Tag Archives: literacy

Tactile and Interactive Board Books

Last month we wrote about why board books are so important for early development.

This month, we’d like to share some of our picks for our favourite type of board books — those with movable parts, interactive elements and lots of tactile stimuli!

Before we get into the benefits of these books, we want to add the same disclaimer we do in every program in which we talk about choosing books for babies: Making books with lots of bells and whistles might seem like a gimicky way for publishers to sell titles, and sometimes it is. It might also seem counter-intuitive to other parenting advice we’ve heard; having books with ‘toys’ in them might seem to work against the logic that tells us digital screens cause over-stimulation and that we need to teach slower, sustained attention to our children.

But! These books are also brilliant tools for:

  • learning engagement (having novelty input is what sparks our imaginations and pushes us to learn more)
  • hand-eye coordination (tracking is a crucial pre-reading skill)

and

  • developing pincer grip and fine-motor coordination (the pre-writing skills that allow us to hold pens and pencils and move them in small, concentrated ways)

Board books, with their flaps, sensory patches, sparkles, tabs, pulls, holes, and sometimes even actual bells and whistles, provide a unique opportunity to build these skills while simultaneously strengthening the same bonding, literacy, and communication skills of regular storytime.

Our list of our favourite tactile and movable board books is always changing. Our Director has a list published through Calgary Public Library if you’re interested in borrowing rather than buying, but these books tend to have a shorter lifespan than other books (which is OKAY!) and new ones are always being developed. Some of our stand-by classics include:

  • Re-pubs by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar“, “Mister Seahorse” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (the Slide & Find edition particularly)
  • Just about anything by Salina Yoon, but especially “Opposnakes“, her Lift-The-Flap-Adventure Series (Space Walk and Deep Sea Dive), and “Who Do I See?
  • Rufus Butler Seder’s Scanimation Series, especially “Waddle!” “Gallop!” and “ABC Animals
  • Anything that Herve Tullet has ever written (seriously) but for the littlest readers, we recommend his Tullet Game Series
  • The current publishing phenomenon that is the Usborne “That’s Not My…” Series. These ones include tactile swatches that are higher-quality than most mass-market titles, like full velcro (a lot of publishers shy away from rougher textures in favour of softer, ‘babier’ ones, but it is so important to expose our children to a whole variety of fibres!), puffy fabrics (that can be pressed deeply into the books, excellent for learning about pressure and weighting), and one-off textures that have been manufactured for each title.

We like the last series so much that we are going to submit a massive order through Usborne at the end of April. We’ll be carrying them in-store once our new location is up and running, but if you’d like to order a set now (and secure a title before it discontinues or batch re-prints) you can add your selection to our order (residents of the Greater Calgary Area only). Just shoot Alex an email with your title selections and we’ll get them on the list!

alex@rhymeandreason.ca

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If you ever have any questions about recommendations for books for your little one, we are always happy to help!

Happy Reading!

 

Babies and Board Books

It’s no secret that babies need books, and it just makes sense that the best books for babies are the hardier, more durable Board Books that are a unique joy of modern parenting.

Mother and her daughters reading a book.

Often printed on recycled cardboard with vegetable and food-grade inks, these books are meant to be explored by babies in the same way they explore everything — orally.

Yes, they’re going to get soggy; yes, they’re going to have chunks taken out of them; and yes, you are going to have to recycle them eventually… but that is literally what they are built for. If you need to “learn to stop worrying and love the destruction of baby books”, check out this great blog post from A.J. O’Connell at Book Riot.

Providing a stock of board books for our babies to devour fosters an early love of reading, an exposure to words, language, and literacy, and a comprehension of the mechanics of books (In English we read books from left to right across a page, top to bottom, and turn pages to the left)! On top of that, sharing a book with YOU also provides them with a huge rush of those feel-good hormones (dopamine, seratonin, and oxytocin) that increases the bond between you both, and builds positive associations around reading and learning.

Keep your eyes peeled for board books for every age and stage including high-contrast black and white books for newborns and their developing eyesight, bathtime books that can get wet, and books with lots of flaps and movable parts — we’ll follow-up next month with a list of our favourites!

Favourite Activities for Fall

Our practicum student, Miss Becky, shares her favourite activities, crafts, songs, and rhymes for you to enjoy with your little ones during the beautiful autumn weather that seems to be sticking around (knock on wood)!

Little boy in a pumpkin patch

Pumpkin Patch and/or Corn Maze

What better way to embrace fall than to go a Pumpkin Patch?! Picking the perfect pumpkin can be a great deal of fun! It sure beats scrimmaging through a bargain bin only to find the ‘perfect’ pumpkin is at the very bottom of the bin — or not there at all! The fresh air and many acres provide for lots of space and running around, to blow off some of your little one’s steam.

Here are some tips for visiting a Pumpkin Patch:

  • Dress in layers
  • Arrive early and plan to spend a couple of hours there
  • If allowed, bring along a picnic lunch to really enjoy the fall atmosphere

Follow this link that allows you to find a Pumpkin Patch near you:

Scavenger Hunt

This activity is free and gets both you and your child/ren outside for some fresh, fall air! Here is our example of a quick and easy scavenger hunt checklist.

fall scav hunt

Tips:

  • Laminating a checklist and using dry erase markers allows you to take this scavenger hunt to more than one place.
  • Finding multiples of the same item encourages counting and numerical skills. For example, 3 red leaves or 5 lawn decorations! Reinforce the valuation of the numbers!
  • Turning ‘Twig’ into ‘Twig that looks like the letter Y’ helps to develop alphabetical skills.

Leaf Prints

This is a cheap and easy craft to keep children entertained! Below is a link from Nurture Store with easy-to-follow ideas as well as picture resultss — lots of opportunity to get creative with using colors that aren’t associated with fall (pinks, purples, blues), and/or adding glitter, gems, buttons etc. to create texture!

http://nurturestore.co.uk/autumn-leaf-print-crafts

Books

Reading books associated with seasons and holidays is a great way to get children excited about upcoming or current events. Below is a link with some great recommendations, as well as what age they are directed to.

http://www.kcedventures.com/blog/fall-books-for-kids-autumn-stories

Rhymes/Songs

Some of our favourite fall songs include:

Five Little Pumpkins/Witches/Scarecrows

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.

The first one said, “Oh my it’s getting late.”

The second one said, “There are leaves in the air.”

The third one said, “But we don’t care!”

The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.”

The fifth one said, “We are ready for some fun!”

Then OOOhh OOOhh went the wind

And out went the lights

And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Autumn Leaves are Falling (to the tune of London Bridge)

Autumn leaves are falling down, falling down, falling down

Autumn leaves are falling down, all around the town.

The wind will blow them round and round, round and round, round and round

The wind will blow them round and round all around the town.

They’re drifting gently to the ground, to the ground, to the ground

They’re drifting gently to the ground, all around the town.

Take a rake a rake them up, rake them up, rake them up,

Take a rake and rake them up all around the town.

Have You Ever Seen an Apple? (To the tune of The More We Get Together)

Have you ever seen an apple, an apple, an apple

Have you ever seen an apple, that grows on a tree?

A red one, a yellow one, a red one, a yellow one

Have you ever seen an apple, that grows on a tree?

Autumn Winds

Autumn winds are blowing free,

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh!

Leaves fall down from ev’ry tree,

Ooh, ooh, ooh!

Red and yellow, gold and brown,

Softly leaves come tumbling down,

Autumn winds are blowing free,

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh!

Autumn winds are whistling ’round,

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh!

Leaves go spinning to the ground,

Ooh, ooh, ooh!

Big or little, all will fall,

As they heed the windy call,

Autumn winds are whistling ’round,

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh!

A Squirrel Song

I’ll be gathering all the acorns till they’re gone.

I’ll be gathering all the acorns till they’re gone.

I’ll be gathering all the acorns, gathering all the acorns,

Gathering all the acorns till they’re gone.

And I’ll put them all inside my little home.

I will put them all inside my little home.

I will put them all inside, put them all inside,

Put them all inside my little home.

And I’ll eat the nuts until the winter’s gone.

I will eat the nuts until the winter’s gone.

I will eat the nuts until, eat the nuts until,

Eat the nuts until the winter’s gone.

Then I’ll do it all again come next fall.

I will do it all again come next fall.

I will do it all again, do it all again,

Do it all again come next fall.

Adding objects, finger puppets, movement, and/or instruments are enthusiastic ways to interactive ways for children to participate in these songs and rhymes

Leaf Play

autumn fallen maple leaves isolated on white background

This activity makes for a interactive afternoon for both you and your little ones, and is sure to tire you both out! All you need for Leaf Play are leaves and an imagination — if you don’t have a yard full of leaves, adventure to the nearest public park or field, take a rake, and start piling! Jump in the leaves, throw them as far up as you can so that it’s ‘raining leaves’, bury one another, make tunnels, organize smallest to biggest piles, etc. This can go on for hours, so pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it!

Carving/Painting Pumpkins

Since visiting the Pumpkin Patch, your family has now picked the perfect pumpkin(s)! So, what better way to celebrate your victory than to carve or decorate them? From our experience, especially with younger children, it typically ends with the adults doing most of the work for carving; the kids usually want to play with the ooey gooey insides (and we have no problem with that)! A great way to get children involved in creating their own pumpkin design is to have them paint and/or decorate their own. Go to the dollar store, pick up some cheap acrylic paint of their choice, and some accessories: buttons, gems, sparkles, stickers, beads etc., and let them get creative. Whatever the result, they’ll be incredibly proud!

Decorate pumpkin for halloween night on wooden background

 

 

 

Make the Outdoors your Classroom

puddleNow that it’s summer, my 1-year-old wants to spend all of his time outside. Before we’ve even had our breakfast, he’s running to the door, shoes in hand, shouting, “Outside? Outside?” If you’re child is anything like mine, you’ve packed up and relocated to your backyard for the summer too. Here are a few activities you can do that are not only fun, but will turn your outdoor space into a little classroom of sorts.

Sidewalk Chalk
Summer is a great time to let your little one get messy. The rain will wash away any toddler-graffiti and if your child gets a little dirty, it’s pretty easy to give them a quick douse of water on the lawn to clean up. Chalk is a fun way to explore art and drawing together. Let them draw on their own, or take turns drawing lines until you’ve created a collaborative masterpiece! Of course chalk is also a great opportunity to practice scribbling and writing letters. We like to write little messages on the sidewalk for daddy to read when he comes home from work.

Water Painting
Similar to chalk, paint brushes provide a great opportunity for writing and drawing. You may be wary of using actual paint, so why not try a clean brush and a pail of water. Wet the brush and then draw on the sidewalk for some (very) temporary works of art.

Bubbles
I think all kids love bubbles, and they are an easy and relatively cheap activity in the summer. Older kids can develop their gross motor skills chasing after and popping them, and will also develop hand-eye coordination as they learn to dip the wands and blow. Even the youngest of babies will enjoy watching bubbles, while also developing their eye sight and eye muscles as they track the bubbles floating in the air. I love this little rhyme about bubbles too:

I dip my wand, and gently blow
A tiny bubble begins to grow!
And grow…and grow…and grow…and…
POP!

Sensory Nature Walk
When you venture outside your yard, take a little sensory nature walk with your little ones. Encourage them to use their senses as they smell flowers and fresh cut grass; listen to the birds chirping; and see the clouds moving across the sky. Stop in a park and see how many textures you can find: a rough pinecone, a smooth pebble, a wet puddle! And remember to name the things that you see as you walk. A leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood is a great opportunity for some vocabulary development.

There are lots of ways to have fun this summer while incorporating some learning and literacy development, and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. I am always looking for more ideas to keep my little busy-body occupied…what kinds of activities do you like doing with your children in the summer?