Toddler Literacy Skills: Doing More Than Just Reading Aloud

I’ve read aloud to Miss Molly since I was pregnant. During her first year I always had books with us in restaurants, family parties, etc. I was beyond excited when she first started singing the ABCs and asking me to read to her.

We are now in the toddler literacy phase, which is very different from baby literacy. The Reading Specialist in me is on high alert with how Molly is progressing learning her letters, sounds, rhyming, etc. I am beyond grateful that her school has a truly amazing curriculum (they even use Project Read).

However, she doesn’t let me finish reading a book to her anymore. When I do get her to read with me, I do a lot of interacting with her. I’ll ask for her to point to a letter, answer questions about pictures, etc. But sometimes I do worry that I’m not doing enough, and realized that I need to do more than just read aloud.

Puzzles

Molly has a few puzzles that she really enjoys playing with, but I wanted her to Puzzle Linespractice recognizing letters and order of the alphabet, so I purchased this letter puzzle from Six Corners Educational Toys. Not only do I love the pop of colors, the puzzle is super lightweight and the pieces fit in very snuggly (no lose pieces!).

But, my favorite aspect of this puzzle are the easy drawing instructions for each letter. There are numbers and lines for kids to trace with their fingers while they put pieces in the correct slots.

I was really surprised with this feature and showed Molly how to do it. She immediately proceeded to sing and attempted to trace letters.

Molly Puzzle

Magnet Drawing Board

Last year my best friend’s mom gave Molly the Vtech Write & Learn Creative Center. Vtech Creative CenterShe has loved this toy from the beginning, and has started to interact with it differently as she’s gotten older. She started with the magnets, then began drawing shapes, and now writing letters on the magnetic drawing board. This weekend she even told me she was going to practice writing her sight words and did for several minutes.

There are a bunch of different activities for kids to do with the buttons, but Molly prefersMolly Writing Letters just to draw and erase her work so she can be independent. I do plan on exploring the buttons when Molly is a little older to really see what this center can do.

Magnetic Letters

As soon as Molly was able to walk, my mom bought her magnetic letters for the fridge. Molly has always loved playing with the magnets when she visits my parents and seems to make a game out of it every time.

A few weeks ago, Molly went to a children’s play place where they had a pretend school room. She made a beeline for the magnet letters and actually had to be pulled away from the easel at one Molly Magnet Letterspoint.

I recently purchased this really awesome magnetic letter set from Amazon (click here). It comes with a great magnetic board and an incredibly organized case of letters. Molly found the box and emptied it before I was ready to introduce the new “toy” to her, so I unfortunately did not get a chance to take any pictures.

I’m always on the hunt for new ways to support Molly’s early literacy skills at home. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are amazing resources to see what other parents and early childhood educators do to help toddlers with these skills.

Preschool & Kindergarten Literacy

This week I did a Facebook class for preschool and kindergarten. It’s amazing how much the expectations for this age group have changed over the last decade with the changes in education. It’s quite clear after looking at the Common Core Standards for kindergarten that preschool is extremely important for children at this time.

This post is for parents and early childhood educators. Below you will find a bunch of information and book suggestions for children around 4-5 years old for math and reading.

Learning Math1001-things-to-spot-collection

Preschool

  • Counting (count on hands, objects)
  • Understands written expression means number of objects for #s 1-5
  • Can do basic addition and subtraction
  • Can put numbers in order

Kindergarten (from the Common Core State Standards)

  • wipe-clean-number-cardsCount to 100 by ones and tens
  • Write numbers 0-20
  • Solve addition and subtraction word problems using objects or drawings to represent the problem
  • Fluently add and subtract within 5
  • Identify and compare shapes

 

 

At Home Strategies

thats-not-my-height-bookMath

  • Make activities into games. Some suggestions include:
    • Number sense- count items, use a calendar to countdown to events, play simple board games
    • Geometry- name 3D objects, create simple patterns
    • Measurement- record height monthly

Learning to Read

Preschool

  • Make simple predictions and comments about story being read
  • Hold and look thats-not-myat words right side up, turning the pages one at a time front to back
  • Name the letter in first name and can recognize name in print
  • Say and point to at least 10 letters of the alphabet
  • Match a letter with beginning sound of word
  • Recognize words see often (sight words)

 

 

Kindergarten (from the Common Core State Standards)

  • Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print
  • Understand spoken words, syllables and sounds
  • Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words
  • Use a combination of drawing, dictating and writing to compose original pieces

At Home Strategies

Reading

  • Point out letters and numbers. “What word on this page starts with ‘s’ “
  • Make up stories about the pictures together
  • Ask comprehension questions. “Why is he mad?” “Where is hted-friends-with-cde going?”
  • Relate stories to child’s experiences (festive, doctors, et.).
  • Encourage writing and drawing. Have a constant supply of paper and crayons. Standing kid easels work really well.
  • Point out letters in your child’s name.
  • Make everything into a game so they don’t get frustrated.
  • Listen to books on tape.

 

Learning to Read Collections

As a parent and educator, I love to have everything given to me in a neat and organized pack. Usborne offers three different reading packages for parents that are really great.

Option 1: Phonics Reader Collection. 

Usborne has a fantastic Phonics Readers collection that is phonics-based, includes a guide for parents, and is leveled using Fountas and Pinnell. The books are sold individually, but can also be purchased as a box set with 20 titles.

phonics-reader-collection

 

Option 2: The Usborne Starting to Read Pack. This is the perfect set to help a child read. The pack includes an activity book, an alphabet chart and books. Here is a great video from a fellow consultant that shows specific details about this pack.

starting-to-read-pack

 

Option 3: Reading Box Sets. Usborne Very First Reading has 15 books that are meant to be read with an adult. As time goes on, the child takes on more of the reading.

Usborne My First Reading Library includes 50 books (the first are from the Very First Reading set) and the rest are leveled. The goal is to have the child read these independently, only getting help from an adult when needed.

Both sets come with a parent guide and links to “online help” at http://www.veryfirstreading.com.

very-first-reading-set

There is so much information to cover for this age group, it is truly unbelievable. For more information on the products featured, head over to my Usborne site here. To be a participant in my Facebook classes, follow me here .

 

Touchy-Feely and Sight Words in One Book

Having a child can be expensive, so when I see a product that can grow with my daughter I get excited. I’m very picky with choosing books for Molly because I want texts that she can use for years instead of a month or two.

As a new mom, I do a lot of research on how to give my baby a strong start and the most popular suggestion is reading to your child (see previous post for more ideas on this). However, I’ve noticed that as Molly gets older she sometimes needs a little more stimulation, so we have introduced touchy-feely books in our house.

Molly is constantly drawn to bright colors and lights, so I want to read books that are visually appealithats-not-myng to her. She is also starting to grab things more, and we are working on introducing her to new textures. Usborne’s That’s Not My collection is perfect for Miss Molly because of the bright colors, cute themes, and touchy-feely pages. These books are perfect for me because they can be used now and also when she is in preschool and kindergarten.

This post is for parents on how to use the That’s Not My collection at home to engage your young reader.

When I purchased my mini consultant kit in January it came with the That’s Not My Dinosaur book, which is adorable for a little boy. As a girly girl myself, I had to get Molly one of these books that was geared towards a baby girl. I was debating between the Princess and Dolly and decided to go with Dolly this time around (I’m planning to get the Princess and Mermaid soon).

The physical construction of these books is incredible. As with many baby books this one is a board book, but it’s extremely lightweight with thicker pages than other baby books. Molly has seen me hold a book and turn pages for a few months now, but this was the first book she wanted/was able to grab by herself. She was able to lift the book on her own and hold the pages with her four-month-old hands. molly-reading-thats-not-my

The pictures are large and use contrasting colors for little eyes to see everything clearly. Each page has different color schemes, which helps keep Molly engaged longer. The touchy-feely components match the main idea of the page. For instance, the page Molly is on says, “That’s not my dolly. Her hat is too soft.” The touch and feel aspect on this page is the doll’s hat.

One of my favorite things about this collection is how they can also be used with early readers. These books are perfect for helping little ones with sight words and learning to read. Each page has a handful of sight words (to see the Dolch list click here) and is made up of simple, concise sentences that are manageable for young readers.

Some suggestions for using That’s Not My with preschool/kindergarten kids:

*Use them frequently. They are small and light enough to throw in a bag to use while you’re out and about, or read one a day as an activity. They are definitely a quick read, which is all you need sometimes.

*Show off! Kids love to show friends and family when they can do something new. Have your child readthats-not-my-monkey the book (or have them help you) to people the child feels comfortable with. This will not only boost their confidence, but also give them the additional practice.

*Relate the theme to daily life. If you’re taking a trip to the zoo, get your child excited by reading books like That’s Not My Monkey or That’s Not My Lion. There are so many different options so this is quite easy to do, especially if you use them seasonally.

These little books are portable, durable, and adorable. I love how they can be used from infancy all the way through kindergarten. For more information visit my store.