Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some Proof

So, today I was honestly in too much pain to clean, so I thought I'd do some extra reading time. And then I got the grand idea to create a video of Mason reading for my mother in law, She really gets a kick out of the whole thing. So, I am going to share this video with you all, to give you some incentive to read more and play reading with your little geniuses-in-the-making.

(sorry it is so dark, it was sort of spontaneous)

Mason turned 3 September 18th and there he is, reading. It is not fake nor prompted. He can do it anytime he sees these words, as well as quite a few others. However, I will add that if he doesn't feel like reading, he is a typica 3 year old and you cannot make him, hahah. I used all the games and methods here to teach him. I have the "your baby can read" program, and i do like it. we use the flash cards and stuff, but we don't really watch the videos. They are boring and honestly, we don't watch much tv. We prefer to do crafts, do art, read, run around, jump on the jumpoline, and just play games and trains legos and stuff.

Try this game with your little ones: Write on a piece of paper 3 body part names, for example, Ear, Foot, and arm. Point to a word,then the body part, and do a little dance. then point to a different word, the body part it corresponds with, and a different little dance. The idea is to then try to convince your little one to do the ear dance, pulling his ears, pointing to them, or touching his feet for the foot dance. Then, try to get him to do the right dance when you just point to the word without saying what it is. I did this with clap, sit, and down, and it really was fun and worked great.

A little reminder: When your kiddo is trying but gets the wrong answer, it is nice to say good try to encourage him or her. Don't be harsh when they are wrong, it only makes them feel defeated.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's been too long, but your baby CAN read!

I have been busy spending my time with the kids as usual, and I got the "Your baby can read" program as well. It's actually a fantastic program! The boys love the videos, books and cards. We are strictly only playing with the stuff for the program right now, while I try to decide what is the best time of day to set aside time to actually work on it a little. Despite that it has only been play, within one week, Zander has learned to read and recognize 2 of the words from the starter set and Mason varies. He can do at least "hi", "clap" and "eyes" from the starter set, as well as the words he already knows. Sometimes, he can remember a few more, and occasionally, isn't interested in reading at all. That is typical, toddlers are like the weathe rin New England, unpredictable.

So, Since not everyone wants to pay the somewhat extravagant price for books and cards and dvds to teach a toddler to read, I will make some suggestions.

Flashcards with the word on the front, and the picture on the back. Bring them out instead of watching tv, when your little one is settled down, not running amok and burning off energy. I find my boys do great before bedtime, but not every kid is the same. Make it a game. I know I will hit a brick wall in progress when I attempt to set aside a specific learning time, but I am determined. Unless you are on some deadline, don't copy me on that. I am not going to force my kids to learn, and neither should you. Because you cannot, it doesn't work. But make it fun- I am not beyond bribing Mason a little to give a little extra effort, though I keep the bribes sort of relevant. We have a book that has a word, and then you slide it to the side to see the picture. If he gets the word, he gets to slide it. If not, I slide it, and make it seem liek the most fun thing I have EVER done, lol.

You can make cards liek this, first cut out the flash cards. Then, cut out paper that is twice the size, and tape it over the card to create a sleeve. Write the word on the sleeve, and put a picture (keep it basic so to avoid confusion) on the card inside. When your kid tries really hard, or even gets it, let them slide the sleeve off. When they lose focus, get distracted, or doesn't get it....slide it off yourself and make it look like so much fun!

Some good words to start with are words that are common and easily illustrated, such as cat and dog, wors that they can do the action if they forget how to say it, such as jump or wave, and words that they use often, such as food, mommy, and play. If you feel super creative, you can print pictures of daily life and use those to illustrate the words, for example, for the word hi, have a friend waving hello for a picture, and point out that they are saying hi. Use pictures of their favorite food and make fluffy the cat be your model so it's even easier to recognize the cat. You could even cut pictures from magazines, but rememebr that the more there is in the picture, the harder it is for a tot to decipher.

So, I am writing while my 3 under 3 sleep, and I think it's time for me to join them in dreamland. Have fun helping your little one read, I will be back very very soon with some games to play. Feel free to ask questions, too..I will be here much more often now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Learning to read through play- games for birth- toddler.....

Games are a fun way to bond with your baby, and your baby can totally learn all sorts of things from the games you play. I want to focus on a few games that will help with reading specifically. It is my opinion that reading is the foundation of education, because it is what helps teachers convey the lessons. A child who can read well will often tend to do better in school than a child who does not.
I know some children have learning disabilities that slow down their reading capabilities, and other learning facets. This journal entry does not exclude them. A learning disability does not mean a kid can't learn, nor does it mean they aren't bright. It means they need to work a little harder, or perhaps learn a different way. Games are even better for those children than children without those disabilities‘, because it takes the focus off of learning, a nice relief for kids who have to work hard at it.
You can read the word "Alphabet". Now, imagine you had no idea what that word was, or what it could possibly mean. It does you no good at all to have read it if you can't figure out what it is. A newborn baby or an infant has no idea what anything is, so clearly they cannot learn to read words (or at least, not just any words) at this time. So here comes my favorite game. Give it any name you like, but it boils down to
You have heard this a hundred times, read it a million more, and it never ceases to lose its importance. Labeling the world for your baby is how you begin the foundation for reading. Reading the word Cat suddenly takes on new meaning when you see what a cat looks like, feels like, and sounds like.
So let's talk about how labeling can be fun for your baby. I like to label groups of things that are similar. I leek to hope they will connect in baby's brain in the near future.
"Okay baby! Time to make a bottle. This is your bottle! It's Pink! Pink is Pretty! Pretty Pink Bottle!"
"This is a cup. This is what Mommy/Daddy drinks from. This cup is clear. That means you can see through it ((peek at baby through it)) See how fun! The clear cup is fun!"
"Here is a spoon. It is round. You can eat with it, Use it for a drumstick ((demonstrate spoon drumstick)) or even stick it on your nose ((you know what to do))" This spoon is my favorite, because I can see you in it (let baby see reflection where possible)."
Yes, this totally works. Babies love being spoken to and the older your baby gets the more fun it gets. I label this way with my 2.5 yo, my 18 mo old AND my 5 mo old, and all 3 love it!
6 months+
Let's kick it up a notch!
"This is a bowl. It's for holding food. It's a circle ((show the top, circular part to baby)) It is like a wheel ((demonstrate wheel)) or it can be a hat!” (If you demonstrate a hat while there is food in it, you get an extra bonus as a parent))
“This is broccoli! Can you say Broccoli? Broccoli is green, and looks like a tiny tree. Tiny Trees are yummy yummy! Watch me eat it….YYYUUMMM! YAY Tiny Tree is good for me!”
As your child gets older, try to get more descriptive, but with simple words. The color, the texture, the smell (smells nice, stinky, fresh, clean, yucky, or bad are some good examples) and this is how you open up the world of adjectives to your baby. Not only will your child know what a cat is, but your child will be able to eventually read and understand with one simple word that a cat is small, soft, and cuddly. Imagine when you play with your child by labeling things that you take a simple spoon and turn it into a familiar object that is useful and fun at the same time. They will read spoon and the gears in their tiny brains will turn and remember all the things a spoon can do…and the gear that turns to remember what fun you had with a spoon will also turn out some imagination. YAY for imagination!
Do you feel stupid talking to your baby like this? You would feel even dumber if you realized one day you don't talk to your sweet tiny #1 fan at all, right? And anyone judging a Mommy or Daddy for talking to a baby is not someone you should be listening to at all.
So, I know labeling isn’t as much a “game” as it is a language. So, what about games? Bring on the games!
Game #1 is for toddlers that can talk at least a little. So, I’d say about 15 months and up. I don’t have a name for this game, so feel free to make a suggestion, ok?
What you need: A toddler in a good mood and a silly mood yourself. For added fun, a digital camera with a screen and some healthy (but yummy!) snacks. I highly recommend those little stars you can get in the toddler food aisle at your local store, because for some reason kids love those veggie ones.
Tell your little tyke you are going to play a game. Get them excited. Say you are going on a hunt. If you have the camera, say you are going to take pictures of what you are hunting.
“Okay little darling, Let’s play a game! You want to play with mommy/daddy right? Well, We need to find things that start with A and put them on the couch. If you can put something like that on the couch, You win, and you get a prize! You like prizes? YAY! Okay, we can take pictures of the things that start with the letter “A”, too! Won’t that be neat-o? Okay, let’s start. What sound doe s”A” make (wait about 5 seconds) AHHHHor AAAA, right? What starts with those sounds..hmm….
“Apple? Yes! YAY! Let’s put that on the couch..we did it!”
“Pillow? Nooo..that’s silly, pillow doesn’t sound like that….”
“This picture is of Aunty..hey, aunty sounds like “a” so let’s put it on the couch! YAY! We did it! Let’s have a treat, and do another letter. “
Taking pictures of your tyke holding the items can be fun, or if you are brave (or rich) let your tyke take the picture his/herself. This gets my kiddo really going, he will go through everything in the house to find as many things that start with A as possible. You can also save the pictures, and later put them on a slideshow on your computer and ask your kiddo to name the things you took pictures of. If your little one took the pictures, they will be thrilled to see it on the screen. Voila! We love playing a game linking letters to their sounds.
Younger toddlers may not last long with this game, nor will they understand linking the letter/sound/object right away. But that is what this is about…teaching them to link it….so do what you need to, get excited, jump around, crawl about, and be silly to keep the interested and you will find a couple times after you have played the game, they will catch on and at least try to bring you things. Even if it’s the wrong thing, that will teach what sound the letter does NOT make, just always remember to say good try, because trying is just as important as being correct when learning by playing.
Okay, so I feel like it was hard to explain this game, but I play it a lot with my 18 month old and 2.5 year old, so if you have questions, ask away by comment or personal message and I will answer as fast as I can. Also, if you take pictures in this game, feel free to share them, because I will show them to my kiddos and get them to tell me what letter….and you can do the same. I will share a picture from the next time we play (probably tomorrow after my dr appointment.)
It’s hard to find real games to play with an infant. However, I got one that is awesome. I don’t recall where the original concept came from but I swear I am not taking credit for the original idea, ok? Just letting you all know what game I play with my little girl.
“Buzzy A, B, C’s” Is more about sounds than anything, but is again, another step besides labeling that links the world to words.
Lay your baby on his/her back. Make a bzzzzz noise and wave your hand at a medium pace where baby can see you, like it’s a bumble bee. Say buzzzzzy A! and give baby a tiny tummy tickle. Do it again, and say Bzzzzzz-y buzz-y “b” and take longer to buzz the baby’s tummy than you did with A. repeat with “C”. Now start over, making the phonetic sound for the letter…BZZZZy “ahhh” Bzzzzy “AAA” Bzzzzy buh” “Bzzzzzy kuh” bzzzy sah” you get the idea. Babis love games that involve a little anticipation, which means the more you play this game, the more they like it, because they rememebr it and learn to anticipate it. Like pee-a-boo. I play this game while changing a diaper, because then I get to bare belly, and Isabella loves it, she even belly laughs for me now.
I have more games, but not so much more time right now. I am too busy playing these games with my kids. SOOOO I will come back and post many more games, so stay tuned, ok?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Busy Busy Update....

I have been so busy! I have been caught up in trying to resolve some serious health problems, (it's going well as can be expected) and get the kids out of the house. I am not able to drive right now so I have to rely on help from my sister. She rocks, though, so at least once a week she takes me and the 3 younger kids out to playgroup or something.

Today my least favorite episode of Mickey Mouse clubhouse is on during breakfast, so I am sneaking away to blog. (the episode is "Handy Helpers" and I hate it because the helpers break, and so cannot open the door for Mickey. Mickey says 'If the handy helpers don't open the door, my friends can't get int hte clubhouse' And I really feel like Mickey is so lazy to not do these things for himself. Mason and Zander are not yet in danger of being sloppy/lazy, since we have fun cleaning up every few days....but the older children have no clue how to pick up anything or do anything without grumbling, lol.

So, Not much has changed. We are holding steady but with no serious progress with reading. I believe it is because we have been stuck inside so much so today i decided to set it aside, have fun for a few days and let it be exciting again, then we will play the games I created just for the boys again.

In further news, Isabella is getting ready to crawl, and is doing some awesome mini-pushups. I have been playing tummy time with her more than the other kids because they hated it, and she lives for it. she prefers to be on her belly all the time. It has made her very strong, I am proud. She can also almost froggy sit! So we are practicing during our one on one time together and it makes me feel so excited for her.

Okay, must go clean the nursery for a game of "fort"! Go play with your little ones today- you have no idea how much they learn from play!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where did I go? Peek a Boo!

Things have been pretty hectic here. I have continued with the learning-by-playing stuff and Zander has risen to the occasion. I suspect Mason has learned more then he lets on, but he is stubborn about showing it. Maybe that is why 2 year olds don't start school, lol.

Today we are heading out to playgroup, and then my goal is to get them to sit with some books at playtime. We will also be painting, so I will paint a couple letters and encourage them to make the sounds.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weekend or "ball"room blitz!

So, We played a game where I asked Mason to find things that started with a letter again. We did only a through E, but that is ok. We also added "Cow" to our repertoire of words because I found a card that had the word on it. It seemed like a good idea.

I also spent some extra time reading a book with Zander, he really enjoys story time with me. I try to make it fun, and be silly, which is great for my health. I think that being silly is just as important as breathing air and drinking water.

Today, we had a real show of my efforts. It was such a big deal I actually shouted with delight. We have been practicing a few words here and there, though only focusing on "cup" "ball" "daddy" Zander" "drink" and "cow".

So, I set a bucket of cheese balls down for the boys to snack on today. Mason pointed to the words on it and I asked him what it said. He was not really into answering me, and didn't really read it. He did recognize the letters, however, because he turned to look at the same word written on a piece of paper on the door. Just for kicks, I turned to Zander, pointed to the word "Balls" and asked him what it said. He looked at it and after a second said "Balls". I shouted with delight, as I mentioned. I was so proud. He knew what it meant. He could "read" it. He is only 18 months old. Imagine how he will do in a year? 2 years? I am really looking forward to learning with these boys.

I can't recall if I had mentioned something, and wanted to be sure I did. My boys use sign langauge in addition to spoken word. All of the words i am teaching them to read, they either knwo the sign language for or I teach that in addition. I learned about baby sign language when Mason was about 2 months old, but did not put any stock in it. At 13 months old, Mason had a speech delay for no apparent reason. his hearing was tested and was fine. he did not appear to have a learning disorder or behavior problem. At 14 months old, Mason could only truly say one word- Dadda. Many people said I was overreacting. They said he would talk when he was ready. But I wanted to help him. I called early intervention. They showed me how to play with a child in a way that boosts speech learning and development. And they showed me resources to teach him sign language.

It took about 2 weeks to see progress with the sign language at his age. But once he started, he blew me away! He signed more than he could talk, and impressed even early intervention. Soon, his speech started happening. And it never slowed. now, at 2.5, He knows at least 100 signs, and speaks very well. Zander did not have any delay, but I saw no reason not to teach him to sign before his words became clear. Now, he speaks very well for his age group, and knows around 20+ signs.

The best part, they both enjoy sign language. they use the signs in every day life without thinking, and enjoy learning new ones. We have the "Baby Einsteins: First Signs" movie and it is still thier favorite...they could watch it 20 times a day, I swear.

I am way too busy to write everything on my mind tonight, so I am going to stop here.

Leave me a comment if you are interested in learning how to boost your baby's first words through play. This can be done even with a newborn!