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!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Your baby can read- experiment....

I have been so busy it's hard to find time to post!
But, I had to update more on my progress with teaching the boys to read.

I will talk about Zander (18 months old) first, since it's simpler- He is memorizing the words well. I am playing games with him to encourage him to find the word, which has been rewarding for both of us, and he doesn't even know he is learning. For example, I will ask Zander to show me where it says "Cup" and he will show me where the word is on the door. If I write the word cup, and show him, asking what word is it? he will say cup. He can do this with a handful of words so far. I am tempted to push it and add more, but I think it's time to teach him the way I am teaching Mason, because he listens to me teaching Mason and copies the sounds we make.

Mason has risen to the experience with a great attitude. He likes letters. We start by singing the alphabet, and then we play a game. I am doing a few different games, so we aren't doing the exact same thing over and over, even though the lessons are the same. Today, we will sing the alphabet, and then pick 2 or 3 letters. we will draw them together and make songs about the sounds. For example, if we pick "B" we will make the "b" sound to the tune of twinkle little star (a favorite of Mason's when he was a baby). For letters that have more than one sound, I improvise. Mason has done well with that, too. Another game we played, as a way of taking a break from "teaching" and "learning" and turn it into more playing, I grabbed my camera and encouraged Mason to find things that started with certain letters, and then we took pictures. Arm, Ball, Cup, Door, and Eeeewwww were photogenic enough to be a funny game that showed Mason that things have names, and names are made up of letters.

So where is Mason at? he knows the entire alphabet and can sound out the majority of the sounds. so a 2 letter word is easy peasy...a 3 letter word is possible with patience.

A quick side note, i myself visited the Dr and am getting my health back in tip top. I am pleased with how it went and am feeling like I am well on my way to being normal again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday is All About ME today....

There is nothing so satisfying as finding the song that was stuck in your head....especially if you couldn't remember what it was. As I blasted "Saliva" "Always" this morning and the boys danced away, I felt like i should get motivated. At least try, right?

Today is my first appointment with a new doctor, who is supposed to help me with my medication, so I can have better days and be a better mommy. I have had such a tough few days, depression stinks. I hate myself when I am like that, and I hate how I just don't reach my own standard as a parent.

Well, my blog is short today because I am not having another day like that. I am off to clean a little and play a lot. Maybe I will come back and write a long one about reading when they sleep.

You say you want a sneak peek? Mason can read 2 words. YES he Can. And he does it by sounding them out (phonics!) And Zander can read 2 from memory!

More on this later, ok?