Word Wall

When I was in the classroom, I made it a point to list terms my students were studying on the board. These words stayed on the board for a few days or an entire week, depending on their complexity.

I didn’t put a lot up at once because I really wanted students to focus on each word. I wanted them to know that these words were not going to be used just once and then they would never see them again; these were important terms to know and to understand the concepts behind them.

In younger grades, many teachers use word walls to expose their students to the vocabulary words they will be learning about. I wanted to start doing something similar with Oster. Of course I am not expecting him to start working on his phonemic awareness skills just yet. I just want to expose him to word recognition.

I started Oster’s word wall with the letter “B” for the sole reason of his love for books, balls, and birds.  I purchased a poster-sized foam board and Velcro for this “wall”. I printed and laminated the three words along with its associated pictures and placed the Velcro on the back of each laminated piece and on the poster board.

Sometimes I prop it up against the wall or against a piece of furniture. Other times, Oster plays with it on the floor. He likes “ripping” the laminated pieces off and handing them to me. I talk about the photos and sound out the letters for him. I show him tangible objects in and outside of the house that he can touch (although, I won’t let him touch a real bird).

Although he tries so hard to put the laminated pieces back onto the board, he just can’t seem to line up the Velcro just yet.

Print Awareness

One type of early literacy skill you can help your infant develop is print awareness.  In a nutshell, your child has mastered this skill when he/she notices that print is everywhere: in books, periodicals, banners, signs, packaging, etc.  It also includes knowing how to handle a book and being aware that the print has meaning.

A helpful literacy website, Reading Rockets, lists guidelines for implementation that were written by The Texas Education Agency. These guidelines were developed to help parents and teachers infuse print awareness in the lives of children.

As I am always looking for new ideas, I would love to hear what you are doing to promote Print Awareness in your child’s life.

Love Your Library

I’m on a quest to visit all of the surrounding libraries to see which one has the coolest, most up-to-date, user-friendly children’s section.  Since I began this journey a week and a half ago, I’ve taken Oster to 5 different libraries.  I’m watching him navigate toward the play areas and pick up board books and whatever else is lying around.

He is having fun playing with the other kids in the libraries (which is helping him to learn how to share) and his senses are stimulated with the different activities these libraries have to offer.  Last week a couple of 5 year olds put on a puppet show for Oster.  There are puzzles and every book imaginable at his fingertips.

Oster has been going to our local library since he turned 6 months.  I signed him up for a lapsit storytime and he attends every week for a half hour.  Within this time, the librarian reads two books and sings with puppets.  The last 10 minutes is reserved for play time and socializing.

Our library also has many language resources (DVD’s, flashcards, CDs) for infants and building blocks.  There are two train sets for him to share with other children and a “theater” area for him to sit and read in.  They offer Spanish storytime and other scheduled activities.

The library is a place to have fun while learning, grab some books, and talk with other parents and children.  Best of all, it’s FREE!

Reading

Reading is a complex beast.  It can be broken down into many categories including, but not limited to, comprehension, acquisition, phonics, and vocabulary.  With Oster being 10 months old I am realistic that tackling the layers of reading now is quite impossible.  However, I do know that exposing him to letters and reading materials (board books, regular books, flash cards, and periodicals) will help him to develop his love for reading.

When I was pregnant, one of my friends and colleagues told me to read aloud to the baby as early as possible and talk as much as I can so that he could hear the sounds of my voice.  As you know new parents get all kinds of unsolicited advice; this piece, however, I was glad to receive.

I started reading to Oster 2 weeks after he was born.  I know a lot of people say to start reading in utero.  I didn’t.  Not for any reason other than I taught all day and when I came home I was too exhausted to read aloud after talking for 8 hours at school.

At first, reading took place during our nursing sessions.  This kid ate so much that most of my day was dedicated to feeding him.  I took advantage of this time to pull out his books and read aloud from them.  When he finished eating, we sat together and I showed him the book and pointed to the pictures I was talking about.  Did I have his attention all of the time?  No.  But I continued on this path so he could get used to the books.

First book he noticed and loved, Freight Train by Donald Crews.

I carried his books with him everywhere.  He had them to hold onto in the car, in his stroller, and to read during tummy time.  When I cuddled with him in the baby carrier, I would walk around the house and read magazines, showing him the bright colors.

Around 3 months he began to point to the page indicating for us to turn it and at 5 months he started turning pages himself.  If his reading was anything other than a board book, the pages were demolished.  I have taped and re-taped so many of his books that they look like they have been through the wash. When he started eating in his high chair, I read the newspaper to him and some books that have been on my reading list.

Just recently he has been pointing to the text and pictures and shouting out babbles.  My heart melts every time he looks up from his book to share with me what he has discovered.

Language of Love

Hello, World! is a board book that says hello in 14 different languages.

There are many studies that prove learning a second language can be nothing but beneficial to a child.  A New York Times article, Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language, states that if mothers are bilingual, their babies can in fact differentiate between the two languages as early as 10 months.  Through rhythmic sounds, mouth movement and facial expressions, these bilingual babies learn best through human interaction as opposed to a DVD or CD.

So what if a parent is monolingual and wants his/her child to speak a second language?  Some parents wait until their children reach preschool for this learning to take place; some preschools promote themselves as having a second language option for students.  There are also foreign language institutes available for children as young as 1 year old.  If these aren’t an option for you, check out your park district.

You may also be able to participate in a Spanish or Mandarin storytime at your local library; talk with the teacher and find out how your child could get more involved.  Networking with these individuals will guide you to the right resources you need!

Oster loving his book!