Keeping Your Relationship Close

As our babies get older they start to pull away and those little ones don’t want to snuggle with us anymore, which just pull on our heart strings.  To keep that relationship close, start routines that build connections with your children. We compiled some fun ways to support the developing child.  They are not in any particular order but all of them will have benefits beyond the immediate and they are excellent ways to support the whole child, every child.

1. Read! One of our favorites! Snuggle up together and enjoy a good story. Children crave repetition of songs and stories because it is necessary for their development. (Guilmartin & Levinowitz, 2003) So be prepared to read that book over and over again. You are creating wonderful experiences that will last a life time for your child.  See #4 for a great tip to use when you read too.

2. Sing! We also love singing traditional finger play tunes and nursery rhymes as well as favorite songs from the radio. According to New Directions Institute, listening to music decreases stress, activates both sides of the brain, and increases learning capacity.

3. Play! Let them take the lead…this is a great way to find out what interests your child. Self-esteem is the single greatest predictor of success in school (Brooks, 1990). It is built when a child is invited to sing, move, or play in a group, and feels membership and contribution to group effort. (Snyder, 1997).

4. Sign! Use American Sign Language (ASL).  This supports communication development, which increases opportunities to bond by creating experiences that nurture and are warm and responsive to promote healthy brain development. The visual components of sign language create “an increase of brain activity by engaging the visual cortex and presenting an additional language to the young learner.” (Daniels, 2001) We suggest using ASL with infants as early as 6 months of age and continuing through their lives.  Don’t forget to speak your words too as this helps with those communication skills and use it while reading.  It’s fun to sign some of the words… it brings the story alive!

5. Laugh! Having a sense of humor and sharing it with your children is critical to a happy life and happy parenting. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin  Knock, Knock jokes can be the best!!

6. Dance! It is great for exercise AND a healthy brain. Research done with children shows that movement stimulates brain development and draws on the multiple intelligence. (Kim, 1995)  We like putting on all that old time music… you know, from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or even the 90’s!!

7. Write a Love note!  You can leave them on their bedroom doors, in their lunch boxes, in the pockets of their coats, on the kitchen table, or anywhere that is special to you.  We don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to receive a love note!!

8. Creating specific family traditions like Friday night game night. Have a family meeting and find out what tradition everyone would like to begin, choose a day, and let the FUN begin!

9. Family Fun Dayswe LOVE Saturdays, check out our Family Fun Tips on Facebook every Saturday for ideas to engage the family.

10. Share special moments together. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~Antoine de Saint Exupery.

Remember, your children will remember the fun times they had with you… enriching their relationships will stay with them for a life-time!

LovePlay

 

Happy Signing II

Practicing Self-Help Skills and Introducing New Signs

Winter is still here, although some of us are hoping for a short one (personally I can’t wait for Spring…) so we still need to wear our winter jackets, mittens, and hats. That is if you don’t live in the desert, like some of us, but what a wonderful opportunity to teach the signs for clothes and having young children practice self-help skills that lead to developing fine motor skills such as:

  • Zipping
  • Buttoning
  • Dressing themselves

It is also fun to take pictures of your little ones in their winter clothes and create a book or use for a bulletin board display. Don’t forget to label with sign language to make it more fun!Snow

We always like to have activities, it helps keep everyone engaged and it is always fun too. Here are some great ones to during the winter!

For Families

1. Cuddle and read under a warm blanket or near a cozy fire.
2. Make hot chocolate, don’t forget the marshmallows.
3. Go up north and play in the snow.
4. Create a snowman using construction paper and other materials.
5. Make a paper snowflake.
6. Make a valentine for someone special.
7. Have a family game night.
8. Bake some warm, delicious cookies
9. Pop some popcorn and gather the together for a fun family movie night.
10. Build a fort inside with blankets and pillows.

For the Early Childhood Educator (families too)
Read – The Mitten by Jan Brett during story time and use the following signs.

Winter
Cold
Idea
Work
Family
Year
Love
New
Snow
Coat
Shoes
Pants
Mitten
 

Visit our favorite site for ASL signs, which are done in video: ASLPro

Cold

Create some fun Mitten activities
Materials: need different color mittens or gloves and a parachute
Targeted Skills: Reinforcing color identification, gross motor, and sorting
Directions: Have the children match the mittens by color, toss the mittens in the parachute, sign and say a color and have the children find that mitten.

To extend this activity for older children by making a colorful mitten sight word chart:
Completing the sentence with color word, “My mitten is ________.”

  • My mitten is red.
  • My mitten is orange.
  • My mitten is blue.

Remember, always have fun!! Using ASL during reading supports literacy and brain development and the children love when you bring the story alive!

For our classroom labels and more, be sure to drop by one of our teacher resource stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Happy Signing II

Rituals and Traditions-Fostering a Sense of Community

RitualsWelcome back to the exploration of the book, Rituals and Traditions, Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool by Jacky Howell and Kimberly Reinhard. In our previous blog we wrote about the benefits that this great new resource highlights.  The book’s authors share many wonderful ideas to create rituals and traditions in your classroom.  So in this blog we would like to highlight three of our favorites:

1. Making mealtimes special – this idea is similar to a formal dinner in a family.  Think of a day, i.e Friday and a mealtime,i.e. snack time.  Now think of what can be added to the snack time to make it elegant or formal?  The authors suggest a tablecloth, real plates and silverware, and flowers or electric candles.   Get the children involved by giving each one a job.  Then have everyone sit at the beautiful table and enjoy a meal together. During your special meal facilitate a mealtime conversation.  You may consider creating a jar/box of conversation starters so you can choose a new conversation idea each week.  Some suggestions from the book are:
a. If any animal could come and live with you, what animal would you choose?
b. Tell us about a time you did something fun with your family.
c. What is your favorite thing to do in our classroom?

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2. Building a community through Breakfast Club – we LOVED this idea!  Does your program start the day with a healthy breakfast?  If yes, this is a great way to engage families and support positive transitions to school.  Breakfast Club is a simple concept, all you need is to add adult-sized chairs near your breakfast area and encourage families to join their children for breakfast. Teachers should also involve themselves in this time.  This activity strengthens relationships with families and children.  The authors state, “My relationships with families and their relationships with each other have blossomed.  It is family engagement at its best!”

3. Days-of-the-Week Rituals – many of us have routines around the calendar.  Creating rituals around this routine enhances learning by helping children have a greater sense of life’s structure and rhythm.  “Creating moments – rituals – that children can look forward to, count on, and predict make some of life’s unpredictable moments manageable and less scary.  When children understand that there is a beginning, middle, and end to days, weeks, and months they are likely to feel safe and secure.”  The authors suggest adding visuals to the calendar to help children understand that the event is unique to that day.  For instance, Monday is “Happy Face Day.”  On “Happy Face Days” there is a special event or center available for the children to work in that is special and matches the children’s interests.  It is marked on the calendar with a smiley face. The authors suggest starting with one or two rituals a week then move towards a special ritual for each day.  

The authors provide reflective questions and one that we’d like to leave you with is, “What routines and rituals do you plan that form the structure of the week? How can you create a special ritual to mark one or more days of the week?”  

Remember, we believe that repetition is the key to success.  “We are what we repeatedly do.” – Durant

This is our philosophy around integrating American Sign Language (ASL) into the classroom.   Through consistency, repetition, and dedication children learn ASL easily.  We have recently published a new training video, Why We Use ASL in the Classroom.  

Still looking for even more?  Try integrating ASL into your new rituals and traditions. We have created lots of helpful resources for you. Visit one of our stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

Happy Signing II

Rituals and Traditions

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break. We certainly did at Sprouting New Beginnings! It’s always nice to have the opportunity to recharge ourselves, relax, & spend time with family & friends.  As many of us have gone back to school we might be noticing that our children have fallen out of routine. This is typical! So what is a teacher to do?Rituals

Over the holiday break we had the wonderful opportunity to explore the book, Rituals and Traditions, Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool by Jacky Howell and Kimberly Reinhard. This book is published by NAEYC and empowers readers with creative ways to build rituals and traditions in the classroom. The book explores why it is important to develop rituals and traditions. It highlights three reasons:

1. Rituals and traditions connect communities
2. Foster a sense of belonging
3. Create a supportive learning environment

You may be asking, what is the difference between routines, rituals, and traditions?  In this book the authors describe routines as, “repeated, predictable events that are planned parts of the day, week, or month.”  Rituals are,”intentional ways of approaching a routine…” Rituals help children make deeper connections within our daily routines.  The authors define traditions as, “meaningful events or experiences that a class or program has created and that are expected to occur regularly.”

Integrating rituals and traditions into your classroom community provide value to both adults and children.  They help develop safe and secure environments along with teaching values, problem solving skills, and create a sense of identity.

We recommend this book to any teacher looking to strengthen their classroom community in the new year.  What are some routines that you currently do in your classroom? Is there a way you can transform a daily routine into a ritual?  Think about your children’s interest, songs or special books to get ideas. The authors offer an opportunity to reflect on your practice by providing questions at the end of each chapter.  One we’d like to highlight to get you thinking is: “What rituals and traditions do you remember from your own childhood?”Songs & Chants for Signing

In our classroom, the use of American Sign Language (ASL) is a ritual.  We intentionally teach words in a fun and engaging way through songs, stories, and games. This hands-on experience engages the children’s senses and is repeated several times a day.  Our children’s favorite way to engage in ASL is when they sing.  If you haven’t explored singing and ASL or are looking for new song ideas check out our Songs & Chants for Signing!

We will explore some of the wonderful and creative rituals and traditions from this book in a future blog.

Still looking for more?  Try integrating ASL into your learning centers or story time. We have created lots of helpful resources for you. Visit one of our stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  We are having sales on all of our teacher sites starting on Thursday and running through this weekend too! Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

Happy Signing II

Our Favorite Love-Reading

Over the past year we have had the great opportunity to share our love of literature with children.  So we thought we would share seven of our favorite children’s stories that we’ve read this past year with you.  These stories are not only entertaining, but also wonderful stories to sign to using American Sign Language (ASL).  

  • Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis – this is a New York Times best illustrated children’s book and is a cute story about a bunny and a box.  Is is a wonderful book to promote creativity and imagination.
  • Ten Black Dots by Donald Crew – this is a great book to support developing number sense which is a critical foundation for long-term success in math.
  • Thank you Bear by Greg Foky – what can we say about this adorable bear.  This is a sweet story about friendship.  It is a must read in 2016!
  • 26 Big Things Small Hands Do by Coleen Paratore – this is a fabulous book to read to young children about all the wonderful things they can do.  It is an alphabet book with purpose!
  • Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman – We love the Bear series and honestly you can read any of the books and add ASL to them.  But Bear’s New Friend is a great book for helping a new child feel welcome.
  • Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? illustrated by Viviana Garofoli – who doesn’t love this story filled with rhymes and fun?  This is a favorite in our classrooms.
  • Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward and Tomie dePaola – this is a hysterical book about Cookie the cat.  He is a mischievous cat that does something each day of the week.  A great one for helping young children make meaningful connections to the days of the week.

Bear and Cookie

We hope you enjoy reading these stories with the children in your life in the upcoming year as much as we did.  We loved them so much that we created a Sign, Read, & Play (SRP) lesson for each of them.  You can find all the SPR lessons on  Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook. 

As we ring in the New Year we’d like to say Thank You to all of you for impacting children’s lives!  Remember, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” Chinese Proverb  

Please download our 100 Plus Books to Read Before Age, which are all very easy to sign to as our gift to you!

Happy Signing II

Self-Concept, Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

As parents and an early childhood educators we know it is incredibly important to provide young children with lots of encouragement in order to build their self-concept, self-esteem, and self-worth.  However, at times this can be a challenging task in the middle of the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Having a few tricks, reminders, and tips around the house or classroom help us remember to focus on the positive rather than the negative.  Children like adults love to be acknowledged for what they are doing right or what is working.  Encouraging words are great motivators for young children, some of our favorites are:

  • You’re terrific
  • You’re wonderful
  • Fantastic job
  • Thanks for showing respect
  • You are responsible
  • What a good choice
  • Nice sharing

Remember to be specific and let the child know exactly what they did that was so great.  For instance, “I really like the good choice you made to share.”  Or, “What a great problem solver you are!”  

We also love bringing in American Sign Language for a visual cue.  It is a fun way to encourage young children in a spontaneous manner even when they are across the room from you.

Good & Thank You

In many schools young children are learning about good character traits and a popular program being used is Character Counts.  On this website there are parent and teacher resources.  This is a great program to help support the social-emotional development of young children.  Plus you can sing the six pillars of character:

  • Trustworthiness – Being honest, telling the truth, keeping promises and being loyal so people can trust you.
  • Respect – Showing others that they are valued for who they are.  It means treating others the way you want to be treated.  A respectful person is polite, does not use hurtful language and never uses violence.
  • Responsibility – Doing what you are supposed to do.  Responsible people think ahead, set reasonable goals, control their tempers and always do their best.
  • Fairness – Playing by the rules, taking turns, sharing, and listening.
  • Caring – Being kind, helpful and generous to everyone.  Caring people care how others feel and they are charitable and forgiving.  They do good deeds without the thought of reward.
  • Citizenship – Doing your share to help your family and your community be a better place.  Good Citizens are good neighbors.  They cooperate with others, obey laws and rules, protect the environment, and respect the authority of parents, teachers and others.

Another great resource for supporting social-emotional development in young children is Conscious Discipline. Being a positive and healthy role model for children is essential for raising healthy, self-confident, self-motivated, and high self-esteem adults.  

Are you looking for even more activities and resources to integrate ASL into your program? We have TONS for you!! Check out our teacher resource sites, which are filled with wonderful ASL resources to use in your program.  Visit us on Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving SproutNovember is a time of gratitude and remembering the many things and people in our lives that make our life amazing.  It is important to model gratitude and being thankful for what we have to young children in order to support their self-awareness and self-confidence. Thanksgiving gives us a wonderful opportunity to begin to model these important concepts to children.  

A great circle time or dinner time activity to support the understanding of gratitude is to have the children pass a ball or some other type of object around while telling what they are grateful for that day.  Each child will get a turn as the object is passed around the circle.  

This activity supports oral language development, turn taking skills, strengthens a child’s attention span, and is great for sensory input when you include a fun object to pass around, like a cute fuzzy turkey or a squishy ball.  You may choose to model this activity by being the first person in circle to hold the object and share what you are thankful for.

Another fun way to highlight gratitude is to make a Gratitude Book.  All you’ll need is:

  • Paper with a sentence stem:  I’m thankful for___________.
  • Pencils
  • Marks
  • Crayons
  • Color pencils

Directions
Give each student the thankful sentence stem, then have each child dictate or write what they are thankful for, and then have each child illustrate what they wrote. Once every child has completed their page, bind the pages together to create a book.

Another fun activity is to make a Friendship Chain.

Materials needed:

  • Strips of construction
  • Markers

Directions
Give each child a paper strip and have him/her write their name on the paper strip.  Then staple or glue the paper strips to make the friendship chain and hang up in the classroom or around the house.  

Remember to integrate ASL into your Thanksgiving activities too.  You can sign:

  • Thank you
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Turkey
  • I love you

Are you looking to learn more ASL?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Or find us on one of our teacher resource stores.  Please visit Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!

We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

We wish you all a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving!

Happy Signing II

Supporting Vocabulary Through Reading Aloud

Back in September we published a blog on using American Sign Language (ASL) to develop letter knowledge, FUN with Names and Letters.  Though ASL is not only a great strategy for teaching letters and sounds it is also a fantastic way to teach vocabulary.   By highlighting words in stories to teach concepts like action words, opposites, and content vocabulary around math, science, and social studies you can enhance a child’s vocabulary.  We suggest intentionally choosing the words you will teach based on the story you read.  This allows you and your children to explore the meaning deeper and create a more in depth understanding of the word.

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Here are 10 ways to integrating ASL into your Read Aloud sessions:

1. Take a picture walk to introduce the book and the vocabulary you will work on during the week, remember to teach the highlighted ASL words during this time

2. Choose 3-5 words from the book to focus on during the week, can you integrate ASL?  If so, teach the children the words in ASL

3. Read story several times during the week, recommended at least once daily.  Choose an interesting and enjoyable book.  Also think about cultural diversity and using ASL to enhance the vocabulary and bring the story alive.  

4. Teach core vocabulary from the book in small group in direct instruction, remember to integrate ASL.

5. Expand the ideas into centers, are the children using ASL as they work with the words and letters?  Can you create ways to encourage them to do so?  

6. Increase engagement by bringing in ASL to support vocabulary & listening by having children sign the core vocabulary words.  This can be done in small groups, whole groups, or independently.   

7. Use retelling activities to expand use of vocabulary.

8. Develop a community of practice with colleagues to plan and reflect on weekly read aloud sessions.  Use video to support reflective process.  This is a great way to see how you read the story and how engage the students are.  What areas are working and what areas do you need to adjust?

9. Plan your daily readings through the week. For instance, 1st day, picture walk & introduce core vocabulary. Day 2, read for enjoyment. Day 3, read book again, ask questions around core vocabulary. Day 4 & 5, read book again, have children help you read sections, I.e. The Title or repetitive phrases in the book.  Remember, add ASL into the story to increase engagement and understanding.  

10. Review core vocabulary words at the end of each reading. Use vocabulary cards with images and ASL.

Above all enjoy the process!  Reading is not only a life skill that is necessary for success, but it should also be enjoyable. Model that enjoyment and you will easily engage your children in the reading process.  

Are you looking for even more activities and resources to integrate ASL into your program? We have TONS for you!! Check out our teacher resource sites, which are filled with wonderful ASL resources to use in your program.  Visit us on Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II

The Power of Daily Routines

Sprouting New Beginnings understands balancing life’s aspects.  Between raising young children and teaching young children our hands are always busy.  A consistent daily routine allows our children the ability to predict what will come next in their day.  This essential addition in our lives supports early brain development and social-emotional development in our growing children.IMG_1947

When young children know what to expect next they are better able to focus their attention and are able to learn, thus increasing abilities such as narrative skills, sequencing skills, and patterning skills.  Encouraging children to describe things and events provides them with opportunities to problem solve, increase communication, and build self-reliance.  When young children are learning about daily routines it is helpful to create a picture chart of their daily schedule and all the actions that must be accomplished. Picture charts are a wonderful communication and visual tool to use with young children.  Picture charts allow young children to sequence events throughout their day and brings in math by exploring ordinal numbers such as what comes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  Families will also find picture charts beneficial at home for morning routines and/or bedtime routines.

Creating daily routines and using picture charts are a great way to promote organization and time management skills, support positive guidance, and to direct a child if they are off task.  Picture charts provide an opportunity for children to learn self-help skills by asking them what they need to be doing or what will come next and allowing them to problem solve by referring to the daily routine chart.      

You can use a kit or create your own Routine Chart.

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To make your own chart is easy, all you need is the following:

Creating Daily Routine Picture Charts

  • Markers
  • Construction Paper or Tag Board
  • Pictures from clipart or photos of the child performing the daily task
  • Glue, Tape, Magnet strips, and or Velcro
  • May want to laminate
  • Pocket Chart or other tools to hang up for child to use

First order the pictures in the correct sequence 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. on your tag-board or construction paper.  Then label the event on your chart next to or underneath the picture.   Last, display chart in a visible area so that children can refer back to the chart anytime.  You can extend this activity by applying sign language and teaching the signs for each routine.  You may also want to incorporate sign language cards with in your chart.

Are you looking to learn more ASL?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Or find us on one of our teacher resource stores.  Please visit Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!

Happy Signing II

Supporting Early Brain Development and Learning

When learning a new developmental skill or a basic academic subject like reading, writing, or math, children have to first be able to focus or attend to what they are learning.  Helping children learn to pay attention and focus are important factors in school readiness.   Once they get to Kindergarten they will need these skills to learn.  Therefore, the question becomes how as early childhood educators and families can we help young children in developing their attention span?

It is important to understand the brain is a pattern seeking organ.  Therefore in order for young children to attend to their environment they have to be able to predict what will happen next, this is where daily routines are so important.  Creating morning routines or evening routines helps develop attention skills.

The brain also likes novelty; children will pay attention and gravitate towards new materials, toys, and centers/activities in their environment. Rotating toys and providing a variety of activities from time to time will help children develop skills to observe, attend, and will keep them in engaged.

At this point we like to use the vocabulary of American Sign Language (ASL) to keep children engaged. There are lots of signs you can use (while continuing to speak) to keep them involved with you, which also helps with the brain development. Signs like “apple”, “book”, “shoes”, “ball”, etc. A great resource we recommend is http://aslpro.com to find lots of ASL words and a visual on how the signs are made.

We also know from research by Abraham Maslow, that in order for children to focus they need to have their basic needs met.  Basic needs are things such as food, shelter, and feeling safe.  For instance, if a child comes to school without eating breakfast this child will have a harder time focusing and learning until lunch time.   Children also need to form bonds with the adults in their lives in order to have a sense of security and learn in their environment.  Activities such as giving a child a high-five, reading a story, singing, signing “I Love You!” and playing with the child leads to forming a strong bond.

The following videos will give you lots of ideas on how to incorporate signs into your daily routines.

Other things we can do to support attention are:

  • Using sign language, such as using the word ‘focus’ to help children remember to pay attention
  • Reading stories, while highlighting words in ASL
  • Music and Movement  especially linking to following directions like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Helping children define boundaries by using “Brain Mats”
  • Keeping activities short than building up the time
  • Planning activities that are fun and engaging
  • Helping children learn strategies to focus by modeling, role playing, or discussing the best ways to focus and learn

Are you looking for even more activities to integrate ASL?  We have TONS.  Check out our teacher resource sites filled with wonderful ASL resources to use in your program, visit us on Teachers Pay Teachers, Teachers Notebook, or Syllabuy.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Are you looking to learn more ASL?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Or find us on one of our teacher resource stores.  Please visit Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!

We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II