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!

Book Review: Wet by Carey Sookocheff

Ages: Toddler-Early Preschool

Wet. Carey Sookocheff, Godwin Books: New York, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a percentage of the sale)

About this Book

A book all about the different ways we can feel wet. Either a day at the pool, rain, our goldfish, mopping floors, this book is a child-like exploration of the world of water.

Vocabulary

The text in this book is very simple but there are plenty of opportunities to build vocabulary through the pictures. The author deepened the text on the page through the contextual pictures. Take a picture tour of the book before you begin reading. Look at the pages and point out different objects and name them. For example on the first page the boy is at a pool. Talk about the pool deck, the bench, the tile on the walls and the life preserver etc. Talking about the pictures in the book is as helpful as reading the text when we teach our children new words.

Phonological Awareness

Although this isn’t a rhyming or lyrical book, there are ways to help play with the sounds of the words so a child can hear the different syllables. For example in the line:

Sometimes I get wet

Very Slowly

Try drawing out the syllables for Ve rrryy Sloowwlly. Not only do you demonstrate the meaning through how you say it, reading at different speeds helps liven up a book.

Also there are a lot of great songs that would be a great supplement to the story.

Letter Knowledge and Narrative Skills

On each page help your child match the main idea of the picture with the text. For example as the boy goes down the slide. Point out the word slide. Talk about the letters you see that make up the word and then point out the slide. This also helps build reading comprehension by connecting the words on the page with the pictures that take the story a little further.

Print Awareness

Take time to show the different parts of the book. Using your finger highlight the title. How many letters are in the title? Who do you think the boy on the cover is hiding from? Show the end pages and the title page and as you flip through the pages ask questions about what you see. Have your child make predictions about what the book is about and what might happen.

Print Motivation

Many picture books have a story question and answer but this book explores a topic that your child is naturally curious about. Rain, pools, fish, cleaning all of these are connected through water! Your child’s natural curiosity will drive the interest in the book and help them think about a topic, like water, differently.

Experience the Book

Make a list of all the different ways a person can get wet. Write down what your child says in a list. This will not only build letter knowledge but also sequencing.

Take a favorite action figure that can get wet and a glass of water. Submerge the figure different ways like the boy in the book. How do you put the toy in water quickly or slowly. Is there an in between speed? Have fun with water play either in a bath or filling up the kitchen sink with water and some dish soap and let your child explore water with measuring cups, spoons, bowls, cups, funnels and whatever else you can find!

More Books about Exploration

Is anyone more curious than Curious George?

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: If my love were a fire truck by Luke Reynolds

Ages: 2-5

If my love were a fire truck: a daddy’s love song. Luke Reynolds. Illustrated by Jeff Mack. Doubleday Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click a picture, it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale)

What the Book is About

A book celebrating the love between a father and son through bright pictures and a rhythmic text.

Before you start the book

Look at the front and back cover. Point out the title while you say it. Show your child the author and illustrator’s names. On the back cover make the onomatopoeia sounds. Ask your child what might make those sounds. (This will build Letter Knowledge and Print Awareness)

Look at the title page and ask what the child and Dad are doing and before you read, flip through the pages of the book and have the child think about what is happening. Is the child waking up or going to bed? Who drives a fire truck? Who do you think will win the race?

This encourages the child to engage with the book, building Print Motivation. Highlights unique vocabulary and demonstrates how books are read.

Phonological Awareness

This book has a strong rhythmic text which builds phonological awareness. The rhyming text helps kids hear the small parts of words which assists them as they become independent readers.

Take the last word on each page and make a list of rhyming words. Write them out in sidewalk chalk, dry erase board or a piece of paper so the child can connect the writing with the sounds. This will also strengthen letter awareness.

Pick a few words and clap out the syllables. Make a list of words that have one, two or three syllables. Can you find any with more than three? This is another way to highlight the sounds that make up each word, and the list making or sorting will aid Narrative Skills.

Narrative Skills

Make your own If my love were sentences. Think of activities both you and your child enjoy. Write them down and have your child illustrate.

Make a list of the different illustrations and whether they happen on land, in the sky or in the water. It not only helps your child orient the pictures, but it helps them think about the story in a different way which leads to strong reading comprehension.

Vocabulary

Write down any words your child may not be as familiar with.

Or use this list:

  • rodeo
  • buck
  • bray
  • bound
  • shield
  • plain

Try to use these words throughout the day to help your child learn new words.

More stories about Dads

Book Review: Where Will I live? by Rosemary McCarney

Ages 4-7

Where Will I live? By Rosemary McCarney. Second Story Press: Toronto, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sales.)

 

What it is about

Children search for a place to call home because where they live isn’t safe anymore. Despite the hardships these children face, they still find joy and laughter and fun.

This book tackles a hard, sad, scary topic on a level kids can understand. You know your child best and not every child will be ready to hear this story. I still remember a fourth grade novel assignment, Bridge to Terabithia, I wasn’t ready for. I cried for an hour after finishing! I could comprehend the book but wasn’t ready for the content.

If your child is ready, I suggest this book. Many of our cities have resettled refugees. It is important to not only understand their difficult journeys to the US, but that even in the hard journeys, kids are kids. Every child longs for a home, family, friends and fun.

Letter Knowledge and Print Awareness

Trace the title with your finger while you read it to the child. Point out the author and say that the author wrote the words. Show on the last page all the photographers who shared their pictures for this book.

Ask the child what letters he sees in the title. Are any of the letters in his name?

As you read the book follow the text with your finger. It familiarizes the child, not only with the letters, but how a book is read.

Narrative Skills

This book talks about community, family, friendship and belonging. After reading the book, use the Cotton Balls Kind Words Sensory Lesson (retrieved from preschoolpowolpackets.) It teaches children the difference between kind words and hurtful words using sensory materials. This lesson not only will strengthen the impact of the book, but it also develops vocabulary and narrative skills through describing the cotton ball and sandpaper.

Talk about times your child felt scared. What helped her feel safe, calmer, loved?

There are different landscapes and climates shown in the book. Have your child find a photograph and describe what he sees. Prompt with the colors of clothes, the temperature they think it might be.

Print Motivation

This book is about a child’s home environment. With a camera or phone, have your child take pictures of your house, neighborhood, town or city, car, favorite toy, where she sleeps, and friends. Assemble the pictures into a book and have child narrate each picture while you write down her responses. This will reinforce narrative skills, vocabulary and letter knowledge.

Phonological Awareness

Find songs that celebrate differences/diversity and community. Find music from other cultures, especially research the countries listed in this book.

Vocabulary

This book is rich with vocabulary. You can introduce new words by discussing the different climates in the pictures and introduce Geography through all of the countries portrayed in the photos.

  • Croatia
  • Hungary
  • Rwanda
  • Lebanon
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Slovenia
  • Greece
  • South Sudan
  • Kenya
  • Cameroon
  • Myanmar
  • Niger

This book uses a lot of positional language. Write out cards using the word list below. Illustrate and have your child act out the action on the card. What else would you add to this list? You can also use a favorite toy and a clear glass to act out the cards.

  • Down
  • Beyond
  • Past
  • Across
  • Under
  • Beneath
  • In

Check out these other books about Refugee experiences to help build empathy and understanding.

What activities worked or didn’t work for your family? List in the post comments.

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Ages 2-5

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus. Dial Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

What the Book is About

Beautiful prose and gorgeous illustrations weave together America’s story, its monuments and its flag. A land that is as diverse as the people who live here is highlighted in this book.

Print Awareness and Letter Knowledge

Start with the title page. Say the title and trace as you read it. Have the child count with you the number of words in the title?

Why do we trace the words on the page? It connects our youngest readers, not only with the letter shapes, but how we read a book. Left to right and down a page.

Look at the front cover. Ask if the people look the same. Point out glasses, hair color, clothes, skin color, etc.

Ask the child what she thinks all the people are watching. Then flip through the pages of the book and ask questions about the pictures. Have the child guess what the book is about.

Print Motivation

This can be used as a participation book. Read the first several pages or even one time through. Encourage the child to say with you the phrase, Blue Sky White Stars. Kids love to be a part of the story and participating helps them learn even more.

Phonological Awareness

Although homonyms and homophones might be too advanced to discover on their own, point out the letter differences and then say each word. The repetition will help your child hear each individual sound. Even if they don’t understand the concept of homonyms, these experiences with concepts as a young child will build a solid base for learning later in life.

Sing Yankee Doodle along with this video:

Or This little light of mine

or You’re a Grand Old Flag

Narrative Skills or Building Reading Comprehension

Ask questions about the book:

  1. What picture do you like best? Why? Is it the colors? Or the scene (what is happening on the page?)
  2. Have your child describe a picture and see if you can guess what it is. This encourages the child to look at the picture in details, deriving more context as well as trying out some new words.
  3. After a couple of read throughs, have the child “tell” the story from the pictures. You be the listener! Getting the right words isn’t important, but seeing whether the child comprehended what the essence of the story is.

Vocabulary

For so little text, there are so many big words to use! The rich illustrations demonstrate how critical pictures are in early reading. It helps expand vocabulary as well as tell the story. As children age, they need pictures less and less. But these first years of listening, the power is often in the pictures.

Using the pictures make a list of words your child hasn’t heard often.

  1. Conestoga Wagon
  2. Pioneers
  3. The West
  4. Settlement
  5. Wagon Train
  6. Windmill
  7. Canyon
  8. Diverse
  9. Graduation
  10. Astronaut
  11. Proud
  12. Immigrant
  13. CitizenAmericanFlagStars and StripesAbraham LincolnCountry

After the Book

Find symbols of America using this picture book as a guide. One of the best parts of the book is how it celebrates the diversity of the american experience. Using newspapers and magazines, create a collage of our country. Label the pictures to reinforce letter awareness.

 

What did you try?

Tell us in the comments sections, what you tried. What worked and didn’t work? Any other ideas you used?

Happy Reading!