This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

Writing: Storytelling on a Page

storytelling

Storytelling is a key building block for developing writing skills in young children.


The common cry a parent is sure to hear from their child at one time or another is, “I have to write about what I did over the summer and I don’t know what to say. I hate writing! I can’t write.”! Translation…I am not comfortable writing.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t prepare our children to write the way we prepare them to know the alphabet, to count and to develop other learning skills during their preschool and kindergarten years. Yet, writing is a skill that most of us will need and use for the rest of our lives. Being comfortable writing and writing well is critical to our academic and employment success.

I am not talking about grammar, punctuation or understanding sentence structure. These skills will be taught in school. I refer to the ability to describe something on paper that was seen, heard, read or told about.

It’s about storytelling.

Not just the stories you read to your child from a book but the storytelling that comes from sharing family history or events or making up stories about everyday activities as you spend time with your child. While being read to captures a child’s interest, expands his/her knowledge and fosters creative thinking, which are all building blocks of writing skills, the ability to tell and write a story must be practiced like any other skill.

Most of my life I’ve earned an income from writing…a biography, articles, technical writing, reports, recipes, programs for children, grants,web content and blogging. I owe my comfort and enjoyment of writing to my extended family. By the time I was two years old, my godmother and grandparents were telling me stories and helping me to tell stories about the things I saw when out walking or visiting with them. Even before I could write, they encouraged me to tell them stories and they wrote them down for me. Then the stories were scotch taped to their refrigerator for all to read. I couldn’t wait until I had the skills to write my own stories. It was all the motivation I needed to learn the alphabet and begin writing.

There is no more undivided attention a child can have than time spent with an adult or older sibling exploring something new, talking about it, making up a story about it. It can be as simple as a trip to the supermarket, a walk in the park, helping to wash the family car or assisting in preparing a meal.

As important as talking about what you see or hear or are doing is guiding your child through making up a story about what he or she is seeing or doing. At first, you will need to ask your child questions to trigger storytelling. After awhile that won’t be necessary.

Storytelling is a family affair and one that offers a role for grandparents and other relatives. Photo albums, attics full of stuff, and scrapbooks are just some of the things that can spark stories. Recording the story is a critical part of the process. Being able to look at and refer to his or her story, in writing, builds a child’s confidence and establishes a comfort level about writing.

If a child can view writing as storytelling on a page, be it paper or computer, he or she is on track for enjoying and not dreading writing.

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Bullying Prevention Begins with Young Children

bullyingBullying is a national epidemic. Bullying can have long term serious outcomes.

stopbulling.gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services shares the following information on beginning bullying prevention in early childhood.

Early Childhood

Early childhood often marks the first opportunity for young children to interact with each other. Between the ages of 3 and 5, kids are learning how to get along with each other, cooperate, share, and understand their feelings.

Young children may be aggressive and act out when they are angry or don’t get what they want, but this is not bullying. Still, there are ways to help children.

Helping Young Children Get Along with Others

Parents, school staff, and other adults can help young children develop skills for getting along with others in age-appropriate ways.

  • Model positive ways for young children to make friends. For example, practice pleasant ways that children can ask to join others in play and take turns in games. Coach older children to help reinforce these behaviors as well. Praise children for appropriate behavior. Help young children understand what behaviors are friendly.
  • Help young children learn the consequences of certain actions in terms they can understand. For example, say “if you don’t share, other children may not want to play with you.” Encourage young children to tell an adult if they are treated in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, upset or unhappy, or if they witness other children being harmed.
  • Set clear rules for behavior and monitor children’s interactions carefully. Step in quickly to stop aggressive behavior or redirect it before it occurs.
  • Use age-appropriate consequences for aggressive behavior. Young children should be encouraged to say “I’m sorry” whenever they hurt a peer, even accidentally. The apology should also be paired with an action. For example, young children could help rebuild a knocked over block structure or replace a torn paper or crayons with new ones.

We all can contribute to stopping behaviors that lead to bullying, especially if we begin early in a child’s development.

 

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It’s Time to Read Along with Grandma Jean!

Read

I am pleased to share about our newest program on “Can Do” Street, “Read Along with Grandma Jean.” The program is about helping young children, and children who have English as a second language develop their reading skills, and come to enjoy reading.

Stories are narrated, and, as Grandma Jean tells the story, each word is highlighted as she says it. Each story can also be read without using the narration and highlighting features. Stories are started by choosing the play icon and stopped by choosing the stop icon. If you stop the story before the end of the story, the story will begin where you stopped it. Just choose the play icon once again.

Read Along with Grandma Jean comes from my experiences as a volunteer reading coach for children in kindergarten through 2nd grade, and as a certified TESOL instructor, working with children having English as a second language.

Read Along with Grandma Jean is about helping children with vocabulary building, word recognition, pronunciation, comprehension, and developing the ability and confidence to read and enjoy the process of reading.

The Program begins with six stories that feature the “Can Do” characters . More stories will be added over the coming months. Each of the six stories has a story line designed to catch and hold the interest of a young child.

The first Read Along with Grandma Jean stories are:

Hector+ Ants =Trouble – Hector decides to take ants to an indoor picnic

Why Do Grandmas Have Wrinkles – The “Can Dos” ask Grandma Hattie about wrinkles

Maria is a Flat Leaver – Maria makes plans with Nellie and then goes off with Wendy instead.

Kathy Fell Asleep in Class Again – Why did Kathy fall asleep in class this time?

The Way it Was – The “Can Dos” are amazed at what life was like when Grandpa Dooley was growing up.

Telling the Truth – Miss Pat tells a story about what can happen if you get to be known as a kid who doesn’t tell the truth.

Read Along with Grandma Jean can be accessed on a computer or downloaded to a hand-held device. You can get to the Read Along with Grandma Jean Program from the “Can Do” Street home page, http://www.candostreet.com then choose the green awning that says, “Read Along with Grandma Jean Audio Children’s Stories.”

Best regards,

Jean Campbell, Creator, “Can Do” Street

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A Family-Friendly Cruise Includes Youth Programs

Splash Academy Youth ProgramsIf you are thinking about  taking a family cruise, you need to know more about the ship than if it has laundry services, kid-friendly meals, and on board medical care; you need to think about the availability of youth programs that are age appropriate, interesting, and well supervised by staff that are experienced in caring for and recreating children.

During the December holidays, I took a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway that I would describe, not only as kid-friendly, but family friendly as well. Each morning, before I got on an elevator near my cabin, I caught a brief glimpse of young children making their way into one of the youth programs sites for a day of learning activities, games, crafts, and free play with new friends.

The Breakaway’s Splash Academy hosts complimentary youth programs that provide children with fun-filled days at sea. Programs give parents the opportunity to enjoy a variety of cruise activities knowing their children are well supervised, and enjoy meeting and playing with others their own age.

Given my years of running a preschool and  seasonal day camps, I was interested in learning more about the Splash Academy and its youth programs while at sea, and when in ports of call. I was given permission to meet with the manager of the youth programs, Carlos Perez. Carlos gave me a tour of the several large, well-maintained and colorfully decorated recreation rooms that are home to the Splash Academy on the 12th floor of the ship.

As Carlos described the youth programs, children are grouped by age and activities as follows:

  • Guppies – ages 6 months to 2 years. Parents participate in the activities, which take place in the Guppies Playroom and are hosted by a certified staff. Activities include, but are not limited to, sensory play, music and movement, ball play and building with blocks.
  • Turtles – Ages 3-5 years. Programs take place in the main Splash Academy recreation areas and include: Arts and crafts, painting, games, sensory play, storytelling, developmental activities, parades and treasure hunts.
  • Seals – Ages 6-9 years. Programs are held in the Splash Academy recreation areas and include: Circus Skills and Show (Scarf Juggling, Plate Spinning, Devil Sticks, and Rope Spinning) theme nights, painting, sports and games, parades, treasure hunts, and video games
  • Dolphins – Ages 10-12 years. Programs are in Splash Academy recreation areas and include: Entourage Takeover, Circus skills and Show (Stilts, Ball Juggling, Chinese Yo-Yo, Plate Spinner and Devil Sticks) scavenger hunts, sports and team building, theme nights, and video games.
  • Entourage – Teens get to hang out and play video games, see movies, enjoy music and sports with others their own age in supervised teen centers around the ship.

During days at sea, Splash Academy is open from 9am to noon and 2pm to 5pm and 7pm until 10:30 pm.

Carlos shared that Splash Academy has a staff of over 25+ men and women experienced in providing youth programs for children. During my tour, I was impressed to see the modern equipment, and well maintained play areas. The kitchen area and bathroom facilities are sized appropriately for young children.

On the last day of the trip, the children who participated in the youth programs, put on a production for their families and other shipboard guests.

Norwegian Breakaway delivered a cruise experience for the whole family. Thanks to Splash Academy, parents had free time to enjoy shipboard activities. In addition, kid friendly meals, pool time fun as a family, and other shared activities made for a family-friendly cruise.

Not every cruise line offers youth programs, and not all youth programs are created equal; make sure you pick a cruise that has youth programs that will interest each of your children.

 

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Antibiotic Resistance

The FDA wants you to be aware of the growing problem of Antibiotic Resistance. The following information comes directly from the FDA literature on the subject.

Antibiotic drugs can save lives. But some germs get so strong that they can resist the drugs. The drugs don’t work as well. Germs can even pass on resistance to other germs.

antibiotic  Antibiotic drugs normally work by killing germs called bacteria, or they stop the bacteria from growing. However,  sometimes not all of them are stopped or killed. The strongest ones are left to grow and spread. A person can get sick again. This time the germs are harder to kill.

The more often a person uses an antibiotic, the more likely it is that the germs will resist it. This can make some diseases very hard to control. It can make you and your children sick longer and require more doctor visits. You may need to take drugs that are even stronger.

 There are Two Main Types of Germs

 Bacteria and viruses are the two main types of germs. They cause most illnesses. Antibiotics can kill bacteria, but they do not work against viruses. Viruses cause:• Colds • Coughs• Sore throats • Flu• Bronchitis • Sinus problems• Ear infections

Bacteria live in drinking water, food, and soil. They live in plants, animals, and people. Most of them do not hurt people. Some even help us to digest food. But other bacteria cause serious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and Lyme disease.

 How Does this Affect Me?

 If you have a virus, taking antibiotics is not a good idea. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses. The medicine will not help you. It might even harm you. Each time you take one, you add to the chances that bacteria in your body will be able to resist them. Later that could make you very sick. Finding the right treatment could be a problem.

 What Common Mistakes Do Patients Make?

• Patients ask for antibiotics they don’t need. For example, they ask for antibiotics to treat a cold.

• They don’t take antibiotics the way the doctor says. For example, they stop taking the drug before all the pills are used. That can leave the strongest germs to grow.

• They save antibiotics and take them on their own later

What is the FDA Doing About the Problem?

The FDA wants doctors to be more careful about giving antibiotics when they are not needed.

• The FDA will require new labeling for doctors.

• One of the new labels must say that these drugs should be used only for infections caused by bacteria.

• Another label will ask doctors to explain to their patients the right way to use the drugs.

 What Should I Do?

 • Don’t demand an antibiotic when your doctor says you don’t need it.

• Don’t take an antibiotic for a virus (cold, cough, or flu).

• Take your medicine exactly the way the doctor says. Don’t skip doses.

• Don’t stop taking your medicine when you feel better. Take all the doses.

• Don’t take leftover medicine.

• Don’t take someone else’s medicine.

• Don’t rely on antibacterial products (soaps, detergents, and lotions). There is no proof that these products really help.

We all need to be wary about becoming antibiotic resistant

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