Early Literacy

Countdown to Kindergarten

Written by  |  Wednesday, 26 August 2015 22:01  |  Published in Early Literacy
The countdown to kindergarten is on! Children attending full day learning programs for the first time anticipate their number of sleeps before riding the big yellow school bus or arriving at their new school. Counting, however, isn’t easy for young children. Joanna Zambrzycka, from the Mathematical Brains Laboratory at Wilfred Laurier University, explains that although mathematical understanding begins during infancy, parents and caregivers play a critical role in helping children develop important math skills before they go to school. Experiments show that infants as young as one week old can discriminate among groups of one, two, or three objects, and by 10 months they are beginning to understand the concept of more.1 By two years of age, most children are saying their first number words…

Fun and games with children this summer

Written by  |  Wednesday, 08 July 2015 11:19  |  Published in Early Literacy
“Red Rover, Red Rover, we call Susan over.” As a child I loved this game. My friends and I formed two lines facing one another and, with clasped hands, began our Red Rover chant. Whosever name we inserted into the chant had to leave their line and race toward ours. If the person we called over could not break through, they joined our line. If their speed and weight caused our hands to let go, one of us would join their line. Eventually one of the lines had all the players and the game was over. Songs and chants imbedded into games like Red Rover, skipping and ball bouncing, and counting activities in games like Hide and Seek and Hopscotch were always a lot of…

Storytime Goes Digital

Written by  |  Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A My mother’s voice rose and fell expressively as she sat reading bedtime stories to me as a child. Decades later, as mother of three, I followed her example. I remember my children’s giggles, gasps and questions as we read. As well as these fond memories, books hold captivating stories, facts, artwork, and poetic language. Truth be told, I love books, especially children’s books. But the books I love are changing. Great stories are not always published with paper pages. Stories are on tablets, smart phones and computers. My love for e-books has been hesitant. Are they really as good as paper-bound books? According to recent research I have good reason to ask this question. The way children’s books are…

Going on a Book Hunt

Written by  |  Wednesday, 15 October 2014 12:02  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A I went to the library and what did I see?Books to share with baby and me.There were titles and authors that I didn’t knowAnd I wondered which books to choose from the row.So I asked the librarian to please help me outAnd she gave me some tips to alleviate doubt… Newborns to 3 months benefit from simple, high contrast images. Picture books such as “Black on White” by Tana Hoban help with the development of a newborn’s eyesight. Babies and toddlers enjoy exploring their world through all their senses. Texture books prompt children to discover books through their sense of touch as well as sight. “Dear Zoo Touch and Feel” by Rod Campbell and “Peekaboo Kisses” by Barney Saltzberg…

Splendiferous books for young children

Written by  |  Thursday, 18 December 2014 00:29  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A If you are looking for gifts this Christmas, here are a few tips to consider when choosing quality books for that special child in your life. Pictures make or break children’s interest in books. Infants who are learning single words like books with one big, simple picture on each page. Brightly coloured images, or photographs of other children’s faces help babies understand the meaning of words that are read to them. As children’s eyesight and language skills develop, young children enjoy books with a recurring character or image throughout the story. Pictures can now include more detail and convey an unwritten story plot that the child discovers and talks about with careful inspection of each page. Children benefit from…

Ringing in and singing in the New Year

Written by  |  Thursday, 08 January 2015 09:26  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A January 2015 has arrived and the sounds of Auld Lang Syne echo in my mind even though my holidays have ended and festive songs no longer play in stores. The power of music is undeniable. Music, in every culture past and present, enables us to express emotions and a sense of community. The Happy Birthday song, national anthem, campfire songs, playing in a musical group, and dancing all prompt us to listen to one another, join in and become part of something bigger than our individual selves. In recent years western society has tried to link exposure to classical music with children’s intelligence. The Mozart Effect, a term based on a study that showed children improved in spatial rotation…

Celebrating Black History month

Written by  |  Wednesday, 11 February 2015 22:34  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A When I first read The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, I was enthralled by his writing and storytelling, moved by the sorrow, hope and strength of the story characters, and appalled by my lack of knowledge about slavery and Black history in Canada. Now a television mini-series, The Book of Negroes may be opening the eyes of viewers who, like me, need to know more about our growth as a nation with and because of people of colour. Hill’s fictional story refers to the historical Book of Negroes of which three copies exist worldwide – one in England, one in United States, and one in Canada. In 1783, when it was written, thousands of African-American slaves in the…

Books for children and the environment

Written by  |  Wednesday, 08 April 2015 16:28  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A March 28, 2015. 8:29 pm. Computer? Off. Television? Off. Lights? Off. We powered down for the ninth annual Earth Hour, hoping that our symbolic acts of replacing brightly lit streets and homes with flickering candles will unite individuals across six continents, 120 countries and 24 time zones to voice concern for planet Earth. But whether it’s Earth Hour or Earth Day, which falls on April 22, we know that hope for our environment depends on something that lasts longer than one hour or a single day. It will depend on our ability as individuals, businesses and politicians to respect and love our natural world. For those of us who are parents, grandparents or caregivers of children, this respect and…

Discovering the first strawberries in an Indigenous legend

Written by  |  Wednesday, 10 June 2015 23:32  |  Published in Early Literacy
Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist HFL&A “Daddy look!” I turned from my squatted position in the strawberry patch toward the sound of an excited child’s voice close by. A beige sunhat bobbed slightly higher than the row of strawberry bushes, his fist clutching and waving a large heart-shaped berry. I scanned the field. In every direction there were child-sized heads with hats or ponytails poking like short sunflowers above the strawberry vines. The strawberry field was filled with children – children who were discovering, learning and enjoying the marvels of summer’s first strawberries. My memories of spending time in strawberry patches are strong and cause me to recall a story about how the first strawberries came to be. At an Indigenous story walk at Napanee’s…

Celebrate National Aboriginal Day with oral storytelling and books

Written by  |  Thursday, 12 June 2014 08:58  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist “In the beginning, all things were made but nothing was finished.” Algonquin storyteller, Dionne Nolan, spoke quietly, holding a talking stick, as she began to tell the story of Owl and Rabbit. Her audience? A hushed and attentive circle of participants attending the first Kuskino-Moo event at St. Lawrence College in Kingston a few weeks ago. Kuskino-moois a Cree word meaning teaching knowledge, and the event was a day-long learning opportunity for college staff and community members to expand their knowledge of Indigenous and Métis history and culture. Adults hearing the story of Owl and Rabbit could assume it was intended only for children but, as Dionne explained, oral stories are the passing on of First Nations histories (his-stories).…

Boost children’s speech and language development with books

Written by  |  Thursday, 15 May 2014 10:33  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist “Peek-a-boo!” Blonde, feathery hair stood and swayed like a field of wheat on Ben’s tiny head as I read the words from his book. I hadn’t meant to say ‘peek’ so powerfully, but Ben’s saucer-sized eyes had been riveted to the large, lift-the-flap pictures. Though Ben was only four months old, he loved books. Ben and I read together a lot when he was little even though at that time I knew little about research linking book sharing to children’s speech, language and literacy development. I hadn’t realized how reading simple text slowly and expressively could help babies isolate the sounds of language. Nor had I clearly understood that, by playfully pointing to and labelling pictures, I could encourage…
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Though mounds of snow are still with us, the first day of spring is imminent and already being welcomed with birds singing and longer days of sunshine. Squirrels are out in droves looking for hidden stashes of nuts but I have not yet seen or heard a chipmunk. Chipmunks, as we are told in the Aboriginal story “How the Chipmunk Got His Stripes”, chatter gleefully once they emerge from hibernation into sun. “How the Chipmunk Got His Stripes”, by Indigenous author and storyteller Joseph Bruchac, is the featured story in a new monthly e-newsletter for parents and educators with young children. This free electronic resource called “Come Walk in My Moccasins” has been created by members of the Aboriginal Family…

Time sensitive books for young children

Written by  |  Wednesday, 05 March 2014 19:00  |  Published in Early Literacy
  Do you have the time? When clocks fall back or spring forward to accommodate Daylight Savings Time, second guessing our internal clocks is common. To a young child, time can be even more elusive. Though adults may envy children’s ability to live in the moment, young children struggle to understand concepts of future and past. If you’ve ever explained time to a young child by saying something like “Only seven more sleeps until your birthday!” consider yourself brilliant. You’ve helped your child link the abstract concept of future to their familiar concrete experiences of day and night. Time is a mathematical concept. It is understood though patterns such as morning, noon, and night, as well as seasons. It is defined through measurement and numbers.…

Let the Games Begin - at Sochi and at Home

Written by  |  Wednesday, 19 February 2014 19:00  |  Published in Early Literacy
  Sochi takes me there. Though not to Russia, it takes me to a place of awe and inspiration for our Olympians who demonstrate incredible skill, endurance and commitment to their chosen winter sport. I find myself wondering when and how each competitor on that 2014 Winter Olympic stage began. atching the Olympics reminds me of a term I recently learned called ‘physical literacy’. As defined by Physical and Health Education Canada, “Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” (www.phecanada.ca/programs/physical-literacy/what-physical-literacy ) Some describe the ABC’s of physical literacy as agility, balance, coordination and strength – skills that are developed through active living and…

Just Killing Time?

Written by  |  Wednesday, 15 January 2014 19:00  |  Published in Early Literacy
  Have you noticed how easily conversation starters can roll off the tongue? “What’s new?” “Hey, how are you doing? “What are you up to?” These broad questions invite others to talk about anything and everything. Yet the answers are often pat. “Nothing much.” “Okay.” “Just killing time.” This last response sets off unspoken chatter in my head. I know that “killing time” refers to our sense of productivity, but my internal voice is silently countering with, “Time is the most precious thing we have! Why would you want to kill it?” Over the years I’ve come to realize that I value times of inactivity as much as busyness. In our fast-paced world, embracing the moment, rather than planning for the future or reminiscing about…
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