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, which was completely upgraded last fall, has more than 125 activities 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.

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Bugs on a Branch!

This yummy snack is easy and fun to make together. Pair it with a book or a trip outside to see real bugs to make it more meaningful!

WHY?

Cooking gives you many ways to talk and build language with your child. Oral language is the foundation upon which reading and writing are built. Having fun together while using language builds a strong foundation for your child to become a reader and a writer!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Celery (branches)
  • Peanut butter, cream cheese, or processed cheese
  • Raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, or dried cranberries (bugs)

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Cut off the ends and wash and dry the celery. Slice into “branches”
  2. Spread the peanut butter or cheese on the celery
  3. Arrange the bugs along the branch
  • Talk about what you are doing as you do it!
  • Make up a story about how your bugs got on their branches. You could also count your bugs!

DO IT TOGETHER!

Depending on their age, your child can help with different parts of the recipe. If you have an older child, they can use a child-safe knife to help cut. Everyone should be able to help with the rest.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Mom and Me Cookbook by Annabel Karmel

Flit App:

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Colours, Counting, and Matching Fun

Have fun with early numeracy ideas in this game you can make and play together with your preschooler!

WHY?

Numbers are an important part of early math and numeracy and can be found all around us. Counting, sorting, and matching all help with learning math later.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Different coloured milk jug lids (or other big lids)
  • Stickers

  

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Choose two lids that are the same colour
  2. Choose two stickers that are the same and put one on each of the lids
  3. Repeat the process until you have used up all of the lids

 

DO IT TOGETHER! Make numbers and math fun by playing different games. You could count the lids, match the lid colours, match the stickers, or flip the lids over so you can’t see the sticker and play a game of memory.

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Sidewalk Scribbles

Drawing and scribbling lead to writing as your children get older, and sidewalk chalk is a great way to do it! Encourage your children to make scribbles, shapes, pictures, numbers, or letters. Let them tell you about what they have drawn. You could also do your own sidewalk art with letters and numbers so they can see how you do it.

WHY?

Creativity is a bridge to learning, and art and drawing help young children develop early writing skills. Those scribbles and drawings are their first steps to writing. Provide your children with the materials they need to practice becoming a writer. Children are great mimics so make sure they see you writing as well. Then they know it’s important!

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Pudding Patterns

This is a fun craft to build together and a different way to draw, scribble, and try out writing!

WHY?

Drawing and scribbles at a young age are the first steps to learning how to write later on.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 large plastic zip lock bag
  • 1 package of instant pudding (made beforehand) or a can of shaving cream
  • Packing or duct tape (optional)

WHAT TO DO:

  • Put the pudding or shaving cream into the bag. Make sure not to fill it too full.
  • Finish by flattening all of the air out of the bag and close it tightly.
  • You may want to tape the top so it doesn’t pop open. Lay the bag on a flat surface and let the creativity begin!

DO IT TOGETHER!

Your toddler will enjoy squishing the mixture around making abstract patterns. If you have an older child, encourage them to make letters or draw pictures. Have some fun yourself by copying their designs and talk with them about what they are doing.

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

What Do You Spy?

This game is a fun way to make the waiting or travelling go by more quickly, or when you just want to play a game. But it’s much more than that.

WHY?

“I Spy” gives your child a chance to think of words to describe what they see and also helps them sort objects into groups. They are learning to group by colours, numbers, shapes, and sizes, which helps develop their vocabulary and math skills.

HOW TO PLAY

Find something in clear view and say, “I spy with my little eye, something that is __________.” Fill in the blank with words that describe what you are looking at, like “round like a ball.”

Once your child has found the item you picked, switch roles and let them spy something for you. Take turns, and as the game progresses, you can add more detail to the object. For example, “I spy something that is round like a ball and has 4 legs.”

The whole family can play this  game. The first person that guesses correctly gets to “spy” the next object.

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Time to Twinkle!

A favourite song in many languages, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is fun to do with your child and can be used in different ways throughout your day!

WHY?

Twinkle, twinkle has a well-known tune that rhymes and it repeats sections which makes it easy to learn. The actions are great for helping your child to practice motor skills and to remember the order of the song. It’s easy to work into routines like bedtime, as a lullaby, or as a travel song.

LET’S GO!

Sing the song, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”


DO IT TOGETHER!

Listen to the music together to learn the words. Make up your own actions or use the ideas below.

Twinkle, twinkle little star
Put your hands in the air and wiggle your fingers

How I wonder what you are
Shrug your shoulders

Up above the world so high
Put your arms up in the air

Like a diamond in the sky
Make a shape of a diamond with your fingers

Twinkle, twinkle little star
Put your hands in the air and wiggle your fingers

How I wonder what you are
Shrug your shoulders

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Bright Books for Babies

Your baby’s eyesight is still developing. Brightly coloured books will help the pictures stand out so baby can enjoy them more!

LET’S GO!

Choose a book with bright colourful pictures and simple words.

DO IT TOGETHER

Share the book with your baby by reading the words or talking about the pictures. Make sure your baby can see your face and the book you are sharing. Notice what your baby is looking at in the book and name it.

WHY?

Books with bright colours are good for your baby in their first few months as their eyes are still developing and they can’t see clearly. The colourful images are easier to see and help make the pictures stand out.

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Watch a video demo of the app.

Teaching Your Little One Literacy and Numeracy: There’s an App for That!

As a mother of 3 and a former teacher, literacy learning has been a big part of our family and my career. I’m familiar with how important it is for a parent to engage and read with their children. Still, I would sometimes wonder how to build their language and literacy skills. There are only so many times you can sing “Paddy Cake” with your children before you both get bored. Where did I turn to find activities? Pinterest, of course. If you are not familiar with Pinterest, you can search a topic of interest and find a multitude of ideas. I would sort through numerous Pinterest boards searching for literacy learning activities, but it takes a lot of time.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that provided us with some of the best ideas to help our kids gain literacy skills, so we could easily find what we wanted? There is! The Flit app by the Centre for Family Literacy is not just another literacy app to put in front of your kids. This app is for us, the parents and caregivers of children from birth to 5 years. The Flit (Families Learning and Interacting Together) app offers a curated resource of now over 120 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills.

HOW ELSE CAN THIS APP HELP YOU AS A PARENT?

  • Imagine you are sitting in a restaurant that doesn’t have any activities to keep children busy. Yikes! You could easily open this app and choose an activity to help you occupy your children before their food arrives.
  • Kids are at home for their day off from school and you’re not sure what to do with them to pass the day. Take a peek at the app for ideas to get your day moving.
  • You can’t make it to the Rhymes that Bind family literacy program today because your toddler is sick. You can open the app and do the activities in your own home until you can make it back to the group.
  • It gives you an opportunity to engage with your children in a meaningful way.

The app will also benefit: parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies, day home providers, preschool teachers, and early learning professionals. Watch the short video to see how it works: https://youtu.be/N9z8Cazu03w First, scroll across the top to choose from 8 categories: Books, Rhymes, Games, Crafts, Writing, Numbers, Cooking, or Reading.

Flit1 Once you choose a category, you will see the activities in that category. Simply choose an activity and you will be taken to that activity screen. For example:

Flit2

Once you click on an activity you will be taken to that activity screen.

 Flit3

There you will find:

  • What you need
  • What to do
  • How to do it together with your child

Flit4 At the end of each activity you will find:

  • What concepts can be learned from the activity
  • Additional resources or ideas
  • Related activities

You can also heart favourite activities for use another time or share your activity with family and friends on Facebook.

To get over 125 of the best activities to do with your children to boost and build key literacy skills from birth to 5 years, download the Centre for Family Literacy’s FREE Flit app (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here to download the Android version.

Original blog by Bonnie Dani Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom  

A Simple Way to Make Dressing Your Child Fun!

Hello everybody! We are back for another season of fun with rhymes for you and your 0-3 year old. Autumn can be such a terribly busy time—back to school, dance classes, swimming lessons, hockey, homework, etc.—that we often forget to enjoy the little moments.

With cold weather fast approaching (or here), we will also have to layer up our littles, which can be a time-consuming process. Rhymes can help that process to be a little smoother and hopefully a little faster, and maybe even a little more fun.

To help you both with that task, I’d like to share a few rhymes that I recommend to the parents and caregivers who come to Rhymes that Bind programs.

Baby Put Your Pants On

Tune of “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin’ Bread”

Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Legs to the left, legs to the right
You wiggle and jiggle and you pull them on tight
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3

Baby put your shirt on, shirt on, shirt on
Baby put your shirt on, 1, 2, 3
Arms to the left, arms to the right
You wiggle and jiggle and you button up tight
Baby put your shirt on, shirt on, shirt on
Baby put your shirt on, 1, 2, 3

Baby put your shoes on, shoes on, shoes on
Baby put your shoes on, 1, 2, 3
Feet to the left, feet to the right
You wiggle and jiggle and you do them up tight
Baby put your shoes on, shoes on, shoes on
Baby put your shoes on, 1, 2, 3

Add more clothing verses if needed

Clap your hands to this tune or sing while dressing your littles.

Mitten Weather

Thumbs in the thumb place.
Fingers all together!

(Wiggle thumbs, then fingers together)

We sing this song in mitten weather.
When it’s cold it doesn’t really matter
Whether mittens are wool or made of fine leather.
Thumb in the thumb place,
Fingers all together
We sing this song in mitten weather.

(Wiggle thumbs, then fingers together)

Here is another mitten song you could sing while dressing your littles or sing for fun using the hands gestures.

Mitten Chant

Here is a mitten (Hold up one hand)
A snug and fuzzy one (Rub palms together)
With a place for my fingers (Wiggle fingers)
And a place for my thumbs (Wiggle thumbs)
Here are two mittens (Hold up two hands)
A colourful sight (Move hands back and forth)
One for my left (Hold up left hand)
And one for my right (Hold up right hand)
Here are our mittens (Hold up two hands)
As soft as can be (Stroke the back of one hand)
A warm pair for you (Point to a friend)
And a warm pair for me (Point to yourself)

I hope you enjoy singing these songs and that I’ll see you all at Rhymes that Bind this fall!

If you would like to learn more about us and our programs, please call the Centre for Family Literacy at 780-421-7323 and/or visit the Centre for Family Literacy website, www.famlit.ca.

You can also download Flit, our free appfrom Google Play or the App store. Flit is loaded with fun songs and activities to do with your child, with pictures, descriptions, step by step directions, and information on why and how these activities benefit your child and you.