Celebrate National Reading Month...even if your child can't read yet!
Even non-readers can celebrate Reading Month. Here are 6 skills to prepare your young child for reading.
Each year at the beginning of March, school children kick off National Reading Month by celebrating the birthday of the beloved Dr. Seuss. Teachers will design contests, family literacy events, and even pajama & pillow days to provide cozy mornings of uninterrupted reading. With help from Read Across America, their goal is motivating kids to read every day of the year.
But what about the little ones? With a little help, they can enjoy National Reading Month too.
Research findings outlined in a recent report of the National Early Literacy Panel highlight the fact that literacy skills begin to develop at birth. The panel identified a number of early skills that are related to-and may even help predict-a child's later success with reading and writing.
Skills closely related to later success with reading and writing
Alphabet knowledge-the ability to name letters and the sounds they make
Phonological awareness-the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds of spoken language (such as hear the beginning sound of a word)
Rapid letter or number naming-the ability to quickly name letters or numbers
Rapid object or color naming-the ability to quickly name random series of colors or objects
Phonological memory-the ability to remember spoken information for a short period of time
Writing letters or one's own name-the ability to write single letters in isolation, or write their own name
So, even young children who are not yet reading can join in the celebration of National Reading Month. While each child's developmental journey has its own pace, the next section describes how you can help foster these important skills with activities that suit your child's current abilities and interests. And chances are, you and your child already engage in some of these activities!
Activities to Foster Important Early Skills
Knowing letters and sounds:
Sing the Alphabet Song. The number of versions on iTunes alone is testament to its enduring appeal. Have fun singing this familiar tune with different tempos or silly voices (monster voice, tiny mouse voice, robot voice).
Hunt for environmental print. Start a game of I-Spy and have your child search for letters prominently displayed on signs, posters, billboards, even cereal boxes.
Play with alphabet letters. Pull out the magnets, blocks, puzzles, whatever you have, and name the letters, eventually having your child identify the letter names on his own. It's usually best to introduce letters in alphabetical order, or start with the letters in your child's name. Upper case letters can be easier to tell apart, so they are often introduced first. At the same time, the lower case letters show up more in print, so there are good reasons to include both. Also, help your child match the letters with the sounds they make, along with a familiar word that contains the letter sound.
Explore the Starfall website. The ABCs section contains activities designed to help your child learn letter names and sounds.
Playing with the sounds of language:
Introduce nursery rhymes and sing-along games. Recite nursery rhymes, play the name game (Mason, Mason, bo bason, bananfana...), check out children's sing-along CDs at the local library, and spark your child's delight in the sounds of language.
Enjoy rhyming books. Read aloud and pause at opportune spots, encouraging your child to join in on the rhyming portions of text.
Go on a treasure hunt. Help your child search for items in your home that rhyme, or start with the same sound.
Tune your child's ears to the rhythm of music. Clap or dance to the beat, or tweak lyrics by substituting new rhyming words, even silly ones. Music provides plenty of natural opportunities for children to appreciate and manipulate the sounds of language.
Remembering what you hear:
Read it again...and again. When your child asks for repeated readings of the same book, rejoice! While you may tire of the storyline, your child is gradually memorizing the text and enhancing her listening comprehension. Eventually, you can encourage your child to "read" the story to you, using what she's memorized to retell the tale. You can also have your child retell the story using puppets, or by simply acting it out. Books with predictable, repetitive storylines are a good place to start.
Read and discuss. While younger children benefit from fewer interruptions during reading in order to maintain attention, occasionally ask your child questions about the story and illustrations. Sometimes, repeat your child's response. Other times, expand on what he has said, or make your own responses. This provides your child with a model of how to talk about books and enhances his ability to remember what he's heard.
Make up listening games. Implement a version of Simon Says, with one, then two, then three or more verbal instructions to follow (Simon Says, touch your nose; Simon says touch your nose, then jump. Simon Says touch your nose, then jump, then turn around).
Quickly naming letters, numbers, objects, and colors:
Play beat-the-clock. Open a book or magazine and have your child point to, and name, as many letters, numbers, objects, or colors as she can in 30 seconds.
Put a new twist on Slap Jack. As with the original version of the game, a deck of cards is divided equally between two players, with the stacks face down. One at a time, each player places the top card of her pile face up in the center of the table, but in this version of the game, the first player to name the number on the top card wins the pile and adds these cards to his own pile. If both players name the number at the same time, neither player gets the pile, and the game continues. Play continues until a player has won all of the cards. Other versions can be played with cards from games such as Memory or Old Maid.
Writing letters, writing your name:
Paint with water. Grab a bowl of water and a couple of paint brushes or sponges and "paint" letters on the sidewalk or on a wooden fence.
Scribble in the sand. Use fingers or small sticks to draw letters in the sand.
With the assurance that even the youngest children are on the road to reading, here's to embracing March as National Get-Ready-to-Read Month and building on these important foundational skills well beyond March 31st.
In honor of Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss' Birthday (which was Friday, March 2). First 5 Amador had a Facebook Contest to win 5 children's books, each! Families posted pictures of their little ones reading (or being read to) on our Facebook page! To make sure you know about any future contests here at First 5, please LIKE us on Facebook!
Dad and Me Every Month!
Celebrate being a dad (or uncle, or grandpa...) every month at our Dad and Me outings, held at fun venues around the county!
This month join us at the Upcountry Community Center in Pine Grove for a fun hands-on morning building with our hands! Enjoy a snack, story-time and a free book to bring home.
Saturday, March 31, 10:00am - 12:00pm.
See theFLYER with all the information.
Save the fourth Saturday of every month for more outings held at fun venues around the county. Story time, a snack and a free book are provided each month!
How can you give kids the best start in life?
Are the children in your program at risk for social or emotional difficulties?
We know how critical the first 5 years of life are.
The sooner we catch a delay or disability in a young child, the sooner we can help connect them with services and supports that make a real difference. The Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ/ASQ-SE) are parent-completed developmental and social-emotional screeners used to pinpoint delays as early as possible and can identify any need for further assessment or ongoing monitoring.
Come to a free training to learn all about these valuable screening tools and how to best work with families to ensure every child is getting the best start in life they can get. Receive a free ASQ Kit at the training.
Thursday, March 13, 5:30-8:00 (new date!)
(dinner at 5:30, meeting starts at 6:00)
Call (209) 257-1092 for more information about the training and to RSVP.
Would you like to improve the quality of care you offer to children in your family child care home, preschool setting, or other early learning environment? Give us a call at First 5 and find out about the many resources (and incentives!) available to you, (209) 257-1092.
The Summer Kindergarten Bridge Program is designed for children who will be starting kindergarten in the Fall. First 5 Amador is seeking teachers, and teacher's aides, to serve children at each of these sites.
Dates and times are: Monday - Thursday, 8:00 - 11:30 am, from June 11 through June 28. These positions are ideal for current kindergarten, transitional-kindergarten, or preschool teachers, aides, or students in the Early Childhood Education field. Education and/or experience required.
If interested, please contact First 5 Amador at 257-1092, for an application. All applications are due no later than 2:00 pm on FRIDAY, MARCH 16.
Download the Enrollment Form, HERE or in Spanish, HERE.
Little Free Libraries offer a way to share good things to read: books that intrigue, books that teach, books that are fun! Whose libraries are these? They belong to everybody: neighbors, friends, people we don't even know yet. Anyone can use them. That's why we want to take care of them. Share a book: after you read a book, bring it to any Little Free Library, and bring other books from home that you would like to share. Take a book: if you see a book you would like to read, take it, and then bring it back for someone else to read.
Amador County now has over 20 Little Free Libraries in every corner of the county! Print out the map below and find one near you!
Nothing says Saint Patrick's Day like a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end!
Put this out at the beginning of the day and let your kids snack on healthy fruits all day long. They'll love the idea and they'll enjoy making their way to the pot of gold. Put a bowl of banana slices at the ends of the rainbow, or bowls of yogurt for dipping to be your pot of gold!
Here are some fun Spring ideas for kids for National Nutrition Month, Saint Patrick's Day, and the First day of Spring:
Help you children keep a daily eating log, making sure they understand the importance of healthy eating
Color a Saint Patrick's Day picture
Tell Leprechaun stories
Help your kids come up with a list of all the reasons they like spring
Start some seeds in your yard or in small pots for the house
One day, California's success
will be measured by the
well-being of its youngest children.
Calling all children 0 to 5 years of age.
Join Amador's favorite reading club!
Over 800 Amador kids and counting! Get free books for your children! Sign your child up today and start receiving one free book every month from the Imagination Library! This is a free program,
available to all Amador County children aged 0-4
(from birth until their 5th birthday).