A, B, C, D, E, F, G…

English: Music for the Alphabet Song 日本語: ABCの歌の楽譜
English: Music for the Alphabet Song 日本語: ABCの歌の楽譜 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love listening to Parker sing the Alphabet Song.  He’s so enthusiastic and always ends with, “Yeah!!!” and self applause.  He already has the ability to recognize the letters of the alphabet by name, sight, and sound.   I think back to what Bryce and I have done to facilitate his strong phonemic awareness and I wonder if Brandon will develop a similar strength with the exposure to a literacy rich environment.  Then I think about the students I have who don’t have the level of phonemic awareness that Parker has and I determine how I can teach them the same skills.  Here are some of the ideas we use with Parker and Brandon:

  • Letter magnets on the fridge
  • Foam letters for the bathtub
  • Alphabet posters
  • Alphabet line
  • Phonics related videos
  • Wooden craft letters
  • Writing letters in the air
  • Books
  • Physical movement to each syllable:  clap, jump…
  • Games
  • Flashcards
  • Teaching letter families (-at, -ed, -ot, etc.)
  • Rhyming

I also incorporate the above strategies into my lessons for my non-readers at school.  The idea is to make it fun and they won’t even know you’re instructing.  I’m hoping one day I’ll hear one of my students self-applaud and congratulate themselves, too.

Trailblazing Kids

lemonade stand!
lemonade stand! (Photo credit: amy.gizienski)

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead to where there is no path and leave a trail.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson


This quote struck a chord with me.  I think it really defines what my husband and I want for our boys.  At this age we want them to remain the curious beings that they are and allow them the freedom to experience as much as possible.  As they get older, this might mean that they go against the grain and investigate ways to develop their own identity.  Teach them to think outside the box.  Allow them to explore their own ideas and make their own unique mark on the world.

So what do we do to encourage this independent thinking?  We nurture the whole child.  Provide them with exposure to  a wide variety of people and places.  Encourage their questions.  We make any trip to the park, zoo, or even the grocery store an adventure and open their eyes to something different every time.  I like to expose my kids to different types of music, art, and texts.  We foster their emotional side with love and hugs, teaching them how to communicate effectively to meet their needs.  We encourage their independence and free thinking.

Bryce and I hope that by raising Parker and Brandon to know that they have options and what those options are, they will be happy and productive who feel confident enough to pursue their hearts’ desire, even if it’s a lemonade stand when they are young.

Video Librarian Highly Recommends The Fascinating World of Insects

Fascinating World of Insects
Fascinating World of Insects

Video Librarian is the video review magazine for public, school, academic, and special libraries, as well as video fans who are interested in a wider variety of titles than what’s found in the average video store. The reviews are written by staff, librarians, teachers, and film critics. Video Librarian recently reviewed the Fascinating World of Insects in the September/October 2012  issue and gave the video 3 1/2 out of 4 stars with the Highly Recommended designation. The review is below:

Colorful still  photos, microphotography, and live-action footage are combined to illustrate a  variety of bugs in action—accompanied by cheerful background music—in this  handsomely produced nature documentary. A female narrator introduces young  viewers to the fascinating world of insects: what they eat, how they benefit  humans, and how they respond to threats. Many will recognize several of the 11  featured specimens: grasshopper, ladybug, rhino beetle, firefly, mosquito,  honeybee, water strider, ant, praying mantis, dragonfly, and butterfly. Although  the squeamish may cringe at close-up shots of eyes, proboscises, and larvae, the  program avoids scary depictions of insects devouring each other or being  consumed. Body parts are clearly illustrated—legs, wings, horns, and so on—while  new vocabulary words such as “entomologist” and “species” appear onscreen  against a vivid green forest background as definitions are given. Five quizzes  provide opportunities to recognize and name insects (or parts thereof), test  one’s knowledge of characteristics, and choose (from multiple choices) the  meanings of the “big words” introduced in the film. Also newly available is The Fascinating World of Mammals. Highly recommended. Aud: E, I, P.  (M. Puffer-Rothenberg)

The Fascinating World of Birds Wins Dr. Toy 10 Best Audio-Visual Award

Dr. Toy's 100 Best Toys for 2012
Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Toys for 2012

The Fascinating World of Birds was awarded Dr. Toys 100 best products of the year award. The video also won the distinction of Dr. Toy’s 10 Best Audio-Visual products for 2012. This award for the Birds video comes after our Insect and Mammal videos won Dr. Toy’s 2012 Best Vacation products award earlier this year. It is great to see BrainFood Learning DVDs win such prestigious awards.

The Dr. Toy’s program is produced by experienced toy industry professional, Dr. Toy, well-qualified Child Development Specialist (MA and Ph.D. in Special Education and Child Psychology) who focuses on unique, high quality, active, creative, and educational products. The Dr. Toy’s program is now in its 20th year. As an award winner, BrainFood Learning is  recognized by Dr. toy as one of the “cutting edge” companies providing the most innovative, developmentally appropriate products for children.

About The Fascinating World of Birds :

The Fascinating World of Birds is part of an outstanding DVD series designed by BrainFood Learning to build confidence in science through fun and interesting content. The video advances a child’s education by showing amazing video footage along with narration describing bird features and abilities. It is appropriate for kids of all ages. Each bird is clearly identified and shown in their natural habitat keeping children engaged. More advanced children will enjoy learning more complicated concepts such as depth perception. It helps answer questions such as, Why an ostrich eats rocks? How a robin gets its worm? Which bird’s call is as loud as a chainsaw? Your young ornithologist will learn the answers to these questions and more. Birds featured in the video include ostrich, penguin, Canada goose, owl, hummingbird, woodpecker, macaw, pelican, American robin, and eagle. This well made and informative video is ideal for home and school. A multi-section review reinforces information presented earlier in the video. This is a great educational tool. The beginner level reviews show bird flash cards and points out what features are common among all birds. The more advanced levels quiz children on bird facts and broader scientific terms related to birds.

Vocabulary Lesson

Rubber duck
Rubber duck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just had to share a funny story from last night.  I had Parker in the bath and he pushed some of his toys to the bottom of the bathtub.  He said, “Mommy, these are buoyant!” He explained to me that buoyant meant the toys would go to the top of the water.   I agreed with him and asked who taught him the word buoyant.  “Daddy,”  he said.  “He’s really smart.”

It just goes to show we can’t assume that just because kids are so young they shouldn’t be taught bigger ideas or vocabulary.  Expose your children to your everyday vocabulary.  Don’t water it down.  Help them establish  strong background knowledge.  Your kids will surprise you with what they absorb!