Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reading with Little Miss Muffet: March 2015

New Book Behaviors

  • Finishing sentences. Little Miss Muffet has a few favorite words in her vocabulary now, and when we read to her, my husband and I will occasionally pause and prompt her to fill in a missing word by pointing to its picture. Sometimes she gets distracted by something more interesting and leaves us hanging, but most of the time, she happily says the right word, then laughs to show how pleased she is to participate.
  • Interacting with lift-the-flap books. Lots of Little Miss Muffet's lift-the-flap books are simple hide-and-seek stories which pose yes or no questions, such as "Is Mommy behind the chair?" In the past couple of weeks, Miss Muffet has started shaking her head and saying "No," as she lifts each flap. (She doesn't quite know what to do yet when the answer is not no, but we'll get there!) 

Three Current Favorites 

Miss Muffet's basket was overflowing with way too many books this past month, so it was hard to tell which ones were her true favorites. Only three really stand out as memorable, as they are the ones she consistently brings to me and demands to hear.

  • Richard Scarry's Best Word Book EverWe've only owned this book for a few days, but it is an endless source of entertainment. We got the original 1963 edition from a used book store, and Miss Muffet can't get enough of pointing out the objects she knows and asking to know the names of unfamiliar ones. So far, we've spent a lot of time naming zoo animals, kitchen gadgets, clothing, and vehicles, and there are still entire pages we haven't even touched.
  • Little Lions by Jim Arnosky Another used book, this one was a story time favorite when I was working. It's a very simple story about two baby mountain lions cuddling and playing with their mother on a ledge. The illustrations are all pretty similar, but Miss Muffet gets the biggest kick out of pointing to the cubs and to the butterflies that fly above them in some of the illustrations.
  • Bugs by Andrews McMeel PublishingThis board book came from the library, and it is the book which first prompted Miss Muffet to pretend to fly like a butterfly, a motion which she now also does with her little stuffed butterfly. Having this book in the house for three weeks was a nice change of pace from identifying and making the sounds of farm animals, and it was a great way to introduce insect vocabulary into Little Miss Muffet's repertoire. 

One Tip from Mom 

  • Don't just read board books. Many parents feel that they have to limit their babies and toddlers to board books because otherwise, their kids will destroy books and rack up library fines. I have not found this to be the case. Miss Muffet has only ripped one library book so far, and it was a book that was already severely tattered and missing pages - she basically just continued a tear that was well underway. I regularly check out picture books for her, and she flips through picture books on her own almost every day. I don't leave her alone with them for long periods, because boredom does tend to lead to destruction, but she will sit quite nicely beside me on the couch and flip through book after book without leaving behind even a smudge. Some kids might be more prone to ruining books than others, but my advice is to give them the opportunity to treat books properly before deciding they can't be trusted to do so. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

10 Alphabet Songs You May Not Know

Do you ever get tired of singing the ABCs? Breathe new life into your efforts to teach your children the alphabet with these lesser-known ABC songs.
  • "Alphabet Medley" by Sharon Lois and Bram
    This song appears on the Sing A to Z album. The track begins with the traditional alphabet song, but the second part of the medley is a totally different -  and very catchy! - tune. Because Sharon, Lois, and Bram are Canadian, they sing "zed" instead of "zee" for  the final letter, which might confuse some US listeners, but you could always learn the tune and sing the song your own way.
  • "Nursery Rhyme Rap" from The Bilingual Book of Rhymes, Songs, Stories, and Fingerplays by Pam Schiller, Rafael Lara-Alecio, and Beverly J. Irby
    The chorus of this song is the letters of the alphabet, and the verses are different nursery rhymes. Everything is sung to the tune of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.
  • "ABCD Medley" by the Laurie Berkner Band
    In this song, Laurie Berkner gives the traditional alphabet song a bouncy new rhythm and intersperses it with other favorite children's songs, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
  • "African Alphabet"
    This beautiful song from Sesame Street teaches the names of the letters and their corresponding sounds by describing a simple scene from an African jungle. It is sung by Kermit the Frog and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
  • "ABC-DEF-GHI"Also from Sesame Street, this song plays with letter sounds as Big Bird attempts to pronounce ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ as one word.
  • "A You’re Adorable
    This is an old song from the 1940's, a hit version of which was recorded by Perry Como. It has also been heard on Sesame Street and recorded by Sharon, Lois, and Bram and John Lithgow. Martha Alexander also did a really sweet board book version, published in 1994.
  • "Marching Around the Alphabet" by Hap Palmer
    Hap Palmer turns the alphabet into a physical game, where kids march around a set of letters lying on the floor, and stop periodically to identify the nearest letter. See this song in action on YouTube.
  • "ABC Chant" by Barbara Milne
    This song is a list of the letters just like the original song, but it has a slightly different, gentler tune, which can easily be learned on a guitar or ukulele.
  • "El Abecedario" by Jose Luis Orozco
    Jose Luis Orozco is well-known for his Spanish language children's songs. This is his alphabet song, focusing on the letters of the Spanish alphabet. (It is followed by the traditional English alphabet song.)
  • "Swinging the Alphabet" by The Three Stooges
    This silly song was featured in a 1938 Three Stooges film called  Violent Is the Word for Curly. According to Wikipedia, it was written even earlier, in 1875, under the title "The Spelling Bee." In the 1980s, it was recorded by Joanie Bartels on Sillytime Magic as simply "The Alphabet Song."

Friday, March 20, 2015

5 Recommended Authors for Kids Who Love Byron Barton and Donald Crews

An adult services librarian friend who has a toddler asked me a while ago for reading suggestions for her son who loves Byron Barton and Donald Crews. Knowing how popular these authors are, I knew that the list I shared with her would probably be helpful to lots of parents with young children, so today I'm compiling it here.

Philemon Sturges

Sturges's collection of simple texts about things young kids love is illustrated with bold pictures by Shari Halpern. The illustrations are similar to Byron Barton's work, and the transportation themes, especially, will appeal to Crews fans.

Emma Garcia

Emma Garcia's onomatopoetic picture books explore cars, construction sites, and tools  through sound. The brightly colored illustrations are perfect for toddlers, and great for large-group story times.

Jonathan London

Jonathan London also tells transportation stories using silly sounds words. His books are slightly longer and more suitable for three- and four-year-olds. Denis Roche's illustrations are very similar to Byron Barton's pictures of vehicles in his books. 

Babs Bell

Babs Bell's transportation-themed books tell simple stories about waiting for a bridge to go down, and coping with a broken-down vehicle.

Jane Cabrera

Among Jane Cabrera's many books are these two adaptations of favorite children's songs about transportation. The Wheels on the Bus is the perfect complement to Byron Barton's My Bus and Row, Row, Row Your Boat pairs nicely with Donald Crews's Sail Away.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Mud

Spring rain showers provide lots of great chances for kids to play in the mud. Use these early literacy activities to supplement your messy play time.

  • Write in the mud with a stick. Help your child practice recognizing letters, sight words, or his name by writing in the mud with a stick and asking the child to name what you have written, or challenge your child to write certain letters or words in the mud on his own and see how many he knows.
  • Act out the story of Mrs. Wishy Washy. Pretend to be the cow, duck, and pig who play in the mud, then get washed off  by Mrs. Wishy Washy.  This would be an especially great activity for multiple children to enjoy together. (You can also easily do this one inside if you'd rather avoid a muddy mess.)
  • Sing a worm song. While they dig and splash in the mud, kids can sing fun songs like Herman the Worm and Nobody Likes Me.
  • Make a mud pie. Encourage kids to use mud, leaves, grass, flowers, and anything else found outdoors to build the perfect mud pie. Have them name their ingredients and narrate the process to enhance their creativity and narrative skills.
For more outdoor early literacy fun, check out these ideas for activities to enjoy at the park. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Flannel Friday: Bunny by Luana Rinaldo

Last Easter, when Little Miss Muffet was only a few months old, she was given a "Clacker" book by her grandmother. (It looks like this.) The text inside the book is a simple story about a bunny, who loves to bounce. He bounces past a variety of animals, and ends up at home where all the other bunnies are sleeping. Miss Muffet rediscovered the book not long ago, and I read it 10 times in a row in a single morning at her request. After so many readings, I realized it would adapt well to the flannel board and would work well for a variety of Springtime themes. 

Out of respect for copyright, I have only reproduced the text from the first two spreads of the book. Though you could probably make up your own version of the story pretty easily, if you find you would like to have the full text, send me an email, and I will be happy to share. (It seems really unlikely that most libraries would have this book!) 

by Luana Rinaldo

Bunny loves to bounce! Boing! Boing!
Bunny bounces over the stream where the fish are splashing.
Splash! Splash! 

Then bunny sees birds in a tree (Tweet! Tweet!)... 

...hens in a field (Cluck! Cluck!)...

...and lambs in a meadow (Baa! Baa!)

Then he goes home to see the rest of the bunnies. 

Flannel Friday is hosted this week by Laura from La La La Library. For more about Flannel Friday, visit the official website

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Car

Whether the trip you're taking is long or short, the car is the perfect place to have fun with early literacy. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your car rides:
  • Look for out-of-state license plates. Encourage your child to look for unfamiliar license plates and to figure out which state is printed on them based on the letters they start with. If you're on an especially long drive, keep a list of all the states you see and challenge your child to be the first to spot one you haven't found yet. 
  • Put kids on the lookout for signs.Car trips can seem really long for kids who can't tell time. Break up the trip into kid-friendly segments by having your child watch out for particular signs that you know are coming up on the roadside. Give them clues as to how many letters are in the word they are looking for, or what letter the word starts with and ask them to "help" you by letting you know when they can see the sign. 
  • Listen to an audiobook.Listening to a well-produced audiobook is a treat for kids and parents alike. Choose something that will appeal to you and your child and pause now and then for discussion and predictions. This is a great way to work some relaxing reading into your vacations! 
  • Play the Alphabet Game. There are many variations on this game, and the one you use will depend on the age of your children. Some play it as a letter hunt, where everyone looks for the letters of the alphabet, in order, on the signs and vehicles they pass. Others choose a category and attempt to name something in that category for each letter of the alphabet. Another possibility is to choose one letter and name as many things as you can that start with it.
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