This month, our focus takes us on an animal adventure! Each classroom has their own learning journey focused around their group interests. Their questions serve as a guide to investigate the all types of animals! The children are exploring pets, farm animals, exotic critters, and much, much more! We are excited to explore our ‘Animal Adventures!’ focus throughout March!
Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 2, 1904. After attending Dartmouth College and Oxford University, he began a career in advertising. His advertising cartoons, featuring Quick, Henry, the Flit!, appeared in several leading American magazines.
Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was published in 1937, and the world of children’s literature was changed forever. In 1957, Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat became the prototype for one of Random House’s bestselling series, Beginner Books. This popular series combined engaging stories with outrageous illustrations and playful sounds to teach basic reading skills.
Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped kids learn to read.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and three Academy Awards, Seuss was the author and illustrator of 44 children’s books, some of which have been made into recordings, animated television specials, and movies for children of all ages.
In addition to Dr. Seuss, Thedor Geisel also used the pen name Theo LeSieg (Geisel backwards) for books written by him, but illustrated by others.
Check out some of these books for your child to read while they are exploring people and their community this month:
What books would you add to our list?
Zero to Three offers great advice on how to promote Thinking Skills for 0-12 months:
Babies learn by using their senses. They explore and discover by touching and mouthing objects, hearing voices and music, and seeing the colorful, fascinating wonder all around them. But the most important part of your child’s early learning experiences is you. It is through interactions and experiences with loved and trusted adults that babies begin to make sense of the world.
In this first year, babies are learning very important concepts. They learn about cause and effect when they shake a rattle and hear a sound, or when they pull on their mother’s glasses and hear her voice (much sterner than usual) tell them not to pull! They learn about size and shape by stacking blocks, mouthing them, and trying to fit them into the correctly-shaped holes. They learn to solve problems when they discover how to turn the crank to get the jack-in-the-box to pop up. They learn about gravity when they drop a spoon from the high chair and look down to the floor to see where it lands. They learn object permanence—that things they can’t see still exist—when they play peek-a-boo or crawl into the next room to find you.
Click on the links below to learn about ways to build your baby’s thinking skills:
Encourage your baby to explore.
You will see your baby act on her natural curiosity about the people and objects around her as she:
- Looks carefully at your face
- Inspects her hands, fingers, feet and toes
- Rolls to get closer to a person she wants to connect with or to an interesting object
- Babbles and then waits for your response
- Looks at and reaches for objects that interest her.
- Responds to familiar words like baba, mama, dada, night-night, teddy bear, etc.
Your baby’s curiosity reflects a desire to figure out how the people and objects in his world work. You will see your child’s curiosity in action as he:
- Touches his fingers and toes
- Bangs and shakes objects to see what they can do
- Pulls on long hair or earrings
- Uses sounds, facial expressions and gestures to get your attention
- Puts things in his mouth
- Watches things move
- Follows interesting sounds with his eyes
These actions help babies learn and build their confidence that they can “make things happen.” When children know they can have an impact on the people and objects around them, they feel confident and competent, which is a key part of developing positive self-esteem. In this way, thinking skills and social-emotional skills are tied together. What you can do:
- Offer interesting objects to explore—fabrics of various textures, a ball of sticky masking tape, a wooden spoon and a metal one to touch and compare.
- Respond to her efforts to communicate. Use words to describe what she is experiencing: I see you looking at that ball on the shelf. Let me get that for you.
- Delight in their discoveries. You found your hands! Look what they can do. You can use them to reach that red ball.
- Provide the help your child needs to solve problems, such as showing your baby how to get the lid off the container so she can reach the blocks inside. But before you jump in, give her a chance to do it herself first.
Support your baby’s growing memory and ability to understand new ideas. You will see your baby’s memory develop as she:
- Recognizes familiar people
- Anticipates routines, for example, grabbing her “blanky” for naptime or crawling to the high chair when she sees you preparing food
- Responds (turning/smiling) when she hears her name spoken
- Shows pleasure when given a familiar object like a favorite book of her “lovey”
Your baby’s growing memory also helps her learn that objects and people still exist even when he can’t see them. This concept is called object permanence. You will see this new skill developing when your baby starts to look for hidden objects. This is because he remembers the object and knows it is still around…somewhere. He may also begin to protest when you leave him with a caregiver, even one he knows and loves. This is because he knows you are out there somewhere and naturally, he wants to make you come back!
During this first year your baby is also learning about the concept of cause and effect—that he can make things happen. When he shakes the rattle it makes a sound. When he bats at the mobile it moves. When he cries out for you, you come. Learning to make things happen is the foundation for solving problems. I want dad’s attention. What can I do? I will crawl to him and pull on his leg to let him know I want him to play. Young babies show you how they are now able to make things happen when they:
- Cry when they need something
- Drop food off a high chair tray, look down to the floor to see where it goes, and look for you to come pick it up
- Enjoy repeating a new activity (like pressing a button to see a toy pop up)
- Reach for a rattle to shake it and make a sound
What you can do:
- Play disappearing and reappearing games. Play peek-a-boo. Make a simple game of hiding objects to find. This helps develop your child’s memory and teaches him about object permanence.
- Encourage your child to explore objects and toys in different ways. Touching, banging, shaking, and rolling help children learn about how things work. Talk with your child about what he is doing. “You got the truck to move by pulling the string!”
Help your baby become a good problem-solver. Babies learn to solve problems by examining and learning about new objects and people they encounter. Then they apply what they have learned to new situations. For example:
- A 7-month-old has figured out who she knows and who she doesn’t. So she holds her arms out so you will pick her up, but buries her head in your chest when a new person tries to talk to her.
- An 11-month-old waves bye-bye when her dad puts her in the crib for the night. This is after seeing her parents wave bye-bye to her many times when they leave for work.
Problem-solving is a critical thinking skill that helps babies be successful now, later in school, and the rest of their lives. In the beginning, the problems babies solve seem simple: How do I make the tambourine rattle? How do I make the jack pop up out of the box? But figuring out the answer to these dilemmas requires a lot of thought and trial-and-error. When they are successful, children feel confident and proud, which motivates them to explore and learn more from the people and world around them. What you can do:
- Provide support for reaching goals. Watch your baby carefully. See what she is trying to make happen and help her solve the problem. If she is trying to roll over to reach an interesting object, encourage her to go as far as she can and then bring it close enough that she can get it and explore it.
- Model problem-solving. Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation.
Explore differences in objects
One of the strategies babies use to figure out how the world works is by putting objects into categories. They notice similar features even among very different objects. A flower, a rattle, and grandpa’s nose are all very different, but they all can be grasped. Babies also notice differences among similar objects. If they are given a piece of furry fabric and a piece of rubber that are the same size, shape and color, babies will pat the fur and squeeze the rubber. This shows they have some idea about how these textures will feel and “should” be touched. (Berger, 166) What you can do:
- Take “touching” walks. On your walks together, hold your baby’s hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen. Give her a flower petal to touch, or run her hand over tickly grass. Stop and listen together to the cars going by. Talk about what you are seeing and doing.
- Look at books that put objects into categories. While your baby won’t be able to understand how to sort objects yet, activities like these will help her build this skill over time.
Make everyday activities “teachable moments.”
Children learn so much during daily routines likes feeding, diapering and bath time. For example, during bath time, babies get to explore math and science concepts like empty/full, in/out, wet/dry. Filling and dumping cups help children learn about empty and full, and in and out. When your child makes the rubber duck splash in the tub, she learns about cause and effect. When the duck stays on top of the water but the washcloth sinks, she is learning about floating and sinking. What You Can Do:
- Make the most of daily routines. Let your baby help drop clothing into the washing machine. Hand her groceries she can put on the conveyer belt. Sing a song about body parts as you change her diaper. These routine activities are not-so-routine for your growing baby. They teach her how things work.
- Give your child some everyday “toys”. See how a wooden spoon and a whisk make very different sounds when tapped on a pot lid. Pull a scarf through a cardboard paper towel tube to make the scarf appear and disappear. Let your child feel the difference between the brush used on her hair, and the spiny teeth of the comb. Activities like this give your child the chance to discover the properties and functions of objects, an important part of problem-solving.
Check out some of these books for your child to read while they are exploring the sky this month:
What books would you add to our list?
Zero to Three offers great advice on how to promote Language & Literacy
Babies come into the world filled with curiosity about the people, objects, and places they encounter. Daily routines like feeding, diaper-changing, and bathtime offer babies especially rich opportunities to have fun, connect and bond with loved ones, and figure out how the world works.
Important early learning skills get their start through these everyday moments between babies and their adults. Reading together, and watching your baby to learn how she communicates through sounds, facial expressions, and gestures, are both ways to give her a foundation in literacy and language skills. Self-confidence grows as babies feel loved and nurtured by the adults who care for them. They begin developing self-control (though they won’t master this skill for a quite a while) when you soothe them after an upset. And babies learn to think, and to puzzle out an interesting problem, by using their senses to play and explore the world around them.
Remember: If your baby is interested and involved in an activity—and having fun—he is learning! It isn’t necessary to “teach” very young children. Formal classes and other activities that push babies and toddlers to learn concepts before they are ready do not help their development or make them do better in school. In fact, they can even make children feel like failures when they are pushed to do something they can’t succeed at or don’t enjoy. So treasure these early days of playing and cuddling with your little one—it is exactly what she needs to grow and learn.
The idea of babies and toddlers talking and reading can seem incredible. It is hard to imagine them debating with you about curfews or curling up with the newest Harry Potter book. But language and literacy skills start early—from birth. Watching your baby and learning how she communicates through sounds, facial expressions, and gestures are all important ways to help her learn about language and the written word.
It isn’t necessary to “teach” very young children. Formal classes and other activities that push babies and toddlers to read and write words do not help their development or make the do better in school. In fact, they can even make children feel like failures when they are pushed to do something they don’t enjoy or that is beyond their skills.
Early language and literacy skills are learned best through everyday moments with your child—reading books, talking, laughing and playing together. Children learn language when you talk to them and they communicate back to you, and by hearing stories read and songs sung aloud. Children develop early literacy skills (internal link to definition below) when you give them the chance to play with and explore books and other written materials like magazines, newspapers, take-out menus, markers, and crayons.
What you can do to support your baby’s growing language and literacy skills from 0-12 Months:
- Describe her feelings and experiences. For example, when you see that she is hungry, you can say: You are nuzzling at my shirt. You’re telling me you’re hungry. Okay, your milk is coming right up! Although your baby won’t understand your words right away, your caring, loving tone of voice and actions will make her feel understood. And hearing these words over and over again will help her come to understand them over time.
- Copy your baby’s sounds and encourage him to imitate you.
- Put words to her sounds: I think you want to tell me about the doggy over there. Look at that doggy. Hi, doggy!
- Sing songs you know, or make up songs about your baby (Happy bathtime to you, happy bathtime to you, happy bathtime, sweet baby, happy bathtime to you.) You don’t have to be on key or be good at carrying a tune. Babies don’t judge—they love hearing your voice.
- Play peek-a-boo. This simple turn-taking game is good practice for how to have a conversation later on. Try hiding behind a book, a pillow or a scarf. You can also play peek-a-boo by holding your baby in front of a mirror and then moving away from your reflection. Move back in front of the mirror and say, “peek-a-boo!”
- Play back-and-forth games. Hand your baby a rattle or soft ball. Then see if she will hand it back to you. See if you can exchange the toy a few times. This “back-and-forth” is practice for having a conversation later on.
- Read lots of books. Reading together helps your baby develop a love of reading and a familiarity with books. Reading aloud also helps your baby’s vocabulary grow as she has many chances to hear new words and learn what they mean.
- Use books as part of your baby’s daily routines. Read before naptime or bedtime. Share books made of plastic at bath time. Read a story while you are waiting for the bus. Bring books to the doctor’s office to make the time go faster.
- Read with gusto. Use different voices for different characters in the stories you read your baby. Babies love when adults are silly and it makes book reading even more fun.
- Let your baby “read” her own way. Your baby may only sit still for a few pages, turn the pages quickly or only want to look at one picture and then be done. She may even like to just mouth the book, instead of read it! Follow your baby’s lead to make reading time a positive experience. This will nurture her love of literacy from the start.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Babies learn through repetition because it gives them many chances to “figure things out.” When babies tell you they are interested in a book or even in a picture in a book, give them as long as they want to look at the picture or to hear the story over and over.
Parent-Child Activities to Promote Language and Literacy for 0-12 months
- Make a photo album. Glue photos of your baby and the important people in her life onto sturdy 4×6 index cards. Punch a hole in the upper left corner of each card and tie them together with a short piece of yarn. Share the book with your baby. She will love seeing pictures of the people she loves and hearing you talk about them (and her!).
- Touch some new textures. Gather together small squares of different fabrics (lace, cotton, corduroy, nylon, etc.). Snip a small hole through each square and tie them together with a piece of ribbon (they can also be stitched together at the corner as well). Let your baby touch the fabric “book” and talk about how the different textures feel. Does she have a favorite page?
- Sing some “finger play” songs. These are songs that have hand movements to go with them. “Finger plays” help children develop muscle strength and coordination in their fingers, which helps them learn to write and draw later on. A baby favorite is Pat-a-Cake: Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker’s Man (clap hands together), Bake me a cake as fast as you can (pretend to stir the batter), Roll it (roll your hands over one another, as if you are rolling dough), Pat it (pat your thighs), And mark it with a B for Baby and me (draw a B in the air with your finger). Other favorites are Where is Thumbkin and The Wheels on the Bus.
As we look forward to the new year ahead, it is a great time to begin integrating School Readiness elements in to day-to-day interaction with your child. Below is great information from the National Education Association on ensuring your childs preparedness for the upcoming school year:
A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Your Child for School
What is school readiness?
It is never too early to start providing the kinds of experiences that will help your child enter school ready to succeed. “School readiness” refers to the academic knowledge, independence, communication, and social skills children need to do well in school. Getting your child ready for school requires you to spend time reading, talking, and playing with your child.
Before entering kindergarten, children should have basic knowledge of themselves, their families, and the world around them. Through play and interactions with caring adults, children can come to school with many skills that teachers can build upon. To get your child academically ready for school, you should:
- Read to your child daily and talk about what you’ve read.
- Visit the library. Check out books and attend storytimes.
- Sing rhyming songs and do finger plays.
- Put your child’s name on their clothing and toys to help him or her recognize their name in print.
- Encourage your child to write his or her name.
- Help your child learn basic colors by pointing and naming objects like “green trees,” “red apples,” or “blue coats.”
- Give your child puzzles and games that require counting and problem solving.
- Let your child scribble, draw, write, and cut and paste.
- Sing the alphabet song with your child and provide letter magnets or other toys that will help him/her begin to recognize the letters of the alphabet.
- Take your child to the zoo, park, grocery store, post office, and pet shop.
- Talk about the sights and sounds of your day.
- Make time for your child to sing, dance, climb, jump, run, and ride tricycles or bikes.
- Choose child care that promotes learning with well planned, fun, and interesting activities.
Social readiness is as important as academic readiness. Being able to get along with other children, follow directions, take turns, and say “good-bye” to parents are skills that kindergarten teachers hope to see from incoming children. To get your child socially ready for school, you should:
- Set rules and give consequences for breaking them.
- Have regular routines for mealtime and bedtime.
- Encourage your child to play with and talk to other children.
- Encourage your child to take turns and share with other children.
- Encourage your child to finish difficult or frustrating tasks once they have begun them.
- Encourage your child to consider the feelings of others.
- Model and discuss positive ways for your child to express his or her feelings.
- Discourage hitting, biting, screaming, and other negative behaviors.
- Kiss and hug your child several times a day.
When children complete basic self-help tasks such as zipping their coats or tying their shoes, they feel a great sense of pride. Independence builds confidence and self esteem. In school, children will be expected to do many things on their own. To make sure your child is independent in school, you should:
- Buy shoes and clothing that are easy for children to buckle, zip, and fasten on their own.
- Let your child get dressed and put on shoes by him or herself.
- Let your child do simple chores like setting the table at mealtimes or cleaning up toys after playing.
- Encourage independent toileting and hand washing.
- Let your child work independently on activities such as completing puzzles.
Listening and speaking are the first steps to reading and writing in the preschool years. Through conversations with parents, teachers, and friends, children learn about the people, places, and objects that they will later read and write about. It is through speaking that young children tell us what they know and understand about the world. To make sure that your child can communicate his or her thoughts and feelings in school, you should:
- Have regular conversations with your child.
- Encourage your child to listen and respond to others when they speak.
- Answer your child’s questions, even if the answer is “no”.
- Help your child learn and use new words.
- Explore language through singing, rhyming, songs, and chants.
- Model the language you want your child to use.
- Write notes to your child.
- Help your child dictate letters to family and friends.
- 1 out of every 3 Americans, over 90 million people, struggles with Reading
- 98% of reading is an auditory/listening task. Only 2% of reading is visual. Listening to a story and reading that same story will activate the exact same pathways in the brain. It’s not where the sensory information comes from but, where it ends up in the brain. Our eyes act more like ears when we read.
- Seven out of eight students with reading problems in first grade continue to struggle with reading in 9th grade. They get better but never catch up. Improving listening skills is often the easiest route to improving reading skills.
- Think things are different for teens and adults? Think again. The teen brain doesn’t radically shift when a student leaves elementary school. Almost all teens and adults with reading problems suffer from untreated auditory problems. Listening issues are at the root of fluency and comprehension difficulties.
- Listening skills, including: phonemic awareness (hearing all the sounds in a spoken word), auditory attention, auditory sequencing, and listening vocabulary are the most important factors in natural reading. Teachers often notice that the child who has a hard time listening to a story also struggles to read.
- The biggest barrier to comprehension is lack of fluency. Less than 15% of learning disabled students have comprehension problems if they read accurately and read faster than 80 words a minute. The National Reading Panel found that comprehension instruction should be only taught after reading accuracy and fluency are mastered. It is like teaching a child how to steer a bike before they learn how to pedal.
- The National Reading Panel found that phonics instruction was of marginal benefit unless a student has well-developed phonemic awareness. This is why some first graders pick up phonics in months and struggling readers can take years. Oh! The pain.
- English is the most difficult major language to listen to (comprehend) and to read. For struggling readers, listening to English can be like listening to a foreign language you haven’t quite mastered.
- The main reason English is so difficult to speak, listen to and to read is because spoken English has an exceptional number of vowel sounds (phonemes). The ability to hear and identify individual sounds is what separates natural readers from struggling readers. Many weak readers struggle with spelling and most of their errors – not surprisingly — are with vowels.
- Students who read at a lower grade level are at serious academic risk. The kids who read Harry Potter in fourth grade aren’t “average fourth grade” readers.
- The least crowded day at grocery stores is typically Wednesdays. (s)
- The strawberry is the only fruit that grows its seeds on the outside. (s)
- You cannot taste food unless it is mixed with saliva. (s)
- The Popsicle was actually created by accident in 1905. When 11-year-old Frank Epperson left a sweet drink and its stirring stick on the porch overnight, he awoke to find that the drink had frozen to the stick. He shared his ‘Epsicle’ with his friends and later his own children, who called the treats Pop’s ‘sicles. In 1923 Epperson applied for the patent and the Popsicle brand name was born. (s)
- Coffee is the world’s most recognizable smell. (s)
Check out some other great Fun Food Facts at agday.org!