Building Future Writers

Play Matters to reading success

Rock Wall

We’ve talked a lot about reading in this blog and I was reminded at a work training this week that not only do we prepare our kids to become future readers, but we prepare them to become future writers as well.

I was under the misconception that writing was all about fine motor skills. I did a lot with my kids to strengthen their pincer grasp, but I didn’t know how important shoulder, back and forearm strength was for future handwriting success.

This workshop opened my eyes to a whole new level of early literacy success.

Some of the ideas I share below came from the workshop and others came from a great website called Your Therapy Source: Gross Motor Skills and Handwriting. I’ve put it in a graphic format so you can print it out and remind yourself to add play into your day to help your child develop the muscles he needs to become a strong handwriter.

Develop Future Writers

This afternoon go find a park and try out some of the activities, not only will you and your child spend some quality time together, the play will actually build the arm and hand strength needed to be a successful student.Hanging

There are also great blog posts about how handwriting develops.

Developmental Progression of Handwriting Skills at Mama OT

Activities to Practice Handwriting Skills at Home at Growing Hands on Kids

What other gross motor skills have you used to build shoulder, back, and arm muscles for writing?

Reading aloud should never stop

When my kids were toddlers and preschoolers we literally spent hours a day reading. First thing in the morning, right after lunch, after naps, before dinner, and as a getting ready for bed routine. We were a read aloud family.

As the kids get older it is harder to keep up with the routine. First my oldest started reading independently and then soon after her brother followed and my youngest will still hand us books to read but as she becomes a more confident reader the read aloud routine is sporadic at best.

I know the research that shows reading aloud benefits all ages. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school age kids, tweens, teens and yes, even adults.

“The first reason to read aloud to older kids is to consider the fact that a child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until about the eighth grade,” said Trelease, referring to a 1984 study performed by Dr. Thomas G. Sticht showing that kids can understand books that are too hard to decode themselves if they are read aloud. “You have to hear it before you can speak it, and you have to speak it before you can read it. Reading at this level happens through the ear.”

Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Retrieved on 10-11-17 from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/05/14/why-reading-aloud-to-older-children-is-valuable/

Read aloud tips for older kids:

  • A level or two above their own reading level. This helps mature reading comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Give them something to do with their hands while you read. Coloring books, Legos, knitting, drawing, it doesn’t matter what, as long as their hands stay busy their minds and ears stay open.
  • Make it a family event. Turn off phones and the TV. Make it part of the bedtime routine or after dinner routine or even in the morning. Find a time that works for your family.

It does become challenging the older our kids get to find time to read together. Sports, homework and extracurricular activities overtake the evenings and weekends, but there isn’t a better gift you can give your children then reading together as a family.

Copy of Building Future Reader's Read Aloud List for Big Kids

 

More Resources

Check out the Read Aloud Revival podcast for read aloud tips

Look for the read aloud classic and find book lists at  Jim Trelease’s Website

Common Sense Media: 10 Amazing Books to Read Aloud to Big Kids

Common Sense Media: 10 Reasons You Should Read Aloud to Big Kids Too

What are your favorite chapter books to read with older children? Post in the comments section to share ideas.

 

Happy Reading!

What Makes a Reader?

On my Facebook feed yesterday, there was a link to an article on a new study published by the journal Developmental Psychology. The study found that children who find reading success use something called “inventive spelling” as she writes. Find a link to the full article here.

WHAT IS INVENTIVE SPELLING?

Inventive spelling is how a child writes the words he hears. Children use the sounds they here to create the words on the page. I often see this in my own children’s writing work when they create stories. School will often be written as skul or skl. As the child matures, according to the study, the consonant and vowel sounds develop.

In the Children’s House in the Montessori classroom, this type of invented spelling is encouraged through the work, the moveable alphabet. The children use wooden letters and place them on a large mat, lined like a piece of paper. Children start by placing the letters on the mat, writing single words. Then stories. After the letters are placed on the mat, they will copy what they see onto a piece of paper and illustrate the story. Reinforcing hand strength, reading comprehension and phonological awareness.

The large takeaway from this study is memorizing sight words does not lead to reading success. The exploration of reading and words by the child and child directed, however does.

How to encourage “invented spelling”

  1. Have a lot of writing material available. No matter where you are, it is easy to carry a small notebook and pencil with you. In the car, waiting in line at the grocery store, or waiting for your child’s turn at the doctor’s office, have a notebook and pencil at the ready. Have her write down what she sees or a story about what will happen.
  2. Chalkboards work too. Chalkboards are great for many reasons. But I like the versatility of them. Children can use chalk, or even their fingers to form letters and words in the dust.
  3. Foam letters. Even if your child hasn’t mastered writing, he can use foam letters to form words and stories.
  4. Don’t worry about correcting or editing the words. At this stage your child is learning how words are put together and they sounds he hears. All of this leads to developing the skills he needs to become a future reader. Spelling comes later!

Take a look at the article. There are a lot of great tips on how to further encourage and build your child’s love for reading!

 

 

2017: Building Lifelong Reading Habits

 

This week we have written about three habits you can start now with yourself and your family in order to build reading habits for the lifetime of your children.

Read Every Day

The most important is to read every day. Twenty minutes is the recommendation but don’t let the number keep you from building the habit. Any amount of time spent in reading is helpful in future literacy success.

Know what good quality books to read

6prereadingskillsKnowing what books to read also helps build successful reading habits. Balance what your child loves to learn about with good quality picture books that highlight the six pre-literacy skills. The content will motivate her to hear the story and while she listens important literacy building blocks happen.

 

 

Be a reader to raise a reader

Lastly, be a reader. Our kids watch everything we do and love mimicking our actions. Make one of those parroting activities be reading. Read while you wait for appointments, read while your child plays independently or make a space for independent reading every night for your family. Make sure your child catches you reading everyday.

Start with these three habits and see how your child’s reading explodes over the course of the year.

 

Reading aloud

 

What Will I Read Today

resolution-two

Planning is an important part of completing any task. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to get something done. It’s why we meal plan, or make to do lists, create outlines for papers or set goals. Knowing what we will do, makes it easier to do it. It is no different when we read to our kids.

Yesterday we talked about setting the habit of reading every day. You have decided on a consistent time, a time you know you will be free, now plan what you will read during that time. Having books on hand will help to make sure you are able to use your reading time fully.

read across america

Find Good Books

There are a lot of ways to find good books. This blog, amazon, bookstores, libraries, friends, Facebook groups and more. Plan out a trip to the library or bookstore each week so you have books on hand to read with your child. I always want reading to be child directed but you are your child’s best teacher. Take them with you to choose books. I always make a pile and go through it with my kids. It helps them select books they might not normally have picked up and I also know what catches their eye for next time.

Know what your child is interested in. I know one of my kids prefers books with tons of pictures. Another child prefers fantasy and another loves to learn facts. Use conversations and screen time habits and creative play to help guide book choice. The more a child enjoys the material she reads, the more enthusiastic a reader she will become.

Use technology and people power to discover new books

I love Amazon and Goodreads and other websites to help discover books I didn’t know about. In Amazon you can search a book you know your child likes and it will show suggestions for similar type books. Goodreads offers book reviews. And don’t forget your local librarian. He or she will love to help you discover new books or favorite authors.

Being intentional with reading is one of the best habits you can build this year. It will make the time you spend reading more impactful and enjoyable.

Do you have a favorite author and want to find new or similar books? Ask in the comments and I will help you discover new books!

HAPPY READING!

 

Read Every Day

readevery-day

The advice most parents have heard in recent years to ensure reading success for children is read at least twenty minutes every day. We want to do this, because, who doesn’t want their child to succeed. But there is work and playdates and school and activities and housework and the list goes on. Somehow it gets to bedtime and you realize you haven’t picked up a book today. You promise to do better tomorrow and tomorrow comes and the same thing happens.

I believe strongly in setting smaller goals in order to accomplish big things. Sure, twenty minutes is the ideal. It is the sweet spot of introducing new vocabulary and familiarizing our kids with story narratives, how books work and much more.

But twenty minutes is intimidating in a world that never seems to stop. What I always suggest to parents is find a consistent time, no matter how long, and read.

No matter how long, find time each day to read

If you spend a lot of time in the car, pick up an audiobook from the library and the picture book to go along with it. As you taxi your family from place to place, turn on a book and make the most of the time in the car.

Reading doesn’t have to happen at bedtime. If mornings have more time, make your day start with reading. Or if bathtime is the only time you have your child’s full attention, read a book while he splashes in the tub.

Reading happens more often than you realize. Any time you are driving, in a store or at an activity there are words around you. Point this out to your child wherever you are. Create a story with the signs you see. The important part isn’t how great of a story you tell, but the word connection your child makes in the world around him.

Choose a book the whole family can listen to. For me, the kids are at all different stages of reading. Trying to fit in twenty minutes of reading with each of them is impossible. Pick a classic story or a brand new tale and sit down as a family and read. It can be at the dinner table or the minutes you have before you head out for the day. A family who reads together, grows together.

A consistent reading habit is what matters

Don’t worry about how much time you spend. I believe you will find more time as your family reading habit grows. Just like when you start eating better or exercising more, the less pressure you put on yourself to be perfect, the easier it is to achieve your goals.

Make 2017 the Year of Reading by starting with the habit of reading everyday.

What tips or tricks do you have to include reading time each day? Share in the comments section.

Happy Reading!

Make 2017 the Year of Reading

 

Madereaders

Every New Year’s we make resolutions to improve ourselves. We promise to eat better, sleep better, exercise more, be better employees or spouses or friends. There are many ways we can improve our lives but I believe the best gift to ourselves and our children is to make 2017 the year of reading.

This week I will post a reading resolution each day. Choose what works for your family and focus on that one change. We don’t need to do everything in order to build future readers, but we need to start somewhere.

Make this the year your family commits to reading.

reading-resolution

Thanksgiving Books for a long weekend with family

Long car trips, over-tired kids, and too many days off school? Here is a list of books to help you have fun and spend time together this holiday weekend. Don’t forget to add to the fun by making your own Thanksgiving poems, going on a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt or making your own Thanksgiving story, complete with pictures to help celebrate time together and build future readers!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Reading!

Kids fighting in the car? Pull out this Thanksgiving book by Dav Pilkey. It will have them laughing in their seats.

Younger child keeps eating his siblings book? This lift the flap board book has simple, bright pictures that will keep little hands engaged but is safe to chew on.

Political Talk at the table have you down? Pull out this book and share with all your relatives to help remind everyone how gratitude changes attitude.

Are the kids missing school? This is a fun book with silly pictures that will teach your kids to count backwards instead.

Feeling bad for all the Turkeys that didn’t receive a pardon this Thanksgiving? You and your child can cheer for this turkey to have a happy ending to its thanksgiving.

Need a book with big vocabulary to impress your in-laws? Karma Wilson always has beautiful rhyming text and big big words sure to impress.

 

Want a Thanksgiving book that teaches? Gail Gibbons always has beautifully illustrated and thoughtful books. A great way to end an evening.

Book Review: This Old Band by Tamera Will Wissinger

  • Ages Infant, Toddler, Preschool
  • Illustrated by Matt Loveridge
  • Skyhorse Publishing Inc, 2014

I love picture books you can sing a long to. Not only are they fun, singing is a great way for young children to hear sounds and how they are broken apart into syllables and singing also accentuates consonants and vowels in ways we don’t always get in reading.

But, if you are musically challenged, don’t worry! Reading the text is still a great way to help build these skills. The great thing about songs, read or sung, is the rhythmic text and the alliteration.

Phonological Awareness

This old band is sung to the tune, “This old man” It is a song most kids will recognize and join in with even if they don’t know the words they can hum along. I love the playful use of onomatopoeia and alliteration throughout the song. The pictures are fun and comic like. There are lots of different objects to talk about on the page. And after a few repeats your kids will be singing along.

Math Literacy

Another great part of this book is the math literacy it builds. Although I wish they used the actual numbers along with the written out number, counting backwards is a skill young preschoolers will find fun. And after the book is finished you can continue the conversation by grabbing sticks, or toys or whatever is at hand and using them to count 1-10 and then 10-1.

Narrative Skills

It is also great to help your child build narrative skills. Talk with your child about what instrument is played first. Maybe write it out on paper, cut them out and help your child organize as you read through the book again.

After all when we talk about literacy we aren’t just talking about words.

This is a great book to pick up when you are short on reading time. It has the vocabulary, the sounds, and the narrative skills we are looking for in a book.

Happy Reading or in this case Happy Singing!

 

Other fun books to sing with your child

(Reminder I am an amazon affiliate. When you click on a picture it takes you to amazon, where if you make a purchase, I get a portion of the sale. I do not get paid to promote any particular book. The views and opinions are mine and mine alone.)

 

Book Review: Return by Aaron Becker

There is no better gift to give a child than being able to tell their own story. It helps build imagination, it helps build narrative skills and believe it or not it helps build reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is a skill kids build the more they read and understand what is happening not only on the page but what might not be explicitly said in the words. There are a lot of great picture books out there that can help spark your child’s creative side but I believe an untapped and underutilized resource is wordless picture books.

The Journey series by Aaron Becker is a great example of hardworking wordless picture books. I happened to stumble upon the second book of his series not knowing that it was part of a trilogy. The great part about this book is it is great enjoyed as the whole trilogy but you and your child can still enjoy its wonderful illustrations and story as a stand alone book.

Sometimes parents are intimidated by wordless picture books. They feel like they can’t create a compelling story that will captivate their child. What I have discovered is start small. Just talk about what you see on the page. Or ask your child what they think is happening in the story. Or you start the story and have your child say what happens next and you can go back and forth until the last page. They great thing about the wordless picture book is there is no right or wrong. You and your child are the storytellers. It may be one story one day and a different story the next. It’s a great way to show your young child that stories have so many possibilities. It will unlock the wordsmith inside and help them dive into a new world.

The other great thing about wordless picture books is they work for any age. You can talk about what is on the page with babies, develop a short sentence description for toddlers and let your preschooler fill in the story. The books grow easily with the child and can even be used with independent readers as a story start.

 

Do yourself a favor and pick up this great trilogy by Aaron Becker. Explore a fantastic kingdom and find unique ways to act out the story long after the last page is read.

Happy Reading!

 

What are some of your favorite wordless picture books?

(I am an amazon affiliate. By clicking on the picture you will be redirected to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of sales. I do not get paid to review or recommend books. My opinions are mine and mine alone)

Explore more wordless picture books: