photo courtesy of Flickr user Inferis
Parents know the magic that a simple coloring book and a pack of crayons can work on a screaming toddler. But did you know that those random-looking scribbles are an important developmental step along your child's path to reading and writing? As early as 15 months, children enter the first of what's called the 5 Stages of Scribbling.
Here's the basic breakdown (and please note: every child grows and develops at their own pace. Ages ranges are general approximations only.)
STAGE 1: RANDOM SCRIBBLING (15 months to 2 1/2 years)
At this early age, children are delighted to figure out how to hold a crayon (those extra jumbo crayons are super handy). Babies and toddlers will usually hold the crayons in a tight fist and use large motions from their shoulders to produce scribbles. During this stage, they make the exciting discovery that the object in their hand is producing lines on the paper (and hopefully, not the walls).
Babies are most interested in the sensory nature of art at this point; the texture of the crayon, it's unique smell. This is also a great time to introduce young toddlers to clay, play-dough, or finger paint. [check out this recipe for homemade, non-toxic play-dough] The different sensations produced by using each medium stimulates their senses and engages their developing minds.
Helpful Hint: It might help to tape down a large piece of paper for babies and toddlers. This will prevent the paper from moving or tearing as they draw.
STAGE 2: CONTROLLED SCRIBLLING (2 years to 3 years)
During this stage, children will often transition to holding the crayon between their thumb and pointer finger. Their scribbles may show more repeated marks or patterns- such as spirals, open circles, curved lines, and straight lines. As their muscle control develops, toddlers will enjoy experimenting with using a paintbrush, or working with model clay.
Helpful Hint: Use regular household objects to create art- like using Q-Tips, cotton balls, or old wine corks as applicators. Use chalk on a sidewalk, or washable paints in the bathtub.
STAGE 3: LINES AND PATTERNS (2 1/2 years to 3 1/2 years)
At this stage, children begin to understand that writing consists of special lines and curves that repeat in certain patterns. Very often, children will pretend to write. While their scribbling may not have any actual letters, you may see some early components that make up the alphabet- such as "S"-like curves, small circles, and sharp lines.
What is so magical about this stage is that toddlers are beginning to understand that those scribbles can convey meaning! That when Mommy or Daddy is scribbling, it is a list of what food to buy at the grocery store. This understanding is a big step on their way towards writing and reading on their own.
Helpful Hint: Encourage your child's "pretend" writing- and take it seriously! Ask them to "read" what they've written. This will teach them the importance and value of words.
STAGE 4: PICTURES OF OBJECTS OR PEOPLE (3 years to 5 years)
At some point, your child may hand you a page of scribbles and declare, "It's Grandma!" At the beginning of this stage, children will often produce unplanned artwork and decide what it is after they are finished.
Eventually, you may notice your child thinking about what she will draw before committing crayon to paper. This is an important developmental milestone. She is now engaged in symbolic thinking! She understands that her artwork can symbolize objects, people, or events.
Not long after, children will begin to understand the difference between pictures and writing. This is particularly important as they get ready to enter preschool and begin to work on letter awareness.
Helpful Hint: As your child begins to draw pictures, use open, non-judgemental questions to discuss the final product, such as: "Can you tell me about your picture?" Encourage your child to tell you the "story" of the picture(s). This story-telling is also an important skill for literacy!
By this stage, children may begin writing "real" letters on their own. Children usually begin with letters that are familiar to them- such as the first letter of their name. Children also begin to understand that letters fit together in special ways to make words. While they may not be able to write words on their own, they do understand that some words are short and some are long. This may be reflected in their "pretend" writing. One day, all this pretend practice will morph into the understanding and production of real letters and words!
Helpful Hint: It's okay that their letters are not technically correct. It's the process, not the product, that matters.
For more information about the 5 Stages of Scribbling, check out zerotothree.org.
And for more art project ideas for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, check out our collection of Little Hands books.
|Hold My Hand: Five Stories of Love and Family by Charlotte Zotolow||Will You Carry Me? by Heleen Van Rossum||Spot's First Walk by Eric Hill||Pig Pig Grows Up by David McPhail|
First Vocab, First Haircut, First Time Potty
|Simms Taback's Book of Words by this Caldecott Award winning author/artist, runs the gammet of vocab words for toddlers and preschoolers. Looking for easier, or harder? More titles on this vocab book list||No Haircut Today!by Elivia Savadier is about a toddler who does not want a trimming from his hairdresser mom! More titles on this haircut list.||A Potty for Me is a lift the flap storybook. More fiction titles on this potty list. Toilet training books (geared towards grownup readers) are here.|
First Dentist, First Loose Tooth
|Harry and the Dinosaurs Say "Raahh!" is a relatable tale of dentist nervousness. More titles on this dentist list .||Loose Tooth by Lola Schaefer is for those learning how to read, which corresponds to the time we tend to loose teeth! More titles on this loose tooth list.|
|The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater|
Stinky: A Toon Book
by Eleanor Davis
by Andrew Clements
The Talented Clementine
by Sara Pennypacker
Double Trouble in Walla Walla
by Andrew Clements
The Legend of Spud Murphy
by Eoin Colfer
photo by Flickr user Stargonautone
A young girl asked me for books about tornadoes last week. She wanted to know how they work so that she wouldn't be afraid of them anymore. Books can provide a safe space for children to learn about something affecting their lives and explore their fears. How many of you have used books to help children conquer their fears of monsters under the bed? Well, now might be a good time to break out the books about financial crisis, poor economy and recessions.
Over at Slate, there is a great short piece and accompanying slide show called, "Mom, What's a Credit Deafult Swap?" They suggest a few titles of books for your children to read or for you to read together. I've included the titles available at our library as well as a few more below.
Children are very perceptive and can get stressed out about the same things you do. Imagine how scary words like depression, recession and financial crisis mut sound to them. You can help them explore this topic and just like the little girl who is not longer afraid of tornadoes, your child will be able to bravely face the world knowing their family's cupboards will always be filled with love (Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary).
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney; published in 1881, this landmark book details the struggles of the Pepper kids who "are so dirt-poor they have to mend their broken stove using part of an old boot" yet remain positive and optomistic as they try to help their bankrupt single mother.
|Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder; this classic children's book was oroginally published during the Great Depression. People seemed to take solace in the extreme hardships the Ingalls family faced. Like Five Little Peppers, the kids strive to please and help the parents through the difficult times.||Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor; delving beyond mere poverty, 10 year-old Cassie's family faces prejudice and hate in their Great Depression era story. This story won the Newbery Medal in 1977 and remains just as powerful today as it was then.||Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary: In all the Ramona books, there is an underlying theme of tough times. The Quimbys often scrimp and pinch, but in this story, Ramona's father loses his job. His depression results in tremendous anxiety and fear in the children, especially Ramona. Ramona gives voice to fears that many children today may have and shows us the inner workings of a child's desire to help when their parents and family are struggling. We worry about our kids...and they worry about us too.|
|Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse: In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression. Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1998.||How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor: Living in the family car in their small North Carolina town after their father leaves them virtually penniless, Georgina, desperate to improve their situation and unwilling to accept her overworked mother's calls for patience, persuades her younger brother to help her in an elaborate scheme to get money by stealing a dog and then claiming the reward that the owners are bound to offer.||Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor: Addie and her mother live in a small tralier with no steady income. Addie makes her own dinners with next-to-nothing in the cupboards and holds on to hope that things will get better.||Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart by Vera B. Williams: An absolutely heartbreaking story told through poems and pictures about two sisters who hold each other up even when their bellies are empty.|
|Spuds by Karen Hesse: Maybelle, Jack, and Eddie want to help Ma by putting something extra on the table, so they set out in the dark to take potatoes from a nearby field, but when they arrive home and empty their potato sacks, they are surprised by what they see||A Chair for my Mother by Vera B. Williams: A child, her waitress mother, and her grandmother save dimes to buy a comfortable armchair after all their furniture is lost in a fire|
Make-your-own costumes...what comes to mind? Sewing, elaborate, taking lots of time? It doesn't always have to be that way, right?!
Many costumes can start with a sweatshirt or a box. My favorite costume was in 4th grade; I was a pair of dice with my friend Kerry. She and I painted the boxes, pasted on paper dots, and wore tights and a turtleneck.
A Baltimore Sun article with lots of links
About.com has costumes and family crafts too
HGTV has 3 minute video clips that include no-sew costumes and toddler costumes
Check out these modern read-alikes:
|The Penderwicks series
||by Jeanne Birdsall|
The Elevator Family by Douglas Evans
Judy Blume family series such as...
Saffy's Angel series by Hilary McKay
Check out these modern read-alikes:
|Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller|
|Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce||The Enola Homes Mysteries by Nancy Springer||Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison|
|Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett||Lulu Dark by Bennett Madison|
|The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd||The 39 Clues by Rick Riordan|
Rhyming books...they're fun to read aloud because they read like songs. In storytime they are some of the most silliest and entertaining reads; my favorites! I can do all kinds of activities that extend right from the book, making the books interactive.
Click on the rhyming tag in the catalog to find some rhyming books for toddlers and preschoolers. Of course, many more books are out there. So if you come across one of your favorite rhyming books, tag it in the catalog, and it will totally be added!
Rhyming books also help with phonological awareness and sensitivity; the ability to hear the breakdown of sounds within words. Being aware of phonemes as a small child, will help them when they are older and begin to read -- when they need to sound out words for themselves. The Every Child Ready to Read site has lots of ways we can interact with kids regarding phonological awareness, as well as other emergent literacy skills for babies, toddlers, and pre-readers. Check it out!
Some fun phological awareness activities: