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 120 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  

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 120 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

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 120 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

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 120 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

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 120 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 FREE Flit app, (Families Learning and Interacting Together).

Click here for the iOS version

Click here to download the Android version

 

Homemade Fun!

Making recipes with your child is fun, but you may be wondering “What does this have to do with literacy?”

Research recognizes that the home environment and parent-child interactions are an important influence on a child’s literacy development. Positive and meaningful parent and child interactions can lead to enhanced language, literacy, emotional, and cognitive development.

When you and your child…

  • talk together and make plans for the day
  • read through a recipe book together and decide which recipe to make
  • talk about the ingredients and what they are
  • write a grocery list together and talk about the words you are writing down
  • go to the grocery store and notice the different road signs or count the red cars along the way
  • read your grocery list together to make sure you have everything you need
  • read the recipe together and measure out ingredients and talk about the fun things you will do with your chalk, bubbles, paint or gak…

… you are providing your child with rich literacy experiences and positive interactions that strengthen family bonds and promote literacy development!

FUN RECIPES

Giant Bubble Mix

Use the following bubble recipe to refill your store bought bubble container. You can also add a drop or two of food colouring to make colourful bubbles. Make your own bubble wands – pipe cleaners bent into interesting shapes, cookie cutters, or yogurt lids with the centres cut out.

  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup Joy/Dawn dishwashing liquid
  1. In a large bowl stir water and corn syrup until combined.
  2. Add dish soap and stir very gently until well mixed.
  3. Use mixture to blow giant bubbles.

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk (non toxic)

  • 1 ½ cups of cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • Molds – anything can be used!  Empty egg cartons, Dixie cups, ice cube trays, etc.
  • Food colouring – assorted colors.
  1. Mix the water and cornstarch together until smooth.
  2. Pour into your molds.
  3. Add 3 or more drops of food colouring to the molds to get the colours you desire and mix well.
  4. Allow 2-3 days for the molds to harden completely in a dry, warm place. Pop out your chalk and have some fun! Store the chalk in a dry container.

Homemade Finger Paint

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups cold water
  • 1 1⁄4 cups hot water
  • Food colouring
  1. Combine flour, salt, and cold water in a saucepan.
  2. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth.
  3. Place over medium heat, and slowly stir in hot water.
  4. Continue stirring until mixture boils and begins to thicken.
  5. Remove from heat, and beat with a whisk until smooth.
  6. Divide the mixture into several different containers or bowls.
  7. Add 4-5 drops of food colouring to each container and stir well. Store in the fridge.

For best results, paint on freezer paper or finger paint paper.

For more recipes and other great literacy ideas, check out our other blogs, our Flit app available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, or call the Centre for Family Literacy at 780-421-7323 to find a Literacy Links workshop near you!

 

Books for Sophomore Babies

Older babies can choose their favourites

The Books for Babies program focuses on the first 12 months of baby’s development. So, I thought I would take some time to talk about sharing books in baby’s 2nd year.

  • Older babies show more obvious preferences. You can use that information to choose books that you know your baby will enjoy.
  • Babies will start to point to things to learn new words. They will also start to invite you to read again the books they like. Or they will bring books to you to read to them. Follow their lead. Their drive to explore and understand will lead to deeper engagement and learning.
  • Your baby is getting better and better at turning pages—it might look like flipping pages back and forth. They are opening and closing books, over and over. But in time, page turning will become less interesting than what they can find on the pages. And when that happens, you might finally get to read a book, page by page, from beginning to end.
  • Keep in mind that your baby’s attention span is still pretty limited. You’ll have to work to keep their attention. Use voices, sound effects, props and actions to get a few extra seconds of their attention when you can.
  • Don’t force reading on them. They often want to move around and explore at this stage, and that kind of learning is important too.
  • Even when you can’t hold your child’s attention, you can still read to them. They are listening and learning even if they aren’t sitting with you. As the book becomes more and more familiar, they will come by to check out the pictures from time to time.
  • They’ll start to sing along with you and chime in when books repeat a familiar phrase over and over. Reading and singing together is an important step to independent reading. Enjoy it!

  • Long after your baby starts asking about pictures and objects, they start pointing at words for you to name. You can try pointing to common words. Or try following along with your finger underneath words as you read. Take it easy, and watch for your child’s reaction. If they’re not into it yet, that’s okay. You can try again later.
  • Toddlers are busy! Sometimes book sharing works best at the end of the day as part of a bedtime routine. Reading together can be a cozy way to bond, relax and unwind after a hectic day.

If you’re interested in the Books for Babies program, visit the Centre for Family Literacy website at www.famlit.ca

The Magic of a Rhyme

Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright…”

You have probably sung this song to yourself, or along with a choir or the radio  every year. I know I sang it to myself as I wrote that line. Do you ever catch yourself reminiscing as you hum a song you have known since childhood?

Think back to one of your happiest, warmest memories of the holidays when you were a child. What do you remember? You may recall smells and songs, and how those things are attached to your family traditions and celebrations.

Perhaps there was a song passed down to you from your parents or grandparents, and hearing or singing that song will always remind you of them and that time. Songs can evoke strong memories and the feelings related to them, and maybe you want to share them with your own family. That is the power of a song.

For fun, while I was writing this, I had a conversation with my 21 year-old daughter. I wanted to know what songs she remembered from her childhood Christmases. It made her smile and laugh as she remembered and replied “Shrek – 12 days of Christmas. I don’t think there has been a Christmas that we haven’t played it.” I had to laugh and smile with her because it made my heart feel so warm remembering my daughter when she was younger. I had no idea it had meant that much to her. And the Shrek Christmas CD had became part of our family holiday tradition just by playing it once years ago.

Songs and rhymes not only elicit fond memories but they can also be a handy parenting tool. If you haven’t tried it or witnessed it, try this next time your child is fussy, mad, pouty or generally uncooperative. Start singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. Or any rhyme that comes to mind. Your child might be surprised and distracted enough with a little song that they want to join you in singing, or just quiet down to listen to you. The distraction might stop a tantrum from coming on.

When can you use this distraction? Anytime! Where can you use this distraction? Anywhere! Kids can easily get frustrated when moving from one task or errand to another, so these transition times are great times to use songs. The holiday season line-ups and car trips are also good times to try singing with your little one to make the moment happier for both of you!

A couple of bonuses are that anyone can use some extra bonding time during this hectic season, and without even realizing it, you are supporting your child in their development of oral literacy.

As Buddy the Elf would say “the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!” —from the movie Elf.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Please join us in the new year for a Rhymes that Bind program for more rhymes you can sing with you children! Check the Centre for Family Literacy website mid December for the winter program schedule.

Sharing Stories

Stories are so important to children’s development, and the following short list barely scratches the surface. Stories help children:

  • develop creativity and imagination
  • develop their language and thinking skills
  • build the knowledge and skills they will eventually need to learn to read

Books are just one of the tools you may use to share stories with your children, and there is so much more to sharing a book than just reading the words!

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!

 

 

60 Days of Summer!

Summer has just started, so why am I writing about the end of summer already?

While I hate to write about summer’s end so soon, for some parents the end of summer marks a new and exciting beginning—Kindergarten!

In Alberta, children who are four years of age, on or before March 1, may register in Kindergarten‌ for the 2018-19 school year.

Whether you’re a first time parent or a seasoned one, this time of year comes with many hopes and fears for your little ones, who themselves are hardly bigger than the backpacks they carry.

But you know what parents? You have done a great job in preparing them for this day, and your children likely have most of the skills they need to be successful as they start school. However, why not take the opportunity to spend the next couple of months practicing some of these skills, and maybe introduce a few new ones.

SUMMER ACTIVITIES THAT PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN FOR KINDERGARTEN:

1. Sidewalk chalk

Writing doesn’t have to be inside on a piece of paper with a pen. Make it fun by getting some sidewalk chalk and heading outside! Make sure you get the big sidewalk chalk—they are easier to grip, while regular chalk sticks break too easily. Have your children write their name or the alphabet on the sidewalk.

2. Go on a picnic

Bring a deck of letter flashcards with you and play alphabet “Go Fish.” You could also count flowers, trees, or insects. Nature provides us with endless learning materials.

3. Scavenger hunt

Kids are multi-modal learners, which means they learn best when they can use all of their senses. Make a colours and shapes scavenger hunt and go for a walk. In this kind of activity, your children use body movement, sight, sound, smell, and laughter. Bonus: they can carry their backpacks to collect their treasures.

4. Quiet time

On a rainy day, or an extremely hot day, you may find yourself sitting indoors. Find a pair of child-safe scissors and practice cutting play dough. To make the task more difficult, give your children some old magazines and make a collage of things they like about summer.

5. Reading

Make reading a part of your daily routine. This can be done at any time during the day, inside or outside. Let the kids pick which book they would like to read and follow along with your finger as you read to them. Try picking up The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn— it’s for children starting school or separating from their parents for the first time.

6. Go to the playground

Earlier I had mentioned your children likely have many skills needed for Kindergarten already. I will assume this summer won’t be your first time at the playground. Playgrounds are perfect settings for developing social skills. Allow your children to play on their own and alongside other children, and step in when they need help assessing their feelings and problem-solving. Or play with them! Model confidence in tackling the ‘big’ slide or take turns going across the monkey bars. Invite other children to play a round of grounders with you and your little ones.

7. Sing

Sing some songs with your children as you walk or play outside. Rhymes are a good way to practice sounds and follow simple directions. Try “Open Shut Them” (see below) and “Old McDonald.”

8. Make a chore chart

Chore charts have many uses. Try making one that incorporates their school day morning routine. You could include things such as: brush your teeth; get dressed; have breakfast; and put on your shoes and coat. I like these because you get to put what you need your children to do on the chart, and they get to complete it with a sticker or another type of marker. Start practicing the routine before school starts.

You are probably practicing some of these skills already. Just keep it fun and don’t make it stressful for you or your children. Remember, you will always be their best and favourite teacher. Have a great summer and we hope to see you in the fall when all of our programs start up again. Mark your calendar to check the Centre for Family Literacy website in late summer to find a fun program for your 0-6 year old.

Open Shut Them

Open shut them, open shut them
Give a little clap (clap clap)
Open shut them, open shut them
Place them on your lap

Shake them, shake them, shake them, shake them
Shake them just like this (shaking hands)
Place your hands upon your lips
And blow a great big kiss