Numbers are Literacy Too!

Mother and daughter in kitchen making a salad smiling

Numbers are everywhere. They can be the first and last thing we see every day. From clocks and phones to money and preparing meals—they are a part of our everyday lives.  Yet a lot of adults lack confidence in teaching their children numeracy skills. We talk about the importance of reading and writing all the time, but not about numeracy. In fact, when we hear the term literacy, most adults think of reading and writing, though literacy is so much more. Literacy is a part of everything we do—from answering a text, to driving, to going to the grocery store—it surrounds us from the moment we wake to the moment we go to sleep. So why are we so afraid to talk about numbers?

Teaching children about numeracy doesn’t have to be scary. You can start talking about numeracy with babies. Scaffolding language—adding descriptive words when naming objects, is a great way to bring numeracy to your children. Colours, shapes, and amounts are all early numeracy vocabulary. Whether you are talking about the round red ball or the striped socks, the two green triangles or the three orange cats—you are teaching your children about numeracy. You are creating the foundation for matching, sorting, and grouping—numeracy skills we use throughout our daily lives.

Almost any activity you do with your children can incorporate numeracy. We often forget that our day-to-day activities are filled with great opportunities to include our children and show them what we are doing. In this way, we are teaching them the skills they will need throughout their lives to solve problems and become quick thinkers.

2 Easy Ways to Include Numeracy in Your Day:

  1. Include your children in preparing meals—cooking and baking are filled with opportunities to teach numeracy. Ask them how many plates or spoons you need for everyone, talk about the amounts of each ingredient needed, and get your children to help adding them and mixing. Cooking is also helpful in teaching about sequencing, following directions, and problem solving. For example, if you skip a step in the directions, what will happen? How do we fix it? Can we fix it?
  2. When reading books, try asking your children about the pictures; for example, can they find the red balloon? How many puppies are there on the page? Talking about the pictures and what is happening in the story will also help children comprehend the story better—remembering more of the details and what the story was actually about.

For more ideas on engaging activities that are numeracy based, you can visit our 3,2,1,Fun! program or try our Flit app, available on both Google Play and the App Store.

For more information and the schedule for 3,2,1,Fun!, please visit the Centre for Family Literacy website: www.famlit.ca


Click here to download the free iOS version of the Flit app.

Click here to download the free Android version.

Watch the app demo:

 

How does Rhymes that Bind Support Literacy Development?

RTB-Blog2

The early literacy skills of children do not begin with reading and writing. The skills they need prior to reading and writing are listening, speaking, and understanding. All of these skills are practiced in the Rhymes that Bind program.

Rhymes are fun, and because of their simplicity, they can be done anywhere. The benefits are many. When hearing nursery rhymes, children hear how sounds are put together—vowels and consonants making words. They hear patterns in speech, pitch, volume, voice inflection, and a general rhythm to language. The sound is different when asking a question, telling a story, giving instructions, or singing a song. Children will hear words they don’t hear every day—in rhymes with animals, submarines, grandfather clocks, and food,  such as:

  • The grandfather clock goes, tick tock tick tock tick tock (slowly sway child back and forth)
  • The kitchen clock goes tictoctictoctictoctictoc (sway child faster)
  • And mommy’s little watch goes ticcaticcaticcaticcaticca (tickle tickle tickle)

Nursery rhymes are like stories with a fun rhythm. They are short and repetitive, and often have a beginning, middle, and end. This helps build memory skills for children when they are able to recall and retell a favourite rhyme, such as:

  • Three Little Pigs
  • Three Little Bears

Nursery rhymes often include early numeracy skills, using numbers to count forward and backward, such as:

  • 5 Green and Speckled Frogs
  • Zoom, Zoom
  • 10 In The Bed

Rhymes can also introduce children to some simple literacy rules without obvious intention, such as:

Alliteration:

  • Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers
  • She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

Onomatopoeia:

  • Old MacDonald’s Farm
  • Baa Baa Black sheep

10 reasons to enjoy sharing nursery rhymes with your children:

  1. When babies hear language it increases their comprehension or understanding; as a child’s vocabulary increases, so does their comprehension. Often present in nursery rhymes are words we don’t usually use in everyday conversation with small children
  2. Children attempt to duplicate the sounds they hear while practicing language. This is how their speech is developed. Babies who are read to will often hold a book and make babbling noises that represent reading aloud
  3. Older children will begin to rhyme nonsense sounds and words as they become better at speaking. If they have been exposed to nursery rhymes early, they have already begun to understand the rhythm and flow of language
  4. Babies develop speech by strengthening their mouth and tongue muscles when replicating the sounds they hear in a nursery rhyme
  5. Listening to stories, whether told or read from books, helps children understand that all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. As children gain verbal skills they will begin to tell their own stories. Many nursery rhymes are repetitive in nature, and often tell a little story
  6. Children will struggle later when learning how to write a story if they do not first learn how to tell a story
  7. Many nursery rhymes help with physical development in children. While rhyming,  some activities that develop fine motor skills are clapping, counting with fingers, and making simple gestures
  8. Large motor skills can also be developed while singing a rhyme when children are hopping, rolling, walking, and using their whole body in dramatic play
  9. Many rhymes involve touching and tickling your children. By touching, tickling, and laughing together, your bonds are strengthened, which increases learning capacity in children
  10. It is FUN!

If you would like more information about the Rhymes that Bind program or the program schedule, please check the Centre for Family Literacy website: http://www.famlit.ca/programs_and_projects/programs/rhymes.shtml

Teaching Your Child Literacy and Numeracy: There’s an App for That

Baby Girl on a Messy Couch with her Parents

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

For a lot of parents, the idea of “teaching literacy and numeracy skills” to our children is intimidating—and if it’s not intimidating, it’s definitely overwhelming: there are only so many times we can recite the alphabet and sing nursery rhymes between doing the laundry, getting groceries, making meals, changing diapers, changing more diapers, loading and unloading children from vehicles, cleaning puke from our hair, and occasionally showering. Sitting down with our kids on the daily to intentionally “teach literacy” is a bit of a lofty goal: even if we have the time, we might not know what to do. And so it’s sometimes easier—let’s face it—to sit our kids down with Dora and hope they learn through cartoon osmosis.

There’s no harm in that—I know lots of toddlers who can teach me Spanish because of that show. But it’s important to remember that you are your child’s first and most effective teacher; Dora and her purple monkey companion are merely extending the lessons you’ve already taught. And though you might not know it, you are teaching your children all the time.

Your children develop most of their literacy and numeracy skills during the routine, day-to-day activities that are already part of your family life. While you are sorting laundry with your two-year old, she is picking up on patterns, numeracy, sizes, and categories. The most effective way to improve and develop your child’s literacy is to recognize these moments and build on them. This is easier said than done—most of us go on auto-pilot when we do routine tasks, so it’s a bit of a stretch to expect that you will remember to recognize (and build on) those moments of literacy in every mundane thing you do. Luckily, there’s an app for that.

Flit, our free family literacy app, was developed for parents like you to identify those moments of literacy and build on them. Whether you are in the middle of grocery shopping, doing laundry, or cooking dinner, you can click open the app, choose a category and quickly find a literacy activity you can incorporate into the task at hand. Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

  • Making Breakfast?

Click the “Cooking” category. Choose an activity that corresponds to what you are making for breakfast—there’s a fun activity for everything from Smoothies to Fruit Loops.

Say it’s a Fruit Loop day: the app suggests laying the fruit loops out in a pattern of colours, having you or your child string them on a string in the laid out pattern, and fruit-loopsthen tying the ends of the string to make a fruit loop necklace.

While you do this activity, you can talk to your child about the different colours and pattern of the fruit loops. To extend the activity, you can share a book like We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs or Elmer by David McKee and have your child look for different colour patterns in it.

Each activity also has a section that explains the “Why?” of the activity—in the case of the Fruit Loops, the app explains that “Patterns are everywhere—in language, reading, writing and numeracy. This type of activity lets you make pattern recognition a natural part of your child’s routine.”

The app has a total of 116 activities that fall under eight categories: books, rhymes, games, crafts, writing, numbers, cooking, and reading. With so many activities, you can use it to incorporate literacy activities into most of your daily routines for a long time to come. After awhile, you will learn to come up with your own activities and see the literacy potential in all of the things you are already doing with your child each day… you might not even need an app for it.

Available on iOS since January, the free app is now also available on Android thanks to funding from TELUS Edmonton Community Board.

Click here to download the free iOS version of Flit.

Click here to download the Android version.

Centre for Family Literacy website

 

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

Celebrate the New Year with 3,2,1, FUN!

321Happy New Year! 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year for our early numeracy program – 3,2,1, FUN! We are  growing and expanding the program to three locations in Edmonton. This is very exciting both for the program and for the new families that we will learn and grow with along the way.

Here are a few things to look forward to with 3,2,1, FUN! this year:

  • 3,2,1… BLAST OFF into space with your own homemade spaceship counting game
  • bring a favourite story to life when we create a story board from scratch
  • put the recipes in order and tempt your taste buds with some sweet treats
  • explore snow like you have never done before
  • put the pieces of the puzzle together as you create your own numeracy games from recycled materials
  • get lost on a treasure hunt
  • explore numbers with all five of your senses

We are looking forward to sharing new ideas with our returning families, and meeting new families as the program expands. 3,2,1, FUN! offers your family the opportunity to explore numbers in a hands on way that is both meaningful and fun. Following is the upcoming schedule:

Brookside Community Hall
5320 143 Street NW, Edmonton
Tuesdays 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
January 12 – March 15

Primrose Place Family Centre
6311 92 Avenue NW, Edmonton
Wednesdays 10:00 am – 11:30 am
February 10 – March 16

One World… One Centre
12050 95A Street NW, Edmonton
Thursdays 9:30 am – 11:30 am
April 7 – June 16

Please phone the Centre for Family Literacy at 780-421-7323 for more information, or visit our website www.famlit.ca

hashtag: #321Fun

Can Chores Support Numeracy Development with your Child?

Using Numeracy to Get the Job Done with 3,2,1, FUN!

No one really enjoys doing chores, especially a child. What if I told you that not only could you get your child excited about helping out around the house, but you could be supporting his numeracy development at the same time?

Ready…Set…GO…Set the Table!

Turn this simple chore into a game! First have your child determine how many of each item she will need to set the table.

  • How many places do we need to set?
  • How many plates, forks, knives, spoons and napkins?
  • Do we have enough chairs?

Now ask your child to estimate how long he thinks it will take him to set each item on the table safely.

  • How many seconds will it take you to set each plate safely on the table?
  • Will it take longer to set the spoons than it will the napkins?

Once he has made his estimations or guesses, start the race! Count down the seconds as your child completes each task. This simple game will have your child racing to help at dinner time.

Laundry Basket…ball?

Set up two laundry hampers at one end of a room. One hamper is for lights and the other is for darks. Play a game of laundry basketball! Challenge your child to a game of one-on-one or get the whole family involved and make teams.

  • Keep score! The first team to 10 wins!
  • Try taking shots from different distances. Is it easier to get an item into the basket from close or far away? Are shirts easier to slam dunk or socks? Why?

laundryOnce the laundry has been dried, there are a variety of fun sorting and folding games for the teams to try.

  • The first team to sort their clothes by colour wins!
  • The first team to sort the pants, shirts, socks and underwear into piles wins!
  • The first team to fold each shirt in half and then quarters wins!
  • Match up all the socks. Challenge the other team to another game of laundry basketball using the pairs of socks!

The ideas are endless, and even stinky socks won’t keep your child away from a great game of laundry basketball with the family.

Eye Spy Somebody Cleaning Their Room!

Getting your child to clean their room can be a struggle, but not with this game of Eye Spy.

  1. Choose five items from your child’s room and set them on the bed.
  2. Instruct your child that while she is cleaning her room, she should hide each of the five items.
  3. Once the room is cleaned and the five items are hidden, your child can invite you back into the room. Try to find each item by searching and asking questions. For instance:
  • Is the object hidden on top of something or inside something?
  • Is the object high or low?
  • Am I close to the object or far away?
  • How many steps until I reach the object?

Your child will love to watch as you try to discover where he has hidden the items. This game also gives you the opportunity to make sure the mess hasn’t been shoved into the closet or under the bed!

Getting help with chores shouldn’t be a chore! Taking time to support your child’s numeracy development doesn’t need to be scheduled or planned. These opportunities for learning exist in everyday activities. Chores + learning (really can) = FUN!

For more ideas on how to support numeracy development in the everyday, visit 3,2,1, FUN! Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm at Brander Gardens school, Edmonton.

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1, Fun! program.

hashtag: #321Fun

 

3,2,1, Fun! Blasts Off the Fall Session

Elementary Pupil Counting With Teacher In Classroom

3,2,1, Fun! is back for the fall session. As always, our programs are free. We are now located at Brander Gardens School on Tuesday afternoons, from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm. We are excited to see the return of some of our families from previous sessions, and are eager to meet some new families from the Brander Gardens area.

Some things that you can look forward to this fall from 3,2,1, Fun!:

Books we will be sharing:

  • A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett

Songs and Rhymes that we be sharing:

  • Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
  • 5 Little Pumpkins
  • The Color Song
  • Mix and Stir
  • If You Are a Ghost

Activities and Games we will explore:

  • Creating a Story Board to bring our favourite stories to life
  • Constructing our own game of BLAST OFF! using items you already have at home
  • Baking and decorating delicious cookies in all shapes, sizes, and colours
  • Creating our own puzzles and matching games using calendars and our imaginations
  • Exploring the colours, smells, and textures of Fall through a scavenger hunt and a hide and seek game

This is just the start of the fun and learning that is set to happen Tuesday afternoons at Brander Gardens School! Please join our community of learners as we explore numeracy through songs, stories and play!

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1, Fun! program.

hashtag: #321Fun

 

Numeracy can be fun… for Everyone!

mother-and-child-baking

All children are unique individuals. They all act, play, and express themselves differently. As parents, we quickly discover our children’s preferences in all things. We also generally try to accommodate these preferences – preparing our children’s favourite foods, reading their favourite stories, or getting them clothing in their favourite colours or styles. Children even learn in different ways, for instance they can be:

  • Hands on learners
  • Visual learners
  • Auditory learners

Below is a list of activities that appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. There is no need to set aside time in your busy day to sit with paper and a pencil. Find what works best for your children and remember that the best opportunities for learning are the ones that are fun and occur naturally.

Sing!

If your children love to sing and dance, here are some great songs to share. These songs are not only fun, but they support the numeracy concepts of number sense and counting. Once your children have learned these songs, try making up your own!

  • 5 Green and Speckled Frogs
  • Ten in the Bed
  • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • 5 Little Ducks

Get Creative!

If your children have an artistic interest, let them create! Provide them with a variety of items to use in their creations. To support the concept of early numeracy, let your children explore colours, textures, shapes and sizes. Here are some ideas to inspire your little artists to create some fun art.

  • Choose a number and draw it on a piece of art paper. Have your children glue that number of items on the page.
  • Have your children choose their favourite colour and draw all the things they can think of that are that colour. Choose a new colour each day.
  • Collect items from nature to use in a collage. While creating the collage, discuss the shapes of the items, which items are bigger and which are smaller, and which are smooth, bumpy or rough.

Play With Your Food!

Cooking and baking with your children are perfect opportunities to explore early numeracy in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Following a list of instructions: what do you add first, second, etc.
  • Measuring ingredients: fill it full, use half, add 2 spoonfuls, etc.
  • Timing: bake for 25 minutes, mix for 2 minutes, etc.

Measure It!

Hand your children a ruler, a stick, or even their shoe and let them measure items around the house or outside. How many shoe lengths is the kitchen table? How many stick lengths is your bed? Is the bed longer than the table or shorter?

Game On!

Board and card games are wonderful opportunities to spend time with your family and practice numeracy skills. Rolling the dice, moving spaces along a game board, and following directions are just a few of the numeracy concepts supported by playing games.

Don’t feel the need to go out and purchase a board game if you don’t already have one. There are many games that you can play as a family that do not require any materials at all.

  • I Spy: focussing on colours, shapes and textures in your search
  • Scavenger Hunt: let your children choose the items to go searching for
  • Simon Says: Take turns being Simon, giving commands such as Simon says jump forward, Simon says spin 3 times, Simon says move fast

Once Upon a Time

Most children love to read or be read to. Sharing stories is a perfect opportunity to explore numeracy with your child.

  • Count items on the page
  • Find all the circles, squares, or triangles in the drawings
  • List all the colours you see
  • Predict what will happen next in the story

Opportunities to support your children’s early numeracy exist in the everyday activities that you are already doing! For more ideas on how to explore these learning opportunities visit us at 3,2,1, Fun! Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at Brander Gardens Elementary School.

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

 

 

 

Free Outdoor Fun with 3,2,1, Fun!

LookatClouds

Supporting your child’s numeracy development does not have to cost you anything but time and creativity, especially when you can head outdoors! At 3,2,1, Fun! we have started our spring session by sharing with our families a variety of numeracy activities that are free, support strong numeracy development, and are a ton of FUN!

Cloud search

Find a comfortable spot on the grass and lay down with your child. Take a look at the clouds in the sky. What shapes do you see in the clouds? What do the clouds look like? Are some bigger or smaller than others? Do the clouds tell a story? Do the shapes of the clouds change?

Jump to it!!

This is a fun game to play with your child in your back yard or at the park. Have your child choose a place to stand; this will be their starting position. Next choose a destination for them such as the swing set or the garage. Ask your child how many jumps they think it will take for them to reach the destination. Once they have made their estimate, have them “jump to it!” This activity is not only great exercise and fun, but it also allows your child to practice estimation, measurement, and counting. Try to use different forms of movement; try, for instance, baby steps, skipping, crab walking, etc.

Float or sink, what do you think?

Any activity that involves water is a sure hit with children! Fill up a bucket of water. Collect some natural items like rocks, sticks, and leaves, as well as some of your child’s favourite toys. Have your child predict which items they think will sink in the water and which items they think will float. Then test their predictions. Ask them why some items sink while others float. Support this activity using terms like heavy, light, weight, deep, shallow, etc.

Drop it!

This activity is similar to float or sink. Collect a variety of items that can be safely dropped onto the grass or a blanket outside. Ask your child which items they think will fall to the ground quickly and which will take longer to fall. Let them test their predictions by holding up the objects and dropping them! Discuss with them why some items fall faster than others.

You can make this activity even more challenging and fun for your child if you let them use a small step stool, the back steps, or a step ladder (with your supervision). This variation allows them to explore how different heights change the time it takes for an item to fall.

Scavenger Hunt

You do not need a paper, pen, or a list for a scavenger hunt. Head outside and use nature and your imagination! Use your child’s body as a tool of measurement to have them seek out scavenger items. For example, find something longer than your foot, bigger than your hand, thicker than your finger, or taller than you. You can also use shapes to inspire your search; find something shaped like a circle, triangle, square, etc.

This activity can be done anywhere. The only limit with this activity is your imagination! Have fun and let your child come up with some of the scavenger tasks!

For more ideas on how to support your child’s numeracy development in ways that are both free and fun, please visit us at 3,2,1, FUN! Tuesday afternoons at Callingwood School from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

 

Visit our website for information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

The C.O.W. has Mice & Pretty Bugs in May!

Mouse_CountMay is full of mice on the bus. First we will be reading Mouse Count. In this charming companion to Mouse Paint, Ellen Stoll Walsh introduces the concept of counting forward and backward in a suspenseful story that will keep young readers guessing. We have some furry little props to add to this exciting story.

 

Lunch

Lunch is also on the bus this month. It’s time for lunch, and one little mouse is famished! In fact, he’s so hungry that once he starts eating, he can’t stop. He sinks his teeth into a crisp white turnip, gobbles up some orange carrots, devours an ear of yellow corn, and then tosses back some tender green peas. He’s full, but this mouse keeps on munching until his bulging belly won’t hold another bite. Come and see all the stuff author Denise Fleming has this little mouse devouring!

 

Butterflys2Still on the fun theme, we will be singing B.I.N.G.O. on the bus. We have some new puzzles and activities like “Who Knows Whose Nose,” and some giant bugs that snap together. We also welcome a kaleidoscope of beautiful butterflies in the bus this month. Join us for some great stories, fun activities, and pretty bugs!

You’ll find our Edmonton bus schedule here

hashtag: #edm_cow