This week we hosted author and education specialist Rae Pica as the guest speaker at an event for parents, teachers, educators and childcare providers.
The Movin’ and Groovin’ event kicks off a month of special events for our littlest patrons. Throughout October and November our locations are hosting Movin’ and Groovin’ Fests to put into action some of the strategies to help get every child read to read when they start school.
Rae shared some of her favorite strategies and we want to share them with you.
Take a Listening Walk.
Walk with your child. Even as a baby in a stroller, talk to your baby as you walk along. Use words to describe the sounds you hear along the way. Your baby is absorbing it all as he processes his environment. Ask your toddler to listen for the natural sounds of birds, wind, or dogs barking. Then ask them to listen for the human sounds of cars, laughter, and construction.
Use music to encourage active listening.
Those childhood favorite songs, like BINGO or Heads-Shoulders-Knees and Toes, and Old McDonald, are key to helping young children learn sequencing, body movement and awareness, and patterns.
Play musical games.
Toddlers and preschoolers love musical games that get their bodies and minds engaged. Add a twist to the old favorite “musical chairs” by asking kids to freeze like a statue when the music stops, or play musical partners, giving their friend a hug when the music stops playing.
Talk – sing, whisper, shout!
Sing, chant, and mix it up by having the children say their name different ways. Have them chant their name to learn rhythm. Have them say their name fast and then slow to practice tempo. Have them say if softly in a whisper, then shouting to learn volume. Have them sing their name to put it all in action.
You’ve got to move it, move it!
Ask children to move differently when saying their name in fun ways. As they whisper their names, have them put that quiet movement into action by tiptoeing. When they shout it, ask them to stomp each syllable/beat. When they sing their name, encourage them to dance it.
Imagine your finger is a giant crayon, and then ask the children to “draw” in the air the first letter of their name. Start big, then go smaller, and smaller. Get creative by using different parts of your body. Have them try writing the letter as if their bellybutton held the crayon, or their head. The giggles will come out, but without any pressure. Skywriting encourages movement, helps kids understand straight versus curvy lines, all without pressure since it’s not permanent and mistakes can’t be seen.
Play balloon volleyball.
There’s no better way to build eye-hand coordination (a prerequisite to writing!) than by playing volleyball with a balloon. Or through a chiffon scarf into the air and encourage the children to catch it. Nobody gets hurt, but they’ll be developing that precious coordination they’ll need later to hold a pencil and write.
All of these strategies of free language and movement help promote directionality and spatial awareness for children. They build word comprehension and future literacy skills. As Rae said when she wrapped up her presentation, “the best way to teach a child to write is to let them play at the playground. Gross motor skills must be developed before fine motor skills can be honed.”
You can find some of Rae’s books in our libraries and we encourage you to bring the family to one of our Movin’ and Groovin’ Fests.
Oh, one last thing…we’d like to thank the Jefferson County Library Foundation for supporting the Movin’ and Groovin’ event this week! Their support of our programs made the evening possible.