September 2013

Share Stories

Not all stories are found in books! Hearing stories from your imagination or listening to audiobooks helps kids form pictures in their mind and use their own imagination. These skills will help kids picture and understand words when they start reading books independently. How can you help your pre-readers gain these skills?

 When you're at home or outside, you can build your child's vocabulary through imagination! For example, look up at the sky and imagine what is up there. Spell out the words-- airplane, rainbow, cloud-- and if you are feeling creative, try coming up with a poem! - Miss Katie

Storytelling with your child will improve his narrative skills, help her understand the concept of “order” (first, next, last), and help develop prediction skills as well. This can be done with or without a book, and almost anything can be turned into a story!

 At bedtime try asking your child, “Can you tell me what happened today?” or even, “What was –your- story today?” Just remember to ask open-ended questions and expand on your child’s answers – have a true conversation! - Mr. Andy

You do not have to read an actual book to tell a good story.  Make up stories about what you are doing/did during your day. Kids love to hear stories about themselves. - Miss Jennifer

We know the importance of stories for our kids – many of us have used social stories or heard our kids use lines and stories from favorite shows to navigate new experiences and feelings. Stories are important for all kids, though – narrate your days, tell them about their babyhoods, let them tell you about their favorite shows. The better their narrative skills, the better their reading skills. - Miss Shelley


What stories can you share today?


Sing a Song!

Songs are an instrumental part of storytimes. Why?

Miss Rory explained:

Sharing songs is more than fun--music's rhythms and rhymes help children develop the knack of distinguishing between different sounds. When we sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," the children love the fingerplay aspect of it...but they're also hearing the subtle phonic differences between "star" and "are" / "high" and "sky."

Miss Niki observed that kids are eager to participate and play along when there's music, and they are more engaged when they all sing live rather than with a CD.

So what can you do? Mr. Andy suggests:

It’s easier to remember words when they’re put to music – which you already know if you can remember all the words to “Daydream Believer” or “Sweet Caroline” but can’t recall how to change the TV from the DVD setting to cable TV and back again.

So, try putting a chore or process that your little one can’t seem to remember to music - things like hand-washing, taking off shoes when coming inside, putting dirty dishes in the sink, etc. – and see if they don’t “stick” in your child’s brain just a bit better!

Rhyme Time

This week we talked about the fun of Sharing Rhymes. Mem Fox says that knowing at least 5 nursery rhymes by heart when entering school is the best indicator of being a good reader by age 8 (Fox, Reading Magic). Start sharing rhymes early to build children’s reading foundations.

Here are some of the tips we shared this week in storytime classes:

  • So much brain development happens in the first two years of life. Singing songs about sensory/visual objects like itsy bitsy spider and concepts like colors help your baby absorb new sights, smells, sounds, and textures and build connections in the brain. - Miss Katie
  • The more you use rhymes with your kids, the better they become at picking up the smaller parts of words, which will be important as they start to read and write. This is even true for babies as they begin to grow their language skills to start talking. - Miss Gennie
  • As any parent of a preschooler knows, young children love to hear the same story read over and over.  When you pick books that have rhyming verses, kids pick up on the repetitive patterns. It strengthens their memories, which help them down the line. - Miss Shelley
  • Once kids learn a traditional rhyme, it's fun to mix it up a bit and challenge their thinking. Change some words, add silly characters, and have fun with it. The itsy-bitsy spider can morph into the giant hairy spider, or the teensy-weensy spider, or the purple patient spider. This helps with vocabulary and phonemic awareness of how words sound and fit together.   - Miss Heather
  • Say rhymes with your child and ask which 2 words rhyme. Whenever you’re listening to music, chances are pretty good that there are rhymes in that song! – ask your child what words rhyme in the song. - Mr. Andy
  • Play rhyming games with your big kids, but don’t limit yourselves to real words. Making up words that rhyme still helps kids identify sounds and isolate parts of words from the whole. Plus, it’s silly fun! - Miss Gennie

What's your favorite rhyme to share with your children?

Share Play and Share Words

Last week in storytime classes, we talked about the importance of playing for kids and how it ties into their future as readers, and also how important new words and vocabulary can be.


  • We can use the shaker eggs to build up little baby arm muscles (which they'll use for writing later!). These shaker eggs also help the kids pay attention while we're zipping new words at them, like 'right' and 'left' and 'hide' and 'reveal'! - Miss Rory
  • Keep books in a basket on the floor and with your child’s toys where they can grab them.  It’ll become natural for them to turn to books for fun if they associate them with playtime. The more they enjoy, the more they’ll do it and the better the readers they will become. - Miss Shelley
  • Books with a strong word/picture relationship are great for helping children make a connection between written and oral language. - Miss Lori
  • Share language during everyday activities – describe what you see. Higher vocabulary means better readers. They’ll recognize more when they start to decode words. - Miss Shelley
  • Stories really come alive when you read them AND act them out with dramatic play. It helps build reading comprehension. Before we read Walking Through the Jungle, let's all pretend we're exploring the jungle...first, we put on our hats, then our boots, then some bug spray, sunblock, and don't forget the binoculars! - Miss Heather
  • Children learn best through play.  When children play with words and sounds they are learning the building blocks of early literacy. - Miss Gennie
  • Kids are easily overscheduled with homework and therapies. Make sure they have the time to unwind and play with you. It’ll give their brains time to process what they’ve learned and it’s just plain fun. Fun is important, too. - Miss Shelley
  • Books with pictures and descriptions of everyday activities help kids learn new vocabulary words while connecting them to things they already know. - Miss Gennie

Next time you're at Lego Club or Barbie Club, play and build with your child. Let them direct the story while you describe and expand what they say with fun new words!