The Importance of Reading to Infants and Toddlers

During the infant and toddler age a child’s brain is being wired.  We can directly effect their ability to think conceptually and manipulate language by reading to them, consistently and often.  Books allow opportunities for us to talk with, not at, children.  We can communicate verbally with words, and nonverbally with pictures.  Infants and Toddlers are at an age where they are learning to associate that pictures and words together tell a story.  We are helping children not only develop vocabulary, but identify words to describe and define actions, feelings, emotions and the world that surrounds them.

During the next few weeks I will be doing a series of posts on ways to incorporate books with young children.  Some of the highlights will be specific stories that are great with this age, particularly books that have rhythm, repetition and rhymes.  A description of why these books are so important at this age.  How we should use books with Infants and Toddlers, and how to involve children in the stories – for example when I described talking with children and not at them.  I will also talk about how to expand on stories by adding accompanying activities that are meaningful and age appropriate.  And finally I will end the series with how to create your own books and why this is important.

Today I want to talk about what some of the benefits to reading to young children are.  Language and books are connected, and as adults we often associate books with literacy.  So by introducing books to even the youngest children, we can enhance their cognition.  We are doing this by incorporating new vocabulary and introducing new concepts.  As we stated, children are starting to learn that words and pictures together tell a story.  The best stories to use with Infants and Toddlers contain some kind of predictability, repetition and rhymes.  This is similar to the need for songs, finger plays, poems and rhymes.  Children have a sense of accomplishment when they are able to master something.  Hearing stories that contain repetition and rhymes will give them that sense of mastery.  Being able to pause and let children fill in words or what comes next will not only involve them in the story and enhance their social experience, but it will also give them that satisfactory sense of having mastered something.

Some of my favorite books that involve predictability, rhymes and repetition for Infants and Toddlers are:

51XqfNJbuZL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?  By Bill Martin Jr.

51Wkqzc4j8L._SY404_BO1,204,203,200_Jump, Frog, Jump by Robert Kaplan

61MvWm6VOEL._SY448_BO1,204,203,200_5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

And as they get a little older more for the Preschool age:

UnknownGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

51UBqnzGaNL._SX432_BO1,204,203,200_Silly Sally by Audrey Wood

511-N7b06hL._SY497_BO1,204,203,200_The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The best advice I can give you is:

  • Stock up on sturdy board books so that your infant or toddler can access them independently.
  • Look for books that offer rhymes, repetition or predictability so that as you read them your child can feel involved.
  • Talk to your child as you read.  Talk about the cover, talk about the author, talk about the pictures, ask them questions.  For example, “Can you find the dog?” “What color is the bird?” “How do you think the boy feels?”  By doing this you are creating those strong cognitive connections!
  • And read to them often!  Surround them by language and literacy.  

Happy Reading!

Affiliate links included, all opinions and endorsements are my own.

A new kind of play dough

As I’ve said before in other posts I work in Early Childhood.  A great way for children to learn is through the different use of their senses, so we are constantly looking for new sensory activities to try.  I saw a recipe for a new type of play dough with only two ingredients, how hard could it be?  So I decided to give it a try with my pre-kindergarteners.  I can honestly say that this is one of the absolute best home-made play dough recipes I have found.  It is incredibly soft, easy, and mess free.

Two simple ingredients, hair conditioner and corn starch.  How easy is that!  And the best part is that it turns out the best with the cheap $1 conditioner, and smells amazing!
Two basic ingredients for a simple play dough

For the most part I don’t use real measurements, it ends up being the whole bottle of conditioner and the whole box of corn starch.  This is a great opportunity to let the kids help out and practice using measurement tools like measuring cups.

Added math lesson, measuring cups!
Turn it into science!  What happens when you mix a dry powered with a wet liquid?

So, dump them all together…and mix!

Kids will love getting their hands dirty!

This is another great sensory lesson for kids.  How does it feel as you are mixing it together?  What happens when you mix a dry solid with wet conditioner?  What are some words you can use to describe what you feel?  How about what you smell?
The end result is the silky soft play dough.  You can mold it, roll it, and shape it.  It has the added benefit of being incredibly hydrating for you hands, and smells great!  Here are some pictures of what we were able to do:

Cutting the play dough
Feel how soft it is!
We like to roll it out nice and smooth
You can easily shape and mold it
All kinds of different shapes, we can use cookie cutters and play dough tools

As you can see it is very smooth and easy to shape.  For the most part it is pretty mess free, no more mess than normal play dough would create.  If you are looking for a fun, cheap and easy sensory activity I would strongly encourage you to give this conditioner play dough a try.  You won’t be sorry!  I love how much control the kids can take when following this basic recipe, and they are entertained for hours with the end result.  Two thumbs up!

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and and No time for Flashcards andpeaklepie