Archive for the ‘family literacy’ Category

Preschool Family Reading Night: Pajama Jam with Dr. Seuss

March 15, 2011

I had the honor of hosting my final Family Reading Night at my daughter’s preschool last night.  In a late celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2nd – Read Across America Day), the theme was “Pajama Jam with Dr. Seuss.”  Students and parents wore their pajamas and participated in several Dr. Seuss related crafts and read alouds:

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Students were provided with several fish to color red and blue.  After coloring and cutting out the fish, children put the fish in a pattern, punched holes in them and strung them on a piece of yarn.  They were encouraged to hang their fish banner at home.

Dr. Seuss Door Hanger

Students were provided with a foam door hanger and foam Dr. Seuss themed stickers.

Dr. Seuss Bingo

Thanks to my friend and fellow educator, Meredith, who created an awesome Dr. Seuss bingo board, parents were encouraged to read at least three Dr. Seuss books to their child.  If they read three, they received a Dr. Seuss bookmark as a prize.

In addition to these fun activities, students also heard a special read aloud of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by the director of the preschool.  They also enjoyed a snack of rainbow goldfish to match the “red fish, blue fish” mini-theme.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Advertisements

Family Literacy: “Fall Fun” Family Reading Night

November 23, 2010

November is National Family Literacy Month.  This month I will post online and real world resources related to family literacy.

Last week, I hosted our preschool Family Reading Night.  The theme was “fall fun” and families were encouraged to read to perform a task.  This was the fourth Reading Night event I’ve coordinated for my daughter’s school.  This one was a bit bittersweet, because she is moving on to kindergarten next year.

To prep for this Reading Night, I found or created two fall related crafts.  The first one was a Paper Plate Scarecrow from DLTK – a fantastic site for crafts for all ages!  The second craft I created myself using the familiar “hand tracing” turkey.  I also located a fun recipe, Sweet T.O.M. Turkeys, from Family Fun magazine.

I always like to provide a little bit of background literacy information for parents at these events.  I developed Reading to Perform a Task for parents to have a few strategies on hand as they read with their children.

In preparation for the event, the Community Association (our parent group) kindly helped me stuff folders so that each family had the necessary supplies to perform their tasks.  Each folder contained the info sheet for parents, the directions for the two crafts, the materials for the crafts, the recipe for children and their families to make at home, and a free book!  Our Community Association has a small budget and with that I was able to purchase 25 dollar books from Scholastic book clubs.

Families enjoyed creating crafts, listening to the director read aloud a few Thanksgiving based books, and eating snacks. We had a great turn out and everyone had a great time!

Do you want to plan a Reading Night for your school?  Email me at DLittle [at] linkstoliteracy [dot] com to find out how I can help.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

My Go-To Online Literacy Resources

November 16, 2010

November is National Family Literacy Month.  This month I will post online and real world resources related to family literacy.

In this technological age, it is so easy to find information in the matter of seconds.  But, how do you know what information is relevant or correct?  These are a few of my go-to online literacy resources:

PBS Parents – Tons of articles and ideas on how to create a literate environment for your children.  In addition, they also offer a “Bookfinder” which allows you to type in your child’s age and interests and they will locate books for you!

Read, Write, Think – This is a joint effort between the International Reading Association and The National Council for Teachers of English.  This site has a plethora of lesson ideas and activities to complete with your child.  Great stuff!

Reading Rockets – Authors, experts, videos, podcasts, helping struggling readers, and providing that motivation for a child who already loves reading. . . this site has it all!

Thinkfinity – This site provides thousands of free lesson plans you can try at home with your child.  Through Thinkfinity’s support, The National Center for Family Literacy just launched Wonderopolis™ which is “for parents and children to nurture a sense of wonder and build a brighter world for children through the power of discovery, creativity, learning and imagination.” Each day families can visit the site for a “wonder of the day” – an activity that parents and children can do together that encourages wondering, exploring, discussion, and reflection.

What online resources do you frequent regularly?  Why do you like them?

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Fun Ways to Encourage Literacy as a Family

November 9, 2010

November is National Family Literacy Month.  This month I will post online and real world resources related to family literacy.

Here are two “real” ways (as in not technology based) you might want to encourage literacy amongst the family in your home:

Label, Label, Label – Labels are known to be a tremendous help to ELL students learning English for the first time, and they are just as helpful to pre-reading toddlers and preschoolers.  I’ve created Household Word Labels to get you started.  Download it, glue the words to index cards and get crazy taping labels on all of the important objects in your home.  I’ve even left a few blank so you can add your own.  Point out the words when you speak to your child about that particular object.  Play games with the labels:  ask your child to find a label that begins with a particular letter or give him a word and ask him to find the label that rhymes with that word.

Supermarket Scavenger Hunt – How many times have you been in the grocery store and your child has a meltdown because he just doesn’t want to be there anymore?  Tame the tantrum by having him help!  Provide your child with his own list and ask him to locate the items needed.  If your child is a pre-reader, provide pictures.  If he is already reading, provide a short written list of items you would like him to find.  For your pre-readers, print out several copies of Supermarket Scavenger Hunt and the picture form.  When you create your list, glue the pictures of several items you need to the Supermarket Scavenger Hunt for your child to find. Or make your own pictures to add to the form.

What ways do you promote literacy as a family? I’d love to hear how other families incorporate literacy into their lives.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Tips to Increase Family Literacy

November 2, 2010

November is National Family Literacy Month.  This month I will post online and real world resources related to family literacy.

What Can Families Do Together To Promote Literacy?

  1. The number one thing, in my opinion, that families can do together to promote literacy is to read aloud.   Consider hosting a family reading night once a week.  Each week rotate family members to choose a book to read aloud.  If you have children who aren’t of reading age, allow them to pick out the book and have a reading family member read it aloud.  Make it an event! Make snacks, create crafts, or make a game up related to the book.  Need some inspiration?  Check out: Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read by Diane Frankenstein.
  2. Make Reading Interactive!  Choose books based on your child’s interests.  Mix fiction and informational reading together.  Check your local library.  Libraries often have pre-created sets of books based on a specific topic ready for check-out.  After reading books based on the topic, find a family friendly field trip related to the topic.  Read how to motivate readers with real world activities, motivate readers with musicals, or make cultural arts connections.
  3. Make writing part of your family interactions.  Give your family the write start with tips for incorporating writing into your family, or learn about authentic family writing experiences.
  4. Play literacy games with your family.  Turn story time into game time, by reading about how to play with stories.
  5. Make regular family outings to the library, book store, or yard/garage sales to find new books.  Libraries and book stores often showcase new books each month based on seasons, holidays, special events, etc.  Both also often provide story times for young children and special events.  Often you can find special treasures at sales. . . if you really look.
  6. Pay it forward!   As a family, donate books you don’t read anymore to local hospitals, homeless shelters, etc.  Volunteer your time to read to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.  Nothing beats sharing a love of literacy as a family than sharing it with those who can use a little extra attention.  So as the holiday season approaches, consider reading aloud holiday books at your local children’s hospital or nursing home.

Additional Resource:

The Idaho Library system just released a Reading Aloud to Your Children handout in conjunction with the upcoming celebration of Idaho Family Reading Week, November 14-20, 2010.

What ways do you promote literacy as a family? I’d love to hear how other families incorporate literacy into their lives.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Creating Bookworms: Making a Comfortable Reading Nook

September 14, 2010

As a new school year begins for most students, I believe it’s a good time to renew our commitment to our children.  This includes ways to include daily literacy activities for our youngest children.  This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share ways parents and educators can work to create their own little bookworms.

I went to my daughter’s Pre-K open house yesterday.  I always love to see how teachers set up their classrooms and make them open and inviting for children.  I can tell my daughter is going to have a great year based on her teacher’s classroom set up.  She has various centers all over including blocks, dramatic play, art, and most importantly (to me, anyway!) a great reading center.  Her books change with the themes and they are in a front facing shelf so that the children can see the covers of the books and not the spines.  But that’s not what got me.  What I really liked was the comfortable seating area she had set up.  She had four mini-papasan chairs set up around the books as well as a comfy rug and some pillows for students to sit on.  What an inviting environment!

Of course, that got me to think about ways we can set up our own homes to invite our children to want to sit down and read.  It’s important for teachers and schools to provide open and inviting reading environments for students, but it’s equally important at home.  Just as we create individual spaces for our children in the form of their bedrooms, we must consider creating individual reading spaces for our children.  A space in their bedroom or even in a more open part of our homes (family rooms, basements, etc.) is a perfect place to start.  When I was a child, I could read anywhere, the couch, the chair, the bed, you name it.  But, if I had a special reading place I could have called all my own?  Well, I wonder if I would have read more – and I read a lot as a child to begin with!

So, today, I ask, do you have a special reading spot set up for your children?  If not, would you consider making one?  I’m going to make good on my word, and set up special reading nooks for my children.  I’ve realized that we revamped our home library, but we don’t have special reading nooks and that may make all the difference in creating bookworms out of my children – and yours!

What does your child’s reading nook look like?  Do you have special chairs, pillows, etc. set up?  If you have pictures, please email them to me at dlittle {at} linkstoliteracy {dot} com.  If I receive enough photos, I will do a special post of Reader’s Reading Nooks!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Creating Bookworms: Building a Home Library

September 9, 2010

As a new school year begins for most students, I believe it’s a good time to renew our commitment to our children.  This includes ways to include daily literacy activities for our youngest children.  This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share ways parents and educators can work to create their own little bookworms.

One very important way to create a bookworm is access!  If we want to create bookworms, we must provide our children with plenty of reading materials.  One way to do this is to provide them with their own “library” at home.  Here are a few tips for setting up a home library (previously posted in March):

  1. Make books accessible for your child.  Keep them low and easy to reach.
  2. Consider placing books in easy to move baskets, instead of standing them up on a bookshelf.  Placing them in baskets makes it easier for your child to find a book he/she may be looking for.  It’s much easier for a child to choose a book by looking at its cover, rather than the spine.  If you need the space, consider placing some books upright and others laying flat, as seen below.
  3. Consider organizing books by genre or topic.  This is also made easier by baskets.  Each basket can hold its own genre of books! If your children are old enough, consider having them help you sort books and determine genre.
  4. Include periodicals in your home library.  Children love receiving mail and periodicals provide additional opportunities for children to read for different purposes.
  5. Don’t feel confined to one area!  Place “mini-libraries” on every floor of your house.  We have small book holders in our basement playroom, bookshelves in our first floor family room, and each child has bookshelves (overflowing with books!) in their bedrooms.

Over the summer, my children and I rearranged the books in their rooms (again!).  This time, my four year old could help me organize the baskets by topic or theme.  She now has a princess basket, an animal basket, and plenty of miscellaneous books standing upright or laying flat on her bookshelves.  My seven-year old has baskets of Easy Readers, chapter books, graphic novels, and still plenty of picture books scattered throughout his bookshelf.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides Message in a Backpack for families.  For the Love of Books provides families with great tips on how to build a home library.

Do you have any innovative ways you organize your home library?  I would love to hear how others use their space for books!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Parent Reading Resources: Summer Reading Programs

June 22, 2010

Parents often ask what they can do to help minimize the “summer slide,” the effect of a lack of formal schooling in the summer, when students and parents tend to be more lax and children begin to lose what they learned the previous school year, that inevitably sets in every year.

The best answer to this is to encourage your children to read every day.  Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes each day for reading time.  If your children are not reading on their own yet, read to them.  If your children are of reading age, provide choices for them and encourage them to read on their own.

There are several reading programs offered this summer that may help entice children to read:

Borders and Barnes and Noble both offer a reading incentive that provides a free book at the end. Borders program is called “Double Dog Dare” and they are asking kids 12 and under to read 10 books by August 26th.  Bring in the completed book list form to any Borders and receive a free book!  Download a copy of the form from the link above.

Barnes and Noble’s program is based on The 39 Clues series of books.  Children in grades 1-6 are encouraged to read 8 books this summer and list them on their Passport to Summer Reading (download it from the link above).    Children have until September 7 to complete their passport and return it to any Barnes and Noble to receive their free book.  Parents can also download fun activities for children at the Barnes and Noble link above.

Scholastic is also offering a summer reading challenge.  Children are asked to read books and log the number of minutes they read.  When kids log their reading minutes, they help their schools as they participate in the Read for the World Record Challenge! The Top 20 schools with the most reading minutes will appear in the “Scholastic Book of World Records” 2011 edition.  Children ages 7 and up are encouraged to participate.

The KidsPost is offering it’s Tenth Annual Summer Book Club for young readers.  This year’s choices include books by “blockbuster authors” such as Rick Riordan, Ann M. Martin, and John Grisham.  Most of the books are available at the library and each Wednesday, the KidsPost will review that week’s book and offer similar books that a reader may enjoy.

In addition to summer reading, consider enriching your child’s summer with cultural arts and science activities. Keeping children busy over the summer should help negate that pesky “summer slide.”

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you

Parent Reading Resources: Picture Books

June 17, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Over the weekend, I started thinking about how I might be able to shake things up a bit around my own house this summer.  We read all the time, and often times I wonder if my kids are getting a bit bored with the books we read.  I certainly do sometimes!  So, I decided to turn to my Twitter friends and Facebook followers to get their opinion on picture books.  I asked for their top two favorite new or semi-new picture books.

I figure, if I feel the need to shake things up a bit in my house this summer, you just might feel the same!  So, I’m super excited to share the list with you.  I’ve listed contributors by their Twitter name and if they have a blog, I’ve noted that as well:

@beckymaher suggested Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) and City Dog, Country Frog both by Mo Willems (and if you are a regular reader of Literacy Toolbox, then you know I love MO!)

@TeachJohnson suggested Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio

Justine blogs at Random Thoughts of a Teacher

@Cathy_Blackler suggested  Adios, Oscar!: A Butterfly Fable by Peter Elwell

Cathy blogs at Picture Books, Novels and Bios, Oh My!

@TWRCtankcom suggested Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini and Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs by Alan Katz

Julie blogs at TWRCtank

My current favorites are My Garden by Kevin Henkes and Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct
by Mo Willems.  The latter isn’t exactly new, but is a current favorite.  And, while I have heard of all of the books recommended here, I have not read any of them to my children yet, so I believe a trip to the book store or the library is in order today (the first day of summer vaca for my kiddos!)

What are your top two favorite picture books to read with children? Leave them in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Parent Reading Resources: Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

June 15, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever is another **must have**  resource for parents.  Mem Fox, a renowned Australian author, begins the book with an anecdote about her own daughter.  When her daughter begins kindergarten, she learns from her teacher that she can in fact already read.  “How?” asks Fox.  The answer: from the time she was born until she set foot in kindergarten, Fox read aloud to her.  That was all it took.  This is a powerful anecdote to say the least; but one that I hold personally true, because my son began kindergarten the same way.  Of course, this is not to say that if you read aloud to your child every day from the time they are born until they step foot in kindergarten that they will be reading by kindergarten.  All children learn differently and learning to read is developmental.  Reading aloud to your child provides an amazing advantage for your child and certainly prepares him/her to become a reader.  Don’t be discouraged if your child begins kindergarten and is not a reader yet.  It will come in time.

In Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, Fox explains that babies are born learners.  She discusses the importance of books in the home and stresses the value of a read-aloud ritual – all topics you’ve likely seen in posts here!

While Fox does include a chapter on how to read aloud, which may be helpful to some parents, she does not include age-appropriate reading lists for parents.  For this reason alone, I would likely pair Reading Magic with Jim Trelease’s, The Read Aloud Handbook.

Still, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever is another great resource that will serve parents well as they work to raise readers in their home.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.