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Fingerplay Fun Friday: When I Was One!

Fri, 2014-05-16 13:44
Here's a counting song for all the four-year-olds out there: When I Was One

When I Was One

When I was one I was so small
I could not speak a word at all

When I was two, I learned to talk
I learned to sing, I learned to walk

When I was three, I grew and grew
Now I'm four and so are you!


I like this one because it is a nice little counting game that helps build a solid foundation for beginning counters.

We count to the manageable number 4 and each number is described in a way that makes it distinct from from the others. Best of all, it is so natural to count by referring to our fingers. When kids count on their fingers, they are making a 1-to-1 correspondence between their physical finger(s) and the abstract idea of a number.

As with all skills, counting takes practice and it is best to begin with small steps. After kids arrive at the "aha moment" when they understand the connection between the amount of fingers and the abstract idea of a number, they will be better prepared for bigger counting exercises, counting backwards and other higher level math operations.

The ability to make the connection between the physical amount of fingers and the abstract idea of a number is not very different from the skill it takes a child to associate a sound with a letter or combination of letters (a word) with the idea that it represents. When we share rhymes and fingerplays that help kids make meaning out of the world, we're better equipping them for future school success!

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Hickory Dickory Dock!

Fri, 2014-04-25 08:44
After a bit of a break, we're back!!! This week we feature an interactive take on a familiar old mother goose rhyme: Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck two,
Away the mouse flew,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck three,
The mouse went "whee!!!"
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck four,
The mouse fell to the floor,
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck five,
The mouse took a dive,
Hickory dickory dock.


It is very easy to turn this action rhyme into a two-person game. One person gets to be the clock and the other gets to be the mouse.

With babies and young toddlers, I would recommend that you be the mouse and they be the clock. With older toddlers and preschoolers, you can be the clock while they take on the more challenging role of the mouse.

As you recite the rhyme, encourage a playful interaction by making the mouse squeak and scamper about. The clock can chime out the time, as well.

When children engage in imaginative play, they learn a great deal about how the world works. Play helps children think symbolically. In this case, an upraised arm becomes a clock and a hand becomes a mouse. The ability to think symbolically is critical to learning how to read. When we read, we must understand that written words stand for real objects and experiences.

In addition, two-person play helps children work on important social skills, like the ability to cooperate with others. As with most things, this takes practice. By playing little games like this, you can ensure your child is be ready to start school and "play well with others."

Best Books for Babies

Tue, 2014-04-22 09:05

It’s never too early to begin sharing books with the baby in your life. Research has shown that reading to a child on a regular basis is one of the most important activities toward building a successful reader.

Finding a book that is just right for your baby is easy.

Here are a few features that make books great for babies:

  • Bright, high-contrast images – geometric shapes and black & white illustrations for newborns, photographs and bold-line drawings for older infants
  • Familiar subject matter – things and activities that are familiar to the baby
  • Fun sounds – animal noises, car & train sounds and other silly sounds
  • Nursery rhymes – playful language for you to read aloud
  • Easy to handle – cardboard books and fabric books that little hands can grab

Every year a group of educators and librarians from Western Pennsylvania selects a list of the Best Books for Babies that were published in the previous year.

Here is the 2014 list of the Best Books for Babies (descriptions provided by Best Books for Babies):

Title: Baby Parade
Author: Rebecca O'Connell
Illustrator: Susie Poole
Find this book at your library

Smiling babies and their caretakers promenade through a cheerful landscape that combines realistic elements with unusual patterns and textures.
Title: Diggers Go
Author: Steve Light
Find this book at your library

Energetic painting of various kinds of heavy equipment stretch across the pages of this sturdy board book accompanied by amusing interpretations of the noises they make.

Title: Farm
Author: James Brown
Find this book at your library

High contrast illustrations present stylized images of familiar animals and objects; slight changes in texture add tactile appeal.
Title: Global Baby Girls
Author: Global Fund for Children
Find this book at your library

Crisp photos showcase baby girls from around the world who are “beautiful, strong, bold and bright” and sure to capture the interest of the very youngest listeners.
Title: Good Night, Trucks: A Bedtime Book
Author: Brian Biggs
Find this book at your library

Colorful cartoon-style pictures feature eleven different kinds of trucks, focusing on what they do and where they go at the end of the day.
Title: Healthy Baby: Cuddle, Eat, Move, Reach
Author: Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisovskis
Find these books at your library

Soft black-and-white photos of babies face pages that combine playful pastel illustrations with short sentences describing the babies’ actions.
Title: It's Time to Sleep
Author: Priddy Books
Find this book at your library

Brief and basic, this colorful point-and-say board book shows photos of babies, blankets, books and bears among other familiar items associated with daily activities and bedtime routines.
Title: Maisy's First Colors
Author: Lucy Cousins
Find this book at your library

Maisy and her friends enjoy their favorite yummy foods, featured in simple drawings with bright colors and described with brief rhymes.
Title: My Mother Goose
Author: David McPhail (ed. and illus.)
Find this book at your library

A treasure trove of traditional rhymes and original content, this collection is decorated with old-fashioned watercolor illustrations.
Title: Thumpy Feet
Author: Betsy Lewin
Find this book at your library

A goofy-looking orange cat with big green eyes, Thumpy Feet is interested in the same kinds of things that absorb babies’ attention: eating, playing, stretching and sleeping.




Best Books for Babies is a project of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Fred Rogers Company and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children.

WiserKids: a New Early Literacy Blog from Cedar Mill Community Library

Fri, 2014-03-21 10:00

Hi gang!

We're super-excited to announce a brand new early learning blog from our very own Cedar Mill Community Library: WiserKids: grow, learn, read, play, explore at your library

WiserKids will feature "information and activities about early literacy, reading recommendations, programs, special events and more!"  It is brought to you by the hard-working youth services team at the Cedar Mill Community Library and the Cedar Mill Library at Bethany.

We hope you will take the time to follow what promises to be a great library resource for families with young children!!

Also, in case you didn't already know, the Tigard Public Library has their own library blog for families (Family Book Bag) and the Garden Home Community Library has developed a fantastic set of Pinterest boards to help you connect with great books (Garden Home Library Youth Reads).  We highly suggest you check out these vast treasure troves.

We hope you can tell that the public libraries of Washington County love sharing tips with families to help kids get ready to learn and read!

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Fe Fi Fo Fum!

Fri, 2014-03-07 16:09
Here is a silly little fingerplay: Fe Fi Fo Fum



Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum
Fe, fi, fo, fum
See my fingers,
See my thumb.
Fe, fi, fo fum,
Goodbye fingers,
Goodbye thumb!

I like how simple this one is.  It is a perfect gateway to more complicated fingerplays like last week's I Saw a Little Rabbit or The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  
When little kids work on moving their fingers individually, they are preparing themselves for future writing success!
Please note that our Fingerplay Fun Fridays will be on a minor hiatus beginning next week.  The program will start back up on April 18th.  We apologize for this inconvenience but promise to return with more fun rhymes soon!

Fingerplay Fun Friday: I Saw a Little Rabbit!

Fri, 2014-02-28 13:58
Here's a cute little rhyme about a bunny: I Saw a Little Rabbit

I Saw a Little Rabbit

I saw a little rabbit
Go hop, hop, hop

I saw his long ears
Go flop, flop, flop

I saw his little nose
Go twink, twink, twink

I saw his little eyes
Go blink, blink, blink

I said, “Little rabbit,
Won’t you stay?”

He just looked at me,
And hopped away


I like this one because it encourages imaginative play. When you make your hand into a little bunny by extending your index and middle fingers, you're engaging in symbolic play.  Your hand isn't really a rabbit, you're just pretend that it is.  This makes perfect sense to adults, but to little kids it takes time.
There is a growing body of research about the importance of play in the early years.  From a literacy standpoint, when children recognize that something is a representation of an actual object, they begin to understand how books work.  The pictures and words on the page of a book stand for ideas and objects.  We use these symbols to communicate.  We call this understanding print awareness.  Children who understand how books work have an easier time learning how to read.

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Form the Orange!

Fri, 2014-02-21 10:00
Here is one of our older videos: Form the Orange

Form The Orange

Form the orange,
Form, form the orange.
(hold hands apart in half circles, slowly bring together)

Peel the orange,
Peel, peel the orange.
(keep thumbs together, slowly separate finger-tips)

Squeeze the orange,
Squeeze, squeeze the orange.
(give yourself a great big hug)

Form the banana,
Form, form the banana.
(slowly bring palms together over your head)

Peel the banana,
Peel, peel the banana.
(slowly separate palms)

Go bananas,
Go, go bananas!
(dance any way you please)


I like this one because it's super-catchy and loads of fun for kids.  Best of all, it is a great opportunity for kids to practice coordinating their big body movements.  You start by making your hands into two half-circles, which you slowly bring together into one full-circle.  Making your fingers and thumbs meet takes some degree of focus.

Kids who are able to control their body movements will have an easier time learning how to write.  Writing requires a considerable amount of focus and precision.  When kids play with and practice their big body movements, they are working on important pre-writing skills!

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink!

Fri, 2014-02-14 10:00
Happy Valentine's Day everybody!  Here is one of my favorite love-themed songs: Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink

Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky dinky doo
Skinnamarinky dinky dink
I love you!

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky dinky doo
Skinnamarinky dinky dink
I love you!

I love you in the morning
And in the afternoon
I love you in the evening
And underneath the moon

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky dinky doo
Skinnamarinky dinky dink
I love you!


I like this one because, in addition to being a great bonding opportunity for a child and the adult in their life, you can suit your actions to call attention to the homonyms "I" and "eye".  A homonym is a word that sounds exactly the same as another word but has a different meaning.

This rhyme can serve as a great conversation starter about homonyms.  After you have done the action rhyme with your preschooler, write out the words "I" and "eye" on paper and show them the difference.  This will help your child begin to understand how words in the written form work and how we can make the same sounds with different letter combinations.  We call a child's ability to understand how written words work Print Awareness and their ability to connect letters with sounds Letter Knowledge.

When you help your child understand how homonyms work, you also help them realize that much of our language depends on context.  Here is a silly little chant you can share to drive home the point:

I, I, I (point to self)
Me, me, me!!!

Eye, eye, eye (point to eye)
See, see, see!!!

Or, for all the sailors out there:

Aye, aye, aye (nod three times)
Yes, yes, yes!!!

Fingerplay Fun Friday: Pease Porridge Hot!

Fri, 2014-02-07 10:00
Here is an old Mother Goose rhyme that introduces kids to the concepts of hot and cold: Pease Porridge Hot

Pease Porridge Hot

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old.

Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot,
Nine days old.


I like this one because it does a nice job of describing the opposites hot and cold.  When children understand how opposites work, they begin to see how one thing can have different qualities.  The porridge (or oatmeal) can be hot or it can be cold.  We use the adjectives "hot" and "cold" to describe or attribute specific qualities of heat to the object "porridge".

Kids who have a broad understanding of adjectives and opposites have an easier time making sense out of what they read once they begin learning.  Knowing the names of opposites helps them to make guesses, as well.

When you share books with your child, try taking a little extra time to describe the pictures on the page.  Use as many different words as you can to describe the objects and ask your kids to help describe.  You don't even need a book to help your child learn more adjectives and opposite words.  Simply describe the things you see throughout your day.

There are many excellent picture books that help kids master the concepts of opposite.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Title: Big Dog... Little Dog
Author: P.D. Eastman
Find this book at your library

Fred and Ted are best friends who are very different.  This delightful book uses a humorous story to introduce kids to opposite concepts.

Title: Biggest, Strongest, Fastest
Author: Steve Jenkins
Find this book at your library

The animal kingdom is explored with an eye to extremes.  While not an "opposite" book, the author does a nice job of including the opposing superlatives.
Title: Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!
Author: Sandra Boynton
Find this book at your library

Dinosaur lovers will enjoy this prehistoric book of opposites!
Title: Tall
Author: Jez Alborough
Find this book at your library

The concepts of tall and small are on display as a lovable and small chimp becomes tall with the help of friends!
Title: You and Me: We're Opposites
Author: Harriet Ziefert
Illustrator: Ethan Long
Find this book at your library

Zoo animals tell each other how their opposites.

CLEL Bell Awards Announced!!

Thu, 2014-02-06 15:10
The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) announced the winners of their Bell Picture Book Awards this morning!!

These awards have been given to recognize five picture books from 2013 that provide excellent support for early literacy development in children around five key practices: Read, Talk, Sing, Write and Play.

Without any further ado, here are the 2014 CLEL Bell Awards!!!
(click on each title to see Early Literacy Activity Ideas from CLEL)

Title: Open This Little Book
Author: Jesse Klausmeier
Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Find this book at your library

"Readers open the cover to discover five characters, each with their own little book, all within the pages of the first. Open This Little Book celebrates the pleasures of reading, sharing stories, and having a book of your own."
- Synopsis by CLELTitle: Moo!Author: David LaRochelleIllustrator: Mike WohnoutkaFind this book at your library
"A very vocal cow commandeers the farmer’s car and sets off on an adventure. The entire story is told with just two words: Moo! and Baa! The speech bubbles and the very limited vocabulary help children make the critical connection between the words we say and the print on the page."- Synopsis by CLELTitle: Nighty-Night, CooperAuthor: Laura NumeroffIllustrator: Lynn MunsingerFind this book at your library
"A small kangaroo requests song after song to help him fall asleep, and his mother obliges by making up her own words to familiar tunes. Singing songs together is a powerful way to build phonological awareness skills and vocabulary, and Nighty-Night, Cooper models how a parent can use songs to create a comforting bedtime routine with a child."-Synopsis by CLELTitle: Things I Can DoAuthor: Jeff MackFind this book at your library
"Hand-written text and exuberant collages illustrate this story of a boy who takes great pride in his accomplishments. Reading skills and writing skills develop together, and the format of The Things I Can Do invites children to see themselves as authors as well as readers."- Synopsis by CLELTitle: Niño Wrestles the WorldAuthor: Yuyi MoralesFind this book at your library
"Niño takes on all the toys in his room with an amazing series of lucha libre wrestling moves. When his sisters wake up from their nap, they challenge him to a match, too! Who will be victorious? Niño Wrestles the World joyfully demonstrates the language-rich, open-ended play that contributes to a child’s narrative skills."- Synopsis by CLEL