Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Literacy Tips #2: Roaming Around the Known

What in the world is "Roaming Around the Known"? When I first heard this, I had no idea and was not even sure I had heard the presenter correctly . . . gnomes? What? :) Anyways, this was one of my favorite ideas of the entire workshop!

When reading to our child(ren), we often buy books or check them out at the library based upon what we think our children will like, what we think will be familiar to them, and what we think they can relate to. However, what better books to read then those that we absolutely know our child will relate to . . . ones that are homemade! Use only pictures of things/objects/people that our child knows as well as only words that s/he will know will be the most familiar to them and they will not be able to put them down.

This last summer, I made a HUGE book with my son featuring all the "adventures" we took, which typically took place once a week. We included stories and pictures from all our little adventures, whether it was a trip to the zoo, some historical site or museum, a nature hike, or a trip to the lake. However, my mistake was that I wanted to document as many details as possible from the trip as well. I know that we will ALWAYS cherish this book. However, for the next books, I intend to keep it much simpler. When my son begins actually reading on his own, he will not feel overwhelmed.

Anyways, here are some ideas of what topics you can make your book out of . . .
  • Family: Use photos of mom, dad, sister, brother, self, etc.
  • Colors: Draw a random blob and color it in (or have your child do it!). Use paint, markers, crayons, etc.
  • Places: Maybe it is places they go often (i.e., grocery store, Grandma's house, park, etc.) or maybe it is their favorite places (i.e., zoo, park, friend's house, school, etc.).
  • Favorites: This can be about anything, from food to cartoons to candy or games.
  • Other: What else is familiar to your child? Make your book about your child's friends, clothes, things around the house, etc.

Here is also a list of additional tips when "roaming around the known":

  • Create a title page, such as "Evan's Family Book" or "Jimmy's Favorite Candy."
  • Keep it simple. Only use words your child will know. For example, use such captions as "green" or "I see green." or "This is green." Another example may be "mom" or "my mom" or "Here is my mom."
  • Write the letters and captions as your child will learn them at school. AVOID using all capital letters, particularly for their name. Children will be taught in school to use capital letters only for proper names or places and at the beginning of sentences; therefore, you should only use them this way.
  • Use actual photographs, pictures from magazines, candy wrappers, etc. and have your child pick them out! This makes the whole book much more personal and familiar to your child.
  • Use a thumb-width between words, so your child can become accustomed to differing between words and spaces. And, avoid small print. HINT: You can actually create this into a tactile experience by having your child "feel" the space between the words or putting their fingers around the word. Though you may feel that there is nothing to "feel," it will actually create a physical connection for the child.
  • Underline the word that is being pictured.

I had some additional ideas come to mind when I was thinking about all this information after the workshop and thought that I would share them with you as well.

  • Laminate your child's book with clear contact paper. Not only will it last longer through your child's many reads, but you can keep it as a keepsake to look back on many years down the road! You can even share it with your child's future spouse or children!
  • Use stickers! Lately, my son has been fascinated with stickers and just cannot get enough of them. This can work in place of photos or magazine pictures for such things as cartoon characters or animals. However, maybe you can do a book about your child's favorite stickers as well!
  • With the upcoming holidays and the many toy catalogues that come out, you can make a book about your child's wish list (i.e., "Sally's Christmas Wish List" or "Katie's Santa List"). I've already started saving the catalogues for my son and I to work on this one!

Aren't these ideas great? I can't wait to get started! I do have a few last reading tips that I wanted to share, but I have already written a lot in this post. I will post more later this week to finish up this literacy tip section. Afterall, it was voted that I read Anna Karenina and it will take me a while to get through that book! :)

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