EDUCATOR ACTIVITIES

Partner with Parents to Repeat Words

If children must hear and use a word 24 times before 80% of them can remember it, teachers will need help making sure special words get repeated. Invite parents to become Literacy Leaders who learn to say what they see their children doing for 10 minutes three times a day. By choosing one conversation starter from The Gift of Words, such as #8 Cook it, Eat it, Clean it up, which is based on one topic, the kitchen, Literacy Leaders will repeat the same or similar words.  Each week the conversation will change to a different conversation starter from the book so the network of words the Literacy Leaders agree to say many times will change each week. If both the teacher and all of  her Literacy Leaders  agree to stay on the same conversation starter each week, the children will hear words repeated at home and at school. See links to lesson possibilities for classrooms for children ages 0-1 ½ and 1 ½ - 3.

TEACHER’S GUIDE

Parents as Literacy Leaders

Conversation Starter #8 Cook It, Eat It, Clean It Up - Ages 1 ½ to 3 years old

When little children learn to talk they are learning the most important first step to becoming good readers. They are learning what words mean. While the alphabet and phonics are important next steps to reading, without comprehension, a child misses the whole point of reading, which is to understand.

The Gift of Words conversation starters offer parents many ways to teach children what words mean. If teachers and parents in a classroom use The Gift of Words together, children will hear, repeat and remember more new words. It doesn’t take more time to develop a big vocabulary; it takes more words.

TEACHERS – PARENTS WORKING TOGETHER CAN

Week 1:  Read the book with children and try using the conversation starters at home and at school.

  1. Use one conversation starter a day.

  2. Let the child choose the conversation starters you talk about.

  3. If your child is not interested in any of the book starters try a topic you see him interested in.

  4. Notice which conversations a child likes the best. Return to those topics.

  5. At school keep a chart of conversations tried at home and at school.

Week 2:  Choose one of the book’s conversation starters to spend time with,

 e.g. #8 Cook it, Eat it, Clean it up.

  1. Ask parents to look at the book and choose a kitchen conversation every day for a week. Say-what-you-see your child doing.

  2. Keep classroom charts or a book at sign in for parents to write three food words they saw their child understood at home.

  3. Teachers use the family’s words with each child in group or kitchen play.

  4. Add real things children and moms talked about at home to the school eating, cleaning or cooking curriculum.

  5. Show each child a photo or a drawing in a book of one of the words they talked about at home.

  6. Post the pictures on a chart and say the word when the child is looking at it.

  7. Compare the real object with the photo or picture of it, e.g. real table/photo of a table.

Week 3:  Each parent choose one focus: cooking, eating or cleaning and talk all week about it.

  1. Talk about the pictures in The Gift of Words using that focus, e.g. “What is the girl in the red dress taking out of the refrigerator? What is she holding in her hand? What will she cook with them? Or The girl in the red dress is taking milk out of the refrigerator to put on her oatmeal for breakfast. Do you think she likes brown sugar on her oatmeal? Do you like oatmeal?”

  2. What new words does your child like to say?

  3. What words did the parent repeat a lot?

  4. Think of different ways of repeating a word to make it fun (say it in a whisper, sing it…)

Week 4: Moms with cell phones can video the child trying to talk about something.  Post it on classroom website or on PlaySmartLiteracy site.

  1. Often the mom is the only one who can understand her child’s talking, so she can translate on the video what her child is saying.

  2. Email the video to the teacher or use website of Play Smart :Literacy.

  3. Teachers video in school any child whose family does not have a cell phone.

Week 5:  Teachers or other adults show the child the video that his parent emailed to her.

  1. Talk about what you see the child trying to do or say in the video.

  2. Write down what the child says in or about the video or does at mealtime or in the play kitchen.

  3. Keep video and writing in child’s portfolio for later growth comparisons.

TEACHER’S GUIDE

Parents as Literacy Leaders

The Gift of Words: How do Children Learn to Talk?

Conversation Starter #8 Cook It, Eat It, Clean It Up - Ages Birth to 1 ½ years old

The brain cells of newborns are tuned in to a mother’s voice and words even before a child is born.  When little children learn to talk they are learning the most important first step to becoming good readers. They are learning what words mean. Without comprehension, a child misses the whole point of reading, which is to understand.

The Gift of Words conversation starters offer parents many ways to teach children what words mean. If the childcare providers and parents use The Gift of Words together, children will hear, repeat and remember more new words. It doesn’t take more time to develop a big vocabulary; it takes more words.

Parents’ languages are their child’s first languages. Say-what-you-see is a powerful technique for teaching vocabulary in whatever languages a family and a community speaks. Lucky are the children who learn two languages from birth.

CHILDCARE PROVIDERS AND PARENTS WORKING TOGETHER CAN

Week 1: 

  1. Read the book with your child and without your child.

  2. Point to Wally Word Bird as the baby turns the pages.

  3. Talk about Wally Word Bird In the language you like best.

  4.  Talk about what your child is doing, e.g. “Wally Word Bird is holding a spoon. You are holding a spoon. Oops! Mama has to pick up the spoon.”

  5. How do you feel about your role as mom and your child’s first teacher?

  6. How do you feel talking to a child who cannot talk?

  7. Talk to your childcare provider about your role as new mom and first teacher.

Week 2: 

  1. Use one conversation starter a day.

  2. Let your child choose conversation starters you talk about.

  3. Talk the book. The book is about talking. It is not necessary to read it every time.

  4. Say-what-you-see.

Week 3: Choose one of the book’s conversation starters to spend time with,  #8 Cook it, Eat it, Clean it up.

  1. Say-what-you-see your child likes in the kitchen and in the book, e.g. “Wally Word bird is going to get a fried egg for breakfast.”

  2. When a baby is eating, give her words for what she is eating, e.g. “You like fried eggs for breakfast,” or “Are you hungry? We can nurse in a minute.” 

  3. Add real kitchen objects children and moms talked about at home to the school eating, cleaning or cooking curriculum.

  4. Repeat say-what-you-see many times a day especially at meals.

Week 4:  Each parent choose one focus: cooking, eating or cleaning and talk all week about it.

  1. Look at your child’s face before you begin to talk to her. Talk about the pictures in The Gift of Words using that focus, e.g. “The girl in the red dress is taking milk out of the refrigerator to put on her oatmeal.”

  2. Teach your child the hand signal for “more” by using the hand sign when you ask “more?” and by giving your child more when he uses the hand sign or cries for more.

  3. Think of different ways of repeating a word to make it fun (say it in a whisper, sing it…)

Week 5: Moms and caregivers sing or say counting songs or poems while pointing at real or pictures of real objects in the conversation starter.

  1. While touching your baby’s toes and looking her in the eyes, say “This little pig goes to market” poem.

  2. Point to the foods in the conversation starter and change the words to the poem, “This Wally bird went to market, this Wally bird stayed home. This Wally bird bought blueberries, and this Wally bird bought toast and this Wally bird went Ow! Ow! Ow! the pot on the stove is too hot to touch!”

  3. Use the tune of “Row, row, row your boat” and other melodies you know to make up songs to go with daily routines e.g. “Wash, wash, wash your hands gently with the water. Clean between your fingers and thumbs after you eat your oatmeal…”

  4. Say-what-you-see you or your child is doing whenever you are with him…literally hundreds of times of day.

Early Career Preparation  

At the Opening Minds Conference in Chicago on January 28, Ruby Payne talked about teaching very young children that experts think differently from each other. Payne explained that the point of view of an engineer and a book editor are not the same. An adult can talk about how an architect solves problems and what words he uses as a child builds a tall big block tower or a welcoming Lego ice cream store.

 

A child playing with blocks can connect the good feelings she has with the words and problem-solving approaches of an architect. Thinking and talking the way an expert talks and thinks is the first step toward job preparation.  Three year olds can start with expert’s words and block play.  A mom or a teacher can begin early to give career words to very young children.  

Check in on the Community Playthings website

Their February 2017 post had wonderful open-ended questions (see below). Open-ended questions do not quiz or test. They are conversation starters because the asker wants to know what the child thinks.

 

  • Can you tell me why you’re angry? or, Do you know why you’re angry?

  • Is there some way I can help you feel better?

  • How can I help you remember?

  • Do you need help with that?

  • What can we do so that everyone playing in the block area is happy?

  • What can you both do to make this work out?

  • What’s another way to play so that no one gets hurt?

  • Do you need to stay sad/angry for a while?

  • You seem to be angry. Am I right about that?

  • You seem to be sad. Am I right about that?

  • Would you like a hug?

  • Do you need more time?

  • Would you like to do that by yourself?

  • What would you like to happen now?

  • We have two kinds of drinks. Which would you like?

  • What can I do to help?

  • May I switch your shoes to the right feet/wipe your nose/write your name on the paper/take your picture?

  • I need to change your diaper now, are you ready?

  • Do you need more materials to complete that collage?

  • Should we place your sculpture here to dry and continue tomorrow?

  • What can we do about making sure you get to the toilet in time?

  • What can you do to remember to wash your hands before eating?

  • I see that you are upset. Can you tell me why?

Art and Language Workshop

Register for a teacher workshop, ART and LANGUAGE: Using Art to Foster Academic Conversations. The workshop will focus on English Language Learners at the Art Institute of Chicago on April 1, 8:30am - 2:30pm, 5 CPDUs, $50. Check Teacher Programs Calendar under the Art Institute’s website.  

 

Register at teacherworkshops@artic.edu or by calling 312-443-9092.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

At the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) met in NYC January 9-12, 2017. Over 1100 published and “pre-published” children’s book writers and illustrators met. Such a supportive group! Gathered for lunch in this photo are:  DaveSzalay.com, a wonderfully funny and beautiful illustrator, look him up on-line;  Tammy Steele, of this blog; and Judy Allen Dodson, a librarian and award-winning children’s book author. Her book, Fast Friends, is about Jesse Owens and Marty Glickman who became friends at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Finally, Sandra Headen is sitting far right. Sandra, another award-winner, is just finishing a book for young adults about the world of baseball in 1938 a decade before Jackie Robinson became the first African-american major league baseball player. 

What other home visitors know and do:

Home visitors can use the VROOM website to help parents deeply appreciate the fact that they are the most important teacher their child will have before age five. (Click the image below to access the full resource)

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