Monday 29 August 2016

Wilderness: An Interactive Atlas of Animals

Post includes affiliate links. Policy available here
Text : Hannah Pang
Illustrations: Jenny Wren
360 Degrees (an imprint of Caterpillar Books) 2016
Reviewed copy kindly sent by & Caterpillar Books in exchange for an honest review on Reading Zone's School Zone

Back of book:
Welcome to a world of animals.
Embark on a journey to all four corners of the Earth and discover how animals survive and adapt to their environments.
From the tiny but tough leaf cutter ant to the majestic and mighty blue whale, there is so much to explore in this interactive atlas of animals, packed with facts and flaps to bring the natural world to life. 

Did you know that the the southern elephant seal weighs six times more than a polar bear.....or that at birth, a joey kangaroo is smaller than a cherry!?

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Why I prefer not to categorize by age

Generally, I prefer not to categorize books into age brackets.

Why? Surely it makes it easier for people to find suitable books?

In part that could be true, but it also means that children may miss out on wonderful reading experiences because they (or their adult people) have dismissed a book due to an age recommendation.

My eight year old niece has happily watched and listened as I have read books with my two year old son. Drawn to the attractive illustrations, the simplicity of the story and the shared family time, the eight year old has valued the reading experience as much as the two year old.

In my work, either at a group story time or during one-to-one work, I often find that the simplest of books can lead to complex discussions among children. 

Wherever I am working, I like to have a book shelf with a broad range of books catering to mixed abilities and interests. This means that the book corner includes everyone and children can simply enjoy books for what they are and how they are feeling on a particular day.

It's accepted among the group  that, no matter how old you are, you can enjoy any type of  book- lift-the-flaps, comics, board books, wordless books, fairy-tales, fantasy or chapter books. This makes the library corner a truly inclusive, community space. And the lack of categories makes tidy up time a whole lot easier!

Some words of wisdom from C.S. Lewis.....

The neat sorting out of books into age ranges, so dear to publishers, has only a very sketchy relation with the habits of any real readers. Those of us who are blamed when old for reading childish books were blamed when children for reading books too old for us. No reader worth his salt trots along in obedience to a time-table.CS Lewis (1952)

Happy Reading,

Missus B x

You may also be interested in some of the information on No to Age

Thursday 18 August 2016

Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards-shortlist!

Irish Blogger Awards
Click HERE to vote for me

Delighted to share that I've been shortlisted in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. Whoop!  My blog has been listed in two categories- 'Books & Literature', 'Arts & Culture'.

I would be delighted if you could vote for me-20% of votes come from the public and the remaining 80% is down to the judges.

In order to ensure that votes are genuine, there's a sign up page. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Voting closes on Tues 23rd.Please vote in 'Books & Literature' and if you're feeling generous, cast a second vote in 'Arts & Culture'

Thanks & Happy Reading!

Missus B

Vote for me by clicking this LINK

Sunday 14 August 2016

Read Aloud 15 Minutes

Twitter recently introduced me to the Read Aloud 15 Minutes Campaign.While it's a U.S. initiative, it has a universal message worth sharing. Basically it highlights how 15 minutes of reading aloud is one of the most important activities a parent or carer can undertake with a child. Given that a whopping 85% of brain development happens before the age of five*, exposure to books can certainly have a significant, life-long impact. 

Now, my little moomin recently turned two and we would be doing VERY well to get 15 minutes on the trot, but as the image above reassuringly shows, your 15 minutes could be spread out and need not always involve 'reading' per se. Pointing ,talking about pictures, counting,singing or simply gazing at the images and turning the pages are all important building blocks to reading.

The process of early literacy development involves exploration, interaction, repetition and some of the below skills:

Book Handling Behaviours- picking up, chewing, handling, manipulating, learning to turn pages.

Looking and Recognizing Behaviours -gazing at pictures, connecting with images, pointing or laughing at familiar things.

Picture and Story Comprehension Behaviours-showing an understanding of pictures and events e.g. imitating sounds & actions or talking about an event in the story.

Story-Reading Behaviours-imitating reading (babbling or making up their own words), pointing at  words and making a connection between text and the story itself. 

So, no matter how young your child is, every positive interaction shared at story time can help lay the foundations for language, reading and writing development. 

So make those 15 minutes a part of your daily routine and consider it to be a long-term investment :) 

Check out some more tips here, from the Literacy Association of Ireland

Happy Reading,
Missus B

Related links:
*The Science of Early Childhood Development, Harvard University
Early Literacy Newsletter article from Maine State Library wonders 'Early Literacy'

Sunday 7 August 2016

Using Props at Story Time

Goldilocks & the Three Bears Mask Set
This post includes affiliate links. See my policy here
Using props and puppets is a wonderful way of adding a new dimension to story time. I have vivid memories of my teacher using felt boards- somehow this visual element seemed to make her stories come alive. A simple tool but mesmerizing all the same!

For the child who needs that little bit of extra encouragement to listen,visual aids can be an appealing and simple way of drawing them in. 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar [Board Book]is a classic favourite and one of those 'read it again' stories. To add a multi-sensory element, sometimes I use a basket of fruit, passing around pieces during the read-a-loud.This makes for an enriching and engaging story time, giving opportunities for seeing, touching, smelling and tasting. It naturally leads to reflection and discussion- how long might it take a caterpillar to eat through a strawberry in comparison to an apple?!

Puppets, or using toys in a puppet-like manner can help a child relate to a story and it's characters. Sometimes simply holding a related character helps listeners to feel more connected. 
Bringing some drama to Goldilocks and the Three Bears...the story comes to life and children have a concrete experience of small, medium and large.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Ladybird First Favourite Tales
Some props are simple to make and depending on the age of your child, they may enjoy making or gathering their own. My laminated DIY 'Feelings Puppets' frequently come out at story time. When we talk about the characters or feelings within a story, they offer a visual tool for children who need extra support in understanding & recognising feelings. 

How are you feeling today? 
See my review of this book here
When children have access to story time props or puppets,  it supports many aspects of development e.g. fine motor skills, socialisation, memory/retelling skills, sensory learning, self confidence, role-play and of course language. 

Children will enjoy being involved in the making of 'Story Boxes' or 'Story Bags'.... figurines, musical instruments, clothing, puppets,household items, nature objects- if it's connected to a story it can be added to the collection. 

Keeping it simple though, sometimes just one prop or visual tool can be a valuable vehicle for enhancing the play, imagination and story experience for your child. Think about any book...there's bound to be something you can use as a prop! 

If you'd prefer to use some ready made story time props, check out the affiliate links below.

Happy Reading,

Missus B