This fall the COW (Classroom on Wheels) bus welcomed many returning families, and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with new ones as well! We are happy to be a part of the learning that is happening in our families.
If you haven’t yet visited the COW bus when it makes a scheduled stop in your neighbourhood, following is the purpose of the 1.5 hour weekly program, and we share this information on the bus in a comfortable, fun, supportive way using songs and stories:
This fall, a favourite song that we share on the bus is “Have You Ever Seen an Apple.” The children enjoy singing the song and having an opportunity to lead us as we call out the colours of the apples. One of our moms shared an adorable video of her daughter singing this song at home.
So be sure to join us on the COW bus for some fun with a purpose! For the program schedule, check the Centre for Family Literacy website. We look forward to seeing you on the bus!
Stories are so important to children’s development, and the following short list barely scratches the surface. Stories help children:
It is important to help your children actively engage in the book, and this can happen in a variety of ways.
Books may be shared in different ways with children of different ages. You don’t always need to read the words. It is alright to use your own words, in your own language, to tell the story. And, it is always more fun if you use lots of expression and different voices for each character, to bring it alive!
Some children may want to hold the book upside-down or skip a page. Or they may want to repeat a part over and over. Let your children lead the way and enjoy the book, so that reading is a positive experience for them.
Sometimes children will need to move around or will want to play close by, but don’t worry—they are still listening. You may try to keep them involved by having them supply missing words, repeating phrases with you, or by asking them questions such as, “where did it go?” or “what do you think is going to happen next?”
Children love to have stories told in a variety of ways. Sometimes they may enjoy acting out stories using stuffed animals or other props. It is also great for children to act out or retell the story in their own words. Children may want to extend a favourite story by doing a puppet show using the characters, dressing up like one of the characters, or drawing a picture. Some stories may lead to a treasure hunt or specific craft.
On the C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) bus, we love to share stories! One of the books we have enjoyed sharing recently is “Wheels on the Bus.” All of the children seem to love this one! It is especially fun because they can sing along and do the actions.
Most people are familiar with the common version, which includes “the doors on the bus go open and shut” and “the wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish.” But our “Wheels on the Bus” book is about the animals on the bus.
If you borrow this book or have it at home, you could let your children make the animal sounds, and choose additional animals to extend the story. For example: “The cows on the bus go moo, moo, moo.” They could also use stuffed animals or draw pictures. This is also a book that they could “read” on their own by using the pictures as clues.
Sharing stories in this way brings them alive to children so that they look forward to story time with you. You and your children will both benefit if you make time every day to share a book.
The C.O.W. is out to pasture for the summer, but check the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out where and when you can join us on the bus next fall! In the meantime, get out some favourite books and have fun!
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!
Spring has arrived! It is a pleasure to get outside now that the snow is melting and the air is warmer. Outside, there are many things to learn in spring. Children are like little sponges ready to soak up new information. It doesn’t take extra time to give your children the chance to learn; family literacy can occur naturally during daily routines. It helps adults and children get things done.
Ways to use literacy in your activities this spring:
The C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) Bus is ready for spring. When you visit the bus, you will be treated to a couple of our favourite stories:
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is a favourite of children and parents alike; it is laugh-out-loud funny. In the story, a boy loses his kite in a tree and tries to knock it down by throwing everything he can find into the tree. On the bus, children delight in “throwing” felt pieces into the tree on the story board, bringing the tale to life.
And there are monsters on the bus—tickle monsters! We’ll read two books about tickle monsters; one where children make a neighbourhood scene out of the monster body parts, and the other involves a lot of tickling and singing!
Here is a springtime song we will be singing on the bus and you can also enjoy it at home. Try acting it out!
Rain is Falling
(tune: “Skip to My Lou”)
Rain is falling, what shall I do (X 3)
What shall I do my darling?
Put on a raincoat, (rain boots, rain pants, rain coat) that’s what I’ll do (X 3)
That’s what I’ll do my darling.
Grab an umbrella, (jump in some puddles) that’s what I’ll do (X 3)
That’s what I’ll do my darling.
Visit the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out where and when the C.O.W. bus will be parked near you!
The C.O.W. Bus is a classroom on wheels that offers a free drop-in program for parents and children 0-6 years. It is wonderful to have babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and their parents on the bus with us, playing, sharing, reading, and laughing together!
The C.O.W. bus is also a bookmobile! Families have the opportunity to borrow books for free! We have a huge selection, so parents can easily find and borrow books that their children will enjoy. Families also have a chance to win a book of their choice!
So, what can you expect when you visit the C.O.W Bus? You are welcomed into a safe, cozy, and fun environment. When our families arrive, they have an opportunity to play with a variety of ever-changing toys and puzzles. Then a facilitator shares stories, rhymes, and songs. We like to choose activities that engage and involve the parents and children. Many families find that these stories, rhymes, and songs become favourites in their homes as they continue to share them together.
One of our favourite stories this month is “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. We have a big felt mitten and felt animals. Each of the children enjoys holding one of the animals depicted in the story, placing it into the mitten, and watching the mitten stretch—just like in the story.
We have also learned a new good-bye song this month, which is very popular with parents and children alike. It is called the “Alligator Song” and is to the tune of “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine:”
See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
There’s the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Bye, bye, butterfly
Of course, the actions that go with the song make it even more fun!
One of our goals is to support the language and literacy development of the children. We are happy to say that the program achieves this, according to the parents. They also frequently comment that our program helps their children with socialization skills. The children don’t even realize how much they are stretching and growing with us—they are too busy having fun!
We are thrilled to hear many parents tell us that their children wake up in the morning asking excitedly “Is it COW bus day?” If you haven’t had the opportunity to join us, please do! We visit each of our 10 locations around Edmonton on a weekly basis and would be happy to have you join us at a program near you. Please see the Centre for Family Literacy website for times and locations. See you there!
Singing is a great tool for developing language and literacy skills in your children. Making a ritual of singing during daily routines also adds fun to tasks that children may not always see as fun (diaper changing/going potty, putting on their shoes or coat, etc.) and it strengthens the connection between you and your children. How many of us sing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share” when helping our littles put away their toys? (I bet that song is now stuck in your head!)
Routines are practices in place to help children prepare for regular happenings. For example, the morning routine is to have breakfast, get dressed, and brush teeth and hair; the sleep routine is to have a bath, brush teeth, read a story, and off to bed. This repetition allows children to develop a predictable schedule—to know what to expect each day.
Rituals aid in learning and reinforcing new skills. The purpose is connection with your children, strengthening your relationship through small practices—a goodnight song, or asking “what was your favourite part of the day,” for example.
I imagine most of us share a ritual from our own childhood with our children—a cherished memory of the connection we had with our parents, and which built the foundation for the relationships we now have—to become part of our daily routine and enrich our journey with our own families.
A nightly ritual I have included in our bedtime routine is a goodnight song. I have sung it to my daughter since she was an infant, and she now looks forward to this special part of our day. I made up the song by changing the words to “Hey Jude” by John Lennon, and it goes something like this:
Hey you, it’s time for bed
Go to sleep now, ‘cuz you’re so tired
Remember, to kiss your mama goodnight
And have sweet dreams
To wake up happy (happy, happy, happy)
Hey you, just say good night
Sleep will come soon, just close your eyes
Remember to hug your mama real tight
And that I love you
You are amazing
So, try adding a little song to your routines and see what happens! There are all kinds of songs and rhymes for children on YouTube, or you can make up your own. Comment by sharing the rituals that are a part of your family!
C.O.W. bus staff are excited and ready to sing, play, and share books with all the families who visit the bus when it’s in their neighbourhood! Check our website for locations and schedules for the C.O.W. bus and other exciting programs offered by the Centre for Family Literacy!
During the week of December 12, the C.O.W. (Classroom on Wheels) bus will be hosting a cozy Christmas pyjama party at each of our locations. We have a great selection of winter holiday-themed books for you to borrow for your family story time, AND, don’t miss out on the annual book giveaway; all children will go home with their own book to keep!
As always, story time on the bus will be loads of fun as the children help bring the books to life. One of our favourites is a New York Times bestseller, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin and James Dean.
“In this rockin’ spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do.”
“ ‘Twas the day before
Christmas and Santa was ill.
In the cold winter wind he
had caught a bad chill.
Will Christmas be canceled?
Will it come to that?
‘Never!’ cried Santa.
‘Let’s call Pete the Cat!’ ”
And don’t forget to give yourself a little gift too – download Flit, our free app which has over 100 fun activities, crafts, and rhymes you can do with your little ones, and four more activities are added each season. For example, try the Letters in the Snow activity by filling a spray bottle with coloured water and decorating some fresh white snow! You’ll find the link for both Apple and Android versions on the Centre for Family Literacy website, or on your device’s app store.
So grab your coziest pajamas and join us as we read, sing, and play during this special time of year on the bus.
Do you have a favourite holiday song or rhyme? Please share it with us in the comments, because we love to learn and share new things!
See you soon!
Traditions mean a lot. Creating traditions with your family not only helps support early learning but also bonding.
Just ask Denyse, a mother of seven, who has made the COW Bus a tradition in her family for 10 years and counting. The stories, songs, and rhymes she has learned on the bus help her make their daily activities a fun learning experience for her children. For example, singing a favourite song to comfort her son strengthened their bond during a long wait at the doctor’s office.
“A tradition is kept alive only by something being added to it.”
– Henry James
This meaningful quote says it all. You can add your own personal spin to all the books and rhymes we share on the COW Bus, and start your own family literacy traditions!
One of the many songs we sing on the COW Bus is very useful for slowing down your children and keeping their busy hands occupied—with a bonus tickle at the end!
Here are the beehives (have your child make fists)
But where are all the bees? (peek inside closed fists)
Tucked inside where nobody sees
Watch as they come out of their hive
1,2,3,4,5 (open fist one finger at a time)
Buzzzzzzzz buzzzzzzzz (tickle with your fingers)
Storytelling and reading are excellent ways to promote and enhance language and literacy development in your home.
This month, we are reading Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle, where the children bring the story to life with colourful props followed by a puzzle featuring all the characters in this popular, classic book!
Come aboard the COW Bus and make literacy playtime and storytelling a family tradition. Each week we stop in 10 Edmonton neighbourhoods. To find a location near you, go to the Centre for Family Literacy website at www.famlit.ca
The Classroom on Wheels (COW) Bus will be the ‘new kid on the block’ this coming October, with four new locations in Edmonton. Maple Ridge, Rundle Heights, Baturyn, and Walker are the newest communities we have added to our roster, and we’ll be welcoming both new and familiar families back in six other neighbourhoods. If you’re nearby you’re welcome to come aboard—you’ll have a blast bonding with your little ones while sharing books and singing songs!
The COW bus is a FREE drop-in program for parents and their children from birth to 6 years old, that helps support family learning. You can:
We have so many wonderful books for you to borrow, with no late fees. Come listen to stories and songs that will soon become family favourites! But we need you and your family to help bring these stories to life and build excitement!
One of our many favourites is Duck, Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, “a clever take on the age-old optical illusion: is it a duck or a rabbit? Depends on how you look at it! Readers will find more than just Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s signature humour here, there’s also a subtle lesson for kids who don’t know when to let go of an argument. A smart, simple story that will make readers of all ages eager to take a side, Duck! Rabbit! makes it easy to agree on one thing, reading it again!”
The fun starts October 3rd with weekly stops at 10 locations. Visit the Centre for Family Literacy website to find out when the bus will be in your area.
See you in October!