Monday, December 27, 2010

The Gift of Reading

Well, I almost made it until Christmas without giving my kids any of their presents. It is so HARD to wait!! On Christmas Eve, we were stuck at home. We've had a rough month- our van- which is our vehicle that can transport our kids- was in an accident, my husband is sick for Christmas, and we also got about 3-4 inches of snow on Christmas Eve- not the kind of weather you want to drive your parent's borrowed van. So, we stayed inside together and I couldn't resist. I let the boys open some presents early. I decided what we needed were some new BOOKS! It's amazing how snuggling up and reading can calm hyper kids and help stressed out parents unwind. We've had a good Christmas- although it's been different than what I had expected. We've spent a lot of it at home just hanging out together. So, I bet you want to know what we are reading, right?
Here it is:
A Christmas PrayerA Christmas Prayer- read my review here.
Animals Christmas CarolThe Animals Christmas Carol- read a review from waddleahchaa.com. (I won this book from them).
 Precious Moments Storybook BiblePrecious Moments Storybook Bible- read my review here.
Reptiles (Who's Hiding Inside?)Who's Hiding Inside? (A present from Grandma and Grandpa-- Logan also got a stuffed king cobra to go with the book. Yikes!)

We've also been doing puzzles out of this Tonka Jigsaw book.

 My blog will probably be pretty low-key this week... but stop by the first week of 2011. I am gearing up for the American Library Association Awards and I will have some of my picks of the best of kid's lit 2010!!

Did your child receive any books as part of their Christmas presents? What were some of your favorites?

Also, don't forget about my current giveaway
3 CD prize package from Jessica at Allergic to Air
Slugs, Bugs and Lullabies
Slugs and Bugs Christmas
Behold the Lamb of God
Ends Wednesday- low entries!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Playing with songs

This week, we've been having fun making up silly songs. One of Logan's favorite Christmas songs is "Deck the Halls." So we've been singing these words to the classic song tune:
Let's sing a song that changes first sounds,
fa la la la la la la la la,
Let's sing a song with the 'p' sound,
pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa.
popcorn and pizza start with 'p'
pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa
popcorn and pizza start with 'p'
pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa

You can either let your child choose the items to put in the song or model beginning letter sounds by choosing for them.
You could switch it up and change last sounds too but I would advise doing that only after you are sure your child understands first sounds.

I think this song is working well for us. Last night at Target- after Logan told me, "I love Target so much." (That's my boy!)- He said, "Target starts with 'T'."
And on the way home, in the minivan, you bet we sang, "Target and Taco start with 'T' ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta."

What silly songs do you sing? How have they enhanced your child's knowledge of letters or sounds?
I'm linking this up:
Childhood 101- We play

Monday, December 20, 2010

My kids are reading FREE online Christmas Stories

It's Christmas time and as you may know, I don't check out library books at the holiday time- simply because in the hustle and bustle, I forget about library books and the new year greets me with a large library fine. However, I wanted something NEW to read and some SEASONAL to read. Enter http://www.wegivebooks.org/.
I've written about wegivebooks.org before. It is a website that allows you to read books online for free. For each book that you read, The pearson foundation donates a book to a cause that you choose.
I was happy to see that wegivebooks.org has updated their site. It is much easier to use now. You can view more book choices at a time and you can search for books by topic or author or choose most popular books, new releases, recommended, classics, etc. You can also save books to your library and view them over and over again!
 Not only can you view these books online, you can check them out at your local library or buy them. I've included amazon links. Here are some of the books we chose for Christmas viewing:
The 12 Days of ChristmasThe 12 Days of Christmas by Rachel Isadora The text of this book is the traditional 12 Days of Christmas song, however, the story is set in Africa. (I had Christmas down in Africa, I diverge.) Africa is actually a great backdrop for this song. Imagine 12 drummers drumming. Also, instead of repeating text, on each verse, the book contains a rebus type repetition which makes it beneficial for younger readers. The rebus is a little hard to see in the online version so I definitely want to check out the hard copy of this book.
Llama Llama Holiday DramaLlama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney If your kid is a Llama Llama fan, then check out this new holiday version of the book. In this story, mama is so busy rushing around preparing for Christmas. Llama llama has nothing to do but wait. (Sound familiar?) This results in a little holidrama (aka. meltdown) for Llama llama.  Mama is reminded to stop and remind Llama that they need to take time in their busy holiday to snuggle and hold each other close and spend time with each other.

Snowmen at ChristmasSnowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner In this story, snowmen celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve while everyone else is asleep. The snowmen gather in the town square for cold treats- icecream and snowcones, they play games, and of course, Kris Kringle comes to visit. By morning, all the snowmen are back in place with a smile on their face.
The illustrations are darling and the rhyming text has a nice flow. The text would be kind of small for a child to read in the reader. There is a zoom feature but it was a little hard to use. If your child is old enough to read this to him/herself, you might want to check out a hard copy.

A Night in Santa's Great Big BagA Night in Santa's Great Big Bag By Kristin Kladstrup This is the story of a little lamb who finds his way into Santa's bag. Inside the bag, he meets all the toys and helps them find their new homes. This book has darling illustrations and is a cute idea for the story. It was a little too wordy- especially for an online version- when all my son wants to do is to push the button to turn the page! It's a cute story, though, and it is recommended for ages 4-7 so older kids might have more patience for the text.

No Room at the Inn: The Nativity Story (All Aboard Reading)No Room at the Inn By Jean M. Malone This is an early reader book of the Christmas story. The story follows pretty close to the Luke 2 telling in the Bible. The text is well written for young readers. I would say an average 2nd grader could read this book. The text isn't contrived or rhyming but the words are all easily decodable.

There are a lot more Christmas books on wegivebooks.org that we will be check out later. Here are a few titles I can't wait to try.
Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer Robert L. May- The original classic story
Frosty the snowman

Have you used wegivebooks yet? What are your impressions?
Merry Christmas, fellow book lovers!

Friday, December 17, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Kid Tested, Mother Approved, Music Teacher Reviewed Music~ CLOSED

I hesitate to call myself an "expert" at anything but if I did, I would say I know a lot about choosing good books for kids but not a lot about choosing good music for kids. So when thinking about good music choices to share as part of my Sounds of the Seasons series, I thought I should go to an "expert".
Meet Jessica, college friend, music major- and later music teacher, mom to 2 little ones, and bloggy mom (Writing a blog about living life with allergies).Jessica seemed to obvious choice to guest post on my blog. And thankfully, she not only agreed to guest post but she offered to give away copies of some of her favorite music to one of you! Sweet.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Children’s Music. It can be the one thing that gets your kids to not scream and yell in the car. It can also be the bain of your existence after you’ve listened to “The Wheels on the Bus” 12 kazillion times. It’s hard to choose good music that makes your kids laugh and keeps you from wanting to poke your eyes out. My goal with this review is to recommend some of my kids’ favorite CDs as well as mine.

Slugs, Bugs and Lullabies
Because silliness is next to godliness
This first album is by far, my favorite of all time. I was already a big fan of Andrew Peterson’s and Randall Goodgame’s music individually, but nothing could have prepared me for the laughter…and the tears! I bought this right after we found out we were pregnant with our son, Jonathan, and we’ve been loving it ever since! You will laugh so much during the first half of this album, only to cry just as much through the last half with the lullabies!
For laughs, nothing can beat the silliness of tracks like “Piggy Little Toes”, “Tractor, Tractor” and “Who’s Got the Ball.” There is just something about dads having fun with their kids and these songs really capture that. There are some great tunes, too, about God and how much He loves us. “God Made Me” talks about all of the things that God has made. “You Can Always Come Home” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” are sweet lullabies that speak of God’s forgiveness and protection, something we also do as parents.

Slugs and Bugs Christmas
It’s everbody’s favorite Christmas mammal- The Camel Song
Just in case you didn’t get enough with the first album, Slugs and Bugs has just released a Christmas album that is sure to please! I just got mine in the mail last week and I have NOT been able to stop listening! There are some hilarious songs as well as some great adaptations of traditional Christmas Carols. Stylistically, the album ranges from an opening bluegrass tune to bluesy numbers and gentle lullabies.
Some of our favorite tracks on this album are “Happy Birthday, Jesus”, “Jesus Loves Me” and “The Camel Song” (You can’t beat a song that rhymes “camel” with “Mark Hamil.” Just sayin’.) I know that this will be in our Christmas music playlist for years to come.
Slugs and Bugs Christmas was featured as part of Under the Radar’s Best of Christmas 2010 list. You can purchase Slugs, Bugs and Lullabies and Slugs and Bugs Christmas at http://www.rabbitroom.com/


Coal Train Railroad
Can I borrow your toes? Mine are nearly froze! Snuggling suits me just fine.
I was delightfully surprised to get this album. I’m pretty sure that I stumbled over it following Sandra McCracken on Facebook. I have not been a big fan of jazz and not so much out of dislike as out of ignorance. If you like jazz, you will LOVE this for your kids. I love it because the themes are great for kids (juice, sharing, listening to parents, naptime) and the complexity of the music is a great thing to expose kids to. They are not going to hear chords and tonalities like this on most other kid’s collections. Maybe you don’t like jazz? You will be a convert by listening to this. If the music doesn’t get you, the lyrics will! It’s real music with lyrics geared toward kids and adults will enjoy it (and not just tolerate it!) as well!

Coal Train Railroad’s album, “Coal Train Railroad”, was featured on the Ages 3 and Up list of favorite albums of 2010. To learn more about this great group or purchase their album (and various sundries) through their website, visit http://www.coaltrainrailroad.com/.

Behold the Lamb of God
Gather ‘round, ye children come, listen to the old, old story
Of the power of death undone, by an infant born of glory
Son of God, son of man.

I can’t share about Slugs, Bugs and Lullabies without a plug for my all-time, favorite Christmas album. Seriously, we listen to this one ALL YEAR. Why? Because it’s not just about the “Christmas” story. It’s the “true tale of the coming of Christ.” It encompasses all of the Biblical stories that hint at the coming of a Savior. As the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones says,
You see, the best thing about this Story is- it's true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle- a piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day- but wait. Our Story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning....

This album has beautiful original songs as well as instrumental arrangements of traditional carols that fit into the telling of the story. I’ve had the opportunity to see this in concert and it is something I wish I could go to every year. Any time I listen I am reminded of God’s great love for His people and the lengths He went to in order to rescue His people.
Behold the Lamb of God won the 2004 Best Album of the Year, World Christian Music Editor’s Award.
You can purchase this album and others by Andrew Peterson at http://www.rabbitroom.com/

Thanks to Jessica for that awesome review. I'm getting ready to place my orders for new albums for my kids!!
Readers, you have a chance to win three of Jessica's favorite albums. Jessica has offered a prize pack consisting of 3 CDs:
Slugs, Bugs and Lullabies
Slugs and Bugs Christmas
Behold the Lamb of God

Here's how to win:
(Please leave a separate comment for each entry).


Become a subscriber of Ready.Set. Read! (or if you already subscribe, leave a comment letting me know).

Go visit Jessica's blog,  Allergic to Air blog  and leave a comment there!

Like Allergic to Air on Facebook

 Like Slugs and Bugs on Facebook

(Jessica and I were not paid to write this review-- well, at least not that I know of ;) I asked Jessica for her honest opinions on Children's music and she picked these titles.)

This giveaway will be open until December 29th at 8 pm CST. All entries will be verified to make sure they were done correctly or a new winner will be chosen. The winner will be chosen using random.org. The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond to bookblogmomma@gmail.com or a new winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Rhyme time

I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Chanting stories, poems, made up rhymes, or silly songs in early childhood can help prepare your child for later reading success. Hearing rhymes from birth help prepare a child to later recognize rhymes. By preschool age, many children can create rhymes by playing simple rhyming games.
Playing rhyming games and playing with words in early childhood builds brain power!!! Rhyming activities stimulate Area A of the brain. This area (located near your left temple) has a neural system for articulating spoken words. (I am not a brain scientist ;) I just read about this in Dr. J. Richard Gentry's book-- see resources). Playing with rhyming words will strengthen that area of the brain.
Rhyming activities also help children realize that phonograms (word families) can represent the same sound in different words. Experts agree that when a child learns 37 phonograms (like -at, -ick, -ill, etc.) he can make 500 different words out of those phonograms.
Rhyming is important in early childhood! But when is a child ready to hear rhymes, play with rhymes, and create rhymes? While it may vary from child to child, a child's progression of skills may look something like this:
  • has a concept of a word
  • has a concept for rhyme
  • has the ability to rhyme
  • has the ability to separate sounds.

Strategies for Improving Rhyming Abilities:
 Play with Rhymes:
  • Begin introducing rhymes with your newborn baby. Hold the baby close, engage eye contact, let the baby see your lips and face. When you say a rhyming word, engage in some sort of movement-- maybe lightly tickle the babies toes.
  • When reading poems and rhymes to toddlers, give your toddler a high five for every rhyming word!
  • Before your child can say a whole rhyme, he can fill in the rhyming word in a rhyme. Allow your preschooler to shout out the word as you pause in a rhyme.
  • Read nursery rhymes- list rhyming words. For example in Jack and Jill, list Jill and hill. Ask, "What rhymes with Jill and starts with 'p'?"
  • For older children (beginning readers) play riddle games- "I'm thinking of a word that begins with b and rhymes with cat."

Use Manipulatives to rhyme:
  • I was going to tell you about rhyming pictures matching games, and sorting games, and rhyming bingo... and then, I remembered this post by Teach Mama, in which she explains all of those wonderful rhyming games and links you to free printables!! You don't have to create any of it. Is she wonderful, or what? Serious love for Teach Mama (and the weteach network).
  • Use magnetic letters or letter tiles with older children. After children have mastered matching rhyming picture pairs, pull out your magnetic letters and show children how to make 2 rhyming words (cat/hat) and then how to change the first letter to make a new word.
Share books with Rhymes:
When choosing books with rhyme, continue to share materials full of meaning. This lets your child know that he will be using word families to decode in regular text and not just to decode little phonics readers. Here just a few suggestions of the types of books you might use.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (so often requested in our home, that it has been committed to memory by all family members except the baby- see selection above).
The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
The Magic Hat by Mem Fox
Zoo-Looking by Mem Fox
Also, Michelle, at Beginning Reading help recently posted this list of rhyming books.
Sing rhyming songs
Songs are repetative and the repetition builds those rhyming abilities. Songs are easy to remember which makes them useful for teaching rhyme. Songs are fun. Even if you can't sing, your child will enjoy sharing a song with you. Since most songs rhyme, and song and any style will do. Introduce your child to a wide variety of music and songs!
If you are interested in songs that are appropriate for children, here are a few free websites:


One final thought, I read this quote in Reading Begins at Home by Dorthy Butler and Marie Clay and loved it. "Ideas about reading are more readily caught than taught in the very early years." Don't feel that you have to have formal lessons on rhyming. Playing with words informally will build the inferior frontal gyrus of your child's brain... and your child will never even know you were trying to build his brain power!!

Resources:
Reading Begins at Home, Second Edition: Preparing Children Before They Go to School

Improving Reading: Interventions, Strategies, and Resources W/ CD

Raising Confident Readers: How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write--from Baby to Age 7

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sound matching game builds rhyming abilities







For children to be able to notice and create rhyming pairs of words, they have to be able to distinguish sounds and determine when sounds match. A fun way to prepare your child for this auditory discrimiation skill is to play a matching game with egg shakers.


I made my own egg shakers by using easter eggs and filling them with a variety of objects like jingle bells, pom poms, buttons, and beans.

I put the eggs into a bucket and modeled  how to choose an egg and then find the matching sound. Sometimes I would prompt Logan (2 1/3 years) by asking questions, "Does that sound the same? That one sounds loud. Does this one sound loud?" I did let him peek inside after making a match, but only because his baby brother wasn't around and I was right with him to make sure he didn't put anything in his mouth. If you are worried about the small objects, try gluing the egg shakers closed.
This was challenging for Logan but he has enjoyed playing this game every day this week.
I also created a sound game for Tyson. If you have a child 1-2 years of age, you might try this modified version first. I put all of the same objects (jingle bells, pom poms, buttons, and beans) into clear jars.

Ps. This is my "big boy". He turned 11 months this weekend and started WALKING!!
 As we shook the jars, I talked about loud and soft. I also shook the jars when he was looking away to see if he would attend to a new noise in his environment.
Tomorrow I will have rhyming activities for older children. So stop back by tomorrow and check it out!
I am linking this post up:
childhood 101

preschool corner

Tot School


How do you build listening skills in your child?

Monday, December 13, 2010

These books are "snow" good for a snowy day.

It snowed this weekend! Our first snow of the season. Logan has been quite impressed with the snow. Every time he gets up from a nap, he says, "Oh, it snowed again." I guess I'll have to explain the idea of snow staying around until it melts. Maybe this freezing/melting activity would help when he gets older. :)
In case you don't remember, I don't check books out of the library at Christmas time. It just gets too crazy and I end up giving a large "Christmas gift" to the library in the form of overdue fines. So, the books we have been reading are books that I have in the house. When I saw the snow falling down, it was time to head to the basement to gather up the snow books. Here are a few we've been enjoying:
Snow (Caldecott Honor Book)Snow by Uri Shulevitz This is my favorite winter book. In this story, a little boy is filled with hope that a snowstorm is coming. While the adults in the story are pessimistic about the snow's arrival. "It's only a snowflake." "It will melt." The radio and the television even predict that the snow won't come. "But snowflakes don't listen to radio, snowflakes don't watch television." (Isn't that the truth?) Eventually, the snow begins to fall and soon the whole city is white.
This book is a caldecott honor book. The illustrations are simple and somewhat drab but when you are stuck inside on a gray December day, they kind of match your mood.
I adore this book, and I adore the little boy's hope for snow!
The MittenThe Mitten by Jan Brett This story isn't necessarily about snow but like many of Brett's books, it takes place in the snow. Most people are familiar with this book. In the story, (which I believe is a retelling of a Ukrainian folktale, a little boy loses his snow white mitten. The forest animals use it for a warm home. It only gets stretched out a little before it gets returned home with Nicki.
Even though you may have checked out Brett's books before, make sure to take some time to check out her website as well.

White Snow, Bright SnowWhite Snow, Bright Snow By Alvin Tresselt Ok, folks, this one is old... and honestly, I have no idea how it ended up in our collection of books.  But it's a cute story of how grown ups hustle and bustle to prepare for the snow while children relax and think about playing in the snow. It also briefly covers seasons.. as the snow melts and spring returns. It's probably not super relevant to our kid's lives today (unless you live in "Mayberry" like my friend Kate) but it takes you back to a time when kids stayed at home and played with the other neighbor kids and knew their postman by name. (Just be prepared. The postman is man. The policeman is a man. The farmer is a man. And then there is "the wife". lol)

The Wild Toboggan RideThe Wild Toboggan Ride By Suzan Reid This hasn't been my favorite snow book but Logan loves the pictures and it's a good way to introduce sledding and to introduce the vocabulary word "toboggan" to older children. In the story, Nicki and Grandpa Dan take a toboggan ride. As they go along, they crash into others in the town and they all end up on the toboggan together. Grandpa Dan is rather annoying in the book, he's a grumpy old grandpa...not like my kid's Grandpas- they never complain about having to do anything with the kids... so I was personally annoyed by Grandpa Dan. Logan liked it though, because he's all boy and thinks crashing anything is wonderful.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Make your own instruments and build listening skills

Can you hear that sound?
What can that sound be?
I hear a tambourine.
Listen, now, carefully.

Tyson, Logan and I have been singing this song lately as we experiement with different items in our sounds basket. We sing it to a so-mi tune. Think na-na-na-na-boo-boo. This interval between sounds seems to be easy for children to learn.

I even made this tambourine for Logan to play while we sing our song. (I was going to have Logan make it but it was way too hard!)

We've been listening to a lot of homemade musical instruments and trying to hear the difference in the sounds they make.
The ability to distinguish sounds will help your child as he grows into a reader.
Michelle at Beginning Reading Help has a weekly post on phonological awareness. I found this Bee Ready to Read site through her. It has many phonological awareness activities- including this list of ways to Develop Listening Activities- the first step in promoting phonological awareness.
See more posts on phonological awareness:
Developing Phonological Awareness
Developing Listening Skills through music

I am linking this up to
We play at Childhood 101
Nurture Store

Plans

This is the time of year when I plan, plan, plan. I plan what cookies to bake on which days. I plan extra activities for advent. I plan out my blog the month ahead and load it all into my google calendar. I plan who to buy for, what to buy, and when to buy it. I plan what my kids will be wearing to various family functions. I plan what to pack in the diaper bag the night before, what toys to take, what food to bring. I over schedule our weekends with family and friends and Christmas shopping. And for the most part, I like that.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you plan, your plan gets thrown off track. Last weekend, Greg's Grandma, Grandma Higgins, passed away. She was 92 years old. Instead of planning holiday activities and blog posts, we stopped everything we were doing and for a few days and people gathered to honor Grandma Higgins and her life. And suddenly, all those plans we had made, didn't really matter. What mattered was spending time with family. What mattered was that my boys got to see that they are a part of a loving family who rallies together to support each other and love on each other. What mattered was the memory of a sweet lady.
As my husband always described her, Grandma Higgins was a very regal lady. She was warm and welcoming to all who joined her family. She was thoughtful, always had a card or a note out on birthdays and holidays. She was kind. She could talk to anyone about anything and make them feel comfortable. I hope that in the business of our Christmas season, we can honor her memory by taking time to sit with people and really talk to them and listen. That we can give our gifts with the kindness and generosity that she always showed to us. That we can be warm and welcoming to all we come in contact with.
Sometimes plans get messed up. Sometimes blog posts don't get published. Sometimes we are reminded about what is truly important.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hello, Mommy Moment Friends



Today I was featured on Mommy Moment, which is super exciting. Mommy Moment is an awesome mom blog- in fact, it's so awesome, it won Best New Blog 2010 in the Canadian blog awards.

If you are stopping by Ready. Set. Read! for the first time, here's what you'll find here.
If this is your first time here, look around and if you like what you see, follow me! Leave a comment too, so I can come and meet some of my mommy moment friends!

Let me share my love for mommy moment.
I love the content on Mommy Moment. On Mondays, Jodi features a Montessori activity, which I can usually easily implement with my boys. She also shares creative lunchbox ideas- which I can't implement cause when she makes an adorable flower pineapple ring with hummus (I totally made that up, I don't know if that's what she made), I make a truck grilled cheese that doesn't look ANYTHING like a truck. But I love to look at her cleverly designed lunchboxes. Also, there are blog tips, great stories, parenting advice, and GIVEAWAYS. LOTS of giveaways. The best thing about mommy moment, though, has to be one of their freelance writers, Kate Hayes from Adventures in Parenting. Ok, some of you know, Kate was my college suite mate- but she is an amazing writer! (And she made my cute Ready. Set. Read! button for me.) You can read her insightful and funny stories weekly on mommy moment or everyday on her blog. (By the way, I'm pretty sure the mommy moment "people" have no idea that I know Kate- they are just featuring a blog every weekend-- oh, and you can go here to find out how to be featured too).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jingle Bell shakers promote early literacy development

Earlier this week I reviewed Jingle Bells by Iza Trapani.
Jingle BellsAfter we read this book, I saw these cute (and easy) Jingle Bell ribbon shakers at Little Wonders' Days and I knew we had to try them out.

You can buy a jingle bell "shaker" fairly cheap this time of year if you don't want to create one.
But I just used "leftovers" around our house. I used some plastic rings that I had in my craft box. They were originally supposed to be the handles to a lovely homemade purse-- I never made the purse! However a leftover ribbon spool or an empty tape roll would work great too.
I used scraps of ribbon but if you want yours to be fancier you could buy Christmas ribbon.
I did buy a bag of jingle bells and I just sewed them to the bottom of each piece of ribbon.

Many skills can be learned from creating homemade instruments and singing with them.


  • Music promotes listening skills. Developing listening skills is a preparatory activitiy in developing phonological awareness.  Ask your child to listen as various instruments play. Do they sound high or low? Soft or quiet? Same or different?
  • Singing songs promotes memory. It is doubtful that a 2 year old would memorize an entire book like this Jingle Bells book. However, put it to music and most 2 year olds have it down. Memorizing text is a great way to begin to "read".
  • Singing songs promotes language acquisition. My boys were introduced to vocabulary such as bells, sleigh, snow.
  • Singing songs promotes rhyming. Children who hear and learn rhyming text will be more successful when they begin to learn to read.
  • Shaking the bells provides gross motor practice. You might want to add a little dancing with your musical instrument, too!
  • Music bonds children and adults. Ever changed a dirty diaper with a fussy baby?? Then you know what I'm talking about. I song can get that screaming, wiggly baby to hold still for a while.
We sure are enjoying our Sounds of the Season!

I am linking this up:

NurtureStore Carnival of Junk Play




Shibley Smiles
We Play at Childhood 101

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sounds of the Season: Promoting Phonological Awareness in Children

I can easily distinguish Christmas music when flipping through the radio stations. I don't know what makes Christmas music so easily identifiable. Maybe it’s the jingle bell accompaniment that seems to be a mainstay in the holiday music world. Maybe it’s the somewhat hokey quality of the song. Maybe it’s the joy that I hear in the singer’s voice. I just know that it takes about 2 seconds to register in my brain as "Christmas music".
What is strange is that Logan can also already distinguish Christmas music. Flipping through the radio stations, he’ll call out. “It’s Christmas time.” And that’s two year old talk for, “I love me some Christmas music so hold up right there, momma.”
Just as distinguishing sounds in music, makes our car ride more enjoyable. Distinguishing sounds in language  makes early reading more enjoyable. The ability to hear and manipulate oral language sounds is termed “phonological awareness.” The abilities to hear rhyming words, clap syllables, and recognize words that sound the same in parts are included in phonological awareness. The ability to hear all of the individual sounds in words is called phonemic awareness. For instance, if you can hear all of the individual sounds in c-a-t then you can hear each individual phoneme.
This month we’re going to be talking about the Sounds of the Season on Ready. Set. Read! I will be sharing some resources, fun games, silly songs, and wonderful books for strengthening your child’s phonological awareness. Since Christmas music is pretty much my fav music of all, I’ll also be featuring songs of the season. I’ve even talked a few elementary music teachery girls to guest blog on their favorite music picks for kids. It’s going to be an exciting month at RSR. I hope you’ll come back and join me!

How do you foster phonological awareness in your child or in your students?

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