If your child is a kinesthetic learner – he learns by touching and doing rather than by seeing or hearing – here are some great ideas.
Use letters made from blocks, cards, fridge magnets or Scrabble tiles.
Toss seven large letters (blocks, or wooden cut-outs) in the pool. Have him dive for them and make a word when he surfaces. Don’t worry about how many dives it takes – let him just have fun.
In the bath, toss in a handful of foam letters. It probably won’t be long before he starts making words that float around him!
Toss a handful of Scrabble tiles into a large bowl of rice. As he digs for the letters, he has to try and make words with them.
Play word games like Scrabble, “scramble” (online), or Word Thief (board game). Simplify the rules so it’s more about making words and less about beating the other person.
If you’re giving your child letters to make a word, look at them first. Make sure there are Es and As, and simple consonants like Ms, Ss and Ts. Consider adding in a “wildcard” that can be used for any letter.
Libraries don’t have to cost a lot of money.
Here are some tips:
1) Renew your books online. When your deadline is approaching, go online using your library card, and hit “renew” for all your books. It buys you some time.
2) If your books are overdue, renew them online anyway. It stops the bleeding until you can get to the library.
3) Use your child’s card. Library fines are a lot cheaper for children than adults. So take out materials on a child’s card whenever possible.
4) Have a separate basket for library books. Our son’s is at the foot of his bed. Library books automatically go in there, so we’re never scrambling to find them amongst his other books.
5) Post the due-date tape near the front door. The library gives you a printout with your due dates. Hang it where you’ll see it often.
You did get your child a library card, didn’t you? If not, take him to the library and help him get his own card. When he checks out his first book, I guarantee you a parenting moment you’ll never forget.
Have you taught your child how to read a newspaper?
I don’t mean the words themselves. I mean how a newspaper works. What a headline is. Where the author’s name is, and how to tell what’s happening in the pictures. Where does the rest of the article go off the front page? Why are there sections? And how to use the index to find the comics (very important).
This kind of information is crucial to a newspaper reader, because it helps you understand what to read, what you should skip, and what you can skim. It helps put the images in context. For instance, the same photo on the front of the Style section, and the front of the News section would have very different meanings.
Beginning readers need to know that they don’t have to (and shouldn’t) read every word of the newspaper. They need to understand what advertisements are vs. articles, what headlines and subheads are for, and how to tell which article goes with which picture.
You wouldn’t do this all at once, of course. Even a thirty-second explanation could have a huge impact. Let’s say you’re reading the paper in the morning and your child is eating her breakfast. Why not take the section that would be most interesting to her, and point out an article. Show her the headline, and the photo, and tell her what’s happening in the article.
Thirty seconds. That may be all she needs to get started – and curious. And curiosity creates amazing readers.
Newspapers are great because there’s something for everyone. You child might enjoy the sports section, the comics, the main news, or fashion. Just keep them away from any articles that could be too scary – like in the business section.
I’m reading Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf, a researcher who explains, among other things, how the brain learns to read.
Hoppity by A. A. Milne
Christopher Robin goes
Hoppity, hoppity, hop.
Whenever I tell him
Politely to stop it, he
Says he can’t possibly stop.
If he stopped hopping,
He couldn’t go anywhere,
Poor little Christopher
Couldn’t go anywhere…
That’s why he always goes
It’s essentially a wireless, electronic pen. When you poke a special “Tag” book with it, the book talks. Kids can hear the story, listen to the characters speak, play games and identify words.
You have to use the Tag books, and currently there are about 20 of them including Click Clack Moo – Cows that Type, The Little Engine that Could, Diego, Spongebob Square Pants, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and my favourite – Olivia.
The system is a lot like LeapPad, which is being phased out. My son grew up on LeapPad, and to this day says things like, “Ginko leaves have been around since the dinosaurs.” He learned that from LeapPad. Tag is like LeapPad except it’s wireless.
Tag is also intuitive. Kids just poke the pen anywhere on the book to get the information they want. And, if this system is developed like LeapPad, there will soon be many more titles and games to choose from.
Tag is $59.99 (Canadian) at Toys R Us online.
It’s also great because it works for a wide range of ages, from very little children (parents just have to make sure they don’t rip the book), up to about grade 1. LeapPad also had books for older kids, and I’m hoping the Tag line will extend to higher grades as well.
But in the midst of our Hallowe’en party today, I managed to sneak in some learning. We had hidden “eyeballs” (bouncy balls with corneas printed on them) in the backyard. Each child had to find five with their initials on them.
As I was telling them about it, I realized that not every child knew what “initials” were, or what their personal initials were. So I told them about how initials could be just for the first name, or for the first and last names.
And then we went through each person’s name and shouted out their initials. So not only did they have treats, but we taught them a new trick.
This is a picture of the punch we had at the party. It had a hand in it. Fun.
This goes along with my last post, about considering books as a “treasure.”
Once you think of books that way, you can’t help but have a certain reverence for them and this in turn reinforces the idea that they contain something valuable. Accordingly, I don’t allow books on the floor, or to be thrown or stepped on. That’s just not cool in our house.
Understandably, books get torn and damaged through everyday use – that’s different. When they do get banged up, they’re repaired as soon as possible. I don’t make anyone feel bad about accidentally damaging a book, because if you feel you have to pussy-foot around books you’ll be afraid to open them.
But really, you don’t step on a treasure chest – you open it. And you savour the treasure.
How did I get my son to treat his books kindly? When I walk in his room and there’s a book on the floor, I gasp. I say, “There’s a book on the floor!” as if I just can’t believe it. (And I kind of can’t.) He got the message early on, and now he doesn’t like to see a book mistreated either.