and there he goes,
All the way to town!
Whoa, horsey!
(Let your child fall backwards a bit, as if he is pulling on the
reins to stop the horse.)

We would love to sing with you in one of our programs. Please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website for a Rhymes that Bind location and time that works for you. For added fun, rhymes with videos, and family literacy resources, please download our free App, Flit, available on Google Play and the App Store.

Have fun talking with your baby!

 

Books, Books, and More Books!

There are many great reasons to visit the C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) Bus, and one of them is that we have fantastic books for you to borrow! We have thousands of books on the bus, including board books for our youngest readers, an excellent selection of lift-the-flap books, touch and feel books, books with CDs, wordless books, French books, early readers, and books for adults as well. There is something for everyone from babies to grandparents!

If you or your little ones are excited about dinosaurs, then maybe you would enjoy How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. Or maybe sharks are popular at your house. Try The Thanking You Sharks by Giles Andreae. We also have a great selection of princess books, like Jonathan Emmett’s The Princess and the Pig and Lisa McCourt’s Good Night Princess Pruney Toes.

Some of our children especially enjoy reading the non-fiction books to learn about different types of animals, vehicles, space, cooking, and anything you can imagine. We also have helpful books about potty training and teaching manners. We have many books to inspire and encourage parents as well as books that provide humour and escape.

You are welcome to borrow books (up to 6) every time you visit the bus. We want to make borrowing as easy as possible so there are no late fees. If you are a regular book borrower, we reward you with a free book (your choice) to take home and keep.

We are happy to help you choose a book that you or your children will enjoy, and we have a “staff picks” area to give you ideas as well.

We also have a bin containing donated books. Each family can take one book from the bin each week. If you have books that you are no longer using, you are welcome to donate them to the bus, and maybe another family would enjoy reading them!

One of the books we will be reading with all of our friends on the bus this month is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Bringing the book alive, the children will have fun feeding a pretend caterpillar all sorts of yummy foods and then watching it turn into a beautiful butterfly. The story is colourful, fun, and educational. Your children will be excited to find real caterpillars and butterflies outside. And the story might even give you ideas to start conversations with your inquisitive children.

We’d love to have you join us on the COW Bus and enjoy some books together! Check the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out when the bus is in a neighbourhood near you!

Lifelong Skills for Your Children are Worth the Extra Time


Our kids are important to us—their health, their well-being, their happiness, their growth and success. Pretty much everything about our children is top of our ‘to-do list’. Sometimes we get so busy trying to do our best for them, we forget to slow down and just be with them.

I know many parents are with their children every day, and some all day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their time is truly with them. It is so important to slow things down and do those routine  daily activities with your kids.

I’m aware that it takes more time (and patience) to let your little ones zip their own zippers, button their own buttons, and tie their own laces. It takes more time to let them choose their own meals at restaurants, pick out their own outfits for the day, and sign their own name on cards. Nothing gets done quickly when they help you with your daily chores such as laundry sorting, carrying groceries, and setting or clearing the meal table. But it is so worth it!

Just the other day I saw a dad playing with his son on their way into a store. They had a little race down the sidewalk, dad kept pace with his son and they tied. The way the boy looked up at his dad was pure love, and the dad ended it with a little hug, ruffled his hair, and they continued to talk about what sort of things they could buy mom for Mother’s Day.  I doubt it took this little family extra time to bond in this way, but the effects will be long lasting.

Another mom had her two boys checking off a list and finding items to add to their cart. It probably took her longer to collect everything, but her children were learning how to do big things!

Today, the busier we get, the easier it is to let our kids mind themselves and hope they are content with a device in their hands. I’ll admit there are days when you might just want to get things done quickly, and this is one of the less painful ways to do it, in the moment. But your children will miss out on so many learning opportunities if this is their normal routine.

Allowing your children some freedom to help, and to make choices in their tasks or play, will benefit them now and as they grow older. They learn:

  • how to make choices and accept the outcomes
  • how to problem solve and compromise
  • confidence and patience

These are skills that will help your children their entire lives—as they begin school, into their  teen years, and beyond as adults. Skills that will be lifelong assets are worth the extra time it takes to nurture them in your children.

Who says it has to be work? It can be frustrating when you are in a rush, so perhaps on days when you are feeling overwhelmed or running late, dealing with illness or appointments, those aren’t the best days to slow it down. But I’m certain time can be found in even the busiest of schedules to take a few moments daily to just have a bit of fun together.

 

 

Try this:

  • If you are shopping at the grocery store, try asking your children ‘this or that?’ Let them help decide. Let the older children help gather items up and down the aisles. They can read signs and learn how to check ingredients. Younger children can look for individual letters on signs or food items, and search for fruits and vegetables in certain colours.
  • When it is time to leave a place, maybe have a little race. Count forwards or backwards until it’s time to go, to reinforce numeracy skills. How many buttons need to be done up? How many seconds will it take to tie your shoes? Who can make it to the car first?
  • While driving, sing some favourite songs. Try songs that count down or repeat many verses such as “The Wheels on the Bus,” “5 Little Monkeys,” “B-I-N-G-O,” “This Old Man,” or “Old MacDonald.”
  • Try giving your children tasks to ‘help’ you with your daily routines. Sorting laundry (tell them how you would like it sorted or ask them how they think it should be sorted), setting the dinner table (how many plates, spoons, glasses, etc.), picking up around the house and putting toys away, even straightening out the family shoe shelf is a good matching activity for toddlers!

There are numerous ways to squeeze in a few extra minutes of play/learning activities into your day. In family literacy programs such as the free ones offered by the Centre for Family Literacy, we share many of these ideas with parents.

Visit our website www.famlit.ca for program information and information about our free App, Flit, for fun, everyday learning ideas (available at both the App Store and Google Play).

 

The 7 Types of Play and the Role of the Parent in Play-Based Learning

In my previous blog, “Come Play with Me,” we explored the concept and importance of play-based learning and the different stages of play that children experience as they develop. We now know that play is critical to children’s early development and key to supporting their emergent literacy skills. We also know that children will move through a variety of stages in their own unique way. These stages form a continuum of growth and development and, although there are age guidelines for each stage, children will move through this continuum at their own pace. Only when they have successfully experienced one stage will they move to the next.

THE 7 TYPES OF PLAY

Think back to when you were children yourselves. What were some of your favourite ways to play? Did you enjoy creating art? Perhaps you preferred tag or hide and seek. Maybe you were more interested in building towers and constructing Lego towns. Did you gravitate towards board games, or prefer getting messy while experimenting in the kitchen?

Regardless of which type of play you enjoyed the most, you would have naturally explored all 7 types of play at one time or another. Each type of play is very similar to the different learning styles and, although they will explore them all, children will choose one strong style of learning and one type of preferred play. Knowing how your children learn best, and which type of play they prefer, allows you to plan activities that best suit your children’s needs.

Physical Play

  • Often described as rough and tumble play
  • Children develop their gross and fine motor skills
  • Children develop coordination, body control, body awareness, sense of self, and risk taking and impulse control
  • Children who prefer physical play often have a strong understanding of what their body is capable of

Language Play

  • Children will rhyme, sing, tell stories, and make up songs
  • They will explore language by making up new words, phrases, or sounds
  • Children will turn anything into a pencil and paper, i.e. writing letters in the sand using a stick
  • Children who enjoy language play will often have strong early reading and writing skills

Exploratory Play

  • This type of play is all about exploring
  • Children will be learning how to learn and developing a curiosity and love of learning
  • Children will explore by using all of their senses, testing ideas and asking many questions
  • Children who prefer exploratory play are often lifelong learners

Constructive Play

  • This type of play involves building, taking things apart, and putting them back together
  • Children use blocks, clay, playdough, tinker trays, loose parts, anything they can get their hands on
  • This type of play supports many skills: numeracy, trial and error, planning, self-expression, hand-eye coordination, and more
  • Children who gravitate towards this type of play are often referred to as “future engineers”

Fantasy Play

  • In fantasy play, children imagine and explore
  • This is the type of play where children will be anything but themselves
  • They create their own characters and stories and act them out
  • Children explore all kinds of possibilities and experiences
  • Children who prefer fantasy play often have very strong comprehension and predictability skills

Social Play

  • Children play together with others
  • All the children work towards a common goal
  • They will be developing their skills in team work, problem solving, taking turns, and following rules
  • Children learn the manners associated with play and competition
  • Children who primarily enjoy social play often work well with others and have problem solving skills

Expressive Play

  • These children are your artists, musicians, or poets
  • They enjoy expressing their feelings, thoughts, and personalities through art, music and writing
  • Children display their feelings and what they know in a visual way
  • Children who enjoy expressive play are incredibly creative and natural problem solvers

THE PARENT’S ROLE IN SUPPORTING PLAY-BASED LEARNING

We know that play is our children’s job. Through play they develop in all ways. But what is our role as parents? How can we support our children’s development through play?

Be Patient

Children need to explore activities in their own way. Some children explore at great length while others move very quickly from activity to activity. Allow your children the time they need to experience all activities in the way they choose.

Explore all Types of Play

Similar to learning styles, children naturally gravitate towards one type of play; however, it is important that they are exposed to all types of play. As parents, we can support this by offering our children a variety of activities, experiences, and methods of play. Share with them your favourite ways to play!

Let Them Take the Lead

Let your children guide the direction of their play. Sit back and follow their lead. Let your children show you how they want to do the activity or play the game. Give them a turn at being the leader and then you take a turn to guide their play in a new direction!!

Throw Out the Rule Book

There is no right or wrong way to play. Toss out the rule book and explore new ways to do things. This is often one of the hardest things for us to do as adults. We each have our own way of doing something and often impose this on our children. However, play follows no rules and the best learning comes from the ability to explore things in new ways.

Model, Model, Model

Show your children that play is a lifelong skill that does not have an expiry date. Even as adults we still play. Whether you are part of a sports team, enjoy doing puzzles, love playing Candy Crush, or enjoy making a mess in the kitchen, your children will see you having fun and that will influence them to do the same!

PLAY!!

You are your child’s first and best teacher, so naturally you are their best playmate! Be silly, have fun, be open to doing things their way, and make memories together!

For more information on our Literacy Links workshop “Come Play with Me” or any of our other early literacy workshops, please contact the Centre for Family Literacy: email info@famlit.ca or phone 780-421-7323.