What parent hasn’t questioned their child’s early language development? We are always looking at other kids to benchmark our child’s growth. It’s normal and we all do it! As a principal of a K-2 school, a child’s limited vocabulary seemed to be one of a parents’ biggest worries when entering school.
Studies conducted on the importance of vocabulary development certainly helps to heighten our worries. Research such as:
a child’s vocabulary growth is directly linked to his or her overall school achievement 
the size of a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten predicts his ability to learn to read 
WOW, that’s worrisome! However, I, like many other parents didn’t know about the research when my kids were young, and yet my adult children can talk. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and I all worried about their speech. We got through it by supporting each other by sharing ideas and using common sense. And yes, there was more than one of us who soon thought their child talked too much!
Early Language Development: Top 3 Strategies
From talking and singing to playing and reading, there are a variety of ways you can nourish early language development in infants and toddlers. Helping children remember the meanings of words and discover the meaning of new words is an important component in early literacy.
Talk, Talk, Talk. Yes, it is important to encourage children’s vocabulary development so that they develop the language and literacy skills necessary to succeed in school. However, through everyday conversations and interactions, children can learn unfamiliar words. Use lots of examples and use different more creative words as they get older. Be sure to repeat the words many times in different situations. Usually, children will understand the word before they can say it or use it in conversation.
The key to support your child’s speech and language development is in building language during every day activities. Verbalize what you are doing and try to engage her in conversation about your activities. A short walk outside will introduce your child to many new words along the route. Look for new words through your child’s eyes. A good strategy to introduce words is by finding new words through your child’s eyes. What does he see, hear, smell or touch along the path? Keep the tasting to lunch or a snack when you get home!
Engage your child in conversation rather than a “rapid fire” vocabulary activity. Talk about what you have done, doing and are going to do in the future. Follow their lead and don’t “push conversations” when kids are not interested. Slow down and let their talking begin!
Three more early language development activities
Sing and say nursery rhymes with toddlers. Be animated with your voice and actions when singing and saying nursery rhymes. Children will love the actions and it will help them repeat and remember some new words. Prepare yourself to read stories and nursery rhymes many times and perform multiple encores of songs.
Although you may not completely understand everything your toddler says, smile and nod to encourage her to continue talking. Try repeating what he/she says and add some more words for clarification or details.
Make games out of picture flash cards to reinforce words. Play hide and seek, find the cat card, turn over the apple, what animal barks. Be silly and have fun!
Reading books helps expand vocabulary
After reading the book, incorporate more open-ended questions into your conversations. This moves your child from naming things/characters in the book to thinking and talking about the story. Ex. why do you think the color of the house is blue??
When reading books be descriptive about the language in the book. Discuss the color of the grass or the size of the giraffe. Although you may read the book multiple times, your conversations can be different.
While you are reading, encourage your child to repeat a word for phrase from the book. Sprinkle in “what” questions and add more words.
Expanding your toddler’s vocabulary is all about exposure and fun. Parents are their child’s first teacher and play a major role in helping their child develop language skills. Start small by setting a simple goal to “language it up” at least one time each day. The bottom line is that by talking, reading, singing and playing with your child, you will see significant growth in their language development. Sit back and enjoy the journey.
Weitzman, E. & Greenberg, J. (2010). ABC and Beyond: Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings. The Hanen Centre: Toronto.
Rowe, M. (2012). A Longitudinal Investigation of the Role of Quantity and Quality of Child-Directed Speech in Vocabulary Development. Child Development: 83(5), 1762-1774.
My local friends our closest location is Danbury, Ct. Approximately 40 minutes from Fishkill area.
This holiday – for a limited time only – you can buy one, get one free on hundreds of books, gifts, schools supplies – and even Build-a-Box!* Refresh your school, home, and classroom libraries, and stock up on gifts for everyone.
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Build-a-Box is included with the BOGO offer (at participating locations)*
Perfect way to maximize purchase orders, grants, and Title 1 funds
Coupon is $10.00 off a purchase of $100.00. OR $25.00 off a purchase of $100.00 using Scholastic Dollars
2018 Holiday Warehouse Sale (see details)Dec. 5-15th
Weekday Hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
This is a Build-a-Box event. As many books as you can fit in a box for less than $25.00.
Our Kindergarten student has no school today. What shall we do? She’s reading above grade level; but have we written any stories lately? Nope! Encouraging writing, here we go! Today we will be authors!
Encouraging Writing: Where Do We Start?
Young children love to write because it makes them feel like a grown up. Encourage their writing at very early stages of development even before they understand letters, words or sentences. Adults play a very important role in all stages of a child’s writing development.
Encouraging Writing: Before Writing Starts:
Encourage writing by modeling your own writing by “thinking aloud” when you are making a list of things to do or a shopping list. Show your child how you use writing throughout your day.
Try to find a reason for your child to write at least once every day. Suggest ideas to write about such as: a note to a friend or family member, an addition to a list, labeling a drawing, copying a word, copying from a book, adding to a list of things to do, writing a word to evaluate a book, labeling or adding details to a story illustrations, dictate to them something they can write down.
Encourage them to role-play familiar jobs that involve writing. (e.g. restaurant, store, doctor, library, pharmacy).
Provide a variety of writing materials to use that include different types of paper and markers (paper, pencils, crayons, chalk, easel, post its, index cards, scraps of paper, markers). Along with traditional materials, allow them to be creative by writing on napkins, paper bags, sidewalk, driveway, old mail or cards; whatever and wherever they think would make writing fun! (with limits of course). Tip: Make it portable by storing in a zip lock bag. Ready to go when they are!
Encouraging Writing During Writing:
Let children create picture books by stapling 4 or 5 pieces of paper together. Once they start drawing and writing words you can guide them to creating a 5 page story. Cover page, what happened first, then what happened, then what happened and what happened at the end. Beginning authors can use “the End” on the last page to complete the story. Writing is a process that takes time. Be patient and rejoice for each page.
Be available to answer questions that they may have or provide additional materials to support their writing.
Let children invent their spelling. By eliminating the stress of spelling everything correctly while writing, children will learn how to express their thoughts in writing. Writing phonetically, (the way it sounds) will help build their confidence as writers and help them be better able to read their writing back to you. Don’t worry, they will begin to ask you how to spell using conventional spelling when they are ready.
Encouraging Writing After Writing:
Ask children to read to you their writing. After they finish reading, congratulate them and take the opportunity to repeat their accomplishments. Suggest one or two ideas they may want to try next time. Allow them the opportunity to make additions if THEY want to during the reading. RESIST the temptation to make MANY suggestions.
Celebrate their accomplishments by giving them opportunities to share their writing with others.
This sharing time can easily become a teaching time by asking questions about their writing. Questioning will help them expand their thinking for future writing. Encourage their writing by asking questions such as:
“Emily, why did you decide to put Abby in the story with you?”
“Lowyn, I see that you put your animals in a park? What other animals might you see in the park?”
“Teagan, I like how you drew a blue dress on the little girl. A good color choice. I like blue dresses too. Do you have other colors that you like?”
“Meghan, how did you come up with the idea for your book?”
“Declan, why did you decide to add that detail to your picture?”
“Connall, I noticed you reading your story, while you were writing. Can you tell me why you were doing that?”
Finally, young children love to write. Keep reminding yourself that writing is a process that takes time. Sit back and ENJOY your new author’s journey!
Good questioning is asking the right questions that will help you know whether your child understands a new concept. The trick is to find ways that allow children to apply their new knowledge. The bottom line is to ask the right questions.
Good questioning should be in every teacher and parent toolbox. For deeper understanding questions children should be asked questions that shows they can apply their knowledge. Often children can recall information but are not able to explain their answers. Using question stems based on Blooms’s taxonomy helps strengthen children’s thinking skills.
REMEMBER (Level 1) Knowledge recognizing and recalling
What do you remember about _____?
When did ___?
Where is ___?
Why did ___?
How would you define_____?
Who were ___?
Which one ___?
UNDERSTAND (Level 2) Showing comprehension by stating the new information in own words.
How can you describe ___?
What would happen if ___?
What is the main idea?
How would you express _____?
What can you infer from _____?
How would you compare/contrast ___?
What did you observe ___?
APPLY (Level 3) Showing how the new information can be applied to solve a problem
What other way could you choose to ___?
How would you demonstrate ____?
Why does _____ happen?
What actions would you take to solve ___?
How would you change ____?
What examples can you find that ___?
How would you modify ____?
ANALYZE (Level 4) Breaking down an idea into parts to show relationships among the parts.
Discuss the pros and cons of ___?
What explanation do you have for ___?
What can you infer_____?
What ideas support/validate ___?
How would you explain _____?
Why do you think ___?
What is the problem with ___?
EVALUATE (Level 5) Making informed judgments about ideas based on information learned.
Can you state the most important idea of ___?
What criteria would you use to assess _____?
State your opinion of ___?
Data? Did you use data to evaluate _____?
How could you verify _____?
Looking at information, how did you use it to prioritize _____?
Rank the importance of ___?
CREATE (Level 6) Information is synthesized or brought together to build relationships for new situations.
Three of my granddaughters live 30 minutes away and visit quite often. Buckled in their car seats, the 4 and 5-year-olds, can do little more than observe the many signs and stores they pass along the route. On a recent trip, I was amazed at the number of places and signs they were able to “read” along the way. After boasting about their Environmental Print awareness and getting quite a few blank faces from my family and friends, I realized I found a future blog topic!
What is Environmental Print?
The term Environmental Print (EP) refers to the signs and logos kids see every day in their world. It is one of the earliest exposures to written language that sends the message that print has meaning. Kids can make connections with some of the images because they may have visited the stores or seen them on TV. What child doesn’t’ recognize the “golden arches”?
4 Benefits of Environmental Print?
Helps to make connections to the world around them.
Gives kids a “reading experience” before reading print in books.
Builds confidence in young children and gets them excited about reading
Requires no preparation and is FREE! Can’t get much easier than that!
Examples of EP All Around Us: Signs: (Speed Limit, STOP, Slow, Railroad, WALK), labels:(food boxes, bags/ bottles, signs: familiar stores/restaurants, logos for favorite toys.
I was recently talking to a friend about some of the posts on the blog and realized that it would be good to create a Table of Contents for quick access. So here it is! All the postings for the September and October in a single post. One Stop Shopping! Enjoy!
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?
Parent Pointers: Concepts of Print and Reading to Your Child
Point to the Following Parts of the Book
Front and back of the book.
Top and bottom of a picture.
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.
Becoming an Effective Student Teachers Is Up to You!
Recently I received an email from a former student teacher asking for advice on her upcoming student teaching placement. She was so excited to embark on this new adventure and wanted to do a good job. Her excitement and willingness to learn was evident in the note, both great characteristics to have when starting student teaching. We met the next day for coffee and I ran through a somewhat shortened list of observable characteristics of effective student teachers. Our conversation motivated me to put together a more cohesive, organized list to help other student teachers. The list has no hierarchy of importance since I believe they are ALL important to a successful student teaching experience.
5 Most Common Characteristics of Effective Student Teachers in the Classroom
Ask questions. Time is a precious commodity in a classroom so be prepared to ask questions when a moment arises. Prepare your questions ahead of time and be sure to write down the answers. Remember you have a lot to learn and only a short time to student teach. Your Cooperating Teacher (CT) will understand if you are full of questions!
Be prepared. Better yet, over prepared and be ready to CHANGE. If anything is constant in school, it is CHANGE. Student performance, schedule changes, assemblies you name it, there will be changes. Even if flexibility has not been easy in the past, it is a necessity in the teaching world. The best solution is to have a back-up plan and be ready to think on your feet.
Help without being asked. Offer to be helpful when you see something that can be done. Your CT has probably been running solo for a long time and may forget to ask you for help. There is always a list of things to get done in a classroom. Your CT may be aware of them but have ranked them low on the priority list. If you find yourself with nothing to do, look around and seize the opportunity. Of course, check with your CT first. Helping in this way can make a big difference in strengthening the relationship with your CT.
Take notes and photos. There is so much to see and learn in a school. You may be unsure of what is important and useful, so take it all in now. When reviewing later, tag items for future use. A general rule of thumb is to NOT photograph students. Talk to your CT about school policy on this issue.
Show Their JOY! Let’s face it, everyone knows if a teacher enjoys their job. Be enthusiastic and don’t forget to smile. Don’t hide the JOY!
5 More Characteristics That Didn’t Make the Top 5 BUT Are Important Too!
Visit other classrooms. Each teacher is different, and you will learn something new in every classroom. It is best to work with your CT to arrange visitations. Some teachers may be hesitant to open their doors for a variety of reasons. It is important that the teacher you are visiting is comfortable with your observing.
Share knowledge. Student teachers very often have been exposed to recent research that may be helpful to your CT. Don’t be shy to share a recent article, or new technology that you may have learned. Student teachers can be an excellent source of professional development in a school. Collaboration is a major focus in schools today.
Discuss needs. It’s best to discuss with your CT the areas that you think you may need additional support. Outlining them early in your placement will help your CT plan opportunities for your placement.
Welcome input. Accepting that student teaching is a learning experience will make feedback easier. Welcoming feedback as an opportunity for growth which will better prepare you for future formal observations.
They are “Worker Bees”. Worker Bees Live in Schools. As a lifelong member of the hive, I know it would be be hard to find a great teacher that wasn’t busy, busy, busy. Show your CT that you are willing to do extra work outside the scheduled day.
Prior to the Big Day!
Clean up social media – We all use it and therefore anyone can see it. Be sure to clean up any social media items that may appear to be unprofessional in nature. When in doubt on an item, check with your CT.
Dress appropriately. In other words, dress professionally. Always consider yourself on a long-term job interview and always look your best. Your wardrobe does not have to be fashionable or expensive to be professional. It doesn’t matter how the teachers around you dress, they’re employed!
Punctuality is Important. Your great planning will go unnoticed if you are not punctual. Rushing around can be interpreted as unprepared. Plan to arrive each day 15 -30 minutes early. Talk with your CT on the expectations of your schedule.
Silence the phone. We all know that our phones are our lifeline to the world. However, they should NOT be part of student teaching. My best advice is to manage your phone at a time that you are NOT with students. Being present with your students is much more than just being in the classroom. Send your students the message that being with them is important and you’re not going to be interrupted by your phone.
Welcome to the 2nd month of threeringsconnections.orgMonthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3. I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.
Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies
Draw a picture
Guess and Check
Use a table or list
Find a pattern
Working backwards (try a simpler version first)
Problem Solving – Here we go!
On a baseball team, Chris, Jerry and Matt each played one of three positions of pitcher, catcher and second baseman, though not necessarily in that order. The second baseman, playing his first season with the team, had the lowest salary. Chris, who along with Jerry had played two seasons with this team, earned more than the pitcher. Who was the pitcher?
Declan wants to swim 20 yards out into the ocean. He swims out 5 yards in 4 seconds but then in one second a wave pushes him back 2 yards. If this cycle continues, how long will it take Declan to get 20 yards out for the first time, even if only for an instant?
A group of 63 students went to the museum. Some students took the bus, the rest went by car. If 41 students took the bus and 3 students rode in each car, then how many cars were needed?
Lowyn likes to celebrate her birthday for a whole week. On the first day she eats one cookie. On the second day she eats 2 cookies. This continues on until the seventh day when she eats 7 cookies. How many cookies did Lowyn eat that week?
Doug spent $44 This is twice as much as Kelly and Marian spent together. Kelly spent $9. How much did Marian spend?
61 + 12 = __ – 7 Find the number that belongs on the line.
If 40 – 6 = Q, how much is 45 + Q
Matt is the pitcher. Neither Chris nor Jerry played second base (it wasn’t their first season). Matt played second base. Chris earned more than the pitcher so he’s not the pitcher, Matt is.
The answer is 29. Every 5 seconds he gains 3 yards. After 25 seconds he is 15 yards out. In 4 more seconds he will be 20 yards out for the first time (even if only for an instant).
The answer is 8. 63-41=22. If 3 students traveled in each car, there were 8 cars. 7 cars had 3 students for 21 total and an 8th car was needed for the 22nd student.
The answer is 28. 1+2+3+4+5+6+7=28
The answer is $13. Half of $44 is $22. Since Kelly spent $9, then Marian had to spend $13 to equal $22.
80 goes on the line. 61 + 12 = 73 and 80 – 7 = 73
Q = 79.
Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems