How on earth we could have missed these free literacy sites in our last post is beyond me, but when Carol Rasco (you can follow her on Twitter @RascofromRIF) from Reading Is Fundamental sent us a few links the other day we were blown away by all of the great free resources in Spanish and English on her site. The first thing that both surprised and delighted me was the fact that the President and CEO of RIF actually took the time to send us a note to let us know about the work they’re doing to promote early literacy in English and Spanish. After reading more about RIF’s rich history, it’s so great to see such a personal involvement from key staff members who care enough to get the word out about their resources.
The Leading to Reading site (Semillitas de aprendizaje in Spanish) offers age appropriate on-line games, stories and other activities for children aged 0-5 years old. The bilingual Let’s Read as a Family/Leamos en familia site also has bilingual picture pair activities, coloring books and even some multicultural recipes for families to enjoy. There’s even some fun stuff for grown-ups too, including video instructions on how to make your own touch and feel book. The concept is fairly basic, but it’s a great idea and works perfectly with bilingual text. Here’s the gist:
1. Collect your materials.
2. Cut out different items for your book using the textured materials you’ve collected.
3. Glue the items to the three-hole punched paper.
4. Label each page. For example, if you’ve created a page with a pink corduroy square, write “Pink Square” on the page.
5. Make a title page.
6. Thread the yarn or ribbon through the holes in the pages to create a book.
7. Read the book to your child.
Of course, these sites and many others have been added to the growing list of recommended on-line activities, which can be found on the Bilingual Readers resources page, in the Just for Kids! section. Have fun!
We were so excited to find two great websites full of free activities for helping parents develop children’s reading levels. Both sites are available in English and Spanish (one is available in French and German too!), and both are 100% free.
The first webpage, Compact for Reading, is an initiative of the US Department of Education. Under the slogan “Connecting schools and homes to help children read,” the site goes on to offer four different level at home reading kits for kindergarten, first, second and third grade levels. According to the site, the School-Home Links Reading Kits are a collection of research-based activities designed to help families reinforce the reading and language arts skills that their children are learning at school.”
Sounds like a great idea to me, and I love the fact that the program also involves a pact between parents and schools working together to get kids reading in English and Spanish. Parent-child shared reading is one of the key factors in achieving early literacy, so any initiative which supports this goal is in high demand. Of course, the kits are geared toward US elementary school curriculum, but the activities are applicable for kids learning to read in English and Spanish all over the world.
The second free website, ReadToday.net (via Reading Tub), is run by the non-profit Literacy Center Education Network and contains emergent literacy activities in English, Spanish, French and German. This site is full of printable worksheets for practicing letters, numbers, colors, shapes and basic words. ReadToday.net addresses the specific needs of bilingual families by asking the important question, “What if every parent had the tools to teach their own children to read in a comfortable and supportive home environment? Not only would this give children a head start in life, it would enable every child to master basic skills in a first language before being dropped into a second language learning environment.”
What if every bilingual child did have the advantage of shared parent-child reading in both their languages at home before starting school? At Bilingual Readers our goal is to provide parents with the necessary materials to make this happen. Starting in October, we’ll be offering bilingual Spanish/English books, games and other activities for parents and their children aged 0-6 to enjoy together. In the meantime, stay tuned for more relevant articles and keep on reading!
We’re starting off the week with an admittedly nerdy post about using Twitter as a tool for charting your child’s language development. This article from the blog Digital Coaching contains a step by step explanation of how parents with a little extra time on their hands (ha, ha) can use Twitter to keep a record of their children’s budding vocabulary. The article is geared toward monolingual households, although the same principles can be easily applied to bilingual families. The graphing function is an especially useful tool, as it provides an encouraging visual aid for parents and a neat record for kids when they’re old enough to appreciate it. This sort of record keeping can also be a very useful reference should your child ever present any language development difficulties. If any of you decide to give Twitter language charting a try, please be sure to drop us a line to tell us if it’s as interesting in practice as it is in theory.
As for those of you who, like myself not too long ago, are just beginning to discover the wonderful world of Twitter, we’ve found it’s an excellent source of information on all sorts of topics such as bilingualism and early literacy. If you don’t already have an account, it’s really easy to set one up here. Whether you’re an experienced tweeter or a new convert, please be sure to follow the Bilingual Readers (@bilingualrdrs) team for all sorts of interesting links and articles!
There’s been a lot of buzz on the Internet recently about a new study published in the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which states that “TV-viewing tends to decrease babies’ likelihood of learning new words, talking, playing and otherwise interacting with others.” To most of us this news comes as no surprise (there’s a reason it’s called a Boob Tube), but it does raise an important issue from a language development perspective since according to this study, “for every hour a television was turned on, babies heard 770 fewer words from an adult…Conversational exchanges between baby and parent dropped 15%, as did the overall number of vocalizations made by children.”
While banning television from your home forever is neither practical nor necessary (thank God), the bottom line is crystal clear: babies learn language best through direct interaction with their parents and other caregivers. This conclusion is even more important for families who are trying to raise their children in more than one language. Of course there are many ways for parents to interact directly with their children, but we at Bilingual Readers believe that one of the most effective ways is through shared parent-child reading.
We were especially impressed by the stark contrast between the above mentioned study and a 2007 study on shared parent-infant book reading by the Infant Toddler Specialists of Indiana, which showed that early parent-child book reading actually supports later language learning. Here are a few tips based on the results of this study, which we hope you’ll enjoy:
• Because shared book reading with infants is related to later language development, it is a good idea to encourage parents to establish reading time with their child as early as four months. This may create a pattern of behavior that holds throughout childhood.
• Being aware of the activity level of the infant is important, to ensure that more active infants (often boys, but sometimes girls) still have exposure to complex vocabulary and opportunities to have joint attention with their reading companions.
• Ways to make sure that an infant benefits from each reading experience include
responding to the infant’s interests, labeling pictures, using a variety of books, and using the infant’s non-verbal and verbal cues to have “conversations.”
• Although the reason why shared reading results in language benefits is not fully
understood, it is important to make time and space for parents to be responsive to their infants. Both the parent and the infant should enjoy each experience!