## 2-Minute-Mysteries: November

2-Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of the clues in the story.

1. Chris was enjoying a bowl of chili at a restaurant in Montreal.  Looking into the bowl, he saw a fly.  He informed the waiter and asked for a new bowl of chili.  When the waiter brought him the new bowl, he tasted it and accused the waiter of bringing him back the same bowl.  Why did he think that?
2. Uncle Bug’s baseball bat company sells baseball bats for \$25.00 each. This month there is a sale 2 baseball bats for \$36.00. He said he makes the same profit either way but that it is a good sale.   How much profit must he make on each bat when he sells them at the regular price of \$25.00.
3. Kelly is walking down the street dressed in black.  There are no lights on anywhere and no moon.  A car without its lights on comes down the street and avoids hitting her?  How did that happen?
4. You walk into a room with only one match.  You must light a lantern, a stove, the pilot light on the water heater and a fire in a fire place.  What do you light first?

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Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October

1. What else did Chris know about the soup?
2. Use the problem solving strategy of making a table.  Be sure to include examples of buying the bats at the full price.
3. When is the story happening?
4. What 5 items do you know you have in the room?

1. Before Chris found the fly, he had put salt on his chili.  When the chili returned, it was bland.
2. The profit on each bat must be \$14.00.  Since he makes no extra profit on the second bat, he must be selling it at cost.  With the price of each bat \$25.00 the cost is \$11.00 with \$14.00 profit.  Selling 2 bats at \$36.00 means that the total cost of 2 bats is \$22.00 leaving \$14.00 as the total profit.
3. Kelly is walking down the street during the day.
4. The first thing you have to light is the match.

## Concepts of Print Support For Parents

As a teacher and principal, I have shared the importance of reading to  children many times with parents. In our parent surveys, the overwhelming response was that parents read to their children on a regular basis.  However, our kindergarten students did not perform well on the “Concepts of Print” (COP) assessment administered each Fall.  The assessment, created by Marie Clay (1993), includes items to assess a child’s knowledge of both print and written language skills. Knowing how these skills work together helps support learning to read and write. Most of our students understood that a book told a story (that print had meaning), but few had much knowledge of “how print works”.

# So what should we do about Concepts of Print?

As a staff, we decided to share the COP assessment finding with parents at the Kindergarten Orientation in May. We showed parents how to read a story to their child and how they could informally add a few COP skills to their reading routine. We explained that by showing their kids the parts of the book, letter/writing concepts and how to read a book during their daily reading with their child, they could help support their child’s reading progress.  The results were amazing!  The new Kindergarten students scored 50% higher than the three previous years of the fall COP administration. That was only 3 months after sharing the information with parents!

What did we learn about our Concepts of Print trial?

Our results reminded us of two important concepts about parents, kids, and reading.  First, parents are their child’s first teacher; so, let’s show them ways to help be successful. Secondly, kids are like sponges, absorbing information from the world around them.  Why do we wait to teach COP skills until Kindergarten?

Point to the Following Parts of the Book

• Front and back of the book.
• Binding.
• Top and bottom of a picture.
• Title Page.
• Author’s Name (define that the author writes the book).
• Illustrator’s name (define that the illustrator draws the pictures).

Show How to Read a Book

• A sentence is read from left to right.
• Pages are read from left to right.
• Point to each word while you read.
• Read pages from left to right.
• A story has a beginning and end.

Words and Writing  in Books: Basics

• A capital letter is at the beginning of a sentence.
• Words and sentences have capital letters and lower case letters.
• Point out 1 word in a sentence, Point out 2 words.
• Point out that a word is made up of a group of letters.
• A comma explains to the reader  that it tells the reader to pause or slowdown.
• There are punctuation marks at the end of a sentences (period, question mark, exclamation mark) Explain that the marks tell the reader how to read.

Research: Clay, M. M. (1993). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Heinemann, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912.

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## FREE Books for Adults and Kids

• Overdrive is a database of books that allows you to borrow up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks from your local library. Just use your library card for your one time registration.
• Tumblebooks is a collection of audiobooks and ebooks for kids. Books are leveled and the site also includes activities. Once you register using your library card, you will be given access information.

One of the groups that I  volunteer with is the Poughkeepsie branch of  the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  One of our recent projects was to create a brochure about the importance of reading to babies. I’m happy to announce that the finished product, in both Spanish and English, is now available throughout Dutchess County in libraries and pediatrician offices.  Thank you to the graphic designer, the translator and the Poughkeepsie Library System for all their efforts to complete the project.  The information below is included in the brochure.  Enjoy!

While every child develops at his/her own rate, these are general guidelines.

Birth to 3 months

• Looks at the pictures but might noy want to touch the books
• Prefers a book with high-contrast colors and patterned designs

4-6 months

• Explores books by putting them in their mouth
• May coo or babble at you when you read

6-12 months

• Pays with books like toys
• Can help turn the pages
• Babbles at pictures

12-18 months

• Holds or carries books
• Looks at books independently
• Uses index finger to point at the illustrations

18-24 months

• Says some of the words and phrases in familiar books.
• Wants to have a story read over and over.

• Nursery rhymes are short and fun to read with babies. Additional rhymes are easily found online.
• Keep it short. Infants have short attention spans so read for 10-15 minutes, once or twice e a day.
• Sing to your baby, songs of your childhood. Be creative. Take well-known tunes and put in your own words to match your activity.
• Talk to you baby to help build social skills.
• Repeat, repeat, repeat. Reading the same story over and over helps your baby learn what he/she should laugh and get excited by the changes in your voice.

### When Choosing Books for Your Baby

• Look for books that include things to touch and flaps to lift
• Search for boos that include illustrations of photos of other babies
• Choose books that YOU like since you will most likely be reading them over and over.
• For the youngest babies, look for simple pictures in black and white.
• Try sturdy board books when babies start to grab the books
• Read books with rhythm, rhyme, and repetition.
• Visit your local library. You’ll find many great books and programs.
• Enjoy these special moments with your child!

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One of the groups that I  volunteer with is the Poughkeepsie branch of  the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  One of our recent projects was to create a brochure about the importance of reading to babies. I’m happy to announce that the finished product, in both Spanish and English, is now available throughout Dutchess County in libraries and pediatrician offices.  Thank you to the graphic designer, the translator and the Poughkeepsie Library System for all their efforts to complete the project.  The information below is included in the brochure.  Enjoy!

Reading aloud to children from an early age is the best way to raise a child who enjoys reading and does well in school. Therefore, why not start with reading to babies!

Why Reading to Babies is Important

• Your baby’s brain triples in size by age 3. The brain develops as your baby interacts with the world and learns new things.
• Reading aloud exposes babies to the sounds of human speech and lays a foundation for learning to read.
• By age two, children know between 300-500 words. Children who are spoken to and read frequently have larger vocabularies and develop into better readers. Therefore, let the talk begin!
• Communication with your baby helps to make sense of the environment. Whether its smiling, laughing or talking, your baby is starting to realize the value of communication
• As your baby’s first teacher, you can help nurture a language-rich environment.

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## 5 Parts of Reading: Completes the Puzzle

So good news.  If you are reading this blog, you have been taught to read.  However, how did you learn to read?  What are the main parts when teaching reading? I’ll give you a hint… there are 5 parts of reading.

I asked that question to a few non-teaching friends recently.  They all responded comprehension, and with some additional prodding, they added vocabulary. Both are correct!  Now, what are the other 3? For anyone helping kids learn to read it is important to know that it takes all 5 ingredients working together for kids to become successful readers. Adding to comprehension and vocabulary are fluency and phonological  and phonemic awareness.  Often, students that have difficulty with reading comprehension have difficulty in 1 or more of the other reading components.

Comprehension is what most people think reading is. It is creating a meaning out of a group of individual words.  Reading comprehension is the most complex aspect of reading.  It includes the other 4 components and requires the reader to think about what they are reading and make connections with their personal knowledge.

Vocabulary is needed for kids to read books.  As they become stronger readers, they will tackle more difficult readings with new vocabulary words.  When reading with a child ask them to try to figure out a new word by the context clues (hints) in the text.  They can look at other words in the sentence, the main idea of the story, or the pictures in the story to provide hints to identify the new word.  Like vocabulary, reading comprehension skills develop and improve over time through practice.

Fluency is a reader’s ability to read with speed, accuracy and expression. It is important for reading comprehension because it frees up working memory in the brain to spend time comprehending what they are reading. Reading books slightly below your child’s reading level will help build confidence and therefore, increase fluency.

Phonemic Awareness is recognizing parts of words. To see that a word has a beginning, middle and end and makes a new word if you add an ending such as /s/.  Phonemic awareness is also blending the parts of words together to make a full word. For example: /h/ and /at/ to form hat.  Phonemic awareness also recognizes specific sounds and location in a word.  For example: knowing what the first sound in the word “ball”.

Phonological awareness is the connection between sounds and letter symbols.  These sound/symbol connections create words. Children need to understand the connection between the individual sounds that each letter makes and how putting the letters together to create a word to understand. Nursery rhymes are great resources to help develop both phonological and phonemic awareness skills.

# Top 5 things for parents to do to help their child read

2. Reread books to expose kids to same words to build fluency.
4. Use different vocabulary words in conversations with your child (age dependent)

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## Minute-Mysteries: October

Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of the clues in the story.

Emily and Connall were playing checkers at GG’s house. They played 5   games.  Each of them won the same number of games and there weren’t any ties.  How could this happen?

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was the youngest person elected to the presidency.  However, he was the second youngest man to hold the office? How could this be?

On Monday, the teacher asked Teaghan how old she would be on her next birthday.  She answered that in two years she would be twice as old as she was five years ago.  How old is Teaghan today?

A photographer went for a walk in the woods to take pictures of nature.  That was the last time anyone saw her alive.  Three days later she was found dead in the woods.  The story says that she died because of a pack on her back.  What was so deadly about the pack?

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Mysteries to support critical thinking

1. How many kids were playing checkers?
2. Are presidents always elected?
3. Use a chart or a table as your problem solving strategy.
4. Is there anything else special about the phrase  “pack on her back” other than it rhymes?

1. Emily and Connall were both playing checkers but they were not playing each other.
2. When President McKinley was assassinated, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt became president..  At that time he was only 42.  President Kennedy was 43.
3. Teaghan is 12
4. The pack that was on the photographer was a “pack” of wolves.

Free Magazines: 2 Free Magazines

This blog is response to a reader for a list of some good reading resources.    A tough  question because SO much goes into a recommendation depending on what their need is.  Recommendations should be based on many factors.  Who needs it? For what purpose is the recommendation? What type of reading resources do you need?  Are you looking for resources, research, opinions?

The table below is my best attempt at a TOP 5 list.  However, please look for future posts on this topic.

## Picture Walks can promote reading

Research states that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the word. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. But what to do if your child is not interested and it becomes a nightly struggle rather than a special nighttime ritual? Try Picture Walks!

As a K-2 principal I sometimes gave pep talks to parents in ways to engage their child in reading. A simple and easy way to help your child read is to do a “Picture Walk” BEFORE reading an unfamiliar story. “Picture Walks” help children to learn how to preview and make predictions about a book. A “Picture Walk” can last one day or multiple days depending on your child’s interest.

• Choose a book and read it to yourself first.
• While reading, look closely at the illustrations (pictures), the text (words) and the structure of the book (lots of illustrations, words on the bottom/top, rhyming, repetition of words)

• Look closely at the illustrations with your child and have them talk about what they see. There is no right or wrong answer, just talk about the illustrations.
• Point out text features that will help them comprehend the story. (Subtitles, question marks, exclamation points)
• Use some of the new words in the story when pointing to the illustrations.
• Looking at the illustrations, ask general questions about the story. (Ex: where do you think the story is taking place, who might the story be about?)
• Respond to their replies vaguely; rather that they are correct or incorrect. (Use phrases like “I wonder, it looks like, oh maybe, let’s read further)

Review some of the ideas and predictions that you talked about while looking back at the illustrations.  This reinforces their thinking and fosters enthusiasm.

## Mysteries to support critical thinking

Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun

Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal.  I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and  I shared with them a few mysteries to solve.  It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.

The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious.  The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.

Steps to Solve:

2. If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
3. Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
• Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
• What tricks could be in the story?
• Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
• Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
• Something about the setting? (weather, time)

Mystery Stories

1. In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
2. A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
3. Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested.  How could that be?
4. There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
5. Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.

Clues:

1. Friday is not a day of the week
2. Some careers have both men and women employed
3. Howard is not a man
4. Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
5. The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.

1. Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
2. The surgeon is the boys mother.
3. Howard is a fish.  He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
4. The items were the remains of a melted snowman.
5. The man with a mask is a catcher at home plate.

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Mysteries to support critical thinking

Minute-Mysteries: October

## Library Suggestions for Preschool Classrooms

September and the start of school has always inspired me to buy new school supplies. Recently, I found the 101 Best Book List created by researchers at the Curry School of Education which is a great list to start your classroom library. The choices are based on readability, length and including different types of genres.

Books don’t have to be new to be enjoyed  Because books are expensive  start your search at garage sales, books sales and used book sales at your local library.  Dutchess County friends, take a road trip to the Poughkeepsie Library on Boardman Road. Their bookstore has great buys.  I recently bought 10 Early Reading (Levels 1 and 2) books for \$2.64.  That’s 25 cents a book! It’s clean, organized and a friendly group of volunteers.  Worth a visit.  http://poklib.org/friends-of-ppld/book-store/

I have retyped this list to make it user-friendly when shopping for books.  Happy Shopping!

booklist

## Reading, Writing and Preschool? Oh MY!

As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a Reading presentation that I gave last year to the Astor Education committee.

The presentation outlines the importance of literacy in  Childhood Education.  It includes both research and strategies to include in literacy instruction.  The differences between phonological and phonemic awareness is highlighted.  The pros and cons of the Common Core standards is also included for discussion.

Other posts you might find helpful

phonological-and-phonemic-awareness-6 (8)

## Early Literacy and Common Core in Preschool: How Do they Fit Together in Our Classrooms?

As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a presentation that I prepared for the Astor Education Committee in May, 2017.

ed-committee-may-23 (3)

## Books Before Kindergarten: 1000?

Is  reading to young children important to you?  If your answer is YES!, perhaps the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program is a good goal for parents and preschool teachers.

Research shows that as many as one in five children have trouble learning to read. As a result, reading has been linked to academic success. Unfortunately, formal school does not usually start until ages 5-6.  Therefore, parents and preschool teachers take on the important role of being first teachers to children. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenges parents and preschool teachers to read 1000 books to young children before they enter Kindergarten.

Take a look: https://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/

Preschool Teachers: Like the program? Let’s talk and find some grants.

Contact me at: https://threeringsconnections.org