After making our Alphabet Photo Magnets my so has been asking to get a chance to use my camera again. Today we went all around town and took photos of places that we go to or past often. The power of this activity is to relate the photos in the book to the photo safari and previous experiences at each location. The book itself is simple but each page is much more than it’s text. The photos will prompt storytelling by even the youngest child. My daughter talked her way through 3 consecutive readings . Making the book was also a great learning experience for my son and while there are much more polished options like photo books from places like snapfish and keepsy doing it all by hand is valuable too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some page protectors , a report cover or small binder , a camera, a clip board, paper and marker. You will also need a printer and a template for the book. You can download it here , it’s very simple but effective.
- Get ready with a list of where you need to go.
- Get buckled in and don’t forget your camera.
- As we went around town my son took the photos and checked them off the list.
- At the fire station we expected to just take a photo but they invited us in and it was by far the highlight for both my kids.
- Taking the photos was fun but walking around town with each other was pretty awesome too.
- At home print out the book pages and the photos. Grab some scissors and glue too.
- Cut the photos out. Cutting is a really important skill for kids to master especially around my son’s age ( just about to go to kindergarten) so I really wanted him to do as mush of the cutting as possible.
- After they are cut add the glue.
- Slide into the page protectors and into the report cover.
- Read. I am kicking myself for not getting a photo of my daughter reading but she was wiped by the day and took a monster nap. By the time she woke I was knee deep in dinner prep. but I could hear her telling her dad ” Again! ” as they read it over and over.
In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is amazing.It’s premise are the comings and goings of a town in all four seasons. There is limited text, which serves only to steer readers to look for specific people in the highly detailed illustrations. Each season has multiple pages and the people remain constant throughout the seasons. So you see inside an apartment building , the town square, the park, railroad station etc… in every season. You see the changes in town, the progression and of course the distinct weather in each section. The pictures also progress within the seasons, so a fire truck with a flashing light can be seen on every page in one season with the last page showing it getting to the fire . I can’t possibly explain the amazing detail and sheer number of things to find, make up stories about and spark your child’s imagination in this book. My son adores it. After renewing it multiple times from our library I bought it as his 2010 Valentine’s gift. It goes everywhere with us, perfect for long drives , waits in the Ob’s waiting room and plain old playtime he picks it up every day and finds something new.
What I really love is that because there is no text but still multiple story lines it’s helped my son to understand that literacy isn’t just about words, it about explaining what’s going on, and reading the pictures too. The absence of text has allowed me to really show him that . Now he has started grabbing books with text and telling me he’d read me the pictures, which boosts both his confidence and his enjoyment of independent reading.
Edited for 2011: My son is still crazy over this book. When I am desperate for him to chill out so I can get my daughter down for a nap nothing keeps him occupied ( and quiet) like this book. It’s magic!Edited for 2012 : My daughter has now started to enjoy this book too. She loved finding the baby in each page.
One way I build literacy skills with my preschool daughter is to dedicate time to journal writing. Our journal time is inspired by what I learned when I facilitated Lucy Calkin’s Writing Workshop with my former students. My daughter is a pre-writer because she writes only a few words and no sentences, but she can develop language skills by composing her thoughts into a writing journal. Through journal writing, she learns the ideas she talks about can be put onto paper.
We begin journal writing by reviewing what we wrote about the previous day. Then, I model one simple writing idea in my own journal. When I first modeled journal writing, I drew a picture and wrote. I observed that my daughter was very hesitant to write anything in her journal. Now, I only draw pictures in my journal, and she has become more confident and independent in creating her own ideas in her journal.
Below are some writing ideas that I have used for my daughter, but when you model writing for your child make sure the writing is relevant to your child’s life.
- How To’s – brush teeth, do laundry, bake cookies
- People and Pets - Mama, Papa, grandparents, cats
- Events – parties, trip to library, holidays
- Their World – rain, home, school, grocery store
- Likes – food, clothes, places, television shows
- Feelings – sad, happy, angry
- Learning – topics of interest such as planets, wild animals, weather, numbers
After I have modeled writing, my daughter begins to write about her idea. She is free to write about a topic that interests her, and she doesn’t need to write about the same topic I showed her that day. During this time, she works independently for about five minutes. She often writes about a new topic, but I do notice she has other typical behaviors displayed during journal time.
- writing name over and over
- letter writing practice
- copying Mama’s work
- a lot of family and pet pictures
Once she has finished writing, she tells me about her writing. I transcribe her words on the page. Sometimes she doesn’t want me to write directly on her page, and I will write her ideas on a sticky note. I stay positive about the work she shows me even if she has spent the entire time scribbling. I know she doesn’t end up scribbling every day, and there may be some days she has hard time figuring out what she would like to write in her journal.
Journal writing builds children’s confidence in their writing ideas. It allows children to learn to stay focused on writing tasks. As children develop, they will start writing more words in their journals.
Rebekah is a former elementary school teacher who now is a stay at home mom. In her blog, The Golden Gleam, she shares art, play, and learning ideas to light up kids’ lives.
I can’t take full credit for this activity idea . Word searches in bottles of rice, popcorn kernels etc.. have been around for as long as I have been teaching and probably much much longer. I was reminded of the simple genius of these last night when searching Pinterest for sight word ideas for a reader who was looking for more activities for her son. I pinned this activity onto my early literacy pinterest board but felt like I needed to make my own version using Halloween words. Here is what we did.
- Gather your materials. You will need some filler ( we used our Halloween Sensory tub filler ) like black beans , orange lentils and creepy toys! You will also need some stiff paper ( we used paint chips but card stock will work too), a clip board, markers and a permanent marker. You will also need a large plastic jar, water bottles work too but you may want to take the larger spooky toys out of the mix.
- Write out the words your child is searching for I had my son help me think of Halloween words.
- Write them on the paint chips or card stock. I wrote some words out multiple times and some like Boo! only once. Just to make it successful but challenging.
- Cut and pop them in the jar with the filler.
- Search !
- Cross the words out when you find them.
- We challenged each other to find words. I like this game because it gets kids reading, searching and can be adapted to any level. For younger kids use plain letters, older ones cut the letters of the words out and have them search and spell!
My Favorite Halloween Book For Little Ones
Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive. I loved the simple black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” . Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!