Is My Child on Track? Literacy Milestones from Infancy Through Third Grade

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When you become a new parent, there is an overload of information. It seems there are a million markers, tests and charts to ensure your child is on track and the pediatrician is walking right alongside every week to check off your child’s progress. There is a marker for every little hiccup in early childhood, but then when our kids enter school, milestones can feel vague and confusing. It seems you must wait for the report card or progress report to know if your child is progressing.

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To provide a little help, I've created a short write-up of literacy milestones to look for and encourage in your child from birth through third grade. You might cringe when kids begin to recognize the C or M for Chick-fil-a and McDonalds because now you are going to need to stop for a snack, but this is actually a positive sign. They are learning to read logos and symbols, and this skill will help them when they learn to match a sound to a letter shape. To get the developmental chart click the link below and I’ll send it to your inbox. As always, let me know if you have any questions or ways that I can help!

10 Winnie The Pooh Quotes To Get You Through Any Life Situation

This beautiful quote by  design roots

This beautiful quote by design roots

Winnie the Pooh turned 90 this year! Do you remember how you felt when you watched it or read it as a child? I always had a sentimental feeling and an almost sad one. Rereading it now, I can see A.A. Milne was actually speaking to the adults who had seen more days, more happiness and more sorrow than to their children. He used the sweetest characters to get the message across in a childlike way. 

Perhaps the best piece of advice comes from Christopher Robin: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."Here are a few of the most moving quotes from Winnie the Pooh to get you (and your children) through almost any life situation:

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." 

"Life is a journey to be experienced not a problem to be solved."

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude."

"Some people care too much, I think it's called love."

"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

I asked  SusieCakes  to make something for the occasion and they more than delivered. honey bee cupcukes, yes please!

I asked SusieCakes to make something for the occasion and they more than delivered. honey bee cupcukes, yes please!

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."

"When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen."

"It wasn't much good having anything exciting like floods, if you couldn't share them with somebody."

"It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" 

Well Happy Birthday, Winnie the Pooh! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the world.

Interactive Books for Kids Who Like to Move

Image from Herve Tullet and TeachingBooks.net

 

If you have a child who would rather be moving or talking than sitting and listening to an entire book, you aren't alone. Not all kids love sitting, but most kids love a good story. Below are a few interactive books with great story lines for those kids who might feel more engaged when participating.  

ABC3D by Marion Bataille. This book has been on my shelf for probably ten years and I use it every single year. I taught one particular student who struggled with reading, and getting through our sessions was tiring for him. Looking through this book always served as a fun reward. It's a design lover's dream, and can be given as a gift to either kids or adults. If your child loves this book, they might also enjoy Scanimation picture books, which includ actual moving illustrations. 

 

Herve Tullet books. The author, illustrator, and artist has a way of fully captivating kids with his fun books and use of bright primary colors. He's even come out with some board games to accompany the books, Press Here Game and ZaZaZoom! A Game of Imagination: Mix. Match. Connect. Play. 

 

Press Here by Herve Tullet. My kids can't get enough of this book at bedtime. It asks for the reader to interact with each page through a dialogue of fun activities that will have parents and kids laughing. 

 

Let's Play by Herve Tullet. A game of hide and seek within in a book. What a creative idea! This book does exactly that; it plays with the reader.

 

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet This fun book teaches colors and perspectives on art while also engaging readers to participate in the process. 

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novack - "Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say." Both kids and parents love this one and Novack has recently come out with a new one, The Alphabet Book With No Pictures.

 

Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda. In this book, the author tells the classic story of the three little pigs with a twist. In this version the reader can huff and puff through a hole in the book, acting as the big bad wolf. The pages have short and sweet sentences which appeal to young readers and learners.  

 

Shhh! This Book is Sleeping by Cedric Ramadier, Illustrated by Vincent Bourgeau. A funny nighttime book, this creative story asks the reader to help put the book to bed. Make sure the book has finished all of the nighttime duties like brushing its teeth and going to the restroom.  

 

Please Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt. The monkeys in this story are trapped inside, What's happened while the book was shut? This very creative story line is a sequel to Warning, Do Not Open This Book.

 

Poke-A-Dot books by iKids. Just as fun as playing with bubble wrap, these books contain little raised buttons that kids can push. Designed for younger children, toddlers can explore colors, animals, and transportation all through fun interactive activities.

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson. This book is charming and sentimental. Your child will touch a firefly and rub an owl's head as they say good night to the world and all its magical creatures. This is a super sweet one for nighttime and a personal favorite. Many are raving about the author's most recent book, Plant the Tiny Seed, which seems perfect for Spring. 

 

Now I'm Reading! Plays: by Nora Gaydos. These plays are the absolute best for brand new beginning readers and struggling readers. They are leveled and come with fun masks, though a little hard to track down. If you can find them they are worth the hunt. With classics, like Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk, children are typically familiar with the story line, which helps readers focus on the phonics and words rather than getting confused by the comprehension. 

 

Just remember, you aren't alone if your child doesn't want to sit down through an entire book, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will dislike books altogether. As always, feel free to email me if you have questions or need more specific suggestions.

Five Easy Hacks to Prevent Reading Regression Over Winter Break

There's a reason the old song, "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas," includes the line: "And Mom and Dad can't wait for school to start again." If you're exhausted, you aren't alone. Schools here aren't back in session for another week!

For Christmas, I received Jenny Rosenstach's lovely and sentimental book, "How to Celebrate Everything." In it she discusses rituals and routines within families saying, "It was rarely a straight line from one dot to the next, and it rarely resulted in a pretty picture, but the dots were our guides, our goals. Without them, without the routine, there was nothing preventing us from descending into a state of chaos." 

As a disclaimer to my list of "hacks," I'm a huge fan of less is more and I'm also trying to be kinder to myself in 2017. If you are looking for ways to help your child become the next Steve Jobs then I might not be able to provide the help you need. If you enjoy patting yourself on the back for things that you already do and finding ways to recognize how these tie into your children's learning then please proceed. With one week remaining, try the below ideas to get back into the groove of reading without making the kids feel they are in "school."

1.   Keep writing - Many parents complain that their children just don't enjoy writing. If you think about it, writing is one of the most difficult things a child can do because there are so many various steps.  First, they must come up with the idea, then think of the sentence, then recall how to spell the first word. At this point many children have forgotten their idea all together. Save a folder on your phone of only three or four photos of recent events. Let them pick one and write about that particular experience. If handwriting is difficult, write the story for them and let them feel accomplished by seeing their ideas on paper. Another funny way to write a story is to take turns creating a new line in the story. It usually creates a funny tale.

2. Dive deep into a new subject or topic - During the holiday downtime you might learn what your child is really into lately. Whatever they find super interesting, whether it be reindeer, snow, or something totally unseasonal like beetles, pilots, or castles stockpile lots of books on this single topic and let them browse. If you don't have time to search, the librarian will collect the titles for you and put them on hold.

3. Play with shaving cream, sand, and washi tape - I'm always a fan of less is more. On that note I'm a huge fan of eliminating homework for younger kids but I'll step off the soapbox (for now). Practicing sight words is my one exception to the rule. A fun way to do this is to use shaving cream, sand, washi tape or simply writing words on the tub with bubbles during bath time. 

4. Protect bedtime stories - Schedules get thrown to the wind with family and travels and rightfully so. Rather than trying to maintain all of your routines, simply focus on consistently reading a book or telling a story at bedtime. If your child is struggling to learn to read then make sure at the end of the day you are only reading to them, cuddling up, and not asking them to do any work. And if all else fails, take some advice from these kids. They have some interesting ideas on bedtime. 

5. Find the right books - If you are able to reach the teacher, ask him or her the exact sounds or reading concepts that your child is currently learning. Having the appropriate "on level," books is one of the most effective ways to create progress. If your child hasn't yet mastered short vowel sounds or rhyming then you will want to have lots of rhyming books around or several decodable books with short vowel sounds in your home. If your child is already reading proficiently ask the teacher their exact reading level. 

Hang in there and enjoy the days!

5 ways Book Lovers Can Support Small Business Saturday

Perhaps you've always dreamed of opening an Etsy shop or owning a little boutique and coffee shop. For me, some of my dreams include all of the above. With today's everyday conflicts and negativity in the world, I've been thinking more about how I spend my time and my money. I'm trying to create more memories over clutter and plan ahead for family adventures. Yet underneath these ideas, I still have a genuine love for giving and receiving modest gifts. If you're looking for ways to spend your money and give thoughtfully this season, why not combine your love of literature, family time and gifts by supporting small businesses that share your same values? Give books to those you love, indulge in story times together as a family and support stores that donate books to those in need.

Here are a few ways to do so:

1. Call your local bookstore or sign up for their newsletter! Many will be offering special events, story times (more shopping time for you) and author events. Wild Detectives in Dallas will buy you a drink when you order a book from them. So if you learned of a great new title over Thanksgiving dinner call them up and when you pick up the book they will offer you a drink on the house!

2. Order online or visit any of the following independent bookstores. They provide a wide range of options and great book recommendations on their website! Book People, Blue Willow, BookCourt, Books of Wonder and Octavia Books.

3. Donate books! Several independent bookstores will give you a little spending cash or also support schools and libraries in need. Spread the love by decluttering your shelves this holiday season and adding new titles. Have you heard of The Last Bookstore? They have an inspiring story!

4.  You don't have to limit yourself to bookstores. Outfit yourself or your house with all the bookish essentials from wall art to totes to enamel pins on Ideal Bookshelf.

5. Beyond keeping track of Caldecott Winners, also follow Bank Street Bookstore. They are affiliated to the renowned school of education and each year they publish a thorough list of the best children's books of the year. Their intent is to provide quality literature to both educators and parents.