Stop Just Reading Books! Start Living Books!

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Every child has a favourite book, a story that they want read to them over and over again. For parents, this can become quite boring. At 3,2,1, Fun! we have spent the last few weeks showing families how to stop just reading books and how to start living books. To support families in increasing their children’s learning, we have been sharing ideas and activities to extend a simple story book.

Children choose their favourite books or stories for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they love the drawings, or maybe they can relate to the characters in the story. Once children have chosen their favourite books, it is only a matter of time before they begin to learn the words and predict the events. Before you know it, they can recite the story from start to finish! When this happens, it does not mean they have become bored with the story, though the parents may have. It simply means we need to take the book to the next level. Let me show you how to bring your children’s favourite books to life!

 

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Go Fishing!

You don’t need a boat or even a lake to take your children fishing. Fill the bathtub or a plastic bucket with water. Attach paper clips to some plastic fish and drop them in the water. Use a wooden dowel with string and a magnet as the fishing rod. You can challenge your children to count each fish they catch or to only catch certain colours or shapes. The possibilities are endless and the fun is guaranteed!

Make your own Rainbow Fish

Using paper plates and any other craft or recyclable materials you have around the house, your children can create their own Rainbow Fish or fish aquarium. They can explore shapes, sizes, and patterns as they create. Use the finished craft as a prop the next time you read the book.

Snack

Place a handful of Gold Fish crackers at the bottom of a small bowl. Using a short piece of stringy liquorice, tie a gummy worm to the end of a pretzel stick. Voila!! You have an edible fishing snack for your children.

Sing!

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5 once I caught a fish alive,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 then I threw him back again.
Why did you let him go?
Because he bit my finger so!
Which finger did he bite?
The little finger on my right!”

 

Going on a Bear Hunt by M. Rosen

We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it!

Course

Build an obstacle course in your living room, basement, or back yard using furniture, cardboard boxes, etc. Have your children go through the obstacle course in a pattern of their choosing. They can explore going over, under, and through. Not only is this a fun activity for your children, but they will be working on their patterning and predicting skills at the same time.

Go on a Bear Hunt!

Create a scavenger hunt for your children. If you really want to get creative, you can even craft a treasure map for them to follow.

Snack

To reinforce the theme of patterns you can cut up a variety of fruits and cheeses and have your children create their own snack pattern on a skewer, or on an edible necklace made with a long piece of stringy liquorice and fruit loops.

 

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

Bake Cookies

Following a recipe and baking allow your children to work on a wide variety of numeracy and literacy skills while having fun. Once you are finished baking you can read the story and split the fresh baked cookies among family and friends!

Sing

“Way up high in a cookie tree,
two little cookies smiles at me.
So I shook that tree as hard as I could,
down came the cookies!
MMMMMMM they were good!”

These are just a few ideas on how you can turn a simple story into an adventure full of fun and learning for your children. By choosing to live your children’s favourite story books you are not only bringing to life their literary world, but you are providing them the opportunity to learn through their experiences. These learning opportunities will shape them for years to come and will surely build your family’s legacy of learning.

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

hashtag: #321_Fun

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

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

Why Lullabies Work

Parents and other caregivers have been using lullabies to sooth babies and put them to sleep for generations, because, usually, they work. They are not magic spells but there are a number of things going on, when we sing lullabies, that help to soothe and comfort babies.

  1. Your beautiful voice – you might not like it, but babies are in love with the voices of their close family members. It won’t last forever, but at least for a few years your baby would rather listen to the voices of his parents, siblings, and other caregivers than anything else.
  2. Your rhythm – babies can actually hear before they are even born, and the steady rhythm of mom’s breathing and heartbeat have made a big impact on your baby. Any regular rhythm (especially ones similar to a heartbeat) will put babies at ease, perhaps reminding them of simpler times before they were born and everything became strange and new.
  3. Your excellent taste – when you sing the songs and rhymes that you like, your baby can hear it in your voice and see it in both your facial expressions and your body language. If you are happy with your repertoire, your baby will love the experience.
  4. Your love of “the classics” – babies really are not trendsetters; they tend to like hearing the same things over and over again. If you are consistent in what you sing to your baby, they will appreciate the familiarity and feel more comfortable as a result. When you want to relax, you fall back on your favourites; you don’t charge into new and unfamiliar styles, and babies are no different. Speaking of which, if you regularly sing a song to an unborn baby, they will remember the song after birth and you can bet they will be fond of it.
  5. Your expert delivery – this is not rocket science. Gentler, slower, quieter tunes are usually more relaxing than songs that are aggressive, fast, and loud. I say “usually” because if your baby is used to hearing something loud and fast, she might be soothed by that instead.

So whether you sing traditional lullabies, the latest pop favourites, or the jingle from that terrible commercial that you just cannot get out of your head, you can probably make them work for you and your baby if you keep even a few of the above in mind.

And on those nights when lullabies don’t work, when you’ve sung everything you can think of, and tried everything that you can imagine to calm them down, and they just keep screaming… that’s when you need to sing for you. Your heart will slow down to match the beat of the song. Your breathing will slow down and your body will relax. It won’t solve everything, but you will be calmer which is good for you and for your baby.

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

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?