2013 review…Reading a book to your child

And the next most-clicked on post for 2013 is, ‘So you think you know how to read a book to your child….? [birth to 12 months]‘.  If you need some inspiration for reading to your little one, take a look (and check under the ‘literacy’ file to find posts for reading to toddlers and the older kids).

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Where is The Green Sheep? will captivate the youngest of audiences!

Where is The Green Sheep? will captivate the youngest of audiences!

Most clicked on 2013

An early happy new year to everyone! I will take the chance again to say thanks for being supporters of I Raise My Kids.
This week I’ll be reposting the most clicked on posts from I Raise My Kids.
Actually the most clicked on is ‘about me’ so starting with that, I’ll give a quick summary about who I am, so you know where I am coming from with the posts that I put up here!
I am Heidi, a mum of 2 boys (getting closer to 2 and 4 years) and a paediatric speech pathologist. I am very interested in child development which includes everything from communication, cognitive, social-emotional and even physical development. I am also interested in play, literacy and picky eating/developing healthy eating.
We have been down a road and a half working out the cause of Master 3’s ‘ADHD’ and eczema and have since come across food intolerances, kinesiology and working towards more of a Paleo ‘lifestyle’ so hence I post about this as well. Working with children, I am starting to realise there is a lot more of the unnecessary behavioural problems as well as other health issues that creep up, relating to not only diet but also emotional issues.
I hope that if anyone ever has questions or concerns that they would like more information on, relating to any of the above topics, please send me a message. I am more than happy to try and help!!

Learning to spell..with my mouth??

So it’s time to learn to sound out words for spelling.  At first, it can be quite a daunting task for a little one.

Here is one trick I have found that helps with little children, or older kids who are having trouble sounding words out… It sounds complicated but give it a go.  Just having something tangible for them to focus on can really help.

First things first, go back a step.  Talk about how different sounds make up words and give your child examples.  At book reading time, you might point at a word and say ‘that says ‘cat’ – it is made up of the sounds ‘c-a-t’, ‘ca…t”.  At another time, you might sit with your child and go through each sound of the alphabet.  Or maybe just a few common sounds at first.

‘Study’ each sound and feel it in your mouth.  You might say to your child ‘let’s see which parts of our mouth make this sound’.  Have you ever stopped to think yourself?

– /m/, /b/, /p/, /w/ are made with our lips

– /k/, /g/ are made with the back of our tongue

– /n/, /t/, /d/, /l/, /r/, /s/, /z/ are made with the front of our tongue

– /f/, /th/, /v/, /ch/, /j/ are made with our lips and tongue

(the vowel sounds have nothing really getting in the way, it’s just our jaw height and tongue tension)

So now when your child starts to attempt to work out the last sound in a word, you can say ‘say the word and catch that last sound in your mouth, which parts of your mouth were moving?’.  Put the emphasis on ‘catch’ and make it sound like a fun thing to do.  Your child will then hopefully be able to say ‘caaaaaa..t’.  And you’ll encourage them to ‘catch that last sound!’ and identify which it was.  They will hopefully say ‘I could feel my tongue with /t/!’.  Or it might be working out the first sound.  Again, encourage them to slowly say the word and catch the first sound.  They will hopefully say ‘c….a’ and you might need to say ‘catch the first sound’.  And hopefully they will say ‘c, c’ – no need to identify what made the sound if they already identified it!

Sometimes just having taken the time to ‘study’ the sounds, children feel a little bit more confident and aware of what they are doing.  Knowledge is power!!

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Literacy starts here..

[Birth+] A few benefits of baby books:
– clear pictures to keep your little one watching
– makes you talk in simpler language, which helps your child to understand and learn new words
– for 12mths + kids, extend the vocab (eg watermelon-seeds-red, juice-drink-cup, sheep-wool-tail)
– introduces early literacy skills such as left to right, turning pages, listening to words, pointing to pictures
– pages are easy to turn – keep your baby’s attention by bending the book back slightly so the next page pops open, say ‘turn the page’ and show their hand the action of turning
– older kids can even practice ‘reading’ the words to younger siblings

let's start from the very beginning

let’s start from the very beginning

ABC Reading Eggs – website/app review

[3 years +]  Are you keen for your child to look forward to literacy learning experiences?  Are they ready to learn before they start school?  Could they do with some help now that they have started school?  Do they have learning difficulties or autism?  Are you looking for fun and educational apps and games for your child?

ABC Reading Eggs is definitely a great place to discover!

image courtesy of daily telegraph

image courtesy of daily telegraph

What is it?

ABC Reading Eggs is a website and iPad app that is dedicated to teaching children literacy through fun, interactive games and based on research in developing literacy skills.  It was developed by experienced teachers, writers, animators and web developers, and you can tell!  It teaches phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension and will have your child hooked to learning about sounds and words before you know it.  Just give it a go by checking out a sample lesson or taking a free trial.

The best thing I have found is the simple things that get your child hooked.  The fun games like spinning a wheel or popping bubbles, the funny and enticing characters that have your child working so hard just to hear them sing and the idea of getting to new eggs and seeing what will happen.  Each lesson ends in a story involving the sounds, words and characters they have just interacted with.  After your child has earned so many eggs, they then get access to play games with these.  We haven’t even gone to the game section as the lessons are enticing enough for Master 3.

Reading Eggs also sells Reading Eggs readers that we have found at our local library.  These match exactly what your child has learnt in the lessons which make it hard for your child not to be able to read successfully once they have done the lesson once (or more – they can be repeated as many times as needed).

Reading Eggs is available on the web and also on iPads.  You can get a mini-version on iphone app which is related games but certainly not whole program.

Who is it for? 

Reading Eggs is designed for children from three years of age with no literacy experience and will take them through until a grade 2 reading level.  Children with or without difficulties learning to read will benefit.  As long as your child knows how to work the mouse and arrow keys, they can be guided through it independently, but the games and characters really get you hooked in as well!  A simple test can tell you where your child should start, if you are unsure.

How much does it cost? 

It doesn’t sound cheap, but after you have taken a free trial, you will see how amazing this website is.  A year’s subscription costs $79.95.  There are other options including packs with books and access to only so many levels.  We were lucky enough to hear about a free 5 week trial and then got offered a discount to join after that.

So, if you can fathom at least checking out the sample lessons or taking a free trial, you can judge if it would be worth it for your child.  Of course, there are the simple ways to learn literacy, by first focussing on phonological awareness and exposure to books.  (link to post).

Are We There Yet? A journey around Australia – book review

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[3 years +] ‘Are we there yet? A journey around Australia’ by Alison Lester.

You can be confident this is a great book when you see the author is Alison Lester (other books include, Noni the Pony, Magic Beach and Imagine) and it also won the Children’s Book Council of Australia ‘Picture book of the year’ award.

If you are thinking of doing a camping trip anywhere around Australia, this book is a great way to show your children what it might be like and get them excited.  We had no plans and are quite inspired by this book to do a ‘journey around Australia’ one day!

For little ones, you might show them what a ‘bookmark’ is and read it over a few nights.  It is easy to stop after each set of pages before the family moves onto a new place in Australia.  For the older kids, you can really look at all the amazing things there are to see around Australia and what it is like going on an extended camping trip.

Here are a few sample pages to show you the style of the book:

there's a map of Australia!

there’s a map of Australia!

fireworks in Sydney

fireworks in Sydney

look at the colours of Uluru...

look at the colours of Uluru…

The Jolly Postman – book review

[3 years +] The Jolly Postman – by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

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Like Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allan Ahlberg again have fun with well-known fairy tale characters.  They use rhymes to introduce the characters the Jolly Postman comes across and real envelopes with letters, cards and postcards to open on each page.  It is very fun for the kids!

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There is a lot for the older children as well to get from this book.  They can read the front of the envelopes and work out who they are to (eg. Mr V Bigg = the giant) or work out the puns in the witches’ catalogue.  You really have to know your fairy tales to ‘get’ the whole book 🙂

Each Peach Pear Plum – book review

Each Peach Pear Plum By Janet and Allan Ahlberg

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Clever, fun and catering to many ages, this book is a MUST-HAVE!

It features a repetitive rhyme that brings in all of your favourite nursery rhyme characters.  AND you get to play ‘eye spy’ on each page, looking for one of them.

So get it out for:

– the under ones for some good exposure to rhyming words (great for later preliteracy skills) and interesting pictures to look at

– the 1 year olds, again for some good rhyme exposure and vocabulary building – you can just point out all the common items on each page

– the 2 and 3 year olds for some ‘eye spying’, or even finishing the rhyme for you (‘I spy the…’).  You can talk about which nursery rhymes the characters come from or ask many questions such as ‘I wonder if Jack and Jill liked the Wicked Witch?’ or you can predict what you will be looking for on the next page by the mini picture above the writing (eg. the 3 bears’ porridge bowls…find the three bears)

Here are a few sample pages!

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can you see the three bears..?

can you see the three bears..?

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can you find the wicked witch?

can you find the wicked witch?

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Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books – book review

[3 years +] Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books by Frances Watts and David Legge

**winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award 2008**

Yes, this was a great find at the library!  Particularly in time for Book Week.

As the title suggests, this book is all about books!  It teaches your child about every aspect of a book.. Just take a look.

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Parsley Rabbit introduces all the book terms you can think of, from ‘author’ to ‘end pages’ and all in an exciting book, complete with flaps, a dinosaur head which had Master 3 intrigued (you’ll have to see it to see what I mean!) and clever ways to engage a child about something as dry as specifics about books!

Seek this out at your library today!