Here at the Carnegie Library we subscribe to the idea that parents are their child’s first teacher. We encourage parents and caregivers to engage in five practices to help get your child ready to read. The five practices are reading, writing, talking, singing and playing, and it is never too early or too late to start.
Recently, the library was asked to present on technology resources that would be useful to teachers and parents of young children (babies-pre-K). This got us thinking about how we could connect those five early learning skills to technology in a way that would meaningful for both the student and the teacher. The library has an abundance of resources—virtual and print—that can help parents, caregivers and educators enhance those early learning practices.
The first early learning skill we explored was reading. Reading together and discussing what you read with your child develops vocabulary and comprehension. Reading also helps children learn how books work and that words on the page represent something. In addition to books in various formats, the library has technology that focuses on enhancing reading like Playaway Views, TumbleBooks and BookFlix. Playaway Views are all-in-one video players that are preloaded with animated stories like The Berenstain Bears and Arthur. TumbleBooks and BookFlix are two websites available for free through carnegielibrary.org and offer a variety of interactive, digital books. Both sites also offer lesson plans with brief extension activities including puzzles and games.
Reading and writing, our next early learning practice, go hand-in-hand. Once your child can grasp a crayon or marker, give him or her some paper and let them draw and write. As children scribble and draw they are developing the fine motor skills that they need to write letters and words. There are many digital resources available that can assist caregivers and educators in helping children learn to write and identify letters. One resource we have available through carnegielibrary.org is My StoryMaker. My StoryMaker encourages imagination and story-telling by allowing users to create their own story. There are also Apps like Letter School and Draw & Tell that let users practice tracing letters and numbers.
Sharing stories is a wonderful way to encourage talking, another early literacy skill. Sharing stories helps teach children to take turns in order to have a conversation, helps them become familiar with how books are organized and gives caregivers a chance to introduce new words. Apps like Felt Board and Make a Scene are designed for imaginative play that engages a child’s natural sense of creativity. Both of these Apps allow children to create their own stories using animation and sounds.
Singing, provides a natural way to learn about language. Songs help children develop listening skills and slows down language so they can hear different parts of words. Singing also helps children learn new words and adds to their general knowledge. In addition to many music CDs, library card holders have access to Freegal and Hoopla through carnegielibrary.org. Both Freegal and Hoopla are e-resources that allow users to access media content, including music, free of charge. With Freegal, users can download five MP3 music tracks each week and keep them in your music library for as long as you want.
Our final early literacy skill is play, one of the best ways for children to learn social-emotional skills and use their imagination. Unstructured play is important—it allows kids to learn to make mistakes and deal with different situations. They also learn important social skills like sharing, taking turns and understanding the emotions of others. Here at the library we encourage play in all forms—unstructured, in a program or while using technology. At all of our libraries we now have AWE stations. No library card is needed to access the content, they are loaded with games appropriate for young children and do not have internet access. Furthermore, we sometimes use iPads in our programming utilizing fun and interactive Apps like Spot the Dot and Toca Robot.
There are so many wonderful resources available for children and caregivers to use together to work on those five early learning practices—reading, writing, singing, talking and playing. It’s never too early or too late to help your child start developing these skills. Stop by the library with your child to explore all of the wonderful resources we have and remember that you can access all of our e-resources from home 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Maddie is a Children’s and Teen Librarian at CLP – Squirrel Hill. She enjoys reading, frolicking with her felines and traveling to far off lands.